Tagged: a christmas horror story

Movie Review: the Good and the Bad of Jordan Peele’s ‘US’!

Ok, so I’m not going to go into full deep detail here on Jordan Peele’s latest horror outing ‘US’, as there’s easily enough online analyzing with the buzz and huge hype surrounding it. I’m gonna just give a few quick thoughts on it now that I’ve had a couple days to let it sink into my brain and let you know an unbiased opinion, the good and the bad, as a huge horror hound and a big fan of his first film ‘Get Out’. Most already know the plot of this one but if not here’s a quick refresher:

Married Couple Gabe and Adelaide Wilson take their two children to their long time family beach home expecting to relax and hang with with friends at the beach. But as night falls upon them, their vacation quickly turns to terror and utter chaos when dopplegangers of themselves violently raid their home. It turns into a evening of terror as they play a deadly game of cat & mouse with insane mirror images of themselves.

So Jordan Peele has undeniably crafted a damn good mainstream horror movie once again that feels like a high budget, more violent episode of The Twilight Zone. That’s a great thing, as I’m always down for an intelligent, thought provoking horror flick and this one leaves you with a lot to think about. ‘Us’ fully delivers the frantic action, legit scares as well as some stunning violence and grooves along at near perfect pace never losing a beat. Right from the start Peele gives us a clue as to what influences he’s drawing from here, I liked the 1980’s opening with the ‘C.H.U.D.’ vhs in plain sight as well as ‘The Man With Two Brains’ and ‘Goonies’ next to the old TV which also is broadcasting something that should be paid close attention to. There’s a lot of clues sprinkled about here throughout and it’s a fun thrill ride.   

The acting of course by everyone on board was pitch perfect and the sense of dread and despair Peele drums up shows he fully understands the genre in all the best ways. The evil family that arrives upon the scene are likely to become modern horror icons, scary as ever and their perplexing motives for even being there at all is easily one of the best parts of the entire movie. I’ve always thought the doppleganger concept was a frightening one, meeting an “off” version of yourself in a dark alley is something of nightmares. Peele take this concept, puts it on steroids and leaves you thinking just how you might really react being put in a similar situation.

Now with all that being said, as a big horror fan, I found many of the brilliant tense scenes a bit undermined by attempts at comedy, much of which admittedly landed pretty well but felt out of place. For me though as funny as Peele makes the dialogue at these moments, (I feel) perhaps this trend of following scenes of tension with a joke a bit tired at this point. It takes me out of the movie in a big way, I understand the masses dig that type of thing, but it’s kinda something I feel so many try to replicate due to the success of the Marvel movies. It felt tonally off & I personally can do without, unless I’m watching something like ‘Ash vs Evil Dead’. I also found that within the first 20 minutes or so the major twist was so blatantly obvious I’d actually put it to the back of my mind as being not a likely possibility. However when the end roared forward it was indeed revealed to be exactly what I’d expected. Maybe I’ve seen too many of these horror flicks? So possibly a minor spoiler to some, I’d actually wondered if Jordan Peele had seen the 2015 movie ‘A Christmas Horror Story’ as there’s a story in the X-mas horror anthology that features a black family that well, let’s just say experience the same thing basically. Coincidence? Maybe. 

By the very end it was clear that there’s a social commentary going on again here as in ‘Get Out’, perhaps a good one but the insertion of it this time around I think kinda derailed the horror mystery that came before it. It feels more like a fable by the time the end credits hit, one that introduces new plot info to seemingly prove some kind of lesson. The explanation for the madness that erupted before feels slightly forced, just doesn’t make much sense and ultimately in my opinion changes the dynamic of the whole movie altogether. I’d actually rather be given no real explanation for what occurred than be given some sort of societal lesson at the end of the movie. It all comes pretty much out of left field, reaching a more sci fi inspired explanation that requires some serious suspension of disbelief and a much more surreal dream like approach that feels a bit out of place here ultimately. I guess it’s much more of a symbolic presentation, at least towards the end and perhaps I just wasn’t expecting it to move fully into that mode.

