Tag Archives: horror


At some point, my horror movie podcast will come across a stretch of movies I have seen, all in a row. Or I’ll catch up to them, but that actually seems less likely. Anyway, “this” week, they are talking about Ticks, a movie which I have surely heard of, but had forgotten existed. Also, I definitely haven’t heard of it since I became aware of who Seth Green was. It predates his popularity, post-dates Peter Scolari’s[1], and falls right in the center of Carlton’s, though he played about as far against type as you can get from that role.

Anyway, Peter Scolari leads a band of misfit kids and his girlfriend for some reason out of Los Angeles and into the woods, so they can camp and, I don’t know what exactly. Get counseling? Have all of their problems solved by The Land? Run into evil pot farmers[2] who are spraying their crops with liquid steroids to improve crop production and growth speed, with who can even begin to guess what unintended consequences? The point is, they’re there, and nerdy Seth Green is making some moves on Scolari’s daughter (but then again she had the same “maybe I’m into this” look in her eyes after the silent girl caught a fish, so I may have who was making what moves backward), and Carlton is acting all tough and hanging out with his dog, and the “Do I look Mexican?” kid and his blonde girlfriend are catching some rays, and basically everything is fine for the entire movie, with a zero percent of, say, Clint Howard and a bunch of rubber arachnids ruining their weekend.

Here’s the problem, though. I’ve made that movie sound good, because how could that movie not sound good? I’ll tell you how, and yes with spoilers, but it’s for your own good. The way to ruin that movie, full of cheap monsters and squooshy special effects though it be, is by killing essentially nobody.

I’ll give you one guess who they did kill, which makes my complaint even stronger.

It’s a pity, because on paper it should have been so much better than this. I mean, okay, it’s still hilariously bad. It’s just, when the credits roll, your focus is on bad instead of hilarious.

[1] Just imagine. In 1993 Peter Scolari made Ticks, the same year for which Tom Hanks would win the first of his two back-to-back Oscars. That is a man who fame was unkind to.
[2] Dear people of the future: 30 years ago when Ticks was made, not only was marijuana illegal everywhere except maybe Amsterdam, but people who grew and distributed it were generally considered villainous. I know it’s hard to credit this in today’s semi-permissive United States, but it’s true!

Blood Vessel

Blood Vessel is, I think, one of those scripts that practically writes itself. It is one part Night of the Living Dead, by way of a group of disparate characters brought together by dire need. In this case, the dire need is that their WWII-era ship sank, and they are the survivors on the lifeboat who have almost lost hope. There’s, and forgive me if I don’t remember everyone, basically every character from a different country at first pass; the American, the Brit, the Australian, the Russian, and maybe one or two more. And then at second pass, there’s the black dude (American), the lady (British), and the Captain[1] (maybe also American?); the point is, everyone is different[2], so there’s no chance you’ll get anyone confused with anyone else. But also so there can be Conflict, and Drama.

And then mix that with two parts Dracula (or, if you prefer, Nosferatu), in that their lifeboat comes across a German military vessel, and they try to signal for help, since a) maritime law but mainly b) if they’re going to die of exposure or thirst, at least worst case the Germans will be quick. Unfortunately, there are no Germans on board, which means they got it wrong, what the worst case scenario might be.

And now they’re trapped on a boat with a bunch of strigoi, because Hitler sure does like to collect supernatural things. So, for the viewer, it’s just a game of “guess the survivor!”, with a side helping of gore and explosions. You know the type.

Was it good? I mean, no. Was it good within the constraints of its core concept? Still no, not as such. Was it worth the 93 minutes I spent on it? I don’t want to jump immediately to “no” again, but it’s worth noting pointing out that the movie is rated TV-MA, rather than R or even PG-13.

[1] If you’re asking, wait, why didn’t he go down with his ship? Don’t worry, he might as well have.
[2] Try not to think too hard about how people from that many backgrounds could have wound up on the same ship during a world war.


