Movie Review: The LAST EXORCISM Part II

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last exorcism iiCBS Films

“There’s a whole bunch of people out there who are definitely convinced that they are possessed.”

As much as I enjoyed the 2010 movie The Last Exorcism (despite that ending), I wasn’t really thinking that this was a movie that needed a sequel to continue the story. But, what do I know? three years after the fact, we got a sequel, anyway.

Nell Sweetzer is back in the relative safety of civilization and sent to live in a group home where she’s encouraged to leave her past behind and start a new life. Just as Nell settles in, she is tormented by the seductive demonic presence that once possessed her. She realizes that the evil force is back with unimaginably horrific plans which could only mean that her last exorcism was just the beginning.

I’ll give credit where credit is due: At least the makers of this movie didn’t go with the found footage route. Ashley Bell does an outstanding job as Nell, giving the character a great sympathetic quality, like Sissy Spacek in the original Carrie movie.

I just realized that I live in a time where I have to clarify which movie based on Stephen King’s book Carrie I’m talking about.

You just want to take her into your arms and comfort the kid, let her know everything is going to be okay. Maybe give her a cookie. Which lent a bit more weight to how this movie ended. Also good was the character of Nell’s would-be boyfriend, Chris, who is just adorable. Then there’s Gwen, a character that was woefully underused, as you get the feeling there’s more to her going on with her, the way she’s just a touch unsettling and creepy. I wanna see a movie about her.

the movie excels at building a tense atmosphere and utilizing some gorgeous cinematography. Working against it, is the slow pace, overuse of the “boo” scares and misplaced music stingers, and one of the more anticlimactic exorcism scenes I’ve seen. Not the worst; that one goes to the exorcisms in the Ed Furlong flick The Visitation. The bits of weirdness building up to Nell’s breakdown didn’t seem all that effective, really.

Overall, while it wasn’t really necessary, The Last Exorcism Part II is a fairly decent supernatural horror flick that sticks to the general formula and doesn’t require much investment. It’s good for a time waster rental, at least.


Movie Review: DEMONIC

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demonicDimension Films

“I want to put a baby in you.”

Demonic was another one of those movies I knew nothing about until stumbling on it on the Family Video website’s New Releases section some time ago. The picture itself wasn’t all that special–I have a glow-in-the-dark t-shirt with the same type of pattern–and the descript was another one of those stupid young adults play around with the dark forces, and wackiness ensues type scenarios I’ve seen so many times. But, this movie had the name of James Wan stuck to it. Sure, he was merely the producer of Demonic, and the cover listed it as James Wan Presents, which can mean he either had a bit of a hand in making this movie, or it’s just his name being lent out to lend a bit of legitimacy to an otherwise mediocre horror film.

Spoilers: Turns out it’s the latter bit.

Demonic centers on the aftermath of a horrific massacre where five college students were brutally murdered inside an abandoned home. Detective Mark Lewis and psychologist Dr. Elizabeth Klein question one of the few survivors who explains they were amateur ghost-hunters, seeking out paranormal phenomenon at the abandoned house, which was believed to be haunted. But what started out as a harmless activity turned into something truly terrifying.

Overall, Demonic wasn’t a bad film, per se. It did have some interesting use of visual atmospherics, as well as switching between the found footage style and standard filming techniques, using the found footage stuff as a means of exposition to what took place. However, the big downer with this is, if you’re even a novice with these kind of horror movies, you pretty much know what the plot is, beat-for-beat, pretty much picking out the big twist long before you get even close to it. For what it is, Demonic is not a bad way to kill some time. Good for an afternoon rental.


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death from beyondPendulum Pictures

Slowly but surely working through the movies on the Tomb Of Terrors movie pack I got some time ago. The thing is, the quality of most of these independent low-budget, mostly shot-on-video flicks is rather bad, that it takes a bit to recover from the pain of watching them. Even sitting through the relatively short films in this collection tests my threshold of pain resistance. Case in point: Death From Beyond.

Clocking in at merely 37 minutes, Death From Beyond nonetheless manages to feel much longer than the actual run time. I should point out that the individual DVD release has the run time as over 80 minutes, but the extra time after the 37 minutes is dedicated to blooper reels. Fortunately, the version included on the Tomb Of Terrors pack edited out the excess pointless stuff post-credit, so there’s the silver lining to this cloud.

Essentially, this short is about the film crew making an amateur┬áporn film (of course it is) being menaced by an ancient Egyptian demon that’s feeding off of the lust and sexual energy coming from the proceedings (of course they are). One of the actresses is really into archeology (because of course she is), and fights the demon with the help of a cheep-looking amulet.

To call Death From Beyond a horrible hot mess would be woefully understating things. The effects are amazingly bad (there’s a “lake” that’s basically a blue plastic sheet, a swordfight with cardboard and aluminum foil swords, and don’t get me started with the clip-art .gif style CGI stuff), the acting even worse than amateurish, and the complete lack of even the most basic filmmaking techniques made me twitchy. And not in a good way.

What’s more, there appears to be a sequel that was put out a few years later. I know that’s going to somehow end up in my queue, mysteriously. Meanwhile, Death From Beyond is 37 minutes I’ll never get back again. Stay as far away from this short film as possible.

