Monthly Archives: December 2013

Best of 2013

I know I’ve said 2013 wasn’t the best year for releases. However, there where quite a few surprise gems. It appears the indie releases were the best, followed by a couple major releases. I might have seen these at the last minute, but I’m counting them anyways. This is also my last post for 2013. I’m going to spend the next few days gearing up for new reviews and lists. Here are my favorites, and I hope you all have a kick ass New Year.

10. Evil Dead

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I noticed this one has gotten A LOT of hate since it came out in April. I don’t see why, honestly. It will never compare to the original, but I was still entertained. It was bloody, it was an interesting take, and I still got a damn good laugh out of it. The acting was questionable, but I can’t ignore what good qualities it does have. This is a remake in name and plot only, and I think it deserves some credit to approaching a fan favorite in a different way.

9. The Conjuring

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I wouldn’t say this was the scariest release, but it was still creepy. Ignore the fact that this is based on a case the Warrens worked on, and you have a nice ghost flick. I really loved the pacing and the acting. I think it tried not to rely on cheap scares, even though that seems to be the current trend for other films. The main reason why I like this is because it made my husband jump out of his seat. If it can make a 6’3 30 year old man jump, it must be good.

8. Contracted

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I was not expecting this to be what it was. But, it was pretty awesome. It’s basically a warning against taking drinks from strangers, and a hard look at mental instability. It was great to watch throughout, but the last 10 minutes are what really sell it. I think it could be considered body horror since the main character wastes away in bits and pieces. However, I loved how she gradually became insane as the “disease” progressed. Najarra Townsend did a great job playing a mentally unstable lesbian. And there’s a sentence I never thought I would type.

7. Resolution

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I didn’t think I was going to like this one at all. It starts off slow, and things take an odd turn that come to an end that is somewhat left to interpretation. This is one of those films you might need to watch a few times to really understand, but it is still very well done. The actors seem like real people, and the whole thing has a sinister vibe to it. The last 15 minutes are some the best I’ve seen all year. Once you realize what the ending is about, you can understand why this made a lot of top 10 lists.

6. Stoker

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I remember seeing the preview for this a while back. The trailers don’t do it justice. I think it’s more of a psychological thriller, but it is still very unnerving. Nicole Kidman was great as the unstable mother, and Mia Wasikowska was just as unsettling as the creepy daughter. I thought I knew how things were going to play out, but I was wrong. However, that unpredictability is what makes Stoker so good. The family dynamics are so screwed up, but it’s beautifully done.

5. We Are What We Are

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The original has been on my one to watch list for a while. I guess I wasn’t paying attention because the remake is what I ended up with, but I’m glad I did. It’s a very slow burn, but it’s perfect. It’s easy to figure out what the family’s big secret is, however you don’t expect certain things to happen because of it. This is another case where the end is arguably the best part of the movie. It’s another movie about a messed up family, but it takes a completely different approach.

4. V/H/S 2

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This just had everything I wanted. It was scary, a great story, believable acting, and it’s just so much fun to watch. It’s shorter that the first one, but I think that added to the overall suspense. Also, the quality is far improved. It might be found footage, but it’s found footage done right. I have to say that the zombie segment is one of my all-time favorite moments of the year. Whoever thought the zombie apocalypse should be seen through a Go Pro camera is a genius, in my opinion.

3. American Mary

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This went from watching someone with really bad luck, to rape/revenge, and finally ends in tragedy. It’s like Shakespeare…if he did horror movies. I just loved the character of Mary. She was the underdog, and you still wanted her to win in the end. Even when she seems to go off the deep end, you wanted Mary to finally succeed. I can’t help but feel like role was made just for Katharine Isabelle. She completely owned it, and we got an outstanding performance.

2. Insidious Chapter 2

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This scared the shit out of me; I’m not even going to lie. It’s just as good as the first one, but way more creepy. While the astral projection aspect is still lame to me, I can’t deny that the spirits or demons are still scary as hell. The pacing and timing throughout are impeccable. It makes everything really tense, but the scares don’t happen where you expect. Add creepy kids, a cross dressing murderer,  and a psychotic mother, and you have something that made me sleep with the lights on.

