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Belittling Horror Excessively: ...And The Rest!09:42 PM -- Fri October 31, 2014

SPOILER WARNING: THESE REVIEWS CONTAINS SPOILERS

13 Sins

This movie is the story of a guy who gets a mysterious phone call from somebody who's obviously watching him, offering him $1,000 to swat the fly in his car. From there, it escalates - 13 challenges ensue, with each one worth more money, and being more transgressive and illegal. He is allowed to quit at any time, but will lose all he's won if he does. It's a scary game show!

This is a fun movie. I was completely enthralled just because I always wanted to know what the next challenge would be. And of course, you knew it was going to get murdery, so I kept waiting for that. I was not disappointed, though it was surprisingly far into the challenges before they actually wanted anybody dead.

It's your typical global-conspiracy-with-magical-surveillance-abilities movie. Pretty fun. The main character is an American Martin Freeman, which instantly makes him more sympathetic, despite him gradually turning evil. There are a ton of twists crammed into the ending portion of the movie, and while most of them are pretty guessable, there's some fun stuff going on. My favorite is the absolute last scene in the movie (I don't recall, it might even have been after the credits started), which starts off seeming like your typical horror movie ending that sets up that the evil will never die... but then actually turns around and becomes the moral of the story. Our hero didn't need to get himself into so much trouble, he invited it with greed.

In the end, the body count is large but hard to track thanks to one memorable and horrible scene. It's around 14 people, 2 flies, and we can reasonably infer that a 3rd fly also died. This movie is a pretty fun 4 out of 5 Cups of Coffee.


Truth or Die

This is the story of a group of horrible college kids who abuse another kid (Felix). Long after, they're invited to Felix's birthday party, and they go, not because they like him, but because he's rich and they assume that means lots of free booze. They assume wrong, and Felix's brother kidnaps and tortures them to find out which of them sent the nasty postcard which caused Felix to hang himself. Revenge ensues.

This is in the 'torture-porn' realm of movies like Saw, but it's kind of unique in that it's more like how that would go in real life - the torturer has only one very simple Evil Torture Device, and he doesn't have any complex grand schemes or backup plans, he just struggles to keep control over things and pretty much fails.

This movie is mostly very frustrating. Though the killer is army-trained and has a gun, he still has pretty minimal control over these people. They know he intends to kill them, and yet despite a million opportunities - including the killer giving his gun to one of them - they never take the chance to stop him or escape. Well, they do eventually, but I feel like this was just poorly written. It wouldn't have been hard to make the scenario less escapable, like for instance if he actually tied up all of the victims instead of enlisting one to help him corral the others.

On the plus side, it all wraps up in a way that makes sense at the end and reveals some surprises, and ties into something that otherwise seemed like an excessively horrible personality trait for most of the movie. Turns out it was a plot point!

In the end, there's a body count of 7, and the movie passes by with 2 out of 5 Grenades. It's not really worth seeing, but it wasn't badly done for what it was. Oh yeah, and Felix's brother is harder to kill than Jason. There's really no proof he's even dead at the end of the movie, and I wouldn't count on it after all the things he shrugged off.


100 Bloody Acres

This is the story of 3 people who hitch a ride in a "bone and blood" fertilizer truck (well, there's nutrients in bone and blood...). You just know that's not going to go well. And yes, the fertilizer-making brothers decide to grind up the hitchhikers into fertilizer because apparently living people have a lot of potassium in them. Comedy? ensues.

This is a horror-comedy, but I realized about halfway through that I hadn't laughed once... it's just not a funny movie. It's light-hearted, unrealistic and sort of silly, but there aren't really any jokes. I guess you're just supposed to laugh at the situation, but I'm a tougher nut to crack than that!

I'll cut to the chase on this one, because I don't think it's worth my time. There's a body count of 6, and it earns just 2 out of 5 Diamond Rings. It's nothing terrible, but there's nothing about it to recommend. Try Tucker And Dale Vs. Evil if you want to have fun with people ending up in grinding machines!


Beneath

And our final movie of the month is the story of a coal miner's daughter (hey, they exist!), who insists on joining her father on his last day at the mine before retiring. Of course there's a cave-in and... hmm. Craziness, ghosts, zombies and murder ensue.

