20 Horror films set to go under the knife in 2020

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100 years ago the Roaring Twenties came into effect with a social and economic boom that pushed the boundaries of experimentation and exploration dubbing it the crazy years. 

Cinema has evolved greatly during this time and spawned Rober MIene’s silent horror in German Expressionism, which is still considered a classic among some critics. 

While the tides have shifted and the boundaries of what is classified as horror has twisted through the years, moving numerous debates and discussions along the way, we come to a time when originality can be hard to come by, or perhaps the audience has become too critical and our perceptions have changed. 

Can the films of today cause a deeper development in the genre that we’ve come to love and like the films that were born a century ago stir the insanity again and break new ground in the process?

Let’s look at what 2020 has in store and see if indeed it will deliver.

Jan 23 – Underwater

This film has led some early reports to compare it to Alien but in the ocean deep instead of the far reaches of space. It does boast Kristen Stewart in the cast who may divide audiences and has been a bit hit and miss of late in her film choices but she is supported in this instance by Vincent Cassel, who is known for choosing experimental films. Does this then mean that this team of underwater researchers will uncover not only a few beasties but also break new ground in the process?

Prediction: Neither sink or swim. A drifter that will entertain some but not cast anything new into the cinematic landscape.

Jan 24 – The Turning

Based on Henry James novel, The Turn of the Screw and produced by Steven Spielberg, it stars Mackenzie Davis (Terminator: Dark Fate) and Finn “Can my hair grow any longer?” Wolfhard (Stranger Things) and bears close scrutiny as director Mike Flanagan (Doctor Sleep) is set to release an interpretation of the novel in Netflix series, The Haunting of Bly Manor, his follow up to the successful The Haunting of Hill House.

Prediction: Director Floria Sigismondi will no doubt bring some artistic visual flair that is evidence from her music videos, but could possibly fall foul of “popcorn syndrome” – Light, fluffy with a bit of crunch and serves the masses, but ultimately has no substance.

Jan 30 – The Grudge

Initially I was really excited about this release, being a fan of the Ju On franchise, plus Nicolas Pesce’s work with The Eyes of My Mother, and Piercing. Both movies have pushed the boundaries of comfort and shot in stylistic fashion that I was keen to see where Pesce would take The Grudge. Early reports haven’t been favourable however, so it could be another disappointment in the first month of the new decade.

Prediction: Could be another franchise instalment too many. The name alone will pull in the numbers, yet may not hit the mark on the scare front.

Jan 31 – Gretel and Hansel

It’s been over 200 years since The Brothers Grimm fashioned the fairy tale about a cannibalistic witch that kidnaps two children roaming in the woods. The fact that it is still resonates today is a testament to the strength of the storytelling and it will be interesting to see the story told from the perspective of Gretel played by Sophia Lillis (IT) who has already proved compelling as the young Beverly Marsh.

Prediction: Better than your average fair without necessarily offering anything new or compelling with the horror genre.

Feb 6 – The Lighthouse

Some may argue its place in this list, but it is billed as a psychological horror and director Robert Eggers has already made a name for himself in the artistic expressionism world within the genre with his debut feature, The VVitch, a film that also divided audiences. American audiences have already seen the movie too as it was released there last year, but as yet Australian audiences are still to see Eggers’ sophomore outing which pits Willem Defoe and Robert Pattinson against one another in a battle of wills and sanity in a remote and confined island.

Prediction: Will wow audiences looking for the alternative and alienate those more into the mainstream. Either way, both audiences will applaud the performances and Eggers and cinematographer Jarin Blaschke will paint a stunningly beautiful canvas.

Feb 13 – Fantasy Island

Blumhouse Productions are about to shake things up again by breathing new life into a cult 70s tv series. With a star-studded cast – Michael Pena (Crash), Maggie Q (Nikita), Lucy Hale (Pretty Little Liars), and Michael Rooker (Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer).
On an island where your fantasies come true, only to turn into nightmares and the guests must figure out its mystery in order to survive.

