A Tribute to House of Horrors and Horror Speak

It's Halloween and I spent a lot of time trying to decide what review to post today. At one point I thought of posting the only other Halloween movie that fits within my 90’s time frame (Resurrection) but that seems quite anticlimactic. I started putting together a review of all the various one off specials and Halloween episodes that I watched this year, but ultimately decided against that too. I was ready to press ahead and just post my review of 1922 when I ran across an old blog written three years ago. It was a tribute to the website and forum that really groomed me for my love of horror. These two sites played a huge part in developing my love of horror and the community that surrounds it. I decided to leave the post intact from how I wrote in 2014. I fixed a few grammatical errors, but otherwise it’s identical to the one I published three years ago.

Horror movies were always taboo which appealed to me. It was that section of the video store you weren’t supposed to go into, but it was impossible to keep kids out of it. I was attracted to all the gross, bloody, and perverted box art that lined those shelves and looked forward to getting to watch them one day.

The first horror film I ever saw was Popcorn. I grew up watching Ghostbusters, The Monster Squad and Gremlins, so taking the next step to full blown horror wasn’t all that difficult. Back in the late 80’s, Freddy and Jason were icons that you could find in Nintendo games and action figures, so while it wasn’t “for” kids, it was definitely marketed towards them.

It was a thrill getting to see a scary movie, but it wasn’t until my dad purchased a copy of Halloween from a Blockbuster that I truly fell in love. I wasn’t a teenager yet, but he told me that I’d enjoy this movie and it would scare me. Boy was he right, and my love for horror movies began.

Back then it was a win/lose situation for horror movies. Tons of rare and strange horror movies filled the shelves of all sorts of video stores, but sometimes movies were just near impossible to find. When I first heard about Evil Dead it was out of print and people were trading bad bootlegs over the internet for it. If you ever went into the AOL Horror Chat room, you’d instantly get Instant Messaged looking for a copy of it.

This of course made it a priority for me to see, because what the hell was Evil Dead? I watched Evil Dead 2, and Army of Darkness, but it took me three years to finally get my hands on a copy of Evil Dead. It was a joyous occasion that I remember to this day. It was like digging for gold and then finding it. I don’t get that thrill from streaming video these days.

Besides the movies I knew such as Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Nightmare on Elm Street series, Friday the 13th series, and Halloween series, I didn’t really know what was good and bad horror. I tried out tons of movies and some I enjoyed others were just awful, but I needed a horror mentor, someone to guide me and verse me in the ways of the horror film. That guy was The Cryptkeeper at HouseofHorrors.com.

You got to remember, this was pre IMDB being a big deal with tons of information. It was hard to find a good website dedicated to horror movies that would reveal trivia about the movies or even which movies were worth watching. In the Vault at HouseofHorrors.com lie the key to the horror movie kingdom, a proverbial who’s who of the horror movie industry, independent and all. It was here that I learned the ways of a good horror movie and the masters of horror.

AOL had a Horror chatroom as I mentioned, and there was a good alt.horror newsgroup as well. Along with Fangoria magazine and Cinescape, these were my sources of horror information. I can actually find a few posts that I made in alt.horror all the way back in 1998.

Here is one called New Movies to come out from July 20th, 1998. It focuses on some upcoming horror movies. There is even a discussion about who is going to play Inspector Gadget in the live action movie. BTW: I was right, screw those guys.

Another one is from July 19th, 1998 where I compare the movements of WWF wrestler Kane to Michael Myers.

And while I found some great discussions and some good information from the chatroom and the newsgroup, it wasn’t until I found HorrorSpeak that I felt truly complete.

HorrorSpeak was actually part of HouseofHorrors. It was the most active and most intelligent horror message board I had ever seen. You’d find analysis, news, reviews, and opinions of everything horror. The threads would go on and on with great banter back and forth and for a guy who mostly lurked, I learned a TON. I had several usernames over the years, but I rarely joined in unless I really needed to get some information like what was the best version of the Evil Dead DVD to get.

For five or six years it was a site that I visited at least twice a day. It was just so active you had to so you could keep up. Sadly, that is not the case anymore. (2017 Note: HorrorSpeak was officially closed down last year.)

I visit HorrorSpeak probably once every six months. I can usually read the three posts or so that have been posted during that time. Almost without fail, an old member pops back in to say hi and reminiscence about the good ole days when HorrorSpeak was the ultimate in horror movie discussion boards.

But nowadays its sad when I go to visit, it’s like going to an abandoned theme park. Once there was so much joy and activity going on, and now it’s just a ghost town.

Other sites over the years took over at being the biggest and baddest horror sites such as Bloody Disgusting. And for a while I lurked there and even posted a few times, but it just never was as good as HorrorSpeak.

HorrorSpeak remains up in the pretty much the way it was when it was in its prime. (2017 Note: This is no longer true as of 2017) All the old threads are still available which is a neat way for me to go back in time. Most websites end up offline, but both HouseofHorrors and HorrorSpeak are still up and pretty much in the same condition they were when I first found them. I hope they stay up forever. Even if they aren’t updated, it’s like going home for me and I appreciate more and more as the years go by.

HorrorSpeak has become the haunted house that we all know and love. It’s a reminder of the fun times, but is in a rundown condition unchanged from those days. A few creatures lurk in the shadows, and the ghosts of happier memories remain.

2017 Note: After HorrorSpeak shut down, I waited to see if the domain would be renewed. I fully intended on purchasing the domain and creating a blog/website called Horror Speak just as a way to keep the name alive. Sadly, it seems the webmaster wasn’t quite ready to give it up yet and renewed it. I plan on keeping an eye on it and if he chooses to abandon it, I will definitely take ownership of it.

