Tuesday Terror: Trip To Bhangarh – Asia’s Most Haunted Place (2014)

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At a reunion, five friends decide to go to Bhangarh, a haunted fort. The place has such a bad reputation that visitors are required by law to leave by sundown. They return home and bring a curse back with them.

Trip to Bhangarh is neither a horror movie nor a thriller. Whoever categorized it as such on Netflix and IMBD is trolling horror fans.

This is a lackluster, Scooby-Dooish mystery/comedy. The musical numbers are fun but that’s it. The “strange” events that happen after the trip to suggest a curse are stupid. (Oh no, the sexy guy’s girlfriend broke up with him – what evil is this?!)

I stuck with the movie through the end and wish I could get that time back. When the evil doer is unmasked and explanations start flowing, sympathy for most of the main characters evaporates.

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Tip: Avoid this movie. Marvel at the video for Slow Motion.

Tuesday Terror: 6-5=2 (2014)

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A group of friends go on a hiking trip and discover that the physical challenges are the least of their worries.

6-5=2 is the Hindi remake of a similarly titled Kannada film. The story draws inspiration from The Blair Witch Project.

The film does something very smart. It opens with a journalist interviewing Raja, the lone survivor.The young man is traumatized and is handled very gently by the newscaster. The journalist explains that they found the video camera used on the trip and asks Raja’s permission to share the footage with the world. Like a crime program on the ID channel, it gives the “found” video more of a documentary type of feel.

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Once the movie switches over to the footage, I almost turned it off. The men of the group are annoying when they “prank” each other. Imagine waking up one morning, peaking out from under the covers and finding a butt/anus hovering over you. Yeah. Once they start the journey in earnest, there’s no time for crude jokes.

After a long day of trekking through the forest, the group is tired and decides to set up camp for the night. Two guys go to gather firewood and come across a tree that is full of human skulls and voodoo dolls. What do they do next?
1) run back to the group and insist they camp somewhere else
2) grab a skull and take it with them
3) cancel the remainder of the trip and start walking back down the trail
4) pull out a phone and see if they can find info about the tree on the Internet

Did you pick 2? You are correct – they bring it back to the group and explain where they got it. No one freaks out about the tree full of skulls.

After this, nothing goes right for our friends. The group gets lost, their provisions get burned up and a malevolent force closes in on them.

Oh well.

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Tip: Don’t disturb human remains.

Tuesday Terror: Bedeviled (2016)

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Five teenage friends download Mr. Bedevil, a personal assistant app. This sassy, creepier version of Siri is actually a portal for a supernatural entity that takes issue with people who over-indulge in social media. Mr. Bedevil knows all of their childhood fears and jumpscares them to death.

Even though the teens have different fears (clowns, ugly teddy bears, grandma, etc), the deaths feel a bit repetitive. The victim is always alone in a place that has little in the way of light, there’s some teasing (a noise, a shadow) and them bam! I would have liked more scenes with the spirit haunting them in daylight.

No, you can’t just delete the app from your phone. Destroying your phone won’t work either. The movie offers several ideas for the why behind the evil app. I would have liked to seen this fleshed out a little more.

It’s a decent enough teen-scream flick. This is a nice appetizer before your main horror flick.

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Tip: Stop downloading strange apps; you’re going to get a virus.

Tuesday Terror: Temple (2017)

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Three Americans visiting Japan decide to find an ancient temple with a troubling history. Almost everyone they encounter tells them not to go. Guess what? They find it and trouble.

Our trio consists of Kate (the beautiful), James (the jealous, yet unfaithful) and Christopher (the troubled). Kate and James are a couple. She and Christopher have been plutonic friends since kindergarten. James and Christopher are meeting for the first time. While the men are passive-aggressively challenging each other, Kate smiles her way through.

Take this relationship drama and drop it in a dark forrest with a haunted temple and you get a thimbleful of potential and a bucket of disappointment.

The movie uses a familiar narrative frame: a person is being interviewed by police about the events of the past few days because something bad has happened. The survivor/suspect has bandages all over their face – which one of our three main characters can it be? I won’t spoil it, but the answer isn’t too hard to figure out.

For every attempt at misdirection, there”s a huge clue pointing squarely at the culprit.

The story is lacking in a few other ways. For example, Kate’s is supposed to be visiting various temples for a class/research but she doesn’t act like it. She shows up with no plan, no list of temples to visit and no Japanese language basics. How do they find out about the temple? By flipping through a book at a random store.

Once the action gets into full swing at the temple (if takes our friends a while to get there), we are suddenly presented with several supernatural baddies. We are on the cusp of excitement! Then, despite an unexpected turn of events, the ending falls flat.

How to explain the ending without giving it away…

Imagine watching a show featuring an inexperienced magician. He’s earnest and easy on the eyes, so you overlook the extra card falling out of his sleeve. You smile politely when he accidentally drops the wand. For the last trick, all he has to do is pull a rabbit out of a hat. You can tell something is wrong; he’s hesitating.

