The Devil’s Candy (8/10)

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NOTE: This review originally appeared on Red River Horror.

Ray Smilie (Pruitt Taylor Vince) is a middle-aged, tracksuit-wearing man living in an old farm-house in Texas with his parents. Tormented by a sinister voice in his head, he tries to drown it out by strumming power chords at high volume on his electric guitar. When his mom makes him stop, he responds by hitting her with the guitar, causing her to fall down the stairs.

Jesse Hellman (Ethan Embry) is an aspiring, perspiring artist and metal-head reduced to painting a butterfly mural for a bank to make ends meet. He, along with his demure wife Astrid (Shiri Appleby) and metal-head daughter Zooey (Kiara Glasco), are in the market for a new home. Ray Smilie’s is now up for sale at a bargain price, following the tragic death of his parents. Hellman buys the house, and moves in with his family.

Smilie, now living in a hotel, continues to be haunted by the diabolical voice in his head, but…after a noise complaint, can no longer drown it out without drawing the attention of the local sheriff.

Soon, Hellman is hearing a voice as well, but for him, it becomes the impetus that drives him to create works of art with a quality far beyond anything he has achieved before. After he turns his butterfly painting into a hellscape of tortured children, he earns the praise of a prestigious gallery owner, and the promise of riches and success. With fame and fortune must come sacrifice…

Meanwhile, the voice drives Smilie to acts of destruction, not creation, as he is drawn back to his lost home, forcing Hellman to act to keep his dark muse from becoming the downfall of those he loves most.

While The Devil’s Candy initially appears to follow the standard young-couple-moves-into-a-haunted-house formula, it quickly turns into a much more interesting tale of temptation, deviance, and redemption.

The movie’s emotional core is the relationship between Jesse and his daughter Zooey; neither quite fits the mold that the world wants to cast them with. Their dedication to each other, and love of hard rock, is demonstrated effectively by Ethan Embry and Kiara Glasco’s strong performances.

Mr. Vince, as Ray Smilie, is his usual creepy self. Ms. Appleby provides a quiet but strong performance as the somewhat more straight-laced member of the Hellman clan. Also portrayed well by writer/director Sean Byrne is Texas itself, with Jesse’s painting and the pounding rock soundtrack showing the grungy, sweaty side of the state. That’s in contrast with Zooey’s Polo-preppie classmates at her new suburban school. Featuring a unique style and a fresh take on an old genre trope, The Devil’s Candy is an easy recommend.

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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.

Spliced (aka The Wisher) (6/10)

Mary is a high-school girl who looks like a hotter Natalie Portman and gets horny when she watches horror movies (where was this chick when I was growing up? Or now, for that matter). She also suffers from nightmares and dangerous bouts of sleep-walking, so her dad locks her in her bedroom at night and won’t let her go to horror movies. Despite the ban and after wishing her dad would “just go away”, she goes with her friends to see super-popular but cheesy horror movie “The Wisher”. This movie-within-a-movie is about some kids summoning an evil dude that grants wishes but, of course, twists them around to be horrible. During the movie she pukes and runs out. Also, her dad finds out where she is and goes to get her, managing to get into a car wreck and dying on the way. Mary blames herself and starts seeing The Wisher around the house. Then she wishes she didn’t have to go to school, and someome burns down the school. After some more fishy wishing business, she goes to the googlenets and finds reports of strange behavior by some people who saw so the movie. Is she crazy? Are the wishes coming true for supernatural reasons? Or because someone else who saw the movie is making them come true? These are truly the most important questions of our times.

So, this started well, with hottie Mary telling her guidance counselor (an increasingly puffy Ron Silver) about her horror movie turn-on. I really thought this was going to get into some fun and twisted territory, but unfortunately this plot-line got dropped really quick and apparently was only there to give her the impetus to disobey her dad and go to the creepy movie. So, this turned out to be a much more conventional story with some Scream-like sensibilities, which kind of makes sense given that this came out in 2002, when the scream series was still rolling out frequent sequels. While nothing special (other than the cuter-than-a-button Mary and some good but non-Mary titties), it was a decent straight-to-video production with a few good moments. Really though, I am now inspired to find the actress that played Mary and make the kinky masterpiece that this could have been if they’d followed through on the promise of the opening plot-line. Anybody want to give me a million or two to fund it?

