Friday, December 21, 2018

Mini Macabre Review #9

 Christmas Evil

Ho-Ho-Ho. How about one more mini holiday review before I begin my own vacation and celebration for the season? This will be my last update for the year, but I will be back in January for more horror reviews and releases of horror books. A truly magical Christmas horror flick. The first time I saw this film I was unimpressed. I was expecting something along the lines of Silent Night, Deadly Night. Now, revisiting it again with a fresh view and understanding of what I was getting into this year, I can say I truly adore this little movie. In my own opinion, it sums up all that is good about Christmas while not shying away from what makes the season so horrible for many families and individuals (like myself). It balances goodness, charity, community, togetherness, and belief with their harder counterparts of avarice, greed, family dysfunction, loneliness, bullying, and faithlessness. It is a psychological horror movie that takes a glance at serious mental illness (taken to the extreme) and the lack of support from those who may need it most. What happens to one man when he hopes for the best out of the Christmas season and is only dealt the absolute worst. He snaps and then ultimately has to try and make his own magic of the season--even if that means killing off a few unmentionables who were on the naughty list before joining in on the season of giving.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Mini Macabre Review #8

Christmas Presence

Finally, a halfway decent modern Christmas horror movie. It's your normal set up. A group of friends meet up at a secluded location (this time for Christmas) only to be hunted and killed off one by one by a malevolent unseen force. It's a bit like a tamer version of Evil Dead where you can never tell who is possessed or who isn't. The movie begins with a slow startup, but once the paranormal stuff hits, the movie turns out pretty tense and exciting. If there was one thing they got right it was the atmosphere, induced by suspense and an excellent musical score.

However, it isn't a perfect Christmas horror movie. In fact, Christmas hardly plays into it at all. This movie could be set at any time. You only remember it's Christmas when you see the tree in the background. Overall, good for a single watch this season if you enjoy hauntings, possessions, and a And Then There Were None sort of setup.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Mini Macabre Review #3

The Stuff

Borrowing elements from The Blob and seemingly mixing it with something like a cousin to They Live, The Stuff is a corny romp into sci-fi goofs of the 80s. The special effects are where this movie really shines. While there weren't a whole ton of scenes featuring people getting mutated by The Stuff, the ones they do have are both goofy and gross all at the same time--and that's exactly what you come to this type of movie for.

Unfortunately, uneven pacing and choppy storytelling make the movie less than it could be--even for a silly B-movie where you expect character development to be the bottom of the totem pole. In the end, it's a fun and gooey movie that will appeal to most fans of 80s horror--but not my favorite.

Mini Macabre Review #7

 Black Sabbath

They just don't make them like this anymore. Black Sabbath is an Italian anthology horror film that is truly chilling and frightening without all the gimmicky gore, sex, and special effects of the modern era of cinema. Having recently watched a few newer anthology flicks (and being completely disappointed in them) this film shows that no one has matched these types of films from the era. Split into three parts, Black Sabbath offers up three bite-sized horrors, each with its own merit and worth. The first story is your traditional set up where a woman is home alone and is receiving threatening phone calls from someone who is watching her every move. Seeing the old apartment in this one was a real treat. The second story is the gem of the collection, starring Boris Karloff as an Italian style vampire. This one feels like the great Hammer vampire flicks of the same era, all while making it even scarier somehow. The final story might be the most frightening. It features a house call nurse who steals a ring from one of her dead clients. As luck would have it, the ghost comes back for some very shocking revenge. Don't watch this one at night unless you want to see that ghost's horrific face floating over your bed while you try to go to sleep! After watching a few modern duds this past week, this was a real pleasure to watch.

Mini Macabre Review #6

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: A Midwinter's Tale

As I've bee going through and searching for decent Christmas horror movies from the past few years--and have been mostly disappointed on every front--I realized I already have a new one that I love that I haven't shared! Now, I forgot about talking about this here on my blog because it is a TV episode and not a full-fledged movie. However, why shouldn't I review my favorite show's Christmas episode when it is the only stand out slice of Christmas chills I've found in many years? My favorite TV show growing up was always Sabrina The Teenage Witch. So, it should be no surprise that when Chilling Adventures of Sabrina hit the "airwaves" it would quickly fall in line as my new favorite show. I've always loved this little witch and the new show is no expectation.

Better than that, in the same tradition of the original live-action Sabrina TV show, Netflix released a Christmas episode. I was in heaven, to say the least. This episode is perfect--especially for a neo-pagan like myself. We have a few different storylines going on here between an evil mall Santa, to Sabrina summoning her dead mother's ghost, to the infestation of spirits that haunt the Spellman household for the holiday season. Yule can't get much better than with good ol' Sab.

This episode hit all the right spots from chilling to funny. It keeps the spirit of the holidays while not being afraid to spook us--all without using an excess of blood, gore, or sex just for shock factor. (You know how much I hate sex and violence just for sex and violence sake).

In the end, this may be my personal most perfect Christmas TV episode of all time. Thanks, Sabrina! 

Mini Macabre Review #5

All The Creatures Were Stirring

Have you ever seen a creative project that was trying too hard to be too many things at once? Well, All The Creatures Were Stirring is that type of movie. A touch of Saw, the paranormal, creature features, the Twilight Zone, slashers and even Charles Dicken's Christmas Carol come together to make this uneven and somewhat unsatisfying movie. I personally believe that if you are going to make an anthology style horror movie, such at this one, it is better to keep a consistent theme and tone throughout--rather than this smorgasbord of rather mediocre attempts at every sub-genre that exists. That isn't to say the movie didn't have its good moments. I thought the black and white Twilight Zone style episode was in excellent taste for a Christmas movie (especially since those old school anthology tv and radio shows always did Christmas episodes). However, much of the rest of the movie falls short. the acting is wooden much of the time, the writing a bit faulty, and many loose ends or left untied. Most of all, for a Christmas movie, it has very little holiday cheer to accompany the lack of scares. At least I can give it credit for not being discuting and disturbing just for the sake of it.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Mini Macabre Review #4

Better Watch Out (2016)

A disturbing and unhappy little Christmas movie without any of the chilling cheer of many other holiday horror classics. I haven't disliked a horror movie this much in a very long time. Rather than the combination of goofy fun slasherific kills and a touch of Christmas humor and holiday chills (like you might find in Black Christmas), this movie falls more in the camp of Wes Craven's despicable Last House on the Left . . . only with children involved. Need I say more? While there is no explicit sexual violence, the motives for the killer are misogynistic and come with rather unsettling sexual overtones--made all the more unsettling by his age. Halfway through, I had actually hoped this would turn into a sort of Tales from the Crypt sort of vibe where the killer gets their disgustingly satisfying just desserts in the end. But no, this holiday "home invasion" flick is something that just isn't worth watching again . . . or for the first time even.