Grabbers (2012) Review for Halloween Horror Fest

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Grabbers (2012)

Directed by Jon Wright

Starring:
Richard Coyle
Ruth Bradley
Russell Tovey
Lalor Roddy
David Pearse
Bronagh Gallagher
Pascal Scott
Ned Dennehy
Clelia Murphy
Louis Dempsey
Stuart Graham
Micheál Ó Gruagáin

Running time: 94 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
An idyllic remote Irish island is invaded by enormous bloodsucking tentacled creatures from the sea. With islanders turning up decapitated and drained of blood, the inhabitants learn that the creatures—called Grabbers—are allergic to alcohol, making intoxicated people toxic to eat. Overrun and under attack, the hopeless locals realise that to stay alive through a storm that’s keeping everyone trapped on the island, they’re going to have to band together at the pub and do their best to survive the night.

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My Opinion:

Finally! My last review for Halloween Horror Fest. I’ll do a recap at the end of the review. I had liked the sound of this movie when I first heard about it then decided I really needed to watch it after reading Eric’s positive review at The IPC HERE.

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I really enjoyed this! This was my second favorite one that I watched for my little horror movie project (after The Descent). I’m not great with a lot of horror movies, especially these days. I can’t take loads of gore and I just rarely like any horror movies anymore. What I do often like, though, are the comedy ones. I watched Tucker And Dale Vs Evil a while back and I loved it (review HERE). Grabbers is hilarious and was a lot of fun to watch.

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It starts out a little slow which I had no problem with but the hubby was a little bored (we’ve decided I should call him Mista Mutant although I liked the option of Parrota Conchita Alonso). Anyway, don’t listen to Mista Mutant – I liked the slow setup and getting to know the characters, especially as we’re rewarded at the end when they’re all in the pub getting drunk and trying to survive the night. Loved all that!

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I’m keeping this short because, quite frankly, I’m exhausted. So just watch this if you like comedy horrors, yeah? It’s freaking hilarious, especially at the end when the extremely drunk female lead delivers the PERFECT Aliens spoof line of dialogue. That was possibly one of the funniest things I’ve seen in ages and very few things make me laugh because I’m a grumpy old woman.

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Grabbers takes a simple yet brilliant concept and executes is very well. And the characters are GREAT! I liked all of them which, unfortunately, doesn’t happen often enough in movies. They were all so likeable and funny and the romance was quite sweet and the kiss was great and the creatures were cool and the drunk old guy was a riot and everyone was funny as hell at the end when they’re all extremely pissed (or drunk as you’d say in America). Really fun movie! 🙂

My Rating: 7.5/10

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Halloween Horror Fest Recap:

Here are the links to the films that I watched (from my favorite to least favorite because I’m anal like that):

The Descent (8/10)
Grabbers (7.5/10)
The Innkeepers (7.5/10)
ParaNorman (7.5/10)
Nosferatu (1922) (7.5/10)
Sisters (7/10)
From Beyond (6/10)
Berberian Sound Studio (6.5/10)
Dog Soldiers (5.5/10)
Insidious (5/10)
Pitch Black (5.5/10)

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Berberian Sound Studio (2012) Review for Halloween Horror Fest

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Berberian Sound Studio (2012)

Directed by Peter Strickland

Starring:
Toby Jones
Antonio Mancino
Fatma Mohamed
Tonia Sotiropoulou
Susanna Cappellaro
Cosimo Fusco
Suzy Kendall

Running time: 94 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
The film centres on the character of Gilderoy (Toby Jones), a British foley artist working on the audio track for an Italian giallo film, The Equestrian Vortex.

More plot synopsis via me:
This is his first time working on a horror film and as he sees the same horrific images over and over again while providing the sound effects, he starts to slowly lose his mind. Or does he? I don’t know. Does he?! Someone explain this movie to me!

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My Opinion:

Umm. Right. Okay.

This is the final film I watched for Halloween Horror Fest. Why couldn’t I finish on a simple one?! There’s a good review of this from Rhino’s Horror HERE. Maybe you should read that review instead because I don’t know what the hell was going on at the end of this film. 😉

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So! I quite liked this movie at the start. I think I still liked it at the end, too. I loved the look & the feel of it as it’s set in the 1970s and the 70s were funky and people wore the coolest ugly clothes and had the coolest ugly wallpaper. It was all quite creepy and eerie and it was REALLY interesting watching the “behind the scenes” things that went into making old horror films (not that I can say how accurate it all was or wasn’t). Oh, and the sound and the soundtrack and all that was great. Which one would hope seeing as that’s kind of the point of the whole thing…

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I don’t have much experience with Italian horror films beyond Suspiria (which the film within this film is most likely trying to sound like if what I’ve read online is to be believed). I think anyone who loves those sort of films may at least find Berberian Sound Studio interesting. Or if you like the thought of watching someone make the sound effects for this sort of movie. Or if you like things a little David Lynch-like. I sort of felt the same way at the end of Berberian Sound Studio as I did while watching Mulholland Drive. As in “WTF is going on?”.

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This is a nice looking and very nice sounding artsy fartsy sort of film that someone like me probably just can’t fully appreciate. What I did love is that we never see the horror film in this film – we only hear it. That was great (and maybe a little brave). You still get a great sense of the horrific things that are happening in that film, though, and how difficult the Toby Jones character is finding it to have to keep watching these images. So this is a “no gore” movie (yay!) but still rated a 15 in the UK for the subject matter and some pretty descriptive stuff.

