Monday, November 18, 2019

DAMIEN: OMEN II (1978) Blu-ray Review



Damien: Omen II (1978) d. Don Taylor (USA) (107 min)

Following the demise of his parents, young Damien Thorn (Jonathan Scott-Taylor) is adopted by his uncle Richard (William Holden), head of Thorn Industries, and his new wife Ann (Lee Grant). As the lad becomes a teenager, he and his cousin Mark (Lucas Donat) attend an illustrious military academy near Chicago where they are brought under the wing of taskmaster Sergeant Neff (Lance Henriksen). Meanwhile, the ruthless Paul Buher (Robert Foxworth), while also attempting to take Thorn Industries in a radical new direction of acquiring land in the Middle East for pennies and holding the world’s food supply hostage, starts to show a curious interest in Damien. The Antichrist is alive and well, with his key protectors in place to ensure his rise to power.


Friday, November 15, 2019

THE FAN (1981) Blu-ray Review



The Fan (1981) d. Edward Bianchi (USA)

Douglas Breen (Michael Biehn) adores classic Hollywood and Broadway star Sally Ross (Lauren Bacall). He writes her personal letters, sends tokens of affection, and prides himself on being above all the shallow “fan club” adulation. Douglas has a deep, abiding connection to Sally and is comfortable in the knowledge that one day she will share his life, loving him with the same fervent ardor that he feels for her. The problem is… Sally doesn’t even know he exists, since his increasingly impassioned letters are received and responded to by her loyal assistant Belle (Maureen Stapleton), who tries to deter the misguided suitor’s attempts, only to find herself drawn into his web of madness.


Sunday, November 3, 2019

2019 SCARE-A-THON FINAL RESULTS!!!



And that, friends and fiends, brings us to the end of yet another OCTOBER HORROR MOVIE CHALLENGE and Scare-A-Thon 2019!

As always, the Challenge itself is to watch (at least) one fright flick for each of those glorious 31 days that make up the month of October, 16 of which must be first time views. I am happy to report that we have accomplished that lofty goal and that along the way, thanks to the generous hearts and minds of fans like you, over $2,500 has been raised for Amazon Watch, with additional funds still coming in. (Yes, you can still drop a line at drach101@gmail.com if you wish to donate!)

My thanks to everyone who participated in some way, whether it be reading the reviews, making a contribution, watching alongside, or just stopping by to chat here or on the HORROR 101 with Dr. AC Facebook page. It makes the long nights go by much easier knowing that one’s efforts are noticed and appreciated. Hope you found a few new suggestions for future movie nights along the way!

Below are the 31 “official” features viewed (with links to the full-length reviews), as well as 16 additional titles "just for fun." Beyond that, there are a bevy of additional OCD factoids you might get a kick out of… or you can just run for the exits like any sensible human being. The choice is yours.

Enjoy!

CHALLENGE STATS:
Total Movies Watched: 47
First Time Views: 16
Total Scare-A-Thon Donations: $2,565.56

Friday, November 1, 2019

TRILOGY OF TERROR (1975) Blu-ray Review



Scare-A-Thon Totals to Date:

Total Movies Watched: 31
Total First Time Views: 16
Amount raised for AMAZON WATCH: $2,565.56

Trilogy of Terror (1975) d. Dan Curtis (USA) (72 min) (2nd viewing)

Producer/director Dan Curtis was already a legend in 1975, having created the legendary vampire soap opera Dark Shadows, as well as The Night Stalker, the highest-rated made-for-television movie released at the time, and well-received adaptations of Dracula and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (both starring Jack Palance). So when he hired Richard Matheson, already a well-regarded entity in both television and film, with numerous Twilight Zone credits to his name, among others, to adapt three stories, it seemed like a can’t-miss proposition. (William F. Nolan was eventually recruited to adapt the first two tales, while Matheson handled the concluding chapter, “Amelia,” based on the short story “Prey.”)


Thursday, October 31, 2019

THE PREDATOR (2018) Blu-ray Review



Scare-A-Thon Totals to Date:

Total Movies Watched: 30
Total First Time Views: 16
Amount raised for AMAZON WATCH: $2,482.80

The Predator (2018) d. Shane Black (USA) (107 min) (1st viewing)

It’s amusing that I watched this the same day as Jigsaw, since both represent the latest installments in franchises that have limped along far past their sell-by dates, inexplicably generating box office revenue when it’s pretty obvious no one is really clamoring for them. That said, the notion of Shane Black (The Nice Guys, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) directing a Predator movie, especially one co-written with longtime buddy Fred Dekker (The Monster Squad, Night of the Creeps)… well, color me intrigued, especially since Black was hired to spice up the screenplay for the 1987 original with Arnold Schwarzenegger and was later added to the cast as Hawkins. Here’s a guy who was literally there at the beginning and now wants his shot at the title.


