Waiting for October

I don’t know where August went, and September is flying by too! Some of you may know that by day, I work full-time as a medical librarian. Classes started back up in August and frankly, work has been crazy busy. I looked back and was horrified to learn I haven’t watched a horror movie since the second week of July. I have still been participating in the horror world, though. In July I renewed my Horror Block and Box of Dread subscriptions and have been enjoying those. I’ll try and do a better job of adding unboxing posts to the blog. And last week I received my pre-ordered copy of Until Dawn. I’d like to post a review of that here too but in short, it’s an awesome game.

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For September, I expect to have a little break before things get busy again. October for me work-wise is a strenuous month; we have to teach a series of classes to medical students, I have to plan some programming activities for my library in celebration of National Medical Libraries Month, and I also will be traveling to Puerto Rico to attend a medical library conference (I’m presenting a paper and a poster too, yay!). These are usually how Octobers are for me but this year, I am making a point to actually enjoy my favorite month. I have a mini-vacation scheduled for the BF and I to visit Halloween Horror Nights in Orlando, Florida. I haven’t been to HHN since 2009 and the BF has never been. We booked a cat-friendly hotel to take our special needs kitty and will be visiting HHN for 2 nights. I am totally hyped! Especially for the Insidious and Freddy vs Jason houses.

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Super Shorty Reviews

In lieu of full-length reviews, here are a few mini-reviews for some of the films I’ve recently seen.

The Taking of Deborah Logan (2014) – Original concept, highly recommended
The Sacrament (2013) – Unnecessary, not recommended
Dead Snow 2: Red vs. Dead (2014) – Silly and irreverent, recommended
Snowpiercer (2013) – Okay, I could take or leave it
The Quiet Ones (2014) – I don’t get the hate, I enjoyed it
As Above, So Below (2014) – Okay, I enjoyed it

While unintentional, most of the recent movies I’ve seen have been first person/found footage. Some people aren’t fans of this style but I don’t mind these types of films (as long as the camera work sin’t too shaky). Longer reviews to come (sooner than later, I hope!)…

 

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Movie Review: “We Are What We Are” (2013)

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To belatedly celebrate Thanksgiving, I decided to post a review of a movie that really stuck with me. I watched We Are What We Are months ago but its cannibalistic theme makes a fun seasonal addition to my review blog.

First off, I didn’t realize We Are What We Are (2013) is a remake until I began working on this review. The original version came out in 2010 and was a Mexican release. I don’t know anything of the original, how or if it varies from the 2013 American version, but it may be worth watching.

I’d heard this film mentioned in a few upcoming horror blogs that I follow and was interested in watching it as soon as it came to a convenient format for me.  So when the film hit Netflix, I added it to my queue knowing only the premise that cannibalism was involved.

Synopsis:

The film begins with the story’s matriarch passing out in a ditch during a torrential downpour. There’s a small-town atmosphere and the local sheriff breaks the news of his wife’s death to Frank, an overbearing father of two teen girls Iris and Rose, and a young son Rory. Frank is too upset to identify the body and sends his teen daughters to town instead.

We soon learn that the family lives in a remote area of the woods and also that the mother was essentially the glue holding things together. The family functions around their extremely deep-rooted traditions. The children are home-schooled, the home is extremely modest with no technology, and the father assumes the role as bread-winner. In the wake of their mother’s death, Frank-an abrasive bear of a man-soon demands Iris and Rose fulfill the role of the homemaker, including all the grisly-and occasionally implied-details that go with the territory.

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As the story progresses, we see the sheriff conducting a investigation of the case, including an autopsy of the mom, researching her condition, and also interrogating the family. Things are personal for the sheriff because his own daughter went missing in the area, adding to the laundry list of other missing teens.

And that’s where I will end my summary as I don’t want to spoil too much here for those who are interested in experiencing the film on their own. There is a lot more going on than I described, various layers of the plot, however for me, part of the intensity of this film was seeing those first-hand.