1. Warm Bodies

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I thought this freaking amazing. At first I thought this was just a zombie version of Twilight, but it’s not even close to that. It’s funny, the writing is really good, and it’s a different take on zombies that doesn’t suck. This is also the closest thing to a romantic comedy I’ll ever watch. That’s saying something. If you want something completely new that still manages to entertain, this is the best choice for 2013.

8 Santas You Don’t Want Coming Down Your Chimney

Let’s face it; we loved Santa Claus when we were kids. He travels the world overnight, stuffs his fat behind down chimneys, and gives us free stuff. How could you not love that? You were guaranteed to get presents…as long as you were good. Here in the states, all we had to fear was a lump of coal. Children in other countries didn’t get off so easily.

We also have the stories about some madman in a Santa suit, or the occasional pervert that works in the mall. When you start thinking of Kris Kringle that way, it zaps your Christmas spirit, doesn’t it? Nobody wants to think that there’s a mean, deranged version of the jolly man we have known our whole lives.

Too bad because those versions do exist, and some of them are downright terrifying. For your sanity and mine, we’re just going to look at the (semi) fictional crazy Saint Nicks. From child eating monsters to mental patients, let’s look at 8 reasons to light your fireplace on Christmas Eve.

8. Billy – Silent Night, Deadly Night (1984)

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Unlike the rest of the entries on this list, I can’t help but feel sorry for this guy. He saw his parents get slaughtered like pigs by a robber in a Santa suit, then ends up in an orphanage where Mother Superior thinks beatings and humiliation are the best forms of punishment. There was no way his psyche would ever be normal. However, I can’t help but feel like the orphanage is partially to blame for his killing spree. Think about it: you have someone who has psychotic fits every Christmas. Why would you put him in a retail setting? Better yet, why not wait until after the holidays to give him a job.

I’m guessing that would have made sense, and we also wouldn’t have a movie. Anyway, after disposing of his manager and co-workers, he cases the town for anyone being “naughty”. I forgot to add that Mother Superior also taught Billy that sex is a horrendous act that must be punished immediately. Like clockwork, there happens to be a young couple trying to do the unspeakable act, and I think they die what are arguably the worst deaths in the movie.

Long story short, this takes the whole naughty vs. nice concept, and mixes in crazy pills and steroids. If we apply this to the real world, that means no drinking, sex, swearing, or anything that could be considered fun. Doesn’t that mean a good chunk of the population will automatically end up on the naughty list? If you do end up on that list, Billy will pay you a visit…with his trusty ax. Merry Christmas!

7. Louis Winthorpe III – Trading Places (1983)

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Louis Winthorpe III either has really bad luck, or he should have looked for better business associates. If you’ve never seen this, it’s about two men from very different worlds that trade lives. However, it’s because of a bet between brothers that apparently have too much money and time on their hands. Spoiled Louis loses everything overnight: fiancee, money, job, and his huge mansion to conman Billy Ray Valentine. Louis doesn’t handle the change too well.

It all culminates in him dressing up as Saint Nick, and then trying to plant drugs in Valentine’s office during the company Christmas party. He gets caught doing so, and proceeds to run out of the place like a madman. What does he do after failing miserably? Steal raw salmon and get drunk, of course. Unfortunately we’re subjected to watching him eat the salmon, as well as parts of his beard.

I know it wasn’t his fault for his misfortunes, but it is really hard to root for him when he acts like a man-child. Do you want a Santa that plants drugs, eats raw fish and artificial beard, gets drunk, and smells like dog pee? I don’t think there’s anything holly or jolly about that.

6. Escaped Mental Patient Santa – Tales from the Crypt (1972)

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Did you know the Tales from the Crypt episode “And All Through the House” was actually a remake of a story in the 1972 movie? If you haven’t seen either one, a little back story is required. We start with a woman who murders her husband for insurance money. While trying to get rid of his body, a radio broadcast warns of a homicidal maniac who escaped the local mental institution.

Moments later a man matching the description on the radio tries to break into her house. However she can’t call the police because she’ll have to explain what happened to her husband. She then has the “brilliant” idea of making it look like he was attacked by the intruder. It might have worked, except her daughter lets “Santa” in the house, and he proceeds to murder her mother.

I always viewed this as a holiday PSA for stranger danger. Just because someone is dressed like Santa, does not mean you should let him into the house. On the other hand, your child could be led to believe Santa is a crazy man that murders everything in sight on Christmas Eve. If that happens, the only present you’ll be giving them is therapy sessions.