THE MIND'S EYE (2015) Blu-ray Review



Scare-A-Thon Totals to Date:

Total Movies Watched: 29
Total First Time Views: 15
Amount raised for AMAZON WATCH: $2,400.04

The Mind’s Eye (2015) d. Joe Begos (USA) (87 min) (1st viewing)

It’s easy to dismiss and/or diminish writer/director Begos’ second feature merely as “a Scanners rip-off,” but it’s worth remembering that David Cronenberg did not invent the notion of a telekinetic monster (Carrie), nor the idea of an evil organization weaponizing such paranormal abilities nor even the spectacle of exploding body parts onscreen (The Fury did both three years earlier). As such, it seems a bit unfair not to at least acknowledge that Begos is doing quite a lot with a little (as was the case with his debut, Almost Human) and that his film does exactly what it sets out to do, which is to pay homage to what has gone before and tell his own version of the story. I don’t have a problem with that, and I’m a little surprised how many armchair critics have taken the film to task for its “lack of originality” when the horror genre is built upon endlessly recycled ideas and concepts.


Wednesday, October 30, 2019

JIGSAW (2017) Blu-ray Review



Scare-A-Thon Totals to Date:

Total Movies Watched: 28
Total First Time Views: 14
Amount raised for AMAZON WATCH: $2,317.28

Jigsaw (2017) d. Michael Spierig / Peter Spierig (USA) (92 min) (1st viewing)

John Kramer, better known as the infamous “Jigsaw Killer,” has been dead for ten years. So who is responsible for the bodies suddenly start turning up around the city bearing his signature disfiguring in the shape of a puzzle piece? The list of suspects is growing, extending to include the medical examiner in the case (Matt Passmore), his Jigsaw-obsessed assistant (Hannah Emily Anderson), the lead investigator (Callum Keith Rennie), his partner (Cle Bennett), and the comatose thug in the hospital bed (Josiah Black). And, of course, the Game Master himself, John Kramer (Tobin Bell), who unequivocally expired in Saw III and was graphically vivisected in Saw IV, but if you can’t keep a good man down, you certainly can’t count him out.


Tuesday, October 29, 2019

TRUTH OR DARE (2018) Blu-ray Review



Scare-A-Thon Totals to Date:

Total Movies Watched: 27
Total First Time Views: 13
Amount raised for AMAZON WATCH: $2,234.52

Truth or Dare (2018) d. Jeff Wadlow (USA) (100 min) (1st viewing)

While on spring break in Mexico, a group of graduating seniors decide to visit an abandoned cathedral at the urging of Carter (Landon Liboiron), a handsome young stranger who then suggests the group play a game of “Truth or Dare” in order to get the party started. Much to their dismay, the vacationing pals quickly discover that the game is more than a harmless party pastime: if a person does not tell the truth, they die. If they refuse to do the dare, they die. And the cycle is relentless, moving from person to person regardless of success or failure, digging up unpleasant secrets and proposing increasingly perilous scenarios as the surviving circle slowly diminishes….


Monday, October 28, 2019

THE OMEN (2006) Blu-ray Review




Scare-A-Thon Totals to Date:

Total Movies Watched: 26
Total First Time Views: 12
Amount raised for AMAZON WATCH: $2,151.76

The Omen (2006) d. John Moore (USA) (109 min) (2nd viewing)

One of the few times in history where a calendar date (6/6/06) dictated a picture’s greenlight status, this remake of the 1976 classic generated a chorus of “pointless” from critics and audiences alike upon its release, even though it’s a capable enough effort. Considering how closely the redux hews to the original, it’s almost impossible not to compare/contrast; it feels like we’re being dared to, in fact. Since things play out nearly beat for beat, credit should be given for it not being a completely redundant experience, which it quite well could have been. But, while things are different, they are rarely improvements, and therein lies the hitch.


Sunday, October 27, 2019

WHITE OF THE EYE (1987) Blu-ray Review



Scare-A-Thon Totals to Date:

Total Movies Watched: 25
Total First Time Views: 12
Amount raised for AMAZON WATCH: $2,069.00

White of the Eye (1987) d. Donald Cammell (USA) (110 min) (1st viewing)

When a serial killer begins stalking housewives within a wealthy and isolated desert community outside Tucson, AZ, audio technician Paul White (David Keith) is targeted as the prime suspect of the vicious mutilations. Charles Mendoza (Art Evans), the cagey CID agent called in on the case, isn’t entirely convinced our local sound expert is the killer; enlisting the assistance of Paul’s flinty wife Joan (Cathy Moriarity), the investigation unearths the seedy underbelly of the small town and the multitude of seemingly ordinary citizens who make up its population.