Overall Impression:

I really enjoyed We Are What We Are. It’s a smart, tense, and unique movie that has subtle yet gruesome developments. The actresses who play the teen daughters, Ambyr Childers and Julia Garner did a great job and really carried the film. Plot-wise, the story is really rich and I’d love to see some literary criticism of all the subtexts and nuances buried within the plot.

My main annoyances with the movie are more personal. I’m a medical librarian and some of the research doesn’t hold up but hey, it’s a movie so I can forgive that.

If you’re looking for something smart and different that will get under your skin, I highly recommend We Are What We Are.

Pros: tense, good build up and character development, great acting, psychological
Cons: slow-paced, not necessarily in your face horror, subtle, a little predictable

Mash-up Status: The atmosphere and pacing remind me a bit of Stoker (2013) with the same uneasy father feelings as Frailty (2001).  I’ve seen some compare this to The Hamiltons (2006) but since I haven’t yet seen The Hamiltons I can’t say so myself.

Rating: 7/10

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Horror Block Review: August 2014

August marks my 3rd Horror Block and actually the 3rd month of the subscription service. Horror Block launched its first box in June 2014. I signed up in good faith and have been loyal ever since. Back in 2013 I subscribed to another horror subscription service-Box of Dread. I wasn’t happy with it (read more here) but Horror Block consistency delivers awesome boxes!

Each month I’ve been exceptionally pleased with the service so for August, I decided to document my unboxing. Here’s my haul!

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Kitten disclaimer: June Bug’s are always closer than they appear.

It may be insignificant, but I do appreciate the details of Horror Block’s exterior. The bloody tape is a nice touch.

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Inside…

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The monthly t-shirt:

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Comic and pen:

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Zombie decal:

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Rue Morgue magazine:

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The whole haul:

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Contents Recap

  • Neca Cult Classics Hall of Fame Saw III Jigsaw Killer figurine ($19.99)
  • Finger Bone pen ($6.49)
  • Tales from the Crypt: No. 3 1991 vintage comic reprint (approx $5)
  • September issue of Rue Morgue magazine ($9.95)
  • FanWraps Zombie Premium Multi-surface Decal (approx $29.99)
  • Alien t-shirt (approx $15)
  • Total approximate value = $86.42

 

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Thanks for another great month, Horror Block!!! Off to the closet while me and June Bug will anxiously await next month’s delivery.

 

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Box of Dread (2013) vs Horror Block (2014)

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Back in the fall of 2013, subscribed to Dread Central’s Box of Dread. To put it bluntly, I was really disappointed. Cumulatively, my 3 Boxes of Dread contained:

  • random assortments of cheap candy
  • Child’s Play “Good Guy” battery stickers (3-4 identical stickers for two consecutive months)
  • 2 Horror Decor matchbooks (1 identical matchbook for two consecutive months)
  • 1 Horror Decor pen
  • 1 Horror Decor magnet
  • 2 Dread Central sticks (1 identical sticker for 2 consecutive months)
  • a plastic skull
  • 2 Walking Dead Funko POP! Mini Vinyls (I did get a blood variant zombie (yay!)-the other was Merle)
  • a Sam from Trick ‘R Treat paper doll (which was available as a free download online)
  • a “make-up” Lovecraft mousepad Dread Central sent to subscribers for October to apologize for the lackluster box that month

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After my 3-month subscription was up for  Box of Dread, I decided not to renew. I went into a horror subscription box withdrawal until I saw a preview in 2014 for a new horror-themed service by the Nerd Block group. I decided to give it a go and received my first box in June 2014. I loved it!

For me, Horror Block grossly outshines Box of Dread foremost in the areas of consistency and quality. Box of Dread‘s downfall is a lock of quality control. I was extremely irritated after viewing other subscribers’ Box of Dread unboxing videos, finding that they received limited edition items that weren’t included in my box. For example, I received a plastic skull in October 2013’s box while some subscribers received promotional Trick ‘r’ Treat items and even a horror drink tumbler (valued around $10). While I think the quality control issues have been improved upon in recent months, Box of Dread still seems like a gamble for me.

