Romanticized Horror Icons for Valentine’s Day

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February presents many opportunities for a relationship to begin or strengthen. And why should it not? Cupid is flying around shooting people with his arrow. Secret admirers’ step from out the shadows to expose themselves to their crush. People are ripping their heart out and serving it on a platter to their lover. Without a doubt, love is in the air! Yet, while everyday couples celebrate Valentine’s Day at swanky restaurants, or a romantic getaway, where does this leave horror fans who wish to keep it simple?

Throughout the years, I have experienced Valentine’s Day in a diversity of celebration. Times when I have been single, I have gone out with friends or binge watched themed scary movies. Times when I dated likeminded horror geeks, we spent the night going to dinner and cuddling over a gore flick. Reflecting on the holiday, more times than not, my night has ended with blood on the silver screen.

In this entry, may one be single, or coupled with a horror junkie, here are some movie options for a night at home. In this compilation, since bad romance horror is vast within the genre, I debated how to narrow my list. Flicks about obsessed lovers or scorned spouses are a dime a dozen. These are the movies where characters receive either a black or white portrayal of good or evil. However, my favorite character, as one may know, is the gray character.

Browsing my video library, I decided to acknowledge romanticized horror icons. Ones who are as lethal as they are seductive. Considering this theme, my options became narrowed to creature features and boogeymen.

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“Candyman” is the only movie that literally terrorized me as a child. Before seeing this classic, I felt I was enough of a seasoned horror fan to handle its content. However, I was wrong. Due to its visuals, storyline, soundtrack, and solid acting, the movie resulted in me being too afraid to go to the bathroom alone. Furthermore, it would be a cold day before I worked up the courage to chant “Candyman” in the mirror five times. Even in my adulthood, as much as I love this movie, I cannot watch it when I’m alone.

Based on Clive Barker’s short story, “The Forbidden,” the film adaptation introduces grad students, Helen and Bernadette. Together, they are conducting a thesis on how society clings to urban myth to cope with life. As they gather information, a student introduces Helen to the Candyman legend. Like Bloody Mary, if one chants Candyman’s name five times in a mirror, he will appear behind the conjurer. With Helen’s interest piqued, this legend begins to consume their thesis.

Next, Helen’s husband, Trevor, steps into plot. Though he should be supportive of her work, he has begun lecturing his students on urban legends. Disheartened that he has hijacked her subject, she brushes off his selfishness. Also, she dismisses the student who he is blatantly sleeping with. Regardless of him being a chauvinist, Helen keeps her chin up and focuses on her work.

During this time, she and Bernadette have doubted the Candyman legend. Because of their skepticism, they chant his name in the mirror the way daring children might. Yet, the boogeyman doesn’t appear. As their investigation continues, they arrive at his haunting grounds of Cabrini-Green. This landmark is a public housing development where over twenty people were murdered. Upon snooping through the gangland territory, they meet Anne Marie. Upon confrontation, they gain more insight on Cabrini, its residents, and Candyman.

In the next scene, Helen, Bernadette, and Trevor are dining out. At their table is Trevor’s condescending professor friend who mocks the women’s efforts. By conversation, Candyman’s origin story arises. Here, they learn that in 1890, a lynch mob murdered Candyman for loving and impregnating a white woman. After his death, they burnt his body and spread his ashes over what is now Cabrini-Green.

With this insight, Helen returns to the housing development. On her visit, she meets a boy named Jake who guides her to one of Candyman’s crime scenes. At this location, she is attacked by a gang member who poses as Candyman. After she is left brutalized, she goes to the police and puts the thug behind bars. Believing her assailant used the Candyman persona to keep residents afraid, she reasons to Jake, “Candyman isn’t real. He’s just a story, you know, like Dracula or Frankenstein.”

Little does she know that by her doubt and her chanting Candyman’s name, she has opened a door best left shut. To prove his existence, Candyman is now destroying Helen’s life. Not until she has lost everything does she realize her position in this nightmare has been set by fate.

The portrayal of Candyman paints a romanticized, tragic figure. Compared to other slashers like Jason, Freddy, etc. Candyman is seductive, attractive, and charismatic. These elements are built by his sultry voice and elegant but masculine body language. Throughout, there are many sides to Candyman’s character that establish him as my generation’s lonesome operatic phantom, seductive Dracula, or melancholy Frankenstein’s monster. A subliminal moment that hints at this is when Helen compares Candyman to “Dracula or Frankenstein.” By her juxtaposition, she has categorized him with past horror icons who have stirred pity or arousal in their viewers. Outside of filming, Tony Todd noted in an interview that he “wanted to find his own personal Phantom of the Opera.” In response to his statement, I believe he succeeded.

Beyond sex appeal, the main topics of “Candyman” are segregation and social class. Mirroring past and present, these issues are addressed by multiple angles. Past wise, Candyman’s origin story depicts a bloodthirsty history as he is murdered for loving a white woman. Present wise, deplorable living conditions and separating oneself by race and wealth remain the results of an upper-class elitist mentality. Among this topic, Candyman’s seduction of Helen reflects his tragic origin but it is masked by forbidden passion.

Character wise, Candyman provides three objectives to the black community. Foremost, he is a figure who residents use for coping with the horrors of their everyday life. Second, his legend scares children into being obedient. Third, his past cautions black men of what can happen if they “step out of line.” To the white community, Candyman presents another subject. He is a singular face put to racial fear and profiling.

Finally, “Candyman” is about the power of ideas, belief, and oral retellings. From the stance of ideas and belief, Candyman states he can only exist if his followers believe in him. This is fueled by the power of oral retellings and their fear. Since these subjects allow Candyman to exist, Helen must surrender to him because she tainted his lore with outspoken disbelief. Upon her martyrdom, the retellings of her brutal death will help his reputation thrive.

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“Return of the Living Dead 3” while not frightening is a gruesome variation on “Romeo and Juliet.” With this installment, director, Brian Yuzna crawls out beyond the grave and gifts the fandom one of my all-time favorite zombie flicks. Unlike its predecessors, this standalone sequel is humorless. Because of the absence of comedy, this sequel feels desolate and hopeless while it glorifies two kindred spirits. For those who say love is dead, after watching this movie, they may be right.

The opening reveals a blast of 90s culture and introduces two young lovers, Julie and Curt. Having stolen his father’s military security card, he and Julie sneak onto the base where his father works. Once inside, they hide and observe a top-secret experiment being conducted by a lieutenant and colonels. Included among them is Curt’s father, Colonel John Reynolds. Amid their voyeurism, they bare witness to a corpse being exposed to the fictitious gas called Trioxin. To their amazement, the aftereffects of which cause the dead body to awaken as a zombie.

The goal of this revival is to utilize the living dead in war combat. Unfortunately, the zombie’s ravenous desire to consume human brains renders them useless. As the colonels and lieutenant contemplate options, the zombie goes berserk and attacks those within its containment area.

Once officials subdue the ghoul, the lovers flee to Curt’s home. Not long thereafter, John, who is oblivious to their shenanigans, arrives and is needing to speak with his son. In private, Curt learns John’s work is requiring them to relocate. Determined to stay with Julie, Curt refuses to accompany his father on another move. Although John demands otherwise, Curt stands his ground and he and Julie run off together. However, their happiness is shortly lived as a motorcycle accident kills Julie.

Unable to live without her, Curt breaks into the base and revives Julie’s corpse with the Trioxin gas. Upon her resurrection, she maintains her personality and morals. All seems well, until her brain begins to rot. As Julie undergoes decay, she begins experiencing hunger pains that normal food cannot subdue.

Holding onto who she is, she tries to stay virtuous, and temporarily, Curt’s love tames her craving. Yet, as the night continues, she resorts to self-mutilation to distract herself from inner pain. Still, she can only indulge in these substitutes so long before requiring human brains. As she descends into a zombie mentality, she maintains the ability to strike sympathy. Despite one mistake, she transforms into an anti-hero who accomplishes more good than bad.

Created like a love letter to the horror genre, this installment serves up brain food. For my generation’s cult fandom, Julie and Curt stand as romanticized horror icons who embody a great demographic of 90s kids. They are the shunned outcasts. They want to connect with others but can’t. Because of their social excommunication, they have found their place in the world of grunge, punk, and goth. They are what would happen if Romeo and Juliet mated with Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love.

Centered on them, there are many love story aspects. The list includes, but is not limited to, Curt’s father forbidding him from being with Julie. Another is how Curt can’t live without Julie, and despite the consequences, revives her. Last, when Julie returns to life, two elements prevent her from harming others. One is Curt’s love.

Aside from love, self-mutilation also subdues Julie’s transformation. In the 90s, self-mutilation and body modification underwent a better analysis. Foremost, with cutters, sometimes love isn’t enough. Zoning in on this philosophy, NOTLD 3 suggests Curt’s love can only ease Julie’s pain to a degree. When his love can no longer help, she results to self-mutilation for a distraction. In one scene, Julie notes she doesn’t feel dead or alive, but lonely. This statement sums up emptiness and how one may utilize self-harm as a distraction from those emotions.

The body modification portion of Julie’s transformation reveals something deeper. During her struggle of becoming a zombie, she loses her identity. For her, the only way to cling onto her human image, from this life to death stage, is modification. This makes sense as almost every bod mod individual hails piercings, tattoos, gages, etc. as being an extension of who they are.

Personality wise, besides Julie’s teenage angst, she is an adrenaline junkie. This trait may also be a vice to fill her void. Another personality trait is her obsession with death. Which oddly enough, death connects with her other tangible desires – life and sex. The topic leads to another message of NOTLD3. Aside from Gen X and Millennials embracing death as a fashion statement, death has a deeper philosophy.