Suddenly, a fire alarm goes off and everyone starts running. On your way out the door, you look around and realize the magician is still on the stage. He is smiling, relieved. The hat has toppled over and no rabbit is inside.

This is what Temple is like – a magic act that substitutes an abrupt ending for a real finale.

Tip: Night time in the woods is not a good time to have a heart to heart with your boyfriend.

Tuesday Terror: A Christmas Horror Story (2015)

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Once a month, Graveyard Shift Sisters hosts #FridayNightHorror – it’s an extremely fun live-tweet of a horror movie. This month’s selection was A Christmas Horror Story.

This anthology movie has a variety of horror baddies woven together like a scarf: Krampus, evil elves, angry ghosts, teens who make stupid decisions, families whose dramas are propelled by trauma and William Shatner.

All of the characters in A Christmas Horror Story are on team bad decisions but not annoyingly so. Some of the tales may have you re-thinking the way you interpret traditional Christmas stories. This isn’t really a gory movie, but there is a moment or two that’s uncomfortable.

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The scariest part of the movie? A black family in the woods – trespassing – to get a tree. The red flags were waving red flags here. (Yes, the wife tries to be the voice of reason; love with make you go along with things.)

In the big showdown between Santa and Krampus – you win. Trust me on this.

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Tips:
*If you hear William Shatner on the radio, just skip the holiday. Everybody doesn’t need to celebrate Christmas.
*You’ve spent the whole year being naughty? Suddenly doing the right thing may get you into heaven. Krampus don’t care.

Tuesday Terror: Jigoku/Sinners Of Hell (1960)

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Have you ever had a day where every decision you make is a bad one? The shortest line in the grocery store turns out to have a cashier who is hungover and no longer sure how to work the register? Get bluffed out of a winning poker hand? Did you take a shortcut that made you 45 minutes late? This is the movie for you!.

Meet Shiro, a man who wants to be honorable but has a knack for making the wrong decision. The man attracts death; he puts Jessica Fletcher to shame.

Shiro has been courting Yukiko, the daughter of one of his teachers. Just as the professor is giving the couple his blessing to wed, evil asshole Tamura pops in to cast his nasty shadow on the event.

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Tamura gives Shiro a ride home. Along the way they run over a man and flee the scene. To be fair, Shiro does want to stop but he’s not the driver, so… Once Shiro discovers the victim has died, he decides to go to the police with Yukiko and tell the truth. She wants to walk to the station; he insists on taking a taxi. The cab crashes, killing Yukiko.

Guilt ridden, Shiro visits his parents in a rundown nursing home. Meanwhile, the two deaths have also destroyed other lives. Loved ones of the dead seek out Shiro for their own purposes. Then, Tamura shows up. Lies, deception and anger swirl around propelling everyone into a living hell.

When Shiro dies, it is revealed that the torment he has suffered on Earth is only an appetizer.

The Buddhist version of Hell (aka Jigoku) is gory. Bodies get sawed in half, teeth get smashed in, etc. However, these are 1960 effects. Some may find this depiction visually disturbing, but it’s not vomit inducing torture-porn.

What’s worst than the physical torment? Characters who lied while alive are propelled to tell the truth.

Watch this movie and get your eternal life together.

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Tips:
-Your evil friends are not your friends. They will turn the poison on you eventually.
-Seriously, get your life together.

Tuesday Terror: The Snake Woman (1961)

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In ye bad ole days (early 1900s), a small English town is hit be a wave of deaths via snakebite. Could the local myth of a beautiful but deadly serpent girl be true? Well, duh! This film is about educated medical men finally catching up with local and folk wisdom; it just takes a death or ten for them to figure it out.
As our story opens, we learn that a scientist has been treating his wife with snake venom for an unspecified illness. The woman is afraid this cure is having a detrimental effect on her unborn child. The husband dismisses her concerns.
When the baby is born (the mother doesn’t make it), the midwife knows something is unnatural about the child. The infant is cold and never closes her eyes – traits of a snake. She believes the baby is evil and should be killed.
The scientist/husband and the doctor, however, are fascinated by this and want to keep the baby alive to study it. As the mid-wife rallies the townspeople to action, the men flee with the baby. They almost immediately give it to a stranger to raise.
From here, our were-snake grows up on the outskirts of the village. She attacks people for the hell of it. Luring men and boys close while in human form, she transforms into a giant snake and sinks her teeth into them. We don’t see any of the murders – this is a 1961 film – but reactions from townspeople suggests the deaths are horrible.
Meanwhile, a hip, new man of science in the village. Eventually, he’ll come to realize that the midwife and townsfolk aren’t superstitious fools.
There are so many unanswered questions: why does the snake woman wear clothes? Is she slithering down to the village at night and stealing the latest fashions? Perhaps she’s robs women…is frock-jacking a thing?

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Tip: Sure, follow that sexy, mysterious women into the woods. Make sure your have your affairs in order first.

Tuesday Terror: Graveyard Shift (1990)

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The small town in Stephen King’s Graveyard Shift is way too small. You can’t take two steps out of the house without running into one of your coworkers. The bully that mouths off at you during break is ready more than happy to continue pressing your buttons at the local diner.