To further compare the two services, it’s appropriate to mention that they vary in price:

  • Box of Dread is $14 + $6 shipping = $20 per month OR
    $13 + $6 shipping for 3 months = $19 per month
  • Horror Block is $19.99 per month + shipping that varies. For me shipping is $9.50 = $29.49 per month. The company ships from Canada so shipping can vary depending on where you live.

Despite a $10 difference, I know that each month with Horror Block I am getting a custom-sized t-shirt and the current month’s edition of Rue Morgue magazine. That alone is a  conservative value of at least $20. The Horror Block service also consistently includes fun toys and collectible items.

I’ve heard some comment that Box of Dread is the only box currently that offers rare promotional items (for example, one month they gave away Penny Dreadful promotional drink containers). I can only say that during my 3 months of the service, I did not receive such items. And again, a note about quality control issues, I could view online that some others had received these promo items and I hadn’t. Instead I received double of a sticker…which really didn’t feel fair to me.

Overall, I continue to monitor Box of Dread. I think the service has great potential and I have been impressed by some recent months (specifically the July 2014’s Full Moon-themed box). Ultimately, it still seems very hit-or-miss. I’m already spending nearly $30 a month for Horror Block (which I absolutely love) but an extra $20 for a box that may let me down is still too much of a risk for me.

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Movie Review: “Wolf Creek 2” (2013)

WOLF CREEK 2 movie poster -- exclusive EW.com image

I’m superseding the two posts I’ve been working on to publish this review of Wolf Creek 2 solely because this movie was that impressive to me. I own the first Wolf Creek (2005) and enjoyed it more than I expected I would. While I typically don’t favor the torture sub-genre, I did find the first to be a fresh take on this popular niche. I also liked the ambiguity of the ending. I might have read more into it, but I did like the idea that maybe this horrible caricature of a villain didn’t exist-that possibly some cute young guy could be the malicious murderer.

I was really surprised when I learned that a sequel was in the works. Wolf Creek came out nearly a decade ago and gained popularity as more of a cult favorite among horror fans. I had no knowledge of the plot for the sequel and only learned that it had been released when I saw it pop onto Netflix’s “Recently Added” queue. So on a whim this past Sunday night, I decided to go ahead and watch it, having little expectations, and my God, what a brutal film this was.

Plot-wise, there is very little of a story. I don’t want to give away too much but to explain the story development, I do need to disclose some spoilers. Skip to the end of this review if you don’t want to be spoiled!

The very first characters we encounter are a pair of corrupt police officers. It is pretty obvious where things are going to go once they encounter Mick, the jovial Aussie villain from the previous Wolf Creek. Trying to pin a false speeding violation didn’t go over so well. There was a nice first kill scene followed by a rather predictable second.

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The next characters we meet are a young German couple-Rutger and Katarina-who are hitchhiking their way through the outback. This was very reminiscent of the first Wolf Creek, as Rutger and Katarina too are visiting the Wolf Creek Crater national park. Unlike the first film, these foreign tourists’ time on camera was very short lived. We get to know them well enough to see they are affectionate, carefree and altogether a very sweet couple. There was a fair amount of time developing these characters so how their story progresses surprised me.

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After a long day of hiking, the couple sets up camp for the night only to meet Mick, who initially comes across innocently enough. When Mick insists the couple are violating park rules by camping overnight, things get tense with Rutger. After a confrontation, and in a scene that plays out like an homage to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974), one character leads Mick to the film’s third major character, Paul.

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From here on out, the storyline essentially follows Paul as he tries to outrun and outwit Mick. I won’t go into too many details here but the latter part of the film, we get to see just what an elaborate holdup Mich has built, complete with an array of torture devices, secret passages, and mementos-and bodies of!-previous victims.

Overall Impression:

I am a horror movie enthusiast so obviously I’ve seen a fair amount of gore and violence over the years. With Wolf Creek 2, I was physically disturbed by the brutality and senselessness of Mick. For whatever reason, I decided to watch this movie before going to bed. I had to stay up a hour after the movie was over watching old episodes of Family Guy and Bob’s Burgers just to get my mind off the film.