Regarding martyrdom or suicide, some view death as a protest. Ever since “Romeo and Juliet,” dying for love is the ultimate revolt in romance fiction. Such as that literary classic, Curt and Julie’s world is nothing but dead ends. To exist together and escape this conflicting world, they must die for love. In vain of other romantic classics, this gem asks, how far would one go for the person they loved?

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When seeing “Cat People” as a child, had my mother known it was more so softcore porn than a horror movie, she wouldn’t have let me see it. Yet, here we are. While maintaining an engrossing plot, “Cat People” beds down in the subgenre of erotic horror. With that said, there are more boobs than blood and the material isn’t frightening. Still, the unique fantasy of this classic can set the mood for horror lovers on Valentine’s Day.

The prologue shows a barren land where a primitive tribe ties a young girl to a tree. Seeing as she is a sacrifice, one expects for her to perish. Instead, a black panther approaches her, and by its movements, one feels that its intent is to mate. Leaving the scene to the viewer’s imagination, one can only assume the outcome resulted in zoophilia.

Next, the movie fast forwards to the present where protagonist, Irena, receives focus. Growing up an orphan, foster care separated her from her brother, Paul. As an adult, her goal is to find her sibling and make up for the lost years. Having succeeded, she steps into the New Orleans airport where Paul reenters her life.

That night, they reminisce and dine with his housekeeper, Female. Once the evening concludes, Irena retires to bed while Paul decides to prowl the city. Forward, the perspective and plot shifts. In a seedy hotel room, a panther attacks a prostitute. The following morning, zoologists Oliver, Joe, and Alice capture the beast. Based on assumption, one gathers that Paul has transformed into the irate feline.

Since Paul was to be Irena’s tour guide for New Orleans, Irena questions his whereabouts. Female speculates he is tending to other obligations and for Irena to explore alone. Taking Female’s advice, Irena sightsees where her wandering lands her at the zoo. Here, she becomes interested in a recently captured panther. This is when she meets Oliver, the zoo curator.

Smitten by her, Oliver takes Irena out for dinner and grants her a job in the zoo giftshop. Over time, he and she begin a romance that could mean her own undoing. After the captured panther attacks Joe, Paul returns into the picture. Yet, what he reveals to Irena is a horror spawned from their ancient bloodline.

In his explanation, he elaborates that he and she can only practice incest. Sex with anything more than their blood kin will result in morphing into a panther. Once transformed, nothing can return them to human form except consuming human flesh. At her sexual peak, Irena now struggles with her passion for Oliver and the repercussions of what will happen if he claims her virginity.

No matter what one takes away from this feature, may it be positive or negative, it is a sexual study. This subject branches off into other topics, such as bondage, incest, and zoophilia. Among these themes, zoophilia and incest constantly arise throughout the feature. Whereas bondage plays a role at the beginning and end.

Focusing on incest, for Irena to enjoy sex and not metamorphosize, she can only have sex with her blood kin. As expected, the thought is offsetting to her. No matter, Paul urges her to surrender to their needs. This way they can stay a true race who can have sex without the fear of bloodshed. In a way, this depicts a sick ploy. One that shows how predatory persons can manipulate their relatives against their will.

By the depiction of sex in “Cat People,” one sees the act is life changing. Furthermore, it suggests the power and influence that sex has over humanity. In its portrayal, sex falls into two categories. One is sensuality prior to intercourse. The other is brutality upon nearing orgasm.

From a misogynistic stance, “Cat People” focuses on men dominating women. This shows in the bondage scenes and when Irena’s brother urges her to practice incest. Still, these moments are but the tip of the iceberg. Its more ruthless perspective on male dominance comes from Oliver. While the movie shows that he admires Irena, it never depicts him loving her. I say this because all that is displayed during their game of hard to get is lust.

With dominance in mind, examining why Irena doesn’t kill Oliver suggests he has gained an upper hand. Another indicator is when he holds Irena at gunpoint and she asks that he kill her. When he refuses, she begs to be set free and reunited with her kind.

*POTENTIAL SPOILER* As expected, Oliver has sex with her, but he doesn’t fulfill his promise. Rather than reuniting her with her kind, he cages her in the zoo that he oversees. While she has become a prisoner, he visits her and pets her whenever he pleases. At last, Oliver has domesticated Irena.

To me, the ending portrays a depressing absence of freedom. However, the director, Paul Schrader, feels otherwise. In the director’s commentary, he explains he doesn’t see Irena as a prisoner. Rather he views Irena’s prison is a shrine of honor. Seeing as there are opposite perspectives, I feel how one interprets the end speaks volumes on their character.

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I hope the titles on this entry will entertain horror lovers this Valentine’s Day. In the past, I have blogged about other movies that could be suitable for couples. Two that come to mind are “Cutting Class” and “Class of 1999.” While their primary focus isn’t romance, they do revolve around angsty teenage couples. CLICK HERE to read my entry on “In School Horror Movies” where I dissect these classics.

Halloween’s Bloody Binge Blog

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At last, October is here, and like any other horror fan, I have an excuse to binge watch Halloween themed movies. Since October is one of my favorite times of year, this entry will provide some extra treats.

In previous months, I have compiled three movies per post. This statement excludes September when I uploaded my first “Double Feature” blog. Instead of this entry being a triple, or “Double Feature,” I have compiled a list of five seasonal movies. From this moment forward, I will call blogs of this extent, “Bloody Binge Blogs.”

As one may know, there are tons of great Halloween themed horror movies. Because of these vast options, I pondered how to narrow my list to five movies. After debate, I decided to focus on titles that didn’t receive the love they deserved upon release.

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“Halloween 3: Season of the Witch” was the ultimate trick on the Michael Myers fandom. Why? Because it didn’t star Michael Myers. Due to this abstraction, diehards booed its anthology concept, and to this day, some pretend this sequel never happened. Nonetheless, I admire “Season of the Witch” as a solid horror film that embodies the spirit of the season.

The movie opens with an action sequence where a man named Harry is being chased. Following a scuffle, and a crushing moment, he outsmarts his attackers, and runs to safety. Thereafter, Dr. Challis, arrives at work where Harry undergoes his care. Although it seems Harry is safe, a mysterious stranger sneaks into his room.

After Harry endures a skull splitting death, his daughter, Ellie, approaches Dr. Challis. Distraught, and without anyone left to trust, she requests he help solve her father’s murder. Still, intrigued by the crime, and determined to bring justice, he agrees to assist.

Eventually, their investigation leads them to Santa Mira, CA, home of Silver Shamrock Novelties. Throughout the years, Silver Shamrock has gained a famous popularity for their products. This year, they have outdone themselves by producing a line of mind-blowing masks.

As clues lead the duo to the Silver Shamrock factory, they create an alias to gain behind the scenes access. Once inside, they discover a catastrophe of epic proportion is soon to commence. If they don’t act fast, every child wearing a Silver Shamrock mask will die on Halloween night.

Though I adore Michael Myers, I wish Carpenter and Hill were able to pursue their anthology vision with the series. The reason I say this is because the possibilities of where the franchise could go were endless. Yet, due to the hate “Season of the Witch” received, we will never know what else Carpenter and Hill were brewing.

Message wise, this nihilistic movie is about occultists and child endangerment. Created in the rise of the “Satanic Panic” this sequel plays on the fear of occult propaganda. In specifics, it portrays occultists celebrating the holiday by sacrificing children. With this concept, rather than harming a few children, the writers create a nationwide frenzy by utilizing capitalism and television.

In this era, the farfetched urban legend of razorblade spiked candy circulated. However, the real danger was the television, which produced irrational fanaticism. Since the dangers of “Halloween 3” stem from a TV commercial, the overall message is simple. As a family, all one must do to enjoy the holiday is to turn off their TV.

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“Trick or Treat” is an underrated gem that produced a hellraising soundtrack and a fun cast. Among cast members there are two cameos. One is Gene Simmons, who plays a Wolfman Jack style DJ. The other is Ozzy Osbourne, who plays as a fanatical reverend. Add to that mix: sex, death, and rock and roll, and the end result is a heavy metal, Halloween classic.

The plot focuses on high school outcast, Eddie, who has endured constant bullying. Seeing as he is unpopular and has no one to relate to, he writes his heavy metal idol, Sammi Curr. In his letters, he relays his troubles, figuring Sammi can sympathize since he attended Eddie’s school. Before Eddie can mail his latest letter, the TV hits him with devastating news. Sammi has died in a mysterious fire.

To be among someone who understands his pain, Eddie visits his radio DJ friend, Nuke. Once seeing Eddie’s mournful state, Nuke gifts him the only copy of Sammi’s new and unreleased album. Though Eddie feels guilty taking the rarity, Nuke urges otherwise. To entice him, Nuke explains he duplicated the record and he will play it as a tribute on Halloween night. Without further argument, Eddie accepts the present.

At home, Eddie plays the album and falls asleep to the music. Minutes later, he awakes from a nightmare which reveals what happened to Sammi. Coming to, he notices the record player’s needle has skipped on a peculiar lyric of the album. Transfixed by the words, he investigates and plays the record backwards. Doing so causes him to discover Sammi is communicating from beyond the grave.

As the two bond, Sammi helps Eddie exact his revenge against his bullies. At first, the revenge is nothing more than harmless pranks. But as Eddie continues to play with fire, the revenge becomes malevolent. After one of the pranks result in murder, Eddie decides he is in over his head as he never wanted to kill anyone. Though determined to end his relationship with Sammi, he soon realizes Sammi isn’t ready to part ways.

As a child, I jumped into the mosh pit of “Trick or Treat” without plot context. What drew me into its viewing was nothing more than admiring its cover art while shelved at a video rental. By the time the movie concluded, my black heart extended its love to another B rated classic. Also, I grew happier when I discovered the movie spawned a soundtrack, which I still listen to today.

