A Visit to Scared To Death: The Thrill of Horror Film (MoPop – Seattle, WA)

In September 2017, the MoPop (Museum of Pop Culture) in Seattle, Washington opened an exhibit called Scared of Death: The Thrill of Horror Film. The exhibit is over 3,000 square feet and features more than fifty props from various horror movies and TV shows. It was a dream exhibit for a horror fan like me, and I really wasn’t sure I’d ever get a chance to see so many pieces of iconic horror history in one place in my lifetime. Luckily for me, I have family in Seattle, and my dad and I flew to Seattle last week to meet our family and I got a chance to check out the exhibit.

Upon walking into the MoPop, I made a beeline for the horror exhibit. 





The first thing you are greeted with is the Governor’s aquarium of heads from the Walking Dead.



Once inside the exhibit is incredible. It’s dimly lit and feels almost like a haunted attraction. Glass cases that you can look in from both sides house most of the props. And if props aren’t your thing, there are all sorts of high quality sitting areas with TVs showing clips and documentaries about horror films, as well as nice art work that explains some of the biggest icons in horror, the timeline of horror, and even recreated pages from Bram Stroker’s Dracula. 







I’ll be honest, I was like a kid in a candy store. It was the most excited I’ve been in a very long time. I was surrounded by so many pieces of horror history it was hard to know where to look and how much time to spend there. Had I been on my own, I probably would have spent four or five hours browsing, but I had family in tow so I made it through as quickly as I could.

I think most of the pictures and props are self-explanatory so I’m just going to post them for everyone to view. Some of the highlights include: a sweater worn by Robert Englund in A Nightmare on Elm Street, Machete Prop from Dawn of the Dead (1978), Lament Configuration Box from Hellraiser: Inferno, Mr. Pointy from Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1998), Special Effects Switchboard Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein, Pages from the Necronomicon from Evil Dead 2, Judd’s head and ankle from Pet’s Sematary (1989), and the Ax used by Jack Nicholson in The Shining.














 





 



If you ever get a chance to check out the horror exhibit at MoPop I highly recommend it!

Resurrection Review (1999)


My History With the Film:
In my life, I can only remember two movies my dad ever forbid me from watching: Pulp Fiction and Resurrection. Like all rebellious boys, those movies quickly became my most anticipated movies. I managed to rent Pulp Fiction while visiting my grandmother a few weeks after he told me I couldn’t see it and once I began working at Blockbuster Resurrection was one of the first movies I rented.

The use of religion in a serial killer plot must be what made my father take issue with the film. I didn’t see it as blasphemous and really enjoyed the movie. I actually remember thinking it might have been better than Se7en, a film it was clearly mimicking in tone and style.

Resurrection was a direct-to-video release and is not currently in print or streaming anywhere other than a bootleg version on YouTube. I decided to check this film out for the first time in over a decade shortly after watching Se7en back in August 2018. I enjoyed the film for what it was, but it was nowhere near in the same league as Se7en.

What The Film Is About (Non-Spoiler):
Two Chicago detectives investigate a series of gruesome murders where the killer takes a single body part from every victim.

What I Liked About It:
-The film does a good job of capturing the tone and darkness of Se7en, but it never gets quite the feeling of hopelessness.

-I’ve always liked Christopher Lambert (John Prudhomme), but I know people find him one-dimensional. His work here is no different. It’s Christopher Lambert, being Christopher Lambert as a cop.

-Leland Orser (Andrew Hollingsworth) is the star of the film in my eyes and he puts on a fantastic show. He’s the most believable actor and he plays well off of Christopher Lambert.

-The actual reasoning for the killings and what the killer is attempting to do is disturbing and it feels vicious, even more than the killer in Se7en. You feel like this killer is really out of his mind and that makes the film feel a little more real than it probably should.

What I Didn't Like About It:
-::SPOILERS:: Robert Joy (Demus) is a good character actor, but I never bought him as the killer. While clever at times, his character just never comes across as someone with the capacity to do the things that he does. ::END SPOILERS::

-The supporting cast leaves a lot to be desired. Most of them seemed like they showed up to read some lines real quick and go back to their real jobs.

