Tag Archives: horror movies

7 Nights of Darkness: A Low Budget Horror Movie

Standard

7 Nights of Darkness is one of my favorite horror movies, though those of you who are familiar with it might think I’m a little crazy. It is a low budget movie made in 2011 by Allen Kellogg who also stars as Carter (one of my favorite characters, by the way). The special effects are a little crappy (and I say that with complete love of the movie), but still effective, except for the part where Lina (strapped into the lobotomy chair) is being taunted by Randy and her face turns into a computerized greenish sort of screaming expression which I think is supposed to be the ghost possessing her. Still, I did scream at that part the first time I watched this movie.

The movie is about 6 people doing a reality show. They must spend 7 nights in an abandoned asylum and complete the given tasks in order to split the 1 million dollar prize money. It sort of reminds me of that old MTV show (I think it was on MTV) Fear, where people took cameras and ghost-hunting equipment into empty hospitals, prisons and asylums. Anyway, back to the movie.

Odd things start to happen, a bucket comes flying out of nowhere, a baby is heard crying in the middle of the night in an empty bassinette, maggots appear on pizza, and these occurrences wear on the nerves of the contestants. The above mentioned possession of Lina scares the hell out of Randy, and he tries convincing the others to leave with him. When that fails, he asks them to at least help him get Lina (once more catatonic after the brief screaming incident) out. They agree but when they enter Randy and Lina’s room, they find the lobotomy chair empty. Lina is gone. One by one, the contestants disappear until only Carter and Brooke remain.

I think the reasons why this movie is a favorite and effectively scary is that it uses several tried and true horror movie elements. Jump scares, atmosphere, tension-building and disturbing (okay, maybe unnerving is a better word) scenes. It also employs several elements that can be found in other horror movies, namely The Ring, The Grudge, with just a dash of House on Haunted Hill thrown in for good measure.

If you are a fan of straight-to-DVD movies, (or creepy ghost girls and dolls) I recommend that you check out 7 Nights of Darkness. I don’t think you’ll be too disappointed. And make sure you watch through the credits, there a bit of a surreal bonus scene that’s worth watching.

What low budget movies are your favorites?

 

Horror Movies – Part 4

Standard

The Supernatural and Creatures: Vampires, Werewolves and Demons, Oh my!

There is too many movies that fit into this subgenre that I enjoy, so I hope that I am able to do justice to this most popular subject. It is also, sadly, often an overused subject as many B-movies can attest to.

Vampires

The Lost Boys(1987). My first vampire movie. As a treat, and after much begging on my part, my mom let me watch it one afternoon when I arrived home before my younger siblings. I am very glad that I watched it during a sunny, fall afternoon and not after dark. As the title suggests, it has a sort of skewed Peter Pan-esque feel to it, which wasn’t at first apparent when I was younger. A group of punkish teenagers lure newcomer, Michael, into their group, slowly seducing him with their cool lawlessness and pretty Star, the group’s only female member. Michael, unwittingly, starts to show symptoms that his younger brother assumes belongs (with help from the resident vampire experts, the Frog Brothers) of a vampire. There is a really cool showdown near the end of the movie between vampires and humans. Plus a neat little twist of sorts concerning motive. It’s gory though, but what would a vampire movie be without blood?

I Am Legend(2007). A great movie on many levels. A lone man in a wasteland of viral vampires in which Robert, the main character, has a daily routine of scavenging the city looking for supplies or hunting for food, he also experiments, looking for a cure. It is sometimes poignant, sometimes tense and I cry almost every time at the scene with Robert and Sam, his dog companion. Those who have seen it probably knows what I mean. I have also seen The Last Man on Earth (1964) with Vincent Price in the lead role, which was really good as well. I have yet to read the novel but it has spawned three movie adaptations and probably several works “influenced by”, one of which is the low budget zombie movie I Am Omega (2007).

Other Vampire Movies: Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992), From Dusk Till Dawn (1996), Interview with the Vampire (1994), 30 Days of Night (2007), Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992), Blade (1998)

Werewolves

Cursed (2005). This is a horror-comedy by Wes Craven. I enjoyed the mix of traditional werewolf lore and modern day culture found in this movie. It centers around siblings Ellie and Jimmy Myers who have an accident on their way home. Descending a hill to see how the other driver fared, they are scratched by some sort of wild beast, a beast that violently kills the woman involved in the accident. Once home, Jimmy begins to investigate unidentified animal attacks which leads him to believe they had survived a werewolf attack. As the movie progresses, the werewolf symptoms become more evident and there is also a slight element of mystery since the victims all have one thing in common. It does contain gore, but I have yet to see a werewolf movie, or any monster type movie for that matter, that doesn’t. I think that there is a nice twist at the end, I know that when I first saw it, the werewolf was not the one I thought it was.