And working at the textile factory is terrible. It’s a hard, dangerous job in a dying industry. Whether you are a secretary or a feeding cotton in a machine, you must deal with rats – both the human and animal variety. Warwick, the boss, is mean, petty and vengeful. Embarrass him or turn down his advances and he’ll get even. The problem is that he walks the same rat-infested hallways as his employees. What’s the good of having power if you can’t intimidate people?

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The factory building itself is an inspection away from being condemned. It should be boarded up or burned down. Warwick’s plan to keep the doors open involves assembling a crew to clean out the rat’s nest basement. Honestly, the workers are so accustomed to rats – killing them is child’s play. Those little creatures are the least of their problems.

Now, you may ask yourself how does a textile factory get over-run with rats? What has drawn them there? What are they eating? Well, let’s just say a cemetery is involved.

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The movie is slow in bits but just when you are tempted to turn away there’s a ghastly accident or glimpse of the main monster. It’s also a bit bloody and gory in parts. I can easily see this working as a remake – perhaps set in a factory farm.

If you are mind to do a double feature, I suggest pairing Graveyard Shift with The Mangler. Though one is a creature feature and the other deals with demonic possession, they are both explore themes about industry in small towns.

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Tip:
Don’t be Carmichael, the black guy who is fated to die once he accepts an assignment in the basement. The question is who will make the kill – human or a critter?

Tuesday Terror: The Haunting of Julia (1977)

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(aka Full Circle)

After her young daughter dies, Julia leaves her husband and old life behind. Starting over isn’t easy; Julia has a sense that she’s not alone. Could the disturbances be a manifestation of her guilt? When a seance opens the door to a past mystery, Julia knows she won’t have peace until she solves it.

Mia Farrow is great in this role. She is vulnerable and scared but still determined to have control over her life. Most of the people she interacts with are haunted in some way. There are no standout special effects here; the creepiness and dread emanates from the surroundings and the characters themselves.

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From a modern stand point, the daughter’s death is preventable. The girl begins choking at breakfast. The parents frantically try to save her and try everything except the Heimlich maneuver. I did a little research and discovered that the Heimlich maneuver was first introduced in 1974; however, it didn’t become the 1st course of action for conscious choking victims until 1986.

After trying to dislodge the object with her fingers doesn’t work, Julia picks up and knife and tries an emergency tracheotomy. Would the child have lived if she had waited a few moments for emergency services? Or was the tracheotomy the only chance for survival? This is the guilt and fear that Julia carries on her like a shroud—even when she pretends it isn’t there.

If you are looking for a dark drama were the horror elements creep in, check out The Haunting of Julia.

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Tip:
Deal with your own ghosts.

Tuesday Terror: Day Of The Animals (1977)

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A group nature hike turns deadly when the animals turn into rage machines. Contending with the crazed beasts requires group unity, but ego and pride make that impossible.

This is a man-f*cked-up-the-environment-and-nature-strikes-back movie. It’s a warning for aerosol can spraying heathens to get their lives together:

This motion picture dramatizes what COULD happen
in the near future IF we continue to do nothing to
stop this damage to Nature’s protective shield
for life on this planet.

Here’s the film logic behind the disaster: thanks to the hole in the ozone layer, the levels of ultra violet radiation are rising and driving the animals mad. (I asked a scientist about this possibility and she’d never heard of such a thing.)

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It’s also important to note that the animals don’t attack each other. Rather, different groups coordinate to attack the human intruders. This movie reminds me of The Warriors in a way – as the hikers try to make their way through the mountain, they encounter animal “gangs” – the wolves, the mountain lions, etc.

People in the valley are having a tough time too. There’s a rat attack that is sure to have your skin crawling.

The hiking group is diverse in a way that would please the director of diversity at Apple: a former NFL player referred to as “the cripple”, a Native American (who senses danger before the others), the ranger, an asshole business executive, a mother and her pre-teen son, a new couple, a bitter couple, a professor and a blonde news anchorwoman. Even without the extra radiation, the hiking trip sounds like a bad idea. The original plan was to spend two weeks hiking and camping with no weapons and limited food.

Paul, the business executive, is played by Leslie Neilson. Be warned: he’s not playing a comedic character. He’s the guy who immediately strikes up a conversation with the Native American and starts throwing “kemosabi” around. It’s all jokes until the animals start hunting them down.

Convinced he’s the smartest man around, Paul challenges the guide’s leadership. The group splits in two. Guess who becomes more vicious than the wolves? Once he is in charge, Paul gets to act out his Lord Of The Flies fantasies.

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The other faction is much more cooperative. There are moments of bravery and self-sacrifice. The animals pick a few off from each group, but they don’t have to worry about a human villain.

Heavy drama mixed with savage animal attacks – this movie is a winner.

Tips:
*The racist is a sexist, trust me on this.
*Dogs are just pretending to be goofy and lovable – they hate you. They really,
really hate you.
*House cats are indifferent to your existence no matter the UV levels.

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