Month: January 2015

Favorite Things: Horror TV Shows (Still Running)

These days, horror TV shows seem to be more and more popular. Unfortunately, just like horror movies, they always get snubbed when the award shows come around. It seems only fitting that my first “Favorite Things” blog post be all about my favorite horror TV shows that are still on the air.

The Walking Dead (AMC)

This one is a fairly obvious choice, but it is just so damn good. I’m shocked every year that this is not nominated for some kind of award. The acting is amazing, it makes you afraid of humans and zombies, the practical effects are some of the best I’ve ever seen, and it never stops surprising me. That last bit may obviously be different if I had read the comics, but I haven’t so I get shocked from time to time. I just have one more word to help describe how great this show is… Daryl.

Season 6 returns Sunday, Febrauary 8th 9/8c.

Grimm (NBC)

This may be one of my favorite shows currently on TV. For those of you that haven’t seen it, the show focuses on a Portland detective who has some very interesting powers. He is what is called a Grimm, and he can see the fairytale creatures that no one else can see. Not only are the characters very compelling and likeable, but it is amazing how they weave together the stories that we grew up with and turn them into modern mysteries. They also do a great job of using the German language to name the various creatures, or Wesen, that they encounter on the show.

Airs Friday nights at 9/8c.

Penny Dreadful (Showtime)

I typically don’t mark a show as a favorite after only one season, but this is an exception to that rule. Penny Dreadful is twisted, and beautiful, and everything you could ever want from a horror show set in Victorian times. There is such masterful storytelling in this show that it is not immediately noticeable that this show incorporates some of the classic horror movie characters. The more obvious ones of Dr. Frankenstein and Dorian Gray, but if you watch and listen closely you will find the more hidden ones. The web is so tangled that at the end of the first season you have only just started to separate the threads. It is very upsetting that I have to wait until April for the second season to start!

Season 2 premieres Sunday, April 26th at 10e/p.

Teen Wolf (MTV)

This is a completely underrated show. I think just because it’s on MTV everyone assumes that it will be crap, but that is not the case at all. The show initially got the idea from the 1985 movie starring Michael J Fox. The only true similarity is that the two main characters/best friends are named after the characters in the movie, and the main character ends up being a werewolf. After that, everything goes completely off script. The characters are so dynamic, the script is witty and fascinating, and there is a new twist at every turn. Probably my favorite thing about the show is that they introduce all sorts of creatures from mythology around the world.

Right now the air date for season 5 is TBD, but I’m guessing it will be this Fall.

Bates Motel (A&E)

Freddy Highmore and Vera Farmiga are the perfect Norman and Norma Bates. Not only are they simply amazing actors, but they create this very uncomfortable codependency between the two characters that you can’t help but get hooked on. This show does a great job of giving you a bit of the story you already know and love, thanks to the great Alfred Hitchcock, but it also brings it to modern times and gives you more of the history of the infamous mother-son duo. This show also gives you that uncomfortable feeling of liking the two main characters while also being very disturbed by them for their own reasons.

Season 3 airs Monday, March 8th at 9/8c.

Face Off (SyFy)

I couldn’t find a trailer for the current season, so I chose the original teaser from when the show first started. Not many people will consider this a horror show, but I think it should be included on this list. The show is a competition series where you get to watch people create masterful works of art that you would see in your favorite horror/sci-fi/fantasy films and TV shows. I am kind of obsessed with practical effects, so this show is definitely one of my favorites. I love seeing the creative process the artists go through to create unique creatures from their imagination. Definitely worth watching.

Airs Tuesday nights at 9/8c.

That is my list of current favorite horror shows. I would like to give honorable mention to The Strain, Z Nation (which I have been binge-watching on Netflix all day today), Bitten, and Helix. The Strain is on FX, and the other three shows are on the SyFy channel. All of them have only had one full season so far, so it is too soon for me to add them to my favorites. Maybe they will make the list next year, but I would recommend checking them out as well.

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V/H/S: Viral

Well, I’m going to start this review by saying that I absolutely loved the first two films in this series. For those of you that have not seen them, the premise centers around secret videos of supernatural events. If you watch them in a certain order, something strange happens to the viewer. The past movies have consisted of 5-6 shorts with an overarching storyline about the people watching these videos. While the first two films achieved creating an anthology of really unique and horrifying stories, this third installment failed miserably. I will start by breaking down each segment and then go after the film as a whole.

