Terror Train (1980)
Directed by Roger Spottiswoode
Jamie Lee Curtis, David Copperfield, Ben Johnson, Hart Bochner, Derek McKinnon, Sandee Currie, Timothy Webber
IMDb 5.9/10 Rotten Tomatoes 33% Metacritic NO DATA
This is another classic horror movie from the start of the slasher genre era. Jamie Lee Curtis, though she hates slasher films and isn’t into horror at all, took full advantage of the opportunities horror films afforded her and she capitalized on it.
In this film, she is enlisted to help play a prank on a fellow college student. He’s not one of the jocks or popular kids at all and while pledging a fraternity, the brothers take great enjoyment in humiliating this pledge, along with many others.
The joke is supposed to be a simple (yet disgusting) prank. On New Year’s Eve, the upperclassmen in the frat put a corpse in a bed, a rotting corpse, mind you. Then, Alana (played by Curtis) is supposed to hide behind the bed and entice Kenny (McKinnon) to kiss her…HER being the corpse. Now, Alana doesn’t know that a dead body is in the bed. She thinks it’s another college student or a mannequin or something.
The ones perpetrating this horrible joke are Mo and Doc. Mo and Alana are somewhat dating; I think they have different views of what their relationship really is. Doc is dating a girl named Michelle but, everyone calls her Mitchy and Doc seems less than committed, as does Mitchy. I guess they have an understanding about their relationship. Mitchy and Alana are best friends. Doc is an asshole. He doesn’t think much of anyone, except himself. Mo is quite the putz too, if I do say so myself.
The prank goes the way they intended and then goes horribly wrong. Kenny is so distraught afterwards, he is committed to a psychiatric facility. The rest of them just go on with their lives.
Three years later, they have another party for New Year’s. This one is on a train. They’ve got the whole train to themselves and are all geared up for a fabulous evening of costumes, drinking, sex and partying. Sounds like typical college kids, right?
Well, while they are on the train, those involved in the prank start to die. The killer has snuck onto the train and with each kill grows more and more brazen. He even changes costumes a couple of times, taking the costumes of his victims, in order to be able to glide through the crowd with no questions asked.
Eventually, Mo is dead, along with Mitchy and some others. Doc and Alana think they figure out who the killer is…the random magician that they didn’t hire who conveniently showed up on the train and did a few shows. They also figure out that the magician may very well be Kenny. With this realization Alana informs Doc that she went to see him after he was hospitalized. She says the staff wouldn’t let her see him and that he killed someone…all due to their ridiculous prank. While searching for the magician (Copperfield) and his assistant, Doc tries to hide by locking himself in a room. Unfortunately, the killer is in the room and he soon kills Doc.
Soon, Alana and the killer come face to face. It is confirmed that it’s Kenny and well, Kenny is holding a grudge. He gets ahold of Alana and during a short conversation, she tries to tell him how sorry she is for what happened with the prank. He doesn’t believe her and angrily forces her to kiss him. When she reluctantly does, it causes Kenny to relive the horrifying experience of the prank and it sends him into a psychotic downward spiral. At this time, one of the train workers comes into the room and beats Kenny down with a shovel (I’m assuming a coal shovel). Kenny loses balance and falls off the train into icy water below the bridge they are traveling over, presumably to his death.
I really enjoyed this movie. Although the story seemed somewhat jutted and choppy, it still came together with a great reveal moment, that I didn’t unveil here in the review. I truly just summed up this time, as there are things I didn’t want to spoil for you.
I am a huge Jamie Lee Curtis fan. I do call her The Scream Queen. She’s just perfect for horror movies, no matter how much she doesn’t like them. And they have made her millions. And rightfully so. She does a great job in this film although, she is not as innocent and clueless as she seemed to be in Halloween. By this time, she’d already made Halloween, Prom Night and The Fog.
The true horror of this film is that douchebags like Mo and Doc actually exist. These two really are pieces of work…or crap…whichever way you want to put it. They both seem to like the idea of having a permanent girlfriend but, also both seem to think that as long as “girlfriend” isn’t in the room, they can do whatever they want…and whoever they want. I can’t say that Mitchy is a fantastic friend either. I mean, at one point she’s consoling Alana about Mo and then later in the movie, she’s sneaking off to a sleeper cabin to have sex with him. (Quick thought: Do NONE of these kids think about all the fluid transfer that is going on here? After all, STD’s and such DID exist in 1980 and WERE known about. Yet these kids are boarding a train with a one-way ticket to a f*%#fest. Yikes! And honestly, it’s not like they are hot, good looking young folks here. You look at Alana and then at Mo and you can’t help but wonder, is she REALLY attracted to this guy??? Him???
Anyways, I can see why this film would get a lot of viewers. It’s a good 1980s slasher flick. I expected a little more blood but, I was still satisfied with what I got. I couldn’t help but notice that Jamie Lee Curtis’ character had a slightly different feel, more experienced maybe…definitely not as much of the perfect virgin like she is portrayed in Halloween. But, still she absolutely has an innocence about her in this film that can’t be denied.
I think this is worth watching at least once. Seeing as how it was made at the height of the slasher era it’s worth seeing once. It is, after all, one of the more iconic early slasher films.
Red Christmas (2016)
Directed and Written by Craig Anderson
Starring: Dee Wallace, Geoff Morrell, Sarah Bishop, David Collins, Janis McGavin, Sam Campbell
IMDb 4.4/10 Rotten Tomatoes 47% Metacritic 52/100
Okay, so, this was probably the most depressing horror movie I have ever seen in my life. The whole idea behind the story is sad to me. Plus, it’s like this film was one big political statement. I’ll start at the beginning but, I’ll be as brief as possible.
A woman is having her children to the family home for the last Christmas in the house before she sells it. Now that her husband, their father, is dead, the mother is going to go on the trip she and her husband always talked about and were supposed to take. The children aren’t thrilled with the whole idea of selling the house but, mother states it’s not their choice. As a lot of parents feel once their children are grown and out of the house, this mother feels that she has put everyone first for long enough and now it’s her turn to think of herself for a change.
