The Evil Dead

31 Days of Horror – ‘Deathgasm’

dg

Deathgasm

Directed by: Jason Lei Howden

Starring: Milo Cawthorne and James Blake

Review by CinemAbysmal

I love metal. I’m not a genre asshole, either. If it wails, I’m into it, so when I first saw the trailer for this New Zealand Horror-Comedy, I was understandably excited. And for the most part, Deathgasm did not let down. It’s hilarious at times, joyously bloody and the music choices are excellent.

First, let’s talk about what’s wrong with this movie. A lot of us have seen Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny, which is kind of a shit movie in the classic sense, but I find it to be a cult classic and one that I’ve enjoyed a lot more as time has gone by. So why am I bringing that movie up? Well, Deathgasm unfortunately has just about the same story. I won’t spoil it for you, but I think you’ll get the same feeling watching it.

Infringement aside, this film is still really fun. As I mentioned earlier, the gore is pretty insane. It’s done in a pretty fun way though, ala Dead Alive and Evil Dead 2. In fact, it’s been a while since I’ve seen the much blood in a movie. They literally pour it on at times. The demons that are summoned look excellent as well. When this movie gets crazy, it really goes for it, and I found myself laughing giddily throughout a good amount of it.

Those familiar with metal (mostly Death/Black) will really dig a lot of the music featured in the film. We’ve got Ihsahn, Emperor, Axeslasher, Bulletbelt, Lair of the Minotaur, Pathology and others. The list goes on. They obviously knew their metal when making this and they don’t shy away from the double bass and screaming in a number of the scenes. I was a little annoyed with how much of an elitist the main character was, but the movie still did a good job throwing up its horns.

This movie isn’t perfect. But it’s fun, bloody and will bring a smile to any metalhead’s face. Check Deathgasm out on Netflix today!

 

Advertisements

31 Days of Horror – ‘Evil Dead (2013)’

evildead

Evil Dead (2013)  

Directed by: Fede Alvarez

Starring: Jane Levy and Shiloh Fernandez

Review by CinemAbysmal

I’m going to begin with a disclaimer: I love the Evil Dead universe. It’s immensely influential upon many things that I really dig, whether it’s music, movies or TV. And it’s based on Lovecraftian ideas which really gets me going. So when I first learned that The Evil Dead was being remade, I was naturally very skeptical. Then I saw the red-band trailer and I knew everything would be OK.

When marketing began for this movie, it was being advertised as “The Most Terrifying Film You Will Ever Experience.” While it definitely was not that for me, this is an incredibly gruesome movie that does not let up AT ALL. The sky honestly rains blood, there’s close-up eye mutilation, a tree literally rapes a woman, and don’t worry, there’s some ridiculous chainsaw scenes. It took a lot of what worked in the original films and turned it up to 11, with more cringeworthy scenes than a lot of people are willing to handle.

One natural problem I had with the movie, is there isn’t an Ash Williams. While I don’t really mean “Ash should have been in this movie,” I really think the film would have benefited from a more badass and likable character. Jane Levy does a great job as the character that was written (a recovering heroin addict), but you don’t really cheer for her like you would with Ash in the original trilogy and Ash vs Evil Dead. And I get it, this is a balls-to-the-wall horror film, but I still felt like I needed a laugh or two by the time this grueling monster was done.

If you can handle it, this is a great movie for multiple viewings. I catch more with every new watch (I’ve only seen it three times), but there are clever, loving nods to the original films which will make any Deadite happy. However, I’m warning you again: this is a relentlessly fucked up film that is sure to satiate the most brutal gorehounds.

We Are Still Here

weare

We Are Still Here (2015) – Horror | Drama

Directed by: Ted Geoghegan

Starring: Barbara Crampton and Andrew Sensenig

How I Watched: Blu-Ray

Best Line: “You’re not leaving here. You stay, you satisfy the darkness.”

A good haunted house movie is defined by the house itself. It has to use the house in a way that it stands as its own character, impacting the story in a way that you, as the viewer, do not want to be in that house. It has become a difficult feat in modern horror cinema, something that was taken to heart back in the 1970’s. The Shining and The Exorcist both used their surroundings to scare the living hell out of their audiences and first-time director Ted Geoghegan knows this well.

We Are Still Here‘s house is a prime example of how to use the setting as an effective character. The movie begins with the characters driving up to the house and then shots of the lonely rooms inside of its antiquated shell. Each great shot is dripping with dread and it really does not let up from these first few moments for the rest of the film. Setting this in the 1970’s was extremely effective as well. The absence of cell phones in We Are Still Here plays a big part in this story and I think Geoghegan knew this when he wrote it.

The cast is not especially incredible but it does not really need to be. Barbara Crampton plays the grieving and ever-optimistic mother role pretty well, carrying a few scenes that really needed a convincing performance. Andrew Sensinig does a convincing enough job as her husband and Lisa Marie plays a pretty damn good hippie with self-professed mental gifts. Monte Markham has a particularly good turn as the film’s menacing antihero, growling his way through some pretty dark scenes.

