Monthly Archives: October 2010

Horror Movie: Nine Dead (R; 2010; 98 min.)

Sabrina the Teenage Witch, aka Melissa Joan Hart, stars in this listless Saw-wannabe movie set almost entirely in a small windowless cement room. It is well-lit however, the better to see the blood spatter and sidewalk-chalk writings. Huh? Okay, let me back up a bit.

Nine people are kidnapped and find themselves handcuffed separately to metal poles in this cement room. The kidnapper, wearing a blue face-hugging mask and a hood to conceal his identity, tells them they must figure out why they are ALL there or he will shoot one of them every 10 minutes. He then throws a handful of colorful sidewalk chalk into the room for them to write with. So they immediately get down to business trying to figure it all out! No, actually, they waste lots of time arguing about inane things like is this some sort of sick game, are cops good or not, does the admitted pedophile in the room deserve to go first, etc. One of the nine does not even speak English, so they waste time watching her gesture as well.

When the kidnapper returns after 10 minutes on the dot (we know, because he has conveniently place a clock in the room for all to see and hear), he takes out his first victim. In shock, the remaining eight waste even more time shaking their heads and trying to close their dropped jaws. Then they waste even more time arguing about this or that or the other (so much arguing!), that several more of them are picked off as well. But little by little, they start to figure out some connections…will they figure out why EVERY ONE of them was placed there to begin with in time, though? Or will the possibility of Ten Dead be DOA? Watch this horrible horror movie only if you really must find out!

  • Top Scare: Uh, I’m thinking…can’t think of one though!
  • Heartbeats: 1/2 out of 5
  • Gore Factor: 3 out of 5
  • Suspense Factor: 1 out of 5
  • Recommended for: No one, but if you must, 16 and up

Next up: Frozen

Horror Movie: Nightmare on Elm Street (R; 1984; 91 min.)

Wow…what a blast from the past this was, with hair that defies gravity (on a mom, no less), sweater vests over polyester tan pants, pre-computer teen bedrooms, and kids who wear actual pj’s to bed! Now, growing up on Elm Street, this movie arrived when I was 16 years old to scare the aaaahhhhh! out of me. Especially when watched again later at home on video (VHS, not BETA) with family members – during one intense phone call scene from the killer late in the movie, our phone rang at the exact same moment! Double aaaaahhhhh!

Director Wes Craven’s horror movie status took off with this story about teenager Nancy (played so incredibly badly by Heather Langenkamp it was painful to watch at times…worst fake-crying I’ve ever seen! Her lips and face barely move when she talks too!) and her three friends (another aside: Nancy’s boyfriend Glen is played by the incredibly young, pre-voice change, preppily-dressed Johnny Depp!) who discover they are having the same nightmare each night. Whew! The nightmare features Fred (not Freddy yet) Krueger, an incredibly freaky man with oozing burns covering his face and wearing razor-sharp knife-fingered gloves on his hands. He does sport a stylish red and green-striped sweater though!

Anyway, this charred man, it turns out, is chasing these teens in their dreams, with the ability to slash them up and make them levitate, spin and slide up the walls and ceiling while dangling upside down and squirting blood like a geyser. Oh, and he can pull them into his world through their mattresses! Of course, none of the adults around believe them about this man in their dreams, even as one by one they all are gorily picked off.

Parents: “Gee, what a coincidence that all of our teenagers are dying gruesome deaths and the survivors all claim it was this disfigured man in their nightmares who is doing it, but who is dead already. We know because we killed this child murderer years ago in a horrible, fiery way, so he couldn’t possibly be here now! (He’s dead honey, because Mommy killed him!) Wonder who it could really be?” Teens: “Don’t make me go to sleep, Mom! I’ll stay awake for 7 days, take STA-AWAKE pills, and hide entire coffee makers under my nightstand if you try to make me go to sleep! No wait, I WILL go to sleep and I’ll pull this crazed killer back into the real world with me when I wake up. I’ll set up elaborate traps for him there too, using the convenient razor wire and sledgehammer I found nearby. Then you can bonk him over the head with a bat!” You get the idea…

So, will any of the teens survive to make the 17 sequels? Will Fred become Freddy before N.O.E.S 2? Will the parents quit drinking booze from clear glass bottles they’ve hidden in every room of the house? Watch this classic (best to watch with friends while drinking for some great laughs!) and find out!