In a way I guess I can compare it to M. Knight Shyamalan’s movies, where sometimes his twist ending undoes some of the brilliantly crafted terror that came before it by trying to prove some deeper “meaningful” point. However, that’s just my opinion as I know many love those movies that tie into real world issues. That all being said, I highly recommend ‘Us’ as it’s still a shit load of fun and miles above the crappy ass normal Hollywood B.S. that you’re likely to see at a big cinema. Surely one of the best horror movies of 2019, Check it out and let me know if you think I’m way off here with some of my criticisms? 

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Santa’s Naughty List: 2018 Christmas Horror Flicks!

Well it’s that time of the year yet again and boy does time sure fly huh?! Yep another damn Christmas is comin’ and of course it’s the prime time to watch a plethora of holiday movies. One genre the “Christmas themed” horror movie, is easily one of my favorites. I’ve gotta say though it’s been a few years since I’ve actually seen anything that truly knocked my socks off ho-ho-holiday horror-wise that is.

2015 brought one of my favorites of all time, “Krampus”, which I’m sure to watch again this year and then just five years earlier another true classic “Rare Exports” dropped. So now it’s nearing the end of 2018, let’s take a quick look at what’s stirring about this year and see if there are any possible gems to watch between now and Christmas time!!

 

All The Creatures Were Stirring

So I watched this one last night, hoping it was going to become another holiday horror classic, sadly this just wasn’t the case. This Christmas anthology has it’s few moments but overall it’s a largely forgettable yuletide dud. It features six short Christmas themed segments, the best being one called “Dash and Away” which is kinda like a holiday themed short with a sort of Tales From The Crypt “Demon Knight” type of thingy going on. The rest features a lackluster take on a modern day Scrooge, a secret Santa office party going for a Saw type vibe, some pissed off killer reindeer which should have been awesome and the plot of others I’ve already forgotten. Also no sight of snow anywhere within these unspooky tales. If you’re really desperate this isn’t the worst thing you could watch but it’s surely no “Gremlins”. If you’re looking for a Christmas anthology check out ‘A Christmas Horror Story’ from 2015, that ones a much more ambitiously bonkers Holiday horror flick.

 

Anna and The Apocalypse

Here’s one lots of people are kinda ranting about lately, it’s a Christmas Zombie musical. I’m planning on checking this one out, but honestly I’m not a big fan of musicals and I’ve been steering clear of zombie movies for a while now as the whole craze at this point is just too played out for me these days. But hey I’m gonna give it a try soon regardless, why not?! here’s the synopsis: “A zombie apocalypse threatens the sleepy little town of Little Haven – at Christmas – forcing Anna and her friends to fight, slash and sing their way to survival, facing the undead in a desperate race to reach their loved ones. But they soon discover that no one is safe in this new world, and with civilization falling apart around them, the only people they can truly rely on are each other.”

 

Mrs. Claus

Yeah well here’s another one that in theory sounds like it might be a pretty sweet holiday horror, but then you watch the trailer and, well….I’ll probably pass. It looks like someone with a low budget was giving it an honest shot but the trailer does little to inspire me to seek this one out for a watch. Here’s the synopsis tho in case you’re feelin’ it with this one: “A group of college students attending a Christmas party at a sorority house that has a sinister past are all stalked by a bloodthirsty killer disguised as Mrs. Claus.’

 

Elves

Nope this isn’t a re-release of the 1989 classic schlock horror movie starring Dan Haggerty. This appears to be some sort of sequel to a movie called “Elf” not the awesome Will Ferrell one either, but another supremely lackluster one from maybe a year ago. Here’s the synopsis: “When a group of friends discover ancient elves locked in a cursed chest, they unknowingly unleash their wrath on the world.” Again, no snow in sight! If you’re going to make a crappy X-mas movie at least get some damn snow! Instead I recommend the Dan Haggerty flick of the same name-that one is awesomely idiotic!