Silver Bullet (1985). Based on the illustrated novella Cycle of the Werewolf by Stephen King. Here siblings, Marty (Corey Haim) and Jane (Megan Follows) Coslaws, have a strained relationship which changes as a series of gruesome, violent murders begin to plague the small town of Tarker’s Mill. Fear conquers the townspeople until a curfew is put into place and the festival is cancelled. The Coslaws decide to have their own backyard celebration and the children’s uncle is invited. Uncle Red makes a motorized wheelchair (named Silver Bullet) for Marty and gives him a bag of fireworks. Marty takes his new wheels out for a spin one night, with the intention of lighting off his fireworks. It is at a bridge that Marty sees the werewolf. He escapes by chucking a firecracker at the beast which takes out one of the creature’s eyes. Without spoiling who the werewolf is for those of you have not seen the movie or read the book, I will say that Marty and Jane know who it is.

Other werewolf movies: American Werewolf in London (1981), American Werewolf in Paris (1997), Wolf (1994), The Wolf Man (1941), The Wolfman (2010).

Demons & Supernatural Entities

 Jeepers Creepers (2001). I love this movie. Siblings Trish and Darry Jenner are going home during college break, driving through the countryside. They are run off the road by a large, rusty truck with the license plate “B Eating U”. Trish and Darry try to first discover who or what the driver is, following the driver back to a large pipe. Shaken by what was found, they flee to a gas station intending to call the police and they receive a phone call from the local psychic. Shortly thereafter, it becomes apparent that the siblings are being hunted, well one is specifically, Darry. The Creeper seemed to enjoy the young man’s smell. For me the ending is both heartbreaking and very creepy.

Paranormal Activity(2009). Okay, I’m a sucker for mockumentaries and “found footage” movies. The Blair Witch Project, Monster and 7 Nights of Darkness. The last two I will discuss in my next post. This astounded a lot of people, it was the little movie that could, low-budget and filmed in a short period of time and brilliantly put together to for a movie that felt like it had actually happened. I went into watching the movie on the fence, not really expecting anything, although my parents who had watched it before I had the chance to, said that they didn’t care for it. I love it. A haunting-like experience has been happening to Katie and her boyfriend, Micah, decides to document the events and buys a camera, among other electronic devices all designed to catch the haunting in some form. He does not take this seriously, sometimes mocking and childish, other times angry and near the end he becomes scared. The acting is good here, they seem like normal people which makes it feel very real. The DVD has two endings. The theatrical one and then an alternative. It was the disturbing alternate ending that I first had seen.

Other demon/supernatural themed movies: Legion (2010), Wolfen (1981), Rosemary’s Baby (1968), Evil Dead (1981).

Creature Features: Stuff that I couldn’t fit into the above.

Jaws (1975). After watching this movie, I definitely fear getting into the water, even the man made lake not far from out house. Yes, I know that it is impossible for a shark to live in that lake (unless there happens to be a mad scientist who is genetically engineering great white sharks for fresh water living nearby) but still, the idea of getting into a body of water deeper than a bathtub, and murky water at that, is frightening. Based on the novel of the same name (yet another book to add to my growing list of to-reads) by Peter Benchley. If you haven’t seen this movie, see it. It is about an impossibly large great white shark that is plaguing the waters off a small island community, that is all I am saying. This movie contains many intense moments, and the musical score is legendary.

Alien (1979). This is a great sci-fi horror. A group of employees of the Weyland-Yutani Corporation are woken from stasis by the computer after it receives a distress signal. They land and explore the area, finding a room filled with eggs. One crew member (Kane) is attacked by a hatchling of an egg, the creature nestling over his mouth and nose while a evil-looking tail wraps around his neck making it impossible to remove by manual force. Ash, the ship’s Science Officer, tries to surgically remove the creature but is unsuccessful. The creature’s blood is made of acid. Eventually, Kane wakens, the creature having died and released its hold on him but not without leaving behind a gift for the crew of the Nostromo. My favorite character is, of course, Ripley. She is strong, intelligent and much braver than I would have been in that situation.

Other Creature movies: Predator (1987), Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954), Tremors (1989).

Horror Movies – Part 3

Standard

Slashers: The Monsters are…Human!