While focused on the movie’s music, the point of “Trick or Treat” takes center stage. Screaming at high velocity, this rock and roll nightmare comments on how parents and churches feared heavy metal was the devil’s doorway. Furthermore, it notes the irrational fear of heavy metal producing harmful subliminal messages. To defend the music, there’s a scene regarding Sammi speaking to a censorship board. This scene pays homage to when Dee Snider defended the genre when confronted by the PMRC.

Unlike the nihilism in “Halloween 3,” this satire laughs at “Satanic Panic” propaganda. In particular, it mocks those who blame music for criminal behavior. To prove using music as a scapegoat is unjust, the movie provides a heroic metalhead protagonist. Perhaps the overall message is not to stereotype people who walk to a different drumbeat.

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“Dark Night of the Scarecrow” was a made for TV movie that aired in October 1981. If one is a fan of nostalgia horror, this slasher is a bountiful field of screams. It provides American Gothic eye candy, vintage Halloween décor, and a slasher dressed as a rustic scarecrow. Among everything listed, a whodunit theme keeps viewers guessing until the end credits.

Taking place in a Southern backwoods town, this plot introduces two friends. One, a young child, Marylee; the other, a mentally handicapped man, Bubba. Although many see their friendship as a perverse threat, their companionship is benevolent.

One day, as they are playing together, Bubba rescues Marylee from a dog attack. Having endured injury and stress, she faints. Since the movie depicts Bubba as having the mentality of a child, he is scared and confused. Without understanding what to do, he takes Marylee to her mother for help. Yet, upon seeing her lifeless daughter, she assumes Bubba has brutalized her.

Considering this is a small town, the rumor mill begins spinning and assumptions spread. Not until the postman, Otis, receives word of the tragedy do things become deadly. For a long time, Otis has wanted to see Bubba hang due to presuming he is a danger to society. Seizing the moment, he gathers up a posse, and hunts down the unlikely hero, who has run home to his mother, Mrs. Ritter.

Since Bubba and his mother have endured harassment before, she already has a plan in mind. Speaking to him in a manner that he can comprehend, she encourages him to play, “The Hiding Game.” This prompts Bubba to run to their field and disguise himself as a scarecrow. Nonetheless, Otis, and his band of good ole boys, find him and unload their guns upon their discovery. Afterwards, they receive notice that Bubba saved Marylee’s life.

When the case goes to court, Otis and his men have devised a scheme to appear as law abiding citizens. Due to who they know, and unethical politics, the court finds them not guilty. As they get away with murder, Mrs. Ritter warns, “There’s other justice in this world besides the law.” A few scenes after this revelation, a faceless killer begins picking off the good ole boys one by one.

Upon my first viewing, I knew this movie would become an annual revisit during October. Not only does it harvest all elements of the season, it’s the granddaddy of the killer scarecrow genre. While plot and characters keep viewers planted in their seats, symbolism is relevant.

Aside from nostalgia, the scarecrow is the ultimate fall symbol. In many cultures, scarecrows have diverse and unique backstories. No matter its origin, the scarecrow has one purpose – to protect. Throughout the story, revenge is the key component. But as the movie progresses, the killer scarecrow represents protection. Supporting this is the scarecrow’s guardian angel portrayal over Marylee. Also, by the scarecrow eliminating the good ole boys, there is a twofold. Not only is justice served, but the good ole boys can no longer harm others.

The movie’s overall theme focuses on the underhandedness among tight knit communities. By how the lenient court, and townspeople, treat the good ole boys, discrimination is blatant. Such as one might see a crime dismissed if the victim was a racial, or gender minority, the same is portrayed here. By assumption, if Bubba wasn’t handicapped, his death would have received legal justice.

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“Night of the Demons” is the perfect Halloween, punk rock, splatter flick. As a child, I hesitated renting this sleeper due to its cover art appearing too ghastly. Years later, as a seasoned gorehound, I slammed down my three dollars and fifty cents at the video rental and braved its footage. After doing so, I became bedeviled by its story, characters, soundtrack, and its bizarre scenes of murder and possession.

Before the plot’s reveal, a subplot concerning an old, cantankerous man enters perspective. Appalled and disgusted by the future generation, he feels all youths are doomed. Opposing his pessimism, the lead protagonist, Judy, offers to assist him when he drops his groceries. Despite her generosity, he blesses her out for being trash, which she is anything but.

Directing attention away from the old man, the plot follows Judy. From here, she speaks with her boyfriend, Jay, to discover he has canceled their plans to the school dance. Instead, he has accepted an invite for them to attend a Halloween party hosted by the class misfit, Angela. Already apprehensive, her alarm worsens when discovering the bash is at Hull House. Despite they are to party in an abandoned mortuary with a grisly past, she swallows her fear to please Jay.

Once everyone arrives at Hull House, the night goes from bad to worst. Judy’s ex-boyfriend, Sal, has crashed the shindig and not long thereafter, their radio dies. Determined to have a hell of a night, Angela leads her guests into a séance. The results of their attempt is a pure success. But by their accomplishment, they have opened a doorway to the underworld. Because of their careless dabbling, things that never existed in human form soon crash their party.

“Night of the Demons” is full of iconic moments. Noteworthy scenes include: Suzanne’s lipstick nipple penetration, Angela’s possession dance, and a delicious finale featuring apple pie. Also, the dialogue is pure gold with unforgettable one liners. One of my personal favorites is the line about “sour balls.”

Among the cast, almost everyone is ripe for the demons’ picking. Example: Angela dabbles in mysticism, Suzanne is vain and promiscuous, Jay is conceited, Franny and Max practice premarital sex, Stooge is a male chauvinist, Sal is hostile, and Helen is a pushover. One way, or another, each character’s downfall makes them easy prey. Opposing everyone’s shortcomings is Judy and Rodger. Both are innocent persons who are strong willed, when they have to be. Due of their purity, the demons are intent on tormenting them.

In this old fashioned tale of good vs. evil, a final girl, and a final boy, walkaway. Still, no matter what they endured, the old man from the beginning shames them as they walk down the street. But little does he know, their survival contradicts his doom generation philosophy. Perhaps the overall message is the future generation isn’t as bad as what one may perceive.

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“Tricks or Treats” is perhaps the least popular title on this compilation. While not the most original, gory, or frightening, it is full of camp and it is holiday festive. Despite the horror fandom telling me to stay away from this title, I watched it on Amazon Prime. When finished, I enjoyed it as a dark comedy rather than a horror flick.

The movie opens at breakfast, and introduces husband and wife, Malcolm and Joan. In solitude, they are sitting on their back patio, enjoying the morning. However, little does Malcolm know Joan is waiting on the asylum to come collect him. When the orderlies arrive to apprehend him, the character dysfunction sets the theme.

Fast forward and Joan has remarried. Compared to her institutionalized ex, her new husband is suave and wealthy. At last, living her desired life, she and her new husband have received an invitation to a Halloween party. Not passing by the opportunity, they hire a babysitter, Linda, to watch Joan’s biological son. But, unbeknownst to Linda, Joan’s son, Christopher is no ordinary child. He’s an aspiring magician and a posterchild for safe sex.

Once the evening commences, Linda begins her babysitting duty. For the first few minutes alone, she doesn’t realize what she has gotten herself into. Then Christopher’s pranks begin and they are endless. Lucky for him, Linda is gullible and falls for all of his shenanigans.

Amidst Christopher’s antics, Linda’s night is about to worsen. As she is being tortured by the spawn of Satan, Malcolm has escaped the mental institution. Having endured a wrongful incarceration, he wants vengeance. By the time he invades the household, Linda has grown immune to Christopher’s pranks. Now, dismissing every sound and action, she doesn’t realize she is in danger, until it’s too late.

Throughout the decades, “Trick or Treats” has been labeled a slasher film. But I would argue otherwise due to its low body count. Plus, two of its three deaths occur offscreen. In regards to its low likability, I feel the movie’s failure lies within its marketing. If this was advertised as a dark comedy, it could have provoked more favoritism. If one tries this movie out, don’t expect gore, or fun death scenes. Instead, expect underhanded comedy.

The point of the movie is easy to decipher. As spelled out by Linda to Christopher, this movie is an adulterated variation of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.” Except rather than the antagonists being a wolf and bored peasant boy, it’s a lunatic and a privileged brat.

Another aspect of the movie reflects poor parenting. Due to how Christopher behaves, and how his parents coddle him, one sees the downfalls of neglected discipline. If one has ever needed a reminder to wear a condom, or take birth control, “Trick or Treats” is the movie to watch.

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On this list, the only two features suitable for young adults is “Dark Night of the Scarecrow,” and “Trick or Treats.” Otherwise, this compilation features gore, sex, and explicit language.

I hope everyone enjoyed my first “Bloody Binge Blog” and I hope everyone has a safe and Happy Halloween.

 
Don’t feel too alarmed if one of your favorite Halloween movies aren’t listed. Next year will provide more titles.

Work Place Horror Movies for Labor Day

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Dear Horror Fans,

This is your human resource director, Alexander S. Brown.

“Alex’s Horror Movie Reviews and Suggestions” blog is undergoing a temporary modification. Since this blog began, each entry has compiled three movie suggestions. However, this month, the number of movies are being reduced to two titles. Henceforth, blogs that regard two movies are now known as “Double Features.”

For the first “Double Feature” blog, “Work Place Horror” movies are being selected. While focusing on this subgenre for Labor Day, blue collar and white collar workers will receive equal attention. Despite their work force differences, these employees will share a common ground. So, no matter if one is a laborer, or is sitting behind a computer desk, surviving the day will be top priority.

Regards,

Alexander S. Brown

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“Graveyard Shift” is a 90s movie based on the short story of the same name by Stephen King. Readers may find this story in his book, “Night Shift.” Between page and film, there are differences among the two, yet the gist operates the same. Despite the movie’s many flaws, it is still a skin crawling, creature feature that caused my toes to curl.

