Halloween Night (2006)

Mark Atkins

Derek Osedach - David Baxter
Rebekah Kochan - Shannon
Scot Nery - Christopher Vale
Sean Durrie - Larry
Alicia Klein - Tracy
Erica Roby - Angela
Amanda Ward - Kendall
Jared Michaels - Daryll
Nicholas Daly Clark - Todd

Genre - Horror/Slasher

Running Time - 85 Minutes

A kid named Chris Vale (Scot Nery) watches his mother get raped and murdered by two men with white masks, something his father had set up. Chris tries to get away, but it seen by the killers. One of them shoots a bullet his way, but it hits a pipe that blasts hot steam into Chris' face.

Ten years later, Chris is locked inside of a mental institution burned without recognition. The kind orderlies decide to boost Chris' self esteem by making fun of him while wearing similar masks that his mother's killers had worn. Chris decides to murder these idiot orderlies and escapes the asylum.

Now a fugitive, Chris decides to head back to his childhood home. What he doesn't know is that the house is the location of a Halloween party hosted by David (
Derek Osedach), who is planning a prank to scare his guests. Unfortunately for David, Chris has murdered one of his friends (Nicholas Daly Clark) and has taken his costume as a disguise - leading to the guests believing he's their friend. This allows Chris to murder guests one by one, making this HALLOWEEN NIGHT one these characters won't forget. I'll probably be forgetting about it two weeks from now though.


I was very hesitant to watch The Asylum's HALLOWEEN NIGHT. Judging by the film's cover and the official synopsis, I was not looking forward to another film about a mental patient who escapes to kill people in his hometown. It's also supposedly based on a true story, although I'm not sure what the ratio between truth and fiction is. Surprisingly though, HALLOWEEN NIGHT is not a rip off of John Carpenter's classic 1978 "slasher", despite killers in white masks and the whole escapee mental patient deal. HALLOWEEN NIGHT is more inspired by several slasher films, trying to turn something old into something new. And while the film isn't terrible, there's still a lot to be desired by this Asylum production.

The screenplay, written by Fangoria editor Michael Gingold, isn't the best script I've ever seen play out - but it's not the worst either. The main narrative plays out pretty much as one would expect from a film like this. You get the killer's tragic backstory. The killer escapes a mental institution and heads to his hometown wearing a mask. You get one-dimensional characters who are nothing but cannon fodder. You get a twist ending. HALLOWEEN NIGHT plays out exactly as you'd expect it to. And that's not necessarily a bad thing. It plays to its conventions well enough and the film is easy to follow on the surface. Sometimes you just want a slasher film to be a slasher film, without any self-referential stuff to make itself feel smart.

Instead of just ripping off HALLOWEEN like it could have, HALLOWEEN NIGHT takes things from several past slasher films. Chris Vale being a killer burn victim reminded me of THE BURNING. The killer murdering people who are in his home is sort of similar to HALLOWEEN: RESURRECTION. And the Final Girl isn't killed by Vale due to some necklace that belonged to his mother, similar to FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2. This film isn't as good as most of the films mentioned, but it's a nice homage.

However, I wish the script was stronger and written better. Is it entertaining for the most part? In a disposable way, sure. But there are a lot of issues that will make one scratch their heads. The main one, for me personally, had to be Chris Vale's motivation to murder. What I'm trying to say is - WHY was he killing people? Who was he getting revenge on? Just because someone is mentally unhinged doesn't mean that he's going back to his house to kill people. Yes, a slasher film needs slashing by some deranged killer. But Jason Voorhees wanted revenge on camp counselors over his drowning and the death of his mother. Freddy Krueger wanted revenge on the Elm Street children for what their parents did to him. Michael Myers was just a force of evil that was the local Boogeyman. What's Chris Vale's excuse? There's nothing about this character that's interesting. You want a villain you can somewhat identify with as a character in terms of his motives. You don't get that here at all.

Also, the dialogue isn't that great. It's pretty generic stuff and doesn't really flesh out the characters all that much. For older characters, they behave pretty childish and don't sound as mature as horror characters should sound. The dialogue should have fleshed out the characters a bit. I don't need three-dimensional protagonists in a slasher film, but they should be beyond stereotypes so we can care about them. Besides maybe a couple of them who showed personalities, Chris Vale could have killed them all off and it wouldn't have made much of a difference to me. I get that Gingold wanted to pay homage to past slasher films - and as an editor of a famous horror magazine, I know he understands the genre extremely well. But it felt pedestrian to me and I wasn't really invested in much at all.

The highlight of the film has to be the death scenes. They're not masterful or anything, but at least they are stimulating eye candy. In fact, for a low budget flick, I thought the execution of the death sequences were handled very well. We get a lot of blood and cool effects that I was not expecting at all. A lot of them involved an axe. An axe to the spine. An axe to the face. A sword through the skull. A hanger to the eye. Even some nicely filmed slit throats as well. The special effects team did well when it came to showing the "gore". I do wish the burnt look to Chris Vale looked better. He looked like a California Raisin rather than a burn victim. Just my two cents.

The direction by Mark Atkins wasn't terrible either. HALLOWEEN NIGHT looks like it was shot on a small DV camcorder, but it looked nice enough. The editing was good, especially during the kill scenes. The establishing shots of the locations around the Vale house were nice looking. Countless scenes involving lesbian sex and boobs definitely helped the entertainment portion of the movie. I wish the film had more tension and suspense. But it's not a terribly directed film and I felt the visual presentation told the story well enough.

The acting in HALLOWEEN NIGHT is a mixed bag. Rebekah Kochon was pretty good as Shannon. She's been in a couple of The Asylum's horror offerings, and I thought she handled her role well. Scot Nery was decent as Chris Vale, playing the awkwardness of the role well. Sean Durrie was likeable as the geeky Larry. I wish he had more to do. Jared Michaels played the bad boy well as Darryl. Again, he should have had more to do. The only actor I had any real issue with was Derek Osedach as David. I was confused as to how to deal with his strange line reading. He would mumble lines, and stutter at times, almost as if he was trying to act as if he didn't rehearse from a script. It was just odd and I wasn't sure whether to laugh, or roll my eyes at how bad it came across. I know Osedach has directed and produced stuff for The Asylum. Maybe he should stick to behind-the-scenes stuff rather than perform in front of it.

While HALLOWEEN NIGHT wasn't as bad as I was expecting it to be, it didn't wow me either. The screenplay left me cold for the most part with an interesting killer, bland characters, and generic dialogue. However, the acting was decent, the direction was fine for what it was, and the death sequences/special effects were handled better than I would have imagined. HALLOWEEN NIGHT is an okay slasher film by The Asylum, but I probably won't watch it again any time soon. I'll stay in Haddonfield, Illinois for my Halloween fix.

