The Haunted House Of Horror (1969)


I wasn’t sure how to write this review, but after I did a bit of reading I found out that the producers had no idea about how to make this film. Half of it is an interesting proto-slasher, directed by Michael Haworth and stating a giggle of up-and-coming stars of British Cinema (and Frankie Avalon on his way down). The other half is an interesting drama, using the backdrop of swinging London and mostly the same cast. Sadly, you can see the welds. Continue reading

The Basket Case Trilogy is surprisingly good.


The general pattern for b-movie horror movie trilogies is, to my mind, a relatively established, disappointing and inevitable one. The first film is a success, frequently because the people involved in making it are new to the business or coming in as outsiders so don’t know/care about the preconceived notions of “how to do it right” (Evil Dead, Ginger Snaps, Night Of The Living Dead). The second, often not planned when the first was made and often with a bigger budget, is often made soon after as an attempt to cash in on the success of the first by building on whatever part of the mythos or scares stuck with the audience the most (Friday The 13th Part 2, Hellbound, Evil Dead 2). The third part is normally where the wheels come well and truly off the bus in spectacular fashion, as the core talent moves on (Halloween 3), the budget falls away as the makers realise the core audience will buy anything with its name on it (Wishmaster 3), or it shifts into a new direction (Army Of Darkness).
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Ice Spiders (2007) is cheap, disposable, fun


Films made for the Sci-Fi channel have a reputation for cheapness, dullness, and zeitgeist abuse that is rivaled only by The Asylum mockbusters. It’s not that they’re bad, so much as they always make you think of a better movie that you could be watching. So, when sitting down to watch this film from the renowned Hallmark Channel Christmas romance director Tibor Takács (who also did the well-regarded The Gate back in the 80s), expectations were set to “please don’t suck”. Thankfully, these heady heights were surpassed.
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Burnt Offerings (1976)


It’s time for some “Classic 70s horror” that you’ve never heard of, which mostly means a couple of well-known actors getting caught up in some supernatural shenanigans until their next big serious role comes along. In this case, it’s Oliver Reed, Bette Davis, Burgess Meredith, and one of the first appearances of the soon-to-be “ooh, I know them! They were in the thing!” Anthony James. It’s all very intense, it’s all very moody, but is it any good? Read on or watch the trailer that follows the era’s trend of giving away all the best bits.
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The Undertake (1988) is underwhelming


Whilst this 1988 film has nothing to do with the most successful persona of Mark Calloway, of the great wrestlers of all time, it does have a lot of the hallmarks of professional wrestling of this era. Bad acting, weak camera, incredibly cheap tricks, a near-incomprehensible plotline, and the audience constantly having to work to maintain the willful suspension of disbelief are all on show here. The end result is something that is utterly unenjoyable as intended, and only marginally fun as a beguiling slice of bad cinema.
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Future Shock (1994) isn’t worth your time


It’s time for an exciting three-way combo of amazing opportunity: a horror anthology with a bit of a cyberpunk taste to it! It’s also got a spectacular cast of “oooh, it’s them! From that film!” actors, and, in a random act of trivia, the music was done by J.J. Abrams. This can’t possibly go wrong, as nothing JJ Abrams has been involved in has ever been a shonky rip-off of better things that totally misses what made them good in the first place.
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Studio 666 (2022) is good dumb fun


According to Dave Grohl, this movie happened because whilst recording the Foo Fighter’s tenth album he had an idea to do a very cheap slasher video about the band and the studio, like a little youtube home movie, and then suddenly there were millions of dollars in production money and John Carpenter doing the soundtrack. I’ve got no way of knowing if it’s true or marketing hype, but I imagine that kind of thing happens a lot in his world and it probably explains why this film exists. It also explains why it can only exist because the Foo Fighters are in it, and why this ends up being “A Hard Days Night” done by Hooper and Craven.
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Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022) is an okayish disappointment.

If psychotronic cinema, or, when you get down to it, any cinema, is about experience then The Texas Chain Saw Massacre must be one of the greatest movies of all time. It is an unrelenting, exhausting, almost total-body experience; be it during its moments to shocking terror, its nightmarish social observations, its frequently disjointed surrealist turns, or its nihilistic horror spectacular. Even its soundtrack, which for the final third of the movie is dominated by the constant screams of its Final Girl being dredged through a stygian hellscape, is an emotive and evocative tour de force.

Obviously, it’s not to everyone’s tastes and the bulk of its greatness comes from pushing the boundaries of genre conventions, seeking to indulge the worst excesses of exploitation cinema, budget and talent constraints, and just plain dumb luck. But it is a singular, majestic vision that few have come close to matching. Especially its sequels, which for the most part cranked up the gore they thought was in the original and pissed away the cultural commentary that they clearly thought was an irrelevancy. So, when I heard (in the same week it was being released) that Texas Chainsaw Massacre* was coming out I was filled with indifference towards it.

Then I spotted it on Netflix, draped across the front page as its big welcoming offering, and it was Friday night and it would be rude not to.
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Grandmother’s House (1989)


It’s time for some more 80s horror, and this one is the directorial debut of Peter Rader! You know, the guy who then went on to be one of the people who wrote Waterworld. It stars no one I’ve ever heard of, is a title I’ve never seen mentioned anywhere, and seems to be one of those strange “aimed at teenagers, but just that bit too violent for them to see it” movies like The Gate. Still, it’s not a strong cover and is juxtaposing something nice with the promise of being terrifying so let’s crack this open!
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