Saturday, November 14, 2015

Review #31: Silent Night Bloody Night (2008) - Short film

Silent Night Bloody Night is a short, yet semi-sweet, Christmas-themed film from 2008. While it's not a film which I feel is overly creative, it does pack a decent punch toward the end. With it's short running-time, I can think of no reason not to give this one a shot.

Source: IMDb
Length: 7 minutes
Number of Ratings from IMDb: 19
Country of Origin: USA
Director: Christopher Ameruoso [Silent Night Bloody Night]

After a flashy title screen, with a rather sinister score playing in the background, we are introduced to Max and his girlfriend Frankie.

Max is a business man (quite a sleazy one at that) who is often quite busy, and so over Christmas, he'll be on a business trip. Prior to his departure, Frankie wanted to give him a present. Max has one also, and they exchange gifts.

Max's gift happens to be Christmas-themed lingerie, which Frankie is noticeably not appreciative toward, but decides to give Max a strip dance and showcase the present. While more interested in carnality as opposed to Frankie's gift to him, Max receives the gift anyway.

A gift that Max may not have been expecting, of course.

From here on out, suffice it to say that Max's night doesn't go to well.

The ending is not one overly shocking, but it is filmed well, and I've no complaints about it. In fact, Lindsay Crolius, the actress who portrayed Frankie, has an aura very much like Sheri Moon Zombie's Baby from House of 1000 Corpses. It was well-acted insanity.

Overall, this was a mostly solid short, especially considering that it's Ameruoso's directorial debut, along with the acting debut of the two main actors. At the same time, there were a few portions which were just a bit troubling.

The sound at times had the music playing louder than the speaking, which made it, in places, a bit difficult to fully understand what was being said. This only happened once or twice, and as such. was not deeply hindering, but I did take notice.

Secondly, and this may well be more nitpicking than anything, but at a few points, the acting felt pretty wooden. Crolius was pretty solid throughout, but at times, Bradley Fowler (portraying Max) seemed a wee bit stale.

That said, the positives definitely outweigh the negatives.

The production had an extremely slick look about it, and in fact, doesn't seem amateurish at all. This may be largely in part due to Ameruoso's background in photography. If this is so, it served him very well.

Overall, it's a solid short. Nothing overly spectacular, but above average at the same time. Highlights include the acting and the ominous score used. Detractors mainly revolve around a few audio issues.

My rating: 7.5/10

- Michael

Monday, October 5, 2015

It's Been a While

But I am still active in watching horror films.

I hope to get back into the groove of writing reviews, though I am in the middle of the October challenge on (link listed to the side).

If you have any suggestions of short films, movies, or anything really you'd like to see, please let me know.

Hope everyone's had a fine year,

Friday, November 21, 2014

Review #30: Here Comes Santa (2011) - Short film

It's been a while, but let's jump right back into it.

Here Comes Santa is a 14-minute short from 2011, a year before the Silent Night remake (if you want to call it such) came out. This short works very effectively in terms of suspense and getting the heart racing. It's perhaps one of the best shorts I watched for this blog thus far, but I don't want to overstate my appreciation just in case others don't see it as highly as I do. I will say, though, that I was very happy with this one, and if you're a fan of the slasher sub-genre, do yourself a favor and watch this. 

Source: YouTube
Length: 14 minutes
Number of Ratings from IMDb: Less Than Five
Country of Origin: USA
Director: Todd Nunes [The Fog Lady, Here Comes Santa]

It's December 13th, 2011, and news reports from the radio make reference to a serial killer who has been terrorizing the community in recent times, with at least four victims (including a pregnant woman). Police are on the lookout, but no suspect has yet been brought into custody.

Enter our main character, Mary, who is being hired by her neighbor living across the street, Mrs. Hayes, to assist putting up Christmas decorations

Mrs. Hayes is polite enough, and overly intoxicated by the Christmas spirit - just check out her Santa Claus hat - but doesn't shy away from the occasional (and humorous) vulgarity. She gives Mary directions on how she wants the remaining boxes of decorations put up, and enthusiastically speaks about the holidays.

The decorations aren't all pleasing to Mary, though - in fact, some are moderately creepy, including this life-size Santa Claus figure. According to Hayes, though, she shouldn't bother about him, as "he still needs a few more cotton balls shoved up his ass before he's done."

She also informs Mary that there is a flashlight available should she need it when bringing in more boxes of decorations from the back. They talk over money (Mary making $100 for just dealing with decorations - quite the deal, I think), and once that's done, Mrs. Hayes takes her leave, apparently going on a date. Before she can get into her car, however, she hears a hears her cat behind the bushes lining her driveway. Naturally, she deems it in her best interest to check it out, and thus, is attacked and killed by a man wearing a full ghillie suit.