-The film drags and is uneven in its tone. I think the subplot of John (Christopher Lambert) mourning his son was wasted and took away too much time from the actual chase of the killer.

Additional Notes:
-The film was released theatrically in most of Europe, Asia, and Australia, but went straight to video in the United States.

-Several scenes of violence and bloodletting were removed and shortened to avoid an NC-17 rating.

-Director Russell Mulcahy and star Christopher Lambert worked together on Highlander and Highlander 2.

Rating:
Resurrection feels low budget, especially when put aside something like Se7en. I believe I cut the film a lot of slack because it was straight-to-video, but if I was to judge this as theatrical release my score would be lower.

On its own, Resurrection is an above-average straight to video film. It’s reasonably well acted, well directed, and has a coherent plot. It’s memorable because it attempted to mimic Se7en, but I think in a way it put itself in a category to be compared to Se7en and that does not help the film. I’d rate Resurrection a 2.5 out of 5 and say it’s a rental if you are into serial killer flicks. Otherwise you can skip it.

Truth or Dare Review (2018)


My History With the Film:
Truth or Dare isn’t a film that popped up on my radar. In fact, I don’t even recall seeing a trailer for it. I first heard about it from a co-worker around Halloween of 2018 and she recommended it.

On one lazy Wednesday night, I decided to give it a shot after finding it streaming on Cinemax and well… I probably could have found something better.

What The Film Is About (Non-Spoiler):
A group of friends begin a game of Truth or Dare that follows them back from vacation.

What I Liked About It:
-I love polished teen horror films, which you may have noticed based on my reviews. It pleases me to see studios still churning out these types of films.

-There is a great scene involving a hammer that will actually make you turn away in disgust. It’s one of those simple horror scenes that just make you cringe.

-I like the plot premise, but I couldn’t help feel like this sort of thing was already done better in Final Destination.

What I Didn't Like About It:
-The PG-13 rating did this film no favors. I wish I would have seen an unrated cut. It lacked gore and on screen deaths, which would have been fine if the plot was better. I read somewhere that the filmmakers tried to go the Scream route with a solid plot that didn’t need the gore, but they failed. This film needed the gore, badly because the plot felt thrown together.

-None of the characters were likeable. While watching this movie you have nothing invested in any of them, and that’s fine in a slasher (or Final Destination) where you want to see them die, but in this film you didn’t have a great antagonist knocking them off one by one.

-The logic by most of the main cast was shaky at best. The way they choose to play the game and reveal secrets will almost give you a headache. It was obvious that someone needed to spend a little more time on the script.

-The ending is incredibly dumb.

Additional Notes:
-The actor’s faces were manipulated with CGI to achieve the meaning grin. It was nick named the William Dafoe grin.

-Director Jeff Wadlow pitched a title and opening sequence to Jason Blum and got him to sign off on the film.

-Jeff Wadlow was inspired by Snapchat filters to create the face altering grin.

-Made $85+ million dollars on a $3.5 million dollar budget.

Notable Horror Connections:
-Director Jeff Wadlow previously helmed the underrated Cry_Wolf from 2005.

-Lucy Hale (Olivia) was in Scream 4.

-Tyler Posey (Lucas) was in the Scream TV Series and the upcoming The Lost Boys TV Series.

-Landon Liboiron (Carter) was in Hemlock Grove and R.L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour.

Rating:
Truth or Dare was a miss for Blumhouse. It’s not a good movie. The plot is weak, the ending is even weaker, and it lacked any true dread or horror. The cast did the best with what they were offered, but sadly that wasn’t much. The characters are all unlikeable and you’ll find yourself rooting for the end credits to come. This film needed a better script and an R rating.

I’d rate Truth or Dare a two out of five and say skip it.

Jason Goes to Hell Review (1993)


My History With the Film:
Jason Goes to Hell came out when I was in elementary school and it was the talk of everybody. First off, having the word hell in the title made it super cool to our immature little minds. Plus everyone was talking about the ending. (SPOILER) The idea that Freddy’s glove grabs Jason’s mask was mind-blowing, especially since we all grew up going to video stores with Freddy and Jason posters and standees throughout the store. The thought that these two heavyweights would face each other one-on-one was fascinating and it kept us all discussing the hypotheticals of this face off. Would it be a cage match? Would it be at Wrestlemania? Yeah... we were excited, but not all that smart.