Final Destination Review (2000)

My History With the Film:
I remember the trailer for Final Destination looked great. It was one of those trailers that had all the kids in school talking. It looked refreshing, fun, and scary, which is what every high schooler really wants in a horror movie. Of course, I wasn’t like a normal high schooler, I wanted my horror filled with 80’s cheese, so I dismissed Final Destination as another “weak ass horror movie”. Yeah, that’s probably how I referred to it.

Despite my hipster attitude, I bought Final Destination on DVD when it came out. It was released in one of those horrendous snapper cases, but I didn’t mind at the time. DVDs were new and exciting, and I bought new movies pretty much every single week. The week Final Destination came out it was the best looking release, so I bought it and went home to watch it.

I wasn’t really ready for what I was about to watch. When people talk about innovative horror movies in the 90’s, Scream is usually the only film that gets mentioned. But Final Destination deserves some acclaim as well. At its core, it’s a slasher film with an invisible killer, but it’s also a mystery movie with some fun horror fan moments.

What The Film Is About (Non-Spoiler):
After a premonition saves several classmates from a plane crash, death begins stalking them.

What I Liked About It:
-This past year, I’ve gone back and started watching the original Unsolved Mysteries. As a kid all the ghost and monster stories scared me. As an adult the home invasion and murder stories scare me. I feel like Final Destination works the same way. As a teenager, I preferred ghost stories and vampires, but as an adult what I really fear is that loose bolt on a Ferris wheel, slipping in a puddle of water in the bathroom, or a plane exploding mid-air. I can relate to the deaths in this franchise way more than I can in Friday the 13th, Alien, The Conjuring, etc. and that makes watching this film uneasy.

-James Wan (director) really takes the time to honor and give you the full effect of the deaths. For example, in the plane crash you get to see several minutes of this plane ascending, tearing apart, and eventually blowing up. You see people struggling to put on the oxygen masks and being sucked out of the plane. You get to see all those little details that most movies leave out because they make the viewer uneasy. I love that Final Destination doesn’t shy away from the details in death and that makes this film that much more horrifying.

-The whole concept of this movie is brilliant. The idea that death cannot be cheated is amazing and it creates for some amazing tension and kills. Even after five sequels the plot of this movie still feels fresh and exciting.

-The cast is great! Devon Sawa (Idle Hands), Ali Larter (House of Haunted Hill), Kristen Cloke (Black Christmas), and Sean William Scott (American Pie) shine, but even some of the smaller character such as the French teacher Larry Murnau seemed perfectly cast.

-The creativity when it comes to the kills is something to admire. The way it has to change and adapt based on the victim is great, and doesn’t get near enough recognition.

What I Didn’t Like About It:
-I feel like Devon Sawa’s acting was a little uneven at times.

-I’ve never liked the ending. I’m not talking about the final scene, but the part involving the electrical wires. It just never felt right to me.

Additional Notes:
-The success of this film launched the franchise which extended five films from 2000-2011.

-The story originated from an abandoned X-Files script.

-Some of the news footage was actual plane crash footage from TWA Flight 800 that occurred in July 1996. TWA Flight 800 was also carrying a high school French club.

-John Denver’s music pops up several times throughout the film. He died in a plane crash.

-Clear’s cabin was also the cabin featured in Lake Placid.

-Several of the cast members had roles in other notable horror films:
  • Devon Sawa (Idle Hands)
  • Ali Larter (Resident Evil Series, House on Haunted Hill)Kerr Smith (My Bloody Valentine)
  • Kristen Cloke (Black Christmas)
  • Tony Todd (Candyman, Wishmaster)
I cannot think of another horror film that takes the time to appreciate the death scenes like Final Destination does. In fact, they are put on full display and given the audience’s full attention, which is wonderful. All the gore and shock come at you full blast and you get enough time to enjoy every single second on the screen. As an adult, seeing deaths that are more natural than most found in horror movies is quite unsettling. It takes a lot to actually strike fear in my heart, but rewatching Final Destination did just that. There were several times throughout the film (despite seeing it half a dozen times) that I felt the tension rose so high that I really felt uneasy. I love it!

Final Destination is a great film and is one of the most consistent horror franchises out there. I think the first film is a very solid four out of five and is a must own for horror fans.

I highly recommend you read Death is Not the End: An Oral History of Final Destination. It's a fantastic article.

Marc Summer’s Mystery Magical Special (1986)

In 1986, Marc Summers, the popular host of Double Dare, starred in a Halloween special for Nickelodeon called The Mystery Magical Special. The show also starred Jonathan Brandis (IT), Shiri Appleby (Roswell), and magicians Lance Burton (ya know, the other 80’s/90’s magician that wasn’t David Copperfield) and Tina Lenert. John Astin, the original Gomez Addams also made a cameo appearance.

I ran across The Mystery Magical Special on YouTube and decided to give it a watch this Halloween season. I was convinced I had never seen it before, but after a couple minutes the show started coming back to me. There is one particular scene of magic with Tina Lenert and a mop that really stood out. I can recall watching this special just for that scene each year.

The plot is simple. Marc Summers and three kids get a flat tire and go into a creepy looking house to look for a phone. This house isn’t just a normal house, but a house filled with magical mystery and the group encounters several stage acts throughout the course of the twenty-two minute show.