2 Howls Outta 4


The Abominable Dr. Phibes (1971)

Robert Fuest

Vincent Price - Dr. Anton Phibes
Peter Jeffrey - Inspector Trout
Joseph Cotton - Dr. Versalius
Virginia North - Vulnavia
Norman Jones - Sergeant Tom Schencley
John Cater - Waverly
Terry Thomas - Dr. Longstreet
Caroline Munro - Victoria Regina Phibes

Genre - Horror/Mystery

Running Time - 95 Minutes

When it comes to October, and Halloween season, I always manage to sneak in at least a Vincent Price film in my viewing rotation. I mean, how can it be Halloween without one of the most iconic horror actors of all time? I grew up watching Vincent Price movies, marveling at the man's talent in becoming weird, eccentric characters that left a lasting imprint on my young mind. The man was class all the way, which I feel modern horror is sadly lacking today.

I've never hidden that my personal favorite Vincent Price film is 1959's THE TINGLER. Something about that William Castle production just puts a genuine smile on my face. In fact, I watched that again this year when Turner Classic Movies [who are doing a bang up job with the classic horror this season] showed it a few days ago. But as much as I love Vincent Price in THE TINGLER, it's not his finest performance. No, Price's masterpiece came later in his career in 1971's THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES - a film so magnificent, so elegant, and so ahead of its time. In fact, it most likely inspired the most successful horror franchise of the 2000's - SAW. And even after 42 years, THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES still resonates and entertains as it probably did all those years ago.

Dr. Phibes (Vincent Price) is a lot of things. He's an expert in the medical field. He's an accomplished organist. He's also a cunning serial killer bent on revenge over the murder of his wife (Caroline Munro in an uncredited role) at the hands of a shaky handed surgeon, after a terrible car accident that left him scarred both physically and mentally. Unable to cope, Phibes decided to bury himself with his wife. But feeling she didn't get the justice she earned, Phibes decided that vengeance was in order.

Following the Pharoah's Curse of the Old Testament as his method of revenge, Phibes and his lovely assistant, Vulnavia (
Virginia North), decide to hunt down the nine doctors responsible for Mrs. Phibes' death. One is stung by bees. Another gets bitten to death by bats. There's even locusts, rats, and a frog mask that crushes a doctor's skull. Phibes saves Dr. Vesalius (Joseph Cotton), the man who performed the botched surgery, for last. As Inspector Trout (Peter Jeffrey) is on to Phibes after realizing he's still alive, Phibes puts Vesalius through the ultimate test before casting darkness on those who have wronged him.

THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES is a vicious, vengeful tale that's quite beautiful to look at and admire. With colorful sets, souring orchestral music, and energetic and campy performances that bring humor to the tale, the film still manages to be menacing and dark. While 1960's PSYCHO changed the rules in horror, I think THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES really set the tone for the rest of the genre in later years, especially in terms of the presentation of the death sequences. While the movie may look a bit dated, I think its narrative is still contemporary, which I think would allow modern horror fans to enjoy it and respect it.

The story of THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES plays out pretty straight-forwardly. It's a revenge tale about a man who seeks sick vengeance for his wife's death through the use of a popular series of curses from the Holy Bible. For modern audiences, it's sort of like what Jigsaw was doing in those early SAW films - using elaborate traps as revenge on those he felt didn't appreciate life. And in both cases, the acts of murder are there not only to develop the villain's character somewhat, but as way to stylize the film and shock audiences.

However unlike SAW, which makes the victims sympathetic until the truth is learned about them, THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES doesn't have real victims at all. Some of them don't even realize they're being murdered until their final minutes, taking away any sort of empathy we may have for these one-note characters. We only know them through Dr. Phibes reasoning of hate towards them, which makes us side with the film's villain. This type of storytelling makes Phibes an anti-hero - a man who does wrong things that we feel are justified in some way. These doctors had a hand in taking away the love of his life, regardless if it may have been accidental or not. Any person could understand that feeling of loss, and wanting to use some sort of vengeance to fill up that hole. The other characters in THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES are nothing but pawns in Phibes' game of Chess.

The use of the 10 Plagues of Egypt from Exodus is a great tool to showcase how these people will eventually die. Watching characters succumb to bats, rats, locusts, and other curses is pretty clever, and a lot of fun to watch. Plus, most people have heard of these plagues, making the guessing game as to how these doctors will die somewhat entertaining. It also makes Dr. Phibes act like he's God in a way, controlling the fates of those who have sinned against him and his family. THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES isn't a religious film, but the implications are there. I think it's a smart plot device that's easy to understand. Plus, it makes our villain pretty clever in how he takes down his victims one by one. The fact that he has a symbol written in Hebrew is a nice reference to the Old Testament as well. The writing and thought behind the murder methods is very smart, yet simple.

I also like that THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES plays as a murder-mystery. We know that Phibes and Vulnavia are behind the murders, and we see how they commit each act. But the supporting scenes with the inspectors, mainly Inspector Trout, are quite good as well. I like how Trout and his colleagues figure out what's going on. Is Phibes alive? If he is, how did he survive his accident? What do the 10 Plagues represent for Phibes? Who are the next victim and why is he saving a certain doctor for last? So many questions get answered, giving us a backstory to why Phibes is doing what he's doing without using expository language to tell us. The more we learn, the more we care and want to know more. We think we know the answers, because we see a lot of things visually. But as the protagonists investigate further, we realize there's much more to Phibes' story than we had believed. It's an intelligent script.

Plus, I can appreciate that the film uses a bit of camp and black comedy in the narrative. While the murders are terrible, you can't help but sort of laugh at their methods. The frog mask, in particular, is pretty humorous - even though a man's skull is getting crushed while wearing it. We never feel unsettled by these sequences, instead enjoying them as a visual spectacle and wanting to see more. Plus, you gotta love when people call Inspector Trout, "Pike". It wouldn't be funny if just one character made that reference. But several do, which makes the mistake funnier. There's a sense of humor that counters how bleak the story really is, making the viewing experience an interesting one, but in a good way.

The death sequences in THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES aren't gory [this is 1971, after all]. But they are quite cool to watch. We don't see the bee death, but we get bats, and rats, and a crushing frog mask in a funny scene. There's also the complete draining of blood in multiple jars. We get locusts. Someone gets frozen to death. I love the unicorn statue death, which becomes the butt of jokes within the film. And probably the most influential one is the death of the first born, where Dr. Vesalius must save his son by getting him out of chains. How does he do that? By cutting open his body to take out a key placed inside his ribcage. Sound familiar? They're pretty memorable moments, showing how far ahead of itself this movie really was for the genre.