“Vicious Circles”: This segment made the least sense of them all. I couldn’t even begin to give a synopsis of it, because it is so disjointed. What makes this especially frustrating is that it is supposed to be the story that keeps everything glued together. All it does is confuse the entire film and have a rather lackluster ending.

“Dante The Great”: When this segment started I had high hopes. This one focuses on a famous magician whose tricks turn out to be more than what your run of the mill magician can do, thanks to a mysterious cloak. Unfortunately, it had a pretty lackluster climax and ending, turning it from intriguing to just down right cheesy.

“Parallel Monsters”: This was another segment that had me greatly interested. A man manages to create an opening into an alternate universe, which at first appears to be just like his own. He switches with his alternate self for 15 minutes, and only after the switch does he realize that the alternate universe is completely different from his own. It seems like a very interesting concept, until you found out what the difference between the two worlds was. It was so ridiculous you couldn’t help but laugh and think “WTF?”

“Bonestorm”: The focus of this segment is a couple skateboarders who hire a camera guy to film their tricks. They decide that Tijuana would be a good place to finish their video. Somehow, of all the places to skateboard, they end up in a ditch that has strange writing everywhere, a couple shrines, and dog poop (yes, I said dog poop). Soon the group discovers they are surrounded by some kind of cult trying to awaken a beast. This one is honestly the least absurd of all the segments, and there are at least a few scenes that made me chuckle.

I had such high hopes for this movie, especially since the first two are amazing. I think aside from the shorts being more nonsensical and not even remotely scary, the thing that upset me the most was the overarching storyline of “Vicious Circles.” In the first two films you could clearly tell when they were showing you the main story and then switching over to one of the videos being watched by the people in the main story. When the “Vicious Circles” storyline moved into “Dante the Great,” it took me a while to realize they were not supposed to be part of the same segment. Ultimately, I would not recommend seeing this film. If you are like me and loved the first films (so you feel compelled to finish the series), just keep in mind that this one pales in comparison.

OVERALL RATING: 3.5/10

Throwback Thursday Movie: The Monster Squad (1987)

I’m going to preface this by saying that this is a very biased review. I grew up watching this movie, some of my earliest movie-watching memories involve this movie, and I love it. That being said, it is still a pretty awesome movie. I have never introduced this movie to someone and have them not love it. It seems like the perfect choice for my Throwback Thursday movie review.

The film centers on a group of young teens that have their own monster club. They meet and talk about awesome monster movies and even have a clubhouse plastered with horror movie posters. The leader of their group acquires Abraham Van Helsing’s diary and soon realizes all the strange things that have been happening in their small town are leading to the end of the world. Who is trying to end the world, you ask? None other than all the classic movie monsters complete with Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster, the mummy, Wolfman, and the creature from the Black Lagoon. It’s up to these kids to stop the monsters from destroying the world and bringing about eternal evil.

This movie is not scary by any means, but it is insanely entertaining. The storyline is hilarious. It is often compared to The Goonies since they came out around the same time and both involve a group of kids that have to save the day. The writing is pure genius. Not only is the dialogue very witty, but there are also some amazing one-liners. One of the more famous lines that you may have heard before is “Wolfman’s got nards!”

This being an eighties movie, there are some great practical effects as well. Frankenstein’s monster of course has gorgeous makeup, along with the creature from the Black Lagoon. One top of that, the practical effects used when Wolfman makes his transformation and the mummy gets unraveled are very impressive.

This film really has everything you could want from a light-hearted eighties horror flick. It is witty, it has great practical effects, the storyline is very original, and it appeals to people of all ages. This is a movie that I would highly recommend if you are looking for a “gateway movie” to introduce children to the horror genre. It is also very fun to watch with a group of drunken friends. I truly hope you enjoy the movie, because it has given me much joy since the tender age of 4.