My first experiencing in watching Jason Goes to Hell dates back to the one sleepover I ever remember attending. I was living in Orlando, Florida and somehow a handful of us fourth graders ended up having a sleepover at someone’s house. It was the typical sleepover affair that involved pizza and us heading to the video store. We were all big wrestling fans, so we rented Thunder in Paradise as well as Jason Goes to Hell.

We got back to the kid’s house and started up Thunder in Paradise. We rented it solely because Hulk Hogan was in it, and we probably would have been better off renting a Wrestlemania tape. We spent most of the time talking wrestling and actually wrestling, and not watching the movie.

It ended around eleven and now it was time for the main event, Jason Goes to Hell. We popped that VHS tape in, turned off the lights, and crawled into our sleeping bags. Then we all proceeded to fall asleep.

Jason Goes to Hell was not the thrilling horror movie we all were looking for. In fact, it was so boring it put three elementary school kids to sleep.

I revisited Jason Goes to Hell in early 2017 while working my way through the Friday the 13th series. I didn’t find the film boring this go around, but it certainly was not what I was expecting.

What The Film Is About (Non-Spoiler):
After Jason’s destruction, his evil essence is able to possess anyone that it comes in contact with.

What I Liked About It:
-The whole idea of a sole leaping body-to-body and then doing the killing was neat and would have been great for a horror movie that did not involve Jason.

-The moments when you see Jason in mirrors and such is quite effective and looks cool. Again though, this should not have been Jason but some other creature and it would have worked much better.

What I Didn’t Like About It:
-This was not a Friday the 13th. It was some weird artistic attempt at making Jason unique and relevant and it did not work. It would have been better to just have Jason keep doing what he was doing which was killing people in fun ways instead of trying to make him some sort of demonic spirit who leaps body-to-body.

-The whole FBI hunting Jason and the FBI agent turning all martial arts was absurd. The movie starts off well, but once she hits her double backflip you know you are in for trouble.

Additional Notes:
-The Necronomicon from Evil Dead shows up in this film. Prop designer Tom Sullivan was not paid nor was his permission asked to use the book. Sam Raimi ultimately sent him an apology letter.

-This was New Line Cinema’s first Friday the 13th movie after securing the rights from Paramount. However, they did not have the rights to the name Friday the 13th, so the title had to be unique thus Jason Goes to Hell.

-Kane Hodder played Jason as well as a security guard and Freddy’s arm in this film.

Rating:
Jason Goes to Hell is a bad movie only made worse by labeling it a Jason movie. It’s by far the most condemned film in the series, and rightfully so. Everything from the tone to the style of acting is out of character for the franchise and the film suffers because of it. In all honesty, it was one of the most difficult movies to actually sit through because of what it is.

I’d rate Jason Goes to Hell a one out of five and would recommend you avoid it.

Terrifier (2017) Review


My History With the Film:
I noticed the artwork for the Terrifier a few times on my Recommended List on Netflix. To be honest, I don’t take many of Netflix’s recommendations to heart, nor do I take a chance on much of their horror offerings. Netflix (and Amazon Prime) has become a breeding ground for unimaginative, low budget crap, so despite having a creepy looking clown on the cover, I had no intention on watching it.

But then something happened last fall over a couple of weeks. A few message boards I browse and my Twitter feed started mentioning the Terrifier. Apparently the film was pretty good, and I found myself needing to escape from life for 90 minutes so I decided to turn on the Terrifier in September 2018 and see what all the fuss was about. The movie did the trick. It’s not amazing or ground breaking, but it’s a lot of fun.

What The Film Is About (Non-Spoiler):
A demented clown torments a small part of town near Halloween.

What I Liked About It:
-Art the Clown is flat out creepy. He’s a clown and a mime, and has wonderful facial expressions and creepy movements. The performance by David Howard Thorton is memorable, and if there is anything to take from this movie it’s that Art the Clown has the potential to be a horror icon and center for a horror franchise.