  • Top Scare: Boiler room scenes
  • Heartbeats: 2 1/2 out of 5
  • Gore Factor: 4 out of 5 (lots of scenes are gory, but I can’t handle watching bugs crawl out of people’s mouths!)
  • Suspense Factor: 3 out of 5
  • Recommended for: 17 and up

Next up: Nine Dead

Horror Movie: The Shining (R; 1980; 144 min.)

One of my top five horror movies (gotta love Stephen King…he can really dream things up, can’t he?), The Shining is about why no writer-wannabe should live for the winter in a snowy, isolated, mountain-top lodge where murders occurred. Write that tip down now!

No, actually, The Shining is about a former teacher, the amazing Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance, who is trying his hand at writing. He takes a job as winter caretaker of a remote lodge, The Overlook Hotel, in the mountains of Colorado. In 1970, the previous caretaker had murdered his wife and two daughters there. But that history doesn’t faze Jack, because he’s looking for peace and quiet for his writing. Sorry, Jack, ain’t gonna happen!

Soon after he moves his wife and son there, Jack begins to change, becoming a mean, cussing, hallucinating still-wannabe writer (he does finally complete a manuscript…more on that later). His son Danny sees the two murdered girls around the hotel (“Hello, Danny. Come and play with us. Forever and ever and ever.”) and visions of blood gushing from elevator doors. How can that be? Well,  according to Dick Halloran, the bowlegged hotel’s chef who met him before leaving for the season, Danny shares Dick’s special abilities known as “The Shining,” where they can “see” things and talk to each other without speaking. Danny’s pointer finger, known as Tony, also talks to Danny in a creepy, gravelly voice, telling him things. Hmmm.

As a record snowstorm hits, and Jack gets meaner and Danny’s visions get more bloody (don’t go near room 237, REDRUM!, REDRUM!), Wendy Torrance, Jack’s wife, discovers his manuscript. Hundreds of pages long, she reads just about every single one for the camera to show us they all say “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Now she’s SURE he’s gone bonkers, so she hits him with a bat, locks him in a walk-in freezer and takes off to save Danny.

Well, a ghost has soon freed Jack (!), and Jack is soon chasing his wife and son. Wendy manages to shove Danny out of their bathroom window onto a conveniently located two-story snowdrift below, but she can’t fit herself through the opening. Jack begins axeing down the door (Here’s Johnny!), but is distracted when he hears the motor of a snowcab outside. After easily disposing of this nuisance (the chef who came back to help when Danny sent him a mind message), he’s back looking for his family again. What follows is a great chase scene through a snowy outdoor maze where Danny tricks his dad. And meanwhile, Olive Oyl/Shelley Duvall is running/jerking through the hotel looking for Danny carrying a large knife, encountering various bloody elevators and ballrooms full of dead people herself! Will Wendy and Danny escape Jack’s crazed efforts at killing them? Will Danny stop talking to his finger and use it to pick his nose again instead? Will the snow ever melt in Colorado? You must watch to find out!

  • Top Scare: Tony the talking finger
  • Heartbeats: 3 1/2 out of 5
  • Gore Factor: 4 out of 5
  • Suspense Factor: 3 1/2 out of 5
  • Recommended for: 15 and up, mainly due to cussing and gore

Next up: Friday the 13th

Horror Movie: Scream (R; 1996; 111 min.)

How can a horror movie go wrong when Wes Craven is directing it? I love this movie not only for its good scares, but also for its fun and funny horror movie self-references, its knowledge that it is a standard horror movie with all the tricks and subplots that implies. Plus, it has some major star power with Drew Barrymore, David Arquette, Courteney Cox, Neve Campbell…the list goes on!

Neve is Sidney, a high school girl whose mother was brutally murdered the previous year. In fact, almost EXACTLY one year ago…the anniversary is only a day or two away! Well, of course her father goes away on a business trip, leaving her alone at this crucial time, and her boyfriend starts pressuring her once again for sex. Nice people, huh? Meanwhile, two classmates are murdered (Drew Barrymore is excellent in this role as the typical blonde being tormented and chased while she’s all alone, and I was sad she doesn’t make it past the first 10 minutes of the movie), and the kids’ school goes on full alert.

