Archive for Horror Review

Review: Hellevator

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 14, 2016 by Lilliandra Winters

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Since Hellevator has been renewed for a second season, I thought I would take a look at the show and its success.

Having first released in 2015 under Blumhouse Productions, the Soska Sisters started an american horror game show, words I can say I never thought I’d see together. However, in the age of American Horror Story being on network TV, this isn’t far fetched.

The Soska Sisters, or The Twisted Twins, are producers, screenwriters, directors and even actresses. Their film, American Mary, is on my list of must watch horror movies and I find myself even more interested now. They are the hostesses of Hellevator and I can see why.

The show is about three contestants who have to ride the elevator down and survive four floors. Each floor is a series of jump scares and terrifying challenges that a contestant must get through. They have to complete their tasks and run back to the elevator before the time runs out. Completing the floor successfully means you win the prize amount for that floor and are able to help your teammates on other floors as well as join the combined effort on the fourth and final floor.

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The Soska Sisters

Each floor gets harder, but grants more money when you beat it. Each teammate MUST do a floor, but the order is up to you. Of course, each new episode follows a new tale of dread that the twins weave to the contestants over the speakers. From the stories I’ve checked out, they are all made up. I was hoping that they would be a little bit more wrapped in urban legend, but the stories are frightful enough to be entertaining.

So the doors open up, the contestant runs out. Typically they encounter horrifying actors before finding their way into the puzzle room. While in that room, the teammates in the elevator try to help with walkie talkies while looking at a screen to see what’s going on. The elevator opens up to provide some crucial piece that’s needed for their friend to beat the puzzle and return to them in the minimal amount of time provided. If they don’t complete and return, the elevator closes and continues on, leaving the lagging teammate trapped on that floor.

After all three floors, they have the option to win an additional $20,000 on the final floor. All remaining teammates must get through the labyrinth, grabbing as much money as they can and getting back to the elevator before their time runs out. If each floor is completed ($5,000, $10,000, and $15,000) plus all the money is grabbed in the labyrinth ($20,000), three contestants could walk out with $50,000, which is a nice chunk of change for getting the crap scared out of you.

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Contestants on the Show

I love the concept. I love the twins. However, for me, something is missing. Maybe I’m desensitized? I love horror, haunted houses, all of it, so maybe the veil is too thin for me and I can see the man behind the curtain. My favorite moments are how utterly dismissive and bored the twins sound when anyone is doing well. Their delight at the terror and fear of the contestants fills me with a twisted joy.

If you are into watching other people get the crap scared out of them or two awesome horror ladies laughing at other peoples’ misery, this is the show for you. Even if you’re not, check it out. It is definitely not like anything else on TV right now and we need a little more of that, in my opinion.

Now Xander and I just have to figure out how to get on the show. I think we would be able to do it.

WintersOver4

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Review: Silverfish (Book)

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 29, 2016 by thiathebard

Author: Hobie Anthonysilverfish
Publisher: Tentacles Press
Date Released:December 7, 2015

Review by Bridget Cannon

Silverfish is a compilation of short horror stories by Hobie Anthony. The setting is a dystopian world ruled by one twisted man. The stories have different settings and twists while keeping with the overall theme. Despite the theme, and the hard work that was clearly put into the stories, I was not a fan of Silverfish.

The stories in Silverfish were not a style that I am overly fond of reading. Particularly the first story which shares the name of the main volume itself.

The first story utilizes a style of writing that can be confusing if the reader is not accustomed to it. The lack of punctuation and flow was off putting until I realized what Anthony was doing with the story. Instead of it adding to the story, I found it disjointing. It is set in a dystopian future that heavily utilizes shock and sex in the narrative. There was one twist that I did enjoy, but other then that it fell flat for me.

The other stories do have a better pace. Perhaps if Anthony had started with one of them, it would have been a better way for the reader to be introduced to his writing.  I did enjoy Anthony’s verbiage. After getting past the first story his vocabulary was able to shine.

There was a story that I did enjoy called “A Cleaner Today, A Brighter Tomorrow.” It was able to keep the grit and shock that are a big part of the overall novel. The main character in this story was a lot more interesting to me then the others. She seemed less flat than the others.

 Silverfish has a lot of great tropes. I can see where the author tried to make his characters gritty and have more of an anti-hero quality. A lot of them just felt like I was reading caricatures that were meant to shock me, though they never really did.

