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Reed Alexander’s Horror Review of ‘White Noise’ (2005)

‘Stir of Echos’ with EVP

After a string of embarrassingly low budget movies, I decided to review something with a little Hollywood clout.

You know, it’s not a bad movie, but it’s just so lukewarm compared to movies in its class.  I’d compare this one to Stir of Echoes, and every time I do, I’m just going to end up saying, watch that instead. We can pretty much cut to the punch line here. Everything this movie does, Stir of Echoes does better, just with fewer shameless jump-scares.

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Reed Alexander’s Horror Review of ‘The Intruder Within’ (1981)

From the Bargain Bin: ‘Consistently inconsistent’

This is the last stop on Reed’s history or shitty creature features. While none of them were particularly good, every one was a part of my childhood growing up and shaped the horror nut whose reviews you read today.

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Reed Alexander’s Horror Review of ‘Xtro 2: The Second Encounter’ (1990)

The worst offender in a long line of ‘Alien’ (1979) ripoffs…

This movie is so forgotten I practically had to do a deep web search to find a watchable copy. Seriously, just try to type it into the regular search and see if you can come up with a watchable copy. It won’t come up. In fact even major horror fan pages don’t mention this movie in their “complete list” of Alien themed movies. I have the distinct feeling this was a straight-to-video production. It took me forever just to find a bootleg copy that wasn’t dubbed in some language I don’t speak. When I finally did find one, the quality was so poor it was almost comical. Kinda like watching scrambled porn. The recording was clearly from an old VHS and the auto tracker kept popping on the screen in Spanish. If you know what either of those things are, you probably had some pretty kick ass horror movie memories like me.

What’s the point of spending hours trying to find this movie on the internet so I could watch it after all these years? You may remember from several of my older reviews from movies like Leviathan and DeepStar Six. I watched these when I was very young and I’ve had a hard-on for monster movies and horror ever since, so it’s nice to take a stroll down nostalgia lane and see if these, honestly terrible, movies still stand up to my childhood memories.

Xtro 2 was not one of those that stood the test of time. I mean, I liked re-watching Creature and a ton of other movies from my childhood, but this one was just plain awful. It was still great in the sense that it was riff-worthy material, and you could have a lot of fun with it just like that, but by no means was it good horror or even good-bad horror.

The acting was predictably awful, but it was even bad for horror, almost porno levels bad. The plot made no fucking sense. Hell, the gestation of the creature didn’t make any fucking sense. Most of the movie is pretty boring, with fleeting moments of excitement when the monster pops up, and that’s fucking criminal for a creature feature.

Beastie was neat though. Really loved the rubber monster design here.  Just wish they could have done a little more with it in the actual fucking movie.

Riffers only, do not watch.

SPOILERS!!!

I can’t fucking believe that I didn’t know Nicholas Lea was in this movie! I guess it’s no surprise. I was like… 8… 6 when I saw this the first time and probably didn’t even know who he was? It would be almost another 16 years before I would watch it again. I guess your career had to start somewhere though, Lea. Still, he was probably the best actor in the movie even though it was a supporting role. Is that really a spoiler?… hmmm, I guess not. 

How the fuck does this ‘interdimensional alien’ work? Scientists bring over an alien from another dimension that was using a woman’s body as a host. There was a gratuitous ripoff of the chest-burster scene from Alien, and then the rest of the movie is basically one long ripoff of Alien and Aliens after the next. But the alien came out of the woman’s body almost fully formed. I could see how it might have been able to hollow out a cavity and just pop out when it was big enough, but wouldn’t she just die?

So, you figure this thing needs to stick, Idontfuckenknow, larva or something into people like a wasp, but then in just lays like… Spores? Eggs? Something like that in the one guy and he pretty much explodes into a cloud of spore/egg thingies. Now, you could have just done that from the very start with the first lady, and maybe even had a more interesting concept that wasn’t a total blatant ripoff of the chest-burster scene. I guess in those days, getting the Aliens money was more important than maybe making a halfway decent movie.I could just say “Watch Alien,” as it’s a better movie with better actors. However, if you’re a hardcore riffer, this movie may be amusing.

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Nicholas Cage: What Does He Contribute to Horror?

Nicolas Cage is slated to play the male lead in a movie adaptation of “The Color out of Space” by H. P. Lovecraft. So, are we going to get a deep and thoughtful rendition of an incredibly complex story line? Or are we going to get the usual “Not the bees” hammed up acting that Nicholas Cage is well known for?

I hit the threads to ask fellow horror heads in Frightland what they thought and it broke down pretty simply.