These are by far the most frightening due to the fact that the creatures that are causing so much fear and killing innocent folks are OTHER PEOPLE! This area of horror can be straightforward slash and gore or more psychological in nature.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre(1974). This movie was THE BIG MOVIE. It was often talked about as I was growing up, referenced by adults and older children that had seen it. Nothing was as scary as this movie because it had actually happened. It didn’t, but it became this sort of urban legend that endured due to marketing strategy. This movie has scared some people I know that don’t scare easy. All of that gave me high expectations of the movie when time came for me to watch it. I was not disappointed. It was scary. There is nothing quite like the sound of a chainsaw that can really make my blood run cold with terror. (Brief side note, one that is probably more interesting to the author of this post than to the readers: the first time I played Resident Evil 4 and encountered the village’s flour-bag-masked-chainsaw-wielding-doctor, I screamed like a little girl, dropped the controller and covered my eyes while Leon Kennedy promptly had his head removed by said chainsaw.) I do love the ending of this movie, the scene where Sally escapes in the back of a truck. I felt sorry for this girl who went through so much, and was very glad that she escaped with her life. Her companions did not fare as well.

The Strangers(2008). I don’t remember seeing this advertised at all. In fact the first time I did notice it was on a bargain shelf of a big box store. Ever on the look out for a good horror movie, I picked it up and read the back. And replaced it on the shelf. I had “seen” those movies, needless violence and gore, all for shock value. A couple of years later, I was discussing horror movies with a friend and she mentioned that there was a really good horror movie called The Strangers. We share similar tastes in scary movies so I thought that I should give the movie a proper chance. I am so glad that I did. It is one of my favorite movies. It’s subtle at times, eerie and foreboding, and atmospheric. It centers on two main characters who are going through a very difficult time in their relationship. James takes his girlfriend, Kristen, to his family cabin. It’s awkward between them and James calls his friend Mike to come pick him up since there is only the one vehicle and James doesn’t want Kristen to be stranded there. But Mike did not answer his phone and the message was left on his voicemail. Things start to get interesting when a knock sounds on the door sometime in the very early morning. It’s a young woman, her face obscured by the lighting, asking for Tamara. She leaves when Kristen and James says that she does not live there. After that, James leaves to pick up a pack of cigarettes for Kristen. From that moment on, they become plagued by a trio of masked, psychotic tormentors. Never once during the course of this movie do you see the assailants’ faces. They remain anonymous. I highly recommend this movie, it’s very well made and quite scary with little gore. Be sure to lock your doors before watching it, though. I know that the premise of this movie haunted me long after I watched it.

Them(2006, French-Romanian) Like the first two movies, this contains the “based on real events” tag, and this movie was also suggested to me by my good friend. This movie is very well made but since it isn’t in English, there is some distraction with subtitles. Lucky for me, I don’t mind subtitles (some of the movies I have really enjoyed have subtitles). It has a very surprising ending, that is all I am going to say and I know that it both shocked and horrified me. It is fast-paced, the running time is less than an hour and a half (in fact I think it is just a little over an hour total). It starts out with a mother and daughter riding along after dark. They are arguing and during the course of the argument, the mother crashes the car. There’s no cell service, and no way on that deserted county road, for them to get help immediately. They are almost playfully and invisibly attacked. The movie then goes on to concentrate on a school teacher, Clementine, and a night in her life. A night that is full of torment for her and her boyfriend. I won’t give anymore of this movie away. For those of you who loved The Strangers, this might be one you will enjoy as well. It has a similar atmosphere. I highly recommend seeing this.

Halloween(1978). The music scored by the movie’s director and co-writer, John Carpenter, is truly haunting and very appropriate for such a movie. It concerns Michael Myers who was put away when he was 6-years-old for killing his older sister. He escapes some fifteen years later to revisit the old homestead where he begins to stalk a baby-sitter, Laurie. A great movie which reminds me of those urban legends centered on the dangers of baby-sitting and “local killers escaping”. A horror movie classic, and a Halloween staple around here. It is, interestingly enough, one of the highest grossing independent films in history, and stars a then unknown actress, Jamie Lee Curtis.

Scream(1996). Very inventive while playing with common themes and elements from a long line of slasher movies. It contains a combination of horror and dark comedy and while being gory, frightening and tense, manages also to be funny and playful. There is also a wink to Freddy Kruger in one brief scene. The janitor mopping the floor is wearing a green and red striped sweater and is called either “Fred” or “Freddy” by the principal. The janitor is actually Wes Craven in costume, the film’s director. The main character is a high school student, Sidney Prescott. She is at times vulnerable and tough, and always intelligent.  I think she’s a kick-ass heroine. I remember being very impressed with Sidney when I first saw this movie. And every re-watch just reaffirms that admiration.

