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.

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.

Dark (7/10)

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So we open with hot, naked lesbo sex. I’m good with that. But, it’s not kinky enough for our main lesbo (Kate), and it’s too kinky for our supporting lesbo. Which is a recipe for frustration, no doubt. Much like the next 20 minutes of the movie, where Kate goes about her daily business, which is exceptionally mundane. Then, finally, there’s a blackout in the city (New York I think, or maybe some Canadian shithole), so maybe something interesting is about to happen… And, no. Nothing continues to occur. We watch as Kate puts batteries in her ghetto blaster. We watch as Kate plays a CD on the ghetto blaster. We watch as Kate looks at not-naked pictures of ex-girlfriends while listening to the CD playing on the ghetto blaster. Kate looks stressed out and bored. So, presumably, do I at this point. Oh hey, now Kate’s going out! Something’s bound to happen now! At least, I hope so, because there’s an hour of movie left at this point. So she goes to a club and meets a pretentious douchenozzle from Canada (yeah, we’ve established this is New York now, in belaborous detail), and they have a super-tedious conversation about boring shit. At this point, I check to see if this was written by a woman, because sometimes women have odd ideas about what should be in horror movies. But no, it’s some dude named “Elias”. Just Elias. Like, you know, Sting, or somebody. Then she wants to have sex, but he won’t because they’ve both been drinking and he’s Canadian. So she stumbles out of the club, pukes in the street, and totters off home. And now there’s 45 minutes left in the movie and I’m worried I might not have enough laundry left to fold to keep me busy for that long. Then Canadia-boy figures out he’s got at least one nut and shows up at her apartment, where they fuck, off-screen goddammit. So I guess she’s not 100% lesbo. Then in the next scene, she’s bitching to him about how shitty her life is, except that he’s not there, so he either left or he was never there in the first place. I’m out of laundry to fold, so I begin to contemplate my navel more closely. Is that some lint? Oh hey, she took her shirt off and there’s boobies and flashbacks. Now I think she’s contemplating suicide; I know I am. 30 minutes left. Remember kids, I’m doing this for you. Normally by now I’d be wrapping up the part where I talk about the plot, but nothing has really happened, so it’s difficult to figure out where to leave off.  Maybe when I get to the end of the movie, I’ll be able to figure out the point at which the plot thickened. So hold on, I’ll be back after the end, if I haven’t blown my brains out.

Ok, I’m back. Turns out I did pick the right spot, which makes sense, because I’m a professional. And as a professional, I can admit when I’m wrong. The stuff that happened in the last 30 minutes of this movie, while still not exactly throbbing with action, made me reevaluate everything that had happened up to that point, and I actually have to say, this was quite good in a very subtle, slow-burn way. Probably not for everyone, but it was not at all what I thought it would be. Also, Whitney Able was really damn good as Kate. So, I’m going to call this recommended, if you’re up for something that’s really more of a psychodrama with some horror overtones. And it does have some nice boobage.

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.

American Poltergeist (3/10)

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A bunch of college kids, including some short-shorts-wearing co-eds, rent a fancy lake house for the semester. The owner of the house is a creepy blonde woman with a flat affect who speaks in terse sentences that tend to exclude articles.

One of the bubble-headed co-eds apparently has a connection to the house, and is having nightmares about a woman committing suicide and people getting chopped up in the basement. She hits the internets to try to get the scoop on the house and why it’s mojoing her. Turns out, her family name is Borden, and some very bad things happened in the house a long time ago. But please, don’t axe her about it!

This movie has the acting and production values of your average porno. Unfortunately, they forgot to include the sex and nudity. This must be some sort of made for basic cable type of thing. It was almost bad enough to be funny, but it couldn’t quite get there. Oh, one thing: I was browsing IMDb reviews and there was one positive one that pointed out that this movie passes the Bechdel Test. I guess if that sort of thing is more important to you than acting, writing, directing, and photography, this is the movie for you!

The Girl in the Photographs (8/10)

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Colleen works at a grocery store in Spearfish, South Dakota. Someone is leaving creepy photographs of dead, multilated young women around her workplace where she will find them. The cops can’t connect them to any crime, and don’t think they are real. Meanwhile, in LA, a scuzzbag photographer learns about the photographs and is pissed that someone came up with the idea before him. He decides to base the ad campaign he’s been hired to shoot on the idea of crime scene photos. He flies out to Spearfish with some bimbos in tow to do the shoot. Once there, he meets up with Colleen and decides she needs to be his new star. All the while, a couple of freaky-deak serial killers continue to practice their “art”.

First off, this movie is notable for being the final project of the late, great Wes Craven, who executive produced. And it’s a good one. While not particularly scary, we have lots of great characters and performances, particularly Claudia Lee as the lovely Colleen, the focus of everyone’s obsessions, and Kal Penn as the hilariously obnoxious and pretentious photographer. Nice levels of horror, drama, and comedy mix to make a very entertaining movie. Also features two extremely perky boobs. Highly recommended.

Hush (5/10)

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I had high hopes for this, given that it was made by the guy that did Oculus, which was great. So, basically, this deaf chick lives by herself somewhere isolated and is stalked by some doofus with a crossbow. Decent setup, but it’s made really frustrating by the all-too-common problem of really bad decision-making. Even the stalker dude remarks on the chick’s bad judgement, which was kind of funny. Anyways, if you’re gonna do some kind of “strong woman saves herself from the baddie” thing, maybe not make your heroine a total dipshit? Also, this movie would have been about 20 minutes long if either of them had bothered to get an actual gun. Lots of people heaped praise on this, but I just don’t see it. “Don’t Breathe” is a much better example of this type of “home invasion with disabilities” sub-genre. Also, no boobs, which would have totally elevated the material.