This movie is incredible. Like, watch it twice in the same 24 hour period incredible. If you have any interest whatsoever in occultism, A Dark Song is a must see. On the surface, it's just a movie with too people cooped up in a house, performing a complicated ritual. The film is layered, though. The motives of both Victoria and Joseph seem to be ever changing, which in turn makes the truth of the ritual itself questionable. It's no wonder that it takes try, after try, after try for them to make any progress as they attempt to summon Victoria's guardian angel. And this isn't a guardian angel in the glowing, loving, light sense. As a viewer you'll find yourself wondering if Joseph is up to no good, or if it's Victoria's lack on honestly that's throwing a wrench into things. Either way, the danger factor seems high, and the sense of dread is thick. Oh no, an Angel is not easy to summon, and for good reason.
If you have not seen this movie. Stop reading this review right now. Go watch it (it's on Netflix!)
The best thing about this A Dark Song is that it is clearly, incredibly well researched. The ritual depicted in the film is a real Enochian invocation, though the details are kept intentionally vague; I believe for the betterment of the picture. Whether you are aware of its accuracy or not, the steps that our two characters are taking in order to summon Victoria's angel feel incredibly real because of the eye for detail that's taken in the crafting of the scenes. The gorgeous chateau that it was filmed in frames every moment like painting. The drawings on the floors, the components of the spell, and the instructions given by Joseph (who claims he has done this twice before), all feel ominous in their simplicity. On top of all this, I don't think there are many modern actors who can play intimidating as well as Steve Oram (Joseph. See him also in Ben Wheatley's The Sightseers), and it comes from a surprising package with him. He doesn't look like an intimidating dude, but he can deliver his lines with the right intensity. When he tells Victoria that she has to do exactly what he says, you feel like she better do it. And when Joseph looks scared, you know it must be really bad.
I will admit one grievance with the film. The third act does become muddled. Once SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER ----> Joseph is impaled on a kitchen knife, rendering him bed ridden, Victoria's actions start to get confusing in sort of a bad way. It gets hard to tell where things are going, and in spite of the fact that the pair have already gone a bit off book to complete their task, her actions move beyond purpose. Joseph's warnings do manifest, but in kind of a weird, almost benign way. The effects in the final scenes make up for it, and I do find Victoria's final choices believable (I've seen many complain about her ultimate request for favor from the angel). Overall I felt satisfied, but I would have appreciated a little bit more clarity in those later scenes.
Definitely definitely definitely make time for it. And if you liked this movie and you want more like it, try any of the titles recommended by Ben and I on episode 109 of the Video Droogs podcast! (also, Kill List, A Field in England, and The Witch). Interested parties may also want to look into the basis for the ritual performed in this film. Apparently that old dog Aleister Crowley attempted (and completed) this same invocation in his heyday, in a home purchased for the single intent of performing the ritual. That house was later purchased by Jimmy Page who reported "many happenings" within its walls. Intrigue!
I feel like this movie is basically a depiction of what the people who were scared during the Satanic Panic thought Dungeons and Dragons was actually like: greasy, manic dudes, using their mind to roll dice and then literally murdering people in real life because they were convinced they were slaying demons. If only that were true!
13 Demons is a strangely humorous little movie that comes in about forty five minutes too long. Three dudes begin playing a table top RPG that goes by the same name as the film, and over an hour later they're still playing. Supposedly, the game caused mass murder to ensue in the 1970's when it was first released, and so the fella who stumbles across a copy at an estate sale is more than excited to give it a try. Knowing that the game is fabled to send its players into hysterics, his friends oblige anyway; remarking that the game smells like burnt leaves and the instructions in the books are kind of lame. Of course, what fun would the movie be if the rumors weren't true? Like a grown up Jumanji for fantasy dorks, 13 Daemons sucks its players in. Only, the demons that these paladin are slaying are actually just gas station attendants and small children. But hey, they're on a quest to cleanse the land of evil! Those people were no longer gas station attendants and little boys. 13 Demons shows a clear love for gaming culture, and has the spirit of a horror comedy that could have been pretty successful.
I do wish that this movie had executed its idea a bit more effectively. Unfortunately, it is wrought with redundancy, and the conflict, which is revealed in scene number one, never really develops. By the end of the film, they're still just some real life murderers who think they're demon slaying paladins. On top of that, the budget for this movie was clearly so meager that any scenes of demon slaying involved a lot of weird editing filters and back lit figures. So, there are no real effects, costuming, or make up to speak of. This should have been a film that lasted under thirty minutes, so that the unnecessarily long scenes could be trimmed down, and some of the budget could have been more wisely spent on crafting some cool looking demons. Seeing the outline of the Haxan demon head just isn't enough.