Once the cave-in occurs, the people have a lot to contend with. They don't even realize there are ghost zombies because they're too busy trying to ensure they have oxygen and don't get crushed by falling rocks. This lack of oxygen is very stressful for me. Her father ends up doing a whole lot of wheezing and saying "I can't breathe!" which I do not like!

Then when it comes to the whole ghost/zombie/madness thing, I'm honestly not sure what was going on. Some people definitely got killed by other people who had gone crazy, but other people seemingly couldn't have. The main character saw peoples' faces as zombie faces sometimes and freaked out, but it definitely wasn't as simple as people having hallucinations and protecting themselves from the 'monsters', because we saw people turning evil out of the blue, not just freaking out. I'm sure there's some explanation that covers the combination of things that happened, I'm just not sure what it is. Was it just methane poisoning their brains? Ghost possession? Doesn't feel like either of those covers everything that happened, but whatever.

That said, it was enjoyable and suspenseful. With a body count of 8ish, and a score of 4 out of 5 Oxygen Tanks, it's a pretty decent way to end the month.


So now, as I sit here with Spiders 3D playing in the background, I must bid adieu to my month of scary movies. This is I believe the fourth year of Halloween Horror reviewing, and feels like the most disappointing. Nothing worthy of 5 stars this month. A bunch of pretty decent movies, a bunch of mediocre and bad movies, and one awful movie (Absence!). But it's always fun to find out what lurks in the next movie, and I always end each October wanting to keep watching a movie a day. I just don't want to have to write reviews or draw pictures!

Yet here is one last picture, just a generic Halloweeny one! Is it bad that I'm glad I'm not forced into doing a drawing every day after this? And that I copped out by only having one drawing for the last four movies? It's just so hard...
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Belittling Horror Excessively: The Taking of Deborah Logan11:35 AM -- Fri October 31, 2014

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Hey, it's Halloween at last! By my count, I actually need to review 5 more movies to reach 31. I've watched 3 of those movies, so I have to watch two movies and write 5 reviews today. That seems like a lot, actually. So I better rip through it quick!

This is your classic possession movie, though it's not so classic because it's quite different. Deborah Logan is an old lady just beginning to suffer from Alzheimer's disease. A documentary crew has come to film her inevitable decline (not because she's anybody special, just to educate about Alzheimer's). Unfortunately, she's not just losing her wits, she's also being possessed. Teleportation ensues.

We're back in the realm of found footage! In a slight twist, this one contains some high-profile actors that I recognize, so it's not playing the "these are unknowns, so maybe it's real" game that is a wee bit played out. I'm good with that, because it's not like anybody was falling for it anyway, and famous actors usually got that way via talent, so it only helps the movie. Found-footage-wise, this is fine, nothing too believable, nothing too ridiculous, although there is no real good reason why a documentary crew would install security cameras all over the house. That is not typical documentary stuff. To be honest, I mostly forgot about the cameras, which I consider a win. I would rather be wrapped up in the actual story than arguments over whether somebody should stop filming or whatever.

Alzheimer's is very awful. It's one of my bigger fears. It's sort of like dying, only you get to be there as everybody grieves. Pretty horrendous. It also means that this woman is under medical supervision, which takes some weird possession stuff and puts it into medical hands, in an interesting twist. For example, she got a horrible rash, where her skin turned all red and monstrous, which of course was something demonic, but the doctors ran all kinds of tests and named a lot of things it could be (but wasn't).

Some other random tidbits:
  • This takes place in the town of Exuma... which is pronounced eczema. That kept bothering me the whole time! Why would you name a town that? Update: I googled, and there's a district of the Bahamas with that name. I bet they pronounce it ex-ooma.

  • It seems quite cost-inefficient for every hospital or asylum in every movie to have an abandoned wing or floor. Why not renovate that sucker and put some patients in there? I guess for the potential horror movie value.

  • The house in this movie has three attics and a basement. What?

  • The ending 'twist' is well-handled. It just hints at what has obviously occurred, rather than beating you over the head. Well, more than hints, I guess, but at least it doesn't come out and say it, or have the girl stab her parents or something like most movies.
So, in the end there is merely a body count of 2 (and several injured people who might not survive), and I think we can award this one 4 out of 5 Trowels because it really kept me interested throughout.

Here is a drawing of Deborah Logan herself. She's pretty creepy.
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Belittling Horror Excessively: Carrie (Remake)08:12 PM -- Thu October 30, 2014

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

This is a remake of the Stephen King story of a girl who discovers she has telekinetic powers in high school. That's the cool thing in her life. The bad stuff is that her mom is totally nuts, and the other kids treat her badly. Some much more than others. Accurate high school life ensues.

