Movie Review: HELL FEST

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hell fest
Lionsgate / CBS Films

“Why are we signing a waver?”
“‘Cause liability is…a bitch.”

  • On Halloween night, three young women and their respective boyfriends head to Hell Fest–a ghoulish traveling carnival that features a labyrinth of rides, games and mazes. They soon face a bloody night of terror when a masked serial killer turns the horror theme park into his own personal playground.

So, here we are again, playing catch-up to all the lame-sounding horror movies that I skipped out on seeing in the theater, for whatever reason or another. For Hell Fest, when I first watched the preview trailer of it at another movie I was at (I forget which one it was…possibly 2018’s The Predator? I don’t know, I’m getting old…), I knew it was one that I would be skipping when it was in the theaters. Maybe the second-run, but I wasn’t paying full matinee price for that potential snore-fest teeny-bopper horror movie. But, by the time this was released to theaters in late September (once again, defying logic in not releasing it in October…you know, the Halloween season?), I was already in the middle of being out for the count, bedridden, healing up from my first major surgery, which saw me unable to do much of anything until late in December. Even if Hell Fest turned out to be the Greatest Horror Movie of 2018, I had a plausible excuse not to see it. Fortunately, it wasn’t proclaimed as such; as a matter of fact, it wasn’t even referred to as a good horror movie by those online reviewers I call friends who don’t know I exist (they will, oh they will).

Also, by the time Hell Fest was available to watch both streaming and on DVD, I had completely forgotten this thing ever existed. Probably due to the fact that I had already watched what I considered the superior kick-ass Haunted House Attraction horror movie during that time, Hell House LLC. But, some time after my second surgery in 2019, I remember Hell Fest existed, so I decided to kill some time seeing for myself just how lame this movie could be.

We begin with the tried-and-true flashback sequence, where a college-aged girl is separated from her group at the titular Hell Fest–a horror-themed amusement park that travels the country during the Halloween season. Within one of the mazes, she’s confronted and attacked by someone in a formless mask and a hoodie, that is listed in the credits as “The Other”, stabbing her in the gut and hanging her among the corpse props to blend in to the decor. I always say, if you want that extra touch of authenticity in your Halloween decorations, use actual corpses. Anyway, flash forward about a year (or maybe it’s two, I wasn’t paying that much attention, I’m afraid), and we have three more college-age girls heading out to that year’s Hell Fest with their three college-age guy friends for a night of horrific fun and shenanigans. And, I have to admit, the best thing about this movie is watching them wander around the park, longing for all of the attractions, the rides and horror fun was a real thing to go to. And if it is, can you come to Omaha, Nebraska, please? Anyway, they eventually run afoul of The Other, and he begins stalking them through the park, isolating and picking them off one by one. After going into a ride headed out to an attraction that requires the signing of a waver, it’s discovered that The Other’s getup (which definitely looks like something I would throw together at the very last minute of deciding to actually dress up for Halloween) is one that several of the traveling fun-fest employees use on this particular ride (they have them climb into the empty seat of a two-seater, for balance reasons, I would guess, something that’s lamp-shaded for us idiots). Now they’re in an attraction that allows the players to actually physically touch them, because of the waiver. To which I say, “NOOOOOOPE.” So, at least the movie is making me squirm, but for all the wrong reasons, here. They get separated further, Tony Todd shows up in the most awesome part of the movie (which makes me wonder…why didn’t they use him more? Gads, I loves me some Tony Todd), then everyone freaks out because they noticed actual murdered corpses, the remaining stars of the movie are led on a rather tense (if not cliche’d) cat-and-mouse game in the most awesome haunted house going, they manage to turn the tables on him, and they survive. So does The Other. We end on an eye-rolling sequel baiting, and then credits. Time to replenish my pizza rolls.

So, what we have with Hell Fest is Haunted House Attractions: The Movie! Yeah, yeah, I know it’s been done better with both of the Houses October Built movies, and in the Found Footage-style filming to boot*. The story itself is your standard stock, run-of-the-mill slasher/stalker teeny-bopper horror flick, and not even what you would call an imaginative one. Sure, there’s a Tony Todd cameo, but that’s almost standard for horror movies these past couple of decades now. No, the real attraction here is, ironically enough, the attraction that the cast goes to. It made me pine for the days of just going to one of the numerous haunted house attractions that pop up during the Halloween season. There were times where I was getting annoyed by the plot interrupting my admiration of some of the attractions in this traveling horror fun. Fortunately, the plot was the kind where I could have been not paying attention for the majority of the time, and I would still know what was going on.

