Better Watch Out (2016)

Better Watch Out (2016)

Directed by Chris Peckover

 

Christmas horror movies are becoming more and more common it seems.  Just go on Amazon Prime, you’ll see a buttload of them!  Before we only had a handful like Silent Night, Deadly Night and Black Christmas.  Both of which are considered classics in the slasher genre.  Better Watch Out caught my attention last year at Walmart because of the cover art.  I thought it was some forgotten 80s slasher, until I looked it up and saw it was made in 2016.  With my shudder account I was able to watch it this year just in time for Christmas!

The movie centers around a young boy named Luke and his babysitter Ashley.  First off I wonder why the kid needs a babysitter, he’s like 15.  My parents left me alone when I was like 12 or 13, but anyways…Luke is in love with Ashley, yeah cliché, I know.  He makes moves on her but she rebuffs him numerous times.  During the night some odd things start happening and they get lewd phone calls, again cliché I know.  Soon Luke’s best friend Garrett joins them and things start to take an odd turn.

Better Watch Out has some decent acting for the genre. Olivia Dejonge plays Ashley and does a really good job.  She’s great at playing the smart, tough, and resourceful girl.  Levi Miller plays Luke and he’s really the star of the movie, his emotions are felt the whole film and his wild change in attitude is impressive.  Luke’s parents are played by Virginia Madsen and Patrick Warburton whom will always be David Putty to me.  Luke’s friend Garrett is played by Ed Oxenbould and he does an alright job, nothing amazing but not distractingly bad.  It is a very small cast, but it doesn’t need a bunch of characters and is effective with the small cast.

There isn’t much in the way of special effects, because there isn’t much gore or scenes that require it.  The blood and kills that do exist are done pretty well, and they’re believable, for the most part.  The camera work is decent, nothing that is going to blow you away and not bad enough to distract you.  The movie as a whole is competent, and I guess that just makes it kind of dull.  I’m not sure how much re-watchability this has being so blah and middle of the road with everything.

I can’t really say too much about this movie without giving things away since it relies so heavily on it’s twists.  So the follow is definitely SPOILER ALERT!  If you don’t want to know what happens, stop reading this review now.  Ok, so basically you are lead to believe that there is some killer outside the house terrorizing Luke, Ashley, and Garrett.  Garrett tries to run away and he gets shot.  Luke and Ashley hide upstairs until Ashley notices the stalker/killer is Garrett in a mask.  She realizes they’re playing some kind of prank, and Luke slaps her and she falls down the stairs.  When Ashley wakes up, she’s bound to a chair and Luke is teasing her.  Basically Luke just snaps and tortures Ashley, her boyfriend and her ex boyfriend.  He even kills her boyfriend “Home Alone style” with a paint can on a rope, not sure that would kill anyone but whatever.  Luke goes nuts, and kills everyone, including Garrett and makes it look like he was in his room asleep the whole time when his parents come home.  The final scene shows Luke watching the paramedics load up a still live Ashley into an ambulance and Luke asks to see her in the hospital, basically to finish her off.

My main issue with this movie is that there is no suspense.  Any build up they had earlier in the film is thrown out when Luke goes nuts.  With him being the bad guy, it really doesn’t draw your attention and keep you guessing.  It is right out front, and to me that just hinders the movie so much.  The effects are minimal, that’s not always a bad thing but with the suspense lacking, it would be nice for some cool gory kills.  Aside from the good acting there really isn’t much in this movie that did anything for me.  It was so blah and run of the mill that I’ll likely never watch it again.  I give Better Watch Out a C, a grade higher than garbage, but lower than other Christmas horror classics like Black Christmas.

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BONUS!: 50 Greatest Horror Movies You’ve Ever Seen (2014)

50 Greatest Horror Movies You’ve Never Seen (2014)

Directed by Anthony Masi

A little different approach today.  This recently popped up on Amazon Prime, and I was intrigued because I’m an asshole and I wanted to prove this countdown wrong and that I’ve seen ALL of these movies.  Surprisingly that wasn’t the case.  I have seen many of these, but there are a bunch I haven’t.  Also, I was surprised with some inclusions and exclusions.  Here is the list, so I can save you watching some dbags talking about these movies like they’re incredible for over an hour.