Now, let’s go through a quick rundown of who is in the house for Christmas. We have Diane, the mother. There are four kids; Jerry, Hope, Suzy and Ginny. Suzy is married to a pastor named Peter. They have been trying to conceive for six years with no success. Then, there’s Ginny’s man, Scott. These two are regular poster children for the old trailer park stereotype. (Please do NOT take that as I subscribe to societal stereotypes. I pay attention to individuals, not stereotypes.) Ginny is pregnant, seems to be due any day. Jerry is the gem of the family. He’s a lovely young man with down syndrome. He’s bright, funny, articulate and has a heart of gold. Suzy is very uptight and rigid, the kind of person that makes other people feel like they did something wrong even when they’ve just met and didn’t do anything. And there’s Joe, Diane’s brother.
Because Diane is selling the house where she and Jerry reside, Jerry will be going to live in an assisted living facility while his mother goes on her trip. Jerry is totally fine with this but, some of the siblings are finding everything hard to deal with.
On this last Christmas in the family home, Diane is hoping for a joyous and heartfelt occasion. Although it starts out relatively close to that, it doesn’t last long. Ginny and her husband/boyfriend/whatever are having sex in the laundry room. Suzy’s pastor husband walks by and hears them and decides to take a peek and gets caught by Joe. Suzy and Ginny are constantly bickering, with Hope throwing her two cents in every so often. Joe is just chocked full of sarcasm and it seems the only one with ANY positivity is Jerry.
That’s when a surprise and uninvited guest shows up ringing their doorbell. It’s a man, named Cletus, who is covered head to toe in bandages and is wearing a cloak type of garb. He speaks with a muffled distortion and his timing of words and emphasis, his syntax and speech patterns are all a little off.
They graciously invite him in and after a short time in the house, he wants to read a letter to his mother out loud to them. At first, they are patient and try to listen but then he references something, an event, in his letter that enrages Diane and she tells him, forces him, to leave.
What set her off is his reference to an abortion clinic being bombed many years ago. While this particular clinic was being bombed, SHE was there and in the midst of having her procedure to terminate the pregnancy done. She had become pregnant, her husband got very sick with cancer, tests showed the baby had Down Syndrome and since she already had one child with special needs, she chose to terminate the pregnancy.
It had to have been a late term abortion because the baby was alive when removed from the womb. He was rescued by a man who raised him and took care of him his whole life. When that man died, Cletus went to search for his birth mother. Diane.
Now that he has found her, he goes to great lengths to make his existence known, to kill
Diane’s children and to get the words of motherly devotion he’s always dreamed of, “I love you”.
I found this movie to be very depressing. Not only that but, it felt like a horribly timed political statement being crammed down my throat. I recognized Dee Wallace. She plays the mother in the movie Cujo. But I didn’t recognize anyone else.
I thought the best part of the whole movie was Jerry’s character. He is by far the bravest and sincerest and most thoughtful person out of all of them. It killed me when he heard the story of his mother’s abortion and then felt like she didn’t want him, love him and possibly thought of aborting him too. He was crushed. And he’s the best kid she’s got!!! He’s the only one with a positive attitude, the one who loves everyone, who is just full of good things. And to see him hurt was heartbreaking.
Not to mention that the idea of what Cletus was feeling and went through. Granted that doesn’t warrant murdering an entire family but he obviously didn’t have an easy life. I can’t help it if I’m an empathetic person at times.
But, all the emotional stuff aside, I still thought that the story wasn’t all that great either. The acting was good enough and the filming, well, it’s from 2016 and actually looks good image-wise. But, I just thought the story line could have been done better. I mean, it’s hard for me to believe she was able to terminate the pregnancy at a stage late enough that the baby was viable outside of the womb. If she had the baby then, she gave him up. Not aborted. I think the abortion aspect is used to fuel discord and uncomfortable feelings within viewers. Abortion is always a touchy subject.
Yet, I didn’t think it was possible for a horror movie to depress me and this one did. I will not be recommending this or watching it again.
Christmas Evil (1980)
Directed by Lewis Jackson
Starring: Brandon Maggart, Jeffrey DeMunn, Dianne Hull, Joe Jamrog, Peter Neuman, Scott McKay, Peter Friedman, Burt Kleiner, Patricia Richardson, Andy Fenwick
IMDb 5.3/10 Rotten Tomatoes 83% Metacritic NO DATA
This was the predecessor film to Silent Night, Deadly Night. Initially it was titled “You Better Watch Out” and has also been released under the title “Terror in Toyland”. This one was released on a more down low kind of marketing plan and was released in November as opposed to December. It’s not that it’s really any different than SNDN but, for some reason, this film didn’t get the backlash that SNDN did. I’m guessing the trailers shown on television at the time were not as “Santa” oriented as the ones they showed for SNDN.
In this version of the story, it’s 1947 and a young boy, Harry, is a BIG believer in Santa Claus and the spirit of Christmas and following all the rules to be a good boy so Santa will bring him gifts. He has an argument with his little brother, Phil, on Christmas Eve. Phil says their father is really Santa and that a REAL Santa doesn’t exist. Harry gets very upset and goes downstairs to see Santa. What he sees obviously scars him for life. He finds “Santa” kneeling in front of his mother while she is dressed in lingerie and a satin robe and “Santa” (their Dad) is feeing her up and things are getting a little steamy.
Harry is so upset to realize that the man in the Santa suit is his own father he goes upstairs to the attic and smashes a Christmas themed snow globe on the attic floor. Then he takes a piece of the broken glass and slices into his hand with it. (Keep in mind this kid is like seven or eight years old.)
Okay. Can we hold it for a second right here? This kid is running up and down stairs, closing doors in a less than quiet manner and smashing snow globes on the attic floor. HOW CAN THE PARENTS NOT HEAR ANY OF THIS??? I mean, a herd of cattle could creep around that house quieter than this kid. And yet, parents so wrapped up in getting wrapped up that they are totally oblivious to the child running around in the middle of the night on Christmas Eve. Okay, moving on…
Flash forward thirty-three years…1980. Harry is now around forty or so. He works at a toy factory where he recently got a promotion from the assembly line to a desk job. He’s not thrilled about it. He prefers to be close to the toys. He is completely obsessed with making himself into the next REAL Santa Claus. He sleeps in a set of Santa suit pajamas and his house looks like Christmas threw up all over it. He listens to only Christmas music and, here’s the kicker, he spies on the neighbor kids and tracks their behavior, carefully writing it down under their name in either the Good book or the Bad book. One kid gets written in the Good book for taking out the trash and yet another boy gets written down in the Bad book for looking at Penthouse magazine and impure thoughts, “negative body hygiene”, throws rocks at dogs. A little girl gets written down in the Good book for being “just a darling”.