Enter the ultimate high school principal: THE FONZ! He tries to keep the teens safe, while a local news anchorwoman, Gale Weathers (ha! ha!), tries to get the scoop. Poor Sidney encounters “Father Death,” the costumed/masked killer around every corner, but manages to escape time and again. Finally, due to the killings, school is cancelled. So – of course! – the kids throw a party and watch the ultimate horror movie, Halloween, while drinking and making out. As the death toll rises one by one, Sidney must fight for her life, especially when she discovers who is behind all the killings, and why!

  • Top Scare: Early “Father Death” chase scenes
  • Heartbeats: 3 out of 5
  • Gore Factor: 4 1/4 out of 5
  • Suspense Factor: 4 out of 5
  • Recommended for: 17 and up for language, gory deaths, scare factor, and sexual situations

Next up: The Shining

Horror Movie: An American Haunting (UR; 2005; 83 min.)

While this movie was basically trashed by reviewers when it was first released, I myself enjoyed it very much. There were even a couple “jump out of my skin” moments, which I love to have in a horror movie. What’s the point of watching a scary movie if you don’t actually feel scared?

An American Haunting is based on the true story of the Bell Witch, featuring the only case in American history in which the U.S. government listed a “spirit” as the cause of someone’s death. Cool. It stars Sissy Spacek and Donald Sutherland as Lucy and John Bell of Red River, Tennessee, whose daughter Betsy is tormented by an evil spirit after John’s swindling of a witchy neighbor. Bad move, John!

The time period is 1817…except, of course, when we see a minor parallel plot occurring in the modern-day home featuring another young, pretty girl who found Lucy’s journal in her attic…still with me? Good. Back to 1817. Now, very quickly this evil spirit escalates into dragging poor Betsy across the floor, up the stairs (on her back, no less…ow!) and around the rooms. It also alternately pins her to the bed and dangles her in the air while slapping her around. There are a lot of creaky old doors and floorboards in the Bell house too, plus very foggy nights outside, all lending themselves to the spooky atmosphere. And the spirit itself actually talks to the family and the friends they have called in for help! A cross goes flying, a bible spits pages into the air…the list goes on and on. I loved the special effects, even if they weren’t very imaginative.

As John’s health begins to fail, and his neighbor claims “there is no curse,” the family tries to “spirit away” Betsy to another location, thinking the evil spirit lives only in their home. WRONG! Boy does the spirit get mad this time! The incidents continue, growing more threatening each time. Eventually, though, the spirit is satisfied when it claims the one it is truly after!

  • Top Scare: a couple dream sequences
  • Heartbeats: 3 3/4 out of 5
  • Gore Factor: 1 out of 5
  • Suspense Factor: 4 out of 5
  • Recommended for: 13 and up

Next up: Scream

Horror Movie: The Exorcist (R; 1973; 122 min.)

Wow…another classic and also in my top 10 of scariest movies, The Exorcist features a very young Ellen Burstyn and the amazingly talented Linda Blair as mother and daughter caught up in something beyond the everyday scariness of psycho killers and religious fanatics. And because it’s supposed to be based on a true story, it’s even more spine-tingling.

Self-described as “not religious” (this is quite obvious since every other word out of Chris’ mouth is a cuss word), Chris and her daughter Regan live in Georgetown. Chris is a well-known actress while Regan is just a normal, sweet girl, just turned twelve, who loves horses and her mother dearly. But Regan starts saying things (in a gravelly, smoker’s voice dubbed over by Mercedes McCambridge) and behaving in ways no sweet 12-year-old girl does, and falls very ill. Chris takes her to doctors to discover the cause. They assure her it is a tumor or something, pressing against a part of her brain which makes her hallucinate and “levitate.” Huh? They then subject her to various tortuous medical procedures to find that nasty tumor.

Following the death of her boyfriend, who had been watching Regan for a few minutes while she was out, Chris becomes convinced (a mother knows these things, especially when your daughter’s eyes are yellowish-white, she projectile vomits green slime and she can make a bed rise and fall at will!) that Regan is possessed by an evil spirit.

As Regan becomes more and more crazed, spewing obscenities and displaying shocking sexual gestures at all who come near her, Chris searches out a priest who can perform an exorcism. Enter Father Damien (no, not Damien from The Omen), who finally convinces The Church that Regan is truly possessed and seeks out Father Merrin. Father Merrin has been in Iraq on a geological dig, where he discovered an unusual medallion that seems to somehow be connected to this devilish presence, though I’m never quite sure how that all ties together. Anyway, he’s the go-to priest for exorcisms in the area, apparently, so he and Father Damien prepare themselves and begin. The final showdown has begun: Good vs. Evil.

