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.

Hell House LLC (7/10)

Some douche-bagel friends from NYC set up a haunted house in an abandoned hotel in small-town Abaddon, New York. Unknown to the city slickers, the hotel was the site of various murders and suicides, and they go cluelessly poking around in the dark interiors of the haunted building, blythly recording their misadventures to the aid of the soon-to-be forensic investigations of their tragic but inevitable deaths. There’s also a wrap-around story about a documentary crew trying to get to the bottom of the happenings.

So, this movie is a star of the developing sub-genre of the haunted haunted house. It’s… competent. Not much else to say, really. No boobs, which would have helped (duh).

UPDATE: Upon re-watching while paying more attention, I bumped this up a couple points. It did have some pretty good moments. Still could have used some boobs though.

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 Mad (6/10)

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Billy Zane, with his obnoxious daughter, her boyfriend, and Billy’s annoying new girlfriend, go to a horrible country-themed bed and breakfast where they’re all having a lousy time, when people start turning into zombies from eating bad burgers and their lousy time gets even worse. Billy’s girlfriend gets killed and Billy, being a doctor, autopsies her. The daughter’s boyfriend gets his foot eaten, then he gets shot, then attacked by a CGI mutant burger patty, and then decapitated (spoiler alert). The restaurant’s cook and waitress team up with Billy and daughter to try to escape by distracting the burger-fed zombies with swag, which proves not entirely successful.

So, you as you might have guessed, this is aiming for horror-comedy territory. And it succeeds, for the most part. Billy Zane is very good with deadpan humor, and the scenes of him and his daughter working through their family issues while fighting off burgered zombies are pretty amusing. I mean, we’re not talking Shaun of the Dead here, but it’s a fun watch. Sadly no boobs, which sucks because the daughter is a hottie.

Best line: “Has your beef been acting strangely?”

Vlog (4/10)

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We open with obnoxious but popular (presumably because she likes to sit around in skimpy underwear) cam girl Brooke Marks (the spot) being murdered live on the internets. Then we get the whole “6 weeks ago” or whatever business, and find out what a twat-waffle she is while she goes around picking up guys in bars and hidden-cameras them for her shitty vlog, all the while ridiculing and bitching about them, and then getting all salty when some guy denies her friend request. So I can’t imagine why anyone would possibly want to murder her. Soon she receives an anonymous voice mail directing her to some video clips online of her friends being horrifically murdered. The exploding bong was especially nice! She goes to the cops with the video and the investigation begins, and some more people die, and there’s a twist that you can see from a mile away.

So this was pretty well-made and acted, and Brooke Marks is pretty good as Brooke Marks. Is she really that obnoxious in real life? The plot was rather boring and predictable, but there were a couple good kills (that bong!). If there’d been Brooke boobs, I’d give it a solid 5/10, but there were no Brooke boobs, or any other boobs. Yeah, I know, horror filmmakers just don’t know the business anymore.

13/13/13 (4/10)

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Clocks start showing 13:13 and everyone (except for people born in a leap year) goes crazy and starts killing themselves and each other. One of the characters figures out that if it weren’t for leap years, today would be 13/13/13. Seriously, that’s it. That’s the whole plot.

So, leaving out the really lame excuse for naming this 13/13/13 when they had run out of room on the calendar, this is a lot like The Signal (2007) except that was, you know, good. You should just go watch that instead.

Waxwork II: Lost in Time (7/10)


NOTE: Contains spoilers for the first Waxwork movie.

First, the bad news: Deborah Foreman’s character, Sarah, has been recast. The good news: The replacement actress is Monika Schnarre, who looks like Daryl Hannah, but hotter. We’ll go ahead and mark this in the “win” column, even though I have fond memories of Deborah’s scene with the Marquis de Sade in the first movie.

This starts right where the first movie leaves off, with Mark and Sarah escaping the burning waxworks in a handy taxi. Unbeknownst to the pair, the reanimated zombie arm from the first movie’s Night of the Living Dead vignette hitches a ride and ends up back at Sarah’s place, where it kills her abusive step-dad with a hammer and then attacks her with hot dogs and mustard. She is promptly charged with murder when no one believes the killer hand story, and Mark and Sarah are forced to delve into the waxworks mythos to try to find evidence to exhonerate her, and because it’s a great way to throw them into some more homagey vignettes.

The vignettes this time around are much more elaborate, and feature tributes to Frankenstein, Alien, Evil Dead, Excalibur or something, Dawn of the Dead, Nosferatu, and others. And even though the first Waxwork was billed as a horror-comedy, this one goes much broader with the humor, getting quite slapsticky at times. Even outside the Evil Dead segment, the influence of that classic series is quite apparent, going so far as featuring an extended cameo from the man himself, Bruce Campbell. One could argue that they go a bit far with the silliness, but this is still a pretty fun movie, and it’s apparent that the filmmakers had fun making it. Worth a watch, even though there’s still no boobs.

Waxwork (7/10)


A waxworks opens in the middle of a suburban neighborhood for some reason. A group of twenty-something trust-fund losers get invited to visit after hours by the owner, the always excellent David Warner. When the arrive, they are greeted at the door by a midget best described as a white version of Tattoo. Left to explore the disturbingly realistic tableau, they are soon drawn, one by one, into the scenes, and find they are even more real than they appear.

First off, this is not to be confused with Haris Pilton Paris Hilton’s House of Wax from 2005. This is, in fact, a fun little film from the Golden Age of Horror, that wonderful decade known as “The 80s”. The bulk of this movie is taken up with the trust fund kiddos exploring, being trapped in, and, for some of them, dying in little vignettes that reference classic horror monsters like the mummy, the wolfman, and even a nice black and white homage to The Night of the Living Dead. By far the most memorable vignette is the super-hot scene with Deborah Foreman’s character falling victim to the Marquis de Sade. While this is certainly far from the best of the 80s, it’s reasonably entertaining and worth a watch. Recommended.

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.

An American Ghost Story [aka Revenant] (6/10)

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An under-employed writer (in other words, a writer), girlfriend in tow, moves into a house where a man slaughtered his family and then killed himself. The author hopes to meet the house-ghosts and write a book about it.

The ghosts show up, are very friendly, tell him everything he needs, he writes the book and makes millions of dollars, and marries his reasonably attractive girlfriend. The End.

Haha, not really! Actually, the ghosts rearrange the furniture and attack the reasonably attractive girlfriend with the kitchen cabinets, so she moves out, leaving our sad writer all alone in the ghost-house. After that, he starts wandering around the house, talking to disembodied voices of kids, and playing with stuffed animals.

So, this is a very simple, super-low-budget, single-location movie without a lot of action or special effects, at least until the end. It does establish a good story and spooky atmosphere, and pays off pretty well at the end with some simple, but well-done, practical effects. And, for once, it’s not found footage, which is a nice plus. No boobage, reasonably attractive or otherwise. Overall, pretty slow for most of the run, but not a bad watch.