When Harry goes to work one day he is weaseled into covering a co-worker’s shift. Harry is a kind of awkward and odd fellow and he gets antagonized by his co-workers. The guy, Frank, said he needed his shift covered so he could leave a day earlier with his family for vacation. When Harry is walking home after finishing his extra shift, he sees Frank in a bar he passes. Frank is drinking with other co-workers. Harry realizes he’s been swindled. In reaction, when he gets home he takes on of the little male dolls from the dollhouse in his living room and, while humming a Christmas song, he squeezes and squeezes the doll until it breaks.
Then, the next day, Harry cancels going to his brother’s house for Thanksgiving solely to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade…and see Santa. This frustrates and angers Phil.
Then, later on at the company Christmas party, Harry sees a video being played while they are socializing. The video shows that the company is going to start donating toys to a children’s hospital…IF the workers raise production and donate money of their own…which is craftily disguised in the video. So, Harry asks some questions of his boss and he finds out that they really don’t care about the children at the hospital. It’s just a way of getting the workers to work harder, faster and give up their hard earned money. Harry is outraged.
He decides once and for all that HE is going to be the REAL Santa this season. He goes home and sews himself a Santa suit. He gets the wig and the beard, even eyebrows. Then once he’s all dressed up, he goes to the toy factory and puts stolen toys in canvas bags. Other bags he fills with dirt. He has a momentary freak out when he sees himself in the Santa outfit but then talks himself down, realizes it’s just him dressed as Santa. He also paints his white van with a sleigh on the side to represent Santa’s sleigh.
Another pause, please. It’s obvious that this guy has issues. And I mean serious issues. But, is seeing your Dad feel up your Mom’s leg at like eight years old REALLY that traumatic????? I mean, it may be uncomfortable to walk in on and it may make you a little creeped out but, to freak out like this???? And oh wait, there’s more. Carrying on…
Harry delivers the stolen toys to the hospital…in his “sleigh” van. Afterwards, he goes over to the town church where Midnight Mass is just letting out. This is the church his boss attends. A group of young people see him dressed as Santa and they start to poke fun at him. He gets mad and kills three of them. One with a toy soldier and two with a toy tomahawk.
Then he goes to Frank’s house, the lazy, lying co-worker. He puts gifts under the tree for the kids but he hears them sneak out of their room to see him. He goes to check and they are back in bed. He then goes to Frank and his wife’s bedroom, where he tries to smother Frank with his bag of toys and presents. Frank wakes up and wriggles free but, Harry then slices his throat with a star tree topper. After that he flees the house.
By now, there have been a number of news broadcasts talking about a killer on the loose dressed as Santa and detailing what happened earlier at the church. Harry’s brother sees this on the news and he becomes very concerned.
Meanwhile, Harry is out and about watching other people’s Christmas parties from outside the window and walking around, wandering about. Some people pull him inside to a party and he laughs and dances and gives presents to the kids that are there. Once he leaves he is bombarded by some children walking down the street with their parents. The kids are all excited but the parents soon determine he is a danger.
They chase him around town with lit torches like a mob and he gets in his van and runs to his brother’s house. He and Phil have an argument and Phil ends up choking out Harry. Phil drags Harry back to his van and as he’s trying to figure out what to do next, Harry wakes up and clocks Phil in the jaw and then drives off in a haste.
As the chase continues, Harry gets more and more worked up. Finally, the big crowded mob of people forces him to drive his van off a bridge. In his delusional state, he hears the last two lines of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas as he sees himself flying in the air like Santa with his reindeer and sleigh.
This movie was SO MUCH better than Silent Night, Deadly Night. It was more well done, the story was better, the acting was better and the film was actually somewhat enjoyable to watch. There were some corny parts to the movie, some awkward parts that didn’t seem to fit the flow of the film and there were actually parts of the film where you felt warm and fuzzy inside and smiled.
The movie seemed to hit on the abnormal behavior of the kind of psychosis that Harry was going through but, the CAUSE is what confuses me. I mean, I just don’t see a hand going up a thigh damaging a kid so deeply that he almost can’t function as a regular human being. He lives in a world where everything is Christmas and he’s spying on small children. How creepy is that?!?!?! This guy is two steps shy of child predator…maybe one step. Yeah, one step.
He loves the good kids and gives dirty looks to the bad kids. He also delivers dirt to the bad kids and hides outside their house and waits to scare them.
This guy has absolutely no boundaries when it comes to interacting with other human beings. And when people get upset because they don’t want him around their kids or they aren’t grateful enough or they don’t believe enough, he gets very dejected and acts like it’s the end of the world. He takes it so personally, as if HE were truly Santa Claus.
While this is a horror movie, it does have an emotional and sad undertone to it. You almost feel bad for Harry. Well, if you have any amount of empathy and compassion you can feel sorry for Harry. There are some good kill scenes but, the blood and gore is minimal and the movie is more about Harry and his issues than killing around Christmas, because of Christmas. And that’s what makes it sad. You see this poor guy who doesn’t fit in anywhere struggling through the holidays and trying to make people believe in Santa Claus. Almost heartbreaking…until he starts slicing throats and putting toy soldier bayonets through eyes. Then it gets the horror vibe.
I think this is worth watching. In my mind, it’s a classic that has been developing a cult following for a long time. Again, it’s much better than SNDN. I think they tried the best they could with this movie. And they didn’t do half bad.
Better Watch Out (2016)
Directed by Chris Peckover
Story by Zack Kahn
Written by Zack Kahn and Chris Peckover
Starring: Olivia DeJonge, Levi Miller, Ed Ovenbould, Aleks Mikic, Dacre Montgomery, Patrick Warburton, Virginia Madsen
IMDb 6.5/10 Rotten Tomatoes 88% Metacritic 67/100
Well, FINALLY, it looks like the critics at Rotten Tomatoes and I agree on something. This was a really good movie, in my opinion. It got my attention right away and kept it throughout the whole film. Not once did I ever look at the counter to see how much time was left. I did not feel let down or disappointed with any of the story or the acting. I really think they did a great job with this one.
