Color Out Of Space (2020) – We’re Hues Out In Space

Released: 6th February
Seen: 11th February

The Colour Out Of Space is a 1927 story by H.P. Lovecraft about the events that happen after a meteorite crashes to earth. If I were to boil the entire idea down to one sentence, it’s basically about a light of sentient evil colour from outer space that sends people crazy and then kills them. It’s an insanely weird idea for a story, so naturally we need to get this to star Nicholas Cage and get the original director of the 1996 version of The Island of Dr Moreau (yes, the weird Marlon Brando version that was such an infamous flop that there’s a documentary dedicated to explaining what the hell went wrong) to helm it. Surely this is going to go splendidly and won’t at all be a big weird mess that pales in comparison to another film involving Nicholas Cage and extreme amounts of primary colours.

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The Grudge (2020) – There’s A Croaking Sound Outside

Once again I have written a review for an outside source and have decided to link to it here, in part so that those who get email notifications can know where to look for my latest work and also to maintain the “One post a day” that seems to allow the views on this blog to rise (Turns out taking two weeks off after the most popular posts of the year can result in taking the view count… fun)

Anyway, the fine people at Soda & Telepaths once again asked me to review something for them, The Grudge… I now hold the notable honour of giving the lowest score ever on that site, so I’m pretty proud of that. Go see it, I did not like that film and I need to warn the people about why it’s a bad film.

Ghost Stories (2020) – Boo!

Released: 1st January
Seen: 4th January

The anthology film is a sad rarity nowadays, especially in Horror. Horror used to be a haven for great little films that told several short scary stories but we haven’t had a truly great one in a while, the last one I can remember being truly special was the V/H/S series (I’m aware Nightmare Cinema came out last year to decent notices but I haven’t been able to see that one yet). The big thing that makes these films particularly special is how they link together. That connection is what takes something from a series of short films to a cohesive anthology film. V/H/S did it with the gimmick of every story being done in a found-footage style, a simple little gimmick but an effective one that allowed each story to flow naturally between each other and made it feel more like a single film rather than a series of shorts. Netflix is now having a go at it by distributing the movie Ghost Stories and… oh boy.

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Black Christmas (2019) – Coal In My Stocking

Released: 13th December
Seen: 14th December

When we look back at the history of the horror genre and specifically the modern American slasher film we end up having a few early films that could claim ownership of being the first of that subgenre. Black Christmas, a 1974 film by director Bob Clark, is regularly cited as one of the earliest slasher films and a major influence on everyone who followed. It was notable for having a cast of almost all women and for never showing the face of the killer, known only as ‘Billy’. While it was only a modest box office success at the time it’s gone on to get the accolades it deserves for its genuinely groundbreaking narrative and aesthetic… and then someone remade it in 2006, sucked out every bit of subtlety and intelligence from the film and made something that’s almost emblematic of what not to do with a slasher movie remake. So naturally, when another remake of Black Christmas was announced, people were sceptical… and then they announced it would include lots of feminism and the people on the internet who like to claim they know about horror movies but clearly never saw the original Black Christmas lost their freaking minds for all the wrong reasons when they should’ve waited to see the film and lose their minds because it’s just not that good.

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Countdown (2019) – Please Be The Final

Released: 24th October
Seen: 27th November

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, Horror is a very silly genre. Almost by design, it’s a genre that will look at something in everyday life and say “What if we did that, but made it deadly”. Stephen King is the master of this, he took cars and cell phones and long grass and found a way to make them terrifying. Sometimes horror also takes something, makes it deadly, and then acknowledges how silly that is. Jack Frost, for example, is about a killer snowman… there is no way on earth to make that scary, so you lean into the comic absurdity of it. So naturally when you hear a plot idea like “It’s an app that kills you”, I kind of expected something a little tongue in cheek… I also expected something fun and I really need to stop doing that because it tends to not happen when I want it to.

