The Zombie Rabbit Award... Yay!!

Full Moon Reviews has received another honor: The Zombie Rabbit Award! Thanks to Pete from Deadly Serious and Ethan from Stoned Horror Critic for the kind gesture! Thanks, you two!


"I am giving this award to [10] of my favorite blogs and places i believe need some well deserved attention. I thought it might be fun to shake it up a bit, sort of a "Pay It Forward" move... let me explain.

01) Give the award to [10] who you like, but give a couple the "Next Blog" slider button on top... so random blogger people can feel the love from a stranger.

02) Post those you gave the award to, so fans of your site can see the places you like and Paid It Forward too.

*If we are not careful there will be "Zombie Rabbits" everywhere..."

So, here are my Top 10 victims....er, "recipients":
1. From Midnight, With Love
2. Disturbing Entertainment
3. Big Daddy Horror Reviews
4. The Lightning Bug's Lair
5. Reverend Phantom
6. The Kid In The Hall
7. Porkhead's Horror Review Hole
8. The Film Connoisseur
9. Fascination With Fear
10. The Horror Digest


Brainjacked (2009)

Andrew Allan

Chris Jackson - Tristan Davis

Somali Rose - Laney Bates

Rod Grant - Dr. Karas

Christopher Sarlls - Zane Booker
Krista Grotte - Flora 'Heaven' Walker

Genre - Science Fiction/Horror/Action/Indie

Running Time - 90 Minutes

I couldn't imagine living my entire life under the strain of constant headaches. I don't suffer from migranes, but hearing from people who do, it's not a fun time. Even light headaches from being sick with a cold or flu annoy the hell out of me. But what if someone had a method that could take away headaches forever, even if it did come with a hefty price?

Well I received a screener from Breaking Glass Pictures called BRAINJACKED, which answers the above question. And let's just say that I would risk having my brain throb out of my skull than deal with what some lunatic doctor's "cure". Luckily, BRAINJACKED won't give one a massive headache. Unfortunately, it won't cure a massive headache either.
Tristan (Chris Jackson) is dealing with really bad headaches, to the point where he can't function. What's worse is that his father's not around, and his stepfather films his mother getting gangbanged by junkies. After trying to stop his mom's actions, the junkies screwing her throw Tristan out of the house and into the street, where he gets mugged not much later. How much can a teenager take?

While trying to sleep on a park bench [thankfully not next to Aqualung], a pretty blonde named Laney (Somali Rose) invites Tristan to meet a doctor named Karas (Rod Grant) after noticing his trouble with headaches. Proudly displaying this scar on her forehead, Laney explains that Dr. Karas specializes in an unorthodox method that takes away headaches forever, providing shelter for some of his patients as well. Tristan is understandably unsure about this news, especially after meeting him. You see, some of his patients [mainly runaways] tend to look up to Karas as some sort of savior, worshipping the ground he walks on. But the stress of the headaches cause Tristan to seek treatment from Karas regardless, which involves getting drilled in the skull to relieve pressure. When the "operation" is over, Tristan is free from his headaches. But strange things begin to happen, making Tristan realize that his freedom has come with a price.

I received two screeners from Breaking Glass Pictures - BRAINJACKED and DARKNESS. I chose to watch BRAINJACKED first because the premise of the film grabbed me more than DARKNESS. It sounded a bit like H.P. Lovecraft's work, with its science fiction-horror vibe. It's too bad that the script and the budget limited the idea's potential, because BRAINJACKED could have been really great if the dominos had fallen into place.

The screenplay is really the film's downfall. It's not a horrible script at all. Andrew Allan and Andy Lalino do a decent job trying to flesh out their interesting idea. I mean, what other movie has a mad doctor drilling holes [the drill is part of his arm, by the way] to "cure" headaches while implanting a microchip inside the hole in order to control his patients? It's a great premise for a film! Who wouldn't want to see that? Unfortunately, Allan and Lalino don't take it far enough for BRAINJACKED to really stand out. Instead, the two decide to make a film about a doctor doing these experiments in order to create a brainwashed cult, who will do his bidding to take over the world, until one of his patients figures it out and tries to stop him. It takes something that's as original as an idea could be and turns it generic. I would have liked to have learned more about the experiment itself and the motives as to why this doctor is even doing what he's doing. But we're not given any background about any of these issues [or any of the characters really besides Tristan], leaving Tristan's battle to stop this man seem a bit thin and disconnected.

Besides, the whole idea of this man taking in countless runaways, who ALL seem to have these massive headaches, just for him to drill their heads to even make this all possible is a bit far-fetched. The film is too grounded in reality for this to be believable. In fact, as the film rolls on, we learn that EVERYONE in this town has been drilled by this guy. And he's implanted microchips in all of them that causes them to become zombies to this man's goal with the use of some remote control. How does this one man manage to experiment an entire town without not one person knowing something isn't right? Especially since they black out every time Dr. Karas takes control over their throughts and bodies? It takes away a level of suspense and tension from the film. In fact, a film like this deserves some sense of paranoia for the audience and for the protagonists. But since we don't know why this is happening, or even how, it's hard to invest ourselves in this conspiracy. It just leaves BRAINJACKED as an average action-thriller. That's fine and all, but with a premise like this, it deserved more. At least it never bored me, so that's a plus. But it could have, no should have, been more cerebral in its storytelling.

The special effects in BRAINJACKED are actually quite good for its low budget. We get close ups of drillings that the director doesn't cut away from. We also get an eyeball pulled out of a socket. And the final gore sequence was quite delish. No CGI here, which I greatly appreciated. Plus, we do have some boobies on display. I mentioned that in this section of the review only because some of these boobs looked to be manmade, if you get my drift. No complaints in this department.

The direction by Andrew Allan was pretty good. I really enjoyed the visual palette of the film. It's very colorful, with a lot of neon green, blue, and red. It really creates this otherworldly atmosphere and mood that is refreshing from other low budget sci-fi works. Plus, the film is mainly shot at night, creating a bleak and dark look to BRAINJACKED. I also thought there was some nice style and the action sequences were shot well. It's not a bad film visually at all. I wish it was a bit more tense and suspenseful. I also wish it was more exciting too. Some parts bored me to be honest. But the direction was overall decent.

The acting is decent. Chris Jackson was pretty good as the lead, Tristan. He carried the film well and wouldn't mind seeing him in more films. I thought he was very likeable and had some nice charisma. Rod Grant was totally campy as Dr. Karas, but it worked for his character. I totally bought his 'mad scientist' act with his smarmy performance. I really wanted to slap him everytime he smiled or smirked. That's a good villain right there. Somali Rose was cool as Laney. She was cute and had a lot to work with in her performance. She handled it well. The only actor I thought was pretty annoying was Christopher Sarlis as Zane. I don't know if that's really him or the director made him sound this way, but it seemed as if he was doing a poor man's 'Batman voice' act that just grated me. It's bad enough that Christian Bale does it in BATMAN BEGINS and THE DARK KNIGHT. We don't need another gravely voiced character. It's too bad because I think the performance could have been decent without this distraction.