It should be noted that the sample is about half what I consider acceptable (no less than 300 reporting) and my targeted sample group are horror fanatics who have specific biases.  However, those are the biases are what I’m after. First, the hard numbers.

When asked if they thought Nicholas Cage was an appropriate fit, those surveyed had this to say.

Stats: Sample size 144
Nicholas Cage is a fine actor and will do a great job 62 43%
Nicholas Cage’s over the top acting will fit the genre 41 28%
Nicholas Cage is not fit for this movie 20 14%
No Opinion 21 15%

Though just barely, I am immediately hit by the fact that individuals who didn’t care one way or the other, outnumber individuals who believe Cage is going to bomb.  Even if just by one. There are two primary camps for support. Those who believe Cage is actually a good actor and can handle it. Not sure how familiar these people are with his filmography but it’s their opinion.  The second camp believe that Cage’s usual over the top method acting is actually perfect for Lovecraftian setting. This may be a good point. Lovecraft delves deeply into madness and if anyone does a ‘frothing at the mouth raving lunatic’ right, it’s Cage.

For those who believe Cage is a decent actor, it is true his filmography is filled with smashing performances. Matchstick Man, Raising Arizona, and 8mm. Even films like The Rock, as campy as it was, Cage did a fine job. He’s clearly capable of amazing acting… but then we start to look at his track record in horror and it seems like his quality level takes a nosedive.  In several of my reviews, I’ve told him to please leave horror and never come back.

We don’t have to just use examples like “Not the bees” from The Wicker Man.  He hasn’t exactly had a great track-record with horror at all. The worst being Vampire’s Kiss which was so over the top, it has since become a series of memes that have launched his campy ridiculousness into legendary status.  Cage went so over the top in Vampire’s Kiss we got full blown ‘So Bad It’s Good’ with levels not seen since Troll 2.

In my review of Pay the Ghost, I was surprised to be hit by a lukewarm performance as opposed to the hammy over acting.

In my review of Mom and Dad, literally the only bad acting was Cage, and he was surrounded by a bunch of nobodies.

But with 8mm under his belt, Cage clearly shows he’s capable of the edgy subtlety necessary for Lovecraftian stories.  And that doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for one of Cages full blown over the top zany moments. We all remember Bruce Campbell’s  scene from Evil Dead 2 when confronted by laughing furniture, or when actor Sam Neill completely cracks at the end of, In the Mouth of Madness.  Most recently, fans of the good ol’ fashioned Cage freak out point to Mandy, where his over the top acting filled the role almost too perfectly. It was like a natural fit.

Current director Richard Stanley, maybe keenly aware of Cages ability to deliver both and if he has the capacity to wrangle in the great ego that is Cage, it could work out perfectly.  While there is something about horror that Cage never really seems to get a handle on, using 8mm again as an example, if The Color out of Space is presented more as an ‘investigative thriller,’ maybe he won’t ham it up until eventually given clearance from the director to, so to speak, ‘go full Cage.’

Looking at the director’s filmography, nothing stands out as a particular gem and the list is depressingly short over a very long time period.  I wonder if this director has the clout to reign in an ego like Cage and rangle up appropriate acting.

In the end, there is a slight glimmer of hope that Cage can pull off Lovecraft.  It’s likely just a matter of presenting it to the actor in the correct way. If it can be done, The Color out of Space may deliver the final adaptation for the story to be taken seriously in cinema.  However, I’m not holding my breath. We literally only have 8mm to point to as the right style for Cage, that and a director I strongly doubt has the level of clout needed to direct Cage.

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Reed Alexander’s Horror Review of ‘Creature’ (1985)

My favorite in a long line of ‘Alien’ ripoffs

I figured I should pull up some horror movies from my childhood to sort of explain where my weird sense of appreciation for the genre stems from…

MAN, you know you’re the Kmart version of another franchise when the picture on IMDb is a faded crinkled movie poster, creases intact.

Not even the Kmart version, this is like the AIMS or Bradly’s version. That shit they were schlepping right before they went out of business. I think I just dated myself…

Anyway, you may know that I’m a HUGE fan of circa 70-90s rubber monster creature features, and this movie delivered my favorite rubber monster as the Kmart version of Ridley Scott’s masterpiece Alien. I always had a soft spot in my heart for this obvious Go-Bot (Transformers impostors of the 1980s… man, I really am dating myself) and used to rent this movie frequently when I was about 10 to 12.

The plot was a direct ripoff of Alien, the crew was practically a ripoff of Alien. The setting might as well been from the discount H.R. Giger bin. The movie might as well be called Ridley’s Rejects… but I love it all the same.

