For Halloween Month, here are thirteen recent horror/action films I have seen, and a bonus short film to watch now!
Timber Falls (2007)
[Josh Randall; Brianna Brown; Nick Searcy; Beth Broderick]
A couple goes camping in the woods to get away from it all. But what they encounter in these woods is far worse than stress they have in their city life. Soon enough, they are struggling for their very survival.
This movie surprised me, in a very good way. I was expecting the run-of-the-mill backwoods hillbilly killer flick. And yeah, I think that is a sub-genre all its own. But this was better. Not gold, but scarier than some of these types of movies.
The acting is great from all the actors, and the directing was good. Some indoor scenes could have been a bit brighter, but as I have said before, this might be more my own issue than the movie.
All in all, this was definitely one of the better backwoods horror B-level flicks I have seen.
Recommended for horror fans!
[Ross Partridge; Steve Zissis; Greta Gerwig; Elise Muller; Jett Garner]
A group of four friends decides to go out to a cabin to brainstorm an idea for an independent film. The horror idea they come up with - people like them, suddenly stalked by a man wearing a paper bag on his head - suddenly turns all too real.
This sounds interestingly funny. It was boring. I just couldn't get into it. The characters are supposed to be 'real', I guess. But maybe it was just too real and they were just too dull.
Didn't enjoy it. Only recommended if you are into the real indie, look-at-how-cool-we-are kind of films.
Official Baghead Site
Monster Man (2003)
[Eric Jungmann; Justin Urich; Aimee Brooks; Michael Bailey Smith; Joe Goodrich]
A couple of friends on a road trip soon run afoul of a strange man in a monster truck. After picking up a hitch-hiking young woman, the terror on the road is quickly escalated into horror they never could have imagined.
This movie is a lesser-known, lower-budget horror flick. But I like it. The characters are fun, the horror is gruesome at moments, and the whole thing is made more watchable by the mere fact that it's not taking itself super-seriously. It is just horror fun.
Recommended for horror fans. Others might not be so enamored.
Click here for the Monster Man trailer.
Clive Barker's Book of Blood (2008)
[Jonas Armstrong; Sophie Ward; Clive Russell; Paul Blair]
Okay, here is the plot description: Paranormal researcher Mary Florescu's investigations lead her to Simon McNeal, a college student who appears to be channelling messages from the dead. As their erotic relationship develops the line between the worlds of the living and the dead become blurred and finally collapse in a stunning and astonishing climax.
Yeah - I was lost. This was weird. Not only were a lot of the scenes dark and hard to follow, they were confusing as all hell. I really do NOT know what I watched here.
I liked the acting from Armstrong (the lead on the BBC's "Robin Hood"), but that is about all that appealed to me.
Recommended for Clive Barker fans, I guess. Not sure for others.
Official Clive Barker website
The Prowler (1981)
[Vicky Dawson; Christopher Goutman; Lawrence Tierney; Farley Granger; Cindy Weintraub]
A masked killer, wearing World War II U.S. Army fatigues, stalks a small New Jersey town bent on reliving a 35-year-old double murder by focusing on a group of college kids holding an annual Spring Dance.
This is definitely of its time, the early 80s. A slasher pic, this one tries to be a bit more by establishing a past for the killer to be connected to. However, none of the characters are fleshed out, most coming off as one-dimensional in the very few scenes they are in before being killed.
The leads, Vicky Dawson and Christopher Goutman, are decent, but even their characters aren't given more emphasis other than victim and hero. Vicky Dawson is very pretty, in a sort of Amy Steel-meets-Jennifer Runyon sort of way. (And kudos to you if you get that!) Too bad she kind of fell off the radar.
A few scene towards the end also had me checking the Net to see if this movie had connections to "Friday the 13th Part 2". It doesn't, but I have to think a couple of scenes here were either inspired by or inspirations for that movie. The director here, Joseph Zito, did go on to direct "Friday the 13th The Final Chapter".
All-in-all, this is a good time spent for horror or slasher fans, especially those with a love of the 80s flicks. The effects by Tom Savini are incredibly well done for the time, the shower scene making even me wince, accomplishing what it is meant to do.
Not including the trailer here, because the only one I was able to find gives TOO MUCH of the movie away! Here is the poster, at least.
Dinner With Max Jenke covered this film recently, as well.
[Lucy Holt; Amy Shiels; David Sterne; Antonia Bernath; Andrei Araditz]
Faith flees an abusive boyfriend by going to stay at a farm with a young friend. Soon, the terror of her old life pales in comparison to the horrors she finds at the farm's slaughterhouse.
Another of the AfterDark Horrorfest III films, this one left me feeling blah. The plot is pretty predictable and nothing really great jumped out at me. Just nothing special. Didn't thrill me, at all.
And why do so many newer horror flicks look so dark! Gah, it drives me crazy. Darkness and shadow does NOT automatically equal eerie film-making!
View the trailer here.