The opening scene reveals night shift workers in a textile mill. By quick observation, one can see that the mill has outlived its hay day and is currently a death hazard waiting. Despite its every corner being an OCEA violation, time is money and work is hard to find in this quaint town.

The first victim is a night shift worker who is ready to resign from the deplorable atmosphere. Before walking out, an army of voyeuristic rats surrounds him. Still, this is the least of his worries, as something much larger moves in for the kill. Following the worker’s mutilation, the rats feast upon his remains.

The movie progresses introducing a drifter named John Hall. Haggard and worn, he strolls into town, looking for work. Lo and behold, he enters the delipidated factory known as Bachman Mills. Being a trooper, he applies for an open position. Little does he know, the position in which he applied belonged to the last man who died while on graveyard shift.

Meanwhile, the foreman, Warwick, is receiving reprimands for the mill being a hazard. When confronted with this issue, he promises immediate renovations. These renovations will include cleanup and repair to the rat infested basement.

Next, Warwick gathers a cleanup crew from his own staff. Seeing that the rat infestation is beyond his control, he also hires an exterminator. Throughout this time, the mill’s monster continues mangling night shift workers. Prior to each death, the rats appear. After each death, they eat. The pattern in which this occurs is so great that when one sees the rats, the monster is sure to follow. Since no bodies are ever found, everyone is unaware to the dangers that await them below the mill.

As expected, the night arrives where graveyard shift workers and Warwick begin labor. Hard at work in grime and filth, the true horror doesn’t begin until they discover a secret passage. Although apprehensive to investigate, curiosity gets the better of them. Once below the mill, they become lost in a maze of subterranean tunnels. Little do they know, they aren’t alone as the monster of the mill is on the hunt, and it’s hungry.

I’m not sure why this movie received the hate it did. Of course, it’s not Academy Award winning by any means, but it is entertaining. For Stephen King buffs, there are many fandom nods in “Graveyard Shift.” Subtle hints include when Jane, a factory worker, mentions she is from Castle Rock. Another blatant nod is the name Bachman and Bachman Mills. For those who don’t read Stephen King, Richard Bachman is the pseudonym King uses. Books by Richard Bachman includes: “The Bachman Books,” “Thinner,” “The Regulators,” and “Blaze.”

Atmosphere wise, the movie delivers eerie and memorable sets. An example of this is prominent in the antiqued mill and unkempt cemetery. Without backstory necessary, these haunting visuals indicate that something unnatural dwells here. By structure alone, these locations stand as red flags of where not to explore.

Increasing the visual intensity of the atmosphere, this movie provides a hideous monster. Other than it hunting in the tunnels and mill, while using the cemetery as its lair, it has no backstory. Without giving away spoilers, the creature of this feature is what makes the movie. With that said, the mystery surrounding this beast has caused many debates. Due to folklore, this particular monster could be prehistoric. If one discards that probability, there are other possibilities. This creature could be a genetic evolution. Or, this could be something that has mutated from a chemical spill.

Despite the creature’s origin, how the creature and rats interact provides pure dread. Again, without explanation, one sees how overtime, the creature symbolizes a God. Following this indicator, the rats act like its disciples. Another hint of their relationship being God/disciple like is the closing scene. One that provides an eat me, drink me scenario.

Cast wise, there aren’t many groundbreaking names, or cult names, casted. The most noteworthy character is the exterminator, played by Brad Dourif. No matter if the rest of this movie falls short, Dourif provides an overlooked scene stealer. While producing a single tear, he delivers a gruesome monologue. In detail, it reflects his time in Vietnam and rat torture. Among horror monologues, this scene ranks with Robert Shaw’s story delivery in “Jaws.”

From a commentary stance, the movie focuses on work place ethics. Many scenarios and scenes support this statement. Work place safety is obvious due to the condition of the mill that workers tolerate. On-site bullying is plentiful throughout. One of the many scenes that comes to mind is when Brogan is taunting his co-worker with a water hose. Sexual harassment is another addressed problem. Among the characters, Jane enduring Warwick’s sexual advances are a prime example.

Other noteworthy topics regards poor pay for hard labor and becoming trapped in a dead end job. Backing this statement is how the workers know they are being mistreated. Still, they continue laboring for Warwick because there are no other job opportunities.

The most obvious message focuses on how easy a job of this skill can replace its workers. Advocating this statement is how Warwick hires a random drifter onto his team. This urges anyone off the street can perform this type of work. To verify how easy it is to replace workers, the closing scene advertises a help wanted sign outside of the mill. By this outlook, the overall message from “Graveyard Shift” is simple. It urges one not to break their back working for a company that can easily replace them.

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“The Belko Experiment” is the ultimate bad day at work movie. There’s no other way to describe this than say it’s like what would happen if “Battle Royal” occurred at work. Written by James Gunn, this movie is a memo note that reminds viewers of his sick sense of humor. One that is reminiscent of his days when he worked with Troma Entertainment.

Setting the tone for what is instore, the movie opens with a Columbian cover of, “I Will Survive.” The lead character, Mike, arrives at the isolated Columbian branch of Belko to begin work. To his surprise, as opposed to other days, his work place has acquired extra security. Here, Dany, a new employee enters scene. In this brief time, it is explained that all workers have a tracking implant placed in the nape of their neck. This is for the employee’s benefit so Belko can track their whereabouts if they were kidnapped.

Once all employees arrive at work, a voice on the intercom instructs the unspeakable. The voice demands that two co-workers must die. If delegation isn’t followed, four random workers will die. At first, everyone believes this is a prank. But their opinion changes when their company undergoes a maximum security lock down. Before anyone can rationalize, four workers die by their tracking implants exploding.

Next, the intercom reveals that thirty workers should die within two hours. If demands aren’t met, sixty random workers will die. From here, there is a feeling of “Lord of the Flies” as everyone splits into two groups. Mike leads one group, who believes no one should kill. Their boss, Barry, leads the second group, which intends to obey orders. Once this occurs, the question arises, who will survive and what will be left of them? As pandemonium ensues, the intercom reveals a final proposition. The speaker offers to spare whoever kills the most people.

Later, the person who spoke through the intercom receives introduction. Without revealing much information, he claims to be a social scientist. Next, he reasons this experiment is to analyze human nature under extreme circumstances. Following explanation, he begins to question the sole survivor’s mental state.

Although I love this movie, I doubt there will be a sequel due to it not being well received by audiences. Nonetheless, it is an entertaining movie, if the viewer can handle its gore and despair.

While viewers may think this movie is nothing more than an opportunity to be sick, I argue the matter. “The Belko Experiment” is a character study that personifies corporate deceit. One hint for this appears in the company’s slogans. In a beginning scene, one motto appears on the wall that says, “Business without boundaries.” Later, another motto reads, “Bringing the world together for a better future.” Considering what is occurring within the walls of Belko, both statements are ironic. Due to their openness, they cause the viewer to question the subject matter in greater detail. Such as asking themselves, how is this a business without boundaries? How is this corporation bringing the world together for a better future if it is so bloodthirsty?

Included with the mottos is the company logo, which appears like a watchful eye. Due to the voyeurism and human puppeteering, this pays homage to George Orwell’s “1984.” The biggest nudge to this scenario is relevant in the closing scene. This is when the viewer realizes Belko is a worldwide corporation with many branches. Also, each branch has undergone the same experiment and has each produced a sole survivor.

In a more horrifying note, similar experiments have occurred in reality. In 1963, American psychologist Dr. Stanley Milgram held an experiment testing human behavior. His goal was to focus on conflict between personal conscience and obedience to authority. To sum it up, he was curious how much pain one would inflict on another because authority ordered it. This case is known as the “Milgram Experiment.”

Another case is “The Stanford Prison Experiment,” with Dr. Philip G. Zimbardo. In 1971, this study explored the psychological effects of perceived power. In this instance, it regarded the struggle between prisoners and prison officers. Conducted by Stanford University, Zimbardo assigned volunteers to either act as “guards” or “prisoners.” To provide realism, this occurred in a staged prison. This case focused on enforcing authority orders. Midway through, multiple prisoners abandoned the experiment. Six days later, the study underwent termination.

Another experiment occurred during World War 2 at Unit 731. This case regarded the imperial Japanese army. During this time, they focused on biological and chemical warfare research and development. Yet, that wasn’t the extent of their horror. Adding to their methods, they ran an experiment that showed how people can turn a blind eye to inhumane acts. For those who aren’t easily offended, you can read more about this by visiting my entry on extreme horror movies. CLICK HERE TO BE REDIRECTED.

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Please, keep in mind, no matter how bad you think your job may suck, it could always be worse. Yes, there are many more “Work Place Horror” movies laboring away within the genre. In the future, these titles might appear on a similar list. As for now, I hope you enjoyed my first “Double Feature” blog, and remember to relax this Labor Day weekend.

In School Horror Movies

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August is here, which means back to school. So parents, what better way is there to unwind than to watch some grade A horror? Being a fan of the horror genre, I have always had a soft spot for “in school horror” flicks. Even though I don’t condone school tragedies, I find the diverse concept of school horror to be campy and fun.

As the years progress, the sub-genre of “in school horror” has shifted. With this change, the camp and fun almost seems non-existent from its theme. Rather, with each graduating year, the sub-genre has acquired a more serious presentation. Perhaps the world in which we live is to blame for this intensity.

To ensure I don’t land in detention, I have decided to focus on movies that aren’t too serious. Therefore, this list will compile some B rated, “classic” horror titles. Ones that will provide a bloody reunion among old school horror junkies, like myself.

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“Cutting Class” lacks any redeemable qualities. The dialogue is insane, the red herrings are stereotypical, and poor decisions are galore. Overall, the entirety of the movie is predictable. Despite how this sounds like an awful movie, its every flaw is part of its charm.