Sorry, but there's no "Things I've Learned" today. C'mon, I had a headache and I wasn't in the mood to perform! Sue me!

BRAINJACKED is an okay film that had a lot of potential but failed to live up to it. But it still has a unique premise, decent visuals, good special effects, and decent acting for the most part. So if you're looking for something that's potentially different on the surface but pretty common stuff underneath, BRAINJACKED is your film. It just might get drilled into your skull.

2 Howls Outta 4

Visit Breaking Glass Pictures website here.


Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004)

Alexander Witt

Milla Jovovich - Alice
Sienna Guillory - Jill Valentine

Oded Fehr - Carlos Olivera

Mike Epps - Lloyd Jefferson 'LJ' Wayne
Thomas Kretschmann - Major Cain

Jared Harris - Dr. Charles Ashford

Sophie Vavasseur - Angela
Sandrine Holt - Terri Morales
Zack Ward - Sergeant Nikolai Sokolov

Genre - Horror/Sci-Fi/Action/Zombies/Video Games

Running Time - 94 Minutes

In 2002, the film adaptation of one of video game company Capcom's biggest and most popular franchises, RESIDENT EVIL, was released in theaters. Critics hated the film and fans were somewhat indifferent about it. Either way, the film was pretty much a worldwide success, which guaranteed that a sequel would be made [especially since the film left the ending wide open].

Sony Pictures wanted to release the RESIDENT EVIL sequel, RESIDENT EVIL: APOCALYPSE, in 2004 with Milla Jovovich coming back as Alice and director Paul W.S. Anderson writing and directing it one more time. However, Paul W.S. Anderson had signed on to direct ALIEN VS. PREDATOR and was unable to direct the RESIDENT EVIL sequel, even though he did write the screenplay and retained executive producer credit. Instead, directorial duties were given to a second unit director for a number of big films such as SPEED, TWISTER, GLADIATOR, THE BOURNE IDENTITY, and PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: CURSE OF THE BLACK PEARL named Alexander Witt. Realizing that the first film took itself way too seriously, Witt wanted to have more fun with the sequel, making it almost like a modern B-movie of sorts. This led to some cast tension [especially between Jovovich and Witt - with Anderson saying he's not a fan of how the film turned out], but the film was released on time. And like RESIDENT EVIL, RESIDENT EVIL: APOCALYPSE was a success at the box office. But is the film any good? 'Good' may be a subjective term. But it is 'better' than the first installment, but not by that much.

At the end of the first RESIDENT EVIL, Alice (Milla Jovovich) escaped the newly reopened "The Hive" after been injected with the T-Virus [which reanimates dead tissue, yet has somehow merged with Alice's cell to give her superhuman powers]. She realizes she's in Raccoon City, a once busy city now surrounded by thousands of T-virus infected zombies ready to snack on anyone that stands in their way. The Umbrella Corporation quarantines the city, pretty much killing most of Raccoon City's civilians by leaving them helpless against the zombie invasion.

There are survivors, however. Alice meets up with tough policewoman Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory), S.T.A.R.S. members Carlos Olivera (Oded Fehr) and Nikolai Sokolov (Zack Ward), news reporter Terri Morales (Sandrine Holt), and cab driver LJ Wayne (Mike Epps) to confront Umbrella about trying to cover up their mess. Alice and her new allies are contacted by a top scientist named Dr. Ashford (Jared Harris), who needs their help in finding his young daughter Angie (Sophie Vavasseur), who is hiding out in a school in Raccoon City. If she's found, Ashford will arrange a helicopter to pick them all up and take them out of the city. However, Umbrella has caught wind of this and decided to unleash their new project: Alice's old friend Matt (Eric Mabius in the first film), who is now known as the powerful and brutish Nemesis, to kill Alice and her friends.

RESIDENT EVIL: APOCALYPSE is the first film in this franchise that I have watched in theaters and I remember having a decent time with it. I didn't expect much going into it, and it ended up surprising me. I felt it was worth the price of admission. After seeing it after a few years, it's still a decent watch and more entertaining than the first RESIDENT EVIL film was. However, the sequel is still heavily flawed in a lot of ways.

The basis of Anderson's screenplay is the video game, Resident Evil 3: Nemesis. In that game, Jill Valentine had to fight off zombies in Raccoon City and battle this behemoth called Nemesis, armed with rocket launchers, at the end of the game. Thankfully, Anderson doesn't totally insult the audience by not having Jill Valentine in the film. She's one of the main characters in the film and that begins one of the film's flaws: not having a recognized game character as the lead. Now, I understand that Alice was established in the first film for a reason and she would become the glue that holds this franchise together. But Jill Valentine is one of Resident Evil's most popular characters and she's nothing but a supporting character here. What's even worse is that for a while, we sort of get this feeling that Jill will take front and center. The first third of the film really revolves around her character and her tough, sassy personality. And Anderson really writes her well during this portion of the film. But once Alice enters the film full force, Jill is pretty much a non-factor in the movie. We also have Carlos Olivera, another character from the Resident Evil 3 video game, in this film. He doesn't really do all that much really except make lovey-eyes with Alice. In fact, none of the characters do much except Alice. It's kind of insulting.

Another weak point in the narrative is obviously the lack of character development. I'm not expecting really deep characters with a lot of baggage in this kind of movie. But something to connect to would be nice. Like the first film, they're pretty much all stereotypes. You know nothing really about them besides their names and what they do for a living. Fans of the video games will know who Jill, Carlos, Nemesis, and S.T.A.R.S. are. But movie goers who have no clue really need one for them to care about what they're watching.

Also, there's no real explanation as to why Alice is immune to the T-Virus. It's just said and forgotten. Is she even a real person? Was she an Umbrella experiment to begin with? Is she just lucky? Tell me something! The ending is just really confusing at this point because I don't understand what makes her all that damn special! And when did some of her allies get some sort of clout within Umbrella to pull off Alice's escape? Things need to be explained! Even if it's a sentence or two - something, anything, would be nice!

And do I need to mention that sequence in the graveyard where the buried all of a sudden pop out of their graves? How the hell did the T-Virus spread six feet underground? The only zombies in the film should be the ones who were infected physically by the T-Virus inside The Hive, followed by the ones who were bitten by these zombies. Things that have been buried inside a coffin for a while now should not be reanimated. It just came off looking silly, even if it was supposed to be a homage to both Romero's DEAD films and RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD.

But at least the story continues logically after the events of the first film and interesting things actually happen from time to time. The dialogue is better, as the characters actually speak more like real people to each other [as opposed to the first one]. The set up is a lot more interesting and more in relation to the video game than the first film ever was. The pacing of the script is faster and flows better. And there are actually some good plot ideas going on in this film. They're just not executed fully to their potential.

The SFX in RESIDENT EVIL: APOCALYPSE is definitely better than the ones in the first. First of all, Nemesis looks really impressive in this flick. He really does look like his video game counterpart, down to the look and his weapons. I'm also glad he wasn't CGI because it would have made Nemesis really cheesy [even though he kind of is anyway]. I thought he looked great. The lickers looked better. The dogs looked better. Also, when Alice's arms would start to morph due to the T-Virus and the zombies looked good. And I thought the death sequences and the explosions and stuff was well done. Just a better representation of RESIDENT EVIL look wise.