Oblivious to this, Mary gets a call from her mother (who lives with her across the street), who informs her that she's going away for a few hours. It's only when she watches her mother drive away that she notices the vehicle is still in the driveway, and also finds a ghillie suit, which visibly confuses her.

While on the phone (her mother calls her back), which temporarily distracts her from the suit, we see the killer sneak into the house, brandishing a knife. She runs into the house and locks the door, her mother telling her that Mrs. Hayes was probably picked up by her date and hence didn't need the car. 

Deciding to ignore her worries, she goes at to the back to move the boxes inside, along with another life-size Santa figure, but a jump scare featuring Muffins, Mrs. Hayes' aforementioned cat, persuades her otherwise. Because of this, she doesn't see that the neglected figure is not just a cotton-filled dummy, but the body of Mrs. Hayes.

While untangling some Christmas lights, the figure of Santa Claus behinds her stands up, unbeknownst to Mary. However, after a few seconds, it does become obvious that she feels someone watching her.

Rather wisely, she follows her gut instincts and hides, arming herself with an iron (the appliance, not the element). Cue the instrumental, soothing tones of "Silent Night" in the background, and the suspense begins.

Here Comes Santa (named for the Bing Crosby and Andrews Sisters Christmas standard which begins playing near the end of the short) is quite a well-made Christmas-themed horror short. There are few detractors, but for the most part, it's an overly-solid film.

The acting isn't too bad, but at the same time, there are a few scenes which come across as a bit cliche (including the standard cat jump scare about halfway through the short). Mrs. Hayes actress is pretty amusing, though, and even slightly adorable to see someone as addicted to Christmas as she seems to be. Mary makes a few foolish choices during the chase scene around the house, but it doesn't take too much from the short as a whole.

One of the best parts of the short would have to be the background music, though. Mrs. Hayes has a radio in her house which plays Christmas music on loop during the events of the short, including an instrumental version of "Silent Night" and during the ending scenes and into the credits, "Here Comes Santa," which juxtaposes well with the onscreen malice occurring. This latter song can be found here; just imagine this song being played while a massacre occurs. Just a great musical choice.

The short ends well, and it doesn't try to fit too much into it, which can sometimes make it seem somewhat unrealistic. Overall, I highly recommend this one - it's better than some of the Christmas horror classics (I'm looking at you, You Better Watch Out). Very enjoyable short, and it's one of the better shorts I've seen. Check it out.

My rating: 9/10

- Michael

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Hiatus During October and Why - Updates

So, it's been a bit since my last post, which was an update saying that I have gotten back to college, and was hoping to get back to posting reviews before October. I haven't explain why this is, so I will now.

As stated in a former review, I'm a member of, which is a horror fan forum I have been a member of since 2009. Every year, during the month of October, we have an annual Halloween Horror Movie Challenge. Basically, each participant has to watch at least 31 movies, with 16 of the viewings being movies we've not seen before.

While that is technically the challenge, most people take is as a challenge to watch as many horror films in October as possible. I've been participating since 2009, and this year will be my sixth year doing the challenge.

I impose a self-rule on myself, which is not in the official Challenge rules, in which if I have watched a horror movie for a former Challenge, I cannot watch it again. For example, in the 2009 Challenge, I watched 110 horror films. I cannot watch a single one of those films again for a future Challenge. While not an official rule, in my opinion, it makes it far more challenging and interesting, as you have a more limited choice the more and more you take the Challenge. I watched Halloween (1978) in 2009 - I've not seen it in October since, which is sort of saddening, though it's for a good cause.

Generally, I don't really try to go all-out in the Challenges. My rankings/view count each month has been thus: 

2009 - 110 movies
2010 - 166 movies
2011 - 225 movies
2012 - 68 movies
2013 - 275 movies

In total, I've seen 844 different horror films in the month of October since 2009.

For me, and many others on the forum, it's a month of chaos, stress, and fun. Some of us give running commentaries on the films we're watching, while others of us just talk about random horror movie shit in the conversation thread for the Challenge.

I mention all of this because I will not get any reviews up during this upcoming month - when finished, in the first week of November, I will share my results (I don't intend to watching anywhere near 275 movies this time, probably more around 115 or so), and then I will finally be able to focus on reviews again. I do apologize for the delay, but this is a tradition for me, and many of us on (which I do link to on the side of my blog).

I will link both the Discussion thread for the Challenge, as well as the Tally thread, which is specifically for listing the films we've watched and nothing else, just in case anyone is potentially interested in checking out how I am progressing. My user name on the site is JigsawX, in case anyone ever cared to look.

