4 Shots From 4 Films: Goodnight Mommy, Bone Tomahawk, Let Us Prey, Starry Eyes

The month of October is winding down and I still have a stack of horror films to watch. To say I’ve been lagging behind on my horror-related entertainment would be an understatement. Yet, I’ve still been able to catch several horror films that tells me that all the doom and gloom that the current state of horror is running out of ideas.

The four shots chosen from four horror films I’ve witnessed this month run the gamut of Cronenbergian body-horror mashed together with some Bentley Little-style narrative, a disturbing little family horror piece from Austria, a siege horror with major Biblical overtones right up to that rare sighting of a great horror western.


Goodnight Mommy (dir. by Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala)

Goodnight Mommy (dir. by Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala)

Bone Tomahawk (dir. by S. Craig Zahler)

Bone Tomahawk (dir. by S. Craig Zahler)

Let Us Prey (dir. by Brian O'Malley)

Let Us Prey (dir. by Brian O’Malley)

Starry Eyes

Starry Eyes (dir. by Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer)

Hallmark Review: The Good Witch (2008, dir. Craig Pryce)


Prior to watching this I had only seen the last four Good Witch films they’ve made. The difference is night and day. Sure, this movie also has Catherine Bell looking gorgeous in well chosen outfits, but that’s all it shares with those last four movies. This one has a believable romance, it has an explanation for why we really never see her do magic, and most importantly, it has an actual plot. You’d think that last thing would be a given, but it’s sorely missing in the last four films. Honestly, the only thing I can think of that I didn’t care for was the daughter.


They make her up and dress her in the little girl equivalent of the little boy who goes around dressed like Rambo. I get it, you’re a little girl. Enough with the colors and blonde hair. I’m in no way confused about her gender. Very minor complaint, but in a movie that dresses the other actors appropriately,  including her brother, it feels a bit much. They probably felt they needed to make her look as kiddy and vulnerable as possible to have her asking Cassie (Catherine Bell) about being scared about monsters and later, bunnies.

Let’s talk about the movie now. The movie begins in the little town where all these movies take place, and we meet Jake Russell (Chris Potter) who has two kids and a wife that was killed off by being a spouse in a Hallmark movie. Jake also lives with his Irish father who will remind you numerous times that he is Irish. Then there’s Martha Tinsdale (Catherine Disher) who is the local busy body. If this took place in the 1980s, then she would be trying to get Huckleberry Finn banned in schools. She’s that type. That’s when the kids walk by an old, and thought to be, abandoned house. Enter Casie Nightingale!


She really is an incredibly gorgeous woman. Luckily, she can also act and is perfect for this role. In previous reviews I compared her to Terry Farrell who played Jadzia Dax on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and that’s still true. They are both very pretty girls who do an excellent job of playing a character that simultaneously carries a wisdom brought on by many years, but without somehow transcending being a regular human being.


That’s the look of an actor who just realized he is working with a woman who looks like Catherine Bell. Jack here is the local sheriff and was asked to check out the house because everyone thought it was abandoned, but seemed to be suddenly occupied. These three screenshots sum up the remainder of this movie.




The first screenshot is of a woman who Cassie sells an aphrodisiac to at her shop called Bell, Book, and Candle. An aphrodisiac that apparently works because she comes back begging for more. In other words, Cassie does have some useful things to sell the people in the community. Thus, her business has a purpose other than just to simply make her a fixture in the community by having her own a business.

The second screenshot is of the son when he follows some advice of Cassies. Her instructions are a bunch of bullshit. She just totally made it up and sold it with her charm. It was just a way to convince the son to do something he was perfectly capable of doing himself and in no way needed supernatural forces to make happen. That’s one of the best things about this film. We almost never see her actually do anything remotely magical because she’s smart enough to know that most things can be resolved through practical means. And that the people involved will be a whole lot better off making it happen themselves, then her twitching her nose or something.

The third screenshot is the culmination of the busy body’s activities to try and drive Cassie out of the community because you know, she’s a witch! These two kids vandalize her place.

Jack and Cassie coming together occurs naturally around her becoming a valuable member of the community, her being wonderful with his kids, and that he keeps finding out how great a person she is in contrast to what the community is saying.

I guess there is one other little problem I have. The relationship feels a little one-sided. Like he fell in love with her, and that’s what she wanted him to do. And this final shot of the film doesn’t help.


Maybe the sequel explains this. Just as I swear “all streams lead to the toilet” is a saying in Computer Science. Apparently, all movies eventually wind up in front of my eyeballs.

The TSL’s Daily Horror Grindhouse: The Hollow (dir by Sheldon Wilson)


So, earlier today, I finally got around to watching the latest SyFy original film, The Hollow.  (The Hollow originally aired last Saturday but I missed it because I was going from Halloween party to Halloween party, wandering around in chilly and wet weather without much on and eventually coming down with a cold as a result.)  Now, it may seem strange to review a made-for-TV movie as a part of a series of grindhouse film reviews but, much like They Found Hell, The Hollow probably would have played at the grindhouse if there was still a grindhouse around for it to play at.

