Beyond the Gates (8/10)

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Gordon and John’s father has been missing for 7 months. Gordon, with unfortunately fully-clothed girlfriend Margot in tow, returns to his hometown and reunites with John to liquidate their missing father’s old-school VHS video store. There, they discover a VHS game with the titular title of “Beyond the Gates”. Back at the old man’s old homestead, they pop in the tape and find themselves playing against a beautiful but mysterious woman, played by the legendary (and still smokin’ hot) 80s horror icon, Barbara Crampton. While the game promises to reveal the fate of their father, they find that the answer may cost them dearly.

This movie doesn’t pretend to be anything other than it is — a throwback to the glorious days of 80s horror movies and gaming. We’ve got VHS tapes, a video store, a lovely synth soundtrack, and even the Crampton herself. What we don’t have is titties, but everything else is good enough that I can (grudgingly) give that a pass, even though cutie-pie Brea Grant as Margot is just begging to be objectified. Sigh. Anywho, this is spot-on in tone, photography, lighting, and whatnot. While things do wrap up perhaps a little too neatly, it’s still quite a nice romp through the VHS golden age. Definitely worth a watch.

Fender Bender (5/10)

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Teen Hilary (played by cutie-pie Makenzie Vega, aka Grace Florrick from “The Good Wife”) has just found out her boyfriend is cheating on her with a hot blonde cheerleader. Then she gets into a fender-bender while driving her mom’s new shitty Nissan Sentra. Not a good day for her. She goes home and gets grounded while her bitch-ass parents head out of town to see some stupid show or something that Hilary has been really wanting to see. Then her lame-ass friends show up and surprise her (literally) with pizza and no beer. And it turns out that the guy that rear-ended her (with his car, perv) is a serial killer who is now stalking her. Really not a good day for her.

So, this was well-made and sort of entertaining, but it’s not old-school or new-school enough to be all that interesting. At best, it’s a very bland blend of the two. Throw in some poor decision-making and you’ve got something that’s really not worth your time, unless, like me, your time really isn’t worth all that much. Oh, and one chick takes a bath and Hilary takes a shower, and no boobs in either scene. That, my friends, is unforgivable. If we’d seen some Makenzie boobies, I would have bumped it up to 6, maybe even 7. But “gratuitous nudity” (like that’s a thing) is on the outs these days, so we got nothing, not even a little side-boob. Fuckers.

The Monster (5/10)

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Super-shitty mother Kathy is driving her daughter Lizzy to see Lizzy’s dad, who she wants to live with instead of her loser alcoholic skanky-ass mom for some reason. As they are driving late that night on a desolate road through dense woods, they hit something and crash the car. They investigate and find a dead wolf, but not all of the wounds seem to be from the crash, and a huge tooth is found in one of the gashes. Once the tow-truck arrives, the driver is attacked and they realize they have bigger problems than just dysfunctional family dynamics.

So, I thought this was going to be really good. And it was, for a while. The first act did well at setting up the mother and daughter characters, and the performances were quite good. The second act was atmospheric and the monster itself was very well realized, though by this point the mother/daughter weepy flashbacks were getting a bit heavy-handed. And then the third act hits, and everyone in the movie immediately becomes a total idiot and makes the worst possible choices. Unfortunately, pathos and bathos bring down what could have been a very fine monster flick. Is it really asking too much to have a kick-ass monster wreaking havoc these days without having a heaping helping of domestic issues thrown in? Apparently, yes.

Bleed (6/10)

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A pregnant girl is driving on the back roads of the small town her and her metrosexual husband just moved to and gets a flat tire. The friendly beardy sheriff is happy to help her out, but after changing her tire he notices a distinctive birthmark on her neck and has a warning for her that things may not be as safe out here in the country as they seem. They invite their demographically-correct friends from the city over to check out their birthing room, because that’s what the young people do. Preggo’s brother and slutty girlfriend also show up unannounced, and turns out they’re amateur ghost hunters, which will be relevant later. So, the friends and husband go off to explore a nearby abandoned (and haunted, of course) prison while Preggers goes for a drive and flips her SUV after seeing a ghost girl, and the brother’s slutty girlfriend gets ghost-raped maybe and the brother gets his throat slit but maybe doesn’t. It seems that all these happenings are somehow related to events in the brother and sister’s past, and the strange birthmark on her neck, and the brother is determined to ferret out the secrets of the local hayseeds, no matter how many times he has to get his throat maybe slit. Hint: It’s all about the baby.

Yeah, so, I don’t really have much else to say. This was well made and pretty good, but no boobs, even when the slutty girlfriend was taking a bath. I mean, why put a slutty girlfriend in a bathtub if you’re not going to show her boobs? It’s political correctness gone mad, I say. Anywho, your life will not be worse for having seen it, but it probably won’t be better either.

Antibirth (10/10)

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Lou (Natasha Lyonne) and Sadie (Chloe Sevigny) are super-skanky junkies who like to party with pimp/drug dealer Gabriel. After a night of drug-fueled partying, Lou begins to show symptoms of pregnancy, even though she is sure she hasn’t had sex in months, which nobody believes because she is a total ho. Over the next few days, during which she continues drinking heroic amounts of alcohol and sucking on a huge bong, her symptoms become increasingly, and disgustingly, bizarre. She is befriended by Lorna (Meg Tilly!), who talks about aliens and weird abuse at the hands of the government. As they investigate Lou’s condition, they learn of a shadowy rich benefactor to Gabriel, who is getting girls from him in exchange for a strange new drug, which may have been given to Lou at their last party. What happened to Lou at this party? And why is Sadie spending so much time with Gabriel? Does she know more than she is letting on?