There is nothing scary about The Mystery Magical Special and nor should there be. It’s a 1986 Nickelodeon special! But it has that spooky vibe that really fits with the Halloween season and I found myself smiling while watching the special. It was as if I was transformed back into a five year old all over again.

The Mystery Magical Special was created in 1986, but it aired for ten years on Nickelodeon! I’m pretty sure I watched it in the 90’s and I thought it would be a worthy addition to this year’s Halloween countdown.

If you are looking for blood and guts, look elsewhere, but if you are young enough to have grown up with Nickelodeon and want something to channel the nostalgia for the spooky TV movies and specials of the 90’s The Mystery Magical Special is a great place to start.

Check out The Mystery Magical Special below:

Never Hike Alone Review (2017)

Let’s get this out of the way first: Never Hike Alone is a Friday the 13th fan film. You most likely won’t see me reviewing another fan film ever again. It’s just not something I want to cover on this site. But this fan film is a little different. The production value is incredibly high and the film is damn good. It’s arguably better than half the films in the franchise. So, I’m making a special exception for this Halloween season.

My History With the Film:
I first saw the trailer for Never Hike Alone early in 2017. It’s not something I’d typically watch, but the folks over at r/horror were praising the production values so I gave it a go. What I saw was pretty impressive. A YouTube personality documents his hikes throughout the various forests and stumbles upon the ruins of Camp Crystal Lake. It’s a good plot that is modern and simple enough to actually work. So, I looked forward to its release which came on October 13th, Friday the 13th in 2017. I was actually getting married on Friday the 13th, but once I returned home that following Sunday, one of the first things I did was watch Never Hike Alone. I liked it… a lot.

What The Film Is About (Non-Spoiler):
A YouTube personality stumbles upon the ruins of Camp Crystal Lake.

What I Liked About It:
-I loved the plot as mentioned above. It’s simple and extremely effective. The filmmakers use a GoPro along with traditional filmmaking and it worked wonderfully. I am not a fan of found footage films, but in this case I felt like the footage not only made sense, but actually enhanced the storytelling experience. If I had to compare the amount of GoPro footage to traditional footage I’d say the film is 15% Go Pro footage and 85% regular film.

-The film stars just one actor, Drew Leighty, who does a masterful job of creating a character you care about and believe in. His athletic ability is showcased before he encounters Jason and his response to Jason’s appearance was believable.

-Everyone knows I hate to spoil anything, so I won’t dive into the ending. Let’s just say the film takes a dramatic turn towards the last ten minutes and becomes straight up Friday the 13th fan fair. Fans of the series will love it and it’s icing on the cake for an already strong Jason movie.

-The runtime was perfect for a film starring just one person. It never dragged on or got boring. There was always something going on and the tension was masterfully done.

-The cinematography was wonderful. The use of drones helped make this film like a big budget production and the previous mentioned GoPro style shots were tastefully done.

-The film is not perfect, but it channels the energy and tension that the best Friday the 13th movies have. It feels liked a stripped down, back to the basics approach to the Jason character, and I think its something fans have been begging for.

-The tension and gore are balanced in almost perfect harmony.

What I Didn't Like About It:

-As much as I enjoyed the ending, I do think fans that are not familiar with the franchise will be confused and this could dampen their enjoyment.

-I felt like a bigger actor for Jason might have helped create a more menacing presence.

Additional Notes:
-Never Hike Alone was actually produced thanks to a Kickstarter funding. The Kickstarter collected over $18,000.

Look, I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but this film is a four out of five for me. I wish there was a blu ray release so I could add it to my collection. I hope that the folks at New Line/Paramount (or whoever owns the rights now) see what Womp Stomp Films did and bring back Friday the 13th in the same tone and style. And if they decide to go that route, they owe it to the folks at Womp Stomp to find them some part in the production.

The movie industry is not always fair and sometimes its feast or famine. Friday the 13th fans have been taken for granted for years, and have been offered very little in return. This film is the closest that we’ve gotten to a proper Friday the 13th film since the late 1980’s. That’s saying something. If you enjoy the franchise like I do, check out this fan film. I can’t recommend it enough.

Check out Never Hike Alone below:

The Family Matters Halloween Episodes

Family Matters was one of those sitcoms that I watched a ton in the 90’s, but haven’t seen much of it since. Recently it was added to Hulu, and I dived right back in with The Winslows and that goofy neighbor of theirs. I was shocked to see how normal and interesting the first season was pre-Steve Urkel. I haven’t finished watching the first season yet, but I decided to jump ahead and check out some of the Halloween episodes. I didn’t complete them all, but I thought I’d do a quick recap and offer some impressions on the episodes that I watched.

Season 2, Episode 7 “Dog Day Halloween”

This episode centers around Steve and Laura who inadvertently get caught up in a bank robbery. Steve is dressed up as Superman, but feels inadequate because he can’t properly protect Laura. Laura is dressed up as Tina Turner, which confuses the Abraham Lincoln dressed bank robber who mistakes her for pretty much any singing diva you could think of pre-1990. Meanwhile, Carl is outside trying to control the situation. There are no winks or nods to Die Hard, but it’s hard to watch and not think of Die Hard.

It’s not a perfect Halloween episode, but it does a good job of channeling the spirit of Halloween with costumes and the scenes back at the Winslow house dealing with trick-or-treaters. I found myself really enjoying the episode, even if it’s a bit cheesy towards the end.


Season 4, Episode 6 – “Whose Kid Is It Anyway?”