Prediction: Another success for Jason Blum and the team which will connect with the cinema-going public. If it’s played right, it could offer a fresh take using a blend of fantasy and horror that could also spark a franchise 

Feb 21 – Brahms: The Boy ll

This one is a bit of an oddity. Whilst its predecessor was a middle of the road affair and proved to be better than expected. It did feel like a one-off movie that didn’t necessarily warrant any further journey into the world of Brahms. A sequel is here though and will pick up with the doll being discovered by another family.

Prediction: A flop that will fall by the wayside and may not even make a blip on the radar.

Feb 27 – The Invisible Man

Another Blumhouse movie, this time in collaboration with Universal to resurrect their monsters franchise after the abysmal Tom Cruise vehicle from a few years ago. In what is potentially a ripe and current topic being explored in domestic violence as its central theme The Invisible Man boasts a cracking cast with Elisabeth Moss taking lead duties. It’s also in great hands with director Leigh Whannel steering the ship following his successful movie Upgrade from last year, plus Whannel is a storyteller, so expect a decent script to boot.

Prediction: The first big success of the year bringing the Universal monsters franchise back on track and paving the way for future projects with The Bride, Renfeld, The Invisible Woman, and Frankenstein.

Mar 20 – A Quiet Place Part 2

The question is whether director John Krasiniski can repeat the winning formula from the first movie. This War of the Worlds style feature with an audio twist is more sci-fi than horror, but with the family in plight scenario held a strong connection with the audience. How will this translate now that there is an absent father?

Prediction: Cillian Murphy will provide some much needed gravitas to the narrative which will be strong enough to lift the audience through with some decent ups and downs to wrench up the tension. 

Apr 3 – The New Mutants

Since Disney took over Marvel operations, The New Mutants has been stuck in production, deemed a little dark for the House of Mouse questioning how to distribute it. The feature comes across as The Dream Warriors crossed with the X-Men and centres on 5 young mutants held in a secret facility against their will. It also boasts a cracking cast with Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones), Anya Taylor-Joy (The VVitch, Split), and Charlie Heaton (Stranger Things).

Prediction: Despite several delays I feel that this film is gonna connect in a big way and pull in a lot of people. It just depends on how dark Disney are willing to go with it.

Apr 17 – Antlers

Little is known about this movie other than it is based on a short story by Nick Antosca the creative mind behind the Channel Zero anthology series. The screenplay must have some potential to have caught the eye of Guillermo Del Toro and put his name down as producer.

Prediction: With Keri Russell in the cast to provide the fantasy elements in reality, this could well be the surprise hit of the year.

May 15 – Saw reboot

Currently titled The Organ Donor starring Chris Rock, Samuel L. Jackson and Max Minghella this reboot of the Saw franchise will see the return of the Jigsaw Killer, but without Tobin Bell… I think? With director Darren Lynn Bousman at the helm once more following his turn overseeing parts 2-4, he is no stranger to the world.

Prediction: Will put bums on seats for the shock gore factor alone, but will the buddy cop drama approach pay off? Time will tell.

Jun 11 – Candyman

This is gonna be a tough one to watch for me as I am such a huge fan of the original movie and like Freddy, Candyman would haunt my dreams for a long time after viewing. A lot of that has to do with the strength of Clive Barker’s short story coupled with Tony Todd’s personification of the titular character.
Part of me is willing for this to be a success though as I can see room for the movie to be delivered to a modern audience using folklore and mythology at its core, and the storyline itself can transcend easily through the ages. It will be interesting to see a female perspective in director Nia DaCosta to follow Helen’s journalistic investigations.

Prediction: Jordan Peele has attached his name to this project and is clearly passionate about the story, but one can’t help but feel this is one step too far in rekindling the old flame that resides within the Candyman story.

Jul 2 – Ghostbuster: Afterlife

I know it’s technically not a horror film, but I’m including this in the mix for its nostalgic value in me the original movie paved the love of horror that I have and opened the door to many more glorious visions in the genre ever since. The original team will return in some shape or form, but primarily the film centres around a mother and her two children who set up on a farm only to discover something paranormal lurking in the town.

