I completely spaced last week and forgot to do a Movie Monday, so now today you get to hear about TWO weeks’ worth of movies! YASS!
The Manster (1959) | Director: George P. Breakston | Stars: Peter Dyneley, Jane Hylton, Tetsu Nakamura. This was definitely not my favorite. Mad scientist injects an American journalist with a mystery serum and BOOM, Manster! It’s definitely more silly than scary, and I can see it being a cult film, but… it just didn’t do anything for me.
John Dies at the End (2012) | Director: Don Coscarelli | Stars: Chase Williamson, Rob Mayes, Paul Giamatti. I loved this movie, for the most part — the end got a little weird for me, but overall I thought it was great. It’s a great mix of many different worlds — you’ve got a mysterious street drug, time travel, alternate universe, a few scary/disturbing moments, and lots of laughs. Really great, I’d recommend it!
You’re Next (2011) | Director: Adam Wingard | Stars: Sharni Vinson, Joe Swanberg, AJ Bowen. I felt like this movie could have been SO much deeper and creepier than it was. It starts out with an obviously very affluent family reuniting — several siblings meeting up at their parents’ home with their significant others in tow. Very quickly the dinner and chatting (all VERY forced, not creative in the slightest) descends into horror as it’s obvious that the family is being targeted by a group of deranged killers. The action is great, and some of the kill scenes are fantastic (especially at the end)… but I thought the motivation for the kills was severely lacking and kind of boring. The one thing I did love was that the one who saves the day ends up being this badass woman, and not because she managed to escape by the skin of her teeth despite being an idiot the whole movie (as is often the case in these slasher films), but because she had a solid background of survival skills and kicked some serious ass. That alone makes it worth a viewing.
I Saw the Devil (2010) | Director: Kim Jee-woon | Stars: Byung-hun Lee, Min-sik Choi, In-seo Kim. I thought this movie was brilliant — a fucked up game of cat-and-mouse. It’s true that it’s violent and disturbing, but it’s not in typical slasher movie style where the kills are gratuitous and unnecessary. It shows the true sadistic nature of the killer in an unapologetically graphic way, and makes you believe that he is pure evil. Meanwhile you are rooting for the wronged lover seeking revenge for his fiance’s murder — and damn, does he get it. Some of the fight scenes in particular are among the best I’ve ever seen — on multiple occasions I yelled “holy shit!” at the TV. Very dark, but an amazing film.
Vanishing on 7th Street (2010) | Director: Brad Anderson | Stars: Hayden Christensen, Thandie Newton, John Leguizamo. This movie was just… no. A mildly interesting idea ruined by shitty dialogue, numerous plot holes, and crappy acting. Hayden Christensen in particular was just too much to handle, and we turned it off after maybe 40 minutes. Boooo.
The Lair of the White Worm (1988) | Director: Ken Russell | Stars: Amanda Donohoe, Hugh Grant, Catherine Oxenberg. This was just brilliant. A campy dark comedy, it’s definitely more funny and entertaining than scary, but it does a great job at keeping you entertained (if not bewildered at a few points). Hugh Grant is actually hilarious and Amanda Donohoe is damn hot and evil. Worth a watch for sure.
They (2002) | Director: Robert Harmon | Stars: Laura Regan, Marc Blucas, Ethan Embry. Honestly this movie was just… forgettable. When I looked it up just now to get the photo, I couldn’t quite remember the story… and even after reading the synopsis I said “huh?”. Not a good sign. Another movie where mysterious beings creep in the darkness — yawn. It just wasn’t as compelling as it could be.
The Dentist (1996) | Director: Brian Yuzna | Stars: Corbin Bernsen, Linda Hoffman, Michael Stadvec. This was… disturbing. Long story short, a dentist finds his wife cheating with the pool boy and fucking snaps. Bernsen does a great job of being convincingly deranged, and with the added creep factor of dentistry in general, this movie was a bit too much — we shut it off after 30 or 40 minutes.
Bridge Across Time aka Terror at London Bridge (1985) | Director: E.W. Swackhamer | Stars: David Hasselhoff, Stepfanie Kramer, Randolph Mantooth. This was a TV movie which makes so much sense to me now — but it’s totally worth watching just for David Hasselhoff because come on, he’s amazing. We also learned something watching this movie since we previously had NO IDEA that the London Bridge was rebuilt in Lake Havasu, Arizona — totally bizarre. Not the most gripping, interesting, or well acted movie, but definitely fun with some twists and turns.
The Possession (2012) | Director: Ole Bornedal | Stars: Natasha Calis, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Kyra Sedgwick. If you can get past how terrible Kyra Sedgwick is (I just can’t stand her), this movie is pretty alright. A young girl (Calis) buys an antique box at a yard sale, unaware of the malevolent spirit that lives inside. The movie does a great job at showing her slowly but surely being transformed by this spirit in an extremely disturbing way… there’s many moments in the movie that are just downright creepy. Morgan plays his part of the struggling dad trying to repair his relationships well, and it’s overall a pretty good possession movie (aside from Matisyahu of all people showing up).
A Night in the Woods (2011) | Director: Richard Parry | Stars: Scoot McNairy, Anna Skellern, Andrew Hawley. I’m generally a huge fan of handycam-style movies — I think they can have a realness to them that makes them much scarier than others. This did have some aspects of that, but I thought it struggled. A few of the scary scenes relied more on surprise and oftentimes on simply having a huge blast of noise shock you — not so fun. The story took forever to really take off… a large chunk of it is just setting up the characters in a super boring way, and making you dislike 2/3 of them. You get this vague idea of a storyline but it’s never mentioned again, so when the action DOES get going you’re more confused than anything else. Ugh, disappointing.
Phantom of the Paradise (1974) | Director: Brian De Palma | Stars: Paul Williams, William Finley, Jessica Harper. This was a recommendation from my brother-in-law and it was spot on. I won’t tell you too much but the story is engaging, the characters all all sufficiently flawed, and it’s downright mesmerizing all the way through. Watch it!