This, right here, is the shit. This is a motherfucking horror movie right here. Natasha Lyonne gives a fantastic performance as the tragicomic Lou, whose drug-laden body horror seems as much an extension of her terrible life choices as it does the result of some mysterious conspiracy. This movie is filled with bizarre characters and happenings, but they flow naturally from circumstances, never seeming like weirdness for weirdness’s sake. She views her increasingly desperate situation as just one more shitty thing that’s happened to her in her already shitty life. Even Lorna, her protector and advocate, is a freakin’ loon. It’s all just another day in the life in the seventh circle of hell that is thug life in Michigan. This is one of the most fucked up movies I’ve seen in a long time, and it is glorious.

The Autopsy of Jane Doe (8/10)


We open with police arriving at the scene of a multiple homicide in Grantham, Virginia. After surveying the scene and finding several people dead from considerable violence, the sheriff is summoned to the basement, where forensics techs have discovered the nude body of a young woman, partially buried in the dirt floor. The sheriff take Jane Doe to the local  morgue, run by a father (played by the always-great Brian Cox) and his son (played by some guy), interrupting the son’s plans for a hot date with a chick that likes to look at corpses. At first, the corpse seems immaculate, but the father and son team soon finds bizarre and disturbing internal injuries. As they dig deeper, a storm rolls in and strange things begin to happen in the creepy and labyrinthine old morgue.

First off, kudos to Olwen Kelly for laying around nude and dead for most of the movie and not even looking like she was cold; that’s some fine work right there. This was very good, with a great old-school vibe and lots of creepy and atmospheric moments. There were, however, a couple of things that kept it from being great. Without going into too much detail, I will say that it went a bit heavy on foreshadowing a couple of things, and there was a bit of exposition that seemed unnecessary and smacked a bit of political agenda. Other than those minor missteps, this is a fine effort. I don’t think it quite lives up to the hype that it has gotten, but it’s still well done and certainly worth a watch. Also, nice boobs, even if they were dead.

The Good Neighbor (8/10)

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A couple of teenage douchebags decide to conduct an “experiment” on their cranky old neighbor (perfectly portrayed by James Caan) by outfitting his house with surveillance cameras and electronic gizmos designed to make him believe he is being haunted. Unfortunately, he’s already haunted by his past, and things absolutely do not go as planned.

This is definitely a “the less you know, the better” type of movie, so I’m not going to give any more detail on the plot. Suffice it to say, this is more of a multi-layered drama than a horror movie, and it is very successful in what it sets out to achieve. Highly recommended. And James Caan is freakin’ excellent.

Chopping Block (8/10)

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A group of incompetents just laid off from their cubicle jobs decide, after many drinks, to kidnap and ransom their ex-boss’s daughter. They actually end up saving her from a huge, deranged woman that’s been trying to kill her for years, and the killer now comes after all of them. Many more drinks and inept decisions follow.

This low-budget horror-comedy was freakin’ hilarious. Think “Office Space” with more kidnapping and murdering. Good performances all around make this one a quality effort, and the depth of idiocy of the protagonists is impressive. Very silly, but highly recommended.

Amityville Terror (6/10)

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A couple, with crossbow-wielding blonde teenage daughter and recovering drug-addict sister, move into a haunted house and proceed to go ape-shit due to demonic ghostly possession.

Not a bad variation on the typical Amityville theme, with multiple family members losing it, and some sort of cult worship of the house by an obnoxious clique of teenage girls. Also, more nudity and catfights than one would expect. A decent enough way to waste an hour and a half.

Satanic (6/10)

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Obnoxious Colorado millennials, heading to an obnoxious California music festival, take a detour to a hotel known for the suicide of some Satanic ho in the 70s, and proceed to dick around with a ouija board. And this is only the first stop on a whirlwind tour of occultic sites in LA.

Next stop: Some creepy occult shop. After acting like privileged little shits, they get thrown out by the creepy owner. They go back later that night to follow the owner to the ever-popular Secluded Location while continuing to act like spoiled little retards and spying on some Satanic ceremony involving a hot chick. At this point the viewer is left hoping that their horrible, painful deaths are imminent, when suddenly, the hot chick’s boobs are out! One of the jerkwads even says “oh shit! Boobs! We have boobies!” First smart thing any of them have said. Also, it looks like she’s about to be sacrificed, so they “rescue” her by nearly getting themselves shot. And then they go back to the hotel and have their own little Satan party with Hot Chick, who vomits and then pisses herself. After that, things get weird.

Also, Sarah Hyland says “fuck” a lot, which is weird because she still looks like she’s 8. If anyone ever makes a docudrama about Jeffrey Epstein’s island, she should be the first person cast.

So, this was written by Anthony Jaswinski, who wrote “Kristy”, which I liked quite a bit, and The Shallows, which I haven’t seen yet, but I’ve heard is good. This got slammed by critics (never trust critics, including me — trust me, I’m the last person you want to trust), but I thought it was pretty good, especially for mainstream Hollywood horror. “Kristy” was better for sure, but “Satanic” had its moments. At least it wasn’t another boobless PG-13 bore-fest. I’ll give this one a weak recommendation, but if you haven’t already seen “Kristy”, watch it instead.