5. Harry Stadling – Christmas Evil (1980)

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Parents: for the love of God, make sure your kids are actually asleep before you start humping on Christmas Eve. Or at least take off the damn Santa costume before you start going at it. I don’t know why horror movie parents can’t have sex in their own room and lock the door, but I’ll save that for another time. Here we have yet another person that doesn’t handle reality the best way possible. Little Harry sees his dad groping his mom in front of the fireplace, and instantly becomes unhinged when he realizes Santa isn’t real.

He grows up and becomes a toy maker by trade, but at home he believes he is Santa Claus. No, seriously; his apartment looks like Target vomited its entire Christmas section all over it, he sleeps in costume, and even goes as far as spying on his “little darlings” to see who has been good or bad. Good behavior and bad acts are logged in two gigantic books under the names of all the neighborhood children. That alone scares me enough, but we’re not done yet.

Harry’s breakdown consists of him angrily humming Santa Claus Is Coming to Town while dismembering a doll. The rest of his Christmas is replacing his company’s toys with ones he crudely made in his basement, and murdering a coworker who ridiculed him. I think we can learn something from this one, too. Be nice to your coworkers, or they might murder you in your sleep on Christmas. I never said it was a pleasant lesson.

4. Klaus -Santa’s Slay (2005)

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What if Santa wasn’t always the lovable, gift-giving fat guy we know? Santa’s Slay poses such a question, and then gives an interesting answer. The Santa here is actually the Antichrist. He makes a bet with an angel over a curling match, loses, and is forced to deliver presents and all things good for 1,000 years. What happens when those 1,000 years are up? He goes back to his old ways, which is basically a lot of murder and mayhem.

Complete with his hell-deer, he terrorizes the town with Christmas themed deaths. We have everything from strippers being burned to a crisp, to a Jewish deli owner being impaled by his own menorah. I understand completely if someone is offended by that last one.

This is actually one of the few entries where Santa goes down a chimney. He pays a visit to the highly unlikable Mason family, and greets everyone by kicking their small dog into the ceiling fan. He drowns the mother in eggnog, bashes in the skull of one daughter, stabs two others, and finally chokes the father to death by shoving a turkey leg down his throat. I know people make jokes about the holidays killing you, but this is a bit much.

3. Willie T. Stokes – Bad Santa (2003)

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While the rest of the entries are killing machines, Willie here is different. Instead of murder, he just chooses to have sex with anything that moves, rob anyone blind, and drinks until he forgets his own name. I said different, not better. His criminal routine is to take a job at a mall as Santa, learn the layout of the offices, and empty out the safe. However, subtlety is not in Willie’s nature.

He swears more than the average rapper in front of children, pees himself in between pictures, and sneaks heavyset women into fitting rooms to sodomize them. After befriending the loneliest little boy on the planet, he steals a car from the garage, and later brings back his girlfriend for drunken sex. To his credit, he does eventually gain a conscience. He even steals a stuffed, pink elephant the little boy as always wanted. It really was a sweet gesture.

The only problem is Willie tried to steal it while escaping the cops, gets shot, and bleeds all over the toy. He gets sent to prison, but the kid gets his toy and waits patiently for Willie to be released. Well, at least Willie had a change of heart. That being said, I still don’t trust a Santa that likes butt sex with overweight women.

2. Joulupukki – Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010)

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To shake things up a bit, we have a Finnish Santa Claus. His name roughly translated means “Christmas goat”. That doesn’t sound so bad, right? It’s not, until you do a quick Google search. Jouluppuki isn’t a regular sized goat. It’s about the same size as King Kong, complete with horns, kidnaps naughty children to eat, and fills the empty beds with dolls.

Thankfully this movie spares us from seeing him in action. We get to deal with his naked, old men helpers who scoop up the children, as well as any sort of drying tool to thaw him out. The helpers also quickly get rid of anyone that hinders their mission. It could be a pickax to the head, or they’ll just flat out eat you. Couple that with extended shots of old man penis and it becomes an awkward viewing experience.

One thing I couldn’t help but notice is we’re led to believe only the naughty children are taken. During the big reveal, we see that every child in the village has been tied up in a sack. I know children aren’t little angels, but we’re talking 15-20 kids from a very small village. Joulupukki either defines naughty in broad terms, or he figured wiping out the child populace of one town couldn’t hurt.