Eddie promises Richie that he’ll take him trick-or-treating, until a beautiful girl shows up at the front door needing directions to a Halloween party. Always the ladies’ man, Eddie ditches Richie and convinces Waldo to take him trick-or-treating. Richie isn’t happy about it, but there’s not much the little boy can do. Things take a turn for the worse when Waldo shows up with another child in a Spiderman outfit that isn’t Richie.

Similar to the first episode, this episode featured several Halloween costumes and some decorations that made it feel like the holiday. It’s obvious that Family Matters liked using Halloween as a setting, but they never fully embrace the holiday the same way Roseanne and Home Improvement did. Still, this was a decent Halloween themed episode.


Season 5, Episode 6 – “Best Friends”

After Waldo is fired from a tattoo parlor for misspelling Mom, Eddie gives him a job at the Mighty Weenie alongside Steve Urkel. Waldo is horrible at his job, and Eddie is forced to deal with the decision to fire his best friend.

Did you notice that I didn’t mention anything about costumes, trick-or-treating, or Halloween? That’s because other than a few decorations in the house and around The Mighty Weenie there is nothing Halloween about this episode at all. It has to be the laziest Halloween episode I’ve ever seen. The set designer just put up $20 worth of decorations to make it feel like Halloween, which is a missed opportunity.

Skip It.

Season 6, Episode 6 – “Dark and Stormy Night”

After the previous season’s waste of a Halloween episode, Family Matters bounced back with its best Halloween episode of its run. The entire family is costumed up and ready to go trick-or-treating when a terrible storm begins and the power goes out. Carl decided to keep the family entertained by starting a ghost story and then turning the story over to another member of the family to continue it. It’s a very creative concept that works well for the show. It’s way over-the-top and a lot of fun and by far the best Halloween episode Family Matters produced.

Highly Recommended

Season Eight, Episode Seven – “Stevil”

This episode begins with a warning that the following might be a little intense for young viewers. It’s surprising to see, especially since Family Matters is such a tame show. I don’t know if the warning is justified by the episode, but I will admit things are more intense in Stevil than any of the previous Halloween shows.

Steve Urkel attempts to put on a ventriloquist act complete with a dummy that looks like him. It doesn’t go over well and Steve retires to his room and falls asleep. A storm arises and dummy Steve Urkel is hit by lightning and brought to life. Steve pleads his case that the dummy is alive, but no one will listen to him. Stevil (the name of the dummy) begins attacking the family and it’s up to Urkel to save the day.

So, this episode is batshit crazy. I mean, it’s off the walls insane. Its part Chucky and part Urkel, the combination you never knew you wanted. The dummy is a combination of puppet and little person in a suit and it’s hard not to laugh and enjoy this episode because it truly is pretty bad.

Part of me wants to say Skip This, but the other part of me wants to say it’s Highly Recommended. I figure I’ll settle in the middle and say it’s Recommended.

Season Nine, Episode Seven – “Stevil II: This Time He’s Not Alone”

Ya know, the should have left it alone.

In this episode, it's been a year since the first Stevil incident and Steve Urkel is afraid to go to sleep. Ahhh... I'm not even going to explain the plot of this terrible, terrible episode. Do yourself a favor and just skip it. It's more Stevil and his new pal Carlsbad and what little charm the first Stevil episode had is long gone. 

Skip It.

Gerald’s Game Review (2017)

My History With the Film:
Gerald’s Game was announced by Netflix late summer of 2017. It came out on Netflix a few weeks after IT premiered in theaters and had Stephen King fans excited for yet another rendition of his work. I was familiar with the title, but had never read the book. The trailer Netflix released was fantastic and with both Carla Gugino and Bruce Greenwood starring I knew I had to see it. Then when I saw that Mike Flangan (Hush, Oculus) was directing it quickly became a must see as soon as possible.

I watched it with my wife who asked me to turn it off half way through. She just couldn’t take it anymore and the film almost put her in tears. I finished it up the next day and wow, what an incredible film.

What The Film Is About (Non-Spoiler):
A couple heads out to a vacation home in hopes of spicing up their love life. After an accident occurs, the wife finds herself handcuffed to the bed with no hope of being rescued.

What I Liked About It:
-The better question is what didn’t I like about it? The casting was spot on fantastic and pretty much consisted of just Bruce Greenwood (Star Trek) and Carla Gugino (Sin City). The acting was amazing. Gerald's Game is basically a play, its set in one location with just two actors carrying the entire load of dialog and these two put on a clinic. If this wasn’t a horror movie, they’d both be in the running for some sort of award next year.

-The way the story works itself out and the whole survival angle is incredible. Mike Flangan worked with his usual writing partner Jeff Howard in crafting a story that many have called unfilmable. They did a fantastic job.

-Gerald’s Game taps into the horror that actually frightens me. It’s plausible and the horror arguably mostly comes from within.

-There is a scene that will test your limits when it comes to handling horrible imagery. It’s the first time in years I’ve cringed and had to look away, only to find myself fighting only to look back at what was going on the scene.

What I Didn’t Like About It:

Additional Notes:
-The film is peppered with small references to Stephen King works like calling the wild dog Cujo. It also makes a great reference to the 90's film Dolores Claiborne.

-Mike Flangan stuck in the mirror from Oculus in the film. The headboard on the bed is made of the frame from the mirror in Oculus.

Gerald’s Game is not only a fantastic horror film, but a fantastic film in general. It tells a great story and is beautifully directed and well-acted. I cannot say enough great things about Gerald’s Game and feel that all horror fans owe it to themselves to see this film.

I enjoyed Gerald’s Game about as much as I enjoyed IT. 2017 is definitely a great year for Stephen King adaptations (for the most part).