Well, this is definitely a remake. I haven't really seen the original Carrie in full, but I've seen many parts of it, and all those parts seemed to be here! I'm not sure why they do remakes like this. The only thing akin to an update to the story is that the kids have cell phones and make videos of things. Which doesn't change the course of events in any way. The main thing that makes it a remake is the extensive crazy CGI, explosions, and mayhem in the finale. I mean everything goes seriously Michael Bay for the last fifteen minutes.

I'm not sure what else to say about this movie. It works, it's a story. It's kind of weird in that most of the people in the high school actually treat Carrie just fine. There's mainly just one psycho girl who's out to get her (and that girl is quite an over-the-top caricature of evil, along with her equally nuts boyfriend). Most of the rest of the population is not only nice to her, but actively tries to help her and stop the psycho girl from bothering her. It's too bad that in the end she murders everyone anyway.

What's weird about the big finale (spoilers I guess, but who doesn't know what happens?) is how instead of losing control of her powers and lashing out indiscriminately, Carrie really just turns evil and specifically murders everyone in a very calculated way. That doesn't feel right at all, and kind of ruins any empathy you might have for her. It seems like a sour note, really, not the right way to play it.

So in the end, there's a body count of 1 pig, 4 people of note, and a whole mess o' promgoers. This movie deserves an acceptable 3 out of 5 Melted Deadbolts.

Because I didn't want to draw people, here's a bucket!
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Belittling Horror Excessively: Mine Games02:33 PM -- Thu October 30, 2014

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

Note: This movie is also known as The Evil Within, which rather strangely is the title it showed at the start of the movie, despite it being listed as Mine Games on Netflix. Also note: no kidding about the spoilers. Be prepared to be spoiled.

This is the story of... wait for it... a group of teens driving a van out to a remote cabin! Man, what a fun and unique thing to do. When they arrive, one of them finds a mine in the woods, and for some reason they all think the coolest thing ever would be to explore this mine (actually, that does sound cool). They find strange things like a wall that has "This is the first time" written on it. Oh, and also one of the kids takes anti-psychotic medication and he's been skipping it. Inverted causality ensues.

This is definitely one of my favorite types of movies: the time loop movie. They never really make sense in any complete way, but they have their own little set of internal logic that is fun to puzzle out and play with, and it allows you to feel smart and have a lot of little revelations as you see things coming. In this movie, it basically works out that everything that happens 'the first time' is taking place after 'the second time', but even with that rule in place, things are kind of wonky. It's not quite a loop, more like just two times through, in reverse order, with some weird overlapping.

There is of course no explanation for the time loop, and I'm fine with that. If I get to see a time loop, I'm not going to be picky and demand any more than that, I'm happy.

But there is another thing with no explanation or purpose I did not like: the psychic girl. One of the teens in the group is psychic and is constantly flipping out due to the effects of the time loop (for instance, she starts seeing some of the people who are going to die the 2nd time around as dead already). I can't actually figure out why she's in the movie. In the end, all her freakouts put her in a semi-catatonic state, and the killer ends up picking her up and dumping her in the cellar, possibly fatally as she tumbles down the stairs, I don't know. That's the extent of her existence in the movie. She adds nothing, and it seems like psychic powers should be an important plot point if you're going to include them.

One other big complaint with this movie: the killer, spoiler, is the psychotic guy. There is a motivation for what he does - he thinks the other people are out to get him, and I guess the filmmakers thought "needs to take anti-psychotic medication" was a big enough excuse for a seemingly-normal guy to go super paranoid. I don't know, it didn't feel right to me. He gets so paranoid that he murders ALL of his friends - including the couple that they were going to meet, who had nothing to do with anything - just to ensure they don't lock him up. In a room he knows he actually has the key to get out of (he gave it to himself earlier!). It's kind of clever in that it's the classic social trap - they want to lock him up because they think he's gonna kill them, but due to the time loop, he only wants to kill them because they lock him up. That's fun, but I just didn't buy that he would go so nuts and turn so instantly and totally evil. Not to mention capable. He does some seriously complex murdering and scheduling, and a whole lot of very heavy lifting, to pull this off.