The direction by Robert Fuest is fantastic. I love everything about the visuals in this film. The opening sequence is just Dr. Phibes, in an extreme wide shot with his back towards the camera, playing the organ. The sets are colorful and vibrant, creating this happy look on film that hides the darkness of the actual tale. In fact, it's a more colorful and dramatic PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, with Phibes wearing a mask over his deformed face for much of the film. It's grandiose and quite wonderful to watch. In fact, THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES is a Technicolor dream - with vivid hues of green, red, and gold that are disconnect to the pale look of Dr. Phibes himself.

Fuest also handles the death sequences well, given them tension and suspense, even though we know what the end result will be. The frog mask scene is wonderful through its quick editing, as well as the POV of the victim slowly turning red as blood fills inside the mask. The scene with the key inside the ribcage is pretty nail-biting for its time, definitely inspiring James Wan and Leigh Whannell for SAW. And the acid drip death trap is elaborately shot. It's a visual wonderland of horror that feels surreal and magical, teasing you with vibrant colors and spectacle that hide a mean streak. I don't think Fuest has made a better film than THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES. It's a beautifully shot movie.

As for the acting, it's wonderful as well. While the supporting actors, like Joseph Cotton, Peter Jeffrey, and Virginia North, are all great in their respective roles, the driving force of the film is the awesome Vincent Price as the dangerous Dr. Phibes [in his 100th film, no less!]. It's a legendary performance by a horror icon who barely says a word in the entire film. Price's body language and serious facial expressions really capture the character's personality and motivation towards his victims. You'd think with a limited performance due to wearing crusting make up on his face [which had to be reapplied countless times due to Price always laughing between takes] would hinder Price's acting. But it just makes Price more interesting to watch, and helps make Phibes more compelling as a character. Price creates a man of mystery, who plays music and dances with his assistant as some sort of spectre that shadows the entire film. It's a brilliant performance and one that makes Price one of the greatest in the history of cinema.

I also must make mention to the score of the film. It's really fantastic, setting the tone and mood right away. The ending credits that play a strange rendition of "Over the Rainbow" puts a smile on my face because it fits the movie so well in an oddball way. Basil Kirchin and James Nathan do a wonderful job crafting a memorable score for an amazing film.


- Dr. Phibes is an accomplished organist. With that face, he probably had a ton of practice playing with his instrument.

- Dr. Phibes placed a group of deadly bats in the bedroom of one of his sleeping victims. Those trolling about Ben Affleck's next career move better watch out!

- A psychiatrist had his head crushed by wearing a frog mask. Conal Cochran is applauding this next to his slab of Stonehenge.

- Dr. Phibes drained a doctor of his entire blood supply. Man, the local hospital must have desperately needed more Type O!

- Phibes is killing the 9 doctors involved in his wife's death. He's wasting his time. Joe Spinnell was probably behind it. He's usually stalking and tormenting Mrs. Phibes in other films.

- Another doctor was stabbed to death by the horn of a unicorn statue. He must've been a member of the Westboro Baptist Church.

- Dr. Versalius had to save his first born son by getting a key out of his ribcage that would unlock his son's chains. Dr. Phibes came, SAW, and conquered with this trap.

Nothing short of a horror masterpiece, THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES is a must see for any cinema fan - whether you enjoy horror or not. The beautiful visuals, the camp factor, the colorful murder sequences, and the intelligent and clever script deserve anyone's attention, respect, and appreciation for this work of art caught on film. But it's Vincent Price's performance as the title character that give this classic life. THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES is probably one of my favorite horror films, and definitely one of my favorite Vincent Price performances. Many say this was Price's finest hour, and it's really hard to disagree with them. An amazing film from beginning to end.

4 Howls Outta 4


Carrie (2013)

Kimberly Peirce

Chloe Grace Moretz - Carrie White
Julianne Moore - Margaret White
Judy Greer - Miss Desjardin
Portia Doubleday - Chris Hargensen
Alex Russell - Billy Nolan
Gabriella Wilde - Sue Snell
Ansel Elgort - Tommy Ross
Zoe Belkin - Tina

Genre - Horror/Drama/Supernatural

Running Time - 99 Minutes

So it's finally here - the long anticipated second remake [or third film adaptation, however one wants to see it as] based on Stephen King's first novel from 1974 - CARRIE. I've already established how much I love the 1976 Brian De Palma adaptation starring Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie - one of those rare horror films that got some love from the Academy Awards, even if it didn't win anything. It's one of those horror movies that's still as powerful today than it was almost 40 years ago.

As I've done for the past several weeks, I've been looking back at other films related to CARRIE. In 1999, there was a sequel called THE RAGE: CARRIE 2. While intended to continue from the first film, this sequel was also somewhat of a remake for the 90s generation. While I don't think it's completely terrible, the fact that it wasn't needed probably ruined its chances at the box office. In 2002, NBC decided to make a series out of CARRIE by producing a television remake starring Angela Bettis and Patricia Clarkson. Even though it was extremely faithful to the novel, while taking moments from the De Palma adaptation, the first remake was a ratings disaster - ruining any chances for a television series.

Now in 2013, we've gotten our second remake with heavy hitters Chloe Grace Moretz and Julianne Moore in the main roles, while BOYS DON'T CRY director Kimberly Peirce handles things behind the camera. All these elements had gotten people excited about this project, whether people believed that Moretz was too pretty and/or young to play Carrie White, or whether people thought another remake was necessary. Even Stephen King himself felt that there wasn't any need, feeling the original film did a great job on its own. However, we heard that more elements from the novel would be implemented into the narrative, as well as Peirce wanting to give the narrative a modern twist that would bring in a new generation of viewers who may have never seen the original. Plus, the topic of bullying and acceptance has never been as relevant as it has been now. So why not remake CARRIE? It couldn't hurt if all the right players and all the right elements are aligned, right?

Unfortunately, I felt really disappointed in this remake. While I groan anytime a remake is announced, especially one that doesn't need to be made, I'm not a remake hater. A lot of the Universal films were remakes, or different adaptations, of theater plays or novels. Some of the modern remakes are actually quite good, if done in a way that sets them apart from the original. I was hoping this CARRIE remake would be one of those. The original adaptation is pretty outdated, so adding modern touches and different sort of character twists while maintaining the essence of the novel would have worked for me. But when a remake is 80% the original adaptation word-for-word [and sometimes shot-for-shot], while the rest of the new material is interesting, yet meaningless since the film doesn't take its time to develop it, then you have a pointless remake that leaves you underwhelmed.