I don’t know why I love it. Maybe it’s my giddy childhood nostalgia for the rubber monsters of my past, or maybe it’s the complete wash of obvious borrowed material that always gives me some level of glee, but I love this movie.

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Reed Alexander’s Horror Review of ‘Residue’ (2017)

Time is an illusion, your life is meaningless and nothing is real.

Kicking off out last Lovecraftian horror before the release of my new novella “In the Shadow of the Mountain,” already available for pre-order, we’ll look at an absolute fantastic b-rated Lovecraftian style movie, that is creepy, cerebral, and silly. Order it here!

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Reed Alexander’s Horror Review of ‘The Void’ (2016)

A Void of Strong Women Characters

Let me just start out by saying, there was a LOT about this movie that was testing my fucking patience. It really prayed on “Weaker Sex Syndrome” far too often, and for a hot second, I could swear they were doing “Gladiator Moments.” There was scene after scene of what seemed like completely unrelated artsy bullshit. Thank god I was wrong about that because I really wanted to like this movie just from the premise.

In the end, the random moments of esoteric bullshit did get tied in nicely and the movie almost (note that’s ALMOST) redeemed the “Weaker Sex Syndrome.” I guess I have to give them credit for trying, as it’s more than most in the industry do these days.

But here’s the thing. There are very few Lovecraftian movies that did the feel of the genre justice without getting into the artsy silent films. There was YellowBrickRoadIn the Mouth of MadnessColor from the Dark, and, of course Lord of Illusions (LOI), which this movie very much reminded me of. The one thing that LOI had that this didn’t was the mystery aspect of Lovecraft. The search for truth leading to the discovery of madness. That’s sort of essential to the Lovecraft genre and The Void picks up after that pretty much already over and done with.

Still this movie had amazing atmosphere, a storyline that was coherent, which is hard for this genre, character development that was somewhat decent, and acting that was pretty good, even for horror… so why did I almost stop watching?

SPOILERS!!!

JESUS FUCKING CHRIST THE IRRATIONAL WOMEN IN THIS FUCKING MOVIE!!! They cast all the female roles in this movie pretty much just to drive the plot by being completely fucking useless or even worse, idiotic. If it wasn’t the nurse’s assistant breaking down into hysterics every five fucking minutes, it was the headstrong independent woman who you KNOW is gonna Lois Lane herself into being the damsel in fucking distress. Then there’s the country bumpkin pregnant girl who is only in this movie to give birth to a tentacle beast. Fucking seriously? Where are my Ripleys? Where are my Black Widows? Where are the women at? You know? The real women with active grey matter who drive the plot by being a part of the story, not by being fucking “McGuffins With Legs.”

And the fucking main character. Jesus fucking Christ, it’s like he spends the first fucking 20 minutes either unconscious or getting the shit kicked out of him. Isn’t he supposed to be a fucking cop? I mean, I get that they wanted him to be portrayed as a dweeb, but FUCK. Every five minutes for the first 20 minutes, he either gets knocked the fuck out or faints. Look, he had to have some kind of training, right? Self-defense? Boxing? How the fuck did this guy even become a cop?!

So why did I like this movie? Fuck man, I’m not even sure. The beginning is rough and poorly conceived, but the rest is so captivating.

It’s not just the fact it’s a creature feature with tentacle beasts. I do love a good creature feature, but there was more in this. Now, as you can tell by me complaining about the three “McGuffins With Legs,” a lot of the story is forced. But it always leaves just enough for intrigue. You can’t just ignore the fact that the movie starts off with a cult surrounding a hospital, trapping everyone inside and just slowly erodes from there. You find out quickly that this all has something to do with the bumpkin’s baby. It starts out as s simple struggle for survival, but then the mystery starts to kick in.

Once you get through the bullshit, and the bullshit is livable, it’s actually amazing.

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Reed Alexander’s Horror Review of ‘Black Mountain Side’ (2014)

Kicking off the release of “In the Shadow of the Mountains” by Reed Alexander, one of the many movies that inspired it.  Interestingly enough this movie was inspired by another fantastic work of horror fictions call “At the Mountains of Madness” by H.P. Lovecraft.

Can a movie be too intellectual to be scary?

This was a damn good movie.  It’s definitely not for everyone.  I’m not sure what kind of crowd this would appeal to but it hit all my buttons.  It was just such an intelligent movie.  The characters, step by step, logically addressed the illogical.  It’s based on Lovecraft’s “The Mountains of Madness.” It doesn’t follow the actual story of H. P. Lovecraft, but rather supposes what happened before “The Mountains of Madness” kicks off.