At the beginning of the movie, I was rooting for Mick as he encountered the corrupt policemen, however the story developed in a way I did not imagine. The other characters we encounter onscreen don’t necessarily fit the mold of justifiable horror movie murder victims. They weren’t promiscuous, one character smoked pot for maybe half-a-second, and all the characters were compassionate and likable to me. The manner that they are killed was so brutal, it’s hard to rationalize the mercilessness of Mick.

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It was somewhat of an emotional experience for me as a viewer; I had rooted for Mick in the first Wolf Creek as the characters were so annoying (really, the embodiment of your typical horror movie delinquent). With the sequel, the first murders we encounter are the crooked cops which felt validated. But then Mick turns and we see that he has no set of rules other than wanting to violently obliterate all tourists.

There were a few things I didn’t like. Early on, Mick wears out the whole “head-on-a-stick” torture method (watch the first Wolf Creek to understand this reference). There were also the typical grumblings, like how is Mick everywhere? How is he always a step ahead? Parts of the movie bordered on feeling too similar to the Hostel series. There was an extended car/truck chase scene (technically there were 2-3 of these). I’m not a big action movie fan so my mind kind of wandered during these parts. I guess because I know in my heart that a significant character is probably not going to die in a magnificent 80s TV-style car crash as Mick almost certainly prefers to play with his prey before dispatching it.

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Overall, if you are a hardcore horror fan, I highly recommend Wolf Creek 2. I highly don’t recommend this for your friends or girlfriends if they don’t have the same appreciation for horror. You will look like a psychopath if you sit down with unsuspecting friends to watch this. But for the true horror fan, you should be pleased. And you don’t really need to have seen the first (which is something I am usually particular about). As far as action, the budget is substantially higher than the first. There are some great scenes of gore; the make-up and kill scenes are disturbingly realistic. Accordingly, I would rate Wolf Creek 2 equally with the original-which is something I don’t know that I’ve personally said of a sequel. It is raw, brutal, and fresh. And Mick is easily one of my favorite horror villains.

Pros: nontraditional story development, impressive gore, John Jarratt’s acting is insanely awesome
Cons: disturbingly gory and violent, cheesy CGI moment involving a troop of highway kangaroos

Mashup status: Think Wolf Creek (2005) meets the automotive action scenes of Joyride (2001) with the same uncomfortable scenes of torture and despair of The Strangers (2008) and Hostel (2005). Some may liken it to Funny Games (1997/2007) but I didn’t care for any those characters so it’s less similar of a comparison for me.

Rating: 8/10

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Movie Review: “Haunter” (2013)

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I first learned of Haunter (2013) when I saw it listed on Netflix Streaming. I did a bare bones/spoiler-free search online to see if it was well-received and was surprised to see a lot of positive buzz about it. Once I saw that people liked it, I stopped researching it because-as usual-I wanted to be surprised. I also wanted to watch it at the right time so I ended up waiting several weeks until I could give it the attention it deserved. The BF joined me and I have to say, we were both very pleased.

I will insert a disclaimer here that while I generally try and keep my blog posts spoiler-free, to describe the main plot of Haunter, I really need to explain some of the “twist” part of the movie. I don’t necessarily find this to be a spoiler as the viewers learn this twist 20-30 minutes into the movie, but if you want to be surprised like me on my first time through the movie, don’t read any further.

We first see main character Lisa as she is waking up. Her younger brother is calling her on his walkie-talkie. She wake sup and goes on about her life as a typical, angsty teenager. She snaps at her mother about the laundry and later has an uncomfortably silent dinner with her family. Tomorrow Lisa wakes up to the exact same day. And each day on, she becomes slightly more aware of her family’s situation, that everyone is dead and they remain in this limbo time-loop, reliving the same day over-and-over again.

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As brief as that synopsis was, I don’t really want to go into more plot detail to preserve the direction of the story for readers who do want to be surprised. I will say there’s contact with the present day teen living in the house, a disturbing invisible friend relationship that Lisa’s younger brother Robbie maintains, and a visit to the house by a creepy maintenance man, and the realization that the family cannot physically leave the home.