The movie opens with Paula, a single parent child, whose father is the district attorney. The subplot revolves around him going on a hunting trip while he leaves Paula behind. Among the many rules he enforces on her, he seizes the opportunity to utilize the movie title in his demands. After they part ways, he arrives in the swamp, ready to unwind. Here, a mysterious character shoots him with a bow and arrow then leaves him for dead.

Next, the main plot starts and introduces Dwight. He is the hotrod driving, high school athlete, tool. Discarding his wayward personality, he is dating the star student, Paula. Accompanying the stereotyped lead characters are the non-dimensional side characters. The cast includes, a floozie cheerleader named Colleen, and her jock boyfriend, Gary. Of course, this teenage slasher flick isn’t complete without an outcast. In this gem, the black sheep is Brian, a kid who was recently released from a mental asylum for murdering his father.

Once all characters are established, the body count begins. Teachers die, kids die, and besides Paula’s dad getting shot by an arrow, everyone dies while at school. As the body count grows, the possibilities of who the killer is narrows. Nonetheless, anyone with an IQ can finger the killer long before his reveal. Regardless, the whodunit aspect remains.

This was the first movie I saw where I cheered for the killer. Dwight and Paula are both too annoying and high class. Dwight is the personification of everything wrong with high school athletes. Without his character developing much growth, he somehow remains the hero throughout.

In comparison, Paula has a good head on her shoulders. Still, she is unlikable due to her never advancing beyond her misogynistic entrapment. Her greatest failure is how she allows men to influence her decisions. These downfalls are relevant when she interacts with almost all male characters. Her only moment of redemption, despite how minor, regards the final showdown.

As for the body count, Collene’s death is a form of slut shaming. Whereas Greg is nothing more than another easy kill. The faculty who dies are individuals who have no business being educators. This includes: the coach, the counselor, the art instructor, the principal, and the math teacher. Among them, the art instructor and principal objectify the female student body. The guidance counselor seems like she is burnt out and is sick of repeating herself. The gym coach is more concerned about detention rather than the wellbeing of his students. Last, but not least, the math teacher, also has a downfall. In one scene, he is to solve a mathematical world problem. The result of which could mean he lives or dies. Sad for him, he can’t do math.

Since I don’t write bad reviews, one may question why I’m mentioning “Cutting Class.” Playing devil’s advocate, it’s a movie that is so bad, it’s good. Creative kills aside, the acting and dialogue are pure gold. For a friend’s movie night, one could create a drinking game based on the character antics presented here.

In some scenes, the dialogue is so embarrassing it becomes laughable. One of Dwight’s shining moments provides the following line, “You know, your father’s a lot bigger than I am. Of course, I’m bigger where it really counts.”

Yet, Brian takes the cake with one liners like, “You had that look.” By the way, he speaks this line while he’s handing a hotdog to Paula. For those who are wondering, his tone and mannerisms aren’t playful. Still, Brian has a moment that tops his prior verbal fiascos. His most insane babble comes when he starts screaming, “You’re a Yankee Doodle Dandy, too! You two must kill or die!” I still have no clue what he’s trying to say here. Except, I do know that the line is so embarrassing, I’m surprised it survived the final cut.

For those looking for an underlining message to this movie, there isn’t much of one, except misogynism. Examples: Paula can’t think for herself unless a man is thinking for her. Collene is slut shamed by dialogue and death. Last, the male faculty objectifies both girls in class and office. If that’s not enough, the steroid driven soundtrack offers up hits like, “Man Talk,” and “Guys like Girls.”

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“Class of 1999”is more serious compared to “Cutting Class.” Still, it has moments of cheese, but those are easy to overlook due to the terminator themed educators. In a concept that could become laughable, the creators of this gem takes us into the future of 1999. In this dystopian world, there is an “obey or die” scenario established.

From this approach, during the 90s, the school systems went to Hell and are now overrun by gangs. The outcome of which caused most educational facilities to shut down. Come 1999, locations dubbed as “free fire zones” are so chaotic, police won’t enter them due to fear. As expected, the high school in which this movie takes place is in the middle of a “free fire zone.” Here, is where an experiment begins.

MegaTech creator, Dr. Forrest, has presented three military androids as educators. Their mission is to control the student body. Among them is Coach Bryles, Ms. Connors, and Mr. Hardin. After Dr. Forrest awes the board of educators, Principal Langford agrees to the behavioral experiment. To start, Langford releases former imprisoned delinquents as guinea pigs to the new concept.

Next, the focus gears towards Cody Culp, who is a member of the Blackhearts gang. Recently paroled, Cody tries to remain virtuous vs. regressing to old habits. To achieve this, he avoids drugs, and the rival gang known as the Razorheads. Although Cody verifies he no longer wants to be a gang member, in this day, one must be a gang member to survive. Nonetheless, he tries minding his own business. More important, he attempts being a role model to his drug addicted brothers, Angel and Sonny.

Upcoming scenes demonstrate what life is like at Kennedy High School. Yet, that chaotic lifestyle is soon to change. As home base is set for MegaTech in the school basement, techs observe via spy cam their efforts. On the first day, Ms. Connors retaliates against two offending Razorheads. Later, Mr. Hardin exacts corporal punishment to gain discipline. By tech standards, all seems well. After all, the droids have taken necessary measures to extreme actions. Yet, eyebrows aren’t raised until Coach Bryles murders a student. Despite shocked technicians, Dr. Forrest notes the droid acted out of self-defense. But that excuse loses validation when the droids pursue a killing spree.

With nothing to lose, everyone’s only hope is for the two rival gangs to join hands. Once the Razorheads and Blackhearts unite, it is up to Cody to begin a revolution. On the battlefield known as Kennedy High, war unfolds between student and machine.

Considered an unofficial sequel to “Class of 1984,” one need not see its predecessor. Still, to grasp this dystopian world, seeing “Class of 1984” could be beneficial. Paying homage to other technological malfunction movies, it nods to likeminded classics. If one is observant, it references Crichton’s “Westworld,” and Cameron’s “Terminator.” Also, due to wardrobe and vehicle styles, it nods to “The Road Warrior.”

Although full of camp, “Class of 1999” does establish a message. Without argument, this movie shows the dangers of extremism. This statement receives justification by two obvious perspectives.

One perspective is the lifestyle of a teenage anarchist. From this viewpoint sex, drugs, street justice, and rejection of authority is normal. Due to extreme repression, this demographic overreacts to gain the upper hand.

A second perspective is the lifestyle of a fascist. The focal point of this side should regard Dr. Forrest and his extreme methods. His militant personality displays a power hungry individual obsessed with order. Greed is the driving force behind his elitist behavior. No matter if his droids kill or discipline, they are forcing conformity.

Once extremism is relevant from both sides, the primary focus shifts. This leaves one to acknowledge the consequences of extreme rebellion vs totalitarianism. No matter what side one stands on, extremism creates war. The only source who can restore hope is a mediator between the two. This is where Cody comes into play.

Cody is the rebel who has mended his wayward lifestyle and is trying to urge his loved ones to change. He is the sweeping hero who protects his girlfriend. Also, he is the vigilante who seeks justice against the droids who murdered his brothers. Among his traits is his ability to communicate and reason. Due to his gift, he ends division between the Razorheads and Blackhearts. Once establishing peace between the two, he is able to merge both separate groups into one body. Now that division among the people has ended, it is time to eradicate “the system.”

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On this list, “House on Sorority Row” is the valedictorian of “in school” horror. Like “Black Christmas,” and “Halloween,” this slasher features a high body count and a maniac. Such as the popularity of the other classics listed, this too spawned a remake. Yet, its remake, “Sorority Row,” has little to do with the original. Its only common denominator is that a killer is murdering a group of sorority sisters.

The movie’s subplot teases viewers in its prologue. Set in 1961, an expecting mother suffers a miscarriage. Without much backstory on why the complex pregnancy occurred, the scene concludes. The few clues gathered here declare a woman named Mrs. Slater endured a miscarriage. Furthermore, this tragedy occurred in a home that would later serve as a sorority house.

As title credits roll, decades pass. The focus swaps to seven sorority sisters who have graduated. Celebrating their latest achievement, they have decided to throw a graduation party. Yet, due to low funds, their choice of venues are minimal. Determined, the group instigator, Vicky, provides a solution. Instead of buying a venue, they will use their sorority house, Theta Pi, as the party location. Still, there is another problem to consider.

For some reason, unknown to all students and faculty, Theta Pi closes every year before June 19th. This closing date is much earlier than all other sorority houses on the row. Relentless, Vicky adds that they break the rules. Instead of closing early, they will stay here and prepare for their grand blowout.

As they settle on a game plan, their housemother, Mrs. Slater, returns from a doctor’s appointment. Surprised to see the sisters haven’t vacated, she learns of their plans to stay past June 19th. Opposing their scheme, she demands they leave at once as her house is closed and a party is out of the question. Ignoring her demands, the sisters will have their party regardless.

The night progresses and Vicky invites her boyfriend over for sex. While they make out on her waterbed, Mrs. Slater enters and busts the waterbed with her walking cane. Again, she stresses that everyone leave her house at once. Humiliated, Vicky pledges she will have revenge against Mrs. Slater.

Unable to accept defeat, Vicky devises a prank among her sisters. Despite how a few sisters disagree with Vicky’s methods, the prank occurs and causes Mrs. Slater’s accidental death. While some of the sisters explain they must get help, Vicky urges otherwise.

In a “let’s pretend this never happened” scenario, the sisters hide the body and continue as normal. Little do they know, they still don’t have the upper hand. As their party ensues, a stranger eases into the mix and murders the sisters one by one. Not until it’s too late do they realize why Mrs. Slater was so adamant in closing Theta Pi early.

One of the many reasons I love this movie is because of its genre mixing. It offers suspense, mystery, humor, and horror. Among its many qualities, this is a solid horror flick that delivers brutal murders. Its strongest element is a throwback to “Les Diabolique.”

