Tag Archives: horror

Party Hard Die Young

There are two kinds of slasher movies. The first kind is a gradually building sequence of events and accompanying tension in which targeted characters first learn that murder is on the menu and then over the remainder of the film try desperately to stay alive long enough to find out who is behind the murders, in the hopes of saving themselves; this of course does not work for virtually any of them, but that’s the tenor of the semi-genre. Examples: Friday the 13th, Friday the 13th: A New Beginning (aka part 5), the majority of one-off slasher films.

The other kind is almost always a member of a longer series, and everyone knows who the killer is because he’s[1] an unstoppable supernatural force. The trying to stay alive part is the same, as is the success rate, just without the false hope that figuring out what’s going on would help. Examples: any movie set on Elm Street, the remainder of the F13 franchise.

Party Hard, Die Young is a literal-minded (or, more to the point, -titled) example of the first kind of slasher movie, about a small group of graduating German high school seniors, or whatever they might be called instead in Germany, who were all in the same home room, or however German classes are divided up. Eight or ten of them, anyway? I lost track of that sentence. Let me start over. It’s about a group of German teens off to a summer EDM[2] festival on an island in the Adriatic, to party hard before going off to college, but then most of them die young instead.

Get it?

The description on Shudder and in IMDb makes reference to how slick and stylish and post-Scream it is, and, man, I just can’t tell what they’re talking about. Like, it has a modern feel to it, both the film quality and of course the lighting and soundtrack; it’s definitely not an ’80s slasher movie. That’s fine, but if you say post-Scream to mean everything looks and sounds better, instead of grainy 35mm film stock and spooky sound editing, man did you miss what made Scream ground-breaking.

In summation, this was a pretty good albeit by the numbers slasher mystery, and mainly it made me hungry for someone to make the same movie, but the setting is Burning Man.

[1] Where, I ask you, are the female-led supernatural slasher serieses? Get it together, not-Hollywood!
[2] Electronic Dance Music, boomer

The Love Witch

Movies in the ’60s were weird. Because they had all these eye-popping colors, and would film people in sharp focus while driving and the background looked like completely different film stock, even though I think it was actually real instead of matted, and everyone’s performance was very earnest and serious, like the fate of the world depended on finding a new boyfriend or solving that mysterious murder or discussing whether feminism is worthwhile in the modern world. No naturalism to speak of in really any aspect of a ’60s movie, is I think my point.

The Love Witch was made just a handful of years ago, but you’d believe the filmstock was kept in an airtight container for the past 50+ years, if not for the occasional modern vehicle in street shots, because every other aspect is pitch perfect. Elaine, per her interior monologue, recently lost her husband and became a witch, and now she needs to find love again, which she plans to do by finding a man, giving him everything he could possibly want[1], and also a love potion she mixed up on top of that. That premise established, all that remains is to find out whether she actually knows what she wants, as well as how far she will go to get it. Plus a bunch of random burlesque dancing, naked coven ceremonies, creepy MRA-disguised-as-ultra-feminist warlocks, largely gratuitous tarot, and the most random, tiny renfaire you ever did see.

And a theme song that must be heard to be believed, “Love Is a Magikal Thing”.

[1] Free access to sex and sandwiches? I’m only barely clear on what else she had in mind, if anything.

Humanoids from the Deep

I cannot justify any claim that Monster (Humanoids from the Deep) is a good movie. First of all, were coastal fishing towns in California ever even a thing? I have the sense that every inch of usable beach is for being beachfront for zillionaires, not for fishing boats that compete with each other and sometimes blow up and also there’s a cannery being built that will save the town, unless it will violate a treaty with the local tribe and they decide to sue about it and ruin the town. It’s like, what even was the point of manifest destiny?

None of that has anything to do with any humanoids from the deep, but then again neither does a guy in a tent seducing chicks with a ventriloquist dummy (and the same ventriloquism jokes you hear every time that concept is raised), and yet here we are. My point, if I am somehow failing to make it, is that this movie doesn’t make a lick of sense, and is also generally offensive in that 1980 second card on the late night double feature kind of way.

But that’s okay! It revels in being nonsensical, since really everything that happens is a vehicle for ladies to get naked so they can be chased (and as you can clearly see on the poster, be mated with) by fishmen (not to be confused with the fishermen, although clearly this also happens from time to time; the difference is the fishermen understand consent) who have evolved for… some reason? The scientist who was clearly an inspiration for the scientist lady in Deep Murder explained it at some point, but I didn’t really follow.

