Villains (2019) & C.H.U.D. (1984) Reviews

I have two NEW horror reviews today!!! Likely to be the only new ones I write all month instead of just re-posting stuff I’ve already written. Well, maaaaaaybe I’ll review Halloween 1 through 6 since I just rewatched all of those (well, I watched 5 & 6 for the first time ever). Dunno. I’m not in a blogging place at the moment. Find it difficult to put any words together on anything lately. We’ll see! Now what the heck am I going to say about these two films…

Villains (2019)

Directed & Written by Dan Berk & Robert Olsen

Starring: Bill Skarsgård, Maika Monroe, Blake Baumgartner, Jeffrey Donovan, Kyra Sedgwick

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
After a pair of amateur criminals break into a suburban home, they stumble upon a dark secret that two sadistic homeowners will do anything to keep from getting out.

My Opinion:

I liked this one. For some reason, I’d not heard of this one at all despite it being recent & on Netflix (it’s actually a 2021 release here in the U.K.). It doesn’t have huge megastars but it still has names well known to movie fans so am not sure why I’d heard nothing about it. So thanks, Film Miasma! I first heard of this when reading your review.

I’ve liked a lot of the films Maika Monroe has done so far, especially It Follows which not everyone loves but I do. She’s admittedly been in some real rubbish but I think she stands out in those films & expected her to be a bigger star by now. I didn’t love The Guest but appreciated its style and the fact that it felt original plus, again, I liked Monroe in it.

I also really liked a film of hers called Bokeh, which I keep putting off reviewing since nothing whatsoever happens in that movie. Honestly. Which is quite an accomplishment for a movie about everyone on the planet suddenly disappearing other than Monroe & her new fiancé (or maybe it was new hubby, I dunno) while vacationing in Iceland. But I’ve always been obsessed with end-of-the-world stories so I liked it plus the movie was gorgeous and I badly want to visit Iceland now. It was a really good tourism advert for Iceland! But, see? This is why I can’t write anything lately. I’m way off topic! This is turning into a Bokeh review. (But, hey – I did like Bokeh a lot so watch it if you just want to watch a pretty young couple do nothing other than wander around & go swimming while looking at beautiful landscapes. I’d give it 6.5/10).

So, yeah, I liked Monroe in this film too. But what I liked the most was Bill Skarsgård & the relationship these two had. I’d even say that this somewhat strange sort-of-horror-thriller-almost-horror-comedy-movie had a nice romance going on with these two. They were good together & had a nice chemistry. But Skarsgård was kind of adorable. I’m not sure why. I mean, he’s Pennywise FFS. That’s creepy. And I’ve never given him much thought other than thinking he looks bizarrely like a young Steve Buscemi. So maybe it’s because I adore Buscemi but I really liked Skarsgård in this and I wanted these two to get married & live happily ever after. And I liked the thing she did with her hair to calm him down. It was cute.

So, I won’t give away the story as wanting to find out the crazy secret that the two above weirdos, played by Jeffrey Donovan & Kyra Sedgwick, were hiding was the whole reason I wanted to see this movie after reading the synopsis. I’ll just say it wasn’t as crazy as I was expecting for some reason but it’s still a decent story and these two did a good job playing normal looking middle class American psychos. Those are the worst kind of psychos, right?! And I liked it being one of these movies with slightly bad people who meet really bad people, which makes the slightly bad people the really good people. And I can see some not loving the very end but I really liked how this one ended up. Overall, it’s not a movie as over-the-top as it may sound, it’s just a bit quirky. And it has an interesting mix of genres & better characters than we get it in a lot of horror-comedy-thrillers. It’s also one where, after writing about it, I like it a little bit more.

My Rating: 7/10

C.H.U.D. (1984)

Directed by Douglas Cheek

Starring: John Heard, Daniel Stern, Christopher Curry, Kim Greist, J C Quinn, Michael O’Hare, Peter Michael Goetz, Sam McMurray, Frankie R Faison, John Goodman, Jay Thomas, Hallie Foote, Graham Beckel, Jon Polito, George Martin

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The plot concerns a New York City police officer and a homeless shelter manager who join forces to investigate a series of disappearances, and discover that the missing people have been hunted down by humanoid monsters that live below the city.

My Opinion:

I don’t have as much to say about this movie. I’ll just start by saying, yes, I love the ’80s. I grew up in the ’80s. The majority of my favorite movies are (and always will be) those from the ’70s & ’80s. That includes some movies I know are bad. Is C.H.U.D. bad?? Okay, it’s not great. You know what? I never saw this one until now!!!