Compared to likeminded flicks, “House on Sorority Row” parallels the original “Black Christmas.” This is due to its open subplot and how it provides only enough backstory for the viewer’s imagination to run wild. Although not all movies can succeed with the openness utilized here, it works for this gem. In this circumstance, the lack of information increases the chill factor and mystery.

Excluding two or three characters, most of the sisters get their comeuppance. Regardless, none of the sisters are worthy of empathy or sympathy. Each of them could have outnumbered Vicky and her plans. But due to peer pressure and fear tactics, no one acted against her. Because of the sisters playing Vicky’s alibi and covering the crime, they share an equal guilt.

Before anyone tries to excuse Katie, when analyzed, her actions bare little redemption. From party planning, to murder, to coverup, Katie is an accessory to the fact. Even when forced into a corner to speak the truth, she doesn’t cooperate. Rather, it takes coaxing before she confesses.

Knowing she’s in the hot seat, Katie stresses that she wanted to call emergency. However, wanting and doing are two different things. Rather than call for help, or be a leader, she did nothing more than hope this nightmare would go away.

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No matter if one’s taste is cheesy or serious, these three movies are sure to cater to a diverse taste. One may notice that I have excluded prom related horror movies from this entry. Not to fear, a compilation on prom horror is in the future.

None of the titles listed here are young adult friendly. Each movie contains either brief nudity, explicit language, mild gore, or all the above. If you feel your child should avoid glorified school violence, these movies aren’t for your next family night.

Disturbing Horror Cinema

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Adoring the horror genre as much as I do, people ask me, “What is the goriest movie you have ever seen?” Most of the time, people expect me to name a mainstream movie like “Saw,” or “Hostel.” Yet, they seem surprised when I name movies that they, and most audiences, have never heard of.

In this blog, I won’t just focus on movies that are gory for the sake of shock. The titles in this installment will provide gore and artistic substance. For one who is looking for intellect while enduring nausea, look no further. Below are three movies that are art in its highest form.

WARNING: The following movies are extreme and offensive. Although story wise I have enjoyed these movies, I do not condone their abuse. If you are easily offended, please turn away now.

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Banned in over 45 countries, “A Serbian Film” is a movie where no matter how it is censored, it remains extreme. In an interview, writers, Aleksandear Radivojevic and Srdjan Spasojevic, stated “A Serbian Film” parodies Serbia’s political correctness. Content wise, this nihilistic work is a huge middle finger towards the film industry, bureaucracy, and censorship. If those facts influence one to view this cult classic, WARNING, some things can never be unseen.

The movie opens, introducing Milos, a retired porn star who is in need of money. Having been out of the business for a few years, he has become a husband to Marija, and a father to their son, Petar. Excluding Milos’s brother, the character bond between Milos and his family depicts emotional strength. Also, it seeds the viewer with dread, as they know this family won’t be happy for long.

One day, Milos meets with an old friend, Lejla, a co-porn star that he used to work with. After small talk, she explains she has met a man named, Vukmir, who she feels is the next great porn director. From her perspective, he offers great pay and has an artistic vision. No matter how this sounds too good to be true, Milos speaks with his wife about coming out of retirement. Without much debate, she supports his decision. After all, she sees this profession no different than any other acting job.

In need of money, Milos meets with Vukmir and the two engage in a brief conversation. Although Vukmir and his men seem welcoming, they project a predatorial vibe. Nonetheless, while conversing, Milos asks what kind of porno Vukmir is attempting to make. Keeping his answer vague, Vukmir explains it’s a form of artistic porn. He also notes that if Milos accepts this job, he and his family will be wealthy for life. Following this promise, Milos comes out of retirement.

Next, starts his first day of work. Milos arrives on set and sees the porno takes place at an abandoned orphanage. Upon entering the facility, an ear peace directs him of what to say and do. While exploring, he approaches a room where a woman gives him oral sex. During their act, he notices a girl of questionable age is watching nearby.

Once finished, Milos meets with Vukmir and explains that he is quitting the film. In his opinion, the underage girl was too much. Despite his determination to walk away, Vukmir finally reveals the nature of this porno. To prove his vision will redefine pornography, Vukmir shows Milos his previous work. The footage which plays is too graphic to detail here. For those who are curious, Vukmir describes the horrendous act as, “New Born Porn.” And yes, what occurs in that scene is just as disturbing as it sounds.

Milos flees the room but later becomes sedated by Vukmir’s doctor. The next morning, Milos wakes up with no memory. After becoming of sound mind, he finds a few mysterious VHS tapes. Curious to their contents, he watches the footage that accounts for his incoherent time. In these recordings, there are scenes of necrophilia and insinuated bestiality and pedophilia. From here on, the material becomes more graphic while utilizing all aspects of exploitation.

Although one might not consider this movie scary, I would urge otherwise. In my opinion, the concept is frightening. Yet, during its playtime, one is too busy feeling violated to focus on the fear. Until the credits roll, one can only focus on the repulsion. While trying to recover, one realizes the invoked fear doesn’t strike during the movie. Instead, it hits with emotional scars once its final line of dialogue receives delivery.

Gore aside, “A Serbian Film” is a stylized allegorical work with strong social comments. One concept is, if someone is sick enough to buy it, there is someone sick enough to produce it. However, its strongest messages regard the evil of money, pornographic dangers, and human trafficking. It also causes viewers to ponder their voyeuristic instincts.

From a satirical viewpoint, Vukmir represents the film industry. Metaphorically, the “New Born Porn” scene suggests how the government rapes people from birth. Among this chaos is the main subject, Milos. His character represents a demographic of Serbians who try to provide for their family. Previously, Spasojevic explained that “A Serbian Film” reflects a postwar society where a man is exploited for his family’s survival.

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Banned in 50 countries, “Cannibal Holocaust” ups the ante from the previous movie. Its contemptible footage was so disturbing that director, Ruggero Deodato, endured a lawsuit for obscenity. Also, due to graphic realism, Deodato faced prison time as courts believed he made a snuff film. However, charges were dropped when his actors/actresses appeared in court to testify their wellbeing. Effects aside, this movie does depict graphic scenes of REAL animal death. If that isn’t intense enough, Deodato casted actual cannibals to work on set.

This taboo film opens introducing anthropologist, Harold Monroe. In discussion with the University of New York, he learns of a film crew that has gone missing in the Amazon. The leader of this film crew, Alan Yates, has a degenerate reputation. In the past, he has created brutal documentaries, one of which called, “The Last Road to Hell.” Footage within this feature shows actual executions from Nigeria and South East Asia.

Without much persuasion, Dr. Monroe travels to the Amazon for a rescue mission. His goal is to retrieve Alan’s crew, and if possible, their film, “The Green Inferno.” When he arrives, he joins with an expedition team who knows the rules and languages of the inhabiting tribes. Together, the men brave the rainforest and its dangers.

While exploring, Dr. Monroe becomes infatuated by the tribes, and he bonds with one that is more peaceful. Nearby, he discovers a shrine crafted from film canisters, a camera, and human bones. Without a doubt, he has found the missing documentary crew and their footage. But he is unable to simply take his finds and depart.

To transport the footage, he must swoon the tribe, The Tree People, who constructed the shrine. To accomplish this, he shares modern technology with them. Once pleased, the tribe shares their meal with him, which is human organs. Such as an initiation, he eats. Now that he shares common ground with the tribe and he has impressed them, they gift him the film canisters.

Until this point, the movie progresses like an exploitative action/adventure flick. Yet, once Dr. Monroe returns with the footage, the movie becomes exploitative horror. In the University’s auditorium, he and his collogues sit and watch the found footage. Viewed in a flashback “Blair Witch” style, the gory truth unfolds.

Alan and his team, Faye, Jack, Mark, and their expedition guide, opens the film with a playful demeanor. One that’s business determined, yet comical. In the depths of the jungle, their conduct changes and their rouge personalities emerge. During their exploration, they kill a turtle and a pig. But the slaughter of both is quick, and the cast and crew eat the animals. Although the upfront horror of this is unnerving, everyone has to eat.

Animal slaughter aside, the B roll footage turns into a ghastly montage. Images depict barbaric customs, rape, mutilation, and the infamous scene of human impalement. By the time their movie ends, one feels just as assaulted as the characters.

Despite what occurs in this movie, it feeds the viewer crucial subjects. Its most important topic focuses on Yellow Journalism. This is something that is alive and thriving in today’s society. Supporting this message is the archival footage that belonged to Alan and his crew. Bottom line, television crews will sometimes agitate their subject, or improvise, to achieve successful material.

The strongest point “Cannibal Holocaust” makes is to leave indigenous persons alone. Yet, if one does explore indigenous territory, do so with respect. This fact receives support by how Alan treats the tribes compared to Dr. Monroe. Due to Alan and his renegade crew, death was the outcome. Opposing Alan’s savagery, Dr. Monroe respects the tribes. Because of his humility, he gains respect and leaves unharmed.

From a metaphoric stance, indigenous tribes are no different than our civilized life. To hint these tribes are equivalent to us, the viewer receives visuals of New York and the Amazon. In my opinion, what better comparison is there to the actual jungle than the concrete jungle?

In this compilation, I feel “Cannibal Holocaust” is the most important and professional. Regardless of educate, its social messages are more vital to a worldwide mentality. After digesting everything, Dr. Monroe’s final thoughts asks who the real cannibals are. In my opinion, the answer is all cultures are savage in one way or another.

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Although “Men Behind the Sun” has received the least number of bans, it isn’t any less extreme. To increase tension, Director Tun Fei Mou, filmed at the real headquarters of Unit 731. If that isn’t ghastly enough, China lacked a special effects industry during this time. One may ask, “If China didn’t have an effects industry, how did everything look so real?” That’s because excluding a few scenes, all props were real. Due to low resources, Mou admitted to using actual body parts to achieve his vision.