I don't know, now that I write about it, I kind of like it. I mean, the other kids found their own dead bodies, so they had plenty of reason to be scared. They were all in a very strange and incomprehensible situation... maybe he would go nuts and kill them all. Or maybe I'm just underestimating his mental problems.

Anyway, the most important thing I want to share about this movie is that it is almost identical in concept to the movie Triangle. I highly recommend Triangle, a five-star horror movie that will really mess with your head. It perfectly executes the time-loop idea (I guess that sort of spoils the movie - I went into it not knowing only that there would be some sort of big twist, which made the loop a huge surprise) and all makes sense in the end. Mine Games does not reach those lofty heights, but hey, it's fun.

So in the end, I think the body count is 5 and a half (Schrodinger's psychic girl), and the movie just barely pulls out 4 out of 5 Minecarts. You can't really go too wrong with a time loop! Oh, and the final moment in the movie doesn't really make any sense in a lot of ways. That's a common issue with horror movies, always wanting to get in that shock right before the credits. It does explain why there were only two loops though!

Here's a picture of the broken bridge that is featured a few times in the movie.
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Belittling Horror Excessively: Banshee Chapter07:47 PM -- Wed October 29, 2014

SPOILER WARNING: THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS

This is not a found-footage movie, though it strangely pretends to be. Everything is shot handheld, or occasionally a security camera or something, but the cameraman isn't a character in the movie and you never see him. That just sort of makes it a cheaply made movie, really. But it's the story of a woman investigating what happened on some actual found footage (the first bit of the movie), when her friend takes a mysterious drug and shortly after that disappears, with a lot of weird stuff going on. She ends up learning about a government conspiracy to give people this drug and experiment on them. Bad trips ensue.

This movie is pure Lovecraft, and a character actually calls out the story it's sort of based on at one point (I forget the name, but it's a famous one about a guy who makes a radio device that tunes into another dimension and lets the things in that dimension see him and get him). Which is probably a little tacky, but it was about 2 minutes after I said to myself "This is a Lovecraft story!"

It also pulls in the mythology, if you can call it that, of "numbers stations". I happen to have just recently learned about those thanks to Stuff You Should Know. It's some really weird stuff. There are (in real life!) these shortwave radio stations scattered around the world which are transmitting robotic voices saying series of numbers. The speculation, which makes sense to me, is that these are actually sending coded messages for spies. If you tune in at the right time, and have the magic decoder ring, you can turn the numbers into a message. The rest of the time, the numbers are just random, so your enemies will never break the code since they don't even know when they are hearing a coded message or just noise. The numbers only play for a certain time period each day, and they are always preceded by a specific sound recording to indicate the start, and that makes it even creepier. The weird creepy music that pours out of random radios in this movie is a recording of an actual numbers station. The gist of this movie is to give an alternate, and completely crazy, explanation of the numbers stations (and of the CIA's MK-Ultra program, which was about trying to mind control people with drugs). Aliens, of course. DUH.

This movie (so far) wins the Scariest Of The Month award. Some good jumps, some really disturbing (not gross!) images, and a very creepy overall feeling, the kind that leaves me nervous to go outside in the dark to put my dogs to bed. I must confess that I had subtitles turned on, as I usually do, and for some reason, the subtitles started getting ahead of the movie as it went on. Rather than get up and fix it, I took advantage of it to make the movie less scary. When somebody was wandering in the dark with a flashlight, I could see "[Aaaah! What is that!]" on the screen a couple seconds earlier, so I didn't get anywhere near the jumps I deserved. Whatever, I use the tools at my disposal to protect myself! Speaking of scares, the first one in the movie is almost identical to the scariest moment in the movie Signs. That one made me leap out of my chair in the theater, I tell you what.

So in the end, we have a very mysterious body count: I wrote down 2 for sure, and a few more question marks, because there's really no way to know when or if the characters actually died. I guess that's part of the horror. I award this movie a grand 4 out of 5 Primary Sources. It's a good 'un!

This time, I thought I'd try doing something with a lot of ink, but I don't have any reasonably fat pens, so it's a weeeee bit scribbly. This picture is actually a little creepier than what it's supposed to be. That isn't some horrible dessicated corpse, it's actually a regular person - the black holes in his face are just supposed to be shadow. He's strapped in a chair, in a pitch-black room, except for a spotlight aimed directly down at him (it's also showing the edge of a table next to him). Pretty much a failure.
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