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Widows Walk (2019) – Walk On

Released: 16th December
Seen: 18th November (Lift-Off Film Festival)

When it comes to ghost stories, it’s very hard to get a truly great one. Ghosts are the kind of horror movie creature that can either be genuinely terrifying or goofy as hell with very little in between. I tend to like ghost movies more when the ghosts are used as some kind of metaphor, either for repressed emotions or for grief, because that lets these apparitions be used for something interesting instead of just “an excuse to make a closing door scary”. This movie used ghosts as a metaphor for grief, but it also needed to work a bit on its structure.

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The Addams Family (2019) – *Snap Snap*

Released: 5th December
Seen: 23rd November (Advance Screening)

In 1938 Charles Addams created a cartoon about a strange family for the New Yorker. It was a satirical take on the modern family that ran for 150 single-panel cartoons and gained a following. Enough of a following that in 1964 a TV series was greenlit and that series, though it only lasted for two seasons, would be responsible for giving every member of this family their names and set the tone that people would come to expect from these characters. The series would continue to be adapted into many forms from cartoons to new live-action series to the two 90s Addams Family movies everyone loves (Don’t deny it) and even a stage musical. Now it’s a big bold animated movie, another in the recent trend of “Franchises that refuse to die” and like a lot of films in that trend, you don’t need to see this one.

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Morbid Stories (2019) – Story Time

Released: 22nd October
Seen: 19th November

Every now and then there’ll be an indie filmmaker who’ll send me a link to their film. It’s happened a few times so far, things like Hate Crime or Violence Voyager were little indie companies trying to spread the word about their film and I’m always happy to talk about them. Indie films do tend to get treated differently because we understand that these are films made usually by first time directors who are honing their craft and working on their skills. Allowances need to be made for a difference in budget and availability of resources so keep that in mind while we look at a new anthology film called Morbid Stories. Being an anthology film, the only real way to talk about it is by talking about each short film that makes up the anthology itself, because each one was made by a different crew and director with different visions and it’s unfair to paint them all with the same brush when they’re really different in quality and tone. I want you to remember one key thing… I was sent this, I wouldn’t have reviewed it if I wasn’t asked to.

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Zombieland 2: Double Tap (2019) – Filling like a Twinkie

Released: 17th October
Seen: 11th November

Zombieland 2: Double Tap is a film that exists for reasons I don’t quite understand. At least, I don’t understand why it exists right now. In 2009 when the original Zombieland came out in cinemas it was still a good time for Zombie-related media, the hit series The Walking Dead was still a year away so having a comedy film about a bunch of people surviving in a zombie wasteland felt fresh and new. The style choices and tone all felt like something we hadn’t seen before and it was one of the funniest films of the time and still holds up today. It’s not like they didn’t try to get a sequel out right away, but everything languished in development hell so long that now we’re so far past the prime time for Zombie movies that Disney felt like they could do one. So how do you make a comedic take on a topic that’s already been wrung dry? Well… you just do the same stuff you did the last time only with a tiny upgrade in the technology and the zombies.

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The Haunting of Sharon Tate (2019) – UGGGH

Released: 5th April
Seen: 6th November

When we look through history for the point when certain eras ended, we tend to look for major events that were turning points. It can be argued that the 60s, the era of free love, ended on August 9th 1969 when actress Sharon Tate and four of her friends were brutally murdered by the Manson Family (who I shall henceforth refer to as as “that pack of murdering assholes” because I’m the one typing this and I get to be as petty as I want!). The vile crime was historic in how shocking it was and the man who inspired it (now dead, YAY) was instantly recognized as the face of true evil. It’s a tragedy that people keep revisiting in film, to varied results. It’s usually incredibly tasteless, focusing on that pack of murdering assholes and they never have good acting. The one time I can think of when someone did something good with the entire horrific affair was earlier this year when Once Upon A Time In Hollywood did a “What If?” story where Sharon never even had to know who that pack of murdering assholes was… so, naturally, in the same year we get the best possible version of a retelling of the Sharon Tate murders we also have to get the absolute worst version because we live in a hellscape and everything is awful.

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