We Are Still Here‘s standout performance though, comes from Larry Fessenden. Evoking a stoner Jack Nicholson from The Shining, Fessenden grabs the screen from his first appearance as Jacob Lewis, husband of Lisa Marie’s bohemian telepath. He seems immediately lovable, providing the film with its first hints of levity from the opening credits. His ultimate scene though, is one of the most intense in the movie, reminiscent of The Exorcist at its most extreme. This scene will cause you to grit your teeth and sink into the safety of your couch and was really the standout of the film, for me at least.

Though We Are Still Here is set in the 70’s, the movie feels like it was filmed in that decade as well. It seems purposely low budget, not dirty, but not very polished. Scenes are awash in a sea of grey and earthy tones, making the red in the especially gory scenes stand out that much more. CGI is used sparingly, Geoghegan springing instead for physically acted frights. There are not many jump scares to speak of and darkness is used cleverly by the film’s cinematographer. The score is not overbearing and its electronic elements remind me a lot of Fulci’s films, as well as Romero’s Dawn of the Dead.

I think why I enjoyed this movie so much was due to how they used the house. One of the most repeated quotes by multiple characters in We Are Still Here is, “This house needs a family,” suggesting ultimately, that the house itself is an active character. This idea has frightened me since I saw The Shining for the first time, imagining that an inanimate object can bend the will of humans. It gives me shudders and this film carries this idea out masterfully.

We Are Still Here definitely isn’t perfect. It precariously rides the fine line between B-Horror throwback and haunted house hall of fame. Some may understandably find the low budget schlock angle off-putting and even a bit silly. What the film lacks in polish though, it returns in a deliciously vicious mountain of dread. It takes quite a bit of love and dedication to make a haunted house movie this well, and to learn that this is director Ted Geoghegan’s debut is very impressive. I really can’t wait to see what he has for us next.

Final Score: 3.5/4

_____________

Similar Films: The Innkeepers, The Evil Dead, The Shining

The Hallow

The-Hallow_Still_2

The Hallow (2015) – Horror

Directed by: Corin Hardy

Starring: Joseph Mawle and Bojana Novakovic

How I Watched: Streamed on Netflix

Best Line: “Hallow be their name / And blest be their claim / If you who trespass put down roots / Then Hallow be your name.”

Every once in a while, a movie comes along that you’ve never heard of previously and bites the living hell out of you. This is one of those. Grasping onto its predecessors in the ‘shack in the woods’ genre, The Hallow knows what its job is right from the get-go. Never taking itself too seriously, but at the same time, avoiding any laughable moments, this flick will definitely get under your skin. There’s monsters, some paranormal weirdness and some really jumpy scares. So switch off the lights and turn it up loud.

There is a blast of immediate dread when the movie begins that seems to be lacking in a lot of horror movies lately. Very often, we get the slow burn for the first hour or so, that builds into a bloody, chaotic payoff that just manages to hold the film together. That’s not the case in The Hallow. We are introduced to the characters a lot like in The Shining as an automobile is seen looping through country roads on the way to its ominous destination. Without ruining anything, a married couple with a newborn is moving from London to the Irish countryside, where the father is tasked with preparing the forest for logging. This does not make the forest or inhabitants happy, and did I mention the couple has a newborn? Ok, that’s all I’ll tell you about the plot.

A lot like Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead series, there are a number of disgusting and squishy moments that made me recoil. When I say squishy and Evil Dead in the same sentence, you probably know what I mean; revolting sounds of flesh getting smashed and the gooey crunching of various parts in monster’s teeth. There’s a lot of that in this one. But unlike Sam Raimi’s series, it’s not very funny. At all, actually.

Now, a lot of people have problems with CGI in horror movies. I am one of those people, but I understand it in moderation. The Hallow does a great job of using it when they need to. At times, you can tell the CGI would probably look ridiculous, but the creators did a great job with the lighting so that the effects don’t take center stage. This by all means is a monster movie, so there were plenty of chances for the team that filmed this to screw it up.

Those of you frightened by the creatures in The Descent or some of the fairy tale monsters in Pan’s Labyrinth need to stay away from this one. The Hallow borrows from those films and turns it up to 11. There are some absolutely jarring jump scares in this and the things causing them are anything but pleasant. Watch out, too if you’re easily affected by eye injuries on film.

I think one aspect of the film that it could have improved upon was to further explore the mythology that is behind the menacing force out in those woods. It is briefly touched on as the small town’s unspoken folklore, but there was definite opportunity to make this story as chilling as something out of Lovecraft. There is even what seems to be a direct reference to the Necronomicon in one of the scenes, which again, is not focused on enough.

Really though, this was a great film. It’s vicious in pace, storytelling and bloodletting. It does a great job of building dread, but not for so long that you anticipate the next scare. The film knows right when to surprise you. If you have surround sound, you’re in for a treat as the sound editors did a wonderful job using the rear sound field to assist in the scares. The acting was pretty good, but if you have a difficult time with English and Irish accents, you might need to flip on those subtitles. So switch those lights off and enjoy tonight’s nightmares. This one will do everything to make you feel like you shouldn’t be in the dark.

 

Final Score: 3.5/4

_____________

Similar Films: Evil Dead (all of them), Pan’s Labyrinth, The Descent