Movie Review: DAYLIGHT’S END

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daylight's endVertical Entertainment

The world is full of low-budget straight-to-video zombie flicks. One might say we’re overrun with a plethora of zombie movies. What we don’t seem to have enough of are low-budget straight-to-video movies that are I Am Legend-esque post-apocalyptic vampiric zombie movies. Specifically, I Am Legend-esque post-apocalyptic vampiric zombie movies that features Lance Henriksen as one of the stars of the cast. Fortunately, here’s Daylight’s End to help fill in that void in our horror subgenre.

Years after a mysterious plague has devastated the planet and turned most of humanity into blood-hungry creatures, a rogue drifter on a vengeful hunt stumbles across a band of survivors in an abandoned police station and reluctantly agrees to try to help them defend themselves and escape to the sanctuary they so desperately need.

Daylight’s End manages to be another generic post-apocalyptic action horror that checks off all the points, but doesn’t really do much beyond that to contain my interest. More character types than characters, a big macho action lead that’s stuck in constant 90s-era brood mode, and story beats that tread no new ground…Daylight’s End is an easily forgettable movie about five minutes after the end credits roll.


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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.

Book Review: FLOOR FOUR

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floor fourA. Lopez, Jr.
Ace Hill Ink

The old, abandoned Saint Vincnt Hospital is said to be haunted by the ghost of David Henry Coleman, the notorious serial killer known as The Mangler. Coleman died on the fourth floor after being shot by police. For the three Junior High boys, their curiosity gets the best of them as they explore the old hospital, despite “Old Man” Jake’s warning. No one knew of Jake’s warning. No one knew of Jake’s dark connection to the killer and the hospital. And now, on the anniversary of The Mangler’s death, a group of high school kids are planning a private party on the haunted fourth floor. Jake must keep everyone out and protect them from the true evil that lurks on Floor Four.

Another in my extensive list of Kindle edition horror fiction that were free, that I Immediately downloaded after receiving my first eReader, Floor Four is a brief less-than-100 page novella by author A. Lopez, Jr. Unsurprisingly, I was unfamiliar with Lopez, Jr.’s work, as this was my chance to branch out and discover new authors beyond my normal stable of go-to reads. According o his on-line bio on Goodreads, he published his first work–a collection of short stories — in 2011, and has been prolifically writing since, producing short stories, novellas and novels.His signature series is the Night Dreams line, a series of novellas in the supernatural horror vein.

Floor Four was published in 2014. It’s one of those standard Abandoned Hospital Haunted By Ghost Of Serial Killer kind of stories, complete with curious kids, stupid teenagers, and the old man trying to warn them away for their own good, dagnabbit.

That synopsis up there in the italics is only the first part of the story. Had it just been that, Floor Four would have been more of a short story. After the events there, we then focus on one of the three Junior High kids who finds himself haunted by the ghost of the serial killer and his mental spiral into madness. The story does take some twists and turns in ways that weren’t entirely predictable, but for the most part, there’s really nothing in Floor Four that breaks any intriguing ground.

Movie Review: The NUN

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nun, theWarner Bros. Pictures

“What’s the opposite of a miracle, Father?”

You have to admire how many movies James Wan can squeeze out of The Conjuring franchise. The first two Conjuring movies proper, then two Annabelle movies, and now a movie involving that freaky nun that was in The Conjuring 2. And like the Annabelle spinoffs, The Nun is a prequel to all of the movies in the series, making this one the first in the overall series, story-wise.

Anyway, I was looking forward to checking out The Nun when it was set to come out in the theaters in September. I thought that the very brief yet very memorable scenes with the nun in The Conjuring 2 was the best parts of that movie, and was curious what story they could tell with this one. But, because scheduling and the less-than-favorable reports coming in from the various review blogs, vlogs and podcasts I read/watch/listen to, I decided ultimately that The Nun was going to be one of those movies I would watch when it became available on on digital rental format. Which is now.

So, was The Nun a snooze-fest? A predictable, nothing-but-jump-scares waste of my time? Well, let’s get the rundown out of the way, here, and find out…

When a young nun at a cloistered abbey in Romania takes her own life, a priest with a haunted past and a novitiate on the threshold of her final vows are sent by the Vatican to investigate. Together they uncover the order’s unholy secret. Risking not only their lives but their faith and their very souls, they confront a malevolent force in the form of the same demonic nun that first terrorized audiences in “The Conjuring 2,” as the abbey becomes a horrific battleground between the living and the damned.

Overall, despite all of the negative reviews this movie got when it was first released in theaters, I did enjoy The Nun more than I thought I would. It was more on a Hammer-style Gothic B-horror movie level, which is probably the best way to come at these type of movies. The use of the settings, the shadows and atmosphere was utilized to great effect; the story was a slow-build mystery that, while a tad on the predictable side, managed to throw in some twists and turns throughout the run time. Of course, The Nun isn’t what you would call a “scary movie”, as what it does for actual scares are more boo-scares than anything else; as I mentioned before, if you take in the very Gothic atmosphere and setup (and get past thinking the possessed nun is Marilyn Manson in Catholic cosplay), you may find that The Nun can get under your skin pretty effectively.

Not as bad as everybody is saying it is, The Nun is very much worth a rental on some dark, cold and rainy night.

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