I rate Gerald’s Game a four out of five and say it’s a must own.

Slasher: Guilty Party Review (2017)


My History With the TV Series:
In 2016, I watched the original Slasher after it was added to Netflix. Slasher is a Canadian TV series that aired on Chiller in the US and on the Super Channel in Canada. I always describe the show as a mature version of the Scream TV series. It’s essentially a slasher movie set across a series of hour long episodes. It’s a strange format for the slasher genre, and to be honest, hasn’t been incredibly effective in any version that I’ve seen, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t some fun to be had. I enjoyed the first season of Slasher, but I felt it ran two or three episodes too long. I didn’t have high hopes for a second season, but I was glad to see Netflix swooping in to bring the series back to the masses. The series returns with new characters, plot, and setting.

Slasher debuted on Netflix on October 17th, 2017, and I watched all eight episodes within the first week of its release. I found the show to be of much higher quality than the first season, but still flawed.

What The Film Is About (Non-Spoiler):

A group of summer camp counselors return to the scene of a crime they committed five years later. Something or someone was waiting to punish them for their sins.

What I Liked About It:
-The snow setting. We’ve heard the rumors of a Friday the 13th movie set in the snow and seeing Slasher only makes me want to see that movie that much more. The blood reflects so well on the snow and the feeling of isolation is incredible.

-This season seems to have been inspired by the Playstation 4 game Until Dawn, which is not a bad thing. It has a similar setting and the characters feel like they could have easily fit been cast in that game.

-The cast is made up of several former Degrassi actors/actresses (it is a Candian production after all), and I loved that I only recognized one of the cast members Ty Olsson from Supernatural. Everyone felt familiar, but there were no well-known names which is always great in a slasher.

-The kills were plentiful and gruesome, which is always fun.

-I don’t try too hard to figure out the killer in movies, because I think that takes away all the joy. I thought the series did a good job of keeping the mystery going and slowly eliminating potential killers along the way.

-I’m not a fan of flashbacks, but I thought this series used them well.

What I Didn’t Like About It:
-In horror movies, sometimes characters are so annoying or unlikable we root for them to be killed. This series struggles with defining who is good and who is evil and I was always conflicted regarding the deaths. I felt like the characters I liked the most (and seemed most interesting) died too soon and I was left with a bunch of people I was happy to see die. It felt uneven and I think a better order to the deaths could have made the series more enjoyable.

-As much as I look forward to these slasher TV series (Scream is a guilty pleasure of mine), the formula for a slasher does not work in this format. Every show suffers from the same problem, they starts off strong, then slow down well too much in the middle, before wrapping everything all up. This show is especially guilty of that. The first two episodes are fantastic, but then episodes three and four are pretty horrible. It almost feels like a separate movie as they go off exploring one of the character’s past and justifying his current behavior.

-The killer did not obey any sort of rules, which was interesting and justifiable in the end.

-Like the first season of Slasher, I felt like this season ran two or three episodes too long. I found myself getting bored by the middle of it, and the final episode was something I had to force myself to get through. It’s not that it was bad, I just thought of things I’d rather watch.

-We know that in horror movies a lot of times the victims do stupid things. It’s just a given and is probably pretty accurate when looking at people in society would do under terrifying circumstances. But in this series, I grew frustrated in how many times someone would run outside in the middle of the night for some BS reason. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a stupid group of people.

Additional Notes:
-Netflix acquired the Slasher series after the first season. This season did not air anywhere outside of Netflix.

When I started Slasher Guilty Party, I was sure it was going to be an eight or nine. In fact, I’d say the first two episodes are just that. However, as the series progressed, it got a little lost and took way too many trips down dead-end storylines. I know this was all sleight of hand for the viewer, but you can only tolerate so much jerking around. Eight episodes is too long for a slasher TV show, whether it’s Slasher or Scream. I think four might be the sweet spot.

Slasher wasn’t a waste of time. In fact, there is a lot of enjoy. Its part slasher, part siege narrative and part murder mystery. It’s a fun way to spend a few hours, but could use some editing and scaling back.

I’d rate Slasher Guilty Party as a three out of five, and say it’s a worthy watch if you love slashers and are wanting something a little different. We don’t get many new slashers nowadays, so we gotta take what we are given.

The Roseanne Halloween Episodes

Here at The 90’s Horror Review, I plan on spending most of my time covering horror movies from the 1990s. However, every Halloween season I like to revisit some 90’s sitcoms that featured Halloween episodes and I thought I’d share some quick reviews of a few of these shows. I’ve decided to group these episodes by their particular show and give a few quick thoughts on each. Without further ado, let’s take a look at one of the 90’s most beloved shows around Halloween, Roseanne.

Roseanne is arguably my favorite sitcom of all-time. I love the hijinks of the Conner family and how they deal with the everyday pains of life. I’ve watched the entire series (minus the final season) through four times now and I can still happily pop in any of the DVDs and enjoy an hour or two with my favorite TV family.

Roseanne was known for making great Halloween episodes. Most sitcoms used Christmas as their big holiday to base an episode around, so Roseanne did what she usually did, and went the opposite way. Christmas was rarely mentioned, yet Halloween was embraced by The Conners. The shows are such fan favorites, a Halloween themed Roseanne DVD was released. The first season of Roseanne did not feature a Halloween themed episode and neither did the final season (well, season nine sorta had a Halloween episode but the less we talk about that the better), but the other seven remaining seasons did. Here are my recaps and a few thoughts (as spoiler-free as possible) of Roseanne’s Halloween episodes.