Prediction: Another film that will be resting on the merits of the first film, and while it’s great to see Jason Reitman take on the franchise following in his father’s footsteps, one can only hope that there will be enough comedy, horror and sci-fi to capture that old magic, but I think it will just be a glimmer rather than that sparkle.

Jul 10 – The Purge 5

Supposedly returning for the final instalment the 12 hour no holds-barred, crimefest ignited something in the movie-going audience. It has seen five feature length instalments and 2 seasons.

Prediction: More of the same, so if you’re a fan of the series, you’ll love it. I for one think the films are fun and enjoyable and it will be interesting to see how James DiMonaco will conclude things.

Jul 30 – Morbius

Sony has promised to take the Marvel universe into dark territory before with Venom and here they intend to do so again with Morbius, the Living Vampire. Jared Leto will no doubt bring the goods for the titular role and is in good company with Matt Smith, Jared Leto, and Tyrese Gibson.

Prediction: Director Daniel Espinosa provides great entertaining and solid movies, such as Safe House and Life, and I see no change here to his formula, but still question if they can go dark enough to make it compelling for horror fans.

Sep 11 – The Conjuring 3 aka The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It

The Conjuring universe has progressed in leaps and bounds since its initial release in 2013. There has been the odd blips, but essentially the films continue to entertain and scare audiences. This latest film will once again see the Warrens at the centre of proceedings, this time with one of their most publicised cases that bore witness to Arne Cheyenne Johnson claiming that he was possessed when he murdered.

Prediction: Solid acting, tight storyline, but may fall down with its delivery and exposition. Unfortunately Director Michael Chaves didn’t deliver with The Curse of La Llorona, so I fear that this may end up in a similar way, but am still willing to give it a chance.

Sep 17 – Last Night In Soho

Not much known about this one, but Edgar Wright has a knack for tapping the pulse of classic films and adapting their essence for a modern audience. This time around the psychological horror is inspired by Don’t Look Now and Polanski’s Repulsion both high in my all-time favourite lists

Prediction: A killer cast in Anya Taylor-Joy, Matt Smith, Diana Rigg, and Terence Stamp, this could be the ‘big hit’ of the year.

Oct 15 – Halloween Kills

In 2018, David Gordon Green, Danny McBride and Jason Blum attempted the impossible, the resurrection of Michael Myers that would connect both fans of the original and connect with a new audience. By delving into the subject of trauma and the impact that this has on its victims, Myers became both topical and harrowing. His sheer brutality and the force in which he attacks his victims made his carnage all the more disturbing.

Prediction: The name and sheer presence of Myers will bring the audience to the screens, but can they still make him relevant? They can’t rest on the nostalgic nods this time around. It’s a fine line to walk on, for if they get it wrong, they could find their final instalment, Halloween Ends a tricky sell.

TBC – Army of the Dead

For sheer shits and giggles, and action-pumped mayhem from visual storyteller Zack Snyder, about a group of mercenaries who decide to rob a casino during a zombie outbreak, this film concludes our list.

Prediction: Starring Dave Bautista, Army of the Dead will be entertaining if nothing else. A perfect answer for those just wanting to get their kicks and not have to think too deeply.

  • Saul Muerte

The best bloody dozen Aussie horror films of the decade (2010 – 2019)

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As we encroach the end of another decade I felt that it was best to review the best Australian horror films from the past ten years. Australia continues to make a significant impact on the genre with its unique antipodean perspective on the world and the darker side of humanity, which I’m hoping the following list lays testament to.

The Loved Ones (2010)

Directed by: Sean Byrne

Byrne may have only directed two feature films thus far including The Devil’s Candy which is equally brilliant and keeps this resident surgeon awaiting what he will serve up next. For the list though, I have chosen his debut feature, purely for the way it perfectly encapsulates the insane drive of love, revenge, and proms. The cast (Robin McLeavy and Xavier Samuel in particular) are amazing and deliver on point performances that rip the heart of romance apart.

