Movie Review – 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

Rated R – Psychological Thriller starring John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and John Gallagher Jr. – Directed by Dan Trachtenberg

If you haven’t seen Cloverfield, go and do that first. Although you don’t NEED to have seen it to enjoy this sequel, it will help give you a better overall feeling for what’s going on.

After an argument with her boyfriend, Michelle (Winstead) packs up and leaves town. While on the road, her car is struck and crashes in a roadside ditch. On waking, she finds herself hooked to an IV, wearing a knee brace, and chained to the wall. She soon meets her captor, Howard (Goodman) who is just another crazy, conspiracy-theorist prepper who’s gone to the trouble of building a fallout shelter in his back yard, which is where they now are. A third member of the group, Emmet (Gallagher), confirms what Howard is saying, that something, and he’s not exactly sure what, has happened, but something that has resulted in the surface being uninhabitable for at least two year.

Howard is full of crazy talk, but just how crazy is he? If he’s not crazy, then some very, very bad things are going on topside. If he is crazy then some very, very bad things are going on underground because Howard isn’t being completely honest about elements of his story and explanations. Either way, it’s all good for us viewers. 10 Cloverfield Lane is full of suspense and it’s going to keep you guessing until the bitter end at just exactly where Howard stands on the Sane to Insane scale.

This is my kind of movie, the psychological thriller, and it lives up to that genre exceptionally well in my opinion. I love how it incorporates elements of the original Cloverfield, yet it still holds up well as a standalone story. The acting was well done and I was very impressed with Goodman’s portrayal of a nut job!

Five out of Five Ravens!

Movie Review – Split (2017)

Directed by M. Night Shyamalan. Starring James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy and Betty Buckley.

We’re told that Kevin Crumb has 23 personalities. Via four (maybe five) of his other personalities, two of which seem to have schemed together to kidnap three teenage girls, we’re told that the bad ass 24th personality, known as The Beast, is on his way. Kevin’s therapist, Dr. Karen Fletcher, starts getting emergency emails from the others pleading for help, but is then misled by the personality that shows up for the session the next day. Something’s not right and she knows it, but can’t quite put her finger on what’s going on.

M. Night Shyamalan usually does not disappoint, but this time I’m on the fence with just how much I liked or didn’t like this movie. The pacing as wonderful. The tension grew at just the right pace and James McAvoy did a pretty good job of portraying the personalities we meet. What disappointed me was the fact that those six personalities are the only ones we ever see. In fact, we never even meet the original Kevin until the very end. Why bother having the other 18 if we’re never going to be introduced to them? I felt ripped off.

The ending was somewhat confusing. I get that it is a reference to another Shyamalan film, but I don’t understand the connection. Maybe I’m not supposed to? Maybe I have to wait for a third movie to explain to me the link between these others? Either way, it wasn’t satisfying and I left the theater feeling a little let down with the whole thing.

Had this been something I’d watched on Netflix or Amazon Prime for a much less expensive price tag, maybe I’d have enjoyed it more.

3 out of 5 Ravens

 

Movie Review – Boggy Creek Monster (Documentary) 2016

Based on Lyle Blackburn’s 2012 book, The Beast of Boggy Creek, and produced by Small Town Monster Films, this hour-long documentary begins where The Legend of Boggy Creek ended back in 1972.

Like so many of my generation, I saw the The Legend of Boggy Creek when I was an impressionable youngster. It struck terror into the hearts of many. I’ve watched other documentaries on Bigfoot, as per my reviews HERE, and most were more than a little hokey. Not so with Boggy Creek Monster. Lyle has a serious curiosity about this legend and listens with genuine interest to the current residents of Fouke, Arkansas where it started.

You’ll learn back story that wasn’t touched on in the original movie and you’ll be brought up to date with sightings that still go on to this day. Previously unreleased audio recordings of Smokey Crabtree make their debut as well as interviews with current relatives of the Crabtrees and other families that were present during the initial filming in the early 1970s.

This documentary really makes me want return to Fouke with a little more time and a little more exploration. It’s a must-see for anyone who grew up both loving and fearing the ‘monster’ of Boggy Creek.

My only complaint … it wasn’t long enough.

4.5 out of 5.0 Ravens

Watch the trailer HERE.

 

Binging On Bigfoot

The 1970s was a, well, BIG decade for Bigfoot. It seemed like he was everywhere. On Saturday mornings we had ‘Bigfoot and Wild Boy”. Steve Austin took on a robotic version of the creature in The Six-Million Dollar Man, and of course, Leonard Nimoy went ‘In Search Of … Bigfoot.” There was even a Bigfoot board game where you got to track the elusive beast. But where Sasquatch really made his biggest imprint was at the movies!