OVERALL RATING: 10/10 (I told you I was biased)

Witching and Bitching

As you can probably guess by the trailer, this is a horror comedy from Spain. The film was created by cult director Alex de la Iglesia, who is also famous for his film The Last Circus (which I have not seen, but I’ve heard great things). The story centers around Jose (Hugo Silva), who has just pulled off a jewelry store heist with a group of men dressed as various street performers (and his gun wielding 10 year old son). The surviving members of this band of misfits hijack a taxi and head for France to escape the police. Little do they know that on the way they will pass through a small village known for being the birthplace of witchcraft. On top of that, the witches are about to have a giant annual party and need a human sacrifice for the occasion. Luckily for the witches, Jose’s son, Sergio (Gabriel Angel Delgado), is perfect for the part.

If I had to pick one word to describe this movie, it would be “insanity.” I absolutely love horror comedies (when they are done well), and this one did not disappoint. It was exciting, suspenseful, creepy, and truly hilarious. The situations these men get themselves into over and over again keep you laughing from start to finish, without being too hokey.

The witches are so well played (some are even played by men), and they do a great job with the makeup by giving them all the same kind of eerie look. While the witches themselves make for some great laughs, the most hilarious thing about them is how they shun one of their own for acting what we could consider “normal.” There are also some amazing practical effects that are subtlety done, but they really blew my mind at the same time.

The one common theme in this film is that all of the men have been spurned by women, and all of the women use men and find them disposable. If this was the kind of movie that was meant to be more scary/serious, I would find this theme to be dull and slightly offensive. Luckily, it’s a comedy. Everything is supposed to be an extreme caricature of the truth, and without the men vs. women mentality, I don’t think the story would have been as entertaining.

Please watch this movie. It is fun and gives you the chance to brag about being into “foreign films.” The only thing that I know can deter some viewers from enjoying it is the fact that the film has subtitles. It was done in Spain, so of course it is going to have subtitles! Get over it. It’s better than horribly dubbed movies where the voices do not match the actors (that only works in old kung-fu movies). Having to read at top speeds is totally worth it.

OVERALL RATING: 9/10

At the Devil’s Door

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qaHR845sZtI

Now this movie has had a lot of buzz since it came out. I even saw it appear on a couple “Top 10 of 2014” lists for horror movies. While in general I really enjoyed this movie, I believe it had some shortcomings that kept it from being out of this world.

As you can probably guess from the title, the Devil plays a large part in this film. It is not so much a possession story as it is a story of the devil trying to work his way into our world. It starts with meeting the young Hannah (Ashley Rickards). You soon learn the sinister way she was tricked into selling her soul to the Devil. Flash forward a bit and you meet Leigh (Catalina Sandino Moreno), a real estate agent trying to sell Hannah’s old house, and her sister Vera (Naya Rivera). The film weaves back and forth between the progress of Hannah’s fate and the present situation with the sisters who may be end up in the same boat.

Despite what the trailer leads you to believe, Leigh’s character is only a small part of the story. She acts more as a pathway that leads Hannah (and the Devil) to Vera. Ashley Rickard’s performance in the movie is very haunting and she often left me with chills. Naya Rivera, unfortunately, was lacking quite a bit in her performance. Most of the film she seemed to have what is commonly known as “resting bitch face” as her only expression. There is even a scene where she is distraught and is supposed to be crying. She has to literally cover her face to hide the fact she isn’t really crying, and when she moves her hands to brush back her hair you can clearly see there are no tears. I love Naya, but her performance was the worst part of the movie.

Despite that, I loved the movie. It created such a feeling of unease leaving me thoroughly creeped out long after the movie ended (without necessarily having any big in-your-face scares). Even the simple line that so accurately describes the Devil as “wearing her like a costume” (as seen in the trailer above) makes you want to sleep with the light on. Overall the movie has really great character development, an intricate and well played out plot, and a couple of fairly decent surprises thrown in.

OVERALL RATING: 7/10

Welcome

Welcome to the Blogging Banshee (that’s me). This blog is dedicated to my love of horror flicks. Keep in mind that everything I write is strictly my opinion so you may not agree with what I say, which is fine and I encourage people to share their thoughts. My goal is to write at least one horror review every week. And don’t worry, I will warn you if anything has spoilers (because I know I hate spoilers). Enjoy!