We Summon the Darkness Review (2020)


My History With the Film: 
I heard about We Summon the Darkness a few weeks before its released when the trailer hit. I was intrigued when I saw Alexadra Daddario in a starring role and after watching the trailer I knew this was the type of movie I'd probably enjoy.

I snagged a copy shortly after it came out and after a few weeks I sat down to see how it was.

What The Film Is About (Non-Spoiler):
Three girls decide plan to party with a group of guys following a heavy metal concert when all hell breaks loose, literally.

What I Liked About It:
-The cast is great. There wasn't a single person I didn't care for. All three girls and all three guys really played their parts well and were different enough to be memorable.


-The twist is pretty decent. I knew a twist was coming, just not how far the twist would go.

What I Didn't Like About It:
-You can tell from the trailer/first scene a twist is coming. It was a little choreographed but I will admit I didn't predict the entire twist which was nice.


-The biggest sin this film made was stating that it took place in the 80's. Script wise it make sense to cash in on the Satanic Panic of the time for the plot, but on a low budget film it costs money to set the film back thirty-forty years. The first noticeable mistake was the modern kitchen. The counter tops, sink, and faucet are very much 2010's and not the 1980's. A few minutes after that I noticed a very modern vacuum cleaner behind one of the characters taking up a good portion of the screen. This is just sloppy filmmaking and I think led to me losing interest.

-The film drags pretty early on. I just don't think the script had enough in it to keep me interested for the entire run-time. Once the twist got out of the way, I really lost interest in the film.

-The film attempts to walk the line between horror and comedy, but doesn't do either all that well.

Additional Notes:
N/A

Rating:
I was super excited for We Summon the Darkness, and had expected to write a massive review highlighting all the great moments in the film. Sadly, the only word that comes to mind when thinking about We Summon the Darkness is disappointing.

A great cast and a decent twist were wasted. The movie is very forgettable and really isn't worth seeking out. I rate We Summon the Darkness a two out of five.

Favorite Horror VHS Covers – Issue One

Like most horror fans of my age (mid-30’s) I got my horror education from the shelves of a video store. In many cases, the movies I rented were based on the amazing cover art they contained. The 80’s horror films were notorious for having cover art that had very little to do with the actual movie, since a lot of the time peopled rented based solely on what they saw on the front and back of the box.
I thought it’d be fun to look back on some of my favorite VHS cover boxes. Some of these are movies I owned, some I rented, and some I wish I would have rented. They’ll be presented in no particular order and just randomly as they come to mind. I hope to make this a regular addition to the blog going forward.

So without further ado, here are my first five VHS covers.


The Dead Pit
This was a movie I still have yet to see, but the VHS box was burned into my skull at a young age. What made it so special is that the face of the character was three dimensional and came out of the box. If that wasn’t cool enough, you could press a certain part of the box and make the creatures eyes glow green thanks to two small light bulbs. (Displayed above is the non-3D version of the cover but you should be able to get the gist.)




Blockbuster Presents Halloween
So this is not a great release of Halloween. In fact, it’s a cheap transfer that looked horrific in comparison to the Anchor Bay letterbox edition I bought a few years later. But this was the way I first saw Halloween and for that reason alone, this cover art will always remain one of my favorite (although its arguably one of the lamest). Blockbuster bought the rights to Halloween between 1995-1997 before Anchor Bay stepped in and gave the movie the proper respect that it deserved.




Ants
I'm sure you'll be able to tell why Ants really stuck in my memory for so long. I was a pre-teen boy and this cover grabbed my attention like no other. It took me quite a few years to finally see Ants and ya know, it wasn't half bad.



Sleepaway Camp 2
Here is one of those covers that was misleading. I rented Sleepaway Camp 2 solely on this cover art and for whatever reason I assumed Freddy and Jason would be making an appearance (and possibly being killed by the woman on the cover.) Of course, that did not happen, but I did find a fun, campy, slasher that quickly became one of my favorites.




Ghost Town
This is another movie I've never seen. I think the artwork is just so perfect, with the cowboy skeleton scrolling through town. It's one of those films that I'm pretty sure the artwork is better than the actual film, and hopefully one day I'll get around to actually watching it.