When I learned about last month’s released of Boggy Creek Monster: The Truth Behind The Legend the spiral into the depth of my childhood and my love and fascination with all things Bigfoot struck anew.  I selected five films from those fabulous 70’s to either watch for the first time or watch yet again to remind myself how good or bad they really were.

And so without further delay, let’s begin our Bigfoot Binge!

Bigfoot (1970) – Directed by Robert Slatzer. Starring John Carradine and Joi Lanning.

Two buxom and scantily clad babes are kidnapped by a small band of Bigfoots (or is that Bigfeet?)… Anyway … One of the ladies is part of a motorcycle ‘gang’ and her boyfriend isn’t too happy about his girl being taken hostage. Having been separated from his biker friends because these two just HAD to stop and have a romantic interlude down by the creek, and unable to catch up with them down the road, Rick returns to the general store where the group last stopped. With the locals and law enforcement unwilling to believe the biker’s story, he enlists the help of two traveling salesmen who just happen to have rifles and flashlights on hand.

Eventually it’s all-out war as Rick’s biker friends, who have returned to lend a hand, two traveling salesmen, three Indians, and Rick all chase down the leader of the Bigfoot band to try and save themselves and the kidnapped beauties!

Even John Carradine couldn’t save this one.

Watch It Here:  Bigfoot (1970)

The Legend of Boggy Creek (1972) – Directed by Charles B. Pierce. Narrated by Vern Stierman. Starring: The Fine Folks of Fouke, Arkansas as themselves.

In October 2014 on a return trip home from Texas, we decided to make a small detour to Fouke, Arkansas to realize a childhood dream, to see for ourselves where this movie was filmed.  As with many of our little trips, I wish we’d had more time to explore. As it was we were able to stop at Monster Mart and get a few souvenirs and pictures, but little else.

Told from the perspective of a young man growing up in the small town of Fouke, Arkansas, ‘The Legend of Boggy Creek’ always seems to stir up a lively conversation for people of a certain age who remember seeing it youngsters and being completely terrified by it. I am one of those people. The film is sort of a documentary, in that it stars mostly locals of the area telling and re-creating their lives during the time of the sightings.

I do have to wonder just how much of this is based on fact and how much has been over-dramatized or completely fictionalized to make it more interesting and profitable. Either way, it was realistic and creepy enough for an entire generation of people to never, ever forget it and to seek it out again for at least another couple of viewings as adults. This was without a doubt, the first Bigfoot movie I ever saw and I’m pretty sure it’s probably why to this day, I hate looking out my windows at night for fear of seeing someone, or something, standing out there looking back at me.

Additional movies, Return to Boggy Creek (1977), Boggy Creek 2: The Legend Continues (1985) and Bigfoot: Boggy Creek (2010) have all tried to capitalize on the story, but none were ever able to beat the popularity of the original. I am truly hoping the newest film mentioned earlier won’t disappoint.

Watch It Here:  The Legend of Boggy Creek (1972)

Mysterious Monsters: Bigfoot (1975) Documentary. Narrated by Peter Graves

Documentaries on Bigfoot (and a myriad of other cryptids) seem to have run rampant back in the good old 70s. In this case, the first fifteen minutes are devoted to the Loch Ness monster, before moving on to Bigfoot. Full of historic still photos, early captures on audio and video along with dramatized eyewitness accounts as well as statements given by the real witnesses, we are also told about other man-apes found throughout the world, Bigfoot as known by his many names worldwide, Yeti, Sasquatch, the Abominable Snowman, and Skunk Ape.

All in all, a seriously done documentary on what we knew and what was going on in the world of Bigfoot research in 1975. Though it’s a bit outdated, it’s still an interesting and informative watch.

Watch It Here: Mysterious Monster: Bigfoot (1975)

Sasquatch: The Legend of Bigfoot (1977) – Rated G – Directed by Ed Ragazonni. Starring George Lauris, Steve Boergadine, Ken Kenzle, Jim Bradford, Joe Morello

I saw this movie for the first time when it came out in theatres. My grandmother had wanted to treat me to a movie and being the odd child I was, this was my pick. She wasn’t so thrilled with my choice, but eleven-year-old me thought it was totally awesome at the time! It left me scared for many years. As an adult viewing it again, okay, maybe not quite so much, but it’s still a fun watch!