 

  1. Basket Case
  2. When A Stranger Calls
  3. Silent Night, Deadly Night
  4. The Slumber Party Massacre
  5. Valentine
  6. Grace
  7. The Hunger
  8. Prophecy
  9. The Dentist
  10. Food of the Gods
  11. Motel Hell
  12. Wrong Turn
  13. The Fury
  14. April Fool’s Day
  15. Humanoids From the Deep
  16. Hatchet
  17. May
  18. Lemora
  19. Brides of Dracula
  20. The Exorcist III
  21. Burnt Offerings
  22. The Funhouse
  23. Halloween III: Season of the Witch
  24. Hard Candy
  25. Castle Freak
  26. Feast
  27. Slither
  28. Inside
  29. Tourist Trap
  30. Trilogy of Terror
  31. Splinter
  32. Session 9
  33. Ginger Snaps
  34. Alice Sweet Alice
  35. Visiting Hours
  36. Repulsion
  37. Alone with Her
  38. Near Dark
  39. Joshua
  40. Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark
  41. Audition
  42. Let the Right One in
  43. Reanimator
  44. Wishmaster
  45. The Descent
  46. Alone in the Dark
  47. The Night of the Hunter
  48. The Beast Within
  49. Pumpkinhead
  50. Black Christmas

 

Not a bad list honestly.  I questioned Pumpkinhead being so high on the list, while I enjoyed that movie it doesn’t match up with a few that are under it like The Descent which is great.  Black Christmas is a great #1, many have seen it but it doesn’t get the widespread recognition that it deserves.  There are a few that I have never even heard of on this list like Lemora and The Night of the Hunter.  It is funny there are 28 movies on this list that I haven’t seen, but the ones I have seen I own most of them.

The biggest exclusion, in my humble opinion is The Burning.  It is possibly the best one-off slasher movie ever and not many people outside of the slasher movie lovers have seen it.  It has a great killer, great effects, and was written off as a Friday the 13th rip off back in the day, even though it predates all but the original Friday and was actually written before.  A few more exclusions I had were: The Prowler, My Bloody Valentine, Event Horizon, and Sleepaway Camp (CMON!).  I really appreciated the recognition they give The Funhouse and Tourist Trap because those are great classic slashers.  Tourist Trap might be the most overlooked and forgotten slasher movie of all time, even Black Christmas gets more recognition.  If you have a chance to watch Tourist Trap, by all means jump on it.

I enjoyed the countdown, even though most of the people they had talking I had no idea who they were.  Some of them were annoying, especially the guy with the giant voice that works for bloody disgusting, man he annoyed me.  For an hour and a half it was worth it and gave me a look at some films I haven’t paid attention to or heard of.

Oct. 31st: The Grim Reaper (1981)

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The Grim Reaper (1981)

Directed by Joe D’Amato

 

This has been on my watchlist on amazon prime for over a year.  I saw it was short, so I quickly watched it the other night.  Gotta love amazon prime, they put the wrong dates on shit all the time, apparently, they think it is from 2011!  I never heard of this honestly, didn’t know what to expect.  I turned it on and realized it was Italian, so I figured I was in for a gory movie with really awkward and graphic sexual scenes.  For this movie?  I got neither of those things!  Deep inhale…. here we go!

The Grim Reaper is about a group of tourists that go to an island, where apparently few people live?  Their boat ends up becoming untied or something and drifts out to sea.  One guy wants to go swimming for it, another tells him he’ll never make it, because it is too far out.  The boat is literally 100 yards away, pretty sure he could make it, just sayin’.  Like most Italian gore movies, the plot is simple and confusing at the same time, things don’t get explained until later if at all.  Whilst watching this I started to do some research on my phone.  I soon realized this movie is also named Antropophagus, which I’ve actually heard of, and I have seen the poster numerous times.  What I realized around half way through the film, is this is the hacked up, semi censored version of Antropophagus!  HOORAY!  So here I am watching a shlocky gore movie, with no gore!

