While I am a fan of gore, I found Terrifier 2 intense. Its saving grace and what kept me watching it through the most shocking scenes was its campiness. The clown villain’s playfulness and silliness during gross moments made the violence comical, like life is a sick joke, which I can relate to. I enjoyed Terrifier, and I found its sequel to be a great addition to the franchise. It not only brought the senseless gore that made the first movie good, but it went further with a creepy new character and scenes of purely senseless gore — scenes that were only added to the narrative to show the wildest kills. Not a horror movie for a weak stomach!
Leone, Damien. Terrifier 2, Bloody Disgusting, 2022.
Ghost stories are my favorite, and I was excited to discover Our House, a full-on supernatural, ghost-story movie. While I love ghost stories, a good one is difficult to find, and I was impressed by this one. The incorporation of the ghosts into the narrative was natural and sympathetic at first, and their slow growth into sinister forces was suspenseful and interesting. A solid take on a ghost story and a good movie!
Scott Burns, Anthony. Our House, IFC Midnight / Elevation Pictures, 2018.
The original idea for George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead was for an alien comedy.
In early 1967, Romero, along with writer John A. Russo and actor Rudy Ricci, were working together at the Latent Image, their Pittsburgh-based commercial film company, when they decided it was time to try their hand at making a feature film. Though the effort eventually produced Night of the Living Dead, early concepts were very different. Russo initially thought of making a horror comedy about “hot-rodding” alien teens who would visit Earth, meet up with human teenagers, and generally cause mischief with the help of a cosmic pet called “The Mess.” The group’s budgetary constraints made this concept impossible, so Russo instead dreamed up an idea about a boy who runs away from home, only to discover a field of corpses under glass, which were rotting to the liking of alien creatures who would eventually consume them. Russo presented this idea to Romero, who latched on to the flesh-eating angle.
Find more insights on Romero’s zombie classic at 10 Facts About George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead on Mental Floss.
There’s Something Wrong With the Children succeeds in creepy, unsettling moments. The story, however, fails to satisfy, and I left the movie with more questions than answers. Throughout the movie, I kept thinking about a much better film that had what felt like a similar premise of nature as the villain, The Ruins (2008). I’m not sure, though, if nature was the villain in There’s Something Wrong With the Children, or if it was supernatural. If the story had provided more background on the mysteries it introduced, I think the whole would have been better.
Benjamin, Roxanne. There’s Something Wrong With the Children, Paramount Home Entertainment, 2023.
If you have not yet seen The Ruins, I highly recommend it. The horror is a slow build, but, once it hits its peak, you will be in for a gore show that you could never imagine.
Smith, Carter. The Ruins, Dreamworks / Paramount Distribution, 2008.
Did you know that, originally, Friday the 13th was intended to be an anthology series? Each movie would have taken place, presumably, on Friday the 13th.
From 10 Jason Voorhees Facts You Never Knew Until Now
Jigoku is a truly unique movie. The narrative loosely follows a series of deaths and murders that all happen in the protagonist’s life as if he is cursed, and the final scenes of the movie follow the dead characters and the protagonist in hell. The addition of the afterlife journey gives more depth to the characters.
My favorite part of the movie was the brutal death scenes. They were bold, like bodies falling off a rope bridge, and gruesome. As a bonus, the final hell scenes went full throttle on the gore, and it was great!
Nakagawa, Nobuo. Jigoku, Shintoho, 1960.
The 1964 Japanese horror movie Onibaba is a slow burn. Much of its horror centers around the crimes and abuses caused by a war, particularly against women. Set in the past in a rural area, it evokes the discomfort of a very difficult era in history. From the start of the movie, death is ever present, and you know you are watching a horror movie.
The slow burn was worth it, for me. The struggles of the relationships between a small group of people transformed throughout the narrative, ending with a final paranormal twist that was believably built into the story.
Shindo, Kaneto. Onibaba, Toho, 1964.
I discovered A Page of Madness from a curated list of Japanese horror films on an Instagram account (@cathodecinema). I start with this note because the movie was not a typical horror movie. It was a fascinating piece of surreal art and storytelling that did culminate around what seemed to be a murder, but it was not the paranormal creepiness or crime I was expecting from a horror movie.
The movie was easy to find online, and I would recommend it. A silent film, the narrative is told through vivid imagery. The story is woven through scenes of patients of an insane asylum who are shown living their fantasy while living their suffering in an asylum cell. Madness abounds throughout the movie, but it is balanced by scenes of a dancer and her escapism fantasy.
I can’t say I have seen anything like it, and I marvel at the fact it was made in the 1920s.
Kinugasa, Teinosuke. A Page of Madness, Kinugasa Productions, 1926 (US: New Line Cinema, 1975).
Bill Skarsgård wanted to make sure that his performance as Pennywise was convincing for audiences. He states, “In order for this movie to be as effective as the book and the series, I have to scare a whole generation. My take was that Pennywise functions very simply. Nothing much is going on in terms of what he’s thinking – he’s animalistic and instinctive.”
From IMDb Trivia: It (2017)
As a prequel to X, Ti West’s Pearl is an excellent companion piece. What I liked most about it was that it was not an overly complicated story written only to justify or launch the drama in X. Instead, it was a character study of X‘s villain. I also liked how Pearl was told in a very different way than X, more like a drama than a gore flick.
Pearl had a slower pace, which reminded me of the pacing in West’s The Roost. A slow build. The movie was held together by Mia Goth’s outstanding performance that delivered a mix of desperation, naivety and vengeance that was disturbingly relatable and sincere.
I can’t say that Pearl went onto my list of favorite West movies like X did, but it did not let me down, and I would consider it an achievement that West can be proud of.
West, Ti. Pearl, A24, 2022.