Overall, I’ve seen worse horror movies than Hell Fest, but I’ve also been far more entertained with some of the worse ones than I was with Hell Fest. If you happened to like movies like Bye Bye Man, Countdown or Happy Death Day, sure. This one will keep you occupied for 90 minutes.

[*Which reminds me: I need to get about reviewing those two movies some time soon]


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american nightmareMonarch Home Video

“How many people out there are doing the old ‘razor blade in the apple’ trick? Good…”

In the mid- to late-aughts, I was really going for broke with the horror movie watchin’. Blockbuster was still open (though starting to show its age), but my main supplier of my horror movie fix was the now late and lamented Hasting’s store that was across the way from where I worked. They always had a far more vast selection of older titles, more variety, and a much better rental price. Well, until the Family Video opened and I discovered their 2 For A Dollar rental selection had a great horror selection. But, I digress. Point is to this pointless reminiscing is that I rented American Nightmare from Hasting’s…or was it Family Video? Crud, I can’t remember. Great. Let’s get to the review, then.

On Halloween, seven friends call the American Nightmare pirate radio show to confess their fears. Unbeknownst to them, a serial killer is listening. Before the night is over, they will discover that their confessions have ignited a psychological game of cat-and-mouse with a killer intent on delivering their fears upon them.

American Nightmare, for what it’s worth, is a functional slasher horror that’s a bit on the dull side. I was checking my phone more often than not while watching this, which is never a good sign. It’s not that American Nightmare is bad, it’s just dull. Pass on this one.

Uncle NecRo Watches: HALLOWEEN 2018

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UNCLE NECRO WATCHEShalloween 2018 banner
It’s been 40 years since the release of the horror classic that gave birth to our greatest fears in a William Shatner mask. Of course, Uncle NecRo and Brian went to see it, more out of morbid curiosity than anything else. Were we pleasantly surprised by a treat? Or did this turn out to be yet another nasty trick? Listen in and find out…


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trick or treatsLonestar Pictures

“You’re cute. Are you the babysitter?”
“Well, you’re not. That’s a stuid thing to do.”
“It’s Halloween!”

As the Halloween season continues, I came across this obscure title set during the night of Halloween–the slasher Trick Or Treats. See, to differentiate this one from the other two better known Halloween flicks Trick Or Treat or Trick R’ Treat. I need to stop referencing better movies in my reviews. Anyway, that and this particular movie was released a few years before those two afore mentioned movies.

I came across Trick Or Treats on — where else? — the stream on Amazon, as one of the horror flicks set during Halloween. I had never heard of this one, so I threw it on to see how this was. *sigh* Let’s see if this was a treat or a trick.

Try and guess which way this is going to go.

Mr. and Mrs. Adams are attending a Halloween masquerade party and decide to leave their precoucious son Christopher in the care of Linda, a local babysitter. Christopher is a master of mischievous pranks and continually batters Linda with them, until a bizarre turn of events unleashes a true madman, just escaped from a mental institution, who treats Christopher to a trick he will never forget…and his babysitter may never survive. Next time your doorbell rings, be prepared…because it’s Trick Or Treats!

My biggest issue with Trick Or Treats–and there are many–is that it’s a movie that doesn’t seem to know if it wants to be a straight slasher flick, or a thinly veiled spoof of a slasher flick. I say this because there seems to be a kind of over-the-top quality to the acting with everybody that seems to indicate that no one was taking this anywhere near seriously. Which is fine, but there are moments where the “humor” almost achieves an Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes level of awfulness…only without the self-awareness.

I will say this: Trick Or Treats is something that benefited greatly with David Carradine all-too-brief appearance as the stepfather. Otherwise, we’re set upon by an inept script plagued with horrible dialogue an far too many clearly improvised scenes and pacing issues. As it stands, this is a movie that could have been much more enjoyable had they ditched the escaped mental patient angle and developed the story as a deranged child torturing his babysitter in kind of a Problem Child meets The Omen by way of Home Alone black comedy. But no, we’re given this badly rendered urban legend trope to waste everyone’s time with. I would much rather get my house egged than watch this again. Pass.


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house of purgatoryTerror Films

‘Tis the Halloween Season, mein wundabar freaks. While I’m technically not doing a HALLOWEEN’ING series on the blog this year, I still like to watch movies that feature Halloween as the primary focus. Or at least set during the Greatest Season of the Year. And as such, I came across the movie House Of Purgatory, which was recently made available on DVD, but also for Prime streamin’, so I decided to turn off the lights, and see what kind of spooky shenanigans the stock characters would be getting into.

Sorry, maybe I’m unfairly judging the movie before actually watching it. Force of habit. Let’s take a look, then.

