Category Archives: Lessons From Horror Movies

Tuesday Terror: Demonoid (1980)

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After a couple unwittingly releases an evil force, the wife searches for her now-possessed husband. Her efforts to thwart the demon’s plans don’t go unnoticed and soon she becomes a target. Can the wife find a way to send the entity back into the fiery depths of hell or will she get caught in the grip of evil?

In a lot of ways, Demonoid sounds like a typical horror movie. The trouble begins because a white couple doesn’t head the warnings of Mexican mine workers. The locals are just superstitious, you see. As owners of the mine, the couple decides to go deep inside in an attempt to shame the workers for their fear.

What happens when they stumble across several mumified corpses and an altar? They take one of the objects – a box – from the underground temple back home. After a few drinks, the husband decides to open the box; it appears to be full of sand. Little does he know that tampering wih the box has sealed his fate.

The unusual, fun part of this flick? These folks are being plagued and possessed by a demonic left hand. Imagine Thing from the Addams Family out of its box and roaming the streets for a host. Once this evil left hand is interlocked with the fingers of a human’s left hand – the party begins!

Some embrace the evil and give themselves over to it. Others fight against it. How do you get rid of an evil hand? You chop it off. Once you no longer have a left hand, the demon must be on its way. How do you defeat it? That’s quite a different matter.

One warning, the film begins with a bunch of people in pointy, hooded robes running through the mine. A woman’s clothes are ripped (her breast pop out), chained to the wall, yada yada. It very briefly resembles a horror-bdsm themed movie and feels out of place. It’s as if a producer realized they didn’ have any tits in the film and they needed to add an extra scene.

Full of dramatic chases and hand chopping, Demonoid makes absolutely no sense. Thankfully, it doesn’t have to – this is the 80s. 🙂

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Tip: Stop taking “random” objects from temples/burial grounds etc – especially if you don’t understand their significance.

Tuesday Terror: Dude Bro Party Massacre 3 (2015)

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Dude Bro Party Massacre 3 (there is no 1 or 2) is a parody of 80s slasher movies. A young man joins a frat to discover who killed his twin brother. The boys have a history of deadly pranks; could one of them have finally gone too far? Whoever the killer is, they aren’t finished. As dude bros begin disappearing and dying, just about everyone they come in contact with is a suspect.

Take a dash of Animal House (1978), cartoonish antics and a heavy sprinkling of blood/slasher and you get Dude Bro Massacre 3. Bleh.

An 80s movie with corny bits is nostalgic. A 2015 movie pretending to be an 80s movie is annoying. In movies where a group is stalked one by one, the group needs to have some character variation. One “dude bro” is fine. A whole frat house full of them is tedious. A real 80s movie would not commit this sin.

So, despite the buckets of blood, there’s no sense of satisfaction when one of these dudes dies. Oh, there’s a bunch of “bi” jokes and gay innuendo. It’s tired.

The kills are ridiculous, the reveal/explanation is preposterous and the final battle is uninspired – which is fine for an 80s horror movie. The problem? This movie just isn’t fun.

Tip: Avoid films with “Dude Bro” in the title.

Tuesday Terror: Demon Wind (1990)

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Cory is on a quest to reclaim his family’s land and discover the truth about their tragic past. The evil that plagued his ancestors has been waiting for him. Will Cory and his friends be able to survive the Demon Wind? ‬

This is the kind of movie where a main character gets every sign NOT to go to a place. His dreams warn against it, the locals warn against it, etc. The main character acknowledges that it could be dangerous but he just has to know the truth. Also, he never passes on the warnings to his friends so they can make an informed choice about following him into foolishness. Once they arrive at the forbidden place, the group spends the rest of the movie desperately trying to leave.

That’s the overall structure but the devil (ha!) is in the details. It’s as if the writer saw a bunch of horror movies and tried to stuff elements of all of them into this one. That Demon Wind is actually an evil fog. There’s a satanic cult and zombie demons. Two out of seven holy daggers show up. Evil children. A talking doll. A spell book. An explosive snow globe. A magician/karate master with fancy footwork. The kitchen sink.

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Okay – everything but the kitchen sink. Some of these bits happen in interesting ways. Others are just confusing. The group of friends is just demon fodder. After the first two are killed, two more show up the next day to replace them and edge up the body count.

Eventually, the big baddie reveals himself but it still takes Cory a moment to put up a decent fight. There’s a physical change that happens to Cory when he’s in battle mode that makes absolutely no sense. My best guess is that the design of the transformation was inspired by Alien Nation, a movie/tv show that came out around this time.

But is it entertaining? Yep.