I feel like this is a movie I should have heard of before it came up as the next podcast movie, or maybe I did and later forgot? The Host, a title I do not believe I understand[1], tells the story of a chemically mutated fish monster that rises from the depths of the Han River in Seoul, South Korea, and terrorizes, well, obviously the whole city and sort of the country and the world, but specifically a very diversely talented family: the grandfather who owns a food truck down by the river, his daughter who is an Olympic class archer, his son-in-law who is a bit of a layabout, his teenaged granddaughter who is the child of the previous two, and his alcoholic son. They are terrorized, specifically, by the monster choosing to take and devour the granddaughter.

There’s honestly a lot to unpack in this movie. Fears about pollution and the continued US presence in South Korea are front and center, but also fears of central authority, a theme I’ve seen running throughout almost all of the Korean horror (film or TV) I’ve watched over the past several years. But all of that is thesis material I’m just not up to thinking about at the depth it deserves. I bet this dude I know named Trent has some opinions, though.

Really, what it mostly is is an old-fashioned rollicking monster movie, a la Them or Gojira. The effects are dated, but the monster itself is fantastic, and I cared about the family. Will the archer get over her her crippling perfectionism? Will the layabout and the alcoholic overcome their natural proclivities? Will the government stop getting in the way? The more I think about it, the more of a throwback movie it becomes in my estimation. But, you know, in a good way.

The runtime is probably 30 minutes longer than it needed to be, though.

[1] Gwoemul translates as Monster, a title that makes a lot more sense. *shrug emoji*

Malasaña 32

Today’s movie was chosen randomly[1] for fun, without any particular agenda such as keeping up with a podcast or seeing a movie of the week from November or wherever I left off, sigh. The sigh being about November, not about watching a movie purely just because.

32 Malasaña Street is an address in 1970s Madrid that houses a small apartment building of the type where you own the apartments. And after a spooky prequel scene from 1972 in which a couple of kids try to retrieve a marble and get scared by an old lady in a rocking chair that had, as far as I can tell, literally nothing other than geography to do with the rest of the movie[2], a family consisting of father, mother, older teenaged sister and brother, substantially younger brother, and declining grandfather buy the top floor apartment that has been vacant for some time, at a bit of a steal for the size of it, since there is not yet an elevator on premises.

They’re all bright-eyed for the big city, even mentioning multiple times how they left “the village”. (The teens have regrets, but not the adults.) And they start getting big city jobs and talking about big city opportunities, except that there are some, well, creepy big city noises and things shifting around and puppet shows on the big city TV channel when nobody else is around, and before you know it, it’s the Spanish Poltergeist / Rosemary’s Baby crossover you never knew you should have been asking for.

Other than the teen daughter being a little too open-minded for her “I grew up in a village and also it’s 1976 right now” backstory, this was pretty perfect. Good family tensions, good terrifying ghost, A+ haunting explanation, satisfying conclusion. Unless you hate subtitles, check it out.

[1] Well, it was deepest on my Shudder to-watch list
[2] Well, okay, maybe one thing

Kill List

I may have to stop watching movies at work.

What I mean is, this is two recently from the horror movie podcast homework where I just was not getting the expected enjoyment out of the film. I got maybe 30 minutes into Kill List and just noped out and started over, because I knew I had not been paying enough attention. Plus, I was not doing great with the accents, and I suppose that means I should elaborate before explaining.