Official Site for Horrorfest III films
From Within (2008)
[Elizabeth Rice; Thomas Dekker; Kelly Blatz; Laura Allen; Adam Goldberg; Steven Culp]
When a series of suicides start happening in Grovetown, the townspeople turn a blind eye and cling to their beliefs. Lindsay is a student who instead investigates the mystery of the suicides and befriends Aidan, a nonbeliever. Lindsay discovers that something evil is behind the suicides and that she is next to die.
This one was interesting, an intriguing story with some decent acting. I think I would have enjoyed this one even more had I seen a theatrical or DVD version, instead of the commercial-laden SyFy Channel airing I did see.
Recommended for horror fans, for sure.
Official From Within site
Haunted House of Horrors (1969)
[Frankie Avalon; Jill Haworth; Dennis Price; Mark Wynter; George Sewell]
Teenagers gathered in an old mansion are being murdered one by one. The survivors must discover who among them is the killer before he finishes off everybody.
Sound exciting? It's not. This may be the most boring haunted house movie ever made! The DVR cut off at the end, and I am curious as to how the final moments went. Curious, but not overly concerned. Just 'meh'.
Recommended for completist horror fans, or Frankie Avalon fans. Everyone else can find something better to watch!
Tales of Terror (1962)
[Vincent Price; Peter Lorre; Maggie Pierce; Joyce Jameson; Basil Rathbone]
A Trilogy of Shock and Horror! Three tales of terror, based on Edgar Allen Poe stories, involve a grieving widower and the daughter he abandoned; a drunkard and his wife's black cat; and a hypnotist who prolongs the moment of a man's death.
This film, written by Richard Matheson and directed by Roger Corman, is at times creepy, scary and funny. What more can you ask for? The entire cast is great, with Price, Lorre and Rathbone being obvious standouts.
The middle tale, a combination of Poe's "The Black Cat" and "The Cask of Amontillado", is my favorite. The acting between Price and Lorre is just something of greatness. Fun stuff!
Definitely recommended, for fans of Poe, Corman, Price - and also fans looking for horror films that are eerie without being gory.
Prince of Darkness (1987)
[Donald Pleasence; Jameson Parker; Victor Wong; Lisa Blount; Dennis Dun; Susan Blanchard]
A cylinder of mysterious, green liquid is found in an abandoned church. It may contain the ultimate evil: an ancient iniquity that longs to escape. Several physicists try to comprehend what's happening and race to save the world, even as they're being turned into zombies one by one.
Directed by John Carpenter, I was expecting to love this movie. But it just lost me.
I guess it is supposed to be full of despair and the unknown, but I was just confused. Not scared so much as puzzled.
Recommended for hard-core horror fans.
[Aidan Quinn; Kate Beckinsale; Anthony Andrews; John Gielgud; Anna Massey]
David, a young man tormented by the accidental drowning of his sister years ago, returns to England to continue his work debunking claims of the supernatural. He ends up at Edbrook Manor, where he meets the comely Christina and her brothers, Robert and Simon. Despite warnings that the manor is haunted, David persists in his quest until the vision of his dead sister appears to him.
This movie is slowly paced, coming across as a heavy British drama. But the end is a big pay off, with a twist I wasn't expecting. Interesting, and a bit eerie at times.
Recommended for haunted house/ghost story fans.
Click here for a trailer for Haunted
Laid to Rest (2009)
[Bobbi Sue Luther; Kevin Gage; Lena Headey; Sean Whalen; Thomas Dekker; Nick Principe]
When a beautiful young girl wakes up in a coffin, she doesn't know who she is or how she got there. What she does know is that she'll have to put up the fight of her life to outwit a tech-savvy madman who wants to slay her before the night is over.
On the run from the killer, she meets up with some seemingly benign locals … but how can she know whom to trust?
This movie was good, better than I was expecting. But I still felt it was missing ... something. I do like that some of the standard horror cliches weren't followed perfectly. Better to keep the audience guessing.
Recommended for horror fans, for sure.
Laid to Rest Official Site
Death Race (2008)
[Jason Statham; Joan Allen; Ian McShane; Tyrese Gibson; Natalie Martinez; Frederick Koehler]
Jensen Ames, an ex-con turned speedway champion who's framed for a grisly murder and forced to compete in a grueling three-day televised car race against his fellow inmates. Sitting behind the wheel of a monster car outfitted with machine guns, flamethrowers and grenade launchers, Ames is in the race of his life -- and the whole world is watching.
This is a sort of remake/sequel to 1975's "Death Race 2000". David Carradine starred in the original, and provided the voice of the same character in the opening scene here.
This is an action flick, pure and simple. Doesn't try to be anything more than that.
That said, it is enjoyable as a hardcore action/racing flick. Don't go in expecting an Academy Award winner and you will enjoy it.
Death Race Official Site
Here is the short: "Smile" is a 2005 student film by Yuval Markovich and Noam Abta produced at Bezalel Academy of Arts & Design in Jerusalem.
Again, we have Darius at Adventures in Nerdliness to thank for that!