I won't get into the plot summary since everyone knows the story by now. You get the familiar scenes - Carrie's shower scene with her first period, Margaret White slamming Carrie for becoming a woman and locking her in that closet, the gym teacher punishing the girls, Sue Snell asking Tommy Ross to ask Carrie to the prom, the dirty pillows bit, the pig's blood at the prom, the massacre, and then the end battle between Carrie and Margaret. It's all here, which it has to be, but I wish a lot of these moments were treated differently.

The modern touches were nice, especially Chris Hargensen actually filming Carrie's fright about her menstrual period on her cell phone [which she eventually uploads on YouTube]. We even get the footage playing at the prom to humiliate Carrie, which was taken from THE RAGE: CARRIE 2. But I liked that the use of social media and the internet played in humiliating Carrie. Unfortunately, there's not enough of it - at least in this cut of the film [I'll get to this more later]. We also get more CGI in this film to explore Carrie's powers. Carrie has more in control of her powers in this version, which is fine, and the CGI really makes the viewer aware of that. Carrie can levitate things and people. She can make the ground break just by stomping on it. She can even hover this time around. Some of it may sound silly, but at least it was different. So I won't harp too much on it. I can harp on that pig's blood being CGI though when it's pouring on Carrie. That was just lazy.

We also get a new beginning, with Margaret giving birth to Carrie all alone at her home. We watch her struggle with killing this "sin" of having a child, wanting to either murder Carrie or love her as a mother. The dynamic between Carrie and Margaret was a bit different here, although I couldn't really buy that Carrie was scared of Margaret. Still, you felt more here that Margaret really did love Carrie and wanted to protect her - unlike in other adaptations where it seemed Margaret wanted to control her and torture her. It was somewhat refreshing. I also liked that they put Margaret's self-mutilation in this adaptation, which was taken from the novel. I wish more was done with it though.

We also get moments that spotlight Chris Hargensen. In the other adaptations, she comes across as just pure evil, with this undeserved hatred towards Carrie White. In this version, we see that she's an upper class teenager who uses her lawyer father to get out of things [just like in the novel]. But there are moments where you see her conflicted over her actions towards Carrie. While Chris wants to hurt Carrie, she wonders if these actions are a bit too extreme. In one of the things that I didn't like, it seemed her boyfriend, Billy Nolan, was the one really instigating all the actions against Carrie White [the pig's blood in particular]. Chris and Billy's relationship seemed more abusive than I had remembered, with Billy threatening Chris to carry out with her revenge on Carrie with warnings of death. In this version, it seemed Chris had second thoughts about pouring the blood on Carrie, while Billy was all for it. Strangely enough, Chris wants to hit Carrie with Billy's car to kill her, making the sudden change strange. But at least this remake fleshed out Chris a bit, which was interesting.

We also get more scenes between Sue Snell and Tommy Ross, focusing somewhat on their relationship and their feelings towards Carrie. Sue is guilt-ridden throughout the film, moments after she throws tampons at Carrie during the shower scene. Tommy even admonishes Sue for it, asking her what did Carrie ever do to her for Sue to even participate. But then he tells Sue a story about a similar situation he was involved with, which brings the couple closer. In fact, I really liked Tommy Ross in this film. He was sweet to everyone around him. While he didn't want to go to prom with Carrie, he does it for Sue. And while Tommy treats Carrie like a friend and makes sure she has fun, he's still thinking about Sue when he texts her about how the night is going. Honestly, I wish there was more of the guy, because I could see why so many people were drawn to him [besides his looks and popular status, of course]. Tommy is the really the only genuine person in Carrie's life besides gym teacher, Miss Desjardin. And it's Tommy's exit via the bucket falling on him that sets Carrie off during the prom. Also, Tommy is a big deal in Sue's new subplot [I won't spoil it], which wasn't really explored enough for me.

Other than that, we get the same film that we've seen in other adaptations - sometimes word for word, and even shot for shot. What was the point? Hell, the screenwriter of the original 1976 adaptation, Lawrence D. Cohen, gets first billing over new screenwriter Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa. If you've seen the original as many times as I have, you could recite the dialogue for this remake pretty much line by line. I was let down that CARRIE played things way too safe, not bothering to change certain dialogue for this version to accommodate the actors better and making the story feel fresh. I was expecting a remake that was closer to the novel, but what I got was the De Palma film with different actors and director. No Carrie destroying the town. No meteors. We get one testimony at the end about Carrie White and her powers, and it barely registers. What makes it worse is that most of the narrative feels rushed, just to get to what studios feel the audience wants to see - the prom massacre. There's not enough time for things to simmer, making us care about the relationships or the situation at hand. Even though some of the character portrayals were interesting, they still seemed a bit one-note due to the pacing. It's a shame, because the story is so good that it deserved to be paced better.

As for the prom scene, a total let down. It flies by really quick, and while Carrie does some damage [as if she's Jean Grey from the X-Men], the amount of casualities may surprise you. Chris' and Billy's exits are done well, but seemed to take a bit too long. I don't want to compare it to the De Palma adaptation, but De Palma really infused that moment with style to make it so memorable. It falls flat here.

The direction by Kimberly Peirce is fine, but I would really love to see a Director's Cut of this film. There were times where I could sense Peirce's voice through her visuals, but they would be undermined by the way the film was edited. There were moments I found interesting and clever, but the post-production really did things that took away from it. It's a real shame because I'm sure Peirce wanted to make this film as different from the more popular adaptation as possible. Still, the film looked great and the CGI was handled a lot better than I was expecting, with some good moments coming from it. I also liked the approaches to familiar characters that she made different for her version of the story to shine through. Peirce is a very good director who I feel was under the influence from the studio, who I believe interfered somewhat with this project. I think if the studio had let Peirce handle this adaptation on her own, this review would have been a lot different - and probably more positive.

The acting in CARRIE is probably the highlight. Chloe Grace Moretz doesn't outdo Sissy Spacek, but she's very good as Carrie White. I do think her youth takes away some of the understanding of the Carrie character, but Moretz does her best to make the role her own. She carried this film very well and I loved her body language and facial expressions throughout the film. This girl is a star. I thought Portia Doubleday was a surprise as Chris Hargensen. While being beautiful, she also presented a lot of attitude and viciousness in the villain role. But I thought Doubleday also made some nice character choices, showing that Chris doubted herself a lot of the time when it came to hurting Carrie. I don't think any of the other actresses in the same role have played Chris that way until now. I liked Doubleday a lot. Judy Greer was great, as usual, as Miss Desjardin. I wish she had more screentime. Gabriella Wilde was pretty decent as Sue, but not given enough to do really. And Ansel Elgort was really good as Tommy Ross. I could believe any high school girl would have a crush on this guy.