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So. Did I like this movie? I did sort of enjoy it, actually. It’s very slow and not too much happens until close to the end, when it goes a bit mental. This is when it lost me and I could spend hours on the message boards reading what people think was really going on. I used to do that. But then I got too old and too busy to do those sort of things. So if anyone wants to explain the end of the film to me in the comments below, feel free to do so! I’d rather do other things.

My Rating: 6.5/10

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Dog Soldiers (2002) Review for Halloween Horror Fest

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Dog Soldiers (2002)

Directed by Neil Marshall

Starring:
Kevin McKidd
Sean Pertwee
Emma Cleasby
Liam Cunningham
Darren Morfitt
Chris Robson
Leslie Simpson
Thomas Lockyer

Running time: 105 minutes

Plot Synopsis:

Werewolves.

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My Opinion:

This is another film I watched for my Halloween Horror Fest. See a great review of it from vinnieh HERE.

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The above review is much better than mine will be. It’s now Halloween and I have to crank out three reviews still. Oops! Dog Soldiers, Berberian Sound Studio, and Grabbers. I really liked Grabbers so will spend a bit more time on that one but I don’t have a clue what to say about the other two!

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As I watched The Descent for the first time for this horror fest and I liked it a lot, it was worth also checking out the same director’s (Neil Marshall) first effort with Dog Soldiers. Unfortunately, I didn’t like this one very much.

I love a good werewolf movie but this is certainly no American Werewolf In London. I did think it started out pretty good and felt like a pretty standard werewolf flick. The characters were fairly believable and they were out in the lonely wilderness and all that. It did have a great feel. At first…

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Where it fell apart for me a bit was when they got to the house and the battle then started. Oh, and also when one of them had his intestines hanging out but was then able to run around and fight werewolves after he was bandaged up a bit. It was like that Prometheus abortion! And, okay – I have to admit that I fell asleep in the middle of all this. I’m guessing I missed between 15 to 30 minutes but I didn’t care enough to rewind (if you still call it that on a DVD). And, I’m sorry but the werewolves didn’t look that great.

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Oh well. You can’t love ’em all! I don’t think I exactly *hated* this movie. I’ve certainly seen worse and, like I said, it started out quite strong. And I liked that that Trainspotting guy was in it but I just kept thinking “Why did they have to cancel his Journeyman TV show just as it was getting really good?”. Anyway. To be honest, I can see how Neil Marshall went on to make the (far superior) The Descent. Dog Soldiers is definitely a strong debut film and I’ll just shut up now as it’s not like I’ve ever made a movie. Plus I now have to go write that Berberian Sound Studio review – trust me, that review will suck even more than this one because I have no clue what was going on in that film.

My Rating: 5.5/10

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Sisters (1973) Review for Halloween Horror Fest

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Sisters (aka Blood Sisters) (1973)

Directed by Brian De Palma

Starring:
Margot Kidder
Jennifer Salt
Charles Durning
William Finley

Running time: 92 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Sisters (also known as Blood Sisters in the United Kingdom) is a 1973 American horror film directed by Brian De Palma and starring Margot Kidder, Jennifer Salt and Charles Durning. The plot focuses on a French Canadian model whose separated Siamese twin is suspected of a brutal murder witnessed by a newspaper reporter in Staten Island.

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My Opinion:

This is another horror film I watched a few months ago but never reviewed so I’ve decided to write a little something about it now for my Halloween Horror Fest.

Hmm. This is an odd one. I enjoyed it and I think it was quite good but it’s also not aged well. It’s one of those films that was probably quite shocking in 1973 but by now we’ve seen this same sort of story in a lot of films. So, even though now you can see “what’s really going on” from a mile off, I’m sure audiences found it a surprise at the time.

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So, anyway – Margot Kidder is a French Canadian model who has a (possibly insane) separated Siamese twin. You know from the start of the movie that she has a twin but I thought the “Siamese” part was meant to be a surprise until later in the film but, oh well – it’s all over the posters for the film. They weren’t subtle in the 70s! And… I won’t go into the story any more as all you need to know is in the plot synopsis above and knowing any more would spoil the film.

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De Palma has made some great (and diverse) films. Obviously, the film of his that this most resembles is Carrie. Sisters doesn’t seem to be very well known these days so I think it got overshadowed by Carrie, which came along just three years later. Which is a shame, really. Although I love Carrie and definitely prefer it, I still think Sisters is a decent film and worthy of more recognition.

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That’s it. I’m keeping this short as I still have plenty of reviews to get through before Halloween. Do I recommend this? Well, it’s not for everyone. It’s very “70s” (which I personally love!). There’s a pretty brutal stabbing if you like that sort of thing. I think it’s nice and suspenseful with a good story (even though you’ll guess what’s going on within the first 30 minutes of the film). According to Wikipedia, the script was “largely influenced by the films of Alfred Hitchcock” so any sort of comparison to Hitchcock is going to get me interested in a movie (it made me watch Stoker). Basically, if you’re a big De Palma fan and especially if you like Carrie, you should give Sisters a try.