The Invisible Man Review (2020)


My History With the Film: 
I’ll be honest, I didn’t pay much attention to The Invisible Man until it had a fantastic opening weekend at the box office. I’ve never been a huge fan of invisible man style movies, so this wasn’t exactly on my radar. But the hype and success of the film, quickly changed that and once it was released VOD I knew I needed to check it out.

What The Film Is About (Non-Spoiler):

A woman is terrorized by her abusive boyfriend who cannot be seen.

What I Liked About It:
-Elizabeth Moss (Cecila) is always amazing and this film is no exception. Her acting brings an extra layer to a character who easily could have just been an overreacting victim. Instead, we are forced to deal with her trauma as she faces it and the mental abuse that continues.


-The script does a masterful job of using emotional abuse as a catalyst for the story. You are consistently questioning whether this is all in Cecilia’s head and how much damage has the gaslighting done to her.


-The supporting cast is small, but very strong. No one performance stood out more than another, but everyone stepped up to the plate and you felt like Celica was surrounded by real people who were invested in her fight.

-The special effects were quite good and there were quite a few times I caught myself trying to figure out how a particular scene was done.

What I Didn't Like About It:
-The trailer ruined 75% of all the surprises. This is a problem with a lot of modern trailers and is one of the reasons why I try to avoid them if it’s a movie I’m very excited about.

-The movie plays out more like a psychological thriller than horror movie.

Additional Notes:
-One of the first films released to VOD while still in theaters due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was priced at $19.99 for a rental with a 48 hour watch period.

-Made 124 million dollars on a 7 million dollar budget.

-This was Jason Blum, from Blumhouse’s first attempt at re-making a Universal Monster movie. This film was originally planned to be part of a larger Dark Universe that would tie in all the Universal Monsters, but after 2017’s The Mummy’s failure, the Dark Universe was scrapped.

-The wall outside of the mental hospital has graffiti featuring Billy the Puppet from Saw. The director, Leigh Whannell, wrote and starred in the original Saw.

Notable Horror Connections:
  • Director Leigh Whannell (Directed: Upgrade, Insidious: Chapter 3) (Wrote: Saw, Saw II, Saw II, Dead Silence, Insidious)
  • Elizabeth Moss (Us, Shirley, Fear Itself)
  • Oliver Jackson-Cohen (The Haunting of Hill House)
Rating:
When the credits rolled on The Invisible Man, I couldn’t help but feel a little let down. I think between the success at the box office and the hype that followed with that, combined with most of the movie being ruined by the trailer, I just didn’t feel like I got the whole experience. What I did feel was The Invisible Man did a great job at discussing psychological trauma and took a very different approach to horror in the process. It highlighted the struggles that abuse victims are forced to deal with and then turned gave it a real enemy to fight in the process.

The Invisible Man is worth a watch, especially if you are in the mood for a psychological thriller with a supernatural edge. I’d rate it as a three out of five and say it’s a low priority rental.

Creepshow: Season One Review (2019)


My History With the Franchise: 

I’m not a huge Creepshow fan. I love anthologies and am a huge fan of Tales from the Crypt, but Creepshow just didn’t do it for me. Maybe I need to revisit it, but it’s always just one of those films that I didn’t seem to “get.” I think I felt that the movie dabble a bit too much in the comedic/black comedy range for me and it just didn’t work. I never sought out any of the sequels.

I was excited to hear about the Tales from the Crypt reboot a few years back (which has been cancelled) and was equally as interested in Creepshow when it was announced by Shudder with Greg Nicotero showrunning. I signed up for a free month of Shudder during the COVID-19 pandemic and really enjoyed what the show offered.

What The Series Is About (Non-Spoiler):
A horror anthology series hosted by a ghoul based on a series of fictional comic books inspired by the EC Comics of the 1950s.

What I Liked About It:
-I love that the show kept the same hokey horror feeling that is ever so present in anthologies like Tales from the Crypt and the original Creepshow.


-I understand why they didn't have The Ghoul speak, but I would have loved to have a wise cracking host narrate the tales. Then again, it would have brought way too many comparisons to Tales from the Crypt (as well as additional budgetary costs) so I get it. It's still nice to see The Ghoul between tales.


-The use of comic book imagery and animation works really well most of the time. I love how it helps progress the stories and sometimes even the special effects (Bad Wolf Down). 