As for Julianne Moore, she was good but I felt miscast as Margaret White. She played the role in a quieter, more passive aggressive way - similar to Patricia Clarkson's subtle version in the 2002 adaptation, mixed with a bit of Piper Laurie's loopiness in the 1976 film. But something about Moore's performance was off for me. It may have been that Moore had to recite a lot of the dialogue that Piper made so famous in the earlier version. The dialogue is made for a character that's a bit more over-the-top than Moore had played it. It just felt off.


CARRIE (2013) is an average flick that's pretty much a lesser version of a better adaptation. The cast is decent, and some of the changes done are interesting. But Kimberly Peirce's voice seems to have been tampered by studio interference. And since this adaptation is 80% the same in terms of dialogue and even some shot-for-shot moments from the 1976 Brian De Palma adaptation, it just makes this version of CARRIE seem inferior and pointless. And man, I thought that ending sucked. It's not terrible, but I was expecting more out of this adaptation. Good if you've never seen any of the CARRIE films, but only worth a rental if you have. Pretty much a let down, as far as I'm concerned.

2 Howls Outta 4


The Beyond (1981)

Lucio Fulci

Catriona MacColl - Liza Merrill
David Warbeck - Dr. John McCabe
Sarah Keller - Emily
Veronica Lazar - Martha
Michele Mirabella - Martin Avery
Maria Pia Marsala - Jill
Gianpolo Saccarola - Arthur
Giovanni De Nava - Joe
Al Cliver - Harris

Genre - Horror/Supernatural/Zombies

Running Time - 82 Minutes

Italian director Lucio Fulci has been a heavily debated director within the horror community. Some people think he's great, creating surreal and disgusting visuals that leave a huge impression on you. Others think he is a hack, believing that he's all shock and style, and no substance. While I'm not the biggest fan of Fulci's work, I do respect the man for presenting non-linear narratives meant to confuse, yet entertain you - leaving different imprints on the audience as to what they saw and how they saw it.

There's no denying that ZOMBIE/ZOMBI 2 is an absolute 1979 zombie classic that has inspired many future zombies films since its release. And while some of Fulci's giallos are worth mentioning, the films people think of [other than ZOMBIE] when it comes to the director are the Gates of Hell trilogy - which includes CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD, THE HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY, and probably Fulci's most beloved work - 1981's THE BEYOND. Now why would anyone claim that THE BEYOND is Fulci's best film? It doesn't make sense. The gore is there to shock people and make them uncomfortable. The direction and acting is what it is. Why so much praise?

Maybe it's because, sometimes, we just want to experience something so strange instead of wondering if it's logical or not. We want to be disturbed. We want to be confused. We want to know what the hell we're watching. Only certain directors can get away with things like that. Lucio Fulci is one of them. And yes, THE BEYOND is his finest work in my honest opinion for all of those reasons.

In 1927 Louisiana, an angry mob enter a hotel to attack a painter named Schweick (Antoine Saint-John), who's staying in Room 36. Apparently, Schweick is a warlock of sorts and he's working on his latest, and final painting. The mob grabs Schweick and crucify him to a wall in his room, then dump acid on him so he can melt. Meanwhile downstairs, a blind woman named Emily (Cinzia Monreale) is reading a scary prophecy from the Book of Eibon before it bursts into flames.

We move to 1981 Louisiana, where a New Yorker named Liza (
Catriona MacColl) has inherited the same hotel from her rich uncle. Liza realizes she has her work cut out for her, as she needs to hire construction workers, painters, and plumbers to fix the hotel up. When a worker is frightened by a pair of white eyes in a window, Liza meets Dr. John McCabe (David Warbeck), who becomes sort of her confidant.

Since the hotel basement is flooded, Liza hires a plumber named Joe (
Giovanni De Nava) to deal with it. As he investigates a moldy wall and knocks several bricks out of it, a demonic hand reaches out and gouges out his eye. Soon enough, more demonic zombies begin to invade the town, causing grief for our characters. Meeting Emily, Liza learns that the hotel contains one of the seven gateways to Hell. And now that the gateway has been opened, the dead will roam the Earth.


I haven't seen THE BEYOND is many years. In fact, the last time I watched it had to be on VHS. As a teenager, you could only imagine my feelings towards this surreal film. I kept asking myself what I was watching, and why I had this urge to continue seeing these bizarre images unfold. THE BEYOND unnerved me because I didn't understand it. Hell, I still don't really understand it myself now that much. But that's why I dig it. I'm not meant to understand it in a logical sense. THE BEYOND is like a dream that we all must decipher for ourselves, taking away what it means to us individually. Not everyone will get it. But for those who "do", we can appreciate what a weird masterpiece Lucio Fulci crafted with this one.

To dissect the narrative of THE BEYOND would be like teaching Kanye West some humility - I'd be wasting my time. Just because the plot you read up there is pretty coherent doesn't mean the storytelling is. Even Fulci himself called THE BEYOND a "series of images" put to film. Things happen randomly. A cast of characters who don't really have to do much with each other pop up and are murdered for whatever reason. Hell, I couldn't tell you why this gateway to Hell is at this hotel and why it's being opened now. Why do certain people get killed, and why do others become blind with white pupils? And why do these characters, who know that shooting the brain will kill these zombies, continue to give them body shots? Shit, who ARE these characters and why should I care? If these things matter to you, then you're going to hate THE BEYOND.

However, if you enjoy watching strange, surreal imagery spliced together to tell a visual dream-like narrative, then THE BEYOND is one of the best films you'll watch. And boy, are there some doozies when it comes to memorable moments. Most of them are gore related [thanks to Germano Natali and Gino De Rossi], with gooey liquid and pouring of entrails meant to make the viewer uneasy. We get a spike going through the back of someone's head, pushing the eyeball out of their socket to great effect. We also get many moments where acid is thrown on people, making their skin melt into foamy goo. And probably the best gore moment of them all - a person getting shot in the head, to the point that the force of the bullet bursts their head wide open, splattering their brains and leaving them without a forehead. I read that this moment [which takes place during the zombie filled final act] was actually forced on Fulci due to the popularity of ZOMBIE and CITY OF THE LIVING DEAD. But it's so damn great and probably the highlight in terms of special effects. It's pretty awesome.