The acting is on par with other Italian movies.  All the dialogue is dubbed over, because they used numerous actors speaking different languages then dubbed them over with the language of the country it is shipped to.  So, it is clunky and awkward for sure.  Aside from the crap acting you get some pretty bad camera work and production quality.  Some scenes are so dark you can’t see what is going on.  One of my favorite old horror movie elements!  Humongous is the first movie that comes to mind that is steeped in that garbage.  While this movie isn’t as dark and disorienting as Humongous, it is still annoying.  Some shots are really grainy and you get that odd glare during night scenes that you get when boosting the contrast in post-production.  The characters all dress the same, the guys wear button down shirts with collars and sweaters over top.  The women wear button down shirts with sweater vests over top.  The pregnant girl that gets captured by the killer is the only one in a dress, if I remember right.

The special effects?  I can’t really say anything since I watched the bastardized version of this movie, and most of the gore is cut out.  What was there was minimal but somewhat affective.  It makes me mad that I didn’t just watch the full version, but after this now I don’t really want to haha.  The kills are cut away from and meh.  The killer bites out a throat, buries a clever in one guy’s head and just hacks a guy up.  There isn’t much to talk about, again I saw the edited version, kill me now.

I know I’ve kind of skipped around in this movie but man it really lost me halfway through and you have to wait and wait and wait for something to fucking happen.  I was literally saying aloud “DO SOMETHING!” the whole time.  The film gets to its “climax” and I say that in quotes because not much happens.  A guy goes into catacombs or something and finds the pregnant girl, he gets killed, the killer grabs the girl and we get a flash back.  The killer remembers being stranded at sea or something with his wife and son.  The son apparently died and the wife refuses to let him go.  I think the father wants to eat the son, I don’t know at this point I was pissed.  She refuses to do so and he stabs her to death, yeah then he screams.  It is no surprise that I can’t recommend this to anyone, watch the full version and skip over this shit.  It gets a D- from me.  I can’t give it an F because I got all the way through it and it didn’t piss me off as much as some movies.

Oct. 30th: Maximum Overdrive (1986)

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Maximum Overdrive (1986)

Directed by Stephen King

 

Sometimes movies are so corny that they’re amazing.  I’m looking at you Miami Connection!  Maximum Overdrive has a big cult following for this reason.  People seem to really love it and embrace the campiness.  I added it to my queue in Amazon and in Netflix before and never got around to watching it.  Well thanks to my newborn daughter waking me up at 6am and then proceeding to barf an entire bottle’s worth of formula onto my bare chest, I was able to wipe off and watch this.

The movie starts off with action, little backstory, little introduction and for that I applaud it.  This movie knows what the hell it is, its entertainment and it certainly entertains.  Basically, the Earth is the tail of a large comet.  Something in the comet’s tail causes machinery to go haywire and rebel against us.  It is as amazing as it sounds, believe me!  We see a wide variety of fun ideas like a draw bridge going up with cars on it, an ATM calling Stephen King an asshole (which made me laugh out loud), and a vending machine shooting pop cans into a guy’s crotch and face.  During the mayhem there is a group of survivors holding up in a gas station, trying to outlast and deal with the machinery run amok.

The acting isn’t awful really.  Emilio Estevez is at his Emilioest.  I mean is Emilio a great actor?  Not really.  Is he bad?  Not really.  He’s not as great as his dad Martin Sheen or his insane brother Charlie Sheen, but he’s likable.  Man, Gordon Bombay was my hero back in the day!  Minnesota Miracle Man!  Anyways, he does a decent job with the lead role.  Theres a kid on a bike named Deke (Holter Graham) does a solid job for a child actor. Yeardley Smith plays Connie a newlywed woman there with her husband Curtis (John short).  Man, Yeardley Smith is annoying.  Think about Lisa Simpson whining and bitching the whole movie, yeah ugh.