And what a showdown it is! As Regan’s head spins around (yes, all the way), she spews yet more green slime and shocking obscenities, and her lips become even more cracked and parched, if that’s possible. Plus, she levitates even higher this time! And the room grows cold as a freezer…colder and yet even colder! The special effects of these final 3o minutes are not to be missed! Who will win in the end? Will good triumph or will evil prevail? You must watch and decide for yourself!

  • Top Scare: Excorcism
  • Heartbeats: 4 out of 5
  • Gore Factor: 4 out of 5
  • Suspense Factor: 3 3/4 out of 5
  • Psycho Factor: 4 out of 5
  • Recommended for: 17 and up for sure!

Next up: An American Haunting

Horror Movie: The Blair Witch Project (R; 1999; 81 min.)

Let me start off by declaring this (again) as one of my top three scary movies of all time. For someone who lives surrounded by trees, this cuts a little too close to home. It’s amazing how many horror movies are set in or near the woods, because they truly can be a haunting, creepy, imagination-spurring place, especially in the Fall!

The Blair Witch Project is a low-budget movie shot entirely by hand-held cameras (one color, one black and white), but its effect is entirely big-time. Set in October of 1994 in Burkittesville, Maryland, three college students named Heather, Josh, and Mike, are on-location filming Heather’s student documentary about the Blair Witch (the town used to be called Blair). What we see is the footage they shot, which was found a year later, after their disappearance.

First, the trio interview a few locals about the Blair Witch lore, providing some background info. Apparently, long ago seven children went missing. Since then, many others have gone missing as well. The woods near Burkkittesville seem to be inhabited by a witch whose feet never touch the ground, according to one local. Others tell stories of men found bound at Castle Rock, along a nearby river.

Because they are know-it-all college kids, and because they scoff at these locals’ stories, the trio head on into the woods for a day or two (ha!) to film a cemetery which is located there. As the story unfolds, they discover strange rock formations on the ground, dangling stick figures in the trees, and chilling noises surrounding them at night as they try to sleep in their tent. The noises and creepy discoveries escalate as the three realize they are hopelessly lost in these woods, walking in circles, unable to find their way out. One morning, one of them finds blue-green slime all over his backpack and belongings, and the horror takes a new turn. He disappears during the night, and eventually the other two meet their spine-tingling end as well.

So what’s so scary about such a simple story? First, the hand-held shots and doc style make it seem quite real, not movie-like. We see the events as they unfold, picking up bits of info here and there without really realizing it. The disbelief of the trio as they realize what they’ve gotten themselves into is almost touchable it’s so enveloping. Also, the stick figures they discover in the woods are crude and basic enough to be quite believable. The characters themselves are very well-played and we can recognize the naiveté the trio possesses as something we would possess too for such a “simple walk in the woods.” Finally, what makes The Blair Witch Project the scariest is the lack of super special effects – we rely on our imaginations to supply images and to pull the story together (especially at the very end).

  • Top Scare: End or a scene during the night as they run through the woods
  • Heartbeats: 4 1/2 out of 5
  • Gore Factor: 1 out of 5
  • Suspense Factor: 4 1/2 out of 5
  • Recommended for: 16 and up, simply because it’s so scary and for copious cussing

Next up: The Exorcist

Fave: The Happiness Project

Sometimes I read an incredible book, or try a great new dish, or maybe even discover a new way of doing something. I’d like to share one with you now:

Recently I finished a book called The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. Gretchen tells of how she spent a year trying to discover what happiness is for her and how to enjoy it more and more often. She covers areas such as relationships, career, faith, having more fun, being true to oneself, etc. The thing I liked most about this book was her fun, easy, funny style of describing her experiment and what she learned…no preaching here! I was able to glean a few new ideas for myself, which is a lot to ask from a book these days when so many of them seem to be the same! Also, she offers a free online toolbox to track my own happiness projects and goals in general. Easy read I recommend for anyone interested in upping their happiness level! Find it all at:  http://www.happiness-project.com/

Horror Movie: Friday the 13th (R; 1980; 95 min.)