This movie is a British relationship drama that is weird around the edges. I want to say unsettling around the edges, but the first few minutes are a portrait of a relationship in crisis, like, these people hate each other, except when they seem to love each other a lot instead, which would be maybe fine if there weren’t a kid in the picture. And that whole dynamic is so unsettling as to overwhelm the weird stuff that might otherwise qualify for the more sophisticated adjective. But then, just when you’re settling into that vibe, it morphs into a hit man movie[1], which is a little more unsettling around the edges, and maybe dripping onto the main part of the screen for that matter. And then at some point it jumps into completely batshit insane, and ends like you were supposed to understand what just happened, when what I can tell you with a degree of certainty is that I 100% do not understand what just happened.[2][3]

Am I so confused because I did not pay enough attention, because I was also working? There is definitely strong evidence that I missed some things for that reason, and if I were to try to watch it again one more time, I know where I would start from. But the thing is, I really kind of think that it was a twofold problem, and in fact there may not be any there, there. (Plus, Tubi has commercials, and one batch of those interrupting a movie was too many.)

But what I will say is, it sets a mood, A seriously creepifying and yes, unsettling, mood.

[1] I would deem this a pretty huge spoiler, honestly, except for the movie’s title.
[2] Footnote 3 is a massive spoiler for both this movie and the movie to which I will refer.
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Prince of Darkness

My horror movie podcast I mentioned watched a gory Satan movie, which meant in this case a John Carpenter movie I don’t think I ever knew had existed, Prince of Darkness. See, Father Loomis finds a dead priest from the previously secret Brotherhood of Sleep, about whom even the Vatican knows nothing, and who has had a secret basement under a church (in LA? They probably never say it’s LA, but it looks very LAish, despite the incongruity of the remainder of my sentence) for the last 2000 years or so, containing a book full of dozens of ancient languages with prophecies and anachronistic mathematical equations, and also an enormous glass cylinder full of swirling green light[1].

So naturally he calls upon a theoretical physicist to gather an elite crew of scientists and grad students to hang out for the weekend to figure out what’s going on, only there’s an implausible relationship between A.J. Simon[2] and a redhead with a truly terrible haircut, an unlikely all-day astronomical phenomenon, and a gathering swarm of homeless people led by Alice Cooper, all getting in the way.

I have to say, this movie starts weird. The credits went on forever, while Father Loomis investigated the dead priest’s possessions, Victor Wong (the uncle from Big Trouble in Little China) ominously explained to what should not have been a freshman survey course that the physical world is not what they think it is (because of how subatomic particles behave, I think?), and A.J. stalked or (if I’m being generous) pined for the redhead. But even after the credits finally ended, the “we’re not done with the opening credits yet” synth music soundtrack kept on throbbing for fully 30 minutes before Carpenter finally decided that we were finished with the setup phase and ready to find out what was going on, or at least he was tired of listening to all of the grad students and scientists and theologians and ancient language experts ask each other what was going on.

Then a lot of things happened for the rest of the movie that I will not spoil, except to say that if you told me this movie inspired the guy with the crazy hair on Ancient Aliens, I would not be the least bit surprised.

Maybe Carpenter’s weakest film, and yet it had a certain charm.[3] Recommended mainly if you want to see him give work to people you’ve seen in his films before, or if you want to hear probably the greatest Christianity origin story you will ever hear.

[1] The basement, not the book.
[2] Will anyone understand this antediluvian reference? Doubtful!
[3] No pun, even though I understand that the only reason the movie exists is he’d just read a bunch of books on theoretical physics and wanted to make a movie about them.

Scream VI

The Scream movies have always been extremely meta. So by the time you’ve gotten to the sequel of the reboot sequel (requel, apparently?), well, there’s no way to be surprised at just how far up its own ass the movie, nay, the franchise, has crawled. Which, I hasten to clarify, is not necessarily a bad thing. I, for example, am still not allergic to the tightening gyre of Gen-X self-reflection, nor will I judge harshly any movie that stabs quite so many people quite so many times.

There’s just one problem with Scream VI, which I must unfortunately put underneath the spoiler tag.

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That horror discussion podcast by the people who make Welcome to Night Vale watched Dead Alive, an early Peter Jackson film that I’d never seen, and so here we are.