My Rating: 7/10

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Insidious (2011) Review for Halloween Horror Fest

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Insidious (2011)

Directed by James Wan

Starring:
Patrick Wilson
Rose Byrne
Barbara Hershey
Lin Shaye

Running time: 103 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Insidious is a 2011 American supernatural horror film. Written by Leigh Whannell and directed by James Wan, the film features Patrick Wilson, Rose Byrne, Lin Shaye, and Barbara Hershey in starring roles. The story centers on a couple whose son inexplicably enters a comatose state and becomes a vessel for ghosts in an astral dimension.

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For my Halloween Horror Fest, I’ve mostly chosen to watch films that I’ve seen reviewed by bloggers I follow here at WordPress. At some point I’d like to do something where I take recommendations from people on films I should watch & review but I worry that I’d not like some of them and wouldn’t want to hurt those people’s feelings. I mean, I feel bad for not liking Insidious even though it was entirely my decision to watch it after reading these reviews on these great blogs:

Insidious reviewed by Celluloid Junkie HERE and an Insidious 2 review from Silver Screen Serenade HERE

So I’m sorry I wasn’t crazy about Insidious but those are two awesome blogs that all of you should follow! There’s also a (potential?) November blogathon at Silver Screen Serenade if enough people would like to join in. It would be called NOOOOvember and you’d get the chance to vent about a movie that really could and should have been good but ended up a huge disappointment. Anyone interested should check out her post HERE. 🙂

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My Opinion On Insidious:

I can’t say I really liked the look of this one when it was out but, after being impressed by James Wan’s The Conjuring (my review HERE if you’re bothered), I decided that maybe I should check out Insidious after all.

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Things do start out fairly promising in Insidious. A nice young family with two young sons and a baby move into a new house (Ha! I know I know – they all start that way, don’t they?). Pretty soon things go bump in the night and stuff gets weird and, naturally, the husband is often away at work in the evenings. So all your basic supernatural scary movie stuff is there at the beginning. I didn’t have a problem with any of this – it was all a bit cliche and predictable but I kind of like that with these kind of movies anyway. And they still manage to make me jump even when I KNOW something is coming. I still jumped when the red dude/beast/evil devil person thing was suddenly behind Patrick Wilson even though I’ve seen that image a million times as it’s all over the Internet! So I don’t think this is much of a spoiler – Here you go:

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Anyway, it was all going along fine and the little kid ghost thingy dancing around to Tiptoe Through The Tulips (which has always been a creepy song) was a bit unsettling but then the movie took a turn for the worse. This is where modern horror movies & I part ways. Seeing TOO MUCH of the scary thing(s) just isn’t scary to me. I’m always much more frightened by the unknown and the things that we don’t see as the imagination is a powerful thing. Plus, I just don’t find a silly looking Darth Maul scary.

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And I do love supernatural stories but you have to do things just right to get the audience to buy into the story. You see, the kid in the coma is actually stuck in this mysterious place called “The Further” and demons or whatever are trying to possess his body or something? Okaaaaay. Well, that’s fine – I can handle these sorts of stories. Hell, I love me some Stephen King and the first few seasons of Supernatural. But it just didn’t work for me in Insidious. I think it didn’t help that I didn’t really like Lin Shaye (sorry Lin Shaye fans!) as the “medium” type woman (or whatever she was called) who tries to help the parents save their comatose child from The Further. She has nothing on the lady in Poltergeist. And then the movie really goes downhill once we enter The Further – The people (dead people/demons/whatever) standing around and making funny faces were just silly and then we had that stupid Darth Maul dude dancing around like an idiot. And then we get the typical “we’re leaving this open for a sequel!” stupid ending. Meh.

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Summary:

Insidious starts out as your standard “predictable but fun” supernatural story with some decent eeriness and a couple of things that should make you jump. The family are sweet enough so that you like them plus they don’t do TOO many stupid things like those in horror movies always do. But then the movie turns into a pretty silly mess, especially once we enter “The Further”. Disappointing – Especially when watching this after The Conjuring, which is far superior.

My Rating: 5/10

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Nosferatu (1922) Review for Halloween Horror Fest & IMDB Challenge

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Nosferatu (1922)Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (translated as Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror; or simply Nosferatu)

Directed by F. W. Murnau

Starring:
Max Schreck
Gustav von Wangenheim
Greta Schröder
Alexander Granach
Ruth Landshoff
Wolfgang Heinz

Running time: 94 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
Basically, it’s Dracula. From Wikipedia:

The film, shot in 1921 and released in 1922, was an unauthorized adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, with names and other details changed because the studio could not obtain the rights to the novel (for instance, “vampire” became “Nosferatu” and “Count Dracula” became “Count Orlok”). Stoker’s heirs sued over the adaptation, and a court ruling ordered that all copies of the film be destroyed. However, one print of Nosferatu survived, and the film came to be regarded as an influential masterpiece of cinema.

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My Opinion:

I watched this back in July as part of my IMDB Top 250 Challenge but never got around to reviewing it. Now with Halloween coming up, I figured I should finally write something about it for my Halloween Horror Fest. But you know what? I have NO clue how to go about “reviewing” this classic.

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So! I’m going to just post some pictures from this great silent film based on Dracula. Because it’s iconic and it’s cool. I mean, LOOK at this dude!