Seven men head out on horseback for a three-month-long expedition into the wilds of the American Northwest in search of Sasquatch. Among them we have the obligatory Mountain Man, a Native American guide, and the camp cook who also happens to be a crack shot with a rifle and, along with some pesky raccoons and a badger, provides us with comic relief along the way.

In between the long stretches of very Disney-esque scenes that felt more like a nature show than a movie about tracking Bigfoot, we are told some frightening tales in the form of flashbacks about previous encounters with the infamous creature in the area.

Our intrepid group doesn’t reach their destination, the heart of Sasquatch country, until the final fifteen-twenty minutes of the movie, but boy do they get what they’ve been asking for in those final minutes.

Watch It Here: The Legend of Bigfoot (1977)

The Capture of Bigfoot (1979) Directed by Bill Rebane. Starring Janus Raudkivi, Randolph Rebane and Stafford Morgan

Initially I was scared, very, very scared at what this movie might contain, being as it was brought to us by those same people who produced Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead. But, I took a deep breath and braced myself for whatever I was about to commit myself to.

This time around we’re hunting Bigfoot in the American ‘North Country’, in this case that’s Wisconsin, where Bigfoot apparently prefers to wear white. Or maybe they’re like certain rabbits who change the color of their fur to suit the seasons.

Two trappers make the catch of the century when they snare a baby Bigfoot. Mama Bigfoot doesn’t take too kindly to this, leaving one trapper dead and the other seriously mauled. Word quickly spreads and soon others are out hunting down these elusive beasts and, as we all know, no good ever comes of a greedy business man who wants to cash in on capturing Bigfoot, some angry, gun-toting hunters, law enforcement, a vengeful Bigfoot Mama, and a nearby ski resort.

I was surprised at how good this movie actually turned out to be. I’m not saying it was good. I’m saying it wasn’t absolutely horrible. The acting was pretty good and the plot was interesting enough to keep me watching to the bitter end. And, they very skillfully included a couple of kids in one of the side plots. This would be a good one to watch while up in your winter lodge on a dark and snowy night.

Watch It Here: The Capture of Bigfoot (1979)

And there you have it, my lead up to viewing the newest film Boggy Creek Monster: The Truth Behind The Legend which, hopefully will be happening this weekend. Maybe even tonight! To learn more about this one, check out an interview with one of its creators, Lyle Blackburn over at the Monster Men Podcast on YouTube Episode #114 along with this trailer Boggy Creek Monster Trailer.

 

 

Movie Review – Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead (2006)

Genre: Horror-Comedy-Soft Porn-Musical. Directed by: Lloyd Kaufman. Starring:  Jason Yachanin, Kate Graham, Allyson Sreboff, & Robin L. Watkins. Cameo appearance by Ron Jeremy.

Fast food franchise, American Chicken Bunker, sets up shop atop a Native American Burial ground. Never a good idea. Not only are the locals up in arms over the sacrilege, but so are the spirits of those buried beneath and the carcasses of the chickens being slaughtered for mass consumption.

As my fellow viewer remarked, “[This was] the worst movie I have ever been unable to stop watching.” I’m not sure where to even go with this review. If you are easily offended by folks not being politically correct, you’ll want to pass by this one. Pretty much every race, religion, and sexual orientation is pushed to the limits of its current controversial stereotype. If you can let that kind of thing slide and understand it’s just a movie, you’ll be fine. Likewise, if images of explosive diarrhea and projectile vomiting leave you feeling queasy, again – you’ll want to skip this, or be sure to have a puke bucket near at hand just in case.

However, if you’re the sort that enjoys a bit of youthful T&A, folks getting dismembered in a variety of ways, gallons and gallons and gallons of blood flying sky high, campy comedy and even a bit of song and dance to help lighten the mood between horrific deaths, Poultrygeist may just be what you’re looking for. The special effects and make-up were actually pretty damn impressive. And who doesn’t love fried chicken … especially fried chicken with ‘flavor pods’? MM-mm-good.

As we sat there watching, it was remarked that this came out of someone’s mind. Which in and of itself is a terrifying thought. On top of that people invested in this; real money was spent to the tune of around $500,000.

It was certainly entertaining, but not in the way either of us watching expected it to be. It delivered at being a horror and a comedy. We were horrified and we did laugh. The musical element, well, not the best songs or choreography, but there you go. As for the soft-porn, meh … it really didn’t do a thing for me but then I’m neither a hetero-male nor a lesbian, so … do with that what you will.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 Ravens.