Special effects are prevalent in this film.  You get a lot of cool and inventive kills with the machines.  Numerous trucks and cars hitting people, an arcade cabinet shocking a guy, the aforementioned vending machine shooting pop cans, even a steam roller running over a kid.  Yes, even kids die in this movie!  Just wow I couldn’t believe that steam roller scene haha.  All the effects are believable because they are all physical and practical effects.  The gore is somewhat limited but what we see is decent, lots of blood for sure.  Imagine if the steam roller crushed the kid’s skull and there was a crunching sound and blood spray?  That would make this NC17 I’m sure and would borderline Troma levels of graphic gore haha.

There isn’t much in the way of creative cinematography, but it isn’t boring by any means.  This is the only movie directed by Stephen King, and while it isn’t a masterpiece it is definitely better than anything Uwe Boll has made!  Kind of surprised King never tried directing again, unless that was a choice of his?  I’m not sure but at least he’s an amazing writer!  I’m also kind of surprised they haven’t tried to remake this movie, not that I want them to but surprised no one has.

Maximum Overdrive is a fun popcorn movie.  It isn’t going to blow your mind with though provoking dialogue or drama.  It is going to entertain the shit out of you and make you laugh from time to time whether it is purposeful or not.  I enjoyed this and it helped pass the time until my wife woke up so I could shower and get the formula off me.  I would give this a B.  It is fun, its not great, its not that bad, and I’ll probably rewatch it again sometime.

Oct. 29th: Psycho II (1983)

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Psycho II (1983)

Directed by Richard Franklin

 

Horror sequels are super super common.  Just look at the Friday the 13th series and the A Nightmare on Elm Street series as examples.  Whether or not a movie warrants a sequel, doesn’t necessarily matter, hell they made two Sorority House Massacre movies!  Psycho II is an odd case of a sequel where it was made 20 years after the original.  Does it live up to the original?  That’s what I wanted to know so I bought a bundle DVD set of Psycho II, III, IV, and Bates Motel.

The plot revolves around Norman Bates being let out of the mental institution after he is deemed no longer a threat to anyone.  Norman is given a job as a cook at the local diner and he opens up his hotel again.  While at work Norman meets Mary, a young waitress down on her luck.  She moves in with Norman and the two develop a friendly bond.  All the while someone keeps leaving notes and calling Norman claiming to be his dead mother.  You can see Norman slowly begin to crack and revert to his deranged ways from the first film.  With Mary’s help Norman is able to fight off his demons initially but they get stronger and stronger as the movie continues.  Suddenly people begin dying off and Norman is the first to blame.  Did he kill the people or was it Mary?  It could be anyone really!

The acting is pretty good.  Anthony Perkins does a great job reprising his role as Norman Bates and he is excellent at playing a mentally troubled man, but yet seems rather gentle and caring at the same time.  Mary is played by Meg Tilly, Jennifer Tilly’s sister.  She does an apt job, she’s not great but she’s slightly above average.  It is funny how much Meg and Jennifer look alike, except Jennifer is crazy stacked and Meg is not.  Robert Loggia plays Norman’s doctor. Yes Robert Loggia, that’s R as in Robert Loggia, O as in Oh my god that’s Robert Loggia, B as in by god that’s Robert Loggia…yeah you get it.  He basically plays the same character he plays in every other movie he’s in.  Kind of scruffy, hard around the edges but encouraging and thoughtful.

The kills are pretty fun in this and the gore is alright.  One scene a woman gets a knife through her screaming mouth which made me wince, so that was rather effective.  Others are your typical stabbings, common for the genre.  While the kills are kind of tame by slasher standards, it is the atmosphere and tension that truly makes the film.  You keep wondering who is making these calls to Norman, who is writing these notes and is it Meg’s mom or just Norman finally cracking?  The ending wraps everything up rather cleverly but I wont ruin it for you.  Even though this movie is 30 years old, I feel like not many people have seen it, so I will leave it up to you to see it.