As for the film itself, it was a story of death, curses, family dysfunction, and sisterhood.  The Hollow takes place on Shelter Island.  To be honest, just the name Shelter Island should let you know that something bad is going to happen.  I mean, Shelter Island sounds too similar to Shutter Island for it to be a totally safe place.  One hundred years ago, a legendary storm wiped out the island’s population.  Over the century, the island has recovered and new people have moved in.  But now, another storm is threatening to hit and that storm is bringing a curse with it!  Soon, the island will be attacked by monsters that appear to be made out of dirt and fire…

Of course, the monsters aren’t the only ones coming to Shelter Island.  There are three sisters as well — Sarah (Stephanie Hunt), Marley (Sarah Dugdale), and Emma (Alisha Newton).  Coming from a dysfunctional family, they’re planning on spending Halloween in a cabin on the island and working on their fractured relationship.  Unfortunately, those plans are interrupted by the arrival of the monsters.  As the sisters try to find some way to get off the island, Emma suddenly vanishes.  Sarah and Marley search for her, while dealing not only with the monster but also with other survivors, some of whom are more helpful than others.

I actually really enjoyed The Hollow.  Why?  Well, it all comes down to three things:

Number one, Shelter Island was extremely creepy!  This film is full of images of characters running through a seemingly endless forest, with all the trees enshrouded by a thick fog.  Director Sheldon Wilson took full advantage of the menacing possibilities of his location.  When it comes to a horror film — especially a low-budget one — never underestimate the importance of atmosphere.

Number two, the monsters were genuinely scary and well-done.  You never knew where they were going to suddenly show up and, as a result, you were kept off-balance throughout the entire film.

Finally, the main reason I enjoyed The Hollow was because Stephanie Hunt, Sarah Dugdale, and Alisha Newton were perfectly cast and believable as the three sisters.  I’m the youngest of four sisters and, needless to say, there were many scenes to which I could relate.  Since you believed their relationship and cared about them as characters, this brought a bit more depth to The Hollow than you might otherwise have expected.

The Hollow was a nice surprise.  Keep an eye out for it on the SyFy channel.

Horror on TV: Baywatch Nights 2.21 — “The Vortex”

On tonight’s horror on TV, we present the next-to-last episode of Baywatch Nights.  In this episode, David Hasselhoff and Angie Harmon visit a Native American fortune teller (Floyd “Red Crow” Westerman) and end up entering a vortex that sends them into the future.  They then watch as their future selves investigate something weird that happened on a ship that’s just arrived from the Amazon.

This is a very weird episode and it originally aired on May 9th. 1997.

Horror Film Review: Prom Night IV: Deliver Us From Evil (dir by Clay Borris)


From the minute I learned that Val would be reviewing Prom Night III: The Last Kiss, I knew that I simply had to rewatch and a post a review of Prom Night IV: Deliver Us From Evil.  I mean, considering that I had already reviewed the original Prom Night on this site, it only made sense.  Now, I just have to convince Leonard to review Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II and Leon The Duke to review the Prom Night remake and we’ll have the whole series covered!

Anyway, most reviews of Prom Night IV: Deliver Us From Evil will tell you that it has absolutely nothing to do with any of the other Prom Night films but that’s not quite true.  For one thing, all five of these films take place on Prom Night!  Also, they all deal with students who go to Hamilton High School.  Now, seriously — considering how many proms at Hamilton have ended in death and disaster, you would think that the school would just stop having a prom.  Obviously, that wouldn’t be a popular decision but lives are at stake!

Like Hello Mary Lou and Prom Night III, Prom Night IV also opens with the 1957 prom.  Now, of course, the 1957 prom was famous for the fiery death of Mary Lou Maloney but apparently, that wasn’t the only death that occurred that night.  While Mary Lou was getting ready to be named prom queen, two other students (one of whom is named Lisa — agck, it always freaks me out when a slasher movie victim has the same name as me!) were making out in the parking lot.  When a homicidal priest named Father Jonas came across them, he stabbed them to death a sharpened crucifix.

35 years later, Father Jonas is hidden away in a church basement.  He’s kept in a drug-induced coma.  Father Jaeger (Kenneth McGregor) is his guardian but when the Jaeger passes away, the young Father Colin (Brock Simpson) takes his place.  Foolishly, Colin decides not to give Jonas his daily injection.  Jonas wakes up, murders Colin, and then sets off for his old church.  While Jonas is out murdering sinners, the Cardinal tries to cover up any evidence of his existence.

(In case you hadn’t guessed, Prom Night IV is probably one of the most anti-Catholic films ever made.  That said, speaking as someone who was raised Catholic, I was never really offended by the movie.  I mean, it featured a killer priest and a sinister Cardinal but it would still be wrong to mistake Prom Night IV for a Luis Bunuel film.)

What Jonas doesn’t know is that the old church is now a summer home.  Four teenagers — virginal Meagan (Nikki de Boer), her boyfriend Mark (J.H. Wyman), his best friend Jeff (Alle Ghadaban), and his girlfriend, the adventurous Laura (Joy Tanner, who later played Fiona and Declan’s mom on Degrassi) — are spending the night at the house.  After all, who wants to waste prom night by actually going to the prom?  Mark’s younger brother, Jonathan, is also hanging around outside the house, secretly filming everything that happens inside.  Or, at least he is until Jonas shows up and kills him.