It's funny - watching THE BEYOND as an adult made me see the film much differently then I did as a teen. For a film without much plot, I think I understand what Fulci was trying to tell the audience. THE BEYOND is a 82-minute nightmare for each of the characters involved. Liza is struggling with her hotel, hoping she doesn't fail. So the hotel is a gateway to hell. Dr. John McCabe considers himself a great doctor. So the dead at the hospital are coming back to life. Joe the Plumber has a difficult task clearing a flood. So he's murdered before the job can be done. Joe's daughter, Jill, is upset losing her father. So her mother is murdered too. And it continues. THE BEYOND seems to be multiple nightmares for respective characters, displaying their worst fears right in front of their eyes. While the themes aren't exactly visible on the surface, you can definitely see what Fulci is trying to say here. While some say there is no substance in THE BEYOND, I think it's quite the opposite. You just really have to look deep into the visual storytelling to see it. It's a reflection of these one-dimensional characters' fears - leaving an impression on not just them, but on us as an audience as well.

Still, THE BEYOND has its flaws. The dialogue is very silly at times. Some Italian to English translations are chuckle worthy. "Do Not Entry" at a Louisiana hospital - really? Of course, we have characters shooting the bodies of the zombies instead of their heads, even though they can clearly see that head shots take them out for good. And of course, hooking corpses to monitors that measure brain waves and heart beats is always logical. Still, I thought these moments added to the entertainment value rather than hurt the film.

Fulci's direction is quite great here, as THE BEYOND is one of his more beautiful looking films. The scene where Liza meets Emily on that desolate road is just stunning. The ending sequence is also quite beautiful in terms of composition, shot scale, and framing. I love how Fulci shoots the beautiful exterior of the hotel in comparison to the dark, dingy remains of the hotel's interior - almost as saying "never judge a book by its cover". The gore effects are shot extremely well, and Fulci loves to linger on them - especially any sort of ocular violence. I thought the sepia tinted prologue in 1927 Louisiana was quite nice and inspired. And I love the music score by Fabio Frizzi. It's really creepy stuff that fits the film and the early 1980s for sure. The visual presentation for THE BEYOND is probably Fulci's strongest work.

The acting is fine for what it is. Catriona MacColl is fine as the female lead, Liza. She's a beautiful woman who takes her part seriously. David Warbeck is probably the best actor as Dr. John McCabe, playing the classic male lead in a horror film. He sure seemed to enjoy shooting zombies during the last 15 minutes of the film. Sarah Keller is a bit melodramatic as Emily, but it worked for the role she was playing. We also get Fulci regular Al Cliver, as well as a Lucio Fulci cameo as a librarian. THE BEYOND isn't about the acting, but about the visual work. But the acting wasn't terrible, which was a plus.


- Schweick was tortured by a mob, whipping him for being a Warlock. Or maybe he stepped on a crack and broke some mother's back. Either way, they whipped it good.

- Hot liquid thrown on Schweick's face caused it to quickly melt. Looks like he took a trip too many to the plastic surgeon. Looking at you, Kenny Rogers!

- Arthur, sweating like a pig, was supposedly looking for keys in Liza's room. Yeah, I like to "look for keys" several times a day myself. It's sore on the forearms though...

- A demonic finger gouged the pupil of Joe the Plumber in the basement. I can see that was an eye for an eye, huh? Eh, that was such a cornea joke.

- A 60-year-old corpse still had brain waves and a heartbeat. His career may be dead, but Don Johnson is still alive and well!

- A group of spiders smothered and tore apart Martin after he learned about the secret of the hotel. I guess they thought he was pretty fly for a white guy...

- Martha got the back of her head slammed into a nail by an undead Joe. Usually it's a lower body area that gets penetrated from behind. But hey - as long as her eyes pop out after getting nailed, it's all good.

THE BEYOND is a great nightmare put to film. When it comes to Italian horror cinema, it's one of the finer films anyone could watch in this sub-genre. It's probably the best Lucio Fulci film out there, although I'm sure many will disagree with me. But they will agree that THE BEYOND proves that Fulci wasn't a hack director who made movies just to shock and disgust people. While the story may not make a lot of sense to many, you'll definitely "get it" if you look deeper into the surreal narrative. Plus, you gotta love those gory moments that still hold up today. THE BEYOND is a classic horror film that deserves to be respected and appreciated for what it is.

4 Howls Outta 4


[Remake Triple Feature] Carrie (2002)/ Children of the Corn (2009)/ I Spit On Your Grave (2010)

David Carson

Angela Bettis - Carrie White
Kandyse McClure - Sue Snell
Patricia Clarkson - Margaret White
Emilie de Ravin - Chris Hargensen
Rena Sofer - Rita Desjardins
Tobias Mehler - Tommy Ross
David Keith - Detective John Mulcahey

Genre - Horror/Supernatural

Running Time - 132 Minutes

A detective named Mulcahey (David Keith) interviews Sue Snell (Kandyse McClure) and other high students about Carrie White (Angela Bettis). Sue reveals that Carrie was treated badly by the other students, due to her strict religious upbringing that made her an outcast. One day in the gymnasium shower, Carrie is shocked to have experienced her first menstrual period, thinking she's bleeding to death. The school girls find out and humiliate her with tampons and disgusting remarks on her locker. Gym teacher Rita Desjardins (Rena Sofer) learns about this, punishing the other girls for bullying Carrie.

Feeling bad, Sue persuades her boyfriend Tommy Ross (
Tobias Mehler) to invite Carrie to the prom, giving Carrie her ticket. While reluctant at first, Carrie accepts the invitation. Meanwhile, Chris Hargensen (Emilie de Ravin) wants revenge on Carrie after refusing to follow through with her punishment, costing her tickets to the prom. Chris decides to humiliate Carrie at the prom by rigging the ballot to name her and Tommy Prom King and Queen, then dumping pig's blood all over her. When Chris gets her way, it sets off a dangerous chain of events that were done better in 1976.

CARRIE (1976) is a horror classic that, even today, manages to be one of Stephen King's finest movie adaptations [shockingly since CARRIE was the first King adaptation]. Even after an unneeded sequel [THE RAGE: CARRIE 2] and two remakes, Brian De Palma's adaptation of King's first novel still casts a mighty large shadow over anything related to it. CARRIE (2002) is no exception - a TV remake that was intended to be a pilot for an NBC series in which Carrie would travel through different towns to help other troubled teenagers deal with their issues. Thankfully, the ratings to this remake were low enough to halt any plans for a potential series. Why low ratings? Maybe it's because the sequel had just been released a few years prior, which also didn't do that well at the box office. Or better yet, many people knew right from the start that a television take on CARRIE wouldn't come close to matching the greatness of the original 1976 film.