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Tips:
*If you show up to a place and the first thing you see is a skeleton nailed to a cross, t’is a sign you should go home.
*Snow globes are dangerous – break only as a last resort.

Tuesday Terror: Tourist Trap (1979)

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I am out and about sightseeing which brings to mind a movie that scared the heck out of me when I first saw it- Tourist Trap.

I haven’t seen this film in a while but certain scenes are just seared into my teenage brain. Especially the ending.

If you know the basics ingredients of the plot, a familiar story starts to form in the mind of a horror fan. A wax museum / old mansion, a group of friends, car trouble… Still, there’s something unsettling about this movie.

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Anywho, while I’m avoiding rundown roadside attractions like Slausen’s Lost Oasis, check out the trailer for Tourist Trap:

Tuesday Terror: Queen Of Spades, The Dark Rite

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Russian teens gather in front of a broken mirror to evoke the spirit of the Queen of Spades. The kids soon discover that the Queen is no urban legend and she is now attached to them. Haunted and hunted by a vengeful spirit, can they find a way to escape from her clutches?

The Queen of Spades is the Russian equivalent of Bloody Mary. Grab a candle, get in front of a mirror, use lipstick to draw a door and steps, close your eyes and call her forth. If you are successful and she appears – congratulations! Now that you have summoned her, she can appear at will in other reflective surfaces. Eventually, she will cut your hair. Then, she will kill you.

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Why call her up in the first place? Teens will be teens.

Actually, what starts out as a teen horror flick transforms into a “father will do anything to save his daughter from the demon” flick. The Dad of the youngest girl is summoned to his (ex?) wife’s apartment because the kid is acting strange. He doesn’t believe his daughter at first. He thinks her friends put the idea in her head and her imagination is working overtime. He only recognizes the danger she is in when the Queen of Spades begins following him around, too.

(The girl’s mother disappears for a nice chunk of the movie. I assume she and the other missing guardians are working…)

The movie does do some interesting things. When it’s time to contact the spirit a second time, the kids gather around a walkie-talkie instead of a Ouija board. Rather than an internet search montage to find background info about the Queen or the ritual, this film does something a little old fashioned – a figure cloaked in shadow who gives them advice. Our shadow man has tangled with her in the past but didn’t score a clean victory.

Queen Of Spades has a problem with keeping the tension high. Here’s an example not related to the haunting. Dad is a mechanic who is using a client’s car to drive around. Early on in the film the client threatens to call the police and report the car stolen. It’s to show that the father is jeopardizing his business and freedom for the sake of his child. The car never gets returned but the threat just vanishes.

While not exactly by the numbers, this film was obviously influenced by a lot of other horror movies. The creature looks like an older version of Mama. The father goes on a “Ring” type of quest. How does he get cursed? By watching a video of the ritual. The writers also stirred in a little Exorcist for good measure.

Do you want to summon the Queen of Spades – the movie is missing part of the ritual but all the details are here. A word of advice, make sure you understand how to get rid of her before you call her.

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Tuesday Terror: The Monster Project (2017)

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A duo who creates fake ghost/monster hunting videos for Youtube comes up with a great idea: film a documentary about real people who believe they are monsters. They rope in two more folks (a fellow fighting drug addiction and an ex-girlfriend) and set out to interview a supposed tattooed vampire, a body-camera wearing skinwalker and girl possessed by a demon.

Did I mention this documentary was being filmed in a boarded up house that has been the location of satanic rituals?

The Monster Project spends a healthy time trying to establish characters and relationships to foreshadow upcoming conflicts, etc. The filmmakers weren’t that exciting – just love triangles and typical drama. I wish the film had spent more time getting to know the monsters outside of the house. It could have been a day-in-the life of these normal people who believe they harbor dangerous, terrifying secrets.

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Things don’t really get going until they get to the house where – aaahhh real monsters! Do you know the chase scenes from Scooby-Doo where they run from room to room? That’s what happens here with shrieks, gurgles, growls and bloodshed.

As a found footage film, there is an explanation – sort of – for the multiple points of view. The filmmakers have cameras, the house has cameras everywhere, etc. However, there is a scene that we get were a camera recording it is completely illogical. That was a distraction for me.

 

 

The ending is one that you may not see coming but the film does throw out a few clunky clues early on.

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Tip: Don’t work with your ex.

Note: There a completely unrelated organization called The Monster Project that encourages kids to “pursue their creative potential.”

Tuesday Terror: Friend Request (2016)

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You think you can ghost Marina? Unfriend her on social media, ignore her messages and FaceChats? You are an amateur; Marina takes ghosting to a whole new level. You’re not ready.