The direction by Alexander Witt is hit and miss. The positive? Witt seems to be having fun with this installment. Realizing how silly it is, he pushes the sequel further than Anderson did in the first one. The action sequences are more exciting. The film flows better and moves really fast. And the cinematography of the film and the look of Raccoon City is really cool.

Unfortunately, the editing really ruins the look of the film. It's really quick and choppy and super annoying. Now if this technique was used during scenes where things are happening way too fast to keep track of, then it's fine. But during the major battle scene between Alice and Nemesis? You can't see jack shit what's going on. This sequence deserved to be shot in long shots. It should be shot with different angles, especially overhead ones and panning shots. But this is shot with extreme close ups that don't last long enough on screen to even register. It's just cut, after cut, after cut, after cut. Alice and Nemesis are two different characters in the way they fight. Alice is fast, cunning, and agile. Nemesis is slow, strong, and more offensive. Yet you never get that sense during their battle because you can't even see what's happening! Whoever edited this film either needs to take more lessons in narrative editing or just not bother at all. I can't overlook something like this when it's right in front of you for lengths at a time.

The acting is not the film's strongest suit. Milla Jovovich returns as Alice. This time, however, she doesn't seem quite into the character and looks like she's going through the motions most of the time. She gets more to do and handles action well like a pro, but there's a disconnect somewhere. I heard she and Witt had issues over the character and also due to the really cold filming location in Canada. There's something missing in her performance. Sienna Gullory is somewhat better as Jill Valentine. She's tough, sassy, and performs action sequences well also. I thought she was a more appealing character and should have been the lead here. Plus she's super hot. Oded Fehr does okay as Carlos Olivera. I don't blame him really. The script doesn't give him much to do. Mike Epps is the comic relief as LJ. Unfortunately, I didn't find him all that funny. But at least he was game enough to make it work, which I can't say for some actors in this film. It's not an actor's film, but it's passable I guess.


- The Ravens Gate Bridge leads into Raccoon City. Fitting because once the T-Virus hit this city, Raccoon was "nevermore".

- If you're a Licker, don't mess with Alice. A giant cross will crush you from above and leave you speaking in tongues...

- Alice had to deal with a big piece of shit known as Nemesis. It's not like she's a stranger to this. After all, I did see ULTRAVIOLET.

- Mike Epps wasn't a fan of facing Nemesis or zombie strippers. This must have been a fucked up FRIDAY AFTER NEXT for the guy!

- Alice incinerated a couple of dogs. Talk about a few bitches in heat!

- Nemesis used a rocket launcher to blow up two helicopters. I say that was a 6-star performance. I see the star for the next Grand Theft Auto...

- Don't look at Alice through security cameras. She'll make your eyes, nose, and ears bleed. Or maybe you're just a True Blood vampire happy to see her escape. I dunno.

While a better film than the first, RESIDENT EVIL: APOCALYPSE is still a flawed, mediocre sequel that misses as much as it hits. At least the film is quick, harmless, and sports some silly action and horror sequences that I wished the first film had. Still not a great film by any means, but it's still the only film in the franchise [as of this writing] that feels like it was actually based on the video game it references. And that's gotta count for something. Too bad I have to deal with RESIDENT EVIL: EXTINCTION until I get to RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE. Where's Nemesis when you need him? Sigh...

2 Howls Outta 4


Cult Films of the 1970s

So there's this meme going on, started by The Mike from From Midnight, With Love, where he wants bloggers to choose their Top 5 Cult Films of the 1970s. A lot of people posted their lists already and I agree with most of the choices. It has taken me a while to put out this list because it's hard to really define what a Cult Film is these days. Like on some lists, I saw HALLOWEEN posted as a Cult Film. I don't agree with that since it was very successful when released, but it does have a certain following. So maybe it is a Cult Film, who knows? Probably why The Mike wanted us to make our lists to begin with.

So it took me days to put this list together. I had to choose 5 films I felt deserve the title of "Cult". So without further adieu, here is my list:

5. THE CAR (1977)
Who doesn't want to see a film about a possessed car ramming down people? Starring James Brolin and his awesome 70s beard [damn you Barbara Streisand for making him shave it], THE CAR is a fun flick with cool stunts and good action. It was considered "JAWS with a car" - how cool is that? I consider this a Top 5 Cult Film of the 70s for a few reasons. While DUEL pretty much started this killer car trend [but that film was very successful upon release], no one really talks about THE CAR. It's funny since it has influenced so many other "Killer Vehicle" movies more than DUEL ever did. Films such as CHRISTINE, MAXIMUM OVERDRIVE, THE WRAITH, THE HEARSE, and so many others were definitely inspired by this film. Hell, even Knight Rider in a way was inspired by THE CAR. And every time I watch Quentin Tarantino's DEATH PROOF, this movie always flashes in my mind. It's obvious Tarantino took a lot of his car sequences from this film. So THE CAR deserves drives its way into my list. Or else, it might jump through my window and mow me down.

John Waters directs. Drag queen Divine eats actual dog shit from the sidewalk and considers herself the filthiest person in the world. Mainstream it ain't. This film will definitely get a reaction out of people, whether they've seen it or not.

3. ERASERHEAD (1977)
David Lynch's ERASERHEAD, his first feature, is a nightmare on celluloid. And I mean that in the best of ways. I haven't seen this film in years, but I do remember that creepy looking baby and some other weird shit that doesn't make a whole lot of sense. In fact, I don't think many people can tell you what this film is really about. But David Lynch is known for his quirky, weird tales that involve many hours of analysis. It's a baffling film, but it's a fantastic one that shines with originality. ERASERHEAD is a film ahead of its time.

2. THE WARRIORS (1979)

One of my favorite movies of all time, THE WARRIORS showed the world the gritty gang life in New York City. It's weird putting this film in a Cult Film list because it's become so damn popular in the past few years. The dialogue is easily quotable: "Can You Dig It?" and "Warriors...come out and play-ay-ay!" are classic quotes that everyone knows. A lot of 80s films involving gang violence [such as CLASS OF 1984 and SAVAGE STREETS] based their style on THE WARRIORS. And Rockstar Games, the makers of the Grand Theft Auto franchise, released a game about THE WARRIORS, serving as a sequel to the movie [with the game becoming very successful and profitable - I own this for PS2 and it rocks]. But it does deserve Cult status for its gritty exploitation feel. Plus it just kicks a lot of ass.


The ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW should be on every list for 70s Cult Films. I think this movie is the epitome of a cult classic. You have great, memorable characters. You have awesome songs, such as "Time Warp". Plus how many other films can claim to have midnight screenings with movie goers actually dressing like their favorite characters and performing them while the movie is playing? Hell, it's even preserved in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant." The fact that this film still plays in Midnight Showings [and I've been to one a couple of years ago - it was really fun] shows the significance this film has had on its loyal audience. A fantastic film that is the standard bearer of the cult movie. I don't think any film tops ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW on a list like this.