Boo! (Season Two, Episode Seven)
I always forget how amazing the first Halloween episode of Roseanne is. They really went all out. In this episode Dan and Roseanne take turns playing pranks on one another trying to determine who the Master of Halloween Pranks is. The Conner’s set up a haunted house with all the family playing a part in scaring their guests, which include a business partner of Dan’s. It honestly may be the best Halloween episode of television ever.

What I Like About This Episode:
-It really shows how much the series embraces Halloween and isn’t just one big prank set up like many of the later episodes.

-The haunted house is a lot of fun, and anyone who watches this can’t help but want to walk through The Conner’s house and see all the great decorations.

Rating: Must SEE TV!

Trick or Treat (Season Three, Episode Seven)
Roseanne and Jackie take DJ costume shopping and he comes back with a witch’s outfit, which embarrasses Dan. Dan is forced to deal with the issue of DJ’s costume at the Lodge’s Haunted House, while Roseanne and Jackie find themselves stranded at the Lobo after the car breaks down. Roseanne is dressed like a bearded man and decides to mingle amongst the guys.

Season three’s Halloween episode is almost as wonderful as the first. It’s full of great costumes, a goofy haunted house, and typical Conner mayhem.

What I Like About This Episode:
-I love The Lodge setting which is family friendly and super cheesy. It reminds me of all the horrible cheap Halloween haunted houses I went into as a kid.

-Roseanne’s scenes dressed as a man are hilarious, especially when she starts causing trouble.

Rating: Must SEE TV!

Trick Me Up, Trick Me Down (Season Four, Episode Seven)
Roseanne and Dan play a huge prank on their uptight neighbor Kathy to begin this episode. Kathy doesn’t take it very well, which pleases Roseanne. But when Kathy shows up at the Lodge for the annual Halloween party, Roseanne is convinced Kathy is attending just to get back at her.

What I Like About This Episode:
-Kathy Bowman is so dislikable and seeing her pranked is wonderful. I don’t think it’s very realistic (her coming into Roseanne’s house and all), but still a lot of fun.

-Roseanne’s paranoia is a little annoying at the end of the episode, but luckily it’s eclipsed by a special guest star making his return.

Rating: Must SEE TV!

Halloween IV (Season Five, Episode Seven)
Roseanne is bummed about Becky and is not in her usually Halloween spirit. When she refuses to go to The Lodge party, she is visited by the Ghost of Halloween Past, Present, and Future. Yeah, it’s the tired old Christmas Carol template, but it works really well in this episode. It’s our only peek at Roseanne/Jackie as children and also gives us a nightmarish futuristic Roseanne.

What I Like About This Episode:
-Roseanne’s Halloween spirit dating back to her infancy was a lot of fun.

-Roseanne’s reaction to seeing her friends trash talking her cookies and pranks was hysterical.

Rating: Must SEE TV!

Halloween V (Season Six, Episode Six)
It’s Halloween time again at The Conner’s and Roseanne is put in a big pickle. Darlene is going to a party with a guy at her college, while still dating David. Roseanne feels bad for David and encourages him to find someone to hang out with. However, once David starts bringing a new girl around, Roseanne is devastated at the idea that she may have encouraged David to date someone else. Hijinks ensue.

What I Like About This Episode:
-Watching Roseanne squirm is always fun.

-The mugger scene is fantastic!

Rating: Recommended.

Skeleton in the Closet (Season Seven, Episode Six)
When you start watching Roseanne Halloween episodes back-to-back, you start seeing a pattern which kinda takes away the fun of the surprises. In this episode, Leon is holding a Halloween party at The Lunchbox for his gay friends. He shows a little interest in Fred (Jackie’s husband) which peaks Roseanne’s interest. It seems Fred has a bit of a past when it comes to hanging out in gay bars.

I remember loving this episode the first time I saw it, and considered it my favorite Roseanne Halloween episode. Upon revisiting it though, it doesn’t hold quite as well as I remember, but it’s still a lot of fun.

What I Like About This Episode:
-David attempting to explain gay people to DJ is wonderfully written and acted.

-I loved the payoff at the end.

Rating: Recommended

Halloween: The Final Chapter (Season Eight, Episode Five)
This is not a good Halloween episode. I’ll just say that upfront. Roseanne began declining quite a bit in season eight, and this episode is part of that decline. It’s actually hard to summarize this episode because it’s all over the place. Basically, a Ouija board tells Roseanne she is about to go into labor and well… there are dancing, psychedelic hippies and flashbacks to previous Halloween episodes.

What I Like About This Episode:

-It was nice seeing Roseanne flashback to some of the previous Halloween episodes.

Rating: Skip it

And as I mentioned in the opening, there was something that sorta passes as a Halloween episode in season nine, but as far as I'm concerned, season nine didn't exist nor did that episode. Nothing to see here.

Lover’s Lane Review (2000)

My History With the Film:
I saw this movie pop up on Amazon Prime and I added it to my Watchlist where it was destined to sit until it expired on Prime and then I removed it. However, while researching teen horror films for this site, I saw the movie mentioned on a couple of lists and decided to give it a go.

What The Film Is About (Non-Spoiler):
A man with a hook who killed victims at a Lover’s Lane comes back thirteen years later to kill their children.

What I Liked About It:
-I found the lead actress Erin J. Dean to be the most impressive of the bunch. Sadly, this was her last credited film.