I hope this finds any readers well, and I hope October treats you horrifyingly. 

- Michael

Monday, August 18, 2014

Quick Update

As I may have stated in the past, I am a college student, and moved back into the dormitories within the last three days (or perhaps four, as it's past midnight here now).

Because of that, I've been spending a lot of time with friends, and not necessarily focusing on writing reviews. Within the next week, I am hoping this will shift, as I wish not to neglect this blog too much prior to October, in which reviews will be limited (I've mentioned this before also, and intend to explain in a future post).

I just wanted to let you all know the situation, and if you've taken a liking to my blog, fear not, as shortly, it should be getting back to being updated regularly.  

With regards,

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Review #29: "The Haunted Cell" - Lights Out (Radio Show)

Length: 29 minutes
Air date(s): October 26th, 1938 and July 20th, 1946

Unlike my previous radio show review, I thought this one went pretty well. No doubt it could have been better, but for it's time period, I'm sure quite a few people were sitting on the edge of their seats.

This is narrated by one Maxie, and to begin, he asks the audience if they believe in ghosts. He claims to have a ghost story that will make our hair curl.

In the previous August, as Maxie was holding up a gas station, he was arrested by a "copper." Unfortunately, this is especially bad for him, as he killed a police officer, Ambrose Hogan, weeks prior. What makes it even worse is the now-deceased Hogan's partner is head of the interrogation.

After trying to get Maxie to confess, at first by forceful behavior, and then by beating him with a rubber hose (can you say police abuse?), Miller and his new partner, Johnny, decide they know what to do - through him in "the haunted cell."

As Miller and Johnny are walking Maxie to the cell, they explain that another cop killer, Skeeter Dempsey, who fired in the electric chair, lived in the cell they're being Maxie to. Whether it's an interrogation technique or not, they claim that Dempsey still likes the cell, and is often there.

Maxie doesn't believe in ghosts at this point, but once the two officers turn the lights off in the hall, leaving Maxie completely alone, it doesn't take long until Dempsey walks into his cell and speaks to him.

At first, Maxie believes it to be a gag, but when Dempsey turns the light on for him, Maxie sees that nobody is around him, causing him to faint.

When he wakes up, Dempsey continues speaking to him, consistently reassuring Maxie that he is in fact Dempsey. Maxie wants him to go away, but Dempsey denies his request, as he likes it there. Dempsey then tells Maxie that he's not spoken to anyone in two months, since George Brown.

Something clicks in Maxie's head; George Brown hung him two months prior, in this very same cell. Maxie freaks out again, but Dempsey tells him that he's not going to hurt him. Dempsey explained that Brown was going to get the chair anyways, and since Dempsey also got the chair, advised him against it, as it'd better to kill yourself and take your life into your own hands then it is for the state to do it for you. In a way, Dempsey explains, it redeems you just a bit.

Miller then walks in to check on Maxie. After turning the light on, Maxie gets further confirmation that Dempsey is who he says he is, as he sees no one around but Miller. Miller believes Maxie is cracking, but until he confesses, he's going to leave Maxie in the cell.

Four weeks pass - Maxie is still in the cell, though he's not scared as often as he used to be. In fact, he's gotten used to living with a ghost. Dempsey constantly tells Maxie that he should hang himself like Brown, but Maxie still refuses to do so, not wanting to die.

Finally, a conviction comes, and the jury find Maxie guilty of first degree murder, which comes with a mandatory death sentence. As Miller brings Maxie back to his cell, Dempsey whispers in Maxie's ear that there's only one way out now.

On the day prior to Christmas Eve, Dempsey tells Maxie that he knows for certain his execution will be the following night. He says he'll be with Maxie until the end, not that it will do much good; he won't be able to prevent any of the pain Maxie will feel.

Maxie then breaks down again, because he's always been a sucker for pain, and doesn't think he'll be able to take it. He then wanders aloud how much pain Brown felt before killing himself. Dempsey claims that it only took a minute, and the pain was minimal in comparison to the chair. In fact, the ghost goes as far as saying were he in Maxie's position, he'd definitely hang himself.

After hearing this, Maxie agrees that it'd probably be the best course of action, but doesn't have the guts to follow through with actually doing it, causing him much dismay.

Miller then comes in and informs Maxie of his death sentence, which is to take place the following day. For his part, Miller seems quite mellowed by this experience. He offers Maxie to get into contact with his folks, and a bottle of bourbon, claiming that while at the beginning, he wanted Maxie to fry for his partner's death, but now he regrets his viewpoint.