What I Didn’t Like About It:
-I didn't care for the use of comic book backgrounds while showing shocked/scared faces. It really pulled me out of the show for a minute and I think it stood out just a little too much. They used this same graphic in the original film, so I understand why its there, but I just wish it wasn't.


-Like all anthologies, the quality varies between episodes, stories, directors, and casts. This isn't something I'd knock points off for, but its worth noting that this anthology has it's ups and downs like all others.

Additional Notes:
-Adrienne Barbeau starred in the original Creepshow movie in the segment The Crate.

-The Indian used in The House of Head is an exact replica of the Indian used in Creepshow 2's Old Chief Wood'nhead. 

-Was filmed in Atlanta, Georgia

Ratings:
Episode One:
Gray Matter - Two Stars Out of Five
I had read this short story in Stephen King's Night Shift a couple years back and didn't love it then and I wasn't a huge fan of it made live action. I will say it fits well with the original Creepshow vibe and I think for a lot of horror fans this will be one of their favorite episodes, but for me personally it just didn't do much.

The House of the Head - Five Stars Out of Five
I'm so glad this episode followed up Gray Matter. The House of the Head showed the more serious side of Creepshow that was less grindhouse and more traditional horror. I loved it and it was one of my favorite episodes of the series. The pacing was fantastic and the dollhouse was amazing. This is one of my favorite horror anthology entries ever.

Episode Two:
Bad Wolf Down - Three Stars Out of Five
This segment featured soldiers from World War II encountering a werewolf. It was interesting and I give the filmmakers props for pulling this story off with an very limited budget. The comic book transitions saved them some money and it was done in a very entertaining way. Still, the story was forgettable as well as the costumes.

The Finger - Four Stars Out of Five
I loved this segment. It stars DJ Qualls (Road Trip, Hustle and Flow) and it blew away all of my expectations. It's schlocky but fantasy fulfilling as our protagonist adopts a creature that kills anyone who irritates him. I couldn't help but think about how nice it would be to have a little demon pet that took care of all your problems and rarely does horror open me up to ethical questions.

Episode Three:
All Hallows Eve - Three Stars Out of Five
This felt like an episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark, with a slightly more mature twist. A group of kids terrorize a town every Halloween, but something is not right about these kids.

The Man in the Suitcase - Three Stars Out of Five
This quirky episode finds a young stoner who ends up with a man in a suitcase who spits out gold coins every time pain is inflicted upon him. Its one of those episodes that brings up some moral questions like The Finger and felt like what should have been an episode of the new Twilight Zone, had it not been so terrible.

Episode Four:
The Companion - Three Stars Out of Five
A young boy attempts to escape his bullying brother and ends up in an abandoned farm house being stalked by something a little more deadly. I loved the creature effects in this episode and they were one of my favorites.

Lydia Layne's Better Half - Three Stars Out of Five
A powerful woman accidently kills her lover and ends up trapped with her dead body in an elevator. This episode had a very good premise that didn't use much in the special effects department but still managed to get across the psychological horror.

Episode Five:
Night of the Paw - Three Stars Out of Five
This is a classic monkey paw story that worked well! I was dreading this episode, because let's be honest, how many times can we hear the same story? Apparently, once more. When a widower saves a young woman, he tells her the story of how the monkey paw came into his life.

Times is Tough in Musky Holler - One Star out of Five
Wow, this was terrible. This felt like a bad idea spitballed for an episode of The Walking Dead that was rejected and some reason revived for this. A town's leadership is overthrown once a zombie apocalypse begins, and the overthrowers now face the consequences.

Episode Six:
By the Silver Water of Lake Champlain - Four Stars Out of Five
This was a very sweet story that reminded me of something seen on Amazing Stories back in the 80's. A young girl's father died searching for Champy and she never gave up hope on Champy being alive.

Skincrawlers - Four Stars Out of Five
A man is brought in for an experimental weight loss procedure that ends up being not what it seems. This reminded me of the Hair segment from Body Bags, but done much better.



Overall Creepshow was an enjoyable watch. Only the last episode really stood out at being great, but the second half of the first episode, The House of the Head is one of the best anthology entries I've ever seen and is a must see.

