Gossip Review (2000)


My History With the Film:
I watched Gossip for the first time in April 2018. It was a film that never really appealed to me, but I decided to give it a shot to review here on the blog.

What The Film Is About (Non-Spoiler):
Three college students start a rumor about a fellow classmates that soon spirals out of control.

What I Liked About It:
-The cast is amazing! James Marsden (Straw Dogs), Lena Headey (Game of Thrones/Dredd), Norman Reedus (The Walking Dead), Kate Hudson (The Skelton Key), Edward James Olmos (Battlestar Galactica), Joshua Jackson (Scream 2).

-The film has a Cruel Intentions sort of feel to it, which I always like.

-In a way the film is quite topical in the ways of which it deals with male and female relationships and the whole #MeToo movement.

What I Didn't Like About It:
-The biggest offender of this film is that it's not a horror movie. The trailers make it look like a horror movie, as well did the poster, but it's very much a suspense thriller. There is nothing scary about this film at all, nor does it try to be scary. I think it was marketed in such a way to try and cash in on all the successful horror films of the time.

-The movie just feels long. It's got a convoluted plot that just gets more absurd as it goes along.

-The cast is great, the characters not so much. None of them are likeable, which makes it hard to get behind any of them throughout the movie.

Additional Notes:
-The university was also used for Urban Legend and The Skulls, both of which starred Joshua Jackson.

Rating:
Gossip is a strange movie. It's definitely not a horror film, and it's a sub-par thriller at best. I spent the majority of the movie hoping it would end, and this is not something I can recommend to anyone. I'd rate Gossip a three out of ten and say skip it.

The Strangers Review (2008)


My History With the Film:
I’ll never forget watching The Strangers trailer for the first time. It was intense, creepy, and really stuck with you. I decided to re-watch The Strangers once it began streaming on Netflix in September 2018, but once the film began I realized that I had never seen the movie. I’m not a huge fan of home invasion flicks, mostly because they tend to drag, but I enjoyed The Strangers for the most part.

What The Film Is About (Non-Spoiler):
A couple are stalked late one night by three mysterious masked individuals.

What I Liked About It:
-The Strangers has a very eerie vibe to it. You can see this in the trailer and it continues throughout the film. There is some great cinematography and fantastic use of simple, yet creepy motions that keep you uneasy throughout the entire film.


-Liv Tyler really goes all out and makes this movie her own. I remember being shocked that she was in The Strangers, since I assumed horror was a stepdown from what she was used to acting in. Luckily for us, she did The Strangers and really brought her A game.

-I’ve mentioned it before, but what really gets me in a horror film is the use of uncontrollable sound. I don’t think there is anything more terrifying than a horrendous sound that you just cannot stop. In the first real invasion scene, there is a mashup of sounds that plays out wonderfully and really stressed me.

-The mask designs were all simple, creepy, and different enough that you could tell what attacker was doing what.


-I loved the wrap around story that begins and ends the film.

-The movie was shot in handheld and it works. There’s that light documentary film to the shots that immerses you, but doesn’t distract you from what’s going on in the scene.

What I Didn't Like About It:
-Home invasion films tend to follow the same formula in that the attacks come in waves. I find home invasion films terrifying for about an hour, but after that I start reaching for my phone. The Strangers is one of those films that punishes you for not paying attention by providing so many creepy details in the background, but that isn’t to say that the film doesn’t drag in spots.

-You pretty much know how the film ends based on the opening scene. This took away the mystery of whether not our protagonists survive and I couldn’t help but think this hurt the effectiveness of some of the scenes.

Additional Notes:
-The exteriors were all shot on an actual farmhouse with a barn and long road, while the interiors were shot on a soundstage.

-Liv Tyler suffered from tonsillitis while filming.

-In order to get authentic screams from Liv Tyler, the director would tell her where to expect a sound and then have it come from a different direction.

Rating:
The Strangers is the perfect film to watch while home alone late at night, preferably out in the country somewhere. It’s a movie that makes you uneasy and feels like it could really happen. Towards the end you almost get a Last House on the Left sort of vibe that these are just some sick individuals that you know exist somewhere, but hope you never run into.

I rate The Strangers as three out of five and say it’s worth a watch. It’s not going into any regular rotation for me, but I did enjoy my time with the film.

Final Destination 3 Review (2007)

 

My History With the Film:
I really enjoy the Final Destination franchise as a whole now in 2018. However in 2006, when Final Destination 3 came out, I was a little fatigued. I felt like Final Destination 3 was a low budget attempt to cash in on the Final Destination name. I distinctly remember turning it off right after the tanning bed scene that happens maybe twenty minutes into the flick. Maybe I was just in a bad mood that day or maybe I was wanting something more ground breaking, but I always wrote off Final Destination 3 as the terrible sequel that doesn’t deserve any credit.

I decided to watch it again, this time completely, and I found myself enjoying the movie a lot. I still feel it’s the weakest entry in the franchise, but it retains that Final Destination charm and the film works.

What the Film Is About (Non-Spoiler):
Following a rollercoaster disaster, a group of survivors attempt to thwart death’s plan to finish them off.

What I Liked About It:
-I hate roller coasters, like seriously hate them. I don’t like the idea of being strapped to something I have no control over and then sent along a bunch of wood or metal while just hoping it all holds together. So, naturally, the roller coaster scene is what I assume will happen whenever I strapped in on a rollercoaster. I can’t say that I’m terrified by it, because quite frankly, I’d never find myself in that situation to begin with.

-The cast doesn’t a decent enough job, but I feel like it may be the reason I find this sequel so weak. I’m a big fan of Amanda Crew (Sex Drive, Silicon Valley), so it was a pleasant surprise to see her pop up in this movie. 

-The most effective death scenes are the ones that are simple, probable, and can happen anywhere. In Final Destination 3, there is a scene that takes place in a drive thru and involves a huge rolling truck that is absolutely terrifying because it’s something that could happen to anyone, pretty much anywhere. When a scene sticks with you weeks after watching the movie, you know it’s effective, and that scene stuck with me.

What I Didn't Like About It:
-The film didn’t try anything new which worked for and against it. It was very formulaic, and that made it feel old, but I’m also glad they didn’t try and reinvent the wheel.

-The ending was bad. I was not a fan of the subway scene.

Additional Notes:
-The cast members had to ride the rollercoaster 26 times in one night to get the shot for the premonition scene.

-Tony Todd (the mortician in the first two films) provides the voice of the devil above the rollercoaster as well as the speaker’s voice in the subway at the end of the film that says, “This is the end of the line.”
-Like the previous two films, the ending was changed after testing badly at a test screening.
-The movie opened ten days after post production ended.
-Notable cast members in other horror films:
  • Mary Elizabeth Winstead (The Thing (2011), 10 Cloverfield Lane)
  • Amanda Crew (The Haunting in Connecticut)
  • Kris Lemche (Ginger Snaps)
  • Jesse Moss (Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, The Uninvited)
Rating:
Final Destination 3 is a good time, despite being a weak link in the franchise. The movie is worth watching only because it sticks with what makes Final Destination work, which are outrageous kills that send a chill down your spin, while making you cheer at the same time.


I wouldn’t start with Final Destination 3, but if you decided to check out the franchise then don’t skip out on three. I’d say the film it’s a three and a half out of five and is skippable if you are just looking for a horror movie to watch, but if you are doing a watch through of the whole series then be sure to check it out.

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.