1. Sinterklaas – Saint Nick (2010)

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Every year on December 5, Niklas and his gang went to a town, and made everyone pony up items such as money, food, virgins and liquor. On that very day in 1492, one town got tired of him and his lackeys, and Niklas was murdered. Whenever there is a full moon on that night, Niklas returns with the Zwarte Pieten to avenge his death by murdering again.

Here’s what makes this guy so terrifying: it doesn’t matter if you’re good or bad. If you cross paths with him, you’re dead. And the Zwarte Pieten aren’t merciful when they kill you. You will be ripped apart, stabbed, impaled, and any other painful way there is to die. If the gang doesn’t get you, Niklas will finish the job himself.

Armed with his staff and demonic white horse, you will either be trampled or decapitated. His annual reign of terror will only end after he has killed hundreds of people, or you get enough dynamite to light up his ship like the 4th of July. The only positive to all this is St. Niklas is found in Dutch speaking countries. If you currently live in a Dutch speaking country, invest in a flamethrower, and hope for the best. For the rest of us, let’s hope the worst we get is coal this year.

10 Worst Horror Movies of 2013

2013 really wasn’t my best year for movie watching. I was in a major crash that almost killed me, so my entire summer (and most of fall) was spent in physical therapy. However, I was able to make it to the theaters, and I got full use of my Netflix account. From what I saw, I wasn’t all that impressed. Everything was very generic, or so low budget that there was no point in watching them all the way through.

What I noticed is this was not a good year for horror. Major film releases were few, and straight to DVD didn’t offer much of a selection either. There were a few that were good, but the majority is painfully bad. Now this is based on the movies I was able to see, as well as how they stacked up against the ones I really liked. Without further ado, let’s look at the failures of 2013.

10. ABCs of Death

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I really, really wanted to like this one the first time I saw it. It was a new concept, original stories, and I adored the fact it was 26 different directors. What made me love it so much is the reason why it isn’t good. 26 different directors means there’s no smooth transition of ideas or story lines. Each ending is very abrupt, and the stories range from really good to very stupid. To top it all off, I believe the running time is over 2 hours. This is a case where too much talent overshadows a concept that could utilize fewer hands in the creative process. Unfortunately, the creators didn’t learn from their mistakes because there is a sequel in production. Well, at least I know where 2 hours of my life are going next year.

9. Stitches

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Yet another one I was convinced I was going to like. The plot is…different: Kids at a birthday party accidentally kill the clown that is desperately trying to entertain them. Right off the bat, the movie heads in the wrong direction. The kids are evil little turds, and grow up to be full blown assholes. There’s also the “clown cult” that prevents birthday party clowns from dying. What really kills the whole movie is the acting and writing. Everyone is trying way too hard to outshine each other, and the attempts at campy gore just fall flat. I think they were going for some kind of X rated Pennywise, but they failed miserably.

8. Would You Rather

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I never thought Jeffrey Combs could be boring. This guy is one of the best actors of all time. However, director David Guy Levy apparently told Combs to just act like a stereotypical, unmotivated, rich, sadistic asshole. I’m guessing he told the rest of the cast to act terrified, but it comes off as mildly creeped out. This movie is so bad it manages to make porn star Sasha Grey boring. Think about it: so little happens over 90 minutes that not even a woman who faked orgasms for a living could revive it.

7. Gallowwalkers

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Most people attempt to lose weight and stay in shape when they get to prison. Not Wesley Snipes. I think he ate everything in sight while he was serving 3 years for tax evasion. Why is that relevant? Because he’s effing huge in Gallowwalkers. The man we know as the agile Blade, is nothing more than a slow gunslinger with a gut and dreadlocks. Outside of the star hilariously looking like Porky Pig, the rest of the movie doesn’t have any redeeming qualities. The plot is paper thin, as well as the acting. It’s marketed as a zombie western, but the villains are called demons. I understand Snipes wanted to show the world he’s back, but he should’ve looked for a better script and an even better trainer.