The Tunnel (2011)

Directed by: Carlo Ledesma 

Notable for its distribution method, through BitTorrent’s free internet downloading platform which provided the film to a much wider audience. The Tunnel is a compelling found footage film that is clearly produced by a highly-skilled and knowledgeable team who manage to wrangle out every ounce of tension and animosity through this low-budget feature that follows a camera crew investigating the disappearance of homeless people in the hidden tunnels beneath Sydney.

The Babadook (2013)

Directed by: Jennifer Kent

Despite dividing the horror-loving audience, this film took out our own poll for Best Horror film 2013 and for good reason as it tackles a sometimes taboo subject in society: depression, grief, and children with learning difficulties. The beautiful blend of stop-animation and stark reality ignites the emotions on screen and ably played by Essie Davies and Noah Wiseman.

Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead (2014)

Directed by: Kiah Roache-Turner

Take two brothers invested in a balls-to-the wall, action-packed zombie flick with pure bloody Aussie adrenaline pumping through its veins and you get this awesome fun ride in Wyrmwood. Such was its success on home soil and overseas that it’s little wonder that there has been talks of a sequel and/or tv series. If it does pick up, I’m sure it will be a glorious bloodbath of euphoria.

Hounds of Love (2017)

Directed by: Ben Young

Some may argue that this is more of a crime thriller, but the sheer terror that Ashleigh Cummings portrays as kidnapped victim Vicki, who is tormented by a disturbing Stephen Curry as John White. His wife and lover (Emma Booth) hangs in the balance of right and wrong, as she longs to please her husband, but struggles to adhere to his desires. The trio of performers are equally astounding, propelling the drama forward to a climactic conclusion that is both deeply satisfying and harrowing.

Killing Ground (2017)

Directed by: Damien Power

Damien Power’s direction shines the dark light on outback Australia that is gut-wrenchingly painful to endure. As we witness the destruction of the family unit at the hands of two deranged individuals in German (Aaron Pedersen) and Chook (Aaron Glenane) the audience is left pondering what is left to fight for when faced with a battle for survival.

The Marshes (2017)

Directed by: Roger Scott

In another tale of survival, The Marshes casts three biologists in the remote marshlands of Australia in what can be described as an environmental horror. Roger Scott tackles a topical subject and projects it into an untapped landscape that deserves to be displayed in celluloid form. It’s a powerful way to promote the true horrors of the world through the eyes of fantastical horror blended with folklore and mythology, and I can only hope that this film gets a decent release on demand and in front of a wider audience to spread this message further.

Cargo (2018)

Directed by: Ben Howling and Yolanda Ramke

The strength of Australian storytelling is clearly evident in this post-apocalyptic tale that began as a short film in Tropfest before being crafted into a feature length story. Its genius casting in Martin Freeman as the lead helps elevate the film for a wider audience, and is further enriched by the Australian landscape, a beautiful performance from Simone Landers, and a refreshing take on a tired genre that pulls at the heartstrings. 

Rabbit (2018)

Directed by: Luke Shanahan

I’m a sucker for psychological horror and this narrative delightfully casts you down the rabbit hole as Maude (Adelaide Clemens) goes in search of her missing sister using that quirky psychic connection that often occurs in twins. This slow burn may not suit everyone’s tastes but I enjoyed the journey all the same, and believe Shanahan has a gift in accessing the recesses of a disconcerted mind. 

Tarnation (2018)

Directed by: Daniel Armstrong

What can be described as an Australian love song to Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead, Armstrong taps into a wild, strange, and deranged underworld. The off-beat, quirky humour is a perfect vessel to showcase Australia’s knack for macabre and fantastical stories and propels the audience through a delightful visual feast.

The Furies (2019)

Directed by: Tony D’Aquino

The deadliest game pitting women in a barren world to outwit, outlast each other using brutal methods throughout their ordeal. D’Aquino is not shy in delivering a bloody battle royale to cast his perception of the devastation that women are subjected to using the male gaze that society had come accustomed to. It’s a savage portrayal with plenty of punch to keep viewers squirming at the edge of their seat.