The idea behind the stories were good. It just never really reached the point where I was scared or excited. 

While I did not enjoy it as much, it has gotten some very good reviews on Amazon, so if you like dystopian or shock horror, perhaps you might want to try it.

Review: Reincarnation (2005)

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , on August 19, 2016 by thiathebard

By: Bridget Cannon

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Dir. by Takashi Shimizu
Starring: YûkaKarina, Kippei Shîna

This is a movie that does not get enough love. Yes, I am starting with that statement because it is true. Reincarnation is a movie about an up and coming actress who is offered an amazing role. As the movie progresses and the cast gets closer to filming on location the creepier things get.

Reincarnation comes from Takashi Shimizu, the director that gave us Ju-on and The Grudge.  Nagisa Sugiura is offered the role of a lifetime in a film about a professor who killed his two children, guests and himself in an experiment about reincarnation. Nagisa begins to have dreams about the murders and starts to think that she is actually the reincarnation of the professor’s murdered daughter. Other members of the cast also begin to have strange experiences. One actress shows a friend a scar that makes them believe that she is the reincarnation of one of the victims. As the cast and crew finally assemble in the hotel where the murders took place they are placed or drawn to the areas where victims were killed.

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Reincarnation meets a lot of the checklist requirements of great J Horror for me. The story is good and keeps the viewer guessing. There are ghostly apparitions. There is lore that is explored throughout the movie. Great settings. No jump scares, which is a wonderful tool of J Horror that really spooks myself and others who are more accustomed to their over utilization in our films.

I would rate it: Must see.

Warning: Japanese with subtitles is how the viewer will have to watch it. This movie is totally worth it though.

You can watch the trailer here:

 

 

 

Review: Almost Mercy (2015)

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 5, 2016 by Xander Woolf

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Dir. by: Tom DeNucci
Starring: Danielle Guldin, Jesse Dufault

What’s it about?
Emily (Guldin) and Jackson (Dufault) have had rough childhoods, to say the very least. Bullied in school, sexually assaulted, verbally abused, molested… the atrocities that happened in these kids’ lives seem to be never ending. Now in high school, the two are close to breaking. The question is, who will break first?

What did I think?
Almost Mercy has a film-making style that shows its influences clearly. There were scenes that reminded me of Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange and others where I was reminded of Terry Gilliam’s Twelve Monkeys. It also had elements of slasher films, high school horror and psychological thriller. No wonder Netflix gave it 4.25 stars.

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Emily (Guldin) and Jackson (Dufault)

While this movie contains major gore, violence and other terrifying situations, I don’t think I could classify it as horror like Netflix does. I wasn’t scared by it. It’s more of a dark (extremely dark) comedy, where you find yourself laughing at the way people are being killed, rather than scared for those people’s lives (much like A Clockwork Orange). It’s ridiculous that way. I mean, selfies are taken with freshly murdered bodies. That’s not meant to be scary.

Danielle Guldin and Jesse Dufault did amazing jobs as Emily and Jackson. Troubled and angsty youths, they were able to show us the absurd side of their actions while also making us cheer for them. And the supporting cast were just so very good at making us hate them with a passion. I’m one of the most empathetic people you’ll ever meet, but even I think those people deserved what they got in this movie.

The biggest problem I had with Almost Mercy was the story behind Mercy Brown, a young girl who had died about 100 years prior from Tuberculosis. The two teens hail themselves as “The Friends of Mercy” and she’s important enough for her name to even be in the title, but she had very, very little to do with the actual movie itself. They could have worked the story into the plot in a much stronger way, so we could make the connection more easily, but it fell short.

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Mercy Brown

I also wasn’t a huge fan of the ending. I won’t give it away, I promise, but it’s not realistic. Sure, I smiled because I felt good for our main characters, but when you really think about it, that many murders would lead to a much more severe outcome. Perhaps it’s all part of the absurdity.

Do I recommend it?
Oh, yes. Most definitely. Go and watch it. On Netflix. Now.***

***If you’re triggered by depictions of sexual assault, molestation, child abuse, gun violence or bullying, DO NOT WATCH THIS MOVIE.***

wolfout

Tim from Last Week Reviews: Criminal Macabre – A Cal McDonald Mystery #1!