6. Dead Before Dawn

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I think this was trying to fit in with the recent influx of high school/college kids battling evil horror movies. It starts off alright, and then all of the actors seem like they graduated from Dane Cook’s School of Comedy: a lot of screaming, random noises, and seizure-like movements. The movie tries to be self-aware, but it just comes off as lazy writing. There are some legitimately funny moments, but they’re quickly overshadowed by overacting and a very stupid plot.

5. Home Sweet Home

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The biggest problem I had with this is it implies that a woman will let fear take over her will to live. That is a crock of shit. Anyone staring down death will do whatever is needed to stay alive. Fear will not be an option, and a little common sense might help, too. Home Sweet Home basically says women are weak creatures who have zero survival instincts. And this is from the same guy that did the far superior Mutants. I guess success is pretty rare.

4. Mama

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To its credit, Mama had an interesting premise. But between being almost 2 hours and laughably bad CGI, it didn’t have a chance. Jessica Chastain tries to bring her Academy Award nominated skills to the table, but that gets lost in the shuffle. It has some creepy moments, but they’re spaced so far apart that they don’t have as big as an impact. The ending was definitely the final nail in the coffin. It just doesn’t make any sense, and it’s another case where a short film doesn’t translate well into a feature film.

3. Texas Chainsaw 3D

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Surprisingly, there are people that actually liked this. I couldn’t figure out why, until I sat down and remembered what it was about. It’s gory and gross. Story was not a concern, and that is obvious. This is kind of like a love letter to Texas Chainsaw Massacre fans. For the rest of us, it’s stupid and a waste of time. It’s so boring that I barely remember the acting or what little writing that occurred. This is only meant for hardcore fans or gorehounds. Anyone else will just fall asleep.

2. The Last Exorcism Part 2

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When I first heard about this, I was more confused than anything. I was pretty sure the world ended during the first one. She gave birth to a demon. Part 2 implies that the demon just went into hiding while the girl became feral. Makes totally sense, doesn’t it? One thing I noticed was the sequel is more sexually charged. It’s awkward as hell. I’m not saying Nell (Ashley Bell) is ugly, but the character is so sugary sweet that seeing her do certain things is kind of weird. Add to that the plot of her being “seduced” by the demon she gave birth to, and you have the most uncomfortable 88 minutes of 2013.

1. The Lords of Salem

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This is how I discovered that Rob Zombie needs to step away from movies from a while. The Lords of Salem is basically Zombie taking a dump on celluloid and calling it art. I don’t know what the hell was wrong with him when he made this. It’s just a drawn out acid trip. It’s nothing for the first 90 minutes, and then the last act is an assault on the eyes. It’s just naked middle aged women, Zombie’s wife Sheri as the Virgin Mary, and masturbating mummy priests with huge penises. After sitting through this, I realized Rob Zombie’s creative juices must’ve dried up after The Devil’s Rejects.

Well, those are my picks. Love it? Hate it? Did I miss one? Let me know in the comments.

The Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia

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You probably have already guessed that this has nothing to do with the first one.  This time the mother has psychic visions, and so do all of the other females in her family. For the sake of plot, she just so happens to have a daughter whose visions miraculously starts after moving to an old house in Georgia.

Right off the bat, everything just happens to fall perfectly into place for all hell to break loose. It doesn’t help that the mother thinks the visions are psychotic hallucinations, and is on drugs to suppress them. I can understand not wanting dead people to just appear out of nowhere. However, if your young daughter is having the same visions, why would you ignore her? The child is terrified, and her mother belittles her every time she shows the slightest indication of fear.

That just doesn’t make any sense to me. The acting doesn’t help either. Abigail Spencer plays Lisa Wyrick, and she does it with a mix of annoyance and disregard for the other characters. She’s so self-centered about everything, and it kind of bogs down the rest of the movie. Everyone else attempts to add emotion, but they just overdo it. Of course, the ghosts and their sepia flashbacks don’t help matters.

When the ghost do appear, it’s quick shadows, jump scares, or that weird, sped up, jerky movement that every B horror movie maker seems to think is the scariest thing ever. There’s also an unnecessary timeline that appears at the bottom every once in a while. My guess is it’s to add to the “true story” the movie claims it’s based on. It could’ve worked if they had chosen a different plot. I’m personally tired of the whole “dark secrets” angle. This time the big, dark secret is a former stationmaster for the Underground Railroad used the slaves he was supposed to be helping for his twisted taxidermy experiments.