Other favorite slasher/human as “monster” movies:

Urban Legends(1998)

I Know What You Did Last Summer(1997) – Also written by Scream writer Kevin Williamson

Vacancy(2007)

Chernobyl Diaries(2012)

Silence of the Lambs(1991)

Horror Movies – Part 2

Standard

Return of the Dead – Zombies

I watched zombie movies when I was younger but it wasn’t until I grew a little older that my love for zombie movies really blossomed. It started innocuously enough. My brother bought Resident Evil the video game for the PS. He assured me that it was a really cool game, but it wasn’t really cool. It was AWESOME. It was like exploring a haunted house. And it was scary. I screamed and jumped, was killed by zombies (dogs, crows, and humans) and by Umbrella’s nefarious genetic experiments. From there, I went on to play Resident Evil 2 and loved exploring Raccoon City as both Claire Redfield and Leon S. Kennedy. Which naturally led to Resident Evil 3. So I had some familiarity of that world when the movie Resident Evil came out.

Resident Evil (2002). I do remember complaining that the mansion looked nothing like the grandiose edifice of the video game and was sorely disappointed that Jill Valentine was absent. Putting that aside, I enjoyed this movie from the first. Intensely creepy in many places, it also proved to be a sort of mystery as the main character, Alice, had lost her memory at the movie’s start. We don’t know much about her and are discovering the secrets of Umbrella’s Hive along with her. I still find the Red Queen very creepy, especially when she utters the line (and personally one of my favorite lines from the movie) “You’re all going to die down here.” I have enjoyed all the movies of this series. But the first is my favorite and, in my personal opinion, the scariest.

Night of the Living Dead (1968). I did not see this movie until three years ago and regret not having seen it sooner since it is a classic. I think that the strongest scenes are both at the beginning and at the end. It starts out with siblings, Barbara and Johnny, visiting their father’s grave. It isn’t until after the cross is placed on the grave that Johnny starts reminiscing about the past, and he says that Barbara had always been afraid of the cemetery. Out of a fit of playfulness, Johnny starts teasing Barbara. Shuffling behind them is a solitary man, which when Johnny spies him he says to his sister: “They’re coming to get you, Barbara. Look here comes one now.” She attempts to talk to the gentleman when she is attacked. Johnny comes to her rescue but loses his own life. The rest of the movie centers around the house Barbara escapes to, and she is joined by another zombie refugee, Ben. This is a great movie, and I recommend watching it at least once. I am not going to give away the ending for those of you who might not have seen it.

Zombieland (2009). A horror comedy. This movie concerns the world after a person who was infected with Mad Cow Disease and goes on to infect others and starts a zombie apocalypse. This is very much a journey type story. Each character is looking for something. Columbus is going home, worried about his parents. Tallahassee is on his own quest, he makes killing zombies his personal mission and he is searching for the last Twinkie. They encounter Wichita and Little Rock. The sisters had a history of conning their way through life. Eventually, the quartet travel together to go to Pacific Playland, a theme park. On this odyssey, they quarrel, and have fun, destroy a store and meet Bill Murray. Wichita and Little Rock leave to go to Pacific Playland, without Tallahassee and Columbus, which leads to a fight for survival. It is a great movie, both comical and horrific (I can so understand Columbus’s fear of clowns) and heart-warming in its own way. I recommend this movie for those who don’t like the more serious zombie movies and for those love zombie movies in any fashion.

Shaun of the Dead (2004). Another zombie comedy, this one a part of the Cornetto Trilogy by Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg. This movie is about a handful of survivors as the zombie apocalypse is happening. The plan is to hole up at Shaun and Ed’s favorite pub with Shaun’s ex-girlfriend and her best friends, and Shaun’s parents. There are tons of inside jokes, which can be found as a bonus material on the DVD. Interesting bits of trivia pop up while watching the movie. Shaun’s boss, who is absent, is named Ash after the character from the Evil Dead series. Most of the music has some sort of “dead” or “zombie” theme. One of my favorite scenes takes place in the pub when the jukebox starts playing Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now and a synchronized fight ensues. If you enjoyed Zombieland, you might enjoy this movie too.

The Serpent and the Rainbow(1988). This is a very interesting movie since it concerns the zombie origins in the actual world. It is based on loosely on the non-fiction book of the same name by Wade Davis, a ethnobotanist. The movie centers on the search for a drug that a pharmaceutical company wants to use as an anesthetic. While seemingly based on fact, it does touch on supernatural elements. I have only seen it just the once but I was very impressed with it. I remember wanting to see it when I was younger and had asked my mom who had seen it if it was something that I’d like. She didn’t think I would have since it was a huge departure from what I usually enjoyed. She was right, though. I don’t think I would have enjoyed it then, not when I was such a glutton for gore and special effects, and the obvious scare. Now that I am older, I find that my tastes have matured as well. That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy the movies I once did in all their gory glory (although not as much as I used to, I must admit), it means that I have a bit of a broader sense of what is scary.

Other favorite zombie movies: Dawn of the Dead (2004), Pet Sematary (1989), Army of Darkness (1992)