I admit I’m always happier to find an older film like this to watch for the first time than to watch some mediocre & boring modern film. Give me some ’80s nostalgia instead! And this one has lots of old familiar faces, so that was cool. I’d always known of the existence of C.H.U.D. thanks to great old videotape covers but never realised it had so many people I knew in it. Plenty of old horrors star unknowns. (This one isn’t on the level of those starring in The Sentinel from 1977, though – what a waste of a good cast that was).

If you’re old like me, you’ll know that C.H.U.D. stands for Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers. And that D.A.R.Y.L. stands for Data-Analyzing Robot Youth Lifeform. But C.H.U.D. actually stands for something else in this movie. I can’t remember the exact words & I’m too lazy to go check. Besides – it’s a big plot spoiler anyway. It’s a part of what this cheesy looking movie is actually about: How the homeless are cast aside & ignored in society. The problem of these mutant cannibals crawling out of the sewers & killing people is completely ignored while it’s at first only affecting the homeless community.

The biggest roles are played by Home Alone‘s John Heard as a photographer doing a project on the homeless people of NYC who live in the city’s underground and, interesting connection, also Home Alone‘s Daniel Stern as a man who runs a homeless shelter. They were both good, especially for this type of film, and I liked Stern’s character. There are other familiar faces but not exactly household names & most would only be known to old people like me. But worth mentioning that John Goodman & Jay Thomas have small roles as two cops. James P. Sullivan!

Well, I liked this. You probably won’t like it unless you’re a fan of ’80s horror & special effects. I mean, yeah, these mutant cannibals look cheesy as hell now. But I was surprised that the story was actually pretty good & also that it had a message about how homeless people are treated. The acting was also better than you expect from this sort of thing. All of my blog posts auto-tweet or I tweet them again for various reasons but this is the only one recently to get a couple replies on Twitter from people who like it so I guess it has its fans. Too bad I didn’t watch it in the ’80s but am glad I finally took a chance on it now.

My Rating: 6/10

It Chapter Two (2019) Review

It Chapter Two (2019)

Directed by Andy Muschietti

Based on It by Stephen King

Starring: Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Bill Hader, Isaiah Mustafa, Jay Ryan, James Ransone, Andy Bean, Bill Skarsgård

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDb)
Twenty-seven years after their first encounter with the terrifying Pennywise, the Losers Club have grown up and moved away, until a devastating phone call brings them back.

My Opinion:

First of all, I’ll say that I’m a huge Stephen King fan. I love all his books. I love all the movie adaptations of his books (even the really really BAD adaptations, of which there have been plenty). I adored 2017’s Chapter 1 of It. It Chapter Two was my most anticipated film of 2019. And I liked it a lot, as I fully expected that I would despite some bad early reviews. So bear in mind that I’m a massive fan so, of course, I’m likely to have enjoyed it far more than anyone who isn’t a King fan.


I will have also enjoyed this movie far more than any full-on horror fans will have. Let’s face it – It is closer to Stand By Me than The Shining. It’s a great coming of age story with fantastic characters and strong characters are what really sell a story to me. Honestly, I don’t find either this or the 1990 adaptation at all scary. Skarsgård and Curry clearly had fun as Pennywise but I don’t care about Pennywise as a “character”. The story isn’t about Pennywise – It’s about the Losers Club and the strength of their friendship. This new adaptation is especially strong when it comes to the Losers Club. Each one of them is extremely well-developed, especially for a “horror” movie. And the casting was absolutely perfect when it came to the kid actors and almost perfect when it came to their adult counterparts. Is Chapter 1 better? Hell yeah! Of course it is, which I fully expected. A “coming of age” story works better when focused on the kids who are actually that age. It’s far more fun than watching them all grown up (which I’m sure the director & writers realized, which is why the kids ended up being in Chapter 2 a hell of a lot). By the way – They de-aged the kids which, apparently, some people found very distracting. I guess I’m just completely unobservant since I didn’t even notice that.

