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Reed Alexander’s Horror Review of ‘Dark Waters’ (1994)

Nuns are fucking scary…

The opening of this movie sets the bar so low, you don’t expect much of this movie. That makes it pleasantly surprising that the rest of the movie is pretty good. Of course, the rest of this movie is still begging to be riffed, but it’s still a pretty good movie. The ending is a bit predictable, the practical FX are absolute garbage, and the rubber monster is downright silly, but everything else is okay.

The acting is better than can normally be expected for horror. Yeah, that’s not amazing or anything, but it’s not bad. The atmosphere is fantastic. They really pulled out all the stops on the set. I don’t know where they filmed, but it was pretty cool. It feels like there’s miles of underground chambers on the island. I think this was likely filmed on location, and if it wasn’t, the effort they put in to erecting the set is mindblowing.

The story was solid. As I said before, it was a bit predictable, but that’s not a huge problem. It’s angled as a Lovecraftian mystery, so most of it is making subtle discoveries till the end. I guess that means the ending isn’t a twist, but they should have made the clues a little more difficult to interpret. I pretty much had the whole movie figured out by the halfway mark. Again, not a total dealbreaker, but a four-year-old could have figured it out.

I really can recommend this. Keep in mind, it’s old and a bit silly, but it’s not bad and that’s enough. I REALLY recommend it for riffers. This shit was riffing gold!

SPOILERS!!!

The nun, Sarah, is the female lead’s sister. She’s working for an ancient demon to trick her sister back to the island, so the two of them can summon the demon. Everything starts when one of Sarah’s disciples tries to steal the pieces to an evil tablet and gets murdered by one of the nuns protecting it. So, of course, you think the nuns are this evil cult who worships this weird idol and practices unholy pagan rituals, but as it turns out, they’re actually zealot defenders, trying to prevent this ancient horror from getting loose.

Of course, that’s not the way their initially presented in the movie. They brutally murder Sarah’s friend, they try again and again to kill the female lead, they do all these weird creepy things, and then they burn down the village near their monastery and kill all the villagers. The movie does a pretty solid job of making them seem like the antagonists, but they’re actually the good guys—sorta.

I feel like this all could have been prevented if they just told the female lead to get lost. It’s their fucking island, they could just tell her to take the proverbial piss.

I also don’t understand why the nuns let the villagers live. The villagers are a part of this cult to summon the ancient horror, so why didn’t the nuns just murder all of them decades ago.

But yeah, Sarah is trying to use her sister to summon this demon. None of it is hard to figure out. You find out the lead’s mother never died, there’s all these missing memories from her childhood, she finds a photo of her and her sister when they were children, and she has a ton of flashbacks implicating her in the cult in some way. It’s kinda obvious.

It is fun and riffable though, so give it a shot.

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Reed Alexander’s Horror Review of ‘Leviathan’ (1989)

Greatest Bandwagon Movie in the History of Horror!

Decided to re-watch Leviathan.  I don’t know, I always have a soft spot in my heart for the monster movies from my childhood.  Or maybe that’s cancer… whatever.

You have to remember when you’re watching the 80s classics, even one that was on the cusp like Leviathan, they didn’t have a lot to work with.  CGI was brand new, seldom used, and total garbage.  80s horrors like this were all about the set and the practical FX.  That’s what made movies like The Thing and Pumpkinhead so brilliant.  All you got are camera filters, a smoke machine, and a rubber monster.  But, what they did with it was amazing.

What you’ll be shocked to find out about this gem, is that it actually has some pretty stellar actors, who were close to making the A list.  You’ve got my favorite Ghost Buster, Ernie Hudson.  You’ve got Robocop’s Peter Weller, Hector Elizondo, Daniel Stern, and Richard Crenna.  That’s a pretty amazing cast for a shit 80s rubber monster movie.  And, they didn’t stop at just the cast.  The writer gave them dialog that actually worked and felt natural.  It was frankly, brilliant!

Again, the set and practical FX, coupled with the cinematography, was just fantastic.  You can tell the underwater scenes are really just shot in a dark room through a blue filter.  But it works.  They didn’t have the kind of budget The Abyss had to rent a reactor stack and fill it with water.  The set was phenomenal.  It could easily be compared to 1979’s classic Alien.  The only thing that made it cheesy was the rubber monster and the some of the larger plot holes.