I think Creepshow has something to offer for all horror fans, and I believe the run times are about perfect for this type of show. I would rate Creepshow a four out of five and say its worth bingeing.


Satanic Panic Review (2019)


My History With the Film:
I didn’t know anything about Satanic Panic when I first saw it streaming Shudder. I decided to give it a shot blindly and was pleasantly surprised with what followed.

What The Film Is About (Non-Spoiler):
A young girl stumbled upon a Satanic ritual while delivering pizzas.

What I Liked About It:
-The lead actress Hayley Griffith (Sam) was fantastic. She had the perfect mix of sweetness, innocence, and frustration to really give her character some depth. You can’t help but root for Sam as you see her endure all that she endures. She also has fantastic facial expressions and a great comedic timing.


-The gore was pretty well done. There isn’t a ton of it, but when it does show up its well-executed.

-I’m not a fan of overly comedic horror films since I feel like they fall more into a parody category than actual horror, but Satanic Panic walks the line well and while I wouldn’t put it in the upper echelon of horror comedies like Ready or Not, Tucker and Dale, or Shaun of the Dead, it definitely is just below those films in quality.


-The supporting cast varies in quality from great Rebecca Romijn (Danica), Arden Myrin (Gypsy), Ruby Modine (Judi) to some very questionable acting that feels like some actors first gig.


-I liked the ending. It was weird, fun, and goofy.

What I Didn't Like About It:

-The movie loses it's pace about half way through and it takes a little while to get restarted. I blame this on the introduction of a secondary character who is a good character, but really drags down the pacing. It also pulls a little too much attention off our lead, which I think is why it hurts the movie overall.


-Some of the first characters you meet are some of the worst cast. So, upon first starting this movie, you'll probably assume the acting is going to be on the lower level, and it's not until you get fifteen minutes in that you realize its not going to be a complete amateur hour.

Additional Notes:
-Walmart censored the title to "Panic" by utilizing a cardboard slipcover that covered the word Satanic.


-Written by horror writer Grady Hendrix (Horrorstör, My Best Friend's Exorcism, The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires)

-Director Chelsea Stardust previously directed Into the Dark's All That We Destroy.

-Shot on location in Dallas, Texas over eighteen days.

Rating:

I enjoyed Satanic Panic, it was funny, gory, and well-acted (for the most part). Without Hayley Griffith, I don’t think the film would have worked as well, but luckily she was there to tie it altogether.

This is the type of movie you go into and kick back with low expectations and an open mind. It's not going to knock your socks off or blow your mind, but it'll entertain you if you let it. I rate Satanic Panic as three stars out of five and say its a rental.

Creed Songs in Horror Movies

In the late 90’s and early 2000’s, Creed was the Nickelback of the music industry. Creed was successful, had catchy songs, but seemed to be universally hated by everyone. It didn’t help their case that rumors circulated that they were actually a Christian band pretending to be a mainstream rock band.

While most people didn’t advertise their fondness for Scott Stapp’s gravelly voice, the sales charts don’t lie. According to Wikipedia, Creed sold over 28 million records in the United States, and 53 million albums worldwide making them the ninth bestselling artist of the 2000’s. In 2001, they won a Grammy for Best Rock Song (“With Arms Wide Open”) and their first three albums went multi-platinum.

So, what does all this have to do with 90’s horror movies? Well, Creed made a few appearances on some of the soundtracks of the late 90’s/early 2000’s horror films. Back then, a lot of time and care was put into creating albums that would sell and so soliciting songs from top artists was a big deal. Sadly, the day of the soundtrack has pretty much gone away, but in the late 90’s things were still going strong. I thought it’d be fun to take a look at Creed’s contribution to the horror community since I tend to love the movies their songs were featured on.


1998
“What’s This Life For”
Halloween H20



Halloween H20 was originally scored by John Ottman (House of Wax, Urban Legends Final Cut, Lake Placid) however, Harvey Weinstein was not happy with his score so he replaced pieces of it with Marco Beltrami’s scores from Scream, Scream 2, Mimic, as well as some new cues written by Beltrami. In addition to replacing pieces of the score, Weinstein also insisted that Creed’s “What’s This Life For” by featured in a party sequence and also during the end credits.