At Christmas time, a young woman, Ashley, 17, is asked to babysit for a family she’s sat for for years. The obnoxious charge is a 12-year-old boy. Forgive me but, they are ALL obnoxious at that age. Anyways, the kid’s name is Luke. And Luke has a major crush on Ashley…like major…like almost debilitating. He is thrilled that Ashley is coming to babysit and concocts a plan with his best friend Garrett to make a move on her, even though he IS a child and she IS five years older than him, meaning she can go to jail if anything happens between them, whether he wants it from her or not. (Right there, is that NOT a flawed plan??? I dig this chick so much that I’m going to initiate sexual contact with her and possibly put her in jail and on the sex offender registry. THEN, she REALLY love me back. Insert eye roll here.)
Now, Ashley is supposed to be moving out of town in a few days. She’s also got a boyfriend named Ricky but, that relationship is apparently on the rocks. They are having some problems. Ashley ex, a guy named Jeremy, spread rumors about his imaginary sex life with her and so she broke up with him. I guess she’s not picking major winners here but hey, you gotta go through a lot of frogs before you get to anything close to a prince.
Luke is a jealous little twerp and he makes a number of comments about Ricky and Jeremy.
Once the parents and Garrett leave, Luke opens a bottle of champagne and starts guzzling it in front of Ashley, thinking it makes him cool, of course. (You can insert another eye roll for stupid logic right here.) Ashley tries to discipline him and take it away. Once she is successful, she starts pouring it down the sink.
She ends up getting distracted by a phone call from Ricky and after she hangs up on him, she decides to take a few swigs herself. Luke catches her and they make a deal not to tell on each other.
They decide to order pizza and watch a horror movie. During the movie they get a couple of mysterious phone calls. Ashley also realizes she forgot to order the pizza but, just then, the doorbell rings…and it’s a pizza man. Confused, Ashley pays for the mystery pizza and Luke suggests his father ordered it ahead of time.
While watching the movie, Luke decides now is the time to make his move and he practically jumps on Ashley, trying to kiss her. She denies him and tells him how wrong and inappropriate this all is and he protests, explaining that, since they have both been drinking, she should be willing to kiss him. She still refuses and he is embarrassed and gets a little pouty…like a CHILD.
Soon, they start hearing noises coming from outside. When they open the door, much to Ashley’s protest, Garrett appears in a jump scare on them, playing his version of a joke. Ashley is not amused. Then, they hear noises coming from INSIDE the house. In true horror movie fashion, Ashley grabs a knife and goes to investigate.
They find that a brick has been thrown through a window upstairs that reads “U leave, U die”. Ashley tries to dial out on the cordless phone but, she can’t. It’s not working. Garrett starts to freak out and runs out the front door. Ashley and Luke hear what seems to be a shot, Garrett goes down and they slam the front door shut.
After a little craziness, they decide they are going to go get Luke’s father’s gun and hide. Then that plan turns into they are going to the attic. Then, Luke wants to be brave and go back downstairs to get the gun anyways. (Another eye roll please.) These two are incredibly loud for someone who is supposed to be hiding from home invaders, scared for their lives.
Ashley follows Luke downstairs and once they get the gun, they hide in the closet. Something in the closet makes a loud noise and one of the intruders comes into the room looking for them. Luke wants to rush the guy and be the savior. Ashley tries to convince him that is a BAD idea.
But, as she’s looking through the openings in the slats of the closet door, she notices that the intruder is wearing Luke’s hat! Then, the guy scratches his shoulder (which we see Garrett do earlier in the film) and she immediately figures it all out.
She bolts from the closet and confronts the intruder and Luke. The intruder is Garrett and they confess that this was all a scheme to get Ashley scared out of her wits so Luke could swoop in like Superman and rescue her. Thus making her desire him with a fire that will burn forever. (A very BIG EYE ROLL.)
Ashley explains that only an infantile moron would think that was a great plan to get to second base with the babysitter and she stomps off to call his parents. He chases after her, yelling her name. When she finally turns around and snaps “What?!” at him, he loses it and pistol whips her with the gun in his hand. She falls down the stairs and is knocked unconscious.
Luke duct tapes Ashley to a kitchen chair while she’s knocked out. The boys are drinking alcohol and popping Oxy pills, talking about raunchy things and being disgusting little creepers. Luke is now in charge, holding Ashley at gunpoint. He goes through a number of rants and then tells her they are going to play Truth or Dare. Garrett dares Luke to feel Ashley’s boobs. He does and it’s obvious she’s repulsed. When Ashley picks truth, she reveals that Luke killed Garrett’s hamster, which Garrett didn’t know about.
Garrett gets upset about that, plus, when it’s his turn and he picks dare, he gets upset that Luke doesn’t want him to touch Ashley. Garrett gets pouty and tries to leave but, Luke convinces him to stay. As Garrett starts talking about how they will never get away with this Luke explains that he got some GHB and once they drug her, she won’t remember anything.
As they try to give her the laced alcohol it gets knocked out of a hand and the bottle breaks and the drugged liquor covers the floor. Just then, the doorbell rings. It’s Ricky. He came over to talk to Ashley. He said she texted him but, during all the commotion earlier thinking there was an intruder in the house an all, Luke tossed Ashley’s phone into the fish tank (supposedly on accident). While Luke is trying to deal with Ricky, Garrett is supposed to clean up the mess on the kitchen floor.
Ricky eventually pushes his way through the door and becomes another victim when Luke hits him over the head with a baseball bat. He comes to and they struggle. Ricky gets a pencil stabbed into his cheek. (Quick note: the pencil is hidden under the runner rug in the hallway in front of Luke’s room. Ashley is supposed to prop it on his doorknob after he goes to bed so they know if he’s been sleepwalking or not.) As Ricky starts to gain control over Luke, Garrett shows up with a gun and Luke has time to hit him over the head again, knocking him out completely. Then, they tape him to a chair next to Ashley.