Any-who, it’s a late 80s movie so the tech is pretty cheap and their big rubber monster kinda silly. But, in those days it was THE SHIT!  You know what?  It’s also a lot better than some of the shit CGI monsters the industry has been spitting out lately.  Those are so cheesy it makes your head hurt.

Don’t come into this expecting Ridley Scott material.  What am I saying? After Prometheus, we can’t even expect Ridley Scott material out of Ridley Scott.  Just watch it for what it is; a pre-90s B horror.  If you like that sort of thing you will enjoy this.  After all these years I can give it a pass as one of the best creature features of its day and age.  It’s pretty fun and that’s all that really matters.


SPOILERS!!!

This movie was desperately trying to be The AbyssAlien, and The Thing, all wrapped into one.  That’s okay, I guess.  After Alien, there was a huge bandwagon through the 80s to ride its coat tails.  The Abyss was just about to be released and if you’re going to rip off both those ideas, why not go for broke and some how shoe horn The Thing in there.  This, unfortunately, lead to some plot holes based entirely on the setup.  If you remember from The Thing, you have to destroy it on a cellular level with fire.  Kinda hard to kill a monster with similar abilities while under the fucking ocean.  The crew keeps doing things like flushing it out into the water.  What exactly is that supposed to do?  It’s a fucking mutant fish person!

This blows open the biggest plot hole in the movie.  They discover a mutagen that turns people into fish mutants that was hidden in the vodka supply of a Russian ship called, The Leviathan.  They find out The Leviathan was sunk by the Russian military to kill the mutant fish people ravaging the ship.  Sooooo, their plan was to sink the mutant fish people into the ocean?  How come the ocean isn’t already fucking full of these things then.  They’re fish people that regenerate like fucking starfish.  You’re not sinking them, you’re sending them home.

But it gets dumber!  They find the body of a dead one and they’re like, “It must have starved to death.” Why?!  Did it forget how to fucking swim or something?  The best part is the ending, when they blow the mutant fish monster to pieces.  Is that supposed to be a happy ending?  This thing made more of itself when a limb turned into another one.  There are now half a dozen pieces of it just floating around.  That means anywhere from four to six new mutant fish people.  Love the ending line though “Say Ahh!” as he throws a mining charge in the creature’s mouth.

My biggest grudge though?  They killed off Ernie Hudson.  How you gonna kill my favorite Ghost Buster!  At least it wasn’t ‘Black Guy Dies First.’ That’s saying a lot for the 1980s.  They actually killed off two developed white characters, before killing off the first minority.

In the end, this movie is still fun and, I recommend it to horror heads as required viewing.

If you like Reed Alexander’s Horror Review, consider stopping by Horror.Media and donating by hitting the ‘Tip’ button. You can also support Reed by sharing his reviews on Facebook and Twitter.

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Reed Alexander’s Horror Review of ‘The Lords of Salem’ (2012)

Dear Rob Zombie… Lay off the brown acid.

Jesus Christ, Rob.  Was that real crack featured in this movie?  I need to understand what the fuck you were on.

Here’s the thing.  A lot of people complained about this movie being absolute trash.  It did have its problems, but it wasn’t half bad.  Most of my complaints are in singular scenes that were poorly executed, but not the over all story or cinematography.

It does go off the rails at the end.  The end is comparable to Beyond the Black Rainbow.  It’s freaky as hell, like an esoteric nightmare, and likely to produce a bad flashback.

The over all feel of the movie was pretty solid.  The atmosphere was on point, and they wasted no efforts on set design and camera effects.  They leaned heavily on practical FX which I deeply appreciate.  This did lead to one scene with practical FX so bad they were cringe worthy.  It was like something out of Troma Studios.  That’s okay for the Toxic Avenger, but not okay if you’re trying to do serious horror.

The acting was surprisingly good.  I’ve only ever seen Sheri Moon Zombie play Baby in House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects.  Both of those roles were ridiculously over the top, so it’s hard to judge her acting capacity.  And again, save one scene that was down right cringe worthy, she did a really solid job.

There’s a lot not to like about this movie, but over all it was worth the time I invested into watching it.  I guess, I can only recommend this movie to hardcore horror heads.  I almost want to consider it required viewing just because it’s kind of a fresh re-visitation of the 1960-70s cult horror that our culture is missing.  Honestly, I feel Zombie was onto something here.  Maybe this wasn’t quite it, but he should definitely keep exploring.  Fuck the haters.

SPOILERS!!!