Little Monsters (2019)

Directed by: Abe Forsythe

Rounding out our bloody dozen is this delightful tale of down and out loser, musician Dave who learns that he must grow up fast when he attends his nephews school excursion to a farm during a zombie outbreak. Forsythe handles kids, animals, and zombies with enough care and dedication that proves his a natural in his game which belies his sophomore attempt in the director’s chair. Filled with pain and laughter this is a cracker of a movie that is amplified by Lupita Nyong’o’s performance as kick-ass teacher, Miss Caroline. 

  • Saul Muerte

Movie review: Critters Attack!

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Back in 1986 Critters was released on the general public and most people assumed they were a cash in from the success of Gremlins a couple of years earlier.
I too assumed this was the case but director Stephen Herek refuted this connection.
Unlike those little green men, Critters has ventured further and developed four sequels, so for good or ill we’ve witnessed the Krites rampaging and chomping their way across the globe.

This time around, there’s no crackpot Charlie McFadden hurling molotov cocktails in order to save the human race, so instead the Warner Bros team enticed scream horror icon Dee Wallace back to resurrect her bounty hunter character under a different alias, Aunty Dee to keep the franchise “in canon”.

The movie projects our heroine, Drea (Tashia Washington) who offers to take up babysitting duties in order to win brownie points and win her way into the University of her choice, only to be subjected to the balls of ferocious furry carnivores intent on devouring humans and reproduction.

In what is presented as some kind of crazed traditional Hallmark movie infused with horror elements, it ordinarily could be dismissed based on the acting talents on show (Wallace excepted) and the fairly sublime narrative. Thankfully the film’s namesake creatures are appetite enough to subject the average horror fan to some much-needed kills and is injected with some decent humour along the way. This emphasises just how tongue-in-cheek the creators are willing to take the franchise and quite frankly, the audience really shouldn’t take it too seriously at all.

Prognosis:

This maybe their fifth outing, but the Critters prove to be just as insatiable for human consumption and terrorizing their victims with deliciously fun low-budget humour.

The Krites more than make up for their made for tv format as long as you don’t expect anything too demanding or high-brow.

  • Saul Muerte

Movie review: Bliss

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Straight from the grill, Bliss is a film that is served under-cooked, raw and in desperate need of some substance, rather than the vacuous material that director Joe Begos tries to experiment with. 

Unfortunately, part of his downfall is presenting a narrative with some really unlikeable characters including the lead protagonist Dezzy (Dora Madison), a struggling artist who strives through a creative block, fuelled with any hallucinogenic substances that she can consume. Dezzy is such a difficult character to connect with as she is so self-consumed and saps the energy of those around her.
As a viewer this only alienates us and there is no reprieve or any offer of redemption. Instead she just aimlessly drives around in her own (or our) confusion in search of another hit to drive her out of her boredom (and ours again) to fill her life.

One night, amongst the haze and frantic lights within a club, Dezzy teams up with Courtney and her bloke, when the night takes a dark and twisted turn that leaves Dezzy questioning her visions and battling with the memories from the night to decipher illusions from reality. 

Slowly, and we mean really slowly, Dezzy comes to realise that the pains and blood thirst have a stronger meaning than a crappy come down and needs to satiate her need. As the movie descends into hell, things start to get really interesting and the more crazed and frenetic Dezzy becomes. It’s just a shame that it’s left until the final act for there to be enough fire under the belly of the beast to drive plot to its inevitable conclusion. 

A worthy mention should go out to Jeremy Gardner (Fingers) who continues to impress despite being handed little screen time, and manages to carve out an engrossing character in jilted boyfriend Clive, marking another worthy screen entry and a name that people should keep an eye on.

Prognosis:

A modern vampire tale that falls short of any worthiness and drifts along aimlessly without any real bite for its audience to sink into.
Despite this, there are some cool moments from Director Joe Begos, that may just tip him onto the Surgeons radar, and provide enough for some viewers to appreciate his talent.

  • Saul Muerte

Movie review: Wrinkles the Clown

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We’ve all heard of the boogeyman or the urban legend behind Bloody Mary, and since the introduction of the internet, mythical figures such as the Slender Man has spread across social platforms like wildfire. With the ever-changing beast that online mediums can deliver, it seemed inevitable that one such phantom or creature would kick up a hornet’s nest causing a controversial scene that would set tongues wagging and activate a series of debates about the rights and wrongs of social interaction and mischief.