Saturday, October 26, 2019

THE OMEN (1976) Blu-ray Review



Scare-A-Thon Totals to Date:

Total Movies Watched: 24
Total First Time Views: 11
Amount raised for AMAZON WATCH: $1,986.48

The Omen (1976) d. Richard Donner (111 min) (5th viewing)

While stationed in Italy, influential American diplomat Robert Thorn (Gregory Peck) receives the tragic news that the child born to his wife Katherine (Lee Remick) has died during childbirth. However, the kindly Father Spilletto (Martin Benson) suggests that the grieving father secretly adopt another baby – born the same night – and raise it up as his own. Five years later, Robert has been appointed U.S. Ambassador to England, he and Katherine are happy, and their son Damien (Harvey Stephens) is healthy and thriving. But following a series of strange, fatal accidents, Robert is compelled to investigate the circumstances surrounding Damien’s birth and, with the help of independent photojournalist Keith Jennings (David Warner), comes to believe that his son may in fact be the offspring of the Devil Himself.


Friday, October 25, 2019

THE HAUNTED STRANGLER (1958) Movie Review



Scare-A-Thon Totals to Date:

Total Movies Watched: 23
Total First Time Views: 11
Amount raised for AMAZON WATCH: $1,903.48

The Haunted Strangler (1958) d. Robert Day (UK) (78 min) (1st viewing)

Newgate Prison, 1860. The notorious serial killer Edward Styles, also known as “The Haymarket Strangler,” is hanged to death before a bloodthirsty crowd, denying with his last breath that he is guilty of the crimes. 20 years later, novelist James Rankin (Boris Karloff) sets out to prove that Styles was, in fact, innocent and that the surgeon who signed all the victims’ death certificates, Dr. Tennant, is actually the Strangler. With trusty companion Dr. Kenneth McColl (Tim Tuner), Rankin explores dusty hospital records filled with abandoned medical bags and raucous dance halls filled with saucy cancan girls, but the truth they uncover is more shocking than anyone could anticipate.


Thursday, October 24, 2019

TERROR BENEATH THE SEA (1966) Movie Review



Scare-A-Thon Totals to Date:

Total Movies Watched: 22
Total First Time Views: 10
Amount raised for AMAZON WATCH: $1,820.72

Terror Beneath the Sea (1966) d. Hajime Sato (Japan) (78 min) (1st viewing)

During a press conference/demonstration of a new guided underwater missile, a unidentified humanoid shape is viewed on the Navy’s closed-circuit television monitors. Their curiosity sparked, reporters Ken Abe (Shinichi “Sonny” Chiba) and Jenny Gleason (Peggy Neal) decide to explore the area with scuba gear the following day, where Jenny has a close encounter with a low-rent Gill-Man, even getting close enough to snap a photo, losing her camera in the struggle. When the Navy refuses to believe her story, she and Ken head back out, only to be kidnapped by a swarm of the creatures and taken to the underwater laboratory of the nefarious Dr. Moore (Erik Neilson), who has dreams and schemes of transforming humanity into an army of amphibian cyborgs under his control! It’s up to Ken and Jen to clock the doc before the trouble bubbles and our lives take a dive.


Wednesday, October 23, 2019

THE BLOB (1988) Blu-ray Review




Scare-A-Thon Totals to Date:

Total Movies Watched: 21
Total First Time Views: 9
Amount raised for AMAZON WATCH: $1,737.96

The Blob (1988) d. Chuck Russell (USA) (95 min) (3rd viewing)

Small-town America comes under attack when a mysterious meteorite crashes outside Arborville city limits, unleashing an all-consuming gelatinous mass that devours any living creature it comes in contact with while growing at an exponential rate. Among the residents in its ravenous path are football hero Paul (Donovan Leitch), cheerleader Meg (Shawnee Smith), motorcycle-riding tough Brian (Kevin Dillon), stern-but-fair sheriff Herb Geller (Jeffrey DeMunn), and everyone’s favorite diner waitress Fran (Candy Clark). Without shape or remorse, the monstrous menace appears unstoppable, and the government troops sent in to protect seem more concerned with corralling and hushing up a very dangerous secret than with protecting the local citizens.


Tuesday, October 22, 2019

THE DEVIL RIDES OUT (1968) Blu-ray Review




Scare-A-Thon Totals to Date:

Total Movies Watched: 20
Total First Time Views: 9
Amount raised for AMAZON WATCH: $1,595.20

The Devil Rides Out (aka The Devil's Bride) (1968) d. Terence Fisher (UK) (95 min) (3rd viewing)

The debonair Duc de Richleau (Christopher Lee) has been entrusted with the care of his deceased friend's son, Simon Aron (Patrick Mower). The Duc discovers that the young man has been seduced into joining a satanic cult headed by the diabolic Mocata (Charles Gray), who is intent on making Simon and the lovely Tanith Carlisle (Nike Arrighi) card-carrying disciples of the Devil. Having rescued Simon from a bloodied ritual with the aid of his friend Rex (Leon Greene), de Richleau is pursued by Mocata, who will stop at nothing to destroy the Duc and his friends, even summoning the Angel of Death itself.