Went back to another original/classic…some call it one of the first slasher movies upon which so many of today’s movies are based. Can’t believe this is one of eight of these movies in this series; with the gore factor, I just watched the first one and that was good enough for me.

Friday the 13th is set at Camp Crystal Lake, or Camp Blood, as the locals still call it. That’s because in 1957, a young boy drowned there and in 1958, two counselors were murdered as they made out in an old barn. Since then, the camp has been closed, but Steve-o wants to change all that. He’s hired several college-age kids (including a very young Kevin Bacon) to come in to help get the camp ready for its opening just a couple of weeks away.

Annie, one of these teens, is heading to the camp to be the cook (yes, one cook for the entire camp!), but the town cuckoo named Ralph warns her, “You’ll never come back again. It’s got a death curse!” Well, he was RIGHT! Poor Annie never even makes it to the camp before she meets her demise, set to a whispery man’s voice of “Ch ch ch ch, ah ah ah ah.” Creeeeepy!

Meanwhile, back at camp, the other counselors are working and playing (mostly playing) while Steve heads into town. It begins to pour down in the dark, dark woods, so they split up (naturally!) to head to various cabins for strip Monopoly or make-out sessions. This is a teen movie after all!

One by one the counselors are picked off with axes and other various handy instruments of torture, until only one girl is left. She soon meets up with the killer, and must spend the rest of the movie trying to run, quiet her breathing so as not to be detected, discovering dead bodies and crying, and just being the ignorant horror movie girl in general. We do discover before the movie’s end who the killer really is, and the killer’s motivation – psycho killer – and even get a surprise or two thrown in for good measure.

  • Top Scare: Near the very end
  • Heartbeats: 2 out of 5
  • Gore Factor: 3 3/4 out of 5
  • Suspense Factor: 2 3/4 out of 5
  • Psycho factor: 3 out of 5
  • Recommended for: 17 and up due to several sex scenes, gory killings and fear factor in general

Next up: The Blair Witch Project

Scary Movie: Whiteout (R; 2009; 101 min.)

Couldn’t really call this a horror movie, after seeing it, but is does have a couple of good scares so it still qualified for my 31 Days of Horror project. For me one of the scariest parts was seeing Tom Skerritt in a bushy gray beard and hairdo! Another? A group of naked men running through the cold during a prank…yuck!

U.S. Marshal Carrie Stetko is ready to leave her post in Antarctica when she gets one last assignment. Hope it doesn’t delay her since a huge storm is now brewing and the VERY LAST flight out for six months has just been moved up!

Well, upon finding the gory body of a man from another outpost, and realizing he was murdered, she sets off to investigate in negative 55 degree celsius weather with little more than a few layers, some goggles, and a carabiner to tie her to the ropes running between buildings for moving around in whiteout conditions.

When she arrives to talk to one of the other three men stationed at that outpost and discovers he is dead too, all is not lost because she meets a handsome, mysterious UN investigator there. But she really should not wait around to be the last one heading back to base, because an ice-axe wielding madman in head-to-toe snow gear and goggles (you know, to keep warm AND so we can’t see his face) nearly chops her to bits. Luckily, she survives with only severe frostbite to two fingers (which must later be amputated by the Doc, Tom Skerritt).

As the clock is ticking, poor Carrie must decide to stay on in the cold, cold winter to pursue the killer. She and the UN guy discover a Cold War-era tie-in to the murder spree, and set out to stop this madman once and for all.

  • Top Scares: Madman’s rampages
  • Heartbeats: 2 out of 5
  • Gore Factor: 4 out of 5
  • Suspense Factor: 2 1/2 out of 5
  • Recommended for: 14 and up, due to nudity and gore/killing

Next up: Friday the 13th

Horror Movie: Psycho (TV-14; 1960; 109 min.)

This movie that kind of started it all is considered a classic for a good reason…it features great characters, suspense, a psycho on the loose, and even a dark, stormy night. Directed by Alfred Hitchcock, how could you ask for more?

Psycho stars Janet Leigh as Marion Crane, an office worker who decides to steal $40,000 from her employer’s client and flee to another town to marry her boyfriend. On her way out of town, the skies let loose and she must pull off the road at the small Bates Motel for the night. There she meets Norman Bates (played oh, so deliciously by Anthony Perkins), the owner of the motel, who invites her “up to the house” where he lives behind the motel, for a bit of dinner. Since she can’t get out in the storm to look for food, she accepts. But as she “freshens up,” she overhears Norman and his elderly, ill mother argue about her joining them, so she simply eats with Norman in the hotel office.