I've made it pretty clear that I thought the actual novel was average at best. The fact that this remake follows it pretty closely made me lose some interest. The interactions between the detective and the students, mixed within Carrie's story, work much better as text than it does visually. The flow of the film is ruined when you start to become invested in what's happening to CARRIE, which then gets interrupted by this detective questioning certain characters about what they knew about Carrie. The De Palma film benefits from having these moments cut from the screenplay, as Carrie's story is allowed to be told naturally and fluidly. It also allows mystery and suspense, which this remake doesn't allow since we know certain characters survive before the film even ends. I'm not as invested in this narrative. I thought the stuff with the meteors and the sexually liberated neighbors never added much to the story for me, although it's interesting to see some sort of take of it on film.

The only real good things about the screenplay is that it fleshes out the characters of Sue Snell and Chris Hargensen. In this version, we get more in depth as to their actions towards Carrie - with Sue wanting to help Carrie feel like she could belong, while Chris using her father's power to get her way and ruin and girl's life due to a sense of entitlement. This aspect was more implied in the original, so I was glad to see it given more attention here.

Other than that, CARRIE is pretty much similar to the De Palma in almost every way. It's just not as creepy, scary, interesting, inventive, or stylish as the original. Thanks to director David Carson, CARRIE looks and feels like a television movie through and through, with cheap CGI effects and television actors who are unable to really carry the weight of the story to make it remotely memorable once it ends. 1976's CARRIE set such a high standard that any remake that comes out afterwards will always be under a magnifying glass.

As much as I enjoy a twitchy Angela Bettis and a evilly subdued Patricia Clarkson [who are both pretty good in their roles here as Carrie and Margaret White respectively], they're not just Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie for me. There are some roles that really can't be filled by multiple actors. Spacek and Laurie are Carrie and Margaret for me, no matter who plays those roles in other versions of the story. I also must give credit to Emilie de Ravin as Chris, and Rena Sofer as Rita Desjardins. I thought they were very good as well. Still, the performances in the original version are so damn good, it makes these performances seem amateur in comparison.

As for the direction, David Carson is pretty bland through it all. There's no real style to the film at all. Watching the prom sequence in this remake makes it too hard not to compare it to the visionary sequence De Palma set forth in his version. His direction and editing made the prom scene immortal to many. This remake just apes what happened in the original film, but in a majorly inferior manner. Sure, computer effects have gotten better since the 1976 version. But it wasn't about the carnage of the prom. It was about how it was presented that made it powerful. There's no power in this version. And the ending is just ridiculously bad. Since I already mentioned that this film was supposed to lead into an actual series, there shouldn't be a surprise that Carrie actually survives this remake, thanks to Sue Snell. If I wanted to see a troubled person travel to different towns to provide insight to different situations, I'd watch The Incredible Hulk with Bill Bixby. Just my opinion.

CARRIE (2002) is a pretty lame remake to a classic piece of horror cinema. It's like watching the original film - just in a less stylish, not as strongly acted, and in not as well told way. Sure, parts of the novel that were omitted from the De Palma version make their return here. But they honestly don't add much to what already was a damn great adaptation of a mediocre first book by a master novelist. It's not the worst remake out there and has its moments for sure. But besides a few strong performances and some interesting interpretations of classic characters, there's no real reason to hunt down this remake unless you're curious to see why CARRIE didn't take off and lead to a planned television series. This is one prom I don't plan on going to again anytime soon.

1.5 Howls Outta 4

Donald P. Borchers

David Anders - Burt Stanton
Kandyse McClure - Vicky Stanton
Daniel Newman - Malachi
Preston Bailey - Issac
Alexa Nikolas - Ruth

Genre - Horror/Killer Kids

Running Time - 92 Minutes

In 1975, married couple Vicky (Kandyse McClure) and Vietnam vet Burt (David Anders) are arguing as they drive through quiet Nebraska. As they bicker, Burt hits a young boy [who ran out of the nearest cornfields] with his car. As they blame each other for the accident, they both realize that the boy was already dead as his throat was slit prior to the accident. Arguing over their next move, the couple decide to place the body in the car trunk and drive into the nearest town, Gatlin.

As Burt and Vicky look for help, they realize that they stepped into a ghost town. The phones have been destroyed. Hay and cobwebs have taken over the local stores and homes. There's no one around. But when Burt goes to the local church and starts figuring out what's going on, a group of children pop out of nowhere to attack Vicky in her car. Burt runs out to find Vicky gone, realizing that the children of this town slaughtered their parents and are using religion to justify their actions. In particular, the children are worshiping someone called He Who Walks Behind the Rows, who needs human sacrifices to make the corn crop grow.

I have three words for CHILDREN OF THE CORN:


Man, CHILDREN OF THE CORN (2009) has got to be one of the worst remakes I've had to suffer through. Half-hour in, and I wanted to turn the film off. I've made it no secret that I'm not a big fan of the original 1984 adaptation with Linda Hamilton. But compared to this SyFy remake, the 1984 film is Oscar-caliber.

Nothing that made the original film appealing to so many exists here. The characters aren't likeable. The narrative doesn't really go anywhere until the last half hour of the film. He Who Walks Behind the Rows doesn't even make any sort of appearance. Like 2002's CARRIE, 2009's CHILDREN OF THE CORN follows the short story that Stephen King wrote pretty much to a tee. And while I criticized the original film for being too light hearted for a dark story, this SyFy remake takes a dark story and makes it truly one of the dullest experiences of my life. When your main characters argue for two straight acts about random crap, you won't have any hair left to pull. Burt and Vicky here are TERRIBLE people who deserved to die sooner than they did. Yes, the couple hate each other in the short story. But the story could be read within 15 minutes. That's intolerable for two hours!

The children are no better. Issac is just a little prick who recites stuff as if he's reading from a cue card. Malachi is a bit better, but not threatening enough like the original character. And Ruth barely makes an impression until the final moments of the film. I didn't care about the story or the characters at all.

The only decent thing about the remake was the direction by Donald P. Borchers. The film looks nice, and some scenes are shot really well. I think the car accident is quite a shock. Plus there are moments where Burt is inside of the cornfield, giving him 'Nam flashbacks as he escapes the children. I thought these scenes were pretty inspired and quite stylish. The problem is that most viewers won't see any of this since they'll turn the film off the moment they hear the main characters bicker for minutes at a time. It's a shame.

The acting is eh here. David Anders is okay as Burt, but nothing about him is likeable due to his character. Kandyse McClure is just bitchy as Vicky. Her peformance is so one-note, which is a shame. David Newman is pretty okay as Malachai, although he doesn't really give much of the menace that Courtney Gains added to the character in the original. And Preston Bailey was terrible as Issac. None of his dialogue delivery was convincing in any way. In fact, a lot of the child actors pretty pretty terrible. What a waste of corn.