Over the course of the next thirty minutes or so, Luke calls Jeremy and asks him to come over for Ashley to talk to him. Luke makes Ricky smoke pot because Garrett was smoking it in the house and now he has to work that part into his plan. Luke then decides to settle a debate he was having with Garrett a while back. To do this they bombard Ricky’s head with a full paint can, Home Alone style. Needless to say, Ricky doesn’t make it.
Meanwhile, Ashley has been working at her tape with a piece of glass she picked up and frees herself only to see Ricky get his head smashed in. Then, in a hope to scare him straight, she fires the gun she grabbed from the kitchen table into the air…but there are no bullets. She runs off and Garrett is charged with going after her. Once outside, she and Garrett struggle and she is able to get away. She’s almost to the neighbors when Luke nails her in the head with the brick from the upstairs broken window.
This time Luke wraps her up in Christmas lights and while she’s held captive inside and Ricky is dead, he stands on the porch and serves hot cocoa to Christmas carolers.
When Jeremy shows up, Luke swindles him into writing out an apology to Ashley. Then he sneaks up behind him and hangs him from the tree that holds the swing he’s sitting on. Now, it looks like a suicide.
Garrett is upset that Luke invited Jeremy and killed Ricky. He’s thinking this has all gotten completely out of hand. While Luke is outside killing Jeremy, Ashley talks him into letting her go and he starts to work on her bindings. He apologizes and kisses her cheek as he tries to get her untied. Luke walks in and goes into a rage. He shoots Garrett twice, killing him, screaming profanities at him while he does so. Then he calmly pulls up a chair next to Ashley and starts reminiscing about how his mother used to tuck him in at night and he would hold onto her and not let her leave. He said it made him fall right to sleep. And then suddenly she just stopped and he didn’t know why.
Ashley tells him she knows exactly why. But, when he wants to know she just closes her eyes and says nothing. He gets upset with her and stabs her in the throat.
Then he spends his remaining time before his parents get home staging the whole scene to look like he was in his room the whole time and everyone else did all the bad stuff.
His parents get home and of course call the police. As they are looking around Luke is upstairs being held by his mom, pretending he has no idea what is going on. But then he hears one of the EMTs holler out that one victim is still alive.
It’s Ashley. She put duct tape over her stab wound to stop the bleeding and it saved her life. And as she looks up at Luke’s window from her gurney as they are loading her into the ambulance, she sees Luke standing at the window…and gives him the finger.
Soon after, Luke looks at his mother and tells her he’s worried about Ashley and they should go to the hospital.
I really enjoyed this movie. The kid does a great job of being psychotic. He’s the perfect age for the role because his voice cracks when he gets worked up. I mean, he’s only supposed to be 12. Ugh, and you can tell from the very beginning he’s completely narcissistic and obnoxious. We all know someone like this kid…or have known. His only purpose in life is HIMSELF.
I knew from the very beginning that whoever the home invaders were would be there by Luke’s instruction. That didn’t take away anything from the film. Also, I left a few smaller things out that add a little extra pizazz to the movie.
I’ll tell ya though, the acting was good in this movie, the filming was good, the sound was good. The plot made sense even if there were a few teeny tiny flaws, which I won’t even take the time to explain because they really didn’t matter. I thought the film was well written and felt fairly natural in dialogue and presentation. Now, granted I’ve never been taped to a chair, threatened with a gun, felt up against my will, watched others die and been stabbed in the neck, all by a 12-year-old BUT, I think she did a good job of working through the script and pulling the character together. All of the actors did.
The Garrett character is a funny one, he’s clueless, hapless, helpless, hopeless. He’s such a tool, to only be used by Luke when it suits his needs. What a great friend indeed.
If you get the chance, I highly recommend checking this out. I don’t think any of you will be disappointed.
Dismembering Christmas (2015)
Directed by Austin Bosley
Starring: Kevin Sommerfield, Austin Bosley, Danielle Doetsch
IMDb 4.2/10 Rotten Tomatoes NO DATA Metacritic NO DATA
I have to be honest, after watching this I am shocked it got a 4.2 on IMDb. To me, this was just almost too painful to watch. At 7 minutes in I was already checking the counter. Checked again at 28 minutes. I swear it felt like an eternity moving in slow motion. The movie is only 1h14m so for me to be checking that soon to see when it’s going to end, you know it’s bad.
I have a lot to complain about regarding this film. First, the sound quality sucks. Some of the dialogue you can’t even hear, not that it’s relevant or even decent dialogue. Second, it seemed like half the movie was filmed using stationary handycams. The angles are bad, the camera doesn’t move, I mean come on. Then, there’s the bad editing and abrupt scene cuts. The acting is B-rate at best and the plot, completely predictable.
There’s a number of creepy characters in this film, especially a brother and sister who seem to have a slightly inappropriate relationship (as far as I know, opposite sex siblings rarely watch each other get naked and change clothes…and when they do, something is usually off.) Honestly, I think the brother-sister relationship in this film is the creepiest thing about it.
There’s also the traditional unrequited love tale, two chicks into the same guy kind of love triangle, and the guy doesn’t even seem to be anything to write home about.
By the end of the movie, I was ready to put it back in the case and forget about it. If you feel like watching a bad horror movie for Christmas, this is your ace in the hole.
The Experiment (2010)
Directed by Paul T. Scheuring
Starring: Adrian Brody, Forest Whitaker, Cam Gigandet, Clifton Collins Jr., Maggie Grace
IMDb 6.5/10 Rotten Tomatoes NO DATA Metacritic NO DATA
This film is a remake of an earlier German version by the same name (Das Experiment) made in 2001. It tells the story of a very controversial “scientific” experiment that took place in real life in 1971 on the Stanford college campus, conducted by psychology professor Philip Zimbardo. The experiment (and I use that term very loosely) was supposed to study the effects of implied power and the dynamic between inmates and guards. It was scheduled to last fourteen days. The entire experiment was shut down after just six days. But those were an incredible six days that made scientific history…and not in a good way.