 

Christmas Blood

Here’s yet another “killer in Santa costume” horror flick, this time all the way from Norway. To tell you the truth I’m pretty burned out on the whole “killer santa” thing, there’s great movies out there that were made in the 1980’s that do it best. But if you just can’t seem to get enuff of the genre then maybe Christmas Blood will be a must see for you! Here’s the synopsis: ” A murderer gets caught after terrorizing and killing people during Christmas night for past 13 years in Norway. After being in solitary for almost 6 years, psychopath escapes couple days before Christmas night. Police tracks next target of the psychopath to be in small village in the northernmost part of Norway. Group of friends are having reunion in the same village and unexpectedly end up being in part of Santa’s plan.” Hey at least this one takes place somewhere with snow! That being said if you’re looking for in my opinion the BEST killer Santa movie you must track down “Deadly Games” aka “Dial Code Santa” from 1989. It’s a rare french horror film that’s finally getting some attention here in the states this year, a mix of Rambo, Silent Night Deadly Night & Home alone! 

 

Pooka

I’m actually kinda excited to check out Pooka which is part of Hulu’s anthology series “Into the Dark”, It’s been referred to as Twilight Zone-ish type of horror outing and the whole concept sounds pretty interesting, I’m gonna check this one out for sure this Christmas, here’s the sysnopsis: “A struggling actor gets a holiday season job as a Christmas character in a plush suit to promote the hottest toy of the year, Pooka; he slowly develops two personalities – one when he’s in the suit and one that’s outside it.” It’s concept certainly beats another new “killer in a Santa costume” flick.

So that seems about it this year, are there any missing that I need to see or mention? Let me know! 

Weird Ass Christmas Flicks: Silent Night Deadly Night 4: The Initiation!

So now this holiday season I can say that I’ve officially seen all 5 “Silent Night Deadly Night” Movies! I’ve noticed a lot of people haven’t given the latter sequels a real chance, while the original is often a go to flick for most holiday horror fans. The fact is the 4th and 5th installments are pretty sweet additions to the franchise that operate similarly to “Halloween 3: The Season of the Witch”. Meaning they have absolutely zilch to do with the original three slasher themed Christmas flicks that came before them.

I think it’s a good thing actually, because at this point, I’m kinda over the whole “killer in a santa suit thing” trope.  It’s been a done to death and the best “killer in a Santa suit” is a French movie from 1989 called “3615 Code Pere Noel” that pretty much no one has ever seen. So a year later in 1990, ‘Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 4: The Initiation’ is it’s own movie completely, incorporating the Christmas thing just as a back drop for the whole weird ass story to unfold within. Directed by Brian Yuzna who was hot off the heels of ‘Society’ & ‘Bride of Reanimator’ helmed this x-mas oddity and even got horror icon Reggie Bannister (Phantasm) and always creepy  genre fave Clint Howard to appear. On top of that he employs fx wizard Screaming Mad George (Predator, Nightmare on Elm St. 5) to work his usual bizarre monster effects magic even with the obvious limited budget.

It’s’ is a weird one that tells the tale of a reporter, played by the beautiful Neith Hunter (Near Dark) who’s investigating the bizarre death of a woman who leaped from a building and burned up in flames on the sidewalk. She soon finds herself mixed up in a weird coven of witches who’re trying to initiate her into their cult and have her take part of a gory sacrificial ceremony during the Christmas season. There’s giant bugs, disgusting transformations, huge gross maggots and Clint Howard running around like a madman chasing her all over the place. It also directly addresses the blatant sexism against women in the workplace quite nicely. Hunter’s character struggles with almost every man she comes into contact with, as pretty much all the men in this movie act like complete sexist dipshits. 