Four teenagers go looking for a legendary haunted house that gives you money back for every floor you can complete. Once finding it, they realize the house is much more terrifying than a normal Halloween attraction — the house knows each of their secrets and one by one uses them against the teens.

So, what we have with House Of Purgatory is your standard low budget teens-in-a-haunted-something-or-other movie that tries so hard to be an effective psychological mind trip of a horror movie that it’s rather adorable, really. The cast is your typical older 20-somethings playing the teenagers, the lot being forgettable personality types. There’s a bit at the beginning that had me thinking that this was going to be another lame Scream knock-off, but fortunately, that wasn’t the case.

Things did pick up once the gang hit the titular haunted house, actually managing to get some good effects and shots in. However, the promise of delving into deep, dark secrets falls flat with the dismount, leaving this House Of Purgatory promising you Disney World’s Haunted Mansion attraction, but ending up being the second-rate haunted house setup the local civic group puts on at the town auditorium.

It really says something when the premise of your horror movie was already done way better with an old episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer*. House Of Purgatory is fun like a trip to a Spirit Of Halloween store is fun. Worth a look if you’re morbidly curious, or have nothing else to watch for the holiday.

[*=Season 4, Episode 4: “Fear Itself”…go watch that one instead]

Some bittersweet news…

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NecRoSarX Chronicles Header

sad pumpkinI guess I should go ahead and let people know, before the first of October hits and anyone is actually expecting it:

There will be no HALLOWEEN’ING series this year.

ThereĀ was going to be one this year; I had the entire month of October mapped out, with over half of the articles already written and scheduled.

But, the reality is, my heart just isn’t in this at this time. The reasons and the standard ones: Fatigue. Health issues. Burnout. Also, I really don’t want to have to constantly justify my love of this particular season over the Big Two Christian holidays I’m expected to prefer.

I just want to chill out this year, enjoy the Halloween season without feeling the need to blog about everything. I want to peruse all the wondrous and spooky things without constantly formulating how I’m going to write the article.

I’m telling you, having a strong writer’s mentality is both a blessing and a curse sometimes.

So, yeah. No HALLOWEEN’ING this year. That doesn’t mean I won’t be posting anything related to Halloween. If I see something cool, I’ll have to say something about it. I just won’t be spending every day of the month doing it, if at all.

In the mean time, I’ve been scheduling next year’s movie and music review posts, getting them out of the way for other things. Until next time, cheers everyone, and stay freaky.



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punpkin screamSo, I thought I’d take some time to bring whatever readers I still have up to speed in the life and times of your Uncle NecRo. It’s been a while, and I thought a bit of venting is in order. In a matter of speaking.

First, with the lack of postings since house sitting for my sister’s family whilst they were vacationing in Nevada: Currently, I’m in the midst of writing and scheduling the daily posts for this year’s HALLOWEEN’ING 2018. I’m almost halfway done with that; all that remains is waiting for the stores and seasonal attractions to open up and let me pursue for the remaining posts. This year marks the return of the Shadow’s Edge haunted attraction, after a two year absence. I can’t wait to check that one out. I also want to hit some places I hadn’t made it to for the decorations and costumes. But, there will probably be visits to my standard favorite places, more because of familiarity. I’m old. That’s my excuse.

old metalheadSpeaking of being old, I probably won’t be able to make the Metallica show on the 6th. My health has been not good, and my eyesight is that driving at night and in the dark is getting kind of wonky for me. I’m scheduled for an eye exam later today (as I write this), but the new glasses won’t be back in time for the show. Also, there’s the regular middle age guy things, like I have to work the next day, it’s an hour’s drive, that section of Lincoln is difficult to navigate in the daytime, let alone post-show congestion in the dead of night. And quite frankly, my knees are all shot, making it difficult to make the hike from the parking garages to the arena. If they would have played in Omaha, maybe. Ten, maybe twenty years ago, I would have been all over this show. Now, though, I’m in my mid-fourties. I wasn’t able to find someone to go with me, so I’m probably going to sit this one out. Yeah, I’m probably pissing away my only chance to see them live. I’m at peace with this. Metal up your ass.

As far as blog postings for the rest of the year: I’m holding off on the standard Movie/Book/Music reviews until next year. Right now, I’m focusing on the HALLOWEEN’ING 2018 posts, and getting some of the standard brain dropping style articles take care of. I’ve had quite a few percolating for a number of years that keep bubbling back up to the surface ever now and again. So, bit of a relaxed schedule for the blog, here.

Anyway, if anything else comes up, y’all will be the first to know. That you know of. Until then, God bless, my wonderful freaks. Cheers and all that…


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