The quote at the beginning sets the stage for all upcoming horrors. “Friendship is friendship; history is history.” The opening scene shows a group of Japanese boys who are to serve Unit 731 during World War II. After arrival, they witness experiments intended to find a strain of the bubonic plague. The reasoning for finding this is to cause a germ warfare against the Chinese.

The boys become solders for Unit 731, the war continues, and the experiments intensify. These experiments include live autopsies, human decompression, frostbite endurance, and explosion survival. While depicting repulsive experiments performed by the unit, the most nauseating scenes exclude humans.

Despite the imagery of a real child autopsy, the animal scenes caused greater controversy. In particular, these segments regard throwing a cat into a pit of rats and setting rats on fire. Between these moments, Mou admits the cat scene was fake, but the rat inferno was real.

After Unit 731 runs out of time, they destroy all of their research and evidence. As Unit 731 breaks apart, each soldier can live out the remainder of their life. But, they are to commit suicide if anyone inquires about their time at Unit 731.

The movie ends with an epilogue, which explains that Unit 731’s doctor surrendered his information to the Americans. In time, he moved to Korea where biological weapons began to appear. The young Japanese boys who served Unit 731 never revealed what they witnessed.

“Men Behind the Sun” progresses like a war drama. Yet, when one sees a war drama, they don’t expect the majority of the film to focus on torture techniques. They expect to see political discussions, militant delegations, or time on the battlefield. Instead, “Men Behind the Sun” avoids these expectations. Without shame, it caters to those curious about wartime torture methods.

Although critics say this movie lacks any educational value, I argue otherwise. Movies like this do have their place in cinema, which I think everyone needs exposure to. Watching this should bring awareness to the horrors that man is capable of. Furthermore, it should bring awareness to what people have suffered. I doubt anything within this feature will make the world a better place. However, its footage can pull one’s head out of the sand.

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If you have made it this far in my blog, thank you for sticking around. Compared to my other movie blogs, this one is much more forbidden in content. Again, I don’t condone actual abuse of any kind. Nor can I appreciate the usage of actual dead persons as special effects. Still, these movies exist as artistic visions that document the turmoil within our world.
This blog is dedicated to three people: Antoinette, Connie, and Zac. Thanks for remaining my friends while I have introduced each of you to extreme cinema. Antoinette, I’m sorry that “Nekromantik” almost made you vomit. Also, I will include that movie in a future list. Connie, until I introduced you to “A Serbian Film,” I thought the phrase “turning green” was a figure of speech. Zac, I hope this list provides more options to quench your thirst for gore.

 

Father’s Day Horror Movies

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Father’s Day is a holiday when we honor the “King of the Castle”. For many, the day is filled with sporting goods gifts, action or western movies, or the dreaded new tie. No matter how one celebrates, remember Father knows best – even if he is homicidal.

Last month, I featured “Mother’s Day Horror Movies”. Staying true to theme, this blog showcases horror movies ideal for Father’s Day. While exploring the “Daddy Horror” subgenre, there is the Heroic Dad and the Psycho Dad to consider. Between these two polar opposites, I find the Psycho Dad more interesting. Therefore, this blog will focus on some of the creepiest “Psycho Dads” in cult cinema.

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“The Stepfather” feels like a forbidden peek into the life of a real serial killer, and rightfully so. While not a true story, this classic is loosely inspired by murderer, John List. In the early 70s, List slaughtered his family; and until the late 80s, he remained at large. Due to List’s gap of freedom, “The Stepfather” could speculate of his time in society.

The movie opens with a man who has murdered his family and has undergone a new identity and alias. By the turn of a year, he has weaseled his way into a new family, which consists of a mother, Susan, and her daughter, Stephanie. Early on, their introduction sparks a noteworthy scene of character development and symbolism.

Centered on mother and daughter, Stephanie arrives home from school and finds her mother raking the yard. Considering the degree of work Susan has accomplished, and by the condition of her clothes, it’s obvious she isn’t in the workforce. After insight into their strong bonded relationship, in steps Susan’s new husband, Jerry. As Susan greets Jerry with hugs and kisses, Stephanie doesn’t share her mother’s enthusiasm. To try and win his new stepdaughter over, Jerry presents Stephanie with a pet dog, claiming no family should be without one. Of course, Susan is smitten by his yesteryear morals and optimism. Yet, Stephanie sees through his façade.

In the background, a second storyline emerges. Jerry’s last brother in law, Jim, is on the hunt. Determined to receive justice, Jim has dedicated his life to finding his ex-brother in law. To increase his chances, and bring public awareness, Jim has local and surrounding newspapers run an article that revisits last year’s homicide. Although the article lacks a picture of the murderer, it lands in Jerry’s hands while he’s hosting a party. When Jerry’s friends see the article, they question how someone could murder their own family. Unable to control himself, Jerry mumbles, “Maybe they disappointed him.”

With Jerry’s new family growing unsatisfactory, his vision of perfection becomes shattered once more. Unable to accept their mannerisms, or individualism, it’s time for him to kill again, create a new identity and alias, then relocate.

“The Stepfather” is the ultimate “father knows best” horror movie. Yet, alongside its gore and suspense, it provides a profound social commentary. One message suggests that a single parent home can be just as successful as a two-parent home. To reinforce this, Stephanie states that she and her mother don’t need Jerry. Furthermore, they would do fine without him.

In contradiction, Susan remains old school. Her philosophy indicates that Jerry provides financial, physical, and emotional support. Not until Susan sees his true colors does she shed her housewife uniform and step into a business outfit. Because of Susan’s formalwear transformation, we can assume she has seen the light. At last, she realizes a man isn’t required to succeed.

From Jerry’s standpoint, he wants to receive love while dominating an entire household. Even worse, is his delusions of the perfect family, which trap him in yesteryear ideals. Since he is unable to regress modern family ideals, his only option is to destroy the modern family. Adding to his character is his obsession with the American dream. This fascination is noted when he referenced the magazine article “All American Towns” to select his next family. Also, Jerry is a real estate agent for American Eagle Reality. Although he will sell to anyone, he prefers to only sell to established families. Unfortunately for Jerry, the traditional American dream fizzled out long ago. In this decade, the American dream has undergone an evolution that allows a greater liberation.

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“Frailty” is a twisted American portrait of a widower and his two young sons. Presented in a psychological light, this gem never determines if a higher power is to blame or not. Although its ending is conclusive, the viewer remains in limbo, pondering the narrator’s reliability.

In the beginning, there was Fenton Meeks, the narrator. On a rainy night, Fenton walks into the FBI. After meeting Agent Doyle, he reveals his little brother, Adam, has committed suicide. Also, he confesses that Adam was the “God’s Hand Killer”. At first, Agent Doyle seems reluctant to trust Fenton. But as Fenton continues talking, Agent Doyle becomes more invested.

Fenton then elaborates on his childhood. Following the death of his mother, he, Adam, and their father have established acceptance. All seems peaceful, until Dad interrupts their ordinary routine. After a long day, Dad explains to his sons that he has received a vision from God. Although one might expect the vision to grant peace and serenity, it doesn’t. Rather, Dad prophesizes that God has chosen himself and his boys to kill demons.

One might expect these demons to appear Lovecraftian, or like horned beasts sporting pitchforks. Instead, these demons look like everyday people who lead ordinary lives. To ensure what he’s saying is true, Dad shows his boys that God has supplied them with a Heavenly hitlist.

Without question, Dad obeys God’s word and exposes his sons to serial murders. Throughout these homicides, Fenton tries to reason with Dad that he is killing people. To prove otherwise, Dad places his hands on his victims and receives a vision of their sins. When asking his boys if they saw the same, Fenton denies having received a vision. However, Adam sides with Dad, claiming he saw the victims as demons.

Still, Fenton tries to discourage Dad’s actions while claiming Adam isn’t seeing anything supernatural. To counteract Fenton’s argument, Dad explains why he isn’t having the same experiences. The facts are simple, Fenton lacks faith and he too is a demon.

“Frailty” provides a twist that presents multiple philosophical debates. One notion suggests to accept any Heavenly vision, may it be to create peace, or to carry out God’s wrath. Due to Dad’s brutality, another implies that Dad hasn’t received a message from God at all. Instead, the devil is manipulating him. The final impression alludes that Dad is insane, Adam is a sociopathic, and Fenton is normal.

Yes, there are elements that could be supernatural. One example are the scenes of identity protection at the end. From a rational viewpoint, one could say technical difficulties and luck are to blame. Another example is the list of names. Again, from a rational viewpoint, the list of names could have come from stalking, or luck. From a supernatural viewpoint, on both accounts, it could be a higher or lower power at work.

In this domesticated horror classic, I consider Adam to be the only true villain. I wouldn’t consider Dad to be evil. The reason why is because he’s either carrying out God’s will, or he’s innocent by insanity. Yet, Adam is another story.

At an early age, Adam shows sociopathic tendencies as he piggybacks on Dad’s visions. To reinforce this, Adam presents Dad with a hitlist of people he doesn’t like. Hoping Dad acts without question, Adam claims that God provided him with these names.

“Frailty” packs in the symbolism. Like the Bible, and most religion, its message changes due to the viewer’s outlook. Regardless, a few facts are relevant. These visions and the family dysfunction didn’t begin until after Dad became a widower. Fanaticism rules the household. Finally, it’s never clear if the perspective granted is reliable.

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“Mr. Brooks” is a quirky peek into the life of a serial killer who has gone on a murdering hiatus. Providing a twist, unlike other serial killers, Mr. Brooks doesn’t enjoy killing. Actually, the act of murder is like suffering from an addiction. Such as any other addiction that provides temporary pleasure, burdens are sure to follow.