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.

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.

12/12/12 (3/10)

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We open with a nude woman tied to a table with a dude smearing blood all over her and then human sacrificing her (I don’t know about you, but I think this is THE BEST way to start a movie; unfortunately, it’s all downhill after that). Sometime later, a woman gives birth to a demon baby that immediately strangles the delivery room doctor and nurse with its umbilical cord. Despite that, the couple is allowed to take the baby home, where it promptly bites her nipple, then later wakes her up in the middle of the night in the most WTF way possible (let’s just say it headed south from the nipple), and then kills the husband. The cops and Child Social Services show up and want to take the baby away, which the mother objects to, even though it’s obviously a creepy killer demon baby from hell. Anyway, the chick from CSS takes the baby and is promptly killed by it, so it is returned to its mother. For some reason, nobody seems all that concerned that the baby is killing everyone in sight and going down on mom. Meanwhile, some underwear-model-lookin’-dude is trying to steal the baby… for Satan!

This movie was dumb. The dialogue was dumb. The plot was dumb. The baby was dumb. The mother was dumb. The cops were dumb. Everything was dumb. But, it was also pretty funny. And watching the baby attack people even though it seemed otherwise completely unable to move was borderline hilarious. And there were some boobs. So, overall, it could have been worse. But not much. Oh, and I guess this was a sequel to 11/11/11, which I don’t remember too much about, other than it was somewhat less dumb than this one. And, this is followed by 13/13/13, which doesn’t even make calendrical sense. I haven’t seen that one yet, but I’ll let you know when I do.

UPDATE: My review of 13/13/13 Is here!

Devil’s Tower (8/10)

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A couple go up to the roof of a council high-rise to make out. Mid-snog, they suddenly start attacking each other for no apparent reason, and they both end up dead. The next day a new tenant, cutie-pie Sarah, arrives. Of course the building is shitty and full of squatters, because socialism. Sarah finds out from some friendly neighbors that she’s moving into the “murder flat”, and that the building is, of course, haunted. Soon, tenants start showing up on the antique TVs that are scattered throughout the building and start behaving very strangely and the whole building turns into a big zombie death- and fuck-fest. And then things get weird.

As you may have guessed from the word choices, this is British. That’s not terribly relevant, but I thought I’d mention it. Anywho, this starts out fairly serious, and then transitions to an almost slapstick comedy as it progresses and things go silly buggers (that’s a Britishism; I know this because I’m very cosmopolitan). This was a peculiar hybrid of family drama, ghost story, world-gone-mad, zombies, and it was quite a bit of fun. Also, there was a fair number of boobies, so that’s a point in its favor. Overall, quite worth a watch, and another good entry in the UK horror catalog. In fact, it was so good, I accidentally watched it twice.

Room 6 (3/10)


Amy, who’s been having dreams about waking up in the middle of surgery, is riding with her boyfriend Nick when they get into a car crash. An ambulance shows up from out of nowhere and hauls off the injured boyfriend, but won’t bring Amy along or tell her where they’re going. She makes her way to the nearest hospital but Nick’s not there, but she finds Lucas, the driver from the other car, who is looking for his sister that was taken away by another ambulance. Together they call all the local hospitals with no luck, and are then attacked by a homeless Kane Hodder who has a bad case of demon-face. Meanwhile, things are not at all right at whatever facility Nick ended up at, where he’s being “cared for” by several hot but creepy nurses who like to take blood samples, get naked, and make out with each other. As the plot thickens, Amy starts having weirder dreams, sees demon faces everywhere, and complete strangers all seem to know her name. And Lucas gets all handsy and seems to be more sinister than expected. Meanwhile there’s a strange little girl who seems to know all about what’s going on, because of course there is. And there’s some sort of backstory involving Amy’s father which I couldn’t be arsed with paying attention to. Oh, did I mention the flying priest?

I’m pretty sure someone took a stack of horror movie screenplays, threw them in a blender, poured the results into a casserole dish, and baked it for 94 minutes. If it weren’t for the boobs I’d think this was made for SyFy. Sadly, the boobs are present in insufficient quantities to make up for the mish-mashed plot and general ineptitude of the filmmaking. The flying priest was inadvertently hilarious though, so there’s that. Overall, worth a watch only if you’ve already watched everything that’s better than this, which is most things.

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.