Cool idea, but a bit of a chore to watch.
This movie is exactly what you'd expect. It knows what it is. After all, after seven films, you just have to accept that you're watching a doll murder people. If you can get over that obstacle, you'll have a good time with this latest installment in the series. Chucky laughs. That's all you really need.
I'm proud that after all these years, Brad Dourif is still voicing this little red-headed bunghole, no matter how silly the franchise gets. He has even brought his daughter, Fiona, into the fold. The series is all the better for it, too. After all, who better is there to portray the vessel of Charles Lee Ray than someone who looks like a gender swapped Charles Lee Ray? This time, Nica (the subject of 2013's Curse of Chucky...a movie this critic did not make time for), awakens in a mental institution. You know, the kind of institution we always see in the movies, but that don't seem to exist in real life. Stark white. Having committed several murders that she claims were the work of Chucky, not her, it's the kind of place she aught to be. Except, as we know, she's not crazy and a doll possessed by a murderer is actually 100% responsible. And in short order, not one, but THREE good guy dolls appear on the grounds if the asylum. There are some surprises in Cult of Chucky. Charles Lee Ray has some new tricks up his sleeve, and Tiffany makes an appearance as well. The murders are bloody, and if you hate dolls they'll give you the anticipated heebie-jeebies. In particular, there's a scene in which one of the patients in the institution ends up strapped down to a gurney while the good guy himself is in the room. It goes as well for her as you'd expect. No surprise here: the film also ends wide open for the next chapter to be filmed as quick as they wanna make one. Whether or not that's a good thing really just depends on how much you're amused by the series to begin with. And if you're wondering, the Chucky font is Furtura Extra Bold (with a modified Y).
I don't hate that I watched this movie. I probably won't ever watch it again.
Marathon of marathons. There comes a time when you realize you've got a gap in your knowledge of the hard hitters that has to be rectified. In my time, I've watched Friday the 13th films sporadically. I've seen the atrocity that is Jason X, I saw Freddy vs. Jason at the theatre on opening night (call for help!), and I've seen the Final Cut at least a dozen times; and so far in this binging adventure, I don't think there's an entry in the series that can top Joseph Zito's Crispin and Corey on parade. Most of the movies featuring Jason have melded into a big, hockey-mask-wearing, blob from my childhood. So, it was time to do this thing; to watch the series with the attention that it deserves (probably). I can say with assurance, that parts I-IV have left me nothing but ready for the next installments in the series. Despite their tendency to repeat themselves, and the absolute absurdity of the dialogue and rationale of the victims, Friday the 13th begs to be seen, installment after installment. So, here are some things I observed while watching the first four films of the series.
Friday the 13th Part I:
- All the men in this movie are super into taking of their shirts and showing off their oddball accessories. Neckerchiefs, red suspenders, short jorts. Every dude at Camp Crystal Lake seems ready to pedo-stache themselves into a stupendous summer, and dies with the same "erk!" straining out of their bare-chested torso.
- Crystal Lake is apparently inhabited by about thirteen species of birds, all with very distinct calls. Someone in the sound editing department got a little excited, methinks.
- I know it supercedes rational explanation, but I'm not sure I see how Mrs. Voorhees views murdering random camp staff as a logical venue for avenging her son who was allowed to drown in the lake. Perhaps I missed some important dialogue, but her plan seems ill-founded. She can really rock the cable knit sweater, though.
- If crazy man Ralph wants people to listen to him, maybe sneaking up on their porch and yelling "you're doomed!" isn't the best way to do it? Also, did he ride his bike forty miles out of town just to say that, and then ride away? What's his role in all this? Why does he care? How does he know? I need some back story...
- Murders: 10. Mostly throat slashes with a hunting knife. One arrow stab, one axe to the face, and of course Mrs. Voorhees is decapitated in one surprisingly easy slice.
- Weirdest ending ever. Was the final lake scene a hallucination? I don't think so, but then how long was Jason just hanging out in there? Impressive lung capacity. Also, how did the cops know to show up?
Friday the 13th Part 2:
- This is basically the same movie as part one, except Jason rises forth as the killer. I do really, really, exceptionally enjoy the bag over the head and overalls look.
- Again with all the bird sound effects. Doves, crows, gulls, hawks, and kookaburras. Crystal Lake has it all.
- All you have to do to defeat Jason is put on a dirty cable knit sweater, and baby talk him, I guess. Just make sure you stand in front of the alter honoring his mom's shriveled head.