Let’s talk about the actual experiment first. I said I use that term loosely because there are very strict parameters involved when conducting an experiment. The whole idea is to test theories, chart results and findings and see if other scientists or doctors or whoever can replicate your findings. If they can, the theory is determined to be sound. If they can’t, it’s back to the drawing board. There are basic things that true experiments must have in order to be considered sound and viable experiments such as, a control variable, an unbiased and separate person running the experiment and observing the results. You can’t have the scientist participate in the experiment, only organize it and collect data really. There are a number of other things that we all learned in fifth grade science class about what constitutes an experiment. Apparently, Professor Zimbardo must have been sick the week they taught science experiments in grade school…and high school…and college…and apparently when they covered that in graduate school too. How unfortunate for him.
What happened in 1971 was Zimbardo asked for campus volunteers to participate in a behavioral study/psychological study for the fee of $15 (about $90 in 2017). There were a certain number randomly selected to be guards and the rest were set to be inmates. The professor was the Warden. At his direction, the guards were informed of what was expected of them and the inmates were told that they were in fact inmates…and their makeshift campus prison went into action. The professor was able to watch everything they did on cameras placed throughout the area. The participants WERE aware they were being watched and this may have even bolstered their abusive behavior towards the inmates. The inmates were given numbers, their personal possessions and clothes were taken from them. They were given prison garb with their numbers on the chest and they were told to refer to themselves and each other ONLY BY NUMBER, no names were allowed.
The first day, things went easy and particularly uneventful. Almost as if the people hadn’t accepted or settled into the roles they were to portray. But, things quickly stepped up on day two and got worse and worse each day. By the sixth day, inmates had been beaten, humiliated, brutalized, psychologically tortured and it goes on and on. Also by this point, a number of inmates had selected to leave. Just after thirty-six hours a young man had some kind of mental breakdown and was released from the experiment. It is still unclear whether he faked the breakdown or if it was real. Several stories have been told over the years.
Although the experiment was fundamentally flawed in many ways, it DOES show what humans are capable of in such a short amount of time.
Now, let’s look at the movie. Adrian Brody plays a man named Travis. Travis lost his job at the retirement home where he was faithfully working to take care of the elderly. Forest Whitaker plays a man named Michael. He is a very loving, quiet and committed religious man who is devoted to helping his ailing mother. Each volunteers to participate in the experiment for the fee of $14,000 each. There are other people there who have convinced themselves that for $14,000 it can’t be that bad of an experiment, or experience for that matter. Everyone has their eye on the prize check at the end of the experiment. If they all participate, follow the rules and don’t leave or get violent, at the end of two weeks they each get $14,000. That’s a lot of money…to anyone. Especially someone who is freshly unemployed or has a dying relative…that kind of desperation is exactly what made them volunteer for something they knew nothing about. (I think that was a pretty dumb thing to do but, hey, nobody asked me so, moving on…)
So, they get everyone signed up and in their outfits and the guards have their quarters and the inmates have their cells. On day one, nobody is really taking their positions seriously. They are being watched by cameras all around the “prison” area. They are told that if anyone leaves or commits violence the experiment will be terminated and they will receive NO PAY. Money is a magnificent motivator for the human race.
The guards are told that they must maintain order at all times or they will not get paid. But again, no violence. They are also given a small list of five rules that the inmates are to follow at all times: inmates are to eat, and fully consume, three meals a day, inmates will participate in thirty minutes of rec time daily, inmates must remain in designated inmate areas only, guards are to ensure the inmates obey all rules and if any rules are broken or they are met with opposition they are to respond commensurately (equally or proportionally) within thirty minutes. If they don’t, a red light will turn on signaling the end of the experiment.
The red light is important. It’s supposed to be the signal that they’ve done something wrong. The guards come to depend on that very light for confirmation that they are doing the right things in the right ways.
Meanwhile, over the course of the next five days, Travis gets targeted for being the leader in the dissent amongst the inmates. Michael gets increasingly hostile and sadistic. At one point for punishment, they pull Travis from his bunk and tape him to a chair with duct tape. Then they shave his head, removing his long hair completely. After that, he is still defiant and it really pisses Michael off…so Michael and the other guards piss on Travis, literally. The abuse keeps escalating and escalating until a fight breaks out between Travis and Michael in which another inmate is struck in the head with a nightstick and killed. After that, Travis is put in isolation and the other prisoners are all separated to break up their ranks and comradery.
While Travis works on breaking out of isolation he can hear a fellow inmate being beaten and sexually assaulted in a room near where he is being held. Once he is able to get out of confinement he finds his fellow inmate being victimized and chokes the guard raping him unconscious. Together they go release the other inmates and then a riot ensues.
Travis meets up with Michael who is really the only one that WANTS to stay and fight, the other guards seem to be ready to call it all quits. But, Michael, oh no, he’s going all the way. And as he and Travis tangle with each other Michael attempts to stab Travis. Travis catches the blade of the knife in his hand and prevents fatal injury.
Then the famous red light goes on and a buzzing type siren sounds and the doors to the “prison” open and everyone walks outside.
They were totally in prison mode and it was like as soon as they saw the outside world the realization of the gravity of what they had done and been a part of hit them all like a ton of bricks.
Now, while this isn’t exactly a “horror” film, what happened during this experiment IS HORRIFYING. I’m still unclear as to what the professor at Stanford was trying to accomplish with this “study”. It is clear that people of all races, backgrounds, upbringing, religion and economic status are capable of some horrific actions and thoughts when put into a given situation.
These men that volunteered for this study were told that they would be either guards or prisoners and therefore, treated as such. But, the professor truly failed in setting guidelines for how to handle prisoners and when his few guidelines WERE broken, there were no consequences, not even the ones they were told they would incur. These “guards”, who were nothing more than regular broke college kids, were given free rein to impose their will and power upon those they perceive to be less worthy than they see themselves.
At no time during the escalation of abusive treatment did those running the experiment intervene. The experiments conducted in 1971 and 1961 (a group of people were told to administer “deadly” electric shocks to people they could not see seated in another room. The researcher found that a surprisingly high number of people were willing to administer the shock despite their normal moral code and values. No real “deadly shock” was administered and nobody died. Although many participants truly thought that they had killed someone by giving them the shock. It didn’t seem to bother a number of participants.) prove the old adage that “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”.
This is a truly interesting and somewhat shocking film. We see a regular guy (Whitaker) who is soft spoken and somewhat controlled by his mother embrace the power he was given when, during his interview for the experiment, he was very nonviolent and submissive, a quiet man with little desire to be involved in confrontation.