The Innocents (1961)

Jack Clayton

Deborah Kerr - Miss Giddens
Martin Stephens - Miles
Pamela Franklin - Flora
Megs Jenkins - Mrs. Grosse
Michael Redgrave - Uncle
Peter Wyngarde - Peter Quint
Clytie Jessop - Miss Jessel

Genre - Horror/Supsense/Supernatural/Psychological/Ghosts

Running Time - 100 Minutes

Being born in the early 1980s, the horror I grew up with hasn't been exactly subtle. From masked killers, to the massive amounts of gore, to great showings of T&A, and to the over-the-top editing and visual style, my generation of horror was pretty much in-your-face and took no prisoners. But there comes a time where you need to get away from the craziness and go back to the past, where horror was calmer, simpler, and more cerebral.

And that, my friends, is when THE INNOCENTS (1961) comes in. Based on Henry James' The Turn of the Screw, THE INNOCENTS is a film that gives the viewer more questions than answers due to its ambiguous approach. Is it a ghost story? Or is it something more psychological at play? All I know for sure is that THE INNOCENTS is one of a kind and mandatory viewing for any true horror fan.

Miss Giddens (Deborah Kerr) is happy to take a post as a governess to care for two orphans at their uncle's (Michael Redgrave) estate. But this ideal position isn't what Miss Giddens had pictured it to be. It starts out nicely, with Miss Giddens bonding with the lovely Flora (Pamela Franklin) and mature-for-his-age Miles (Martin Stephens). They both seem like model children. But once Miss Giddens learns about what happened to the last governess, Miss Jessel (Clytie Jessop) [who died under mysterious circumstances], she begins to hear strange noises and see things that make her believe that the estate is haunted by Jessel and her lover, Peter Quint (Peter Wyngarde). Adding to this mess is the fact that the children seem to be acting strangely, almost as if they've been possessed. Are Miles and Flora victims of Miss Jessel and Quint controlling them? Are these two spirits haunting the estate? Or is Miss Giddens losing her grip on reality?

THE INNOCENTS is a film that works mentally on the audience, rather than audibly or visually. The film is extremely ambiguous, making the 100 minute running time that much more uncomfortable. The Turn of the Screw is considered the first Freudian ghost story, where the reader isn't sure if the ghost Miss Giddens sees are real, or if she's projecting her own repressed delusions and feelings onto the children. While this is still highly debated, The Turn of the Screw influenced a lot of early horror films, especially Val Lewton's productions, such as 1942's CAT PEOPLE. THE INNOCENTS is one of the many adaptations of the novel, and is considered the best. And the fact that the debate still rages on makes THE INNOCENTS a must-see in the horror genre.

The adapted screenplay was written by William Archibald [who wrote a Broadway stage play for The Turn of the Screw in 1950] and In Cold Blood's Truman Capote. It's a really interesting story since the main character, and the one we follow through the film, isn't really reliable in what she claims to see and in her actions. Miss Giddens constantly hears strange noises, Flora's haunting song, and sees the ghosts of Quint and Miss Jessel around the estate. When she questions the others about it, none of them can confirm their presence. The audience is never really sure if the lack of confirmation means that the ghosts aren't there, or that the children and Mrs. Grosse [the housekeeper] are too scared to say. So the ghost story aspect is very questionable.

At the same time, the screenplay also pushes the aspect of repressed sexuality within Miss Giddens. When she meets the uncle of the two children, she seems a bit enchanted with him. When she learns of Quint and Miss Jessel, she begins to see them around the estate more and more. In fact, Miss Giddens is convinced that the two spirits have possessed the children and are continuing their love affair through the siblings. Miss Gidden jumps to such conclusions that she jeopardizes the mental and emotional states of the children themselves. So is she inventing this whole thing as a way to express her sexual repression? Or is she just that damn perceptive of things? It's up to the viewer to decide.

I also think the title of the film, THE INNOCENTS, is debatable as well. Who are the innocent party here? Miss Giddens, who as a clergyman's daughter was brought up very sheltered with the ways of the world? Or is it the children, who haven't grown quite enough to experience much, yet act more mature than most children their age? In my opinion, the title refers to Miss Giddens. The children, quite honestly, seem more worldly than Miss Giddens could ever be. Miles seems to approach Miss Giddens as an adult, even speaking to her as if he's her boyfriend. Flora's song, "O Willow Waly", is a song of heartbreak that no child would be able to truly understand. And if the children are possessed with the spirits of Quint and Miss Jessel, they've been corrupted by the unpure love the two lovers shared before death. Even as Miss Giddens continues the governship, the estate seems to decay little by little, turning into its own version of death. But on the other end of the spectrum, if Miss Giddens is making all of this up, she's the one corrupting these kids. By pressuring them to answer her questions about what's going on, she's making them feeling guilty for things that are out of their control. In fact, the children do get hurt by Miss Giddens' obsession with the two dead lovers and their presence. So really, who is innocent in this film? We never know. Capote and Archibald really wrote a fantastic screenplay that actually makes you think long after the film's over.

The direction by Jack Clayton, who directed 1959's ROOM AT THE TOP and 1983's Ray Bradbury's adaptation of SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES, is absolutely fantastic. This has something to do with working with cinematographer Freddie Francis, who actually won an Academy Award in his field for THE INNOCENTS. Before I mention the direction, let's talk about the cinematography. It's absolutely stunning. According to a 1998 article in Film Comment, Clayton hired Francis when he learned the film would be shot in CinemaScope. Since Francis knew how to handle the 2:35:1 aspect ratio that caused Clayton much stress, Francis created a lot of shots where the framing involved objects creating vertical lines. At the same time, Francis used the shadows of the estate to create strong horizontals in the frame to heighten the mood and atmosphere of the film, placing the characters on the opposite side of where the shadows are. The composition and the contrast between the blacks and the whites are exceptional, and can only be appreciated in widescreen. As for Clayton, his direction creates an eerie mood to THE INNOCENTS, increasing the suspense and tension as the film plays. The ghosts never fade away or just vanish in thin air. They only go away when the camera shifts away to another shot, making us wonder if what we saw was really there or just in Miss Giddens' imagination. There's no extraneous shots and truly allows the story to take center stage over the visuals. Just fantastic work by both men.

The acting is also fantastic. Deborah Kerr is great as Miss Giddens. She plays the role with intensity, seriousness, and a high level of neurosis. She's so prim and proper, that when she starts acting out, it makes the character of Miss Giddens multi-latered and shows the repressed nature of the character. Just a brilliant performance. Martin Stephens, of the 1960 version of VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED, is unsettling as Miles. He's like ten years old, yet plays the character with such maturity. He treats the role as an adult and his chemistry with Kerr is very uncomfortable, yet interesting to watch. Pamela Franklin, who would later act in 1973's THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE, is lovely as Flora. She's the more playful of the two child actors, yet she brings a sense of mystery to the role. The other actors are wonderful as well, especially Peter Wyngarde as the ghostly Quint. Just his eyes and evil laugh heighten the creep factor. A great cast from top to bottom.