I enjoyed Psycho II, it was a nice change from the hack and slash 80s movies without story or acting chops.  If you like the original, you’ll enjoy this.  The sequel stays truthful to the original, which is a masterpiece for sure.  The atmosphere and tension really keep a relatively slow movie moving forward.  The kills are decent but not over the top, the knife to the mouth especially was pretty awesome.  I would give this a B.  The acting really brings the movie up, but it was a little slow for me.

Oct. 28th: Slumber Party Massacre II

Slumberpartymassacre2

Slumber Party Massacre II (1987)

 

Directed by Deborah Brock

 

In the world of slasher movies you have some classics and some horrendous pieces of dog shit. The Slumber Party Massacre lies somewhere in the middle, and has gained a cult fan base. Being one of the few slashers written and directed by a woman, it brought a new look at the genre. With the decent success of the first one, a sequel was inevitable. Is the sequel as memorable?

Slumber Party Massacre II revolves around a young girl named Courtney played by Crystal Bernard of Wings fame, whom keeps suffering from nightmares of a guy with in a leather jacket with a drill guitar killing people. Courtney’s friends and bandmates all go to stay the weekend in one of the girls’ summer home. While there they start experiencing strange things and Courtney’s dreams get more and more real. Soon the man from the dream becomes real and starts running amok in the home.

The acting is fairly decent, for the genre. Crystal Bernard does a great job of playing Courtney the good girl. She’s sweet and innocent but cute at the same time. Her friends are Amy played by Kimberly McArthur, Sheila played by Juliette Cummins, and Sallie played by Heidi Kozak. Amy is her most caring friend, and dang she’s the hottest by far, she’s got some sweet boobs, just sayin. Sheila is the wild child, kind of slutty redhead that gets topless and dances for no real reason during a pillow fight, because that ALWAYS happens in real life right? Sallie is just kind of there, her character really isn’t that strong, she’s basically just there to meet the blonde quota. Along with the girls we get a couple of guys Joel Hoffman as the stoner surfer dude TJ and Scott Westmoreland as Jeff. Man TJ is such a tool, he looks kind of like Justin Long but talks like Pauly Shore, except more annoying and stupid. Jeff is the typical worrisome uptight friend to TJ. The Driller Killer is hilarious looking, he has a big black pompadour and wears a leather jacket and pants. He is played by Atanis Illitch, as far as I know he’s no relation to former Detroit Red Wings and Tigers owner Mike Illitch, also of Little Caesars fame. The Driller Killer is so over the top goofy that you really can’t take this seriously, but I think that’s kind of the point.

The special effects are fairly good. One scene we see the killer jump down the steps and the drill wobbles on his guitar, which is hilarious. The kills are your typical drill kills, through the back, through the chest, through the head, nothing really new. The gore is plentiful and there is a few scenes of mangled meat spinning around on the drill bit which is cool. Aside from the effects the other highlight to this film is the never ending jabs at the typical slasher tropes. The goofy one line spitting killer, the innocent good girl that will die if she “goes all the way”, and random pillow fights where the flattest chested girl gets topless. Seriously they had Kimberly McArthur, former Playboy Playmate that has some big boobs, and they pick the small boobed redhead to whip them out all the time? I guess that’s part of the humor I suppose. Also this has kind of a lame twist ending which was really a common occurance in the slasher genre. Sleepaway Camp, Friday the 13th, Friday the 13th Pt 2, Slaughter High, hell nearly 75% of the slasher genre had these type of endings.

While it is enjoyable and comical for all the wrong reasons, I can’t say that this is as good as the original. It does have some rewatchability since this is my second viewing of it. You notice some funny things on repeat viewings and man I just love Kimberly McArthur she is drop dead gorgeous, has that sweet rack and her personality, dude she’s just cool. The killer is laughably corny and makes this entry a little more memorable than it would be otherwise. I would give this a C, a solid C for sure.