Let’s start from the beginning. Laura is a beautiful, popular girl with over 800 friends on a Facebook lookalike site. She’s also a good, kindhearted girl who magnanimously accepts a friend request from a Marina, a girl who (OMG! Can you believe it) has 0 social media friends.

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Unfortunately, Marina is tremendously clingy. She believes that this virtual like translates into real life best friends.

Laura is too nice to tell Marina to back off. She pretends that she’s too sick to have a birthday get together rather than telling Marina the truth. Of course, Laura’s real life friends document the festivities on social media. Then, all hell breaks loose.

A big stumbling block for this movie is the Facebook lookalike site everyone uses. At one point, Laura and friends desperately want to delete profiles or remove disturbing material from them but can’t. It’s incredibly easy to be suspended from Facebook. That these college aged people being helpless doesn’t ring true. IRL, those types of offensive post would have been taken down because of complaints.

So, Laura and the gang not being in control of their social media looks more incompetent than scary. To be fair, they do try to explain it but…eh.

It’s a bit of The Ring, with just a hint of Stay Alive. It’s has a nice surprise or two but don’t think about the plot after the credits.

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Tips:
*Why lie if your social medial timeline will give you away?
*Careful who you befriend on social media.
*Do you see ovaries in the 2nd poster…or is it just me?

Tuesday Terror: Rings (2017)

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The poster pretty much tells the whole story. Anywho…

In Rings, the third movie in the series, people watch a cursed video and get timely visits from Samara. To add a little spice to the plot, our lady of the well has hidden brand new images in the old video. Can Julia, our hero, figure out what they mean before her time runs out?

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The professor with his vcr.

This movie feels like two or three scripts spliced together. There’s the story of a professor who gets students to watch the video for an unethical/illegal research project. Then, there is the story of Julia – a girl who voluntarily watches the tape to save her boyfriend. The boyfriend is the bridge; he’s a student of the naughty professor.

The intermingling of the stories is very clunky. As a viewer, I had questions about the research project. How many students died on the 7th day? How many are being haunted at any one time? Are there variations in the terrorizing? One will never know. Instead of two parallel tales throughout the film, the professor angle ends abruptly and we are left with Julia’s story.

Unfortunately, the new clues lead to very familiar territory. Julia has interesting eyebrows though; they are trying to tell their own tale. My response to the big reveal at the end: “Oh.”

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Tip: Your lover is going away to college and leaving you at home? Save yourself trouble and break up with them.

Tuesday Terror: Little Evil (2017)

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Gary met, fell in love with and married Samantha. In addition to being a loving husband, he’s signed up to be stepfather to young Lucas. Lucas doesn’t want a new daddy and does everything in his power to drive Gary away. It sounds like a typical family comedy – except Lucas is powered by Satan – his birth father.

With Gary and other forces vying to win Lucas’ affection (and soul), can this family be saved?

Little Evil is a horror comedy that is heavy on the comedy and “eh” on the horror. It feels like a bunch of friends got together over a weekend or two and had a really good time putting this movie together. Will the viewer have fun? This is mostly a parody of The Omen, so how much you enjoy this movie may depend on your memory of the 1976 classic.**

Samantha’s backstory is pretty interesting; I  wish it was a bigger part of the movie. Besides ignoring most of the bad things her son does, she’s constantly encouraging Gary to try harder to “reach” Lucas. There’s not much else for this character to do.

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Gary is okay. Bland, but okay. It’s everyone around him that puts the zing into his life. Thankfully, he joins a stepdad support group which contains some colorful characters. They are the ones that help him cope and will be there when it’s time for the ultimate showdown with evil.

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Al, Gary’s coworker and fellow stepdad, is the one who introduces him to the group. Al is played by Bridget Everett and reminds me of a younger, less mature version of Dan Conner. Some articles reference Al as queer (butch lesbian, gender fluid, or a transman) and make a big deal about the character being fully accepted and respected by their male, (presumably) CIS gender peer group.

Except for a bit early on where Gary is trying to figure out which side of the “step” binary Al falls into, gender/orientation really isn’t brought up again. Is this revolutionary? Not to me but your mileage may vary.

If you are looking for a horror movie, look somewhere else. If you want a chuckle or two, Little Evil works.

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Tip:
*Before marrying the woman of your dreams, consider developing a relationship with your future step-demon.
*Take Your Demon-possessed Spawn To Work Day would be awesome.
*Satan is My Co-Parent is a book that would fly off of parenting/self-help shelves.

**I saw the 2006 remake of The Omen. Other than it’s release date – 06/06/06 – I can’t remember a thing about it.

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.

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