- The uncle of the children is a selfish fellow who has no room for children, neither mentally or emotionally. Jon Gosselin is a BIG fan of this film.

- Flora's best friend is a turtle. She must be related to this kid:

- Flora enjoyed watching a spider eat a butterfly. Looks like the outcome for that Spider-Man vs. Killer Moth fight has been spoiled...

- Miles enjoys the companionship with birds. He's the only one that knows what it sounds like when doves cry, other than Prince. Let's hope he doesn't enter that strange phase where he names himself after a symbol and shows his hairy little ass to millions of people.

- Miss Giddens enjoys playing hide and seek with children. So does Gary Glitter, but his version requires more penetration...I mean concentration!

- Quint had a "savage love" with Miss Jessel. That's the kind of love where the madness takes over and you start snapping into Slim Jims. Oooh yeah!!

- Miles and Miss Giddens kissed each other passionately on the lips. Mary Kay Latourneau is also a BIG fan of this film.

THE INNOCENTS is one of the best gothic horror films that has ever been created. It would make a fantastic double feature with a movie inspired by it, 1963's THE HAUNTING. They don't make horror films like this anymore and I think modern horror fans should watch this and appreciate the true art that the genre can bring. THE INNOCENTS is only guilty of being a fantastic viewing experience.


4 Howls Outta 4


Piranha (1978)

Joe Dante

Bradford Dillman - Paul Grogan
Heather Menzies - Maggie McKeown
Kevin McCarthy - Dr. Robert Hoak

Keenan Wynn - Jack

Dick Miller - Buck Gardner

Barbara Steele - Dr. Florence Mengers

Genre - Horror/B-Movie/Cult/Killer Animals

Running Time - 94 Minutes

In 1975, Steven Spielberg helped create the first summer blockbuster in the form of JAWS, a movie that put the fear of sharks in the ocean in people for years to come. The film was so successful and so popular that many other filmmakers decided to use it as a template for their own "killer sea animals" movies. We had ORCA and TINTORERA in 1977. We had GREAT WHITE in 1982. We have all those silly SyFy Channel films that are made by The Asylum dealing with deadly sea creatures. Even JAWS had its share of inferior sequels, including one in 3-D.

Speaking of 3-D, the second remake [the first being in 1995] to the particular film I've reviewing here today is happening to get the [what used to be special] treatment this weekend. And that film is considered the best of the JAW rip-offs: PIRANHA. Even after 32 years, this Roger Corman produced B-movie still has its bite.

Two horny teenagers decide to take their date to a locked down, abandoned military compound that happens to hold a big pool. Feeling the need to skinny dip inside of it, the two lovers jump right in and start having fun. That is, until something in the water begins to eat the two alive from bottom to top.

The missing teenagers catch the attention of ditzy insurance investigator named Maggie McKeown (Heather Menzies), who goes down to Lost River Lake to find them. She hires a local backwoods alcoholic, Paul Grogan (Bradford Dillman), as her guide. They both come across the abandoned compound, which is harboring a secret government lab that's full of weird, mutated creatures. Sensing that the answers to her problems are inside the pool, Maggie decides to drain it to see if any bodies turn up. The scientist conducting the experiments, Dr. Robert Hoak (Kevin McCarthy), tries to stop Maggie, but it's too late. She has unwittingly unleashed a swarm of mutated, killer piranha into Lost River, which will eventually lead into the ocean. As victims begin to pile up due to this act of ill judgment, Maggie and Paul try to stop the piranha invasion from spreading by warning others. Well, that is if the military [who wants to keep this mess hush-hush] will let them.

It has been over twenty years since I had seen PIRANHA. I had forgotten all about this film until news of a Alexandre Aja directed and produced remake would be released this summer in 3-D. I remembered liking PIRANHA a lot as a child, so it was an interesting watch as an adult to see how well it holds up. I can honestly say that the film isn't all that dated at all and is actually still quite the blast that it was years ago.

The story for PIRANHA is pretty much your standard 50s B-Movie gimmick: mutated creature(s) is/are unleashed into the world, destroying whatever is in their way. It never goes much deeper than that, and that's absolutely fine. In fact, PIRANHA is a pretty smart film on the surface. It never hides what it is: a cheesy imitation of a better film - in this case, JAWS. We even have a scene at the beginning where Maggie is playing a JAWS arcade game. We also have a reference to THE CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON. THE MONSTER THAT CHALLENGED THE WORLD plays on TV at some point. And a person at the beach is reading "Moby Dick". These little things add charm to this film. It's guilty of its imitation and makes fun of it. When even Steven Spielberg loves your film, you know you did something right.

Also for a B-Movie, it has a lot of things going on to keep one entertained. We have the very weird coupling of Maggie and Paul. Maggie is a bit of a slut, but is somewhat proud of her sexual power over men [although she doesn't really have any]. Paul is an alcoholic who seems scared to get close to Maggie, but is also concerned about her safety, as well as the safety of his aquaphobic daughter [who is at a camp by the lake]. We're never really sure what type of relationship these two have or will end up having. But they have an interesting chemistry with each other and are fun to watch together.

There's also moments at the campsite, where Paul's daughter is scared to go into the lake because of sea monsters. The two female counselors try to help her get out of having to swim in the lake [for some sort of Water Badge], but the asshole chief counselor doesn't care about her fear and pressures her into swimming. Unfortunately, this leads to a whole bunch of kids getting maimed in probably the film's most tense moment.

We also have scenes where a father is murdered by the piranha, leaving his son traumatized as he's saved by Paul, Meggie, and Dr. Hoak [who plays against type as he's not a mad scientist, but a man forced to do these experiments by the military]. We have scenes where the military, acting like they want to help the area, decide to silence Paul and Maggie to keep their mess quiet. And then there's the climax, where the beach resort is attacked by hungry piranha. For a B-movie, there's a lot going on that keeps you on your toes the entire time.

The dialogue in this film is absolutely hilarious. I thought Maggie's "seduction" on Paul was funny as hell, since she gave him hints he didn't see. Also Paul's answer as to why he stopped smoking [because it would interfere with his drinking] is pretty clever. There is a lot more dialogue I could quote, but this review is probably too long as it is. But it's very self-aware of itself and the film's silly situation, making PIRANHA a fun 94 minutes.

There are flaws in the narrative. The child whose father was murdered disappears as soon as he appears. What ever happened to him? And who's taking care of Jack's dog after he's killed by the piranha? I'm surprised Paul and Maggie didn't take the dog with them. Also, I wish the beach resort scene had taken place before the camp scene. While the resort scene is the moment where the piranha really go crazy on the citizens and leads to the film's "resolution", it's not as tense as the camp scene before it. I mean, seeing adults get mauled isn't all that pleasant to watch. But seeing helpless, innocent children getting mauled by piranha is just more downbeat and messed up. If the children had been hurt AFTER the adults, the film may have been more tense. But you can't top children getting chewed up like that. Anything after that is pretty downhill after that point.