There’s a bit of Yuzna’s “Society” style of grossness to “The Initiation” and it effectively displays plenty of squirm-worthy sequences that are sure to make people cringe in their seats. I enjoyed this one, not as much as ‘Part 5’ but it was a welcome departure from the Santa suit slasher concept of the previous three installments. I really wished ‘Christmas’ was more of a central theme to this but at least you get a bunch of shots with Christmas trees, decorations and lights in nearly every shot. A truly bizarre chapter in the series that’s definitely worth a watch if you’re fan of weird movies with some impressive practical effects work. You can get a three pack DVD of the Silent Night 3-5 on Amazon or pick up the VHS. Either way check it out if you’re looking for some weird cinema this holiday season!!

‘Krampus’ is Easily One of the Best Christmas Movies EVER!!

My Christmas wishes were answered yesterday as I headed off into the chilly night with a bunch of friends to check out Michael Dougherty’s holiday horror flick ‘Krampus’! I’ve been waiting for a proper Krampus movie for ages and the wait is finally over folks, this movie was awesome. Dougherty has proven he IS the master of holiday horror as now he’s got two incredible movies under his belt, his first being ‘Trick ‘R Treat’ from 2007 which has already become a cult classic. So why did I enjoy Krampus so damn much?

First it’s the perfect movie for the season at hand as it has a true heart of gold at it’s core. We start out seeing a crazy sort of Black Friday shopping experience on screen where insane Christmas shoppers fight in slow motion in  greedy hordes for their gifts. It really kinda sets the mood for the rest of the movie, Christmas has become ugly. No one really has the holiday spirit anymore and our main characters who’re basically your average modern day family have forgotten what’s really important in life. We’ve got a great comedic cast here to and once all the relatives arrive for Christmas dinner it’s evident they’re in for a long weekend.

Krampus has a great cast going for it, Emjay Anthony really shines as Max a young boy who finally gets fed up with everyone’s selfish, negative attitudes and decides to rip up his Christmas letter to Santa chucking it out into the winter winds. Soon after a dark looming storm cloud settles above his neighborhood and hits it hard with one helluva winter storm. This is where all hell begins to break loose. From this point the neighborhood feels disconnected from reality and the way the winter transforms the landscape is a sight in itself to behold. Suddenly odd sinister snowmen begin appearing all around their house. Soon the family is entrenched in a fantastical fight for their lives against an evil hulking force with more than a few frightening tricks it up it’s shaggy sleeve.

The first time we see Krampus is an excellent sequence and form that point on we’re taken on a continuous roller coaster ride that brings to mind the best about movies like Gremlins and The Gate. This movie really feels like a lost movie from the 80’s that Speilberg produced, not directed. In fact this one feels like an old Joe Dante flick. The sets are incredible yet centralized in mainly one location and the monsters are a true spectacle to behold. Feeling a bit like if Charles Band (Puppetmaster/Full Moon) had a big budget back in the 80’s to make an X-mas flick. Also the effects are almost all practical with every bit of CG used exactly the way it should be. The costumes too of Krampus and his crew are quite impressive as well, simply put this one didn’t feel like your average mainstream horror movie and that’s a damn good thing.

Lastly we do have the big baddie Krampus who looks simply amazing, though maybe not quite like what you may have been expecting. My only real problem with this movie was that I really was hoping for more of the actual Krampus and maybe a bit of his true mythology. Most of the mayhem here is brought on by his minions and Krampus is more of an evil presence watching the shit hit the fan than a big bad guy like the Predator or Alien. I was hoping for a game of cat and mouse with the family squaring off directly with Krampus but in the end I really enjoyed the finale equally just in a different way. So that being said, I’m going to say this was easily one of if not my favorite movie this year so far. I’m actually quite happy as well with the PG-13 rating and some of the family friendly tones of the movie, besides with all the ugliness in the world right now it’s nice to have something to warm our hearts a little this Christmas season! I’m already hoping for a sequel where Krampus truly meets his match!