There really aren’t any big surprises to be found in Prom Night IV but the film is still a step above the average slasher film.  Director Clay Borris keeps the action moving and does a good job maintaining a properly evil atmosphere.  Some of the shots of the snow falling over the isolated house are actually quite stunning.  As played by James Carver, Jonas is a truly menacing and ruthless villain.  Seriously, Jonas is so mean!  Even the fact that he utters a few regrettable one liners does nothing to diminish Jonas as a threat.

Prom Night IV may be missing both Jamie Lee Curtis and Mary Lou Maloney but it’s still a surprisingly effective little horror film.  And remember —

It’s not who you come with … it’s who takes you home.

Prom Night … everything is alright…

Halloween Havoc!: Boris Karloff in THE MUMMY (Universal 1932)

cracked rear viewer


Boris Karloff is as slow and still as death itself in THE MUMMY. His performance as Ardeth Bey/Imhoptep conveys the horror of a living dead man with the romance of a love across the ages. This Mummy isn’t just a shuffling instrument of some High Priest; Imhotep was a High Priest himself, brought back to half-life by foreign interlopers and now searching for the woman he lost 3700 years ago. Aided by two of Jack Pirerce’s fantastic make-up jobs, Karloff brought all his sinister power to the role and created yet another masterful characterization that still frightens audiences today.

A British Museum expedition in 1921 digs up the sarcophagus of Imhotep, high priest of Karnak who, according to the hieroglyphics, was buried alive for committing sacrilege. A smaller box comes with an ominous warning: “Death, eternal punishnet, for anyone who opens this casket…Amon-Ra”. While Sir Joseph Whemple and occult expert Dr. Muller discuss the ramifications…

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Horror on The Lens: The Maze (dir by William Cameron Menzies)

For today’s Horror on the Lens, we offer up The Maze, a film from 1953 that originally released in 3D.

Directed by noted set designer William Cameron Menzies, The Maze is an atmospheric haunted castle story, one that will prevent you from ever looking at a frog the same way again.  A few months ago, I watched this with my friends in the Late Night Movie Gang and we all greatly enjoyed it.

As I watched The Maze, I couldn’t help but think about some of the truly impressive hedge mazes that I made in my Sims game.  Of course, I always placed some fireworks at the end of the maze, which, unfortunately, often led to both the maze and my sims being consumed by fire.  Oh well.

Anyway, enjoy The Maze!

Halloween Film Review: Highway to Hell (1991, directed by Ate de Jong)

Highway to HellHighway to Hell, a low-budget take on the legend of Orpheus, opens with a young couple, Charlie (Chad Lowe) and Rachel (Kristy Swanson), driving to Las Vegas so they can elope.  When they stop to get gas, Sam (Richard Farnsworth) warns them not to drive on the back roads at night.  Charlie ignores him and the couple continues to drive through the desert until they are suddenly pulled over by Sgt. Bedlam (C.J. Graham), a scarred and mostly silent demon who is also known as the Hellcop.  The Hellcop drags Rachel out of the car and then vanishes with her.  Charlie returns to the gas station, where Sam tells him that Rachel has been kidnapped to Hell and will become Satan’s latest wife.  After Sam gives him a shotgun and a car, Charlie heads into Hell to rescue Rachel.

Charlie discovers that Hell is even stranger than he was expecting.  The highways are full of VW bugs and motorcycle gangs.  Charlie passes a road crew made up of Andy Warhol look-alikes.  (In a clever touch, they also work for the Good Intentions Company.)  When Charlie stop to pick up a hitchhiker (played by Lita Ford), he is suddenly attacked by a crazed ice cream man.  Occasionally, a friendly mechanic (Patrick Bergin) shows up and helps Charlie out.  The mechanic’s first name is Beezle.  Did you already guess that his last name is Bub?

There are parts of Highway To Hell that do not work.  Chad Lowe seems lost as Charlie and Highway To Hell’s abrupt ending feels like it belongs in a totally different film.  But Highway to Hell has enough odd characters and weird moments to make it worth watching.  For instance, I liked the scene where the Hellcop stops off at a roadside diner that is full of zombies.  Anne Meara plays the counterwoman who won’t stop talking long enough to take anyone’s order.  (It is Hell, after all.)  Jerry Stiller shows up as another cop and, finally, Ben Stiller plays a short order cook who won’t stop yelling.  Ben Stiller actually plays two roles in this movie.  Later, he shows up as Atillia the Hun, eating breakfast with Hitler (Gilbert Gottfried!) and Cleopatra (Amy Stiller).  Hitler tries to convince them that he is actually a teenager named Bob and that he was sent to Hell accidentally.

Despite the film’s title, AC/DC is nowhere to be heard on the Highway to Hell soundtrack, which is obviously a missed opportunity.  In fact, with the exception of Lita Ford’s cameo, there is no metal to be found in Hell which seems strange considering that this movie was made in 1991.  Music aside, Highway to Hell is an entertaining journey into the underworld.