Overall Impression:

One criticism I have of the movie is what happened between 1985 and the present day? We encounter pre-Lisa victims from the 1940s onward to modern day teen, Olivia, so there’s definitely a trend here. But yet there’s no explanation of the time after Lisa’s family lived in the home. Perhaps the house sat vacant? Maybe a family without children lived in the home? I don’t know but a casual acknowledgement of this would help strengthen the plot for me.

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Another minor criticism is this was not my favorite Abigail Breslin performance. She seemed a bit checked-out throughout the duration of the film. The unique plot was enough to secure a high rating from me, but if Breslin was more emotionally invested in this, the film would have scored bigger.

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Other audiences report that the movie doesn’t feel 80s enough, specifically Lisa’s hair and the fashion choices of the other characters. I think a hyper-stylized 80s setting would have distracted from the story line so I am fine with how the decade was depicted.

Ultimately, Haunter really surprised me, held my interest, and delivered a modern take on my favorite horror sub-genre, the haunted house/ghost story. I’m surprised it didn’t make it into theaters because I think it would’ve done well. If you’re looking for something fresh, this is for you.

Pros: modern, unique take on the ghost story
Cons: acting felt wooden, some plot holes

Mashup status: Think Groundhog Day (1993) meets American Horror Story: Season 1 (2011) and The Others (2001) with a nod to Beetlejuice (1988).

Rating: 8.5/10

 

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Movie Review: “House Hunting” (2013)

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Not a bad looking cover, but I was tired of looking at it so I wanted to go ahead and watch this so I could delete it from my queue.

This is yet another Netflix movie that I saw knowing nothing of the plot. I put it in my queue ages ago, based purely upon the mediocre star rating (which mediocre star ratings on Netflix for horror movies are usually an indication of a decent movie). I finally got myself in the right mood to watch a marginally unknown cast deliver try and deliver some horror on a slim budget.

House Hunting  begins with a split story, following two separate families as they are searching for a new house. Family #1 consists of husband Charlie, teen daughter Emmy, and new wife Susan. Family #2 consists of husband Don, teen son Jason, and matriarch Leslie. During the day’s home searching activities, both families encounter a peculiar man. This man turns out to be the seller of the same house that both families roll up to at the same time. An aside, I recall how awkward it was when I was house hunting once, and another family stopped to look at the house at the same time I did. There was an odd, darting of the eyes, uncomfortable stand-off of who liked the house better, was the other party interested, etc. I digress.

So both families get to the remote home at the same time and discover the house is abandoned. The families encounter a severely traumatized young woman running through the woods, who they discover has had her tongue cut our and she cannot speak. The families drive away from the house in an effort to get this young woman some aid, however they are unable to leave as the road keeps taking them back to the house. After all afternoon of trying to escape, they families concede and retreat inside the home.

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At this point, the movie turns into a psychological standoff between the families; both fathers are pretty overbearing. And slowly the families unwind…going crazy having to stay put in this house for days and then weeks. Predictably they have to face their inner demons. While there are some supernatural elements, including a few out-of-place ghost cameos,  House Hunting is mostly a psychological thriller.

Overall Impression:

If this was the first horror movie I’d seen to utilize the “twist” cyclical concept, then I would have given House Hunting a better rating. There are just far better executed of these types of films, which I am hesitant to list because if you know the other movies like this, then there is no twist. So I will do you a kindness and discreetly list them here behind a strike-through: Dead End (2003), Triangle (2009), Timecrimes (2007), The Butterfly Effect (2004), The Machinist (2004), and Donnie Darko (2001)

Ultimately House Hunting was very slow-paced, a little boring, obviously low-budget, but it did have an interesting idea (although this idea is not exactly novel to modern thriller cinema). The acting fell flat for me as well. In fact, I was really distracted by Don (Art LaFleur) in the trivial sense that to me, he will forever be Silver Fox from 1995’s gem of a teeny-bop movie Man of the House (JTT!!).