- Murders: 10. More inventive this time, as well. Knives, claw hammers, machete, bared wire!
Friday the 13th Part 3:
- Now we're getting somewhere! I think this is when they figured out the 13th films would fare well if they didn't take themselves too seriously. The music that plays as the end credits roll is enough to serve as evidence of this presumption. I think the folks writing these stories also finally just said to split with worrying about WHY Jason is killing people. There's no real reason for it, other than the victims are there. That's fine. I kind of miss the days when the slashers slashed just for the sake of slashin.
- I knew I was going to like this movie as soon as I saw 80's gutter punks. This is always a sure sign of quality. These motorcycle folk were not the highest quality horror punks, though; they didn't even have switchblades! They were also the first to die (save the Hockett's) , which was a serious bummer. I was rooting for them, and had my money on the hippies to bite the dust first. Oh well. Rest in Peace, Loco and Fox.
- "Dammit, Shelly!" - everyone
- Finally, we get the iconic hockey mask. As much as I liked the bag head, the well known mask does a lot to elevate the intimidation factor of our beloved Jason. I would also like to mention that the guy has a really great pair of masculine hands. Hold me close (but, like...keep your mask on).
- I watched this in 2D, but the 3D gags were still pretty fun. And no, obviously that eyeball was NOT on a string. Also, nothing like seeing a dude get chopped from groin to chest while doing a hand stand. That's what happens, I guess, when you walk around on your hands for no good reason. Someone else test this theory out.
- Murders: 12. Making progress!
- Again with the springing out of the lake ending. Weirdest ending ever. This time it was a little more surreal though, with Jason screaming in the window (and loud! She heard him all the way from the lake).
Friday the 13th Part IV: The Final Chapter
- Everything that takes places in the opening scenes of this movie gets me laughing, every time I watch it. Lecherous Axel deserved the hacksaw to the throat, no doubt. But, you kind of have to appreciate a bold dude like that, who watches TOTALLY REAL exercise videos, while he eats a sandwich in the morgue.
- "You know what...let's kill this hitchhiker while she's eating a banana! Forget context!" - Joseph Zito
- Best teens to visit Crystal Lake so far. In spite of all the rampant teen murder in the area, they just keep showing up; horny and carefree. Of course, I am biased here. Crispin Glover is my forever celebrity crush, and this young, dreamy version of him has all the right dance moves. Weirdly, I also like seeing him get his wig split with a meat cleaver after he's stabbed through the hand with a corkscrew. Cute!
- I swear if I ever meet a horror effect prodigy who is creating Tom Savini quality masks in his bedroom, I will do more than say "wow, cool!" That kid is getting a scholarship come hell or high water, and he is getting introduced to some film industry artists, immediately. Tommy is a swell little dude.
- Jason is getting strong with the murders by the time The Final Chapter rolls around. He's throwing girls out of windows like a pro, and crushing heads against shower walls like they're made out of a head shaped sack of rotten garbage. There's only one more murder than the last film, but our boy is getting inventive. Put your hands together for the gal who gets stabbed through the rubber dinghy.
- I don't know why Corey Feldman in lumpy Jason makeup seems to tame the beast, but...whatever. I commend this nonsense ending.
More to come...I can't possibly get off of this train now that I've boarded.
This fun little show flew completely under the radar. As a person with no cable tv, I had no idea it even existed. Thank the streaming gods!
Basically, Stan Against Evil is John C. McGinley at his best; a grump with a soft heart, hidden beneath a fleshy coating of sarcastic remarks. As the retired sheriff of his town, Stan thinks he's leaving the world of totally bizarre crime behind. With the loss of his wife, a former demon hunter who protected him as the town's cursed law enforcement, he settles in for a life free of the dangers of policing a town where demonic trifles are constantly afoot. That retirement goes, of course, about as well as you'd expect.
Horror Comedy is so hard, but this show gets it right. The imagery is all there: demonic items, creatures (and practical effects!), puristan era witches, and all the makings of a small town. Stan even drives a wood panel station wagon. But, McGinley cracks wise in the way only he can. He has the formula down to perfection. Perhaps best of all is that each episode is self contained, featuring a new demon each week, but still working a continuous thread of the history of their town and the evil forces that inhabit it. Did I mention the show uses practical effects? The demons here were crafted with care, sometimes leaning toward body horror and deformity akin to the effects of movies like Slither. At the same time, creatures like the pig demon are allowed to look cartoonish in their wellcraftedness. The crew on this show just gets it. They give the horror fans what they want, but they also allow themselves to be silly.
I could watch Stan and his lovable goof of a daughter be mean to demons for a long time!