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 4, 2016 by Tim from Last Week

Story: Steve NilesCriminal Macabre #1 cover
Art: Ben Templesmith
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Released: 4/20/2001 (collected 8/2011)

Steve Niles is well-known for his horror comic writing, as well as work outside of comics. He has written Spawn, Spawn: Dark Ages, and Hellspawn for Image Comics; 30 Days of Night (et. al.) for IDW Publishing; Batman: Gotham County Line and The Creeper for DC Comics; as well as writing the script for Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment’s F.E.A.R.3 video game.

Ben Templesmith has created the art for some of comics’ creepiest titles, including Hellspawn, Hatter M, Fell, and Ten Grand for Image Comics; 30 Days of Night (et. al.) and Silent Hill for IDW Publishing; Gotham By Midnight for DC Comics; as well as art for Steve Jackson Games, Wizards of the Coast, and White Wolf Game Studios.

The cover of this book starts us off right. If this is your first exposure to Ben Templesmith’s art, get used to it: he creates some creepy art. Here, we see Cal McDonald, our “hero,” with a shotgun in his hand, blood on his chest, and a creepy dude (vampire?/demon?/something?) over his shoulder. The city is dark and gritty behind them, so I’m thinking things are bad.

It seems it’s been bad for Cal since childhood, when he found a headless body, and it’s only gotten worse from there. Cal headed west, to L.A., to try to stop monsters. Regular old, nasty, monsters. Cal works with some undead folks to battle the demons, werewolves, vampires, whatever.

The book opens with Cal telling some cops “what went done”, and they don’t believe his tales. Turns out Cal has some addictions, and some history, and the cops don’t really like him. As Cal tells his tale, we see it. Seems he was working a vampire case (cops couldn’t figure out why some college students were dead and missing their blood…). He gets some info, grabs his gear, and heads on out. As it turns out, there are beasties everywhere. Some are just trying to get through life, like us. Cal knows them all, but he’s most comfortable with the ones who lurk around the shadows. They don’t really make trouble, and they don’t tend to be noticed. Cal tracks his vampire, but his rules dictate he can’t just kill the baddie in front of the world. After lifting his wallet, he hopes to track the vamp home (to kill him), but notices another address while checking the I.D. When he gets to the address, he fights his own urges to bolt and get high, even though the gig doesn’t feel right. Cal’s vampire and some friends are talking inside, but he’s surprised to see different types of monsters, together. Instead of running scared, Cal pumps some adrenaline, and ends up interrupting the bad guys. Some monsters escape, some end up bloody, and Cal ends up with little information.

Time passes, and some beasties break into a lab (with the security codes…), to steal a chemical. They efficiently dispose of the records of their passing, but don’t kill the guard. When the police arrive, they find out that a rare strain of black plague was stolen. Records show it never killed anyone, but legend says it wiped out a town in the 1300s. Evidence indicates werewolves, but the crime doesn’t fit the wolves’ m.o.: hunting and killing. Cal stumbles home, hoping to dull the pain with his various vices, but ends up finding his ghoul friend, Mo’lock, in his place. Mo’lock informs Cal that the city’s ghouls want Cal’s help to solve a mysterious attack, so Cal and Mo’lock go deep into the sewers to talk to a gathering of ghouls.

So, I like Cal McDonald. He’s not a great guy, so far, but he is doing what he can do to keep the worst of the worst from damaging the normal way of life. Not that he gets to live that life, and not that he’s necessarily doing it out of love for people; just an obligation, a job. But, he’s also not just a random monster hunter, who kills just to kill. Bad guys may need to go down, but if you’re not a bad monster, it looks like he’ll leave you alone. Seems like a solid plan. This is not my first exposure to Steve Niles. I read all of his old Spawn work when it came out. And, frankly, this was not as scary as his older stuff, but I like the fun nature of this work, much better. The Spawn books were trying to show how evil evil can be, and I think Criminal Macabre is trying to show that there is another side to what we traditionally think of as monsters. I like that treatment much better (Hell, that’s how I view people!).