The SFX by Jon Berg, Phil Tippett, Vincent Prentice, and Rob Bottin are standard B-Movie cheese. We hardly see the piranha in the film until the end. They look like puppets really with their teeth chomping down on human flesh. But it's a low budget B-flick, so they don't look all that bad really. The make up by Bottin is pretty good, although his work on THE HOWLING, ROBOCOP, and THE THING would be much better [due to bigger budgets]. I do have a question about that stop-motion puppet creature during the investigation of the science lab sequence. Was there a point to it? It was just weird. I guess it was to show the type of experiments in that lab, but I wish it had been pushed further.

The direction by Joe Dante is quite good here. I think if he couldn't really show the fake piranha [for obvious reasons], giving them their own P.O.V. shots was the right move. Seeing their view of the attacks was quite effective and definitely reminded me of what Spielberg did in JAWS. I thought the story structure and how it was paced was well done. There are a few lull moments, but nothing that takes you out of the film all that much. Plus there was some nice tension and suspense during the last two attack sequences. It's not a scary film, but it doesn't really try to be. Joe Dante would do finer works later on [THE HOWLING and GREMLINS], but his work on PIRANHA is no slouch.

The acting is also very good. Bradford Dillman plays the straight man/serious guy well. He has a bumbling quality about him, making him fun to watch. Plus he had a great beard. Heather Menzies was also good as the ditzy Maggie. She was cute and very animated. I thought she and Dillman had some interesting chemistry with each other. We also get appearances by Dick Miller [who has appeared in most, if not all, of Joe Dante's films], cult director Paul Bartel, Kevin McCarthy, and the iconic Barbara Steele. For a B-Movie, PIRANHA has a solid cast.


- A couple ignored a "No Trespassing" sign, only getting them in trouble with piranha. Signs are there for a reason. Things like "Stop", "School Crossing", and that "Exit Only" tattoo over my ass are for safety purposes. Common sense, people!

- Maggie was playing a JAWS arcade game. Judging by the gameplay, it bites.

- Paul was frying a fish in the kitchen. I guess beans were burning on the grill. I mean, it takes a whole lotta tryin' to just get up that hill!

- There was a weird looking lizard creature walking around the lab. It probably just wants
attention. When people don't pet the lizard every once in a while, it can get quite hard to move on with the rest of the day.

- Don't stick your feet into the river. They might get eaten by piranha. Or this could happen...

- Barbara Steele is one of the members of the government, in charge of the secret laboratory and its experiments. Killer piranha? Military getting involved to cover this mess up? An asshole camp counselor? Yep, this is a BLACK SUNDAY indeed!

- "Sometimes you have to destroy in order to save." Sounds like the story of my reviewing life for the past four years...

- Someone dragged a chewed up victim through a wall structured sand castle. How unfortunate. Do you have any idea how long it took to make that sculpture?? The nerve of some people!

PIRANHA is an entertaining "animals run amok" B-Movie - nothing more, nothing less. It's not a perfect viewing experience and not everyone will enjoy it [if they haven't seen it already]. But for me, it's a fun watch where you sort of leave your brain at the door and enjoy fish getting their revenge on seafood loving humans. I look forward to the upcoming remake to this. It looks like it'll keep the same silly, campy tone. And that's more than fine with me. JAWS is the better film, but PIRANHA makes for a suitable substitute.

3 Howls Outta 4

2010 Star Costumes Horror Scholarship

I received an email today from Christian, with Star Costumes. They have set up a horror scholarship worth $1,000 for students who want to work in the horror industry. I think this is a wonderful idea and I will not hesitate getting the word about this scholarship out there. For you horror students out there, take the time out to apply. This may be a great once in a lifetime opportunity.

Details here: http://www.starcostumes.com/horror-scholarship


Resident Evil (2002)

Paul W.S. Anderson

Milla Jovovich - Alice
Michelle Rodriguez - Rain Ocampo

Eric Mabius - Matt Addison
James Purefoy - Spence Parks
Martin Crewes - Chad Kaplan

Genre - Horror/Action/Science Fiction/Zombies/Video Game

Running Time - 100 Minutes

In 1996, Capcom [maker of the uber-popular Mega Man and Street Fighter games] released a survival horror video game titled Resident Evil on Sony's Playstation console. Introducing STARS Alpha team members Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine as they're trapped inside a mansion infested with zombies and zombified dogs created from experiments by the Umbrella Corporation, Resident Evil caught the attention of many gamers and it became successful both critically and commercially. Resident Evil is considered a landmark game in video game history, as it became the prototype for every other survival horror game and really showed that video games could be creepy and/or scary. In 1998, Resident Evil 2 was released [which starred Claire Redfield and Leon Kennedy] and it was more successful than the first one [it's my second favorite in the series]. Capcom now had a video game franchise on its hands, which obviously caught the attention of Sony movie executives who wanted to bring the game to the big screen.

The release of Resident Evil couldn't have been more perfect. 1996 was also the year that the horror genre was revitalized by Wes Craven's SCREAM, putting horror back on the mainstream map. In 1999, Sony sought the assistance of George A. Romero, the man who is known as the King of Zombies with his work on the ...OF THE DEAD series of films. Romero was supposed to direct and write the screenplay for the film, which was based mostly on the first Resident Evil game and introduced many of the game's characters into the film. For some reason, Sony and Capcom hated Romero's input and fired him. Apparently Sony wanted a more action-oriented film while Romero's was more focused on the horror and the mystery of the Umbrella Corporation.

Looking elsewhere, Sony and Capcom enlisted the help of Paul W.S. Anderson, the man who brought the Mortal Kombat video game franchise to life in two films [the first one being considered as the best video game adaptation on screen, which isn't saying alot]. Anderson, who would also sign on to direct, decided to make a Resident Evil film that would act as a prequel to the video game storylines [originally titled GROUND ZERO but taken off due to the events of 9-11], focusing more on the mystery of a made-up Alice character and her ties to the Umbrella Corporation, giving the film a more action-based scenerio than the suspense-scenerio the games are known for.

Released in 2002, RESIDENT EVIL was a worldwide box office hit. It made over $100 million and, as of today, has spawned three sequels starring Milla Jovovich as Alice. Critical reception for RESIDENT EVIL was very negative during its release [even today as well]. I've only seen this film once before I watched it again for this review back in 2003, and I was pretty indifferent to it. As a fan of the video games, it left a lot to be desired. Watching it again seven years later, I still feel indifferent to RESIDENT EVIL. It's not the worst film ever made, nor is it the worst video game adaptation. But it hasn't held up all that well and I'm really surprised, based on this film, that RESIDENT EVIL spawned a franchise.

A naked amnesiac named Alice (Milla Jovovich) wakes up to find that she's inside a mansion that has been raided by a group of militant agents, including Rain (Michelle Rodriguez) and Kaplan (Martin Crewes). The group was hired by the world's most powerful corporation, Umbrella, to infiltrate some underground lab beneath the mansion called The Hive. Alice is apparently in charge of protecting the entrance prior to her amnesia, as well as being genetically altered in order to do so, along with her supposed husband Spence (James Purefoy), who also has amnesia. Also in the mansion is Matt (Eric Mabius), a cop who is hunting down Umbrella wanting answers after his sister has gone missing.