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I don’t have much experience with silent films. Since I started this IMDB Top 250 challenge at the beginning of this year, I’ve now finally watched some Charlie Chaplin films and totally fell in love with them. Nosferatu is obviously very different in tone but at least the Chaplin stuff better prepared me for watching another silent film.

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I know this won’t be for everyone and I’d never be able to convince the Horror Guy I work with (who tells me, with excitement, every time another Wrong Turn sequel comes out) to watch something like this but every fan of true horror classics really should. I need to watch a lot more horror classics, too, so I suppose I can’t act too snobby for having watched this.

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That’s it. I have nothing else to say so have a look at two more photos instead. Are they cool or what?! Nosferatu is old, it’s slow, it’s silent, and it’s a hell of a lot better than most current high budget films. Good stuff. Glad I gave this film a try while it was still in the IMDB Top 250 (it has now disappeared, having been replaced with far too many recent films that aren’t worthy of being anywhere near the Top 250).

My Rating: 7.5/10

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The Innkeepers (2011) Review for Halloween Horror Fest

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The Innkeepers (2011)

Directed by Ti West

Starring:
Sara Paxton
Pat Healy
Kelly McGillis
Alison Bartlett
Jake Ryan
Lena Dunham
George Riddle
Brenda Cooney
John Speredakos

Running time: 101 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Claire (Sara Paxton) and Luke (Pat Healy) are two young employees at the Yankee Pedlar Inn, a once-grand hotel that is about to close. Claire and Luke are the only employees working during its final weekend of operation. Both are ghost hunting enthusiasts and are fascinated by the hotel’s supposedly haunted history, which includes the legend of Madeline O’Malley, a bride who hung herself in the 1800s when her husband abandoned her on their honeymoon, and whose body was supposedly hidden in the basement by the hotel owners.
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As I’m so far behind on my reviews for Halloween Horror Fest, I’ll keep this one short. I say that a lot but I mean it this time. 😉

In the middle of watching this, I actually paused to look it up at The IPC to see if Eric had reviewed it. Yep! And he liked it. Yay! You can read his review HERE.
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This really is one of those films that you’ll like or you’ll hate. I’ve seen enough reviews here now to know that people are divided on this one. Count me as one of the people who liked it.
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If you like the slightly more old school movies about hauntings, you may like The Innkeepers. If you don’t mind a movie that (very) slowly builds up to the finale and doesn’t have loads of in-your-face predictable jump scares or gore, you may like The Innkeepers. If you like the likes of Saw, etc, you may not like The Innkeepers.
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My all-time favorite horror movie (Or maybe second favorite – it’s close. I’ll know when I do the list of my top ten horror films soon!) is The Shining. I’m not one to get scared by a movie but The Shining is genuinely creepy. The Overlook Hotel itself is probably the creepiest thing about the film. The Yankee Pedlar Inn, while not as creepy as The Overlook, is still not a place where I’d want to spend the night. There are loads of old hotels like this in England and I had the bright idea to stay in one once. Dumb idea! I didn’t sleep a wink. Plus there was a door/hatch/whatever in the ceiling RIGHT above the bed. I stared at that thing all night thinking I’d see some red eyes peering out at me or something. So, yeah – a “haunted inn” movie is the type of movie for someone like me. It won’t be for everyone.
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When it comes to horror movies, the one thing I can’t stand more than excessive and unnecessary gore is annoying & unlikeable characters who do stupid things. I can handle a bit of blood and there’s a bit at the end of The Innkeepers but nothing bad and not something I couldn’t watch.

Although the character of Luke is somewhat annoying, I found Claire very likeable. She’s sweet, naive, and a little dorky. She reminds me a little of me when I was young and used to actually still be sweet. Okay – you may say she “does some stupid things” but nothing I can’t forgive. I know what I’m like – although I’d be scared shitless working in a “haunted inn”, I know I’d go exploring things and trying to see the ghost. Because I’m an idiot. But then I’d shit myself and run away screaming like Claire does if I actually saw anything. (She doesn’t literally shit herself. Me neither). Claire feels like a “real” person and I like that – it makes it easier to buy into a movie when you can relate to at least one of the characters.

I also liked Kelly McGillis in the role of the retired actress turned psychic staying at the hotel and whom Claire turns to for help (Did I use “whom” correctly there? Always confused by that one!). I’ve always had a soft spot for McGillis since finding out she couldn’t stand Tom Cruise when filming Top Gun and that they used to do things to piss each other off on purpose.

I like how this film is almost a comedy at first and gets you knowing & liking the characters as they just stand around and talk a lot and discuss the inn’s creepy history because they find it fun & intriguing. But then the film changes & suddenly turns into a pretty seriously scary movie at the very end. I even found the ending to be satisfying, unlike so many other horror films. It comes full circle and it makes sense. Good stuff. I liked it. Don’t listen to the haters!
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Summary:

The Innkeepers is a fairly tradtional “haunted inn” story that takes its time (REALLY takes its time…) letting us get to know and like the characters as we watch them do little more than talk to each other and discuss the inn’s history in the final weekend before it’s closed for good. The characters feel like real people who do slightly crazy things that real people would do. Things are pretty light & comedic until, finally, the ending turns into a pretty damn scary movie. Not for horror fans who only like a lot of in-your-face scares and loads of gore, The Innkeepers is more my type of “horror” movie.