Roger Corman was probably not a good man? But he knew how to produce a B-movie, is all I’m really trying to say here. Another thing I suppose I cannot justify is how to square being a modern liberal with loving this kind of trash. Mostly I don’t try, though. It’s just who I am?

Busanhaeng

It’s no secret that I love a good zombie movie, which I define as one in which the zombies act as a setting upon which the truth of the characters is revealed. I freely acknowledge that this setting is, in the vernacular, “played out”. I should clarify, as I think that usage mostly means, ugh, zombie makeup and biting people, whereas what I mean is that there may not be anything new to say about the truths of characters in that apocalyptic situation.

That said, I still do love a good zombie movie, even if it’s one I’ve seen before (metaphorically or literally, although this time definitely the metaphorical version is at issue). Train to Busan tells the story of a hedge fund manager and his nearly-estranged young daughter, off to visit her mother (his ex-wife) on the occasion of her (7th? 8th? 6th? …let’s say 7th) birthday. The high speed bullet train is full of characters: elderly sisters, a C-level business executive, a high school baseball team and its cheerleader, a pregnant couple, some homeless guy who’s already seen too much on a day that most of the passengers don’t even know is unusual, oh, and a lady with a bite on her leg who just barely made it on before the doors closed.

Over the course of their trip to Busan[1], these people (especially the hedge fund manager, you understand) will learn a lot about each other, themselves, and what’s really important. Also, most of them (especially the ones I didn’t paint a picture of above) will die. Because that’s what happens in a good zombie movie. Both parts, I mean. My point is, this one was indeed a good one, and “seen it before” or not, I approve.

[1] Do I want to play a heavily-skinned remake of Tokaido based on this movie? Maybe!

The Furies (2019)

Man I’m watching a lot of movies lately. Probably the one I watched last night should have been time spent reading instead? I have a great excuse for reading less while I’m working[1], but not much excuse for reading less while my wife is on the phone with her mother for a couple of hours.

On the bright side, I rather liked The Furies. The trick is, you have to give it fifteen or twenty minutes, because it starts off pretending to be a different movie than it ultimately is. See, there are a bunch of girls in boxes in a creepy eucalyptus (probably) forest, and once they get out of the boxes they’re being hunted by hulking brutes in creepy[2] masks. Which is to say, generic torture-adjacent but full-on misogyny horror. And it’s okay to not want to get past the first fifteen or twenty minutes based on that opening, because believe me, I get it.

But if you did, it quickly turns into a weird puzzlebox mystery with enough answers for both a satisfying conclusion and hooks for a very different, revenge-oriented sequel. Which I doubt will get made, but I’d probably watch if it did. Because I actually want to know more about what was going on.

[1] Although I’m writing this while I’m working, so arguably right now my excuses are sub par.
[2] Not as creepy as the last creepy masks movie, for calibration purposes

Haunt (2019)

Sometimes horror movies are thoughtful and disturbing explorations of the darkness our collective psyche can contain; other times they’re gory morality tales about the dangers of behaving like a teenager. But also sometimes, they’re nothing more than a skeleton-thin premise around which to hang 90 minutes of growing discomfort and torture for no reason whatsoever.

Haunt is Hostel, except if the people who like to torture and eventually murder continent- and bar-hopping college student types decided that kidnapping them first was too much trouble, so they set up a haunted house experience instead. Sure, the upfront work is maybe a lot, but at least the victims walk in the front door and pay you for the privilege.

Pros: slow burn on the tension meter, with things not really going pear-shaped until the last third of the movie. Very creepy masks. Zero indication of why the bad guys are doing what they’re doing. (You can say that doesn’t go in the pro column, but I like the elemental force of nature killers that just happen to other people more, on average, than I like the ones with a real backstory.)

Cons: Torture porn is torture porn, dress it up how you will. Also, they spent a little too much effort on the mysterious past of the Final Girl, with no particular payoff to show for it. That would shave an extra ten minutes off the flick right there. Oh, and too many spiders.

The Babysitter: Killer Queen

It took me so long to watch The Babysitter after I stuck it in my Netflix queue that they made a sequel! And it came out only like three months later. Go timing?

Things I liked about The Babysitter: Killer Queen, a short list:

  1. Claiming all the evidence of the murderous satanic cult was erased and everyone thinks Cole[1] made the whole story up? Bold! There’s definitely a sense that they might be right, and maybe he’s just a little bit crazy, and that sense lingers beyond the recap intro mood-setting scenes at the beginning.
  2. Still funny, in a goofy over-the-top way that I don’t see enough outside of movies templated like Scott Pilgrim vs. Whoever, which take their goofiness way too seriously. This does not do that. Once again, my compliments to the letterer.
  3. It finds the humor in way way too much gore that does not exist in the right amount of gore. You can’t really be in this movie without getting a faceful of blood spray, which is at this point the fart joke of horror movies, except way funnier than farts, because someone just died.
  4. Okay, that last thing doesn’t exactly make sense, but here we are.