The reason for all this is the fact that someone inside of the Umbrella Corporation unleashed the deadly T-Virus, a biochemical that reanimates dead tissue and brings the dead back to life, through the ventilation system. Even though the answers are inside The Hive, the lab is controlled by a very sophisticated piece of artificial intelligence called the Red Queen, whose sole purpose is to kill anyone inside the complex to keep the T-Virus inside. The gang must destroy the Red Queen, as well as the zombies that have now called The Hive home.

RESIDENT EVIL is a very mediocre movie based on an excellent series of video games. It feels very mechanical in how its presented, leaving you feeling cold after the 100 minutes is over. This is a film that steals ideas from other genre films while trying to create its own mythology, something that doesn't seem to work and come together. What went wrong here?

I think the major culprit for RESIDENT EVIL's flaws is the script itself by Paul W.S. Anderson. The saddest part about this is that the film actually starts out very well, with the "worker bees" in the Hive getting exposed by the T-Virus, causing massive chaos. It sets up the rest of the film really well, making you invested in what's going to happen and how it'll be resolved [or not]. Even the first couple of minutes when Alice wakes up and walks around the mansion confused and looking at photos is good. It actually has a moody and atmospheric feel, something the Resident Evil games are known for. But once that militant group enters the fray, it all goes downhill. The reason for that is the fact that these characters are all interchangable besides Rain, who is the token tough girl of the group and sneers the whole film through, and the black leader because of his skin color. The other members, with Kaplan only being noticable because he lasts longer than the others, can all be replaced with mannequins and the effect would still be similar.

This leads to the main problem: no character development. Why should we care about these people? Two of them have amnesia. The soldiers do reveal anything about themselves that has any importance. The only character that has some development is Matt, whose sister was inside of the Hive when the T-Virus outbreak went down, giving him a reasonable motive as to why he's bothering with all this. But even he comes off flat because we don't know anything else about him except he's a cop. You can't invest any emotion in these characters because there's nothing to really connect to. And when the actors [which I will get to towards the end] don't really bring out something that could make these characters interesting, you don't really give a damn. Even the zombies, except for The Licker, are bland. How do you make zombies boring?

The dialogue is also pretty bad. The lines consist of each character shouting at each other and giving out straight commands. "No!" "Help me!" "Run!" "Stand back!" The whole film is pretty much like this. And it takes itself way too seriously. This sort of film could use a bit of fun in it, but RESIDENT EVIL sucks the fun right out. Dialogue is supposed to reveal at least something about a character. But besides this one good moment where Matt and Alice discuss his sister, which leads to Alice remembering who she is, the dialogue does nothing but provide exposition that would be better off shown instead of heard.

This is why video game adaptations don't work for the most part. A slim story and dialogue that I mentioned in the previous paragraph succeed in video games because we get to control what happens. Resident Evil doesn't have the strongest or greatest story in the world, but since we can control Chris or Jill, we get to become invested in what happens. We can change the story as it happens by killing all the zombies, or running away from them until they catch up with us later on. That's why video games work because we control the characters' actions and stories. With a video game adaptation, that's already predetermined. We have no say in how the story will go, leaving us feeling distant and detached. That's why these type of films need a good story because what's the point otherwise?

The SFX and gore in RESIDENT EVIL is a mixed bag. The gore is pretty nonexistent for a zombie feature. People get bitten and stuff, but nothing too graphic and the characters hardly bleed out. As for the SFX, it's mainly CGI. Some of it looks good, like some of the zombie makeup. Hell, the crows in the film are CGI and I couldn't really tell. However, the Licker looks pretty bad in his CGI form, although he does look cool towards the end. But things look really cartoonish to the point where you just want to shut it off and play the video game instead.

The direction by Paul W.S. Anderson is also a mixed bag. There's not enough tension, suspense, or scares to make RESIDENT EVIL feel like a horror film. There's not enough excitement and interesting battle sequences to make RESIDENT EVIL feel like an interesting action film. The sci-fi element is too subtle. However, the film does have a great polished look to it. I mean, the lighting and the colors are actually quite nice. The dream flashbacks are also well done. And there is style here, with the slow motion shots [which get sort of annoying towards the end], and a frenetic pace during the action scenes [which unfortunately takes away the effectiveness of the zombie attacks]. It's a nice looking film, but it's not directed all that well.

The acting is just there for the most part. Milla Jovovich is beautiful to look at, but she gives a pretty wooden performance for the most part. However, she carries the film as well as possible and thankfully she'd get better in the sequels. Michelle Rodriguez plays Michelle Rodriguez - tough, pouty, and angry. That's pretty much all I can say about her. It's a performance she does well. Eric Mabius is the best actor in the film, having the most interesting character as Matt. He seems to be the only one remembering he's in a horror-action movie. Why he wasn't the main character and actor is beyond me. James Purefoy isn't given enough to do until the end, but does it well when the material is presented to him. And Martin Crewes did as best as he could with a thin role. I really don't blame the actors for this one when the script they had to work with didn't do anyone any favors.


- "At the beginning of the 21st Century, the Umbrella Corporation had become the largest commercial entity in the United States." If that's the case, I blame Chris Brown for this mess.

- Don't ever get trapped between the doors of an elevator. It's not worth losing your head over. Literally.

- Rain told Matt to blow her. I wouldn't doubt that this chick has a bigger dick than the guys in this film. Well except for the black guy because...well...you know.

- The Red Queen's defense grids killed four of the operatives. These guys shouldn't taken the job if they were just gonna fall to pieces due to pressure.

- A "survivor" bit Rain's hand after she tried to console her. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you! That's worse than THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE. At least she'll breast feed you!

- Alice shot and kicked around a few dogs. That's how you deal with a bunch of bitches, ladies and gentlemen.

- The zombies kept getting good bites on Rain. For someone who was great in a GIRLFIGHT, she's neither FAST or FURIOUS.

- The Licker has a very long tongue. Too bad Lindsay Lohan's out of jail. I'm sure it would've made a suitable cellmate.

While not the worst video game adaptation out there, RESIDENT EVIL is still mediocre. Time has not really been kind to this one, as the Resident Evil video games that were released after this film actually have more interesting stories and characters. It doesn't do enough as a horror film. It doesn't do enough as an action film. Its sole purpose is to build a franchise rather than focus on making a good self-contained story. RESIDENT EVIL is an okay waste of 2 hours, but I would rather spend that time beating the video game itself [which would probably be more fun]. Mildly entertaining flick that ends up forgettable once it ends.