We also see a very relaxed and down to earth guy (Brody) targeted and broken down because he stood up for what was morally right. Not by his own morals but by the morals that separate human beings from other animals. Our ability to empathize is key to separating us from the wild. This man tried to maintain some sort of moral order in a place where only the “morally corrupt” are housed. (Again, I submit that not all criminals are without morals. Ever hear of someone stealing food to feed their starving child???)
If you want a glimpse into how quickly a person can change when subjected to outrageous circumstances, you need to watch this film. You see the resolve of prisoners to hold onto some shred of humanity and you see the determination of the guards to impose their power and crush those who are deemed beneath them. This was truly a fascinating story about an idiot professor who couldn’t conduct a proper experiment, the participants involved and the lengths that people can be driven to in a very short amount of time.
A Christmas Horror Story (2015)
Directed by Grant Harvey, Steven Hoban and Brett Sullivan
Starring: William Shatner, George Buza, Rob Archer, Zoé De Grande Maison, Alex Ozerov, Shannon Cook, Amy Forsyth, Jeff Clark, Michelle Nolden, Adrian Holmes, Oluniké Adeliyi, Orion John, A.C. Peterson, Percy Hynes White, Corinne Conley, Julian Richings, Debra McCabe, Joe Silvaggio, Damir Andre, Jessica Clement, Ken Hall, Korina Rothery, Jonathan H. Caines, Brad Bennett, Paige Moyles, Glen Gaston, Eric Woolfe
IMDb 5.7/10 Rotten Tomatoes 80% Metacritic 49/100
Finally, I found a Christmas Horror movie that was pretty good. I really think my only complaint would be the structure of the film. In this movie we see four different stories happen throughout the show. But, they aren’t laid out one after the other like normal anthologies. They all happen simultaneously and we get little tidbits here and there along the way.
The problem with that is this:
It took about forty-five minutes to really confirm to myself that these stories were not related to each other. It’s not made clear at the start of the film that we are getting four separate tales. I much prefer the way it’s done in Creepshow where each tale is separate and distinctly told apart from the others. I mean hell, the Creep even announces the title of each story. I find that to be much more viewer friendly and easier to follow.
I will say that the stories were pretty good. It was a very modern Christmas version of a Creepshow type movie. We got the horror, the gore, the dark comedy, regular comedy, some suspense, all with a “fairytale” kind of undertone to it.
William Shatner is a radio DJ doing his Christmas Eve show. It is during his broadcast that we go through the four tales of the film. The first story is a paranormal tale about three students that break into their school to further investigate the traumatic deaths of two classmates the year before. Another tale is a family of three who trespass onto private property to find and cut down the perfect Christmas tree. While doing so their child gets lots and when they find him, he is very different. Then, we have the classic idea of a family vacation to Grandma’s house for Christmas gone completely wrong and finally, a story about a zombie virus outbreak at The North Pole, threatening Santa, his elves and Christmas.
Since this IS a fairly recent movie, I’m not going to divulge too much. I don’t want to spoil anything for those who haven’t’ seen it.
One question I have is why did it take three directors to make this film? I have never seen so many directors on one film in my life. I would think that would be too many egos in the same authoritative position. How could that possibly be an easier film to make with three different directors telling the actors what to do? I don’t know. I have no film making experience or training so it’s purely an observation by a layperson.
Still, if you get the chance to watch this I don’t think it would be a disappointment. I think it was well made and very well done. I liked this Krampus interpretation better than the one in the actual Krampus movie. This depiction seems more fitting to me. And the idea of an ass kicking Santa makes me smile. Everyone acts like Santa is so perfect, that it’s not possible he would have struggles or problems or even a bad day. ARE YOU CRAZY??? Do you know what kind of pressure that man is under? And those elves? Cut them some slack would you? Christmas rests on their shoulders. That’s a heavy burden to carry.
Directed and Written by Monte Hellman
Starring: Samantha Scully, Bill Moseley, Eric Da Re, Elizabeth Hoffman
IMDb 3.6/10 Rotten Tomatoes NO DATA Metacritic NO DATA
I’m quickly losing faith in this entire series. You guys know I’m very forgiving when it comes to horror movies. But, once again, it seems that the filmmakers didn’t care much whether this film was palatable or not. I feel this whole film was a flop. I think the story line was implausible. I think the writing was bad. I think the character of the blind girl was completely miswritten. If we were to believe she’s blind, then there were a number of things that she appeared to see but wasn’t supposed to. They also could have made her “visions” filmed in a slightly different style or something to help distinguish between the visions and reality.
Now, I have seen Bill Moseley in other films. I do not put the blame on him for the character he had to play. I don’t think this character was anymore well written than the blind chick.
Also, yet again they chose to repeat original footage from the first film. I feel that, in doing this twice and using up so much of the movie for it, that it was determined to be a cheap way of lengthening the film an explaining plot details without having to come up with an entirely new story.
While I understand that sequels are meant (usually) to build on one another, the overuse of the original film footage (when it wasn’t a great movie at all to begin with) just adds another layer of salt on an already open wound. I found myself rolling my eyes a lot and actually doing some research on the film during watching it because it was just so slow moving and uneventful.
In the opening seen we see a chick laying down on some sort of hospital gurney-type bed and we are just supposed to watch her lay there I guess. This goes on for what seems like three to five minutes and then, we enter the slow moving pace of the rest of the film.
There’s some very creepy stuff in this film but it has nothing to do with horror. The doctor that is conducting the sleep experiment is awfully handsy with the blind chick. Also, her brother is sitting on the bed in the room she’s staying in, watching her change her clothes as they have a conversation. Also, I find it slightly disturbing that they decided to make the story about a blind chick who participates in a sleep study in which the doctor is trying to get her to telepathically communicate with a killer Santa coma patient. I mean, really??? The makers of this film are pretty much assuming I’m going to just automatically buy into a lot of BS and not notice that they did a horrible job of any kind of follow through.
That being the case, I put this right next to the first sequel, which was absolutely the worst sequel I have EVER seen. This one is also one of the worst sequels ever made. I give props to Bill Moseley for doing what he could with such a crap story and character and no matter how bad this movie was, I’m still a fan of his. But, the rest of the film, I’d go ahead and just avoid this one if I were you.