Halloween H20 did not have a soundtrack release, so the song was never released on an album for the movie. However, a special edit of the music video was released featuring scenes from the film.


“I’m Eighteen”
The Faculty



The Faculty soundtrack consisted of some classic rock songs covered by contemporary artists as well as some currents songs for 1998. Pink Floyd, David Bowie, and Alice Cooper were all covered, with Creed covering Cooper’s 1970 hit, “I’m Eighteen.”
In addition to “I’m Eighteen” being featured on The Faculty Soundtrack, in 2015, Creed released the track on their With Arms Wide Open: A Retrospective album. It’s found on disc two Rarities & Demos.



1999
“Wrong Way”
End of Days



I remember the End of Days soundtrack being a big deal since it featured a song by the new line-up of Guns N Roses, an Eminem song, along with other industrial metal and alternative bands. Creed also contributed a song to the soundtrack, “Wrong Way” which was also found on their Human Clay album.

As far as I can tell, no music video was ever released for the song and I’m guessing it was added just to bolster the lineup of known bands on the soundtrack. It wasn’t one of Creed’s better songs and is quite forgettable.



2000
“Is This the End”
Scream 3




“What If”
Scream 3



Creed was all over the Scream 3.

“What If” was the second single from Human Clay and also found its way onto the Scream 3 soundtrack, which Creed helped produce. In addition to being on the soundtrack, a music video was recorded featuring David Arquette as Dewey and Ghostface killing off the members of Creed.

“Is this the End” was recorded specifically for Scream 3 and was used over the end credits. It was featured on the soundtrack and can also be found on 2015’s With Arms Wide Open: A Retrospective album on the Rarities & Demos disc listed as the “Scream Edit.”


“Higher”
The Skulls



“Higher” was Creed’s lead single off their second album Human Clay and the first Creed song I remember hearing. “Higher” was featured in a scene in The Skulls, but was not included on the soundtrack which mostly consisted of the score.

Crawl Review (2019)


My History With the Film:
I saw Crawl advertise in early 2019 and it quickly became one of the movies I most wanted to see in 2019. But, life got in the way and I never made it to the theater. I planned on renting it from the Redbox once it was released but a .99 cent rental sale on iTunes caught my eye first and so Brandy and I sat down and watched Crawl in March 2020.

What The Film Is About (Non-Spoiler):
A woman attempting to save her father during a hurricane gets trapped in the flooded house with alligators.

What I Liked About It:
-The trailer, the poster, and the synopsis pretty much tell you everything you need to know about this film. It's not going to have Academy Award winning performances nor is it going to pretend to. No, this is a straight up creature horror film and it embraces that 100%. I love it when a movie is just a movie and doesn't make any excuses for being what it is. Then again, Crawl was directed by the same guy who did Piranha 3D, so you shouldn't be surprised.


-The two leads were fantastic in their roles. I’ve never been the biggest Barry Pepper fan, but he portrays a realistic father, who has issues but loves his daughter dearly. I was impressed by how the script and performances actually made me care for the two leads, because this is the type of movie where emotional investment is not required. With that being said, the film was enriched by the connection and chemistry between the two leads.


-The CGI was better than expected. Of course, this type of movie is going to feature CGI alligators and I think they did a great job with them. I also was impressed by the hurricane graphics and the actual flooded sets. I felt immersed the entire time and there was no scene that pulled me out of the film because it looked like a bad video game.


-The movie did an excellent job of giving the audiences enough deaths to keep the story rolling along and by add gore to keep the stakes high.

What I Didn't Like About It:
-Honestly, I don’t have anything bad to say about Crawl.


Additional Notes:
-The two leads Dave (Barry Pepper) and Hayley (Kaya Scodelario) also starred in two of Maze Runner movies together.

-Dave's truck license plate is MATT 725. Matthew 7:25 states, "The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against the house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock."


-Hayley was on the Florida Gators swimming team.

Rating:
Crawl was a very enjoyable ride and I liked it more than I expected. The film doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel, but it was refreshing because it took itself seriously. Most of our creature features tend to go in tongue in cheek (Sharknado, the Piranha remake) but Crawl is a serious film and I liked it because of that.


Crawl isn’t a film I see myself revisiting year after year, but I highly recommend it as a rental. I rate Crawl four stars out of five.