Miller apologizes to Maxie, though Maxie accepts that he has to die, and doesn't blame Miller for what's going to happen. One last time, Miller asks Maxie if he wants anything, and Maxie again says no. Miller tells Maxie that he'll be moved before too long to the state prison, where the electric chair is.

Once gone, Dempsey speaks again to Maxie, informing him that a length of rope is under his bed, so he wouldn't need to try to use his belt, should he decide to commit suicide.

We then end with Maxie's narration.
Maxie: Well ... there ya are. That's your ghost story. You believe in ghosts now?
You don't? Well, ya oughta. You see, I took Skeeter's advice. I hung myself. I've been dead six months.

The ending is pretty spooky and effective, but as a whole, I didn't find the episode amazing. If Dempsey had waited a bit longer to speak to Maxie, I felt the suspense would have lasted a bit longer. But no, as soon as Miller leaves Maxie along, Dempsey immediately begins to speak to him.

Really, I wish the ghost was more threatening than conciliatory. While at first Maxie was being haunted, as he got used to it, the power of the episode short of drained away. Miller's apology was nice, as we find he does have a conscious, but he didn't really play as huge as a rule as I thought he would in this story.

This was much easier to enjoy, though, because I was able to find a transcript of the episode online here. There was no missed words due to audio issues or hysterical women. It's a nice, clear-cut, transcript, and it went a long way to ensure I could fully deem this an accessible form of media.

That said, aside from the beginning, and the chilling ending, this story was lacking the something that makes it special. I enjoyed it more than "The Organ," but I'm still waiting for that amazing radio story.

My rating: 7/10

- Michael

Review #28: "Love is a Lie" - Friday the 13th: The Obsession (Episode 3)

*A quick correction prior to my actual review. I got into contact with the creators of this series shortly after I posted my review over Episode 2. As it turns out, this was not intended as a series. It was created as a feature film, but it could not have been in as high quality as it is now if it was kept in that format, so the creators decided to cut the film into portions (i.e. episodes). This explains why the pacing may seem a little off - there are various movies in which the action doesn't really begin until halfway through the film. Friday the 13th: The Obsession happens to be one of them.

I do apologize to the creators for this mistake. In my defense, I generally trust IMDb with all things related to movies and series, and they have Friday the 13th: The Obsession listed as a series, which is an error on their part. I will continue to review this as though it is a series, but I will refrain from criticizing any issues in regards to pacing.*

Source: Vimeo
Length: 15 minutes
Air date: December 2nd, 2011

This episode, despite it being longer, is virtually purely a character-driven episode, not that it presents a problem. Just letting you all know that action (insofar as Jason is concerned) is not this episode's strong point.

We begin on the "date" between Amy and Stephanie.

They converse about Amy's ex-girlfriend, Stephanie's inexperience with actual lesbian couples, and why Stephanie is "running away" from her boyfriend. Though not a surprise, as it turns out, her ex-boyfriend is a controlling dick, and treated her far more like property than an actual person.

Not enjoying the grim conversation, Amy offers Stephanie the chance to leave and get smashed, which they do.

Next time we see them, they are both overly drunk (and very good at acting, truth be told). They stumble into Amy's room, barely able to walk.

They flirt with each other, both drunk off their ass. Before too long, they kiss each other, after Stephanie blurts out she's never felt this close to anyone before.

Though it's not seen, it's implied they later have sex, leading Stephanie to be bothered and confused when she leaves later that night, asking herself, "What the fuck did I do?"

At home, she's taking a shower, and has a small breakdown, but she's jerked out of it when she believes she hears a noise in the house. 

She calls for her sister, Carrie, but she gets no reply. She goes back to her shower, though now likely nervous. It is at this point we are welcomed with a "To Be Continued."

So, because this wasn't made to cater the audience expecting a series, the fact that it's wholly character-driven will play no part in my rating.

I think Amy and Stephanie make a cute couple (regardless of whether or not Stephanie is actually a lesbian), but the make-out scene does bother me a bit, given they were both drunk. Obviously, neither party can give consent when drunk, so Amy should have been a bit wary about bring Stephanie home with her. She was drunk too, of course, so I don't know how much one can really blame her.

I'm hoping this does not destroy their friendship - if Stephanie can accept her feelings for Amy, perhaps it'll turn out fine, but I'm not positive how good their chances are.

Given that Stephanie and Amy are the only two characters on-screen in this whole episode, I've exhausted my talking points. I believe I've said this twice before (and been wrong both times, so I can cross "oracle" off my career list), but I'll say it again to cover my bases: I'm guessing that things get going on the horror side of things this upcoming episode, because I'd like to see some horror sometime soon.

Still, this was a pretty decent episode, and I hope for the best in regards to our characters.

My rating: 8/10

- Michael