Enter Wrinkles the Clown when a video was uploaded on YouTube back in 2015 that depicted a clown hidden beneath the bed of a young girl, and emerges to turn off the camera.

The video soon went viral and a further succession of videos that showed Wrinkles scaring more kids, by entering their homes which in turn spurred a series of Wrinkles sightings across America. The man beneath the clown mask would pursue his project further by himself as a scary clown for hire, sparking an interest from parents willing to subject their own children to the threat of Wrinkles visiting them should they misbehave. Such a controversial action at its heart and by promoting negative reinforcement in parenting styles, the subject would warrant further scrutiny from the public and dividing many. 

Whether you believe in his methods or not, the man behind the mask, projected as a 65 year old retired man has seen his business propel beyond his expectations, and receives numerous phone calls on a daily basis, either from the afore-mentioned parents, or from bewildered or adventurous young kids pushing their own boundaries to seek out Wrinkles and find out if he truly exists.

One thing is certain that part of the hyperbole is fueled by the known condition of coulrophobia, otherwise known as a fear of clowns, and one that I can identify with thanks partly to Tin Curry’s adaptation of Pennywise the clown from Stephen King’s It and a certain visit to Circus World in Florida when I was seven years old, but that’s another story.
The point is that, this fear is more than apparent for some and is the stuff of nightmares. It can take one small thing to ignite this fear and before you know it, there’s a pandemic on our hands.
Although, we’re not that extreme with this case, the man behind the clown mask is no fool and is able to tap into this agitation and subject these horrors for the sake of art. Without giving the game away, there is a further reveal towards the movies final act that subjects the audience to further marvel and questioning how deep the mythology behind Wrinkles the Clown will go.

Prognosis:

Wrinkles the Clown offers up a brilliant insight into art and society and subjects one of our fears, questioning whether parents should project those trepidations on their children in order for them to conform.
Director Michael Beach Nichols handles the subject matter on a tightrope of interest and horror, where the viewer is both observer and participant, making this a must watch documentary.

Movie review: Black Christmas (2019)

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“Tis the season to get rebooted, fa la-la la la la la la, No!”

This year, in our stocking, we got a modern day retelling of the 1974 horror/thriller Black Christmas, a classic of horror suspense about a hostile murderer hiding somewhere within the dorm of a university terrorising the group of young women living there.

Check out The Surgeons podcast on the original film here

Where as the 1974 original had an eerie feel with its point of view shots from the killers perspective, creepy phone calls from inside the house and a genuine sense of fear, this years remake/reboot/whatever plays out more like a student film with a bigger budget.
Everything that made the original appealing and unique is stripped away and replaced with obvious setups (from the opening shots) and even more blatant star characters who you just know will be the antagonist.
It’s set up to be a story about toxic masculinity and institutional indoctrination of their traditions, something succinctly put by Rick and Morty “Scientifically; traditions are a stupid thing.”


SPOILERS!!!

The film sets up a hidden society of male elitist pricks who are using black eye gunk magic to possess new recruits to their cult, of elitist pricks, most of these men being athletically inclined and spout the word “bitch” comically often.
My main gripe, among so many others, was the final confrontation; The protagonist is about to die at the hands of said pricks when suddenly a group of her female friends burst through the door armed with bow and arrow and other useless shit and commence a big ol arse whoopin…
I remind you that said pricks are jocks and possessed by black eye gunk magic.
Putting the main characters in such an implausible position infuriated me as you only insult the position you are trying to emulate if there is no justification for their capability.
In the original we didn’t know who the murder was, in this version we see Cary Elwes and know he’s gonna be the bad guy. 

The modern telling of Black Christmas focuses on ‘toxic masculinity’ within colleges and educational institutions but also with black magic. The story of a female student who had been sexually assaulted by a male student and not taken seriously is told sympathetically and drives the story quite well. Finding her confidence to continue living her life among the constant slander from other students was the route that worked in this film. There was no need to include black eye gunk magic and a brawl of men vs women in the climax of the film.