-The main two characters Tara (Jenna Kanell) and Dawn (Catherine) really grew on me. At first, they seemed like two cliché characters that would be killed off quickly, but over time I grew to really enjoy their interaction and friendship.

-The special effects were pretty good. They reminded me a lot of the low budget horror from the 80’s, but definitely had more polish and detail.

-I enjoyed the music. It was a little weird in spots, but it gave the film a unique feel. None of it was really memorable, but I did enjoy what was put on the screen.

What I Didn't Like About It:
-The first ten minutes of this movie are horrible. I went in blind and had no idea what the Terrifier was and if it hadn’t for the good reviews by a few trusted individuals, I would have turned it off. It’s low budget and has a grindhouse look and feel. In a way it reminded me of watching Clerks for the first time. It took a few minutes to realize that this was the look and the acting I was going to get and I needed to accept it and enjoy the show.

-This film is violent. I went into it thinking it was a simple slasher, and it is, but it’s not afraid to show you all the gore. I can see eighteen year old me absolutely loving this film for all its crazy over the top deaths, but at thirty-four I prefer my horror a little less exploitative. That’s not to say it went too far or was too out of control, but I’m a fan of less is more.

-The first two-thirds of Terrifier is really good, but without a compelling storyline to keep you watching, the chase does grow a little old after a while. If the characters had been fleshed out a little more and introduced a little earlier, it might have kept me on the edge of my seat. Instead, I sat back just waiting to see how they planned to top the previous kill.

-The supporting cast went ranged from damn good (the pizzeria owner) to downright terrible (the pizza clerk.)

Additional Notes:
-Art the Clown was introduced in the short film Terrifier (2011) and was also featured in All Hallows Eve (2013).

Rating:
I read somewhere that the Terrifier was “a costume in search of a plot” and I can’t argue with that. This movie is basically one very long chase scene and there is little effort put into telling a compelling story or developing characters. And you know what? That’s okay. Not every film needs a perfect three act structure. I really enjoyed my time with the Terrifier. It’s gory and features a very memorable villain. It’s no Halloween, but in a world where we rarely see slashers anymore, I enjoyed Terrifier for what it was.

If you can tolerate some bad acting and a low budget, Terrifier is an easy recommendation from me. It’s a three out of five, and worth your time if you like slashers, clowns, or gore.

Mom and Dad Review (2017)


My History With the Film:
I first heard about Mom and Dad on Horror Movie Podcast sometime in 2018. It was described as an out of control film that really catered to Nicolas Cage’s ability to act insane. I looked for the trailer shortly after hearing this and noticed the film was a black comedy with horror elements that looked like something I might enjoy. It wasn’t a high priority to see it, but I figured I’d check it out sometime or another.

In February 2019, I was browsing Hulu and decided to finally give Mom and Dad a shot. I found myself entertained, but not overly impressed during the course of the film.

What The Film Is About (Non-Spoiler):
Something triggers parents throughout the world to suddenly have an urge to kill their children.

What I Liked About It:
-The film has one great scene where the parents are trying to get to their children at school and are being held back by a chain length fence and some police officers. It reminded me of a zombie movie, but the fact that these innocent looking parents were actually blood thirsty maniacs really created some tension, especially with children involved.

-Nicolas Cage is always great as a crazed maniac and this is no exception. His finest moment comes in a rant about becoming a middle aged man in a flashback. Too bad the lack of a decent plot really made this scene completely irrelevant. Still, it’s Nic Cage ranting about getting ear and nose hair.

-Lance Henriksen… need I say more?

What I Didn't Like About It:
-Almost all of the deaths occurs off screen or are very minor. The budget for gore was obviously limited, however the couple of times it is used it was used well.

-The film spent too much time trying to create a story worth caring about and it fails horribly. Once the movie finally gets going and the craziness ensues, the film is much better off. Sometimes you just gotta know when to say, “This film is just about screwed up stuff and let us show it and allow people to enjoy it without trying to make them feel attached.”

Additional Notes:
-Second film with director Brian Taylor and Nicolas Cage, the first being Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance.

-Some of the school scenes were shot in Louisville, Kentucky.