Directed by Michael Dougherty
Starring: Adam Scott, Toni Collette, David Koechner, Allison Tolman, Conchata Ferrell, Emjay Anthony, Stefani LaVie Owen, Krista Stadler
IMDb 6.2/10 Rotten Tomatoes 66% Metacritic 49/100
While this film is clearly categorized as a horror film, I found that it’s more of a Christmas morality tale…with a monster. Now, children are told fables from an early age. It’s a way to convey morality and life lessons to kids. They often involve animals and always seem to have some sort of character that could be classified as “a monster”. Inevitably, in practically every story, the monster comes in contact with a human being, mostly a child but not always, and just before the unthinkable happens our would-be victim has some moral revelation and defeats the monster and lives happily ever after…IN A NUTSHELL. Yes, there are exceptions to the rule but that’s pretty much the formula.
So, in this film we have a family getting together for the holidays. Not unlike what many of us do for Christmas, the homeowners in this movie are having family in town for the holidays. We have the homeowners, Tom and Sarah. They have two kids, Max and Beth. Tom’s mother also lives with them. They call her Omi. For Christmas, Sarah’s sister and her family are coming to stay at the house. This includes Sarah’s sister Linda, her husband Howard, their four children, Howie Jr., Stevie, Jordan and infant Chrissy and just for good measure, they brought Aunt Dorothy, who is nobody’s favorite person. Needless to say, not everyone is thrilled that everyone else is there. I mean, we all have family members that we would prefer NOT be at Christmas or that when they show up we take a deep breath and roll our eyes, preparing ourselves for the interactions that lie ahead. In this family, the homeowners aren’t thrilled that their, shall we say less sophisticated members are there OR that this particular aunt is there.
Max is young, about ten or twelve years old. He still believes in the spirit of Christmas and even still writes Santa a letter. When his two cousins, Stevie and Jordan, snatch his letter and read it aloud at the dinner table to embarrass him, Max loses control and gives in to his frustration and anger. Convinced that it’s not worth it and that Christmas will suck no matter what, he tears up his letter to Santa and throws it out the window causing the start of the worst night of their lives.
In losing their Christmas Spirit they bring about Krampus, the dark side of Santa Claus. Basically, Krampus comes to let you know that your life can always be worse. If you think it sucks having rude and disrespectful family get on your every last nerve, just wait until Krampus comes and slaughters your family and destroys your town, etc. After going through the loss of all his family members Max finally tries to confront Krampus, apologizing for losing faith, requesting his family back.
This film reminded me of something that would be the result of combining National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and some sort of Stephen King story like Dreamcatcher or something. Or wait, more like Christmas Vacation meets Puppet Master. While I thought it was a good movie, I had hoped for something a little more sinister and a little less comedic. The acting was good, although I only recognized two of the actors. I have to say the confrontation between Krampus and Max does not deliver on the buildup they manufactured leading up to it. The Krampus character looks really good though. But, there was just something about the movie that just didn’t sit 100%. I didn’t care for all the “implied deaths”. I feel like that was done to make it less of a horror movie and more of a family film. For me, it didn’t go over the way I think the filmmakers hoped. I prefer horror to be actual horror and kid movies to be kid movies. Besides, if I wanted to watch a moral Christmas tale I’d watch Miracle on 34thSt. or It’s a Wonderful Life. Some evil Santa shadow figure or whatever is more geared toward children, in my opinion.
I would definitely recommend this to families with pre-teens or early teens. I’m not sure showing a repulsive evil Santa monster is a good idea for young children, just saying.
Directed by Lee Harry
Starring: Eric Freeman, James Newman, Elizabeth Kaitan
IMDb 3.6/10 Rotten Tomatoes 0% Metacritic NO DATA
I had to start writing this as I watched the movie tonight. I felt so cheated out of a sequel, I immediately got online and started looking up the film. I’m glad I did that. Otherwise, I would have blamed the actual filmmakers for short-changing us. But instead, I guess it was mostly the studio and budget issues.
That being the case, the film relied heavily on regurgitating footage from the first movie. What I read was that the studio originally wanted the first movie edited again and passed off for a sequel. The director refused and demanded a budget for a new movie. He was granted minimal funds and minimal salary. And not only did they reuse original film footage, they “cleaned” it up as well. They took time to show you all the nudity scenes but, edited them to barely show anything. The movie is supposed to focus on Ricky and his killing spree.
The situation that set Billy off in the first one sets Ricky off in the second one. I have to say, it’s not Freeman’s acting that is so bad, it’s just his speaking ability in the movie is horrific. I can plainly see that it is supposed to be psychotic and scary but, it is incredibly forced and not even up to B-rate par. The whole performance of trying to come across to the viewers as cold, heartless, unfeeling, maniacal, whatever you want to call it, is obviously one he struggled with and definitely overplayed.
The guy that played Manson in Helter Skelter was WAY BETTER at it. Seemed to come almost natural to him. The only time the Ricky character ever seems natural is when he is talking about Jennifer, a girl he apparently loved.
One very clever part of the movie is they use the first movie as the show Ricky and Jennifer see at the movies.
Other than that, this movie is a bust. The kills are bad, the dialogue is bad, the acting is bad, there are almost no special effects, little to no blood…just a total letdown. Ricky couldn’t be less scary if he were walking around with a teddy bear clutched in his hand. They couldn’t even get the facts from the first movie correct during the recollection process in the second movie. Somehow, the deaf pastor who dressed as Santa for the orphanage children and was shot in front of Ricky all of a sudden becomes a deaf janitor instead. I’m not sure how we could get confused between a pastor and a janitor but, you would think they would at least get the story straight.
It really seems that this whole film was the project that no one wanted any part of, no one took seriously and no one enjoyed making. The poor guy that played Ricky basically dropped out of the limelight after this movie came out. Bless his heart, it’s not like anyone who saw this film who jump up and say “I want that guy for my next film!”.
I will say that I liked the ending. I’d say the last fifteen or twenty minutes of the movie was good. I can’t much say that I recommend this film to anyone but, if you can take the majority of the movie, the ending is truly the good part.