Prognosis:

If I had a choice twixt the two I would be watching the original over the new version which could have a better if you cut out the last 20 minutes.  

A shame too as it had some really good messages that could have been more profound without the supernatural elements or the obvious disdain for men.

  • Richard Lovegrove

Movie Review: The Banana Splits Movie

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My journey into this movie was an interesting one. Based on the children’s late 60s to early 80s TV series that projected the quirky characters Fleegle, Bingo, Drooper, and Snorky into kids homes every week. The timeframe that Hanna Barbera’s part live-action, part animation show was in its prime was just ahead of my time, being extremely young when it drew to a close, but it was present enough in my consciousness for me to have a vague connection thanks partly to an older brother and cousins.

This time around, the film would cast these fun-loving, larger than life personalities with a horror bent, and much like the remake of Child’s Play earlier in the year, which used artificial intelligence gone wrong as its main catalyst, but one could argue that it’s done with a much more efficient way. 

The premise is admittedly a simple one, with the show still running in one of the backlots of the film studios and we meet our central characters Harley Williams, a kid who struggles to fit in with his peers, and is taking to the filming of the series by his mother, Beth, his massively unlikeable step father Mitch (guess who’s going to meet their comeuppance?), his older brother Austin, and classmate Zoe.
For Harley, it’s a dream come true with the potential to meet his favourite character Snooky (the one that looks like an elephant and coincidentally the one that seems to not be as messed up as the other Banana Splits members).

Inevitably though things go wrong when the Banana Splits – all computer programmed robots – malfunction and begin to hunt and kill the adults in the film so that the kids can have a very bloody, and fucked up version of their show presented to them.

Prognosis:

The film is incredibly formulaic, and it’s pretty obvious which characters are marked for a brutal death, but surprisingly there are some decent and gnarly kills that will satisfy the average horror fan. Plus the comedy beats are fun, making this an enjoyable watch all round. Great entertainment for a night in with some pizza and good company.

  • Saul Muerte

Movie review: Addams Family

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Some stories have characters or a universe that needs explaining, I always felt that this is not one of those properties.
With its origins dating back to its cartoon inception by Charles “Chas” Addams in the 1940’s and faithful live action adaptations starring Raul Julia and Angelica Houston followed by its lesser sequels with Tim Curry’s back flipping interpretation of Gomez Addams, comes the new 3D CGI-animated children’s supernatural fiction fantasy black comedy horror film directed by Conrad Vernon and starring Charlize Theron Moretz and Oscar Isaac as Gomez.
One of the things this feature achieves is the creepiest Gomez design which comes off creepier than any other.

The casting choices of Chloë Grace Moretz as Wednesday and Finn Wolfhard as Pugsly are odd choices for their voices.
The monotone delivery of Wednesday made her scenes so forgettable that I could feel the data being deleted as it was being written.
The inherent excitement that comes with Finn Wolfhard’s vocal talent does not fit with Puglsy’s character.

Some laughs from Nick Kroll as Uncle Fester and Bette Midler as Grandma but what must be a stretch to call a cameo by Snoop Dogg as Cousin It, and listed merely as It for marketing purposes.
Outside the family Addams exists the local town with Allison Janney as our realtor antagonist which makes all her scenes remind me of “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs”.

The film starts with the wedding ceremony of Gomez and Morticia Addams, schmetting the audience in the face with a cheap lime in the coconut reference (this film has too many outdated musical references), which is interrupted by angry townsfolk welding torches and pitchforks, driving the entire Addams and their relatives out of town.
Gomez and Morticia flee and run into Lurch, literally, with their car, who is found wrapped up in straight jacket and instantly thrown into slavery as they claim an abandoned mental asylum we assume Lurch came from as their new home, completely disregarding property deeds and possible asbestos poisoning not to mention avoiding property taxes.
Thing and Lurch play the famous tune from the TV series on the piano organ that exist in every asylum and with a groan we start a film that feels like its 15 years old.
Hammering home that conformity bad and beeee yourself (even if that means you enjoy actively engaging in homicide).

