I watched the first half of the random horror movies I drew last month.
October 09, 2016

I've watched five of the ten movies I drew up a while back, and I now have my thoughts on each film put together in mini-review format. Obviously, I didn't watch them in the order drawn:

1. Honeymoon (2014)

Bea and Paul (Rose Leslie and Harry Treadaway) tie the knot and take a trip to a remote cabin for a honeymoon. Things get weird when Bea begins to exhibit peculiar behavior and strange markings appear on her body.

The actors who play the main roles definitely have chemistry. At times, though, I have to say their cuteness as a couple is almost sickening. However, the movie makes up for it by keeping you glued to the screen so you can find out if you're assumption is correct. While the movie is pretty taut and entertaining, not to mention well acted, I have to say that I called its revelations and ending from a mile away. Still, for a predictable thriller, it's an enjoyable one-time watch.

Rating: 7/10

2. Don't Look Now (1973)

Following the drowning of his daughter, John Baxter (Donald Sutherland) travels to Venice to restore an old church. While there, his wife Laura (Julie Christie) bumps into a psychic who warns them that John is in grave danger. Not long afterward, John begins to see omens, as well as a strange figure in a red mackintosh similar to his dead daughter.

I love slow burn horror movies, but this one is almost a crawl. I'll admit that I enjoyed the film: it's wonderfully shot, perfectly acted and terrifically written. However, at times I had to question if what I was watching was actually a thriller and whether or not there was a plot attached to it. One does emerge, but only becomes apparent after eons of breathtaking scenery and awesome cinematography. The film then terminates in a creepy, WTF-y and unforgettable ending. It's not the type of horror movie you watch with a bunch of people, but it's great if you're into slow, psychological horror.

Rating: 8.5/10

3. Contracted (2013)

Sam (Najarra Townsend) contracts a horrible infection after a necrophiliac named BJ date rapes her. She seeks medical attention while her body decays, and attempts to cover up the signs of her illness in the hopes of wooing and sparking a new relationship with her ex-girlfriend.

Subtlety goes out the window. Contracted is an outright nasty body horror film, as members of that subgenre ought to be. We're taking pissing blood, maggots, an agonizing scene where Sam rips off one of her fingernails... that sort of thing. On top of that, the film sports a surprisingly well hidden theme on the subject of rejection--not only in regards to romantic relationships, but a rejection of reality. Ultimately, it's an entertaining and bleak horror movie, though it leans a little too heavily on nastiness.

Rating: 8/10

4. Splatter University (1984)

An escapee from a psychiatric ward bumps off women on a private college campus.

There are bad slashers, and then there's this. The movie is full of lame attempts at humor and absolutely horrible dialog. Nearly every character is extremely cynical, sex-starved and idiotic, not to mention annoying. There's one guy, for instance, who constantly howls whenever he's in a shot. Yeah, I'm down with trash cinema, but this goes beyond trash. It feels more like a lazy attempt to capture Troma's brand of charm--a notion reinforced by the fact that Troma distributes this movie but didn't produce it.

When it comes to kills, Splatter University is tame as can be. There's plenty of blood, but the death scenes range from generic to stupid. During one murder, the killer slits a girl's forehead, and that somehow kills her. Honestly, I had hoped that this movie would be as good as another Troma-distrubed slasher, Graduation Day (which isn't a great film, but it's a good, cheesy watch that features Christopher George and a cameo from the band Felony), but it doesn't even live up to that expectation.

Rating: 2/10

5. Two Thousand Maniacs! (1964)

Six travelers from Northern US become trapped in a southern town full of sociopaths, who look to avenge a hundred-year-old Civil War era massacre.

It's pretty much what you would expect from a Herschell Gordon Lewis movie: bad acting, a silly premise, a decent helping of gore and sick yet inventive kills. One dude gets drawn and quartered, another rolled down a hill in a barrel full of nails, while the townies crush his wife with a boulder. It's sadistic and ridiculous, but sometimes effective. The scenes leading up to the kills do a fair job of building tension.

Of course, this being a low budget indie flick from the '60s, it hasn't aged well. The sound recording is terrible, often resulting in lines that sound mumbled. To make matters worse, the special edition DVD doesn't include subtitles or captions to help you understand some of the more unintelligible lines. Though many of the villains are charmingly bad, like Rufe Tate (Gary Bakeman), some grate your nerves, like many of the child characters. There's also former Playmate, Connie Mason, who's the only somewhat reputable name on the bill, but somehow manages to be completely unnoticeable. Though Bakeman's performance is thousands of miles away from Oscar worthy, his cartoonish antics make his character much more memorable.

It's still a worthwhile film for those who enjoy grindhouse fare and good-bad movies, but ultimately not a great horror flick.

Rating: 6/10

Second half forthcoming, featuring: Begotten, Phase IV, The Mad, Death Bed: The Bed that Eats, and Triangle.

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honestgamer honestgamer - October 10, 2016 (11:22 AM)
Out of those movies, the second is the only one that sounds like it might genuinely interest me, and the first one is one that I could just barely see myself maybe watching at some point, if I were desperate for a horror film of that type (though such a day seems unlikely to ever arrive). Horror is clearly not my genre. I've known that for some time, though.
pickhut pickhut - October 11, 2016 (03:59 AM)
Don't Look Now also stood out with me too when I combed the list the first time. Though, when I actually read through the others, Two Thousand Maniacs! made me do a double take; I had see if there was a clip on YouTube on the barrel roll scene, and it didn't disappoint.
JoeTheDestroyer JoeTheDestroyer - October 12, 2016 (04:27 AM)
Don't Look Now initially drew mixed reviews from critics, who called it standard fare psych-horror. Years later, critical re-evaluation gives it just about universal acclaim. Even Roger Ebert updated his rating to 4/4 stars. Many of them seem to agree that it's not just a good horror flick, but a good movie. A lot of modern thrillers pay homage to it.

One thing I've noticed about the horror genre: there are plenty of movies that open to lukewarm reception, but eventually find their audience and become classics. Poltergeist and Carpenter's The Thing both drew mixed reviews upon release, but have since become classics.
overdrive overdrive - October 14, 2016 (01:20 PM)
I've only watched bits and pieces of Two Thousand Maniacs! (the death scenes that are on YouTube) and have to say this movie has to be considered worthwhile simply due to the dude who plays the town's mayor.

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