Pros: unique, twist, thoughtful plot
Cons: tried to be too many things, slow/tedious, low-budget, wooden acting, unlikable characters

Mashup status: See strike-through above for spoiler list of similar movies.

Rating: 5.5/10

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Movie Review: “Sorority House Massacre” (1986)

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I somehow managed to go nearly 30 years without viewing this gem. As a child, I remember the Sorority House Massacre VHS cover in the rental store and thought it looked pretty menacing. An aside, I first began watching scary movies as a young girl, mostly enjoying USA’s Up All Night and TNT’s Monstervision weekend B-movie series. So I rarely actually checked movies out from the rental stores until I was older. But when my dad and I would peruse the stores after school, I would usually wander off into the horror section and admire the glorious 80s cover art. I digress…

When I saw this cover posted in Netflix, I instantly remembered it from when I was a child and realized I had never actually watched it and added it to my queue. I didn’t let it hang out there for long and sat down to watch it the following weekend.

Much like a lot of great 80s cover art, the depiction is misleading. It isn’t about a rogue, sex-crazed maniac who has carefully selected a sorority house full of scantily-clad, defenseless chicks. But rather, the film revolves around Beth, a doe-eyed college student who is checking out a campus sorority to see if she wants to become a member. Through flashbacks and  scenes at a local psychiatric hospital, we learn that as a child, Beth’s brother Bobby slaughtered their entire family, but was captured before he could kill Beth.

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Beth doesn’t remember any of this, and the audience doesn’t officially learn all of this backstory until later in the movie. But the allusions are clear so there’s really no surprise. It’s also not surprising when Bobby escapes the mental hospital and treks back to his childhood home, which is now the campus sorority house.

I will end this relatively vague plot summary here and note that Sorority House Massacre is extremely predictable, but is still fun. The sorority sisters aren’t “naughty” and we only see a smidge of nudity here and there, mainly when the sisters are getting ready for class. And I’m a girl so I can say this, but at no point during my college career-and I lived in the dorms for all 4 years-did I shower or change freely amongst my roommates. So this is just another little silly yet completely characteristic of the B-movie slasher.

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One thing I’d like to add is that I saw this very close to when I first watched the remake of Black Christmas (2006). This is worth bringing up because unless you watch Sorority House Massacre before the Black Christmas remake, then you’ll most likely find yourself comparing the two throughout the viewing of Sorority House as I did. The similarities are glaring, especially regarding the sorority house being the former location of a mass murder and the killer has escaped from a mental hospital to hunt down a family member.

Of note, Sorority House Massacre is also frequently compared to Halloween (1978). I don’t disagree with that statement, but to me, Sorority House feels more like the Black Christmas remake. Sorority House obviously pre-dates the Black Christmas remake so I don’t hold at fault for Sorority House for having such a similar concept. I doubt you will encounter the same similarities with the original Black Christmas (1974) because it does have a different story than Black Christmas (2006)/Sorority House Massacre.

Overall Impression:

There are a little too many conveniences for me to rate this any higher than a 7-like how Beth mystically finds her way to the sorority house that happens to have been her childhood home. And that Bobby would know his sister is there, or that he would even know how to get back to the house after all those years. But part of the cheese of Sorority House Massacre is B-rated charm so this is relatively easily overlooked.

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The dream sequences were pretty spooky. There was an eerie scene with the family sitting around the dining table; they looked like mannequins and then blood began dripping from the chandelier. There was also some decent yet tame kill scenes. These scenes weren’t graphic but the gore felt unique (a little reminiscent to me of the Italian giallo style).

Pros: fun, classic B-movie 80s slasher
Cons: silly-not genuinely scary, felt too similar to other horror classics, bad acting

Mashup status: Ancestrally speaking, this is the child of Halloween (1978) and the aunt of Black Christmas (2006) with most every cliched 80s B-movie horror gimmick you can think of.

Rating: 7/10

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Movie Review: “Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia” (2013)

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I don’t know who this ethereal woman is, and levitating and fog have absolutely nothing to do with this film’s story, but I still really liked this movie!