On deeper research, this film starting its production in 2013 after the production of Tim Burton’s Addams Family television series unfortunately ceased.
Without doubt his stylistic interpretations could have possibly made for a worthwhile adaptation.
Though the film has received mixed reviews from critics it has still grossed $176 million globally on a $40 million budget, so there is obviously a sequel already in production set to be released in 2021.

Prognosis:

A family friendly supernatural black comedy that lands a few laughs but if you are going into this movie expecting any kind of horror you may find that the scariest thing about the new Addams Family movie is the run time.

  • Richard Lovegrove and Kelsi Williams

Movie review: Eli

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As we fast approach the last month of 2019, I realise that there’s a fair few movies that I need to watch in order to satiate my thirst for horror. Among these was the Netflix feature Eli, starring Kelly Reilly, Lili Taylor, and Stranger Things’ Sadie Sink. 

Directed by Ciaran Foy (Citadel, Sinister 2) struggles to make a deep impact despite the strong performances from the cast, and I can’t help but feel that this is a combination of Foy’s inability to shift away out of the generic, failing to provide something memorable, and a predictable storyline that is almost too afraid to deliver anything new to the audience, more than comfortable to sit in the middle of the road.

The premise begins with the titular character played by Charlie Shotwell, as a bubble boy, cocooned from the world due to a rare disease that causes a severe reaction if he is exposed to the outside world. When provided with the opportunity to cure him of his affliction, Eli’s parents (Reilly and Max Martini) head to a specialised clinic run by Dr Isabella Horn (Taylor). When things appear to be too good to be true, it’s often the case, and there’s something dark and sinister behind the great doctor and her practice. 

As Eli starts to uncover the mystery, he unearths a secret that once exposed will change everything forever. Dare he open Pandora’s Box and who exactly is the mysterious Hayley from next door? 

Prognosis:

Medical facilities, skin diseases and dark secrets that fuel this horror feature, should be the stuff of every genre fans dreams, but instead of offering up scares Eli remains trapped in formulaic territory and seems comfortable to sit in safe territory. 

As such, it’s a mediocre affair – watchable but never truly wets the appetite of any hardened horror enthusiast.

  • Saul Muerte

Trash Night Tuesdays on Tubi: Invasion of the Bee Girls

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This week’s feature highlight for Trash Night Tuesday on Tubi came as a pleasant surprise to me as not only did it serve as a b-grade sci-fi movie from the 70s but beneath the blatant sexual glorification of women could easily serve today as a mantle for the heavy skewed male gaze at its forefront.
With a bit of tweaking, I could see this in a modern setting shining light on the dominant man’s self-righteous and self-interested approach to sex, and their entitlement to women.
This would all come crashing down helmed by a female scientist who discovers a way to cross human DNA with bee DNA where the feminine species kills their male counterpart after reaching sexual gratification.
This is exactly how I viewed it and as such found myself championing the female cause and Dr Harris (Anitra Ford).

In truth, it heralds itself as a pure titillation flick that subjects women and their form for the satisfaction of the male viewers that it hoped would swarm to the movies to watch the film, and with its cast, including the lead heroine lead librarian, Julie (playmate Victoria Vetri – Rosemary’s Baby).

The premise of the story is a simple one and would serve as a great companion piece to George A Romero’s The Crazies. Set in small town America, the population finds itself in an epidemic when men appear to be dropping dead in the act of love-making. Yes, you heard me right. So the government send in Special Agent Neil Agar (William Smith – Conan The Barbarian) to investigate and kick ass while he’s there.

Agar teams up with Julie to uncover the source of these killings where they undercover Dr.Harris’ laboratory and try to save the local human population.

Prognosis: 

This is the stuff that only the 70s could dream up. If you’re a fan of b-grade science fiction that is actually a little better than you would expect, then Invasion of the Bee Girls could be just your thing.
Plus it boasts screenwriter Nicholas Meyer in his first feature film credit. He would go on to change the face of Star Trek with rewriting and directing Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and continue to be an active part in the universe with Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country and an episode from tv series, Star Trek: Discovery

  • Saul Muerte