So, Ben Templesmith is great at creating mood. A lot of it comes through in his color choices, but even regular people can feel creepy under his hand. During the police interrogation, you can tell everything you need to know about the cops just by how their faces appear. I love this stuff. Cal goes through minor transformations from scene to scene, sometimes looking tough, sometimes beat down, sometimes even a little wimpy, and that’s all about Ben’s work. And, of course, we get to see a bunch of different creatures, and his art sort of re-interprets some of the old looks that we generally associate with these monsters. However, through all of the color palette changes and all of the different looks for the characters, there is never a moment where you can think it’s not a dark and gloomy book. We are shown the underbelly of the city, and the only place to go is down.

I really enjoyed this comic, and I plan to read through the rest of the stories. This is the first part of a 5-issue mini-series, but there have been a bunch of mini-series published (mostly) by Dark Horse Comics, who also published the omnibus edition that I used for this review. Criminal Macabre Omnibus volume 1 contains 2 complete series, plus a one-shot story (Love Me Tenderloin), plus another complete series (Supernatural Freak Machine), totalling 392 pages, all for $24.99. There are 2 more Criminal Macabre Omnibuses available, containing 368 pages per volume, also $24.99 each.

Criminal Macabre, and other great comics, can be found at Johnny Destructo’s Hero Complex located at 4456 Main Street, Manayunk, PA 19127. Visit him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/jdsherocomplex/

Review: Dead End Road (Video Game)

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on July 24, 2016 by Lilliandra Winters

Dev: DDD Wares
Release Date: July 8, 2016

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What the fuck? So, nevermind that the graphics are old school pixels, I don’t care about that. Some amazing games are pixel-based. I even enjoy the premise: you are trying to complete a dark ritual to achieve your ultimate goal. I’m down. Deal with the devil. Crossroads pact. I get it. How you are magically teleported across the county is confusing, but okay, I’m trying to follow your logic here. So, you have to drive to different cities to find a book, a bell and a candle and something to light them with? Okay, I’m still with you.

Why the hell does the middle feel like a driving simulator from hell? I get the point, it is very obviously a challenge to make sure you are worthy or have the strength of whatever cliche you want to throw at me. That’s fine, but it could make a little more sense. It could be structured better. It would be amazing if every time you screwed up, you didn’t have to start the whole fucking game over again! What bullshit is that? You could just start at the last town back or something like that instead of having to start the whole annoying process over again, especially since the last drive makes going to hell seem like a simple task.

And please don’t get me wrong, I am all for hard. Make me work for it, don’t just hand me the ending, I want to earn it. By the time you finally get to the end of this game, you would rather throw your computer out the window because that would feel a shit load more satisfying. It took every ounce of my being to not type that out all in caps and I am sure you appreciate that I didn’t, but HOLY SHIT did it feel impossible and anti-climatic when the game was finally beat. Two of the endings I encountered were both disappointing and making me wish for all that time back.

Let me know what you think. Am I utterly wrong or filled with righteous rage quit?

WintersOver4

Review: Exposure Therapy (Short Story)

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , on July 15, 2016 by Xander Woolf

Title: “Exposure Therapy”13mt-front-cover-post-proof-600-dpi
Anthology: 13 Morbid Tales
Author: Devon L. Miller
September 29, 2015

13 Morbid Tales is a book of 13 horror short stories by the author Devon L. Miller and edited by Reggie Lutz. “Exposure Therapy” is the fourth story within the book.

What’s it about?
“Exposure Therapy” follows a teenage girl, Mara, who loves horror movies. Her love of horror movies is deemed an illness within her society, which prompts her parents to send her to an institution so that she can be cured of her “affliction.” In the facility, she and the other patients are put into virtual reality horror situations as a form of exposure therapy.

What did I think?
This story is probably one of my favorite short stories I’ve read, to be honest. The character is relatable  and situation is downright terrifying. The idea of being thrown into VR horror situations in order to scare someone out of loving horror movies is A Clockwork Orange level of brilliance.

The story is written very well. As a reader, I can visualize the situation easily and I feel as though I know each of the characters that Mara briefly meets. Mara herself is a well crafted character. She has just the right amount of angst for a 17 year old and handles her situation as well as I would have at that age.

Without giving anything away, the ending is exactly what it needed to be.

Do I recommend it?
Yes, I do. The plot is well constructed, the characters are well crafted and the story is just well written overall.

Honestly, check out 13 Morbid Tales. You can find it on Amazon.

Check out Devon L. Miller’s guest post here!

wolfout