Thing I didn’t like about it, a shorter list:

  1. The title, which has exactly zero semantic meaning. It’s cool that they used the song, but no, not a good enough excuse. If you don’t have an actually clever title, just call it The Babysitter 2 and get over yourself.
  2. The moral of the movie scene, not because it had a “moral”, but because they thought they earned the payoff the moral describes, and I’m really not convinced they did. Same thing as above, don’t forcefeed me a moral. If you earn it, cool, but if not, you’re a damn horror movie. Don’t have a moral. That’s okay here more than literally anywhere else!

If you liked the first one, check it out. If you didn’t, you won’t, and if you are in the supermajority of people who have no opinion here, this movie isn’t enough to tilt the balance one way or another.

[1] Cole is the kid from the first movie who was babysat.

Deep Murder

Deep Murder is a porn parody, but not the way you’re thinking. See, I thought it was a by-the-numbers slasher in which people on the set of a softcore movie are getting gradually murdered, and yes, I will absolutely watch that movie. But this is so much better than what I thought it was.

It is instead a decidedly not by any numbers I’ve ever seen[1] softcore porn in which the characters are getting gradually murdered. And the only way to survive is to overcome all of their in character instincts and start treating what they’re living as a murder mystery cum horror movie[2] instead of the porno that is all they’ve ever known.

I approximately never stopped laughing. As far as I can tell, this was the best comedy of 2019, and I recommend it to basically anyone, although if you ever watched something in the wee hours of the night on Cinemax, you might have a leg up. For the record, there is [approximately] no nudity. It’s not that kind of movie in any way other than that it specifically is that kind of movie or it wouldn’t work, if you take my meaning.

[1] The closest thing I can think of is Zombie Strippers, and there are only a couple of tangential similarities.
[2] *smirk emoji*

Hatchet III

Later, they made Hatchet III.

I really respect where this is going. The movie starts on the morning after Hatchet II, which is to say two mornings after Hatchet. This is still one continuous narrative, even if one character has changed actors and one actor continues to show up as new characters. But then, that latter is part of the joke.

Another thing I appreciate is that they got the urge for overwhelming gore out of their system last time, so this one could be funny again. And it was. Possibly made even more funny by catharsis based on recent events, but watching Victor Crowley versus a Sheriff’s Department and also a SWAT team? I may well have found myself fascinated for twice as long, if he’d just kept killing people in new and inventive ways. (Just like in real life, I was sad for the one to possibly three of them who didn’t deserve what they got.)

Basically, if you like slasher movies enough to find them inherently funny, and want to watch modern films by someone who loves the genre just as much, and is in on the joke right along with you, this is a can’t miss series. Each entry adds just enough new material to not feel like a retread, while otherwise entirely being a retread, just as God and John Carpenter intended.

Unlike last time, though, I’m actually not sure how there’s room for another sequel. That actually felt like the end?

Hatchet II

Apparently, the second Hatchet movie had some problems getting past the MPAA without deep, deep edits, most of which were taking over-the-top gore scenes and making them shorter, which for some reason is less offensive. They also pulled some mutilated genitalia scenes and about five seconds of transition from sex to necrophilia, both of which were critical to the plot.

Thankfully, the Prime Video people mislabeled the rated R version, so I got the unrated version instead.

Hatchet II is in the very small class of perfect horror movie sequels that understand how sequels should pick up immediately after the prior movie ended[1]. Final girl Marybeth is ready to plunge right back into the swamp to retrieve the bodies of her dead family folk and just maybe take revenge on the wielder of the eponymous murder weapon[2], with help from voodoo entrepreneur Tony Todd and his band of merry redneck mercenaries. Will it work? I mean, maybe, but I have it on good authority that there are (at least) two sequels left, so, well, you do the math.

In short: not as good, nor as funny, as the original, but what it lost in comedy plus originality, it more than made up in commitment to grossing out the plebes. I ain’t mad at it.

[1]Aliens gets a pass on this. “Sure”, you may be thinking, “57 years isn’t immediate!” But thanks to cryogenics, it was immediately for Ripley, and that’s what matters here.
[2] ssshhhhhhhhhh