I'll never bad mouth the 1984 take of CHILDREN OF THE CORN ever again after watching the 2009 remake. While I'm not the biggest fan of the original, it still has more talent, charm, heart, and amusement than all 92 minutes of the remake. I honestly couldn't wait until this film was over. Besides some decent direction, there's nothing really to see here. No humans are worth sacrificing for this piece of shit.

0.5 Howls Outta 4

Steven R. Monroe

Sarah Butler - Jennifer Hills
Andrew Howard - Sheriff Storch
Jeff Branson - Johnny
Chad Linberg - Matthew
Daniel Franzese - Stanley
Rodney Eastman - Andy
Tracey Walter - Earl

Genre - Horror/Thriller/Rape/Revenge/Exploitation

Running Time - 108 Minutes

A city author named Jennifer Hills (Sarah Butler) rents a cabin in the country so she can work on her new novel for the next two months. Due to her looks and the fact that she's a stranger, she attracts the unwanted attention of some redneck locals who work at a local gas station after she embarrasses their leader, Johnny (Jeff Branson). They begin spying on her, to the point of videotaping her every move, until one night where they decide to break into the cabin to torment her. Jennifer escapes into the woods, running into Sheriff Storch (Andrew Howard), explaining her situation.

Taking Jennifer back to the cabin, Storch begins investigating, finding empty bottles of wine and smoked joints. Thinking she just did this for attention, Storch calls for backup - who just happens to be the local rednecks who tormented her. Realizing that Storch is part of the group, Jennifer tries to fight back. Unfortunately, she is brutalized and raped by each of the men. Now broken, Jennifer walks away and falls into the river, where the rednecks believe she's gone for good since her body can't be located.

A month passes, and the group continues to live their lives - although they're still paranoid about the event with Jennifer. Soon enough, Jennifer reappears to mess with each rapist individually as her sick way to get revenge on what was done to her.


Meir Zarchi's I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE from 1978 is still one of the most unpleasant films I had ever sat through. It's not a film that wanted to be judged for its technicality or its storytelling. I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE is a Grindhouse era shockfest that's meant to unease people with a 20+ minute rape scene and gory revenge sequences that's not for the faint of heart. It's no wonder the original was placed on the British Video Nasty list upon its release. I respect it as an experience, even if I don't necessarily agree that I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE is supposed to inspire female empowerment.

I'm still surprised that someone had the balls to remake I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE back in 2010. I remember hearing about the reboot, thinking why would anyone want to recreate such an upsetting experience for a modern audience. It wasn't part of a popular franchise. It wasn't a film that needed retelling. I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE was released during a time where the whole rape-revenge deal has been done to death. In 1978, the film probably outraged a lot of people. In 2010, we've seen worse things on the news and in other films of its kind. It's pretty strange why this film, in particular, became an idea for a remake.

That being said, 2010's I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE is a much better remake than I was expecting. It follows the original's narrative fairly closely, give or take a few changes, and still manages to be somewhat unsettling to watch. Funny enough, this remake is actually tamer than the original. The rape sequence is much shorter [thank God], and we barely see any nudity unless the film calls for it. And sure, the violence is more intense and elaborate [apparently Jennifer was a fan of the SAW films prior to her trip to this cabin], but it was the acts of rape that really bothered a lot of viewers.

I do think the revenge portion of the film is much improved from the original. There are really nasty scenes here, like a barrel of a loaded gun shoved up a dude's rectum, an acid bath, hooks to eyelids, and some genital mutilation. I liked that we don't see Jennifer plotting her revenge, or biding her time. She's gone for an entire month and we have no idea what was going on with her. There's a level of mystery here that the original doesn't have. Yes, it's probably implausible that Jennifer could even come up with these elaborate traps. But at least the time frame is reasonable and we don't actually see her plotting and creating these traps to reinforce that implausibility.

I do have to admit that this remake is utterly pointless, as there's no reason for it to exist. The original at least had some sort of purpose going for it that was meant to showcase a perverse level of female empowerment. This remake's purpose is too capitalize on the remake and "torture porn" trends. I find the original more effective and powerful due to this.

I think the original is more effective is because the acting in that film is not as good as the film here. The only exception is Camille Keaton over Sarah Butler as Jennifer. Butler is good, but Keaton just had this presence that captivates you during her torment and during her revenge. I was more convinced by Keaton that she would eventually do the things she does over Butler. The male counterparts, however, are much better actors here. Jeff Branson, a soap opera actor, definitely has a domineering and dark presence throughout the film. Andrew Howard, who plays a new character Sheriff Storch, is also very convincing as a scumbag police official who takes advantage of a helpless victim, even though he has a wife and young daughter who respects him at home. Howard plays Storch as this proud family man with a secret that he's haunted with. I really liked him here. And Rodney Eastman, Chad Lindberg, and Daniel Franzese do well with their respective parts as well. My thing is that since they were so good in their roles, it didn't feel as raw as the original.

Same goes with Steven R. Monroe's direction. It's extremely polished and doesn't capture the grittyness or dirtyness of the situation like it does in the 1978 version. Still, Monroe is less focused on the acts of rape and more on the psychological torment the characters go through during and after the sexual assault. The pacing is perfect, with some stylized visualization and some nice tension during the revenge portion. The videotape moments feel voyeuristic, creating a semi-uncomfortable feeling. This film is just bleak from beginning to end. And while the original is a better film due to its intended experience, this remake is definitely better made as a whole.


I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE is an unnecessary remake, but at least it's a well made one. I didn't have the same uncomfortable experience watching this like I did with the original. But at least the acting is good, the direction is solid and polished, and the narrative still works, even if the remake as a whole feels tamer and less effective as the 1978 original. If you can handle rape-revenge films, give this remake a watch even if the original film is "much better".

3 Howls Outta 4


Son of Celluloid: What Halloween Means To Me '13

Nathan Hamilton, of the great Son of Celluloid, asked me to contribute to his annual "What Halloween Means To Me" theme this year for his blog. It's not exciting as you'd think. But both Nathan and I would appreciate it if you took the time to read my thoughts on this very topic. Thanks!

"So the question still stands: "What does Halloween mean to me?" Horror movies, simple as that. It's the one time of year where I'm not looked at as a freak for liking violent movies where masked killers butcher stupid victims for doing drugs, having sex, and being ignorant to the situation they're in. It's the one time of year where networks will unleashed all kinds of horror films on their networks, overwhelming me in multiple choices when it comes to what to watch. From classic Universal Monsters, to zombies, to Hitchcock, to slashers, to vampires, to werewolves, to everything in between - Halloween is the one time of year where I feel "normal" by those around me. Sure, some folks get my love for all things horror. But they are few-and-far between."

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