Mr. Brooks opens with the title character receiving an award for “Man of the Year”. He is successful, charming, kind, attractive, and has a good sense of humor. Behind his everyday exterior, is his persona, “The Thumbprint Killer”. Having retired his bloodlust, he attends an alcoholics anonymous program to help him cope. When he feels his temptation rise, his alter ego appears as a sociopathic man named Marshall. To repress Marshall’s lethality, Mr. Brooks recites the serenity prayer until the urge passes.

After receiving his award, Mr. Brooks treats himself out to some murder. Once fulfilling his need, he goes about his business until tomorrow comes. His day begins with his daughter returning home after dropping out of college. At first, she tries to excuse her actions by manipulation. Set on not returning to college, she urges her father to hire her at the bottom level. This way she can advance to his position when he’s ready to retire. Although her tenacity should be pleasing, Mr. Brooks senses deceit.

Shortly thereafter, a stranger, Mr. Smith, confronts Mr. Brooks. Last night, while Mr. Brooks committed murder, Mr. Smith observed from his apartment window. Rather than inform the police, Mr. Smith took pictures of the act. This material is then used as collateral so that Mr. Brooks will make Mr. Smith his protégé. Having no other choice but to bow to his demands, Mr. Brooks promises to include Mr. Smith in his rendezvous.

While Mr. Smith remains eager, little does he know the mess that he has gotten himself into. As life has become too chaotic, Mr. Brooks has devised a scheme to restore order. Yet, no matter how it ends, someone will lose.

Although planned as a series, “Mr. Brooks” failed to achieve franchising possibilities at the box office. Still, this movie can stand as a solitary film without presenting any major cliffhangers. Pretty much, the viewer can receive closure by using their own imagination.

“Mr. Brooks” provides insight into how murder is an addiction, similar to the classic, “M”. Yet, more blatant is the toxic relationship. This is depicted under four scenarios. One, the relationship of a failed marriage. Two, the relationship built on secrets. Three, the relationship built on bribery. Last, the toxic relationship with oneself.

Internal conspicuous details are relevant with Mr. Brooks. These depict how he and his homicidal alter ego, Marshall, argue. Despite his better judgement, Mr. Brooks surrenders to Marshall’s instigations and ends his hiatus. This decision then creates external conflict for his victims, his family, and himself.

Due to his actions, Mr. Brooks becomes forced into a toxic relationship with Mr. Smith. This peeping tom acts as a tangible source, who encourages Mr. Brooks to continue murder. As his life spirals downward, he discovers his daughter is also a serial killer. Yet, rather than be honest about who he is and what she is, their relationship only results in more death.

Opposing Mr. Brooks is Detective Atwood. She’s a side character who is experiencing her own toxic relationship. An interesting aspect she provides shows the difference between the introvert and extrovert. Whereas Mr. Brooks’s relationships show an introverted toxicity, Detective Atwood confronts each issue openly.

Perhaps the movie is trying to shine light on the toxic nature of our lives. Maybe it’s urging we do whatever is necessary to reach a more positive level of being so healing can begin.

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Although more “Daddy Horror” movies exist, this concludes today’s blog. As I have noted before, I don’t offer an honorable mentions section. So, next year will likely present other possibilities. For those who enjoy reading, I have created a literary blog for pride month, honoring Clive Barker. One may read this blog by clicking HERE.

 

Mother’s Day Horror Movies

Mother’s Day is a time of year when one honors maternal bonds. It’s a day when Mom can enjoy loved ones’ wining and dining her. Or, a day when she can kick off her heels and allow the household to pamper her. No matter how she chooses to celebrate, keep in mind, “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.”

Among the standard traditions that Mother’s Day provides, there are mothers who are less conventional in preference. Existing in a small, shunned demographic are the “Horror Moms”. These are lovely ladies who adore blood and guts compared to pastel bouquets or sappy cards. Pleasing the “Horror Mom” can sometimes be tricky. But sometimes all she needs is a gory good movie with a lot of heart.

“Grace” is a gruesome abomination one can’t turn away from. Inspired by a short film of the same title, this enfant terrible matured into a feature length movie that divided audiences. Due to its presentation, “Grace” remains infamous for making two men faint during its Sundance premiere.

The melancholy opening introduces Madeline and Stephen Matheson. After suffering from two miscarriages, they have finally achieved a successful conception. Hoping for better results than what doctors have provided, Madeline has hired a renowned midwife named Patricia.

One evening, after experiencing a false scare, Madeline and Stephen are driving home. During their return, a reckless vehicle causes them to swerve, resulting in an accident. The aftermath not only leaves Madeline as a widow, but it kills her baby. Despite the tragedy, she carries her fetus to full term, allowing nature to take its course.

The following month, Madeline’s water breaks and she enters Patricia’s care. Surrounded by candles and midwives, Madeline delivers her stillborn in a birthing pool. Next, through Madeline’s tears and begging, the viewer receives the ultimate display of willpower.

Overall, “Grace” is a monster that has a crib all to itself. If one considers Grace’s later actions, one can assume she’s a vampire. After all, her last name could reference Richard Matheson, author of, “I Am Legend.” However, the vampire myth doesn’t apply to her in full.

To verify Grace’s origin is solitary, the scene regarding her introduction provides confirmation. In this particular scene, Madeline introduces her offspring by stating, “It’s Grace.” Due to her tone, and expression, Madeline’s presentation strikes immediate unease. By calling Grace an “it”, the dialogue urges Madeline is a Dr. Frankenstein and Grace is her monster.

Aside from this chilling scene, the movie is fertile with foreshadowing. Specific context refers to the carnivorous moments surrounding Madeline’s strict vegan lifestyle. A blatant example is how the TV plays scenes of animal slaughter. Subtle indicators feature her cat presenting a dead mouse, and her husband’s omnivorous appetite.

While full of metaphors and foreshadowing, this gem’s strongest comment regards the maternal bond. From a satirical viewpoint, it stresses the strength of willpower and determination. If one were to observe “Grace” as a character study, they may notice all characters share a theme. In simplistic terms, each character is unable to achieve their desires without consequences.

“The Guardian” is perhaps the most simplistic movie on this list. Still, I appreciate it no less than the other movies compiled. Based on Dan Greenburg’s novel, “The Nanny”, this adaptation suffered difficulties from the start. In its early stage, it passed hands from Sam Rami to William Friedkin. Later, it underwent rewrites that continued well into shooting.

The finalized concept regards a husband and wife, Katie and Phil, and their newborn. After deciding they need assistance, they review nanny applicants where they meet Camilla. By minor dialogue and actions, Camilla displays a patient temperament, pleasantness, and childcare knowledge.

Without preforming a background check, they hire Camilla, who over time becomes seductive and mysterious. Due to brief incidences, Phil grows wary of her mannerisms. Yet, he remains dismissive until he receives a ghastly voicemail. Due to its haunting message, Phil investigates and discovers Camilla is a child predator.

After he expels Camilla from his home, she returns not long thereafter for a final showdown. While this seems like a suspense movie, darker elements parent it in the horror genre. Dismissing realism, Camilla is a druid who abducts newborns. Once they grow of age, she feeds them to an evil tree. Although one may think I have given away a spoiler, I haven’t. Camilla’s intentions unfold in the first five minutes of the movie.

Without presenting metaphors, or hidden messages, “The Guardian” isn’t secretive about its concept. Its only foreshadowing is a reference to “Hansel and Gretel” and Stephen King’s “It”. Despite this sleeper’s predictability and poor decision making, “The Guardian” delivers some gory fun. Included with its upfront nature are scenes of psychotic animals and Camilla’s hybrid form.

“Mother’s Day” is like the gritty spawn of “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and “I Spit on Your Grave”. Ever since childhood, I’ve adored this movie. But, not until adulthood was I able to look past the gore and brutality to admire its satirical beauty.

The movie opens at a growth opportunity seminar consisting of unfulfilled and unamused people. At the seminar’s conclusion, a mother figure offers two hippies a ride. Through small talk, Mother reveals she enjoys living away from the hectic city life. More important, she notes TV keeps her connected to the outside world. As a matter of fact, TV is how she learned of the seminar.

Away from society, Mother’s car seemingly stalls where her inbred sons, Ike and Addley, attack. After they decapitate and rape the two hippies, Mother praises their actions. Smiling, she says, “Darlings, you have made your mother very proud.”

Next, the movie introduces three friends: Abby, Jackie, and Trina. Since they all live a long distance apart, they reunite each year to go camping. This outing helps them escape daily stressors and reinforces their bond of sisterhood.

Over the next few scenes, they set camp and relax. By the second night, Ike and Addley ambush the women and take them as prisoners. While in captivity, they undergo mental, physical, and sexual trauma, which Mother instigates. After one of the friends die, the remaining women devise a plan to turn the tables.

“Mother’s Day” comments on the emotional instability developed from watching too much TV. One angle depicts the mental and social detachment a TV addict might experience. The opening scene of disconnected seminar participants supports this concept. A second angle focuses on the consequences of parents using TV to raise their children. Included with this perspective is how TV allows the viewer to do everything from home.

From Mother’s viewpoint, TV provides everything a person needs. It keeps her informed with the outside world and provides her boys with a plethora of opportunities. Home fitness, education, and entertainment are but a few of its gifts, with multiple scenes reinforcing these points. The fitness aspect focuses on home exercise machines, workout magazines, and muscle posters. These depictions indicate the brothers rely on the exercise channel. Also, they suggest how the brothers strive to obtain physical Hollywood standards. To suggest TV education and their mentality, a Sesame Street alarm clock is kept by their bed. Last, the macho toys strewn about their room indicates TV’s suggestion of gender conformance.

As one may tell, I have listed these movies from mild to extreme. Besides the titles I compiled, there are more classics that deserve equal recognition. Since I won’t create an honorable mention section, I will continue with more themed Mother’s Day horror movies next year.

If you prefer book options over movies, please check out my literary blog. I have composed an article, honoring Shirley Jackson for Mother’s Day. Click here to read.