What I Didn’t Like About It:
-This film looks horrible. It was very low budget and the film that is being streamed on Amazon Prime looked like a workprint with no color correction at all. The film goes in and out of being dark and light, the sound increases and decreases at random, the print also features cigarette burns and some weird copyright towards the beginning printed at the bottom of the screen. This was obviously not a finished product and I’m not sure if this matches up to the DVD release, but it’s one of the worse movie transfers I’ve ever seen released.

-The acting is about as bad as the film quality. It’s an amateur production all the way around.

-The story is unoriginal (just an expanded version of the hook man legend) and the film feels way out of place being made in the late 90’s. It plays out like a really bad 80’s slasher film trying to incorporate the twists of 90’s slashers.

-The kills are off screen for the most part.

Additional Notes:
-One of Anna Farris’ first leading roles who went on to star in the Scary Movie series.

This arguably may be the worse movie I’ve ever sat down and watched all the way through. Had it not been for this blog, I would have turned it off after the opening scene. There is nothing redeeming about this film at all. It’s not even fun to see Anna Farris earlier in her career because she is so bad in the film.

I give this film a one out of five and say avoid it all costs.

The Babysitter Review (2017)

My History With the Film:
You just gotta love Netflix. They’ll debut a trailer and then a movie a week later. That’s what happened with The Babysitter. The trailer hit the internet on October 3rd, 2017, and the movie hit Netflix on October 13th, 2017. Which was just enough time to get excited and keep The Babysitter on my “must watch” list.

I watched The Babysitter this past Sunday and really enjoyed it. It’s a horror-comedy that is more along the lines of Tucker and Dale vs. Evil than Shaun of the Dead. It also had some real heart to the film, which gave it that awesome 80’s Spielberg vibe which so many movies are missing nowadays. Being that McG directed the film, you know it had style and some quick edits, which worked well in the movie.

What The Film Is About (Non-Spoiler):
A timid fourteen year old boy discovers his babysitter is part of a Satanic Cult that wants to kill him.

What I Liked About It:
-Horror and comedy can be a great mix, but usually are not. I find that directors with less talent tend to shove comedy into their horror movies because they know the effects or script cannot stand on its own. I hate parodies and I really hate bad horror-comedies. Luckily, this is one of the good ones. It’s well directed, has a great cast, and makes some fantastic nods to the genre.

-The cast is great with no real weak links to be found. The only performance that really stands out is that of Samara Weaving (Bee). She went over-the-top playing the cool, sexy babysitter and then the cool, sexy, evil queen. I also enjoyed Robbie Amell’s (Arrow) channeling of Jack Nicholson in The Shining and Bella Thorne’s (Amityville: The Awakening) Buffy the Vampire Slayer cheerleader character. It was also nice seeing Leslie Bibb (Trick R Treat) in something new. 

-I enjoyed the nods and homages to other horror films and pop culture in general. I especially enjoyed the top five list Bee creates to answer Cole’s (Judah Lewis) question and how that wrapped together in the end.

-The chemistry between Cole and Bee is fantastic and it makes you wish you had a babysitter as cool as Bee is. It’s also heartwarming, which is strange in a movie like this, but does work.

 What I Didn’t Liked About It:
-This might be nitpicky, but I really dislike the poster.

Additional Notes:
-Was featured on best unproduced screenplay lists in both 2014 and 2015.

-The Babysitter is Bella Thorne’s fourth horror film: Amityville: The Awakening, Forget Me Not, and Keep Watching.

I’d describe The Babysitter as Tucker and Dale vs. Evil meets Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. It’s slick and stylish, has heart, and is a lot of fun. It’s not going to win any awards and probably won’t be found on anyone’s top ten lists this year, but if you enjoy a good horror comedy then check The Babysitter out. Just don’t go in expecting The Exorcist.

I say The Babysitter is a three out of five and a rental.

Scream Review (1996)

My History With the Film:
In 1997, my grandmother let me and my brother sign up for a Columbia Music VHS deal. For those who aren’t familiar, back in the 90’s several companies like Columbia House would run deals where you could get twelve CDs for a dollar or six VHS tapes for a dollar, as long as you agreed to buy several tapes at full price over the next several years. It was obviously a waste of money, but for whatever reason my grandma decided to let us pick out some movies and I picked out all three Godfather movies and Scream.

I’d heard a lot about Scream on my internet horror hangouts. Some of the older fans were very upset with the film and hated it, so I approach it with a chip on my shoulder and the anticipation that it would suck. Of course, after the first couple of minutes, you realize that this film does not suck and instead I witnessed an amazing movie that was fresh and exciting.

I watched Scream a handful of times between 1997-2001 and then I didn’t watch it again till around 2014. I was shocked by how well the film held up and how effective it still was.

What The Film Is About (Non-Spoiler):
A high school girl is terrorized a year after her mother’s murder by a killer who plays a sick game.

What I Liked About It:
-The opening sequence is arguably the best opening sequence of any horror movie, and arguably any movie period. It’s a full one act play that is brilliant and sets a wonderful tone for the rest of the feature.

-Meta before everything was meta. The film was self aware and had no problem poking fun at the genre and itself. It was wonderfully refreshing and well done.

-Quick talking geeks ruled the screen. Everyone seemed to be well versed in horror and had no problem making references to it throughout the film. It felt inspired by Kevin Smith’s dialogue which was a good thing.

-The mask! The Ghostface mask is iconic and for good reason. It fit in the film perfectly.

-Jamie Kennedy and Matthew Lillard, two actors that people like to make fun of, put on the best performances of their careers and became likeable and enjoyable. In fact, they are arguably the two best characters of the film.