There’s nothing new about the idea that the witches of the Salem witch trials were real witches.  Very recently I reviewed The Autopsy of Jane Doewhich delved into the same concept.  What sets The Lords of Salem apart from modern day takes on witchcraft, is its exploration of the classic horror approach to fear and sensation.  There are no jump scares, no really gory blood factories, none of that jerky or shaky motion nonsense.  Rather, there’s just a slow build of tension, leading to a sense of helplessness, followed by a downward spiral into madness.  This movie uses imagery and pace perfectly.

The story is really about the female lead (played by Sheri) being seduced by a coven of witches because she turns out to be the descendant of the Reverend Jonathan Hawthorn.  That’s the guy responsible for the Salem witch trials, for the hoes at home.  She’s a former addict, which makes her particularly susceptible to them, and this is apparently a part of a curse placed upon her family by the original witches of Salem a.k.a The Lords of Salem.  Bound in fate, the movie simply follows her seduction and personal decay, the purpose being for her to give birth to the antichrist… I think?  The ending is a little fuzzy.  She spits out a fucking demonic starfish, for fuck sake!

The major cringe worthy moments are the only detractors from this movie.  There’s a scene when the female lead communes with the baby she is destine to birth.  The rubber mutant baby costume is laughable at best; a fucking outright embarrassment to the rest of the movie is more accurate.  Sheri’s acting during this scene is the only place she truly falters, but who could blame her, I couldn’t take that scene seriously either.

Then there was the blowjob rape scene.  If it was conducted as a part of the female lead’s corruption, that would have been fine.  However, a priest violently assaulting and mouth fucking the female lead is only fit for trash grind house and the rest of this movie was very much above it.  The only reason to stoop to that level is to be intentionally provocative, but it just doesn’t fucking impress me.

The ending is a jumble of visual takes on the corruption of the female lead.  It seems to represent her giving in to the taboos of typical Anglo Christian sin.  For the most part it’s fine, but some of it does kinda come off like a silly metal video, rife with demonic visual scrambles.

Over all, most of its problems are forgivable and the movie it’s self not that bad.

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Reed Alexander’s Horror Review of ‘Flatliners’ (1990)

The Definition of Being Out to Get Yourself

I just found out there was a remake of this amazing classic, and I’ve never reviewed the original, so I decided to rewatch it… again.

What made this movie so amazing was how they took an old boring concept and made it new again. The idea that the dead don’t come back without consequence is as old as Merry Shelly. Actually, way older than that. We’ve always feared the dead. I think it’s primordial.

So the idea of killing yourself clinically, and using modern medicine to revive yourself was just an amazing new spin. Enticing a near death experience is something modern medicine has experimented with, but not by actually killing people temporarily. The fact that each character who attempts the flatline was legally dead makes this movie so damn exciting.  More on this later in the spoilers.

But look at the fucking cast: Kiefer Sutherland, Julia Roberts, Kevin Bacon, William Baldwin, Oliver Plat, and Kimberly Scott. Even the child actors didn’t suck. The acting is flat out spectacular. The plot and story are timeless with a modern twist. It’s deep, but not so complicated you can’t follow along easily. Finally, the atmosphere is dark, gritty, and palpable.

A movie you have to watch in the dark is always a win in my book.

I don’t really give a fuck what you think about the concept. This is required viewing for horror heads and good enough for a general audience. It’s not all about fucking gore, you know.

SPOILERS!!!

Your own sins are out to kill you! Now that’s not even a new concept. A lot of movies have tried manifesting personal sins against the main cast. But this one made them real and deadly. Kiefer Sutherland’s character is literally being hunted down by the kid he got killed when he was a kid. That’s just kinda fucking cool man. There’s more too it, of course, as Kevin Bacon’s character discovers you have to atone for your sin in order to get it off your back. Unfortunately, the “sin” of Kiefer Sutherland and Julia Robert’s characters are fucking dead. How do you seek forgiveness from the dead?

Well, as it turns out, for Roberts, it’s really her dead dad that wants forgiveness from her, and for Sutherland, he’s got to die to make the little prick happy. This leads to a really tender moment between Robert’s character and her dead dad, and Sutherland going flatline for 12 whole minutes. My only complaint here is brain death occurs six minutes after the heart stops, so Sutherland should have come back brain damaged.

While one character totally has his life ruined when his sin catches him out as a cheater, everybody survives… now, there’s a problem with that.