My Rating: 7/10

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Pitch Black (2000) Review for Halloween Horror Fest

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Pitch Black (2000)

Directed by David Twohy

Starring:
Vin Diesel
Radha Mitchell
Cole Hauser
Keith David

Running time: 110 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
A bunch of hateful people crash land their spaceship on a planet filled with aliens who, luckily, attack them thanks to the fact that they’ve landed on this planet at the worst possible time.

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Halloween Horror Fest:

I’ve watched most of the films now for my Halloween Horror Fest and just have to finish writing up the rest of the reviews. I’ve loved a couple and hated a couple. I didn’t love Pitch Black… Here’s the list of films I’ve watched so far:

From Beyond (6/10)

The Descent (8/10)

ParaNorman (7.5/10)

Pitch Black

Insidious

Dog Soldiers

Grabbers

The Innkeepers

Nosferatu (1922)

Sisters (aka Blood Sisters)

Still to watch:

Berberian Sound Studio

High Tension (maybe…)

There was a lot of talk about Pitch Black as whatever number Riddick sequel thingy was out recently so I decided to finally check out Pitch Black after reading the following reviews for both of them: Pitch Black reviewed by MovieRob HERE and by Dan The Man’s Movie Reviews HERE plus a Riddick review from Gregory Moss at Mossfilm HERE.

I hold none of these people responsible for making me watch Pitch Black. It was entirely my decision to watch a Vin Diesel movie! 😉

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My Opinion on Pitch Black:

The most positive thing I can say about it is that it definitely had potential. It COULD have been a pretty good film. And some of it LOOKED pretty cool, at least. One of my all-time favorite movies is Aliens (and Alien). I’m not going to be able to help but compare Pitch Black to Aliens throughout this review as it’s basically Aliens but shit. Take out all the things about Aliens that make it such an awesome film and you get Pitch Black.

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Characters:

The characters in Pitch Black were, for me, the film’s biggest weakness. I didn’t care about them at ALL. I don’t know who the hell they even were or why they were on this ship. But I’ll come back to all that later…

Okay, the characters of Carolyn Fry (Radha Mitchell) & Jack (Rhiana Griffith) weren’t TOO bad – they were the only ones I maybe (kind of sort of) wanted to survive. Jack is the only somewhat likeable character and Fry would be if it wasn’t for something that happens at the beginning of the film (But it’s pretty important when it comes to what happens at the end of the film so I didn’t have a problem with that. In fact, this little bit of story was the only thing that gave one of the characters a bit of depth whereas none of the others had any at all).

And RIDDICK? What a horrible movie character. And the sequels are all about him? Um, no thanks – I’ll be skipping those. You see, he’s a “prisoner”. I have no idea what the hell he did or why the hell he’s on this spaceship. I don’t know if he’s a bad guy who’s actually kind of a good guy. I don’t know what he says half the time because I can’t understand him. I don’t know anything about him at the start of the film and still don’t know anything at the end of the film. What’s the point? Are we meant to like him? Are we meant to hate him? Are we meant to identify with him in any sort of way? Are we meant to think he’s cool because he has muscles and mumbles a lot and has freaky eyes because he paid someone to give him eyes that could see in the dark since he was going to spend his life in a dark prison? (Did I get that right?). Oh how convenient that he was on this spaceship with those eyes! But I’ll come back to that later too…

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So here comes my main comparison to Aliens: You can argue that Aliens also has some pretty one-dimensional & cliché characters as well. A lot of sci-fi does, which is unfortunate as I’d have to say sci-fi is probably my favorite genre when it comes to movies if I was forced to choose just one. But Ripley is pretty complex and has a backstory and KICKS ASS so Radha Mitchell’s Fry has nothing on her. Say what you want about Newt but I loved the Ripley/Newt relationship. Pitch Black makes a small, pathetic attempt to give us a similar sort of relationship between Radha & Jack. Meh. Who Cares.

Riddick is a combination of several characters from Aliens, I suppose, but Hudson is the first one to come to mind. The prick. Hudson is SO cliché but, honestly, who doesn’t actually love that character?! I actually know more about all the lesser characters in Aliens who you KNOW from the start have been put into the film just to die than I do about Riddick or anyone else in Pitch Black. I can even name all the characters who are “just there to die” in Aliens but I had to look up everyone’s name in Pitch Black immediately after seeing it (other than Riddick’s and I mainly knew that thanks to the sequels being named after him)! My long winded point is this: The characters in Aliens, although pretty cliché, just WORK. They don’t in Pitch Black. Is it REALLY that hard to give a movie some decent characters?? It doesn’t seem like too much to ask.

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The Story (SPOILERS!!!):

I know Hollywood scripts are full of things that are WAY too convenient sometimes but, holy hell, Pitch Black really takes the cake! I admit that I was confused throughout this movie (probably because I didn’t care). I’ve even read the whole plot online now, though, and nothing is explained so maybe it wasn’t just a case of me not paying attention. Here’s what I don’t get:

– Who the hell are these people and why are they on this spaceship and where the hell are they going? It’s such an odd assortment of people! And why oh why is a prisoner also onboard and all chained up? And why is there a young kid also there with no apparent family?