Oct. 27th: Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)

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Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989)

 

Directed by: Dominique Othenin-Girard

 

 

This is a movie that I have considered one of the poorer entries in the series. I mean it is hard to match the original, the second one and even the fourth one if we are talking Michael Myers related entries alone. Typically once a film hits the magic number of five, the quality diminishes greatly. Look at Nightmare On Elm Street 5: Dream Child, that was kind of a dull and corny entry. Same goes for Friday the 13th pt V: A New Beginning, Jason isn’t even in it! Spoilers, I know, but if you don’t know part 5 doesn’t have Jason, then are you a horror fan? Let’s take a look at Halloween 5 and see how it stacks against the other two mainstays of the slasher genre.

Halloween 5 is a direct sequel to the 4th one, following Jamie Lloyd again as she is in a medical facility due to the trauma she sustained in the previous film. Jamie now refuses to speak, much like her uncle Michael Myers after he snapped and murdered his sister. Jamie seems to have a telepathic link to Michael now, which is odd but at least they were trying something new. Michael was blown away by a band of cops and armed hillbillies at the end of the 4th movie. He falls down into a mine shaft and they show a cop throw a stick of dynamite down after him. The dynamite blows and Michael rolls out of the shaft and into a river. The river flows Michael with the current to a hermit’s shack where the hermit takes him in and bandages him up. A year goes by and Michael comes back, kills the hermit that helped him (dick move) and returns to Haddonfield for Jamie.

The acting is fairly decent again, that is one of the few things the Halloween sequels have going for them. Danielle Harris returns as Jamie and she’s great, probably one of the best jobs done by a child actor in a horror movie. Donald Pleasence returns as Dr. Loomis and he’s as Loomisy as ever! MICHAAEEEELLLL!!!!! NOOOOOOO!!!! Ok got that out of the way! We get one of the most hated characters in the series Tina, played by Wendy Kaplan. Not sure why she is so hated, yeah she’s annoying but most characters are in these movies. The rest of the characters are Tina’s friends, and they aren’t really important, they’re just there to make a body count haha.

The special effects are decent, we get a few good fun kills. Michael slashes someone with sickle with is cool. The camera work I suppose is alright, I don’t remember much about it so it must have been decent. The pacing of the movie is what gets me with this. It is so damn slow and nothing really happens. That is the main issue with this film, it is rather uneventful and doesn’t bring much to the franchise other than a continuation of the Jamie Lloyd saga. As good as it is to see Harris and Pleasence again, I really wish they would have played off from the ending of part 4 where Jamie kills her adopted mother. That whole scene is ignored in this. I guess what hurts this film the most is that it is really just pointless in hindsight. This movie brings nothing other than a few million dollars in the box office. It didn’t even do that well, just $11M off a $5M budget.

If I am comparing Nightmare 5, Friday the 13th 5 and Halloween 5, man that is a tough choice to be honest. While Nightmare 5 is basically a dark comedy by that point in the series it has some decent kills albeit corny, it isn’t a good movie, hell I fell asleep during it numerous times. Friday the 13th 5 is universally hated because of it’s lack of Jason, but all in all it isn’t trash. Yeah the story was a bit of a stretch and the acting is kind of crappy, the movie does catch you off guard at the end and has some decent kills. I would say Friday the 13th 5 is the best of the three, followed by Halloween 5, then Nightmare 5. Halloween 5 is far from a great movie, but it isn’t that bad, just kind of pointless like I stated earlier. The telepathic link of Jamie and Michael really never pays off and is just kind of confusing. Donald Pleasence was worn out and towards the end of his life by the time this came out, but it works well with the character of Dr. Loomis. The poor guy has spent 11 years at that point trying to hunt Michael down, I would be tired and ragged too! Probably the worst thing about this movie is that it started the whole Cult of Thorn storyline that would evolve in to the shit that part 6 was, ugh. This movie was rushed into production and came out less than a year after part 4. Maybe if they took some time to make this movie, it would have came out better and more organized. While it isn’t bad, it isn’t necessarily good. Part 6 is much worse and if you want to be a completist, check this out. I give Halloween 5 a C-.