Honestly, I have very little to say. Except for the fact that Army of Darkness came out a year later, I would say this movie was heavily influenced by that one. …but it is probably fair to say it was influenced by Evil Dead 2, so, kind of the same thing in some ways. I was also thinking that the precipitating scene on Skull Island was funny, in that they used the King Kong island name for their insufficiently spooky setting to catch a monkey with a zombie disease amidst cliched natives. But no, Jackson is on record for loving King Kong well enough to make its second remake, so, that actually tracks.

I could probably go on, but really what this reads as is a movie made by someone without a lot of budget[1] but with a lot of love for schlock cinema. It certainly doesn’t have the polish of The Frighteners, is nowhere near the seriousness of Heavenly Creatures, and doesn’t have the budget that the Tolkien-based movies spent on fireworks alone. But you can still see the talent underlying it all. And bravo on whoever saw that talent in prospect rather than retrospect and gave him more money for the next thing he made. It worked out pretty well.

Oh, um, other than forward and backward looking influences, I’ve said nothing. It’s basically a horror movie that aspires to be a romantic comedy, except the hero’s mother keeps getting in the way. …I had intended to say more, but, no, that really sums it up.

[1] And most of it spent on building WETA[2] so they could do a little stop motion animation, with all the funds left over going to several industrial barrels full of gore.
[2] I have no idea when WETA happened, so don’t quote me on this timeline in wikipedia or anything.

The Mortuary Collection

Sometimes movies are extremely basic, but in a good way, so you have fun, which in turn makes it almost a bad way after all, because at least if it weren’t fun you’d have something negative to say instead of practically nothing at all. Enter The Mortuary Collection, in which Clancy Brown runs a, you know, mortuary, while wearing what seemed to me to be an unnecessary amount of old guy makeup. He looked 60 when he was 20, and if he still only looks 60 now, how old does a mortician need to look?

Anyway, this blonde girl shows up in response to the help wanted sign right after a child’s funeral, and they discuss her qualifications for the job, which for some reason means he starts telling implausible morality plays about the ways denizens of the town of Raven’s Hollow (where the mortuary resides) have died. Which is to say: anthology movie! …if the title didn’t give that away already, I mean.

The stories themselves were decent if mostly predictable, and the wrapper story was pretty good as well, even if the ending was a bit inexplicable. Also, exploding penis, which is not a thing you see every day.

30 Days of Night

Here’s another movie I watched for podcast purposes. I’m in like August of 2020 right now on all my podcasts, and you can see how this is going to be a problem for me. Also, though, it’s not perfectly fair to say I watched 30 Days of Night. See, it was on last week[1] while I was working, and this usually works out fine for me, subtitle movies excepted. Do I miss some fine plot points of my TV shows and random horror movies on shudder? Sure, maybe! But I know what’s going on, and if I don’t I run things back and rewatch and pay closer attention for a while. No problem! Or if I realize that haha no it’s actually that complex, I watch it while not at work instead.

But this time… I just could not bring myself to care. Like, I thought I knew what was up. Northern Alaska, dead of winter[2], axial tilt means no sunrise for, let’s say, thirty days? All of which equals vampires! And so there’s this initial rush of people dying, and you have survivors, and it was all making sense, until at some point I realized that it was already halfway through the month even thought I thought it was still the first, er, night. Calendar night. You know. And maybe if I’d gone back then it would have been okay, but I figured no problem at least now I know how things are going, but then time kept jumping[3], and I kept not caring enough about the characters to try to keep up, and finally at the end, well, it was a perfectly cromulent ending I guess and ultimately I still really don’t care that I maybe probably don’t actually know what happened in the movie?

So, uh… meh.

[1] two weeks ago? I bet you can already tell where this is going based on that uncertainty alone.
[2] a) get it? b) good boardgame tho
[3] This is based on a graphic novel [series?] that I’ve never read before, and I wonder if this was the source of the time jumps. (Or alternately maybe there were not any particular time jumps, and I was just paying even worse attention than I assume.)