– So while on autopilot, the debris from a comet damages the ship and (um, luckily?) the second-in-command, Fry, is awakened (from, um, hypersleep?) after debris kills the sleeping captain (convenient). Okay. I can buy the comet causing the ship to crash. Shit happens. This is necessary for the movie.

– So Fry manages to land the ship on some strange planet. Okay. This planet has three suns or some such shit, meaning it’s ALWAYS daylight. Okay. Fine.

– This planet has creatures/aliens that can’t stand light and are actually hurt by any sort of light so they have to live underground in caves (how sucky for them to have to live on this three-sun planet, then). But… Wait!

– This planet has a year-long eclipse every 22 years, allowing the creatures to come out & play! And guess what? The ship just happened to crash land on this planet JUST as this eclipse is about to start! Convenient.

– Vin Diesel/Riddick/the mysterious prisoner reveals that he had some operation or whatever to give him eyes that can see in the dark. Oh! VERY convenient!

– These special eyes can not only see in the dark, they can also tell that the young boy who is so obviously being played by a girl is actually a girl AND she’s having her period, drawing the creatures to them all. Wow, those are some pretty amazing eyes! Convenient. And stupid!

– Blah blah. Most of them die. Except Riddick, obviously. And I had to Google his final line because I couldn’t even understand what he’d said.

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I’m sorry – this “review” is actually just me bitching. I was going to say a couple nice things but I’m sure everyone has stopped reading by now. 😉

I’ll just give you my rating, which isn’t as low as you’d think after all my bitching. Because the film DID have potential but that annoys me even more than when a movie is just 100% bad. I love sci-fi and the alien creatures in this aren’t too bad and the whole look of the film was interesting. Shame about the characters…

My Rating: 5.5/10

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The Descent (2005) Review for Halloween Horror Fest

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The Descent (2005)

Directed by Neil Marshall

Starring:
Shauna Macdonald
Natalie Mendoza
Alex Reid
Saskia Mulder
MyAnna Buring
Nora Jane Noone

Running time: 99 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
A year after tragedy strikes for Sarah, one of a group of adventurous female friends, the women decide to reunite for a caving expedition in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina. When part of the cave collapses, trapping them inside, the group of friends must find another way out. They soon find themselves fighting for survival when they realize that they aren’t the only ones in the caves.

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My Opinion:

This is my third review for Halloween Horror Fest (and I have a lot more to go!). I first reviewed From Beyond followed by ParaNorman. I’d always wanted to see The Descent and was finally convinced to check it out after reading Kim’s very positive review of it at Tranquil Dreams HERE.

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I find pretty much all modern horrors a huge disappointment. I love old school horror (well, mainly from the 70s & 80s but that’s old school to the new generation). I’ve liked very few horror movies in recent years. So, I’m happy to say that I did really enjoy The Descent.

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I know that The Descent is quite a well-liked film. It has a rating of 7.2 at IMDB which is REALLY high for a horror. I can kind of see why as I think it was really a film of two parts and those very different parts tick the boxes for more than just one type of horror fan.

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For someone like me, I found the first half of the film to be the most satisfying. The film takes its time introducing us to the characters & giving us a decent backstory for the main three friends. We then find out later that there’s something much more to the story of Sarah and a girl named Juno, who is the one who has planned this caving expedition. The movie gives us the clues to figure out exactly what happened between these two in the past without ever assuming the audience is stupid and actually spelling it all out to us. Great stuff. I loved their story and it’s what made the film for me. I cared about Sarah’s character. Too many horror films have poorly developed characters that you either hate or just don’t care about so how refreshing to not have that be the case here.

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The other thing that worked for me was the beginning of the expedition into the caves, before things even turn violent. I think claustrophobia is a pretty common fear (I will never ever EVER use the tube in London again during rush hour – I started hyperventilating once and thought those damn doors would never open at one point when I was thoroughly squished!). So when the women start crawling through some VERY tight spaces, I couldn’t bear to watch. Especially when, of course, one of them gets stuck and starts panicking. As I would. I looked away, which I only ever do during gory scenes. It was stressing me out. And I thought the caves looked pretty damn good, too, considering they were just sets built at Pinewood Studios.

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When the violence starts, The Descent turns into a much different film. Now, I’ve known for years what’s in the caves and I think it’s always been fairly common knowledge but maybe I should put POTENTIAL SPOILER WARNING here to discuss it…

As far as horrors with “creatures” go, I’m sometimes a fan and sometimes not. I guess it depends on how good the film is overall and how well they do making the creatures look believable or, at least, not laughable. I didn’t have too much of a problem with the creatures in The Descent. They were believable enough and you could almost buy into their existence (as far as fantasy movieland is concerned). This is the point of the movie where it was less “my type of horror” and more for other people but, hey – that’s why this film has done so well: there’s something for everyone. And there was plenty of blood spewing all over the place for the gorehounds but it actually wasn’t TOO over the top (as far as horror films go) for someone like me. I didn’t even really have to look away so that was nice. So, even though this part of the film wasn’t “me” so much, I actually ended up liking it and it didn’t make me like the film any less overall.

AND – as I was moaning on Twitter the other day, most horror films have really horrible endings. It’s not very often that I find the end of a horror film very satisfying. But, yeah – I did like the ending for The Descent. Luckily I had the British version of the film. After later watching the American ending online, thank god that’s not the original one I saw. That was rubbish! So be sure to watch the British version if you’ve never seen it.