1.5 Howls Outta 4


Neighbor (2009) [Video Review]

Robert A. Masciantonio

America Olivo - The Girl
Christian Campbell - Don Carpenter

Lauren Rooney - Elizabeth Hitchcock

Pete Postiglione - Mike Hodder

Joe Aniska - Sam Landis

Genre - Horror/Torture Porn/Indie

Running Time - 90 Minutes

A torture porn film with a hot chick doing the torturing and mutilating a penis. I don't think she should be in charge of the Neighborhood Watch meetings anymore...

Watch the video for my thoughts on NEIGHBOR.


Babysitter Wanted (2008)

Jonas Barnes
Michael Manasseri

Sarah Thompson - Angie Albright
Matt Dallas - Rick

Kai Caster - Sam Stanton

Bruce Thomas - Jim Stanton
Kristen Dalton - Violet Stanton

Bill Moseley - Chief Dinneli

Nana Visitor - Linda Albright

Genre - Horror/Thriller/Occult/Independent

Running Time - 90 Minutes

Back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the babysitter was all the rage in horror films. Films like HALLOWEEN and WHEN A STRANGER CALLS capitalized on this urban legend where a babysitter, taking care of two kids in a large house that was isolated from the rest of the neighborhood, received several phone calls from a crazed person who would end up killing her that night. It's a simple, yet effective, horror trope that will never die even in the midst of pointless remakes and sequels.

And even during this rough state of mainstream horror [the indie and foreign scenes seem to be where the more interesting horror is taking place], it's refreshing to see filmmakers still wanting to bring back the babysitter story that many modern filmmakers have looked over in current horror. Ti West's THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL did this successfully last year, keeping the film retro until the last 15 minutes. However, there was a film that was pretty much overlooked for a while until THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL was released and became successful.

That film is 2008's BABYSITTER WANTED, a film that follows the babysitter angle THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL based its story around, but adding other elements to make it stick out from its companion film. And thankfully, BABYSITTER WANTED is definitely worth getting 75 cents an hour for.

Angie Albright (Sarah Thompson) is a sheltered, beautiful, devout Christian girl who leaves home for the first time to attend a community college [that actually has a dorm, which is kind of hard to believe but whatever]. She ends up sharing space with a junkie for a roommate and slowly develops a relationship with a guy named Rick (Matt Dallas). Angie also feels as if someone is watching and following her. Realizing she needs money to support herself, she ends up taking on a babysitter job at the Stanton Ranch run by Jim (Bruce Thomas) and Violet (Kristen Dalton). While taking care of their "hungry" and creepy son, Sam (Kai Caster), Angie begins receiving harassing phone calls. Right after the calls, a strange man forces his way into the house. As Angie tries to protect Sam, she soon realizes that things aren't quite as they seem.

I was completely surprised by how much I enjoyed watching BABYSITTER WANTED. I wasn't really expecting much out of this film, but it's actually a very well-made indie horror film that takes the babysitter angle and gives it a bit of a twist. I was never really sure how things would go, and that's pretty rare for a modern horror flick.

It's hard to discuss the narrative since BABYSITTER WANTED is the type of film that'll be better if you don't know much about it. What I will say is that it pretty much follows the same structure as THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL, but speeds the process up a bit. We don't get a lot of alone time with the main character, even though the development is pretty much the same. And the action never lets up, never making the watching experience dull. And the twist here happens at the halfway point of the film. I gotta say, I didn't see it coming at all. I knew this film dealt with the occult, but the reveal totally floored me. Whoever said they saw this coming is a liar unless someone told you before watching. The twist shifts the more slasher feel of the first half into a torture porn-esque feel in the second half [yes it's Final Girl vs. Big Bad as usual]. But it never goes full slasher or full torture porn. I really wish I could go into detail about what happens in this movie, but I won't spoil the experience for those who haven't watched. But it's definitely a well-written and well-paced script.

I do have issues though and it involves two of the supporting characters. The roommate angle is made to be a big deal at the beginning of the film, with three major scenes involving the roommate herself. But once the babysitting portion of the film takes over, she's never seen or heard from again. In fact, the roommate angle could have been left out and the film would still be the same. As for the boyfriend character Rick, he seems like his role was unfinished. His role seems as if he'll be the one to save the day at the end of the film, yet he's missing for more than half of the movie and is just used as a plot device to make Angie more worried. It almost felt as if the screenwriters wanted Angie to have a boyfriend and they just came up with one on the fly. I think there was potential to create an interesting character and relationship with Angie there, but it's stuck in limbo for the most part.

Directors Jonas Barnes and Michael Manasseri is very impressive. While the film does show its low budget nature at times [lighting issues and the grain of the film stock], the way the visuals are set up makes up for it. The composition is fantastic, with close ups to capture the powerful emotions of the characters, to long shots of the killer in the background while Angie hides in the foreground. The twist and turns work beautifully. There's nice tension and suspense. And they don't shy away from showing some gore. We see people getting shot, getting stabbed, getting cut open, and so on. It's not the goriest film ever but it will satisfy gorehounds. And I usually have issues with the multiple endings, but they sort of made sense in order for the story to finish [and possibly lead into a sequel]. So Barnes and Manasseri did a very nice job bringing BABYSITTER WANTED from page to screen.

The acting was also very good here. Sarah Thompson, who's probably known for her performances in CRUEL INTENTIONS 2 and television's Angel [she played Eve in the last season], does an excellent job as Angie. She turns a sweet, shy Christian girl into an angry, in-your-face, profanity speaking survivor. She's very appealing to watch [both in talent and in looks]. Kai Caster as Sam was pretty creepy [kids in horror films usually are]. Bruce Thomas was great as Sam Stanton, bringing the funny to ease the tension somewhat. Kristen Dalton was okay as Violet Stanton, the sort of bitchy mom. Matt Dallas, of Kyle XY, is a good actor but he barely does anything in the film. And Bill Moseley, in an unusually normal role, does very good as the town sheriff. A very nice cast all around.


- Some tied up chick received a mallet to the head. That's one way to get hammered on a Saturday Night.

- Angie's roommate loves to get stoned. Like T.Rex once said, "Get it on, smoke a bong, get it on." Or something like that...

- Most of the art work that Angie took interest in involved murder and Satan. This is the type of art that would make one cut off their ear and send it to their ex. No one needs to Van Gogh that far!

- Angie kept receiving really weird calls. It's probably those damn telemarketers.

See? Now they'll stop calling. Moving on...

- Sam, dressed as a cowboy, enjoys putting meat in his mouth. Awww, he's being raised to be one of the Village People! Y.M.C.yAy!!

- The killer had a scarred face. He said hello to his little friend, but apparently the greeting wasn't exactly welcomed.

- A priest went after Sam and Sam only. Let the choosing of the next altar boy commence!
- Bill Moseley got axed in the back. If Bubba had just killed that bitch, this could have been avoided!

While I dug THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL for its slow burn and retro visual style, I dug BABYSITTER WANTED for its fast pace and interesting twist. It appears that silly urban legends still have a place in modern horror. I, for one, am happy about that and I hope more filmmakers bring back the things that were so scary in films to begin with. Definitely a recommended watch. Laurie Strode and Jill Johnson would be proud of this one.

3.5 Howls Outta 4

Related Posts with Thumbnails