Over sandwiches she discovers Norman’s interest in taxidermy (knew that was coming, didn’t ya?), and talks to him about his long, lonely days and nights spent caring for his mother. Perhaps he should put her in a “home?” Wrong thing to say, honey! How do we know? Because as Marion showers before bed, Norman’s mother opens the shower curtain and slashes her to death!

Norman quickly cleans up the evidence of Marion’s visit to the motel and her death. Which is a good thing since a private investigator has already begun looking for her and has tracked her to the Bates Motel. He asks a few too many questions though, so when he slips into Norman’s creepy, old house on the hill to talk to his mother, he discovers Momma isn’t such the invalid he thought. Bye-Bye Mr. Investigator!

Well, by this time Marion’s sister and boyfriend haven’t heard back from the P.I., so they also head to the B.M. (Bates Motel, not the yucky swamp-like land behind it which looks like a big toilet bowl). They devise a strategy to search the motel and the house, but when Norman grows suspicious, he takes off after them for one last showdown starring him and his UGLY Momma!

  • Top Scare: Shower scene!
  • Heartbeats: 4 out of 5
  • Gore Factor: 1 1/2 out of 5
  • Suspense Factor: 4 1/2 out of 5
  • Recommended for: 14 and up

Next up: Whiteout

Horror Movie: The Omen (R; 1976; 111 min.)

I wanted to watch the original version of this horror classic, not the recent remake, because I believe if it was good enough to want to remake it, it’s pretty good to begin with.

Gregory Peck stars as Robert Thorn, who’s wife has (unbeknownst to her) supposedly just given birth to a stillborn son. A priest shows Thorn another newborn boy who’s mother has just died, and offers him as a replacement saying, “She never has to know.” Let’s see how well that works out for him…

First, we see lovely scenes of the boy, whom they’ve named Damien, growing up a mostly normal child, that is until his fifth birthday party. At this event, Damien’s nanny calls out to him as he plays in the backyard with all the other children at his party, then commits suicide right in front of them all. As Thorn is the American Ambassador to Great Britain, this children’s party is being recorded by various photographers. One, Jennings, starts following Thorn after this incident, taking photos of various priests who seem to always be around Thorn, warning him of his son’s evil-ness, which he doesn’t believe…at first! Meanwhile, a new nanny, Mrs. Baylock, has taken charge of young Damien and vowed to him to keep him safe!

Finally, Jennings convinces Thorn that the devil is involved. Thorn is more sure than ever when his wife miscarries a baby and breaks numerous bones after Damien runs into her with his tricycle as she stands on a ladder to water a plant, causing her to topple two stories down over the bannister. Why does this cause him to believe? Because one of the cuckoo priests had warned him of just such a thing!

Thorn and Jennings head to Rome to look for the priest (different priest, not the cuckoo one) who gave him the newborn Damien that fateful day. When he discovers the grave of Damien’s real mother and sees she was not human, he calls the hospital and tells his wife to leave London immediately. As she already seems to know Damien is evil incarnate, she readies herself to go, but the new nanny, Mrs. Baylock, throws her over the balcony instead.

Still with me? Good. Now, Jennings and Thorn discover a still-different priest who says he can help them – Thorn must kill Damien using these special daggers he provides. Thorn says he cannot do it, Damien is just a child. Jennings says, then I will. But, that doesn’t work out so well for Jennings (don’t want to spoil it here). Thorn changes his mind and heads off to kill his evil son. But will he succeed?

  • Top Scare: Evil dogs
  • Heartbeats: 2 3/4 out of 5
  • Gore Factor: 3 out of 5
  • Suspense Factor: 3 1/2 out of 5
  • Recommended for: 14 and up, mainly due to suicide scene and other death scenes

Next up: Psycho

Horror Movie: The Orphanage (R; 2007; 105 min.)

This spanish movie with English subtitles was actually better than I anticipated, creepy and well-told, with a satisfying ending. Very suspenseful too!