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Summary:

The Descent is a solid modern horror film that will keep various types of horror fans happy. It’s full of strong female characters who kick some ass, make *some* smart decisions, and don’t go around just screaming and ripping their tops off (I know this might be disappointing to male viewers but how nice this was for a change for female horror fans). You care about the lead character and are rewarded with an interesting backstory that is kept subtle enough to not turn things into a soap opera. The claustrophobic caves alone were enough to scare me but, for those who think all of the above sounds boring, the film also has plenty of blood splattering all over the place as well (without being ridiculously over the top). I’m glad I’ve finally watched it and will now be watching Neil Marshall’s Dog Soldiers within the next week based on how much I liked this.

My Rating: 8/10

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This is probably the only horror film that I and the crazy horror movie maniac I work with (I swear that guy has bodies under his floorboards) will ever agree on.

ParaNorman (2012) Review for Halloween Horror Fest

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ParaNorman (2012)

Directed by Sam Fell & Chris Butler

Starring Voice Actors:
Kodi Smit-McPhee
Jodelle Ferland
Tucker Albrizzi
Anna Kendrick
Casey Affleck
Christopher Mintz-Plasse
Leslie Mann
Jeff Garlin
Bernard Hill
Elaine Stritch
Tempestt Bledsoe
John Goodman
Alex Borstein

Studio: Laika

Distributed by: Focus Features
Universal Pictures (International)

Running time: 92 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
Norman Babcock is able to see & speak with the dead. No one, including his family, believes him and he’s ridiculed & bullied at school. But it’s soon up to Norman to save his town from an old witch’s curse.

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This is my second review for my Halloween Horror Fest. I first reviewed From Beyond (which was pretty messed up). I liked the sound of ParaNorman after reading Abbi’s review at Where The Wild Things Are HERE. She liked it okay so I figured it must be good as she’s not a huge fan of this sort of kids’ stuff usually. 🙂

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My Opinion:

ParaNorman was a pleasant surprise. I really enjoyed it! This is from the same studio that made Coraline, which I fell asleep in the middle of in 2009 and haven’t yet bothered to finish. I know that was more highly rated & looked great but I really didn’t find it any fun to watch. ParaNorman is fun & a few things actually made me laugh (I’m not a “laugh out loud” person).

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Norman can see all of the dead people in his small town of Blithe Hollow, Massachusetts, including his own grandmother (who lives in Norman’s living room & watches zombie movies with him). His father doesn’t believe him and wants him to start acting “normal”. His sister and his schoolmates think he’s a freak. One day an overweight bullied boy named Neil Downe befriends Norman after he sees him being bullied as well. I loved Neil! He’s a typical dorky chubby kid in a movie but he’s so sweet & funny that you can’t help but like him. He’s the first one to believe Norman & thinks it’s really cool that he can talk to the dead (As he says to Norman: “Can you see my dog, Bub? He was hit by an animal rescue van. Tragic and ironic.”). Ha! Well, it was funny in the movie.

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I think what makes this film better than a lot of other kids’ films (Other than Pixar. Sorry – Nothing beats Pixar!) is the fact that it’s aimed at a higher age so a lot of the jokes and references are “older” and will also be funny to the adults watching it. I’m not talking anything risqué (I don’t think that has a place in a kids’ film) but things such as a great reference to Halloween (the movie, not the holiday). Loved that! And a Friday The 13th gag that was pretty damn funny too.

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And speaking of that, it was great that this film has a clear love of old scary movies (traditional stuff – zombies, witches, etc). Norman’s room is full of classic movie monster toys, posters, a cool alarm clock, etc. It reminds me how little I’ve watched the old horror classics (Vincent Price, Hammer Horror, that kind of stuff…). It gives this film a great “Halloween” feel (the holiday, not the movie). This movie actually reminded me a bit of the 1986 Amazing Stories episode called “Go To The Head Of The Class”. I used to watch that EVERY October but had sort of forgotten about it until Norman made me think of the teenage boy in that (Scott Coffey), who is obsessed with classic horror films & agrees to perform some black magic on his mean old teacher (Christopher Lloyd) to impress a girl (Mary Stuart Masterson). Oh man – I want to watch that again. It’s been years! Hell – I’ll watch it and do a mini review later. Let’s finish talking about ParaNorman instead…

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Summary:

ParaNorman is a great family film for the slightly older kids (maybe 8 or 9 and up but don’t quote me on that in case your 8-year-old is traumatized) that the adults will enjoy as well thanks to some genuinely funny stuff and references to horror classics. There’s still a “moral to the story” for the kids but it’s not a Disney-style one that’ll make the adults gag – It’s actually a good one for pre-teens. A pleasant surprise and a fun watch for this adult.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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Sorry – that review was even more rubbish than usual because I’ve just realized that if I’m going to manage this Horror Fest I’ve planned, I’m going to have to post one review every day until Halloween now. Argh! So they’ll be written quickly…

Oh – Here’s another ParaNorman quote that made me giggle like an 11-year-old boy:

Mr. Prenderghast: [hiding behind statue] Psst!
Neil: [whispers to Norman] I think that statue just pissed at us.