Monday, October 21, 2019

BLOODY MUSCLE: BODYBUILDER IN HELL (2012) DVD Review



Scare-A-Thon Totals to Date:

Total Movies Watched: 19
Total First Time Views: 9
Amount raised for AMAZON WATCH: $1,510.88

Bloody Muscle: Bodybuilder in Hell (2012) d. Shinichi Fukazawa (Japan) (62 min) (1st viewing)

Shinji (Shinichi Fukazawa) is a young and hunky gent who likes to lift the weights and take care of his body, but he’s also the kind of guy who picks up the phone when his ex-girlfriend (Masaki Kai) calls asking him if she can take photos of his deceased father’s supposedly haunted love nest to see if anything spectral shows up. He’s also the type to drive over with said ex-girlfriend and a rent-a-spiritualist medium (Asako Nosaka) to open the door so they can check the place out. And he’s definitely the type to kick some demon/zombie ass should the occasion arise, which it does in very short order.


Sunday, October 20, 2019

EVENT HORIZON (1997) Blu-ray Review



Scare-A-Thon Totals to Date:

Total Movies Watched: 18
Total First Time Views: 8
Amount raised for AMAZON WATCH: $1,431.46

Event Horizon (1997) d. Paul W.S. Anderson (UK/USA) (96 min) (2nd viewing)

Dr. William Weir (Sam Neill) has invented a futuristic “gravity drive” engine that, through a synthetic black hole, travels by folding time and space. Using the new engine, the spaceship Event Horizon disappears from radar scopes upon its maiden voyage, inexplicably reappearing seven years later in an orbit around Neptune. Taking Weir in tow, Captain Miller (Laurence Fishburne) leads a scrappy crew on a mission to recover the lifeless craft, only to find that the ship seems to have “brought something back” from… wherever it’s been. With the former crew missing, and a malevolent presence lurking, the term “ghost ship” feels all too apt.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

BRIGHTBURN (2019) Blu-ray Review



Scare-A-Thon Totals to Date:

Total Movies Watched: 17
Total First Time Views: 8
Amount raised for AMAZON WATCH: $1,351.84

Brightburn (2019) d. David Yarovesky (USA) (90 min) (1st viewing)

Shocking news: An inspired elevator pitch does not always result in a successful motion picture. Such is the case with the “What if Superman was evil?” concept behind this effort from the Gunn clan (James produces, while brother Brian and cousin Mark wrote the script) – what could have been an intriguing horror sidebar to our superhero-saturated landscape instead comes off as weak, lazy, and disappointing.

Friday, October 18, 2019

FULL MOON HIGH (1981) Blu-ray Review



Scare-A-Thon Totals to Date:

Total Movies Watched: 16
Total First Time Views: 7
Amount raised for AMAZON WATCH: $1,272.32

Full Moon High (1981) d. Larry Cohen (USA) (93 min) (1st viewing)

During the Cold War panic of the 1950s, superstar high school jock Tony (Adam Arkin) travels to Romania with his Commie-hating CIA father (Ed McMahon) where he is bitten by a werewolf, condemning him to a life of teen immortality and monthly shape-shifting. As the decades roll by, he decides to return to his alter mater in the present-day 1980s and re-enroll (posing as his own son) in the hopes of playing in the big championship football game and perhaps ridding himself of his booty-biting curse along the way.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

THE BOY (2015) Blu-ray Review




Scare-A-Thon Totals to Date:

Total Movies Watched: 15
Total First Time Views: 6
Amount raised for AMAZON WATCH: $1,184.85

The Boy (2015) d. Craig William Macneil (USA) (110 min) (1st viewing)

Far off the beaten path, the proprietor of the Mt. Vista Motel (David Morse) and his son Ted (Jared Breeze) live a disconnected, antisocial existence, forever changing linens for beds that have not been slept in, swapping out towels that have never been used. This idle life seems to severely affected them both; while the father simply sinks further into a stupor of self-pity and booze, his son develops an increasingly morbid fascination with death and dying. He dreams of collecting enough roadkill carcasses (for which his father pays a quarter each) to buy a Greyhound bus ticket out of Nowheresville, but that’s still a long way off and he’s getting impatient. One night, he lures a deer into the highway and causes a traffic accident for a potential fugitive from justice, William Colby (Rainn Wilson). With his car totaled, Colby is trapped for the foreseeable future at the Mt. Vista, and while he clearly harbors dark thoughts within his darker past, he is unprepared for the beguiling lure of this burgeoning knee-high sociopath.