Movie Review – 400 Days (2015)

Genre: Mystery/Sci-Fi. Directed by Matt Osterman. Starring Brandon Routh, Caity Lotz, Ben Feldman and Dane Cook

Normally I don’t go for Science Fiction, but while channel surfing the other night I chanced upon this gem and the notation that it was a psychological thriller as well as a mystery got my attention quick.

Four future astronauts are about to undergo 400 Days of testing to determine if they’ve got what it takes to endure a long voyage into space. They are locked into an underground replica of the space ship they hope to fly if they pass the tests. They’re told they will be subjected to various stressful simulations to gauge their reactions.

Everything seems to be going as planned until after what feels like an earthquake shudders their ship and they are suddenly cut off from mission control. They take it as just part of the simulation and continue with their duties as assigned. Slowly they each seem to be succumbing to the stress of their isolation from the outside world and are getting on each others nerves in such close quarters. Hallucinations start to take place. The power falters. Mission control will not, or cannot, answer. Has something gone terribly wrong or are they just being tested?

One night a half-naked and crazed man is found rummaging around in the ship’s kitchen. He is quickly subdued, but now they know something is definitely not right. Where did he come from? How did he get in? Before they can ask him any questions, the man escapes and is nowhere to be found on the ship. The final straw comes when the crew wakes up to a severe drop in the oxygen levels of their controlled environment. Life support systems have slowly been failing over the past months. They must decide.

Do they leave the ship and forfeit the simulated mission, thus surrendering a chance to be part of the real crew and flight into space or do they stay and hope the atmospheric conditions are all part of the test and all will be returned to normal soon.

They decide to suit up and head outside. Enough is enough. What they find is a world in darkness, dust, and ruin. And still, they don’t know if this too is part of the simulation or reality. What’s out there in the windy blackness that was once a grassy field and trees? Where did the intruder come from and where did he go? Are they still being watched or are they completely alone?

I enjoyed this movie a lot more than I thought I would, and I’m glad I saw that psychological thriller part of the description. I may have passed it by otherwise. There are almost no modern special effects. Instead the movie relies on a strong plot, lots of twists, very realistic human reactions to what’s going on, and a lot of mystery. The only part I didn’t like was the ending. No, no, sir. I don’t like endings like that at all!

4 out of 5 Ravens.

 

 

Movie Review – Shock Treatment (1964)

Directed by Denis Sanders.  Starring Stuart Witman, Roddy McDowall, Lauren Bacall, & Carol Lynley

Gardener Martin Ashley (Roddy McDowall) is sentenced to 90 days of evaluation in a mental hospital after killing his wealthy employer Amelia Townsend with a pair of garden shears. To prove Martin’s sanity so he can be sentenced to murder, and to try and find $1 million that went missing after the murder, the prosecuting lawyer hires stage actor Dale Nelson (Stuart Witman) to infiltrate the facility to try and learn the truth by making friends with Martin. Unfortunately for Mr. Nelson, his doctor, Dr. Edwina Beighley (Lauren Bacall) has no qualms using experimental treatments on any available human guinea pig she can get her hands on to further her research.

Obviously this is a very low security asylum where patients can roam the halls, ask for random sleeping pills, and wander about unsupervised outside during dances with nary a guard in sight. Be that as it may, this movie has some amazing acting and more than one plot twist I never saw coming in the least.  Though Roddy McDowall’s role is certainly up to his usual par and is the catalyst for the film, Stuart Witman is really the star of the show here. His sane side is more than believable which makes the time he spends in the hospital acting like one of the inmates all the more disturbing to watch. You really start to wonder if he’s going to make it out at all, sane or otherwise. Lauren Bacall did a great job of portraying the cold-hearted, research-driven doctor who would have made Dr. Josef Mengela proud.

4 out of 5 Ravens

Movie Review – Hunger (2009)

Movie Review – Hunger (2009) – Rated R – Directed by Steven Hentges. Starring: Lori Heuring, Linden Ashby, Joe Egander, Lea Kohl, Julian Rojas, and Bjorn Johnson

Five strangers wake up in an isolated cave with no memories of how they got there. With the discovery of large barrels of water, a makeshift toilet, and a scalpel but absolutely no food, they soon realize they are part of an experiment in survival, murder, and cannibalism.  Their captor watches from a series of hidden cameras, taking notes on every move they make. Through flashbacks we learn he survived an automobile accident as a child by eating the flesh from his mother’s corpse. This seems to be his motivation.

With the exception of the cave’s stone walls, that reminded me of one of my favorite childhood shows, Land Of The Lost, this movie was surprisingly good. The acting was decent and the plot kept me more than interested with some twists popping up that I didn’t see coming. Suspense built slowly but surely, in pace with the rising tension between the characters, their environment, and their kidnapper all the way to the very end.