It Chapter Two is far from perfect, though, which I’m fully willing to admit. I’m just very forgiving of the faults as I like the characters so much. The horror elements are far too cheesy for me personally. I prefer a creepy atmosphere and “not seeing too much”. A little mystery is more scary to me than an actor in a clown suit. I also hate silly CGI in horror and there’s a lot of very dodgy effects in this film that had the audience laughing, especially at the end. Again, it didn’t really bother me too much as I cared more about the characters than the “scary” horror moments but I’m sure there will be plenty of horror fans who don’t like this movie thanks to the cheesy effects. I wasn’t a fan of director Andy Muschietti’s film Mama because of the cheesy CGI and, dammit, It Chapter Two looks very similar when it comes to the “monsters”.


Luckily, as I said, the characters are so good that it made up for the unsatisfying scares for me. James McAvoy was a bit “so what”, which was disappointing after he gave his all in Glass. Jessica Chastain was fine but I felt like anyone could’ve played that role and I actually had hoped beforehand that unknowns would be cast. But if going with big names, why not Amy Adams?! Adams looks exactly like Sophia Lillis! Chastain doesn’t. Oh well – Chastain was fine and actually better than I’d hoped (I find her overrated). No one did a bad job – Every adult actor felt like they truly did study the child actors’ performances to make it believable that these are the adults they became. As many have already said, though, it was James Ransone as Eddie & especially Bill Hader as Richie who really stole the show. Loved them! Their characters added so much emotion to this film; From laughter to heartbreak. It was nice to see the “lesser” characters shine instead of all focus being mainly on just Beverly (Chastain) and Bill (McAvoy).

Well, I enjoyed It Chapter Two. Yes, the first part with just the kids is definitely better and has a little more heart. But Kill Bill: Vol. 1 was better than Kill Bill: Vol. 2 in my opinion. It doesn’t matter – I see Kill Bill as one movie now and will see the two chapters of It as one movie from now on too. And it’s a great movie overall and a worthy Stephen King adaptation. Plus, it’s quite epic in scale… Five hours! No wonder we know the characters so well by the end. Now bring on Doctor Sleep! The trailer for that was shown before It Chapter Two and I’m now very excited for that one.

My Rating: 7.5/10


It (2017) Review

Welcome to Day Three of Stephen King Week! King turns 70 tomorrow so I’m posting something King-related all week. One book review (End Of Watch), two movie reviews, and two Top Ten lists (including My Top Ten Stephen King Movies). Today I’m reviewing the recent It film.

It (2017)

Directed by Andy Muschietti

Based on It by Stephen King

Starring: Jaeden Lieberher, Bill Skarsgård, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Wyatt Oleff, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer, Nicholas Hamilton, Jackson Robert Scott

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film tells the story of seven children in Derry, Maine, who are terrorized by the eponymous being, only to face their own personal demons in the process.

My Opinion:

Is it weird that I’m so happy that this film is kicking ass at the box office?? I just love it when one of King’s books actually gets a good film adaptation and, even better, when it gets a lot of really positive reviews. I did a list yesterday of My Top Ten Stephen King Movies (this film was at number five if you don’t feel like clicking that link). I admitted in that list that, while I always watch & enjoy all adaptations of King’s work, some of the movies have been pretty damn awful. But then we occasionally get masterpieces like The Shawshank Redemption & Stand By Me to make up for the bad ones. It (the film – such a confusing title!) isn’t quite up there with the likes of those two but I’m very happy to say that it’s easily one of the better Stephen King movies of the many that have been made. Yes! I love when the movies do his novels justice.

You’ve all probably seen reviews by now that compare this to Stand By Me and that’s a very accurate description. Stand By Me with added horror, of course. Like that, this is a coming of age tale first and foremost and I’ve always loved a good coming of age tale. That’s why I’m actually a bit surprised that this film has done as well as it has as I can’t see it being loved by full-on “horror” fans. Pennywise the clown is a great creation but I have to say that I don’t find either this or the 1990 version scary. The book is a bit unsettling but I wouldn’t say that feeling fully translated to the films. I’ve never been one to get too scared by movies, though. As far as “creepy” goes, Kubrick’s The Shining certainly has this film (and pretty much every other horror film) beat. It’s a shame that King hates that adaptation – I think it’s one of the greatest horror films of all time.

I think the main difference between the 1990 It and the 2017 It is that Tim Curry’s Pennywise is the true star of the 1990 film while the kids are what make the 2017 version so good. I think this version has done things right in focusing more on the kids & their relationships with one another. I will always be fond of the 1990 film & prefer Curry’s Pennywise to Bill Skarsgård’s somewhat dull (and a little too funny-looking) Pennywise. It felt like Curry was truly having fun in the role & his Pennywise had far more personality. But… This story is about the kids. It’s about all kids who felt like “losers” when growing up. Pennywise shouldn’t really be stealing the show and I’m glad this version gets the balance right in making the kids the stars while also giving us just enough of the monster to keep the story interesting.