Laura and her husband Carlos, along with their adopted son Simon, have moved into what used to be the orphanage where Laura lived before being adopted as a young girl. They have plans to care for several disabled children there and are preparing for their arrival. After a walk on the nearby beach, Laura and Simon enter into a cave where Simon “meets” several young children who tell him that he is adopted and ill as well (he is HIV positive, which his parents have kept from him along with the fact he is adopted). They invite him to come play with them, and to join their group. Laura and Carlos think it normal that a young boy would have these imaginary friends and play along as well.

On the day of their Open House for the disabled children’s families, Simon disappears. Laura soon comes to believe that these imaginary friends are not so imaginary after all, but are the ghosts of her childhood friends from the orphanage who have somehow taken Simon to live with them. She calls in a medium to help her reach these children to find out about Simon.

The medium tells her that “when something terrible happens sometimes it leaves a trace…a wound that acts as a knot between two time lines. It’s like an echo repeated over and over, waiting to be heard. Like a scar…or a pinch that begs for a caress to relieve it.” Cool.

So Laura does discover that something terrible did happen to these children after she was adopted out, and asks them if they want to play one more time together. They do…

  • Top Scare: The medium’s visit
  • Heartbeats: 3 1/2 out of 5
  • Gore Factor: 2 1/4 out of 5
  • Suspense Factor: 3 3/4 out of 5
  • Recommended for: 13 and up

Next up: The Omen

The Ghosts Have Found Me!

This morning my alarm clock did its usual, “BEEP, BEEP, BEEP…” before I could slam my fist down on the snooze button. Finally, after 8 minutes of snoozing, I dragged myself out of bed, turned off the alarm clock (watching the little alarm light indicator go off), and headed to the bedroom door several feet away. As I turned the doorknob to leave the room, my alarm clock started going, “BEEP, BEEP, BEEP…” all on its own!!! I think the 31 Days of Horror just got much more interesting! Stay tuned…

Horror Movie: Guess the Name (R; 1976; 98 min.)

I was too tired last night for subtitles (The Orphanage), so chose to watch a classic instead. My husband had never seen it, so  that made it even better. It was a literal bloodbath, or bloodshower I should say (in two scenes!), starring The Coal Miner’s Daughter, Urban Cowboy, Greatest American Hero, and Mrs. Bradford…can you guess its title?

Okay, hopefully you said Psycho…nah, just kidding. Carrie, of course! Now I know I just reviewed another Stephen King adaptation yesterday, Salem’s Lot, but he is the King of Horror after all, so I thought another so soon was okay.

Carrie is set in the land of true horror, aka High School. Raised by a fanatically religious mother, Carrie is “different” from the other kids. Not only does she become the world’s oldest girl to start menstruating, she discovers she has special abilities to move items, close doors, break mirrors, and make young, bratty boys riding bikes fall to the ground when she gets angry! Okay, take away the crazy mother and it sounds like a pretty good life to me so far, right?

Wrong! Carrie’s prom is coming up, and the most popular boy in school’s girlfriend, played by the young and beautiful Amy Irving, encourages him to ask Carrie to the prom to make up for a mean prank she pulled on Carrie with her classmates. Carrie accepts, but her mother says, “They’ll make fun of you!” in an incredibly creepy voice. Carrie says, “Things are going to change around here, Momma” as she throws her mother onto the bed (twice!) using only the powers emanating from her huge, round eyes.

Off to the prom she goes, and is having a great time dancing and being a “normal” kind of girl, but little does she know another classmate, who has been banned from the prom due to her participation in the cruel prank on Carrie, is seeking her revenge that night. Enlisting her boyfriend’s help, the Urban Cowboy, this classmate will soon learn that hell hath no fury like a teenaged girl drenched in blood!

Carrie is the ultimate high school girl’s revenge fantasy; revenge for all the wrongs that have been done to her over the years, for all the pointing and laughing and “cold shoulder-ing.” One of my favorite scenes is during Carrie’s walk home following the prom, when a quick cut-away shot shows Carrie/a creepy doll-like figure in the road diverting a car from hitting her. Second favorite scene: the final minute…got my husband good on that one!

  • Top Scare: Ending
  • Hearbeats: 3 out of 5
  • Gore Factor: 2 out of 5
  • Suspense Factor: 3 1/2 out of 5
  • Psycho Factor: 4 out of 5
  • Recommended for: 16 and up, due to lots of cussing, date and teacher/student violence, sex scenes and general themes

Next up: The Orphanage