-Nicolas Cage said this was his favorite movie in ten years that he had filmed.

-Comic writer Grant Morrison makes a cameo.

Rating:
Mom and Dad wasn’t terrible, but it certainly wasn’t good either. I’d rate it a two out of five and say it’s a rental if you are a huge Nic Cage or Selma Blair fan, and to skip it otherwise.

Pet Semetary Audio Drama Review (1997)


In 1997, BBC Radio 4 aired an audio dramatization of Stephen King’s classic novel Pet Semetary. It originally aired as six thirty minute segments, but can be found now in three one hour episodes freely online, on Audible, or on CD.

Late one night in September 2018, I was driving home from my mother’s rural home when I realized that I had no cell signal. I was forced to fall back to listening to the mp3s on my cell phone when I noticed Pet Semetary was on my phone. I installed it months ago, with an intention of reviewing it, but I had not gotten around to it. I decided to begin the first episode as I drove through the secluded backwoods home and for the first time in years, I felt that uneasy feeling that I was truly alone and in the dark. It’s amazing what losing cell signal can do to your nerves when its nearing midnight and you are watching/listening to something creepy.

I watched Pet Semetary about two years ago, but I haven’t read the book since I was a kid. With this in mind, I’m going to review this audio drama solely on the story it tells and without comparing it to the other formats. I don’t feel I’m fresh enough on either the book nor the movie to give an honest comparison.

Pet Semetary tells the story of The Creeds, a young family who move to Maine so that the husband (Louis) can accept a position as the head doctor at the local college. The family immediately finds itself at home in Maine, with wonderful neighbors and a respectable position with the community.

Down just a few miles from The Creeds home is a Pet Semetary, where people have buried their pets for over a hundred years. It’s an eerie place, that’s even more eerie once you cross the deadfall and discover another open field of land. The Creeds elderly neighbor Jud suggests that they never cross the deadfall, because it’s unsafe.

The Creed’s new home seems perfect, with exception of the busy road that it sits upon. The road is full of trucks going way too fast, and this is why a Pet Semetary can be found so close- animals are being run over all the time. The Creed’s cat Church becomes the latest victim to the dangerous road. Knowing that this will crush their young daughter Ellie, Jud takes Louis up to the deadfall and has him bury the cat. Its then that Jud reveals that the area past the deadfall has magical powers that can bring things back from the dead. What comes back isn’t the same as what dies, but it will be alive.

I won’t spoil things any further, but Pet Semetary is a classic story for a reason: it’s legit scary. The idea of losing a love one and wanting to do anything in your power to bring them back is something I think we can all relate to. Pet Semetary preaches to us that there are things worse than death, and that’s something hard for us to accept. So, Pet Semetary uses horror to show us.

The audio drama is well acted and produced. I felt like all of the voice actors did a wonderful job in their respective roles and the sound effects were top notch. The score was great, although it was overused quite a bit. I wish the composer would have assembled two different pieces of music to really break things up.

The three hour runtime was about perfect for the story, although I felt like the pacing was a little off. The ending came hard and fast, and I don’t feel like it fully developed. However, the final scene was haunting and is something that will stick with me for a while.

I really enjoyed how the drama explained and showed how the evil that lurked within the Pet Semetary manipulated people and things to get what it wanted. It felt so sinister and so out of control.

I honestly don’t have any real complaints with Pet Semetary. I won’t go as far to say it was brilliant, but it was a damn good story and it was well told. If I was to really pry and had to find something to complain about it I’d probably say John Sharian’s (Louis Creed) crying/desperate squeals were a bit too high pitched for my liking and were almost annoying. Luckily, they were few and far between.

I felt like Pet Semetary was great way to spend three hours of my driving, especially at night. I look forward to checking out some more of the BBC’s Stephen King adaptations in the near future.

I’d rate Pet Semetary as a four out of five and say it’s definitely worth a listen.

Director: Gordon House
Louis Creed: John Sharian
Rachel Creed: Briony Glassco
Jud Crandall: Lee Montague
Ellie Creed: Sarah Benichou
Music composed by David Chilton and Nicholas Russell-Pavier
Directed by Gordon House
Dramatized By: Gregory Evans.