The kids all did a great job in this film. As has been said, It has a very Stranger Things feel to it. But of course it would since The Duffer Brothers wanted to make It but went on to instead make Stranger Things, which is meant to feel like King meets Spielberg. Plus It used one of the same actors from that show (Finn Wolfhard, who bizarrely looks like The Shining’s Shelley Duvall). I have to say that the girl playing Beverly (Sophia Lillis) was especially good. She’s like a young Amy Adams (which is a compliment as I love Adams). I’d be surprised if Lillis, as well as most of the rest of this young cast, doesn’t go on to become a big star. However, I’m so glad they AREN’T big stars yet as having a cast of relatively unknown actors was a huge plus for this movie (in my opinion, anyway). I loved not having the distraction of having seen them in a million other things.


I do have to admit that the time period this is set in (1989 into 1990) was another huge plus for me in a way that may not work as well for the current younger generation. Or maybe that doesn’t matter? I loved Stand By Me & 1990’s It even though those kids were living in the late 1950s. I suppose the coming of age dramas tend to transcend their time period as kids that age still go through all the same sort of emotions. Although I found it kind of hilarious/scary reading this article about how the film’s director had to start a “bicycle camp” to teach these pre/early teen actors how to ride bikes for the film(!!).

But oh how I loved seeing kids the same age as me in this movie’s ’89/’90 time period. Well, sort of… I was the age of the slightly older bullies back then. And, like the bullies, I was also a huge fan of Anthrax. Anthrax! There’s an Anthrax song in this movie!!! But I’ll come back to that at the end of this review – I just want to point out that I was more like the kids being bullied than the ones doing the bullying, even though I was a metalhead. 😉 And I had way too much fun seeing the movie marquees in the film’s background accurately portraying the movie releases of that time (god I’m a nerd). And I enjoyed the fact that I could almost hear a massive WHOOSH in the cinema as the New Kids On The Block jokes went right over the heads of those in the audience. Not that I liked NKOTB… Anthrax!!! Oh, and there are lots of fun Easter Eggs in this film so, if you’re a King fan, be on the lookout for them. And read the IMDb trivia for the movie afterwards – there’s loads of fascinating info there.

I think I should try to wrap this up now or I’ll just continue to ramble on for ages. I’m clearly very happy with this adaptation of a favorite book by my absolute favorite author. The kids are fantastic, their characters are likeable (so rare in horror movies), there’s some Anthrax (and a few other soundtrack gems I won’t mention to keep some surprises), there’s a creepy clown who isn’t quite as cool as Tim Curry but still does the job, there are Stephen King and 1989/1990 pop culture references, poor little brother Georgie is still a cutie pie, “that” controversial scene from the book is thankfully again left out of the film, Sophia Lillis has true star power, the kids are the stars instead of the clown, this sentence is really long, and last but not least: this movie doesn’t rely on cheap horror movie “jump scares”. That’s not to say there aren’t some jumpy moments but I was impressed with how well the horror was handled. I especially loved the slideshow scene, which references a fantastic King novella in Four Past Midnight that really gave me the creeps. It focuses on telling its story and on its characters then it focuses on the horror. That’s what makes this a good film instead of yet another bland & predictable horror movie with expendable characters. I can’t wait to see the next film now, which will feature the kids as adults. However, as with the scenes involving the grown-ups in the 1990 film, I think the second film won’t have the same kind of magic as this one. There’s a special sort of innocence in these coming of age films and the ones that really capture that feeling end up being all-time favorites for some people. I know Stand By Me was that way for me when I was growing up & I can see It being that way for a new generation.

My Rating: 8.5/10

**Back to Anthrax, as promised**

As I said, I was a big Anthrax fan in my high school days and the fact that they had an Anthrax song & t-shirt in this movie filled me with such boring old-fart joy. I’ll assume they were used on purpose as they were always big fans of Stephen King and their songs so often referenced his work (such as The Stand in Among The Living & Misery in Misery Loves Company). I bet Anthrax are happy as f*%k that their song Antisocial is in a Stephen King film. And this was possibly my favorite song of theirs at the time, being the socially awkward misfit that I was (am). Anthrax!!! \m/ 🙂