The five hostage characters, three men and two women, were somewhat generic; Doctor, Voice of Reason, Paranoid-Whiner, Trouble Maker, and Outsider.  Their psychopathic captor remains calm, cool, and totally enthralled in the suffering of his subjects, like a cat watching the half dead mice its caught, but isn’t quite ready to put out of their misery just yet.

“Hunger” is one of the better low-budget (at only $625,000) movies I’ve seen on Chiller. It was part of the Fangoria FrightFest series which tend to be not so frightening and all too often, not so good. All things considered, not bad, not bad at all. Not GREAT, but certainly a nice little bite of horror to keep a person entertained on a dark and stormy October night.

3 out of 5 Ravens

Movie Review – The VVitch

Movie Review – The VVitch (2015) Directed by Robert Eggers – Rated R – Starring Anya Taylor-Joy, Ralph Ineson, and Kate Dickie.

As the 7x-great grand niece of Rebecca (Towne) Nurse, the 71-year-old woman accused and executed in Salem Village for witchcraft in 1692, movies and books dealing with the topic of witchcraft in New England hold a certain appeal to me.  The trailer looked promising anyway.

We begin with William (no surname), his wife Katherine, and their four children being banned from their Puritan village for reasons I was completely unclear about. They leave the village and go off and set up their own homestead some miles away. Their 5th child, a son named Samuel, is born shortly after and while under their daughter Thomasin’s watch, goes missing. It’s assumed instantly that the Witch of the Woods had taken him though William insists it was a wolf despite the unusual circumstances.  Next, their eldest son, Caleb, also gets lost in the woods only to return ‘bewitched’. The blame turns towards Thomasin when her youngest siblings, twins Mercy and Jonas, accuse her of being a witch. Thomasin returns the favor by accusing them based on the way they talk to and play with the family’s black Billy goat, Black Phillip.

This film is a very dark, both literally and figuratively. In that way it works well to convey an authentic atmosphere of what it may have been like to live during these earliest days of American history. You really feel that sense of doom, gloom, poverty, hardship, and religious fear. During the all too brief hours of daylight, hope tries to return, but with little success. The darkness comes again, night after night, and the light simply can’t penetrate the curse that hangs over the heads of this family and the evil lurking in the woods nearby.

What did not work was the use of the Old English dialogue and the tendencies of the characters to mumble their lines. It made the conversations difficult to follow and that’s why I was so unclear about why the family had been banned in the first place. There is indeed a witch in the woods, but there’s no kind of back story or understanding or rumors expressed by anyone along with way to indicate where she came from or who she is or why the family thinks she’s there to begin with; at least none that I caught perhaps due to the aforementioned dialogue. A lot of what happens goes unexplained like what happened to Caleb while he was with The Witch, why or how the twins communicate with Black Phillip, and Katherine’s encounter (dream??) involving a baby turned raven. At least Thomasin’s transformation at the end sort of made sense. Sort of.

It all left me scratching my head, feeling like I’d missed some sort of vital element to what was going on.

It wasn’t horrible. It wasn’t great. It was entertaining and atmospheric.

3 out of 5 Ravens

Movie Review – The Boy (2016)

Movie Review – The Boy (2016) Rated PG-13 : Directed by William Brent Bell

Starring Lauren Cohen, Rupert Evans, and James Russell

Greta Evans arrives at the home of a wealthy English couple, Mr. and Mrs. Heelshire, to take on her duties as a newly hired nanny to their son, Brahms, so they can go away on holiday. There’s only one problem.  Brahms is a life-sized doll made in the likeness of their son who was killed in a fire years ago. At first Greta treats the doll as an annoying joke and does none of the duties assigned to her by the couple. Brahms quickly convinces her to follow the rules.

The concept behind “The Boy” isn’t unique by any stretch of the imagination. There have been a lot of haunted doll books written and movies made. The doll in this one is, from my understanding, roughly based on Robert, a supposedly real-life haunted doll that is now housed in a museum in Key West, Florida.

brahms

Brahms the Doll

robert

Robert the Doll

There were some genuinely creepy moments in this movie, though it fell short of truly freaking me out.  But then, it is only a PG-13 so maybe they had to tone it down for that audience instead of the hardcore horror fans like me. I was left with a lot of unanswered questions at the end. I can easily assume why things went the way they did and why the parents did what they did in part, but the ending was not a surprise and there were no twists that I wasn’t expecting.

Great potential, but terribly, terribly predictable.

Two Ravens out of Five