As much as it pangs me to admit, and despite the fact that I will probably receive a lot of criticism for my approval, I really did enjoy Haunting in Connecticut 2: Ghosts of Georgia. I’m a supporter of all production categories of the horror film genre; I truly enjoy B-movies, low budgets, direct-to-video/streaming, indie, and yes even mainstream horror. I do think that mainstream horror has gotten a bad wrap in recent years (with the exception of some-for example, James Wan) but generally, I have liked much of the big budget horror I have seen recently.

Two other reasons I enjoyed this Ghosts of Georgia: 1) the ghost story is my favorite sub-genre of horror and 2) I’m from Georgia. I was interested in the historical aspect of the south because-I’m not biased or anything-but I think the south has such a rich (and albeit unsavory) history, I was interested in how it would be depicted in this movie.

I was also anticipating this movie because I genuinely enjoyed the first Haunting in Connecticut movie. I had also heard that this one-despite the odd name and having zero to do with the first-is loosely based on a true story. I know, I know-there are oodles of horror movies “based on true events.” In this one, the characters have the same names, and the story about Mr. Gordy is reported to have happened, however beyond that, the crux of the movie-the underground railroad-was Hollywood’s way of elevating the story. For me, it worked.

We begin with perhaps one of the most cliched horror movie openings: a family is moving from the hectic city life into a “new” (read “old and haunted”) house in the remote countryside. In addition to mom, dad, and young daugther Heidi, mom’s flitty sister Joyce also moves in with the family. She is staying in an uber creepy RV on the property. Some spooky things begin to happen at the Wyrick ‘s new residence, namely with Heidi; she is an only child and begins to have conversations with an invisible friend named Mr. Gordy.

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Mom-who is of the high-strung, stay-at-home variety-begins to get weirded out and fearful of Heidi’s relationship with her “imaginary” friend. We learn that mom has psychic abilities-she can see/talk/interact with dead people-however she represses her abilities by taking loads of medication. As Heidi’s relationship with Mr. Gordy develops, Mom worries that her daughter might have inherited her psychic abilities. Predictably, we learn that a man named Mr. Gordy once lived at the Wyrick’s home, and Heidi can even pick him out of a collection of pictures unprovoked.

Through her interactions with Mr. Gordy, and some encounters mom has while off her meds, as well as the typical horror movie research/investigation done by the family, we learn the property was once the part of the underground railroad. The former owner-the Stationmaster-was also a taxidermist. And in the woods, underneath the ruins of the former cabin is a labyrinth of dirt hallways used for housing slaves.

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This is where I will end my plot summary. I will say there is a twist, one I was generally surprised by. There was also the expected “save the kid from evil ghosts” action scenes. These were pretty silly and predictable but the bad guy was creepy enough that I tolerated these scenes. The ending was a cheesefest but stick around until just before the credits and you’ll see some candid photos of the actual Mr. Gordy and the Wyrick family.

Overall Impression:

I liked this much better than the first Haunting in Connecticut film-I have no qualms admitting that I enjoy a “sequel” more than an original since these two movies are really not related. On that note, I will say that Ghosts of Georgia feels similar to the first.

Overall, the movie was fun, moved quickly, and really held my interest. Abigail Spencer (the mom) was tiresome but perhaps that was just her character. And Chad Michael Murray I felt was miscast; I could see him netter as an older brother rather than the dad. The star was Emily Alyn Lind; child actors can typically wear on me but Emily carried this movie well.

Beyond the cast, I also commend the writer. The Civil War is really overlooked by the horror movie industry. I can rattle off a dozen Nazi zombie flicks but I struggle to think of other Civil War movies besides than this one, Dead Birds (2004), and perhaps Ravenous (1999).

Pros: great pacing, spooky, rich story, genuinely scary bad guy
Cons: absurd and misleading title, cheesey ending, mainstream

Mashup status: Think The House of Dies Drear (1984)-shoutout to those who know this movie!-meets Scarecrows (1988) and The Messengers (2007)/Messengers 2: The Scarecrow (2009).

Rating: 7.5/10

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