To its credit, it did sound interesting. But between the acting, editing, and being almost 2 hours, it loses its punch rather quickly. I give it 1 out of 5. I was interested when the stationmaster’s true colors were revealed, but then I was just bored and ready for it to be over. It’s not as bad as most of the stuff that was released this year, but it definitely falls into the unneeded sequel category. Execution is everything when it comes to movies, and this had no idea how to do that. I say check out the first one. It’s good to watch if nothing else is on.

Freakshow

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I think I finally figured out something about myself. I’m starting to see a pattern in the movies I liked back in 2007. I had just graduated high school, had my first real job, and my parents couldn’t tell me anything. That horribly misguided attitude bled into my movie selections. I didn’t understand the value of acting, writing, and overall plot. Anything that had senseless gore and sex was Oscar material, in my opinion.I say all that because that’s my best guess as to why I gave Freakshow 5 stars on Netflix. I didn’t know it at the time, but this is my first run in with The Asylum. If you don’t know who they are, you are one lucky bastard. They take any blockbuster or cult film, and make an insultingly cheap version that blatantly rips off the original. They don’t even bother to come up with a better title, so we’re left with things like Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies or Transmophers. Sometimes they do have a vaguely original idea, like Sharknado. I didn’t say they had good ideas.

Freakshow is an offensive attempted remake of the 1932 cult classic Freaks. It’s about a traveling circus and its performers, and a couple crooks who intend to rob them blind. It was actually quite controversial at the time, mainly because of Tod Browning’s decision to use real sideshow performers. As you might have guessed, Freakshow goes for that same shock value. It doesn’t work.

The acting is unbelievably bad. I think the main female villain thought she was going to get an award for her performance because it made soap operas look tame. And her crying face looks like a cat when it yawns. In between the poorly placed scene transitions, everything has a red or blue tinge to it. It’s like someone dipped the celluloid in ink during post production. There is only one sequence that shows where most of the budget went: the “new act”. Basically the performers maim and flay the female villain while she’s still alive.

I don’t know what they were going for, but they missed the mark. Yes, something like that does happen in the original, however it’s not to the extremes that Freakshow went to. This was just an excuse to dissect a person on camera without it looking like a snuff film. The hour and 10 minutes leading up to it are just padding that are a parody of a real movie.

This gets a 0. The Asylum isn’t a film company. They’re nothing but con artists who prey on people that don’t pay attention to film titles, and rely on cheap gimmicks to maintain what little fan base they have. Freakshow was the beginning of end of decent film-making. There are countless movies out there that are being overlooked or not even made because these jackasses are flooding the market with crap. I’m going to ask you to do two things: watch Freaks, and never watch a movie from The Asylum. I’m hoping if we collectively ignore them, they’ll eventually disappear.

We Are What We Are

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I’m compiling my end of the year lists, so I’ve been watching every 2013 horror movie I can find. Most of them have been awful. And there are a couple that were okay, but there are so many things wrong that it’s hard to fully enjoy them. But…this one surprised me. I had heard of the original a couple years ago, and had no idea a remake was in the works.

To my surprise, this is good if not better than the original. We follow the Parkers, a reclusive family that owns a trailer park. The day before a major storm comes through, the mother dies. The eldest and middle daughters are forced to make sure the house continues to function smoothly. What follows is a study of family loyalty and traditions. It might sound boring, until you discover the family tradition is pretty morbid.

The biggest thing that stands out is the dynamic between the two sisters. Both want to be loyal to their family, but also realize that there are some lines that families couldn’t cross. They’re basically forced to complete the yearly “cleansing” that was their mother’s responsibility. Ambyr Childers and Julia Garner are ridiculously good as the two daughters. Now that I think about it, this could be considered a coming of age tale from hell. The only downside is it’s somewhat predictable. It’s nowhere near as bad as it could be, but it’s not hard to figure out what’s going on.

That being said, I actually like this one. It’s a very slow burn, but just enough happens that makes you want to keep watching. The final reveal of why this family is so damn weird will blow you away. This is like Martyrs levels of messed up, but it was exciting to watch. After having to sit through 15+ bad movies this week, I was happy to find an exception. I give it 4 out of 5. The acting and writing were unbelievably good, as well as the overall setting. Give this a shot. It’s certainly better than most of what’s out now.