Hahaha! I loved Neil. I’m immature…

From Beyond (1986) Review for Halloween Horror Fest

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Bloody hell I can’t find a good poster for this movie…

From Beyond (1986)

Directed by Stuart Gordon

Based on From Beyond by H.P. Lovecraft

Starring:
Jeffrey Combs
Barbara Crampton
Ken Foree
Ted Sorel
Carolyn Purdy-Gordon

Running time: 80 minutes (original), 85 minutes (unrated)

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
From Beyond centers around a pair of scientists attempting to stimulate the pineal gland with a device called The Resonator. An unforeseen result of their experiments is the ability to perceive creatures from another dimension that proceed to drag the head scientist into their world, returning him as a grotesque shape-changing monster that preys upon the others at the laboratory.

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Before I Start…

This review will be full of SPOILERS, especially in the pictures. But I HAVE to include the pictures – this movie is mental.

This is the first movie I’m reviewing for my Halloween Horror Fest. Saw it about a month ago. Now, this is a film that is definitely not for everyone. If you like Re-Animator meets Society meets Slither meets The Thing meets David Cronenberg meets H.R. Giger-type sexual imagery meets “body horror”, From Beyond will be right up your alley. If you’re now looking at me like I’m nuts, you might want to skip this one.

Put it this way – there was this annoying woman I used to work with and couldn’t stand. She was all “perfect mother”, “perfect housewife”, yada yada. She used to look at me like I was mental when I would go all geeky discussing films & couldn’t understand why I had no interest in the things she did for fun like sew & bake cakes (nothing against anyone here who does these things for fun!). My point is this: If she still worked with me, I’d totally recommend From Beyond to her in the hope that she would hate me forever & stop talking to me. It’s one of those types of movies.

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My Opinion:

Like I said – If you like any of the movies that I mentioned above, you’ll like this. This was made by Stuart Gordon, who also made Re-Animator. Both films also star Jeffrey Combs & Barbara Crampton and are (I assume very loosely!) based on H.P. Lovecraft stories. (Barbara Crampton also starred in the recent horror You’re Next). I know Re-Animator is a cult classic but I’d not heard of From Beyond until recently. I think it’s just as good/bad as Re-Animator. I actually think it’s more memorable.

20131011-092854 am.jpgSo anyway – these two scientist dudes are conducting experiments to stimulate the pineal gland, a small gland in the brain which apparently (according to this movie, at least!) looks like a tiny penis. Especially when the experiment causes it to grow & pop out of this dude’s head. Yeah, spoiler. But, seriously – check this shit out!:

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Hilarious! Anyway, I’ve looked the pineal gland up online and still don’t fully understand why stimulating it makes you all into S&M and made Barbara Crampton put this outfit on:

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I also don’t understand why it allows you to see creatures from another dimension. But, anyway, it does in this film. It also makes you want to eat brains. Yum.

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Ken Foree, the dude above, is from one of my all-time favorite movies (Dawn Of The Dead) so it was cool seeing him here. Barbara Crampton gets naked (as usual?) so guys should like that. And. Yeah. Not much else to say. This movie was probably even more fun than Romero’s Monkey Shines. It’s completely mental. And that phallic pineal gland will haunt me forever.

My Rating: 6/10

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My From Beyond Haiku:

Brains and S&M
Protruding pineal glands
Naked Crampton boobs

Halloween Horror Fest

I’m sure a lot of bloggers will be doing something similar in the run up to Halloween. I’ve really gone off horror films the past several years as I’ve found modern horror, other than some foreign film exceptions, a major disappointment. So through October I’ll try to watch & do as many reviews of horror movies as I can.

What I’d really like to do when (and if I ever) have enough time is ask for film recommendations from all of you. But I wouldn’t want to disappoint anyone if I don’t have time to watch their films so, in the meantime, I’ve chosen some horror films that I’ve already discussed with fellow bloggers or I liked the sound of after reading their reviews. So these are the films I’ll (try very hard to!) review throughout October for my Halloween Horror Fest:

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The Descent – Kim at Tranquil Dreams gave this a very positive review HERE

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Insidious – Reviewed by Celluloid Junkie HERE and an Insidious 2 review from Silver Screen Serenade HERE

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ParaNorman – Reviewed by Abbi of Where The Wild Things Are HERE

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Grabbers – Reviewed by Eric of The IPC HERE

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Berberian Sound Studio – Despite a disappointing review from Rhino’s Horror HERE, I still want to see this.

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Pitch Black – Quite a few reviews of this with Riddick having just come out. I never made a start on these as I’m not a Vin Diesel fan but I suppose I can give this a go. Pitch Black reviewed by MovieRob HERE and by Dan The Man’s Movie Reviews HERE plus a Riddick review from Gregory Moss at Mossfilm HERE.

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Dog Soldiers – If I get time & if I actually like The Descent. Review from Vinnieh HERE. 🙂

Plus I’ll review these which I’ve seen very recently but not yet reviewed:

From Beyond
Nosferatu (1922)
Sisters (AKA Blood Sisters)
The Innkeepers
(In the middle of watching this, I actually paused to look it up at The IPC to see if Eric had reviewed it. Yep! And, luckily, he liked it. You can read his review HERE.)

And Maybe:
High Tension (AKA Switchblade Romance) if I manage to actually force myself to watch it….