But can I recommend this to Lovecraft fans?  It has some of the feel of Lovecraft, but really is a lot more like John Carpenter’s The Thing in stylization.  One could argue that John Carpenter had a Lovecraftian style, but Lovecraft was more subtle, J. C. was pretty in your face.  But it doesn’t have the same brutality as J. C., so can I recommend it to fans of The Thing?

I could almost recommend this movie to fans of anthropology.  Of course the anthropological discoveries are all fake, but they go over them in such amazing detail.  The archaeology builds the mythos so deeply you can almost believe it.  It does get a little strenuous sometimes but it really pulls you into the setting.  It gives it such amazing life.

The acting is fantastic and brilliantly thought out.  When the writer and the actors connect like this, it make for the best movies.  Every reaction is in step with what makes the most sense.  The story just flows out of the actors naturally.  A little too naturally at times.  Dialog turns into needless banter occasionally, but for the most part is really solid.  And the atmosphere.  Man, isolationism is really the strongest setting for any horror.  I mean, it’s easy, but also easy to fuck up.  The wrong lighting, the wrong filters, and a set that’s supposed to feel a million miles from civilization instead feels next door to a major metropolitan area.  But this movie was so dark.  I’ve been talking about this in some of my recent reviews.  It’s dark to the point you have to turn the lights out just to see the screen.  The darkness feels alive.

So, who do I recommend this movie too?  I think it’s a must see for Horror Heads.  It’s certainly required viewing for fans of Lovecraft and J.C.  But I think the people who would be the best target audience are those ancient aliens nuts.

SPOILERS!!!

This movie promised me parasitic cephalopods!  I WANT MY FUCKING CEPHALOPODS!  What do I get instead?  A couple undulating tumors.  Now, don’t get me wrong, creepy rolling tumors are cool, but only because something is supposed to pop out of them.  The characters talk about this mutagenic infection that’s causing tumors which turn into cephalopods, but you never get to see one.  How fucking cool would that have been?  A corpse bursting into dozens of squirming octopus like critters.  That’s the kind of shit horror fans live for.  Maybe they didn’t have the budget?  It was just a disappointment.

They did have fun with the crew’s slow descent into madness.  That’s what this movie was really all about.  Though I’m not sure if slow is the right word.  It’s not fast but the curve is pretty steep.  First a dead cat, then the work crew disappear, then a guy vomits black ichor.  The next thing you know, they’re hacking off a guys arm because something is moving around under the skin, and another character is talking to some strange looking anthropomorphic dear creature from the darkness.  It starts off as a slowly building simmer that last for such a long time, but then suddenly and violently, shit hits the fan.

I don’t understand the motivations of the dear creature.  You get the feeling that it’s trying to propagate the spread of it’s cephalopod tumors, but then it’s constantly having the crew do thing counteractive to the success of the spread.  It infects a guy then has another guy kill him.  Then it doesn’t try to infect anyone else, it just starts convincing them to kill each other.  So, it doesn’t want worshipers, it doesn’t want to successfully spread the parasites.  What the fuck does it want?  It tells the crew that it’s not bound to the dig site, but it doesn’t seem interested in leaving to spread it’s infection.  So what the fuck is it doing?  Pretty much just admiring the stars and brutally murdering any dumb bastard that wanders by.

The ending is actually kinda disappointing, but it did do one thing right.  Say it with me now, in your best Morbo impersonation! “THERE WERE NO SURVIVORS!!!” I mean, if this is supposed to be the incident before “The Mountains of Madness,” then no one can survive.  Two guys effectively die from the infection, most of the rest wind up killing each other, but the last guy is what bothered me.  The last guy dies by getting stuck in a bear trap.  Really?  Is that all?  We’re just going to have it end with some guy dying of bad luck?  That’s just fucking lame.

But yes, I do recommend this movie.  It’s not just good, it’s fascinating.

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Boot or Reboot: Fan Opinions on the New Child’s Play

Like the remake of Pet Sematary, I’d been hearing a lot of complaints about the new Child’s Play reboot.  Curious as to where all the ire was coming from, I decided to investigate fan opinions and see what was turning them off.

First, I ran a survey to see just how many horror heads were really put off by the idea of a reboot.

I’d like readers to keep in mind that the sample from the following survey was taken from horror fans specifically and does have a level of fan bias.  Questionnaires of those surveyed were strictly from individuals who were NOT going to be seeing the movie.  It should also be noted that the sample size fell short of the acceptable 300 sample size minimum and could show a poor sample size bias.  Total Sample Size: 264

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