I don’t remember this movie ending with everyone surviving. Is there a director’s cut alternative ending I’m not aware of? In my memory, the cheater and Sutherland’s character both died. I very vividly remember a scene with Kevin Bacon trying to talk Kiefer Sutherland down from suicide, right before the the ghost kid fucking kills Sutherland by pushing him out of a very real tree. Not a dream tree from the movie I just watched.

I digress, it feels like a copout that nobody died. There should have been very serious consequences for the hubris of the experiment in order to make the story seem complete. The only person who actually suffered any consequences was the cheater when his fiancee dumped his ass. Is that all? I feel like him and Sutherland should have bit the bullet the way I described. Maybe I made the ending up in my head because I desperately wanted it to end that way.

Anyway, even though the ending is a total copout, the movie is amazing.

If you like Reed Alexander’s Horror Review, consider stopping by Horror.Media and donating by hitting the ‘Tip’ button. You can also support Reed by sharing his reviews on Facebook and Twitter.

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Reed Alexander’s Horror Review of ‘Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday’ (1993)

Man, I’m just a kid of the 90s…

Movie poster for Jason Goes to Hell

Again, not sure why this installment of the Friday the 13th (F13) franchise was so universally hated on.  In my review of Jason X (aka Jason in Space!) I mentioned fans of the franchise placed the original run on WAY too fucking high a pedestal. Five, in my opinion, is really the worst and it’s more about what it wasn’t than what it was.

You can see my review of Jason X at the link below…

Jason X: https://horror.media/reed-alexander-s-horror-review-of-jason-x-2002

But let’s go over the basics. Every single F13 movie had shit acting, shit plot, shit practical FX, shit story arch concepts (like the fucking psyonic chick, or the fact that number five was just a fucking copy cat), leaned desperately on gratuitous T&A, and save the first one, existed as a shameless excuse for a cash grab. And I loved every fucking one! I’m not going to fanboy about it all fucking day, I’ve beat that dead horse back to life and dead again in my last fucking reviews.

Anywho, let’s talk about what makes this movie special. It tried to establish what the fuck Jason is, to begin with. Is he a zombie? A construct, like a flesh golem? Recently, the Evil Dead people said Jason was a Deadite. However, this tries to sort of explain it as more demonic than anything else. I guess that also plays into the Deadite explanation. Either way, it gives us an interesting concept as to how Jason work, more of which I’ll get into in the Spoilers…

But yeah, there was nothing wrong with this movie as another installment of the same ol’ wacky F13. It’s got the entertainment value every single one of the other movies had (save number five. Fuck number five. Fucking copy cat).

So pull your purist head out of your fucking ass and enjoy the shit out of this F13.

SPOILERS!

So they start off by blowing Jason to smithereens. Kind of a fun start. The usual scantily clad beach bimbo turns out to be a plant for a sting operation. Jason goes after the bate and gets blown up. This is important because it answers the important question of what would happen if Jason was shredded to pieces. This is how we find out about the worm and the Voorhees curse. Now, we have to admit to ourselves at this point, that we’re looooosly stringing together a stream of shameless cash grabs, so coming up with a story arch that ties them all together is gonna be silly as all fuck.

Jason, in some sense, is a supernatural construct driven by a demonic worm due to the Voorhees curse. The only thing we can theorize is that grief-stricken Ms. Voorhees tried to resurrect her dead son, with black magic, or a deal with a demon, or some shit like that. Like the Deadites from the Necronomicon ex-mortis, they come back, but not the same, and completely fucking twisted.

So Jason has to be something along that line. When the worm thingy finally gets into the body of someone along the Voorhees line, it doesn’t make that particular relative become their own super-powered, undead, murderer. No, he turns back into an identical copy of the original Jason Voorhees, hockey mask included. That’s *jazz hands* magic! This is some straight up necromancy.

The only way to kill him? Some more fucking necromancy. Take special dagger, place in hand of Voorhees’ relative, stab Jason in the heart.

But we, as horror heads, all know what we got out of this movie more than another F13. We got a set up for the true final chapter in F13. Freddy vs. Jason! Right at the end, that special clawed glove comes out of the ground and grabs the hockey mask. You KNOW you squeed like the little fucking fan bitch you are! I know I did.

So yeah, you can’t claim to be a lover of the franchise and hate on Jason Goes to Hell. It’s every bit as good as the rest (and better than number five. Fuck number five.)

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Reed posts new review here every Wednesday. Be sure to check back regularly for new Madness Heart Press publications