-The movie gave the killers motive and became a “who done it” which more slashers need. This wasn’t the case of someone trespassing in the wrong area, this was based in reality.

-Video stores, Jiffy Pop, and cordless phones make the film feel dated, but in a good way. It’s still an incredibly effective film, but it also serves as a nice slice of nostalgia.

-The music, man do I love the music. It’s not something I’d listen to outside of the film, but it fits the movie well.

-Woodsboro is a great setting and in my eyes stands with Haddonfield as the great horror movie towns.

What I Didn’t Like About It:
-I’ve never been able to tell whether I really enjoy Neve Campbell’s performance or not. She’s good for the most part, but sometimes she comes off so whiny I wish Rose McGowan would have been cast in her role. Not that she would have set the world on fire with a tremendous performance.

- The Wes Craven as Freddy Kruger janitor bit was a little too much.

Additional Notes:
-Scream had three sequels and spawned a TV series.

-The use of caller ID increased threefold after Scream was released.

-Drew Barrymore was originally cast as Sidney but asked to play Casey. At the time, Drew Barrymore was the most popular actor/actress of the cast. By portraying Casey, she set a tone at the beginning of the film that anything is possible.

-The film is peppered with references to all sorts of horror films and franchises such as Halloween, Prom Night, Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street (which the director of Scream, Wes Craven, also directed), and I Spit On Your Grave.

I didn’t give Scream the respect that it deserved when it was released in the 90’s, but as I’ve grown older it has become one of my favorite horror films. The atmosphere and music channel me right back in the mid-90’s, and I’ll admit this time warp plays a huge part in what it is that I love about this film so much.

The Ghostface costume is iconic, the quick wit dialogue is fun to listen to, and I wish I lived in a world where everyone so versed in pop culture and horror films. Scream is a must watch for any horror fan and I think is a great gateway into the genre.

I give this film a four and a half out of five. It’s a definite buy and a film I watch yearly now.

Some photos from the Scream Movie Party held at the Alamo Drafthouse in Raleigh (March 2019)

The Rage: Carrie 2 Review (1999)

My History With the Film:
The Rage is the type of film I commonly ignore. I can remember seeing it in Blockbuster and thinking it looked like a cheap direct-to-video cash in of the Carrie franchise. I grouped it in with the countless Children of the Corn sequels and never thought the day would come when I actually sat down to watch it.

Recently, I ran across a few threads on Dreadit praising this film as an overlooked gem of the late 90’s teen horror craze. Since I planned on tackling that subgenre first here at The 90’s Horror Movie Review, I decided to add it to my list. I found that it was streaming on Amazon Prime, so I sat down and gave it a watch. I was quite surprised and pleased with what I saw.

What The Film Is About (Non-Spoiler):
A high school outcast juggles a difficult home life and bullying in school, but no one knows exactly what is she capable of.

Note: This film is both a sequel to Carrie and a reimagining.

What I Liked About It:
-The film had a surprisingly strong cast of familiar 90’s faces such as Mena Suvari (American Beauty), Zachary Ty Bryan (Home Improvement), Jeremy London (Dazed and Confused), Rachel Blanchard (Are You Afraid of the Dark?), and Eddie Kay Thomas (American Pie).

-Emily Bergl was fantastic in her role as Rachel. She didn’t attempt to copy Sissy Spacek’s character, and instead was a brooding, goth girl that really fit for the time the movie was made.

-This film has one of my favorite death scene’s I’ve ever seen. I was blown away by how awesome it was. I don’t want to spoil anything, but it occurs towards the end near a pool.

-The Rage does a great job at making you absolutely hate most of the people in Rachel’s life, which is needed to fuel her rage.

What I Didn’t Like About It:
-The film suffers from the use of some unique cinematography. The film constantly resorts to using black and white and at times stretched images during flashbacks and to convey the times when Rachel is using telekinesis. It’s too overdone and become distracting as the film goes on.

-The film was released in theaters in 1999, yet didn’t feature a soundtrack worth noting, something most late 90’s teen films did.

-There is scene or two of bad CGI, but given that the film is almost twenty years old, that is to be expected.

-It’s very much a reimagining of Carrie, for better or worse. While the settings of the major events change and the attitudes and style of the kids are different, we all know how this film is going to end and no new ground is covered.

Additional Notes:
-Amy Irving played Sue Snell in the original Carrie as well as The Rage. She was so worried about coming back as Sue Snell she approached Brian De Palma (director of the original Carrie) and asked for his blessing which he gave.

-Mena Suvari and Eddie Kay Thomas both appeared in American Pie released the same year.

-The film’s script was partially based on a real life event called The Spur Posse involving high school jocks in a sex scandal.

-The Rage was supposed to begin production in 1996 with Emily Bergl in the lead role, but was delayed two years. Once the film started, the original director (Robert Mandel) quit and Katt Shea took over.

-The Rage was filmed in North Carolina.

-Sissy Spacek turned down an opportunity to return as Carrie, but did allow for her scenes to be used from the original film after the director edited them into the film and showed her how they would be portrayed.

-While advertised as a sequel to the original Carrie, the film is a re-imagining as well as a sequel. In 2002, a TV remake of the original film was made, and in 2013 another remake of the original film was completed.

I enjoyed The Rage: Carrie 2 more than I expected to. It definitely feels like a late 90's teen horror flick and I'm surprised it hasn't garnered more of a cult following. It's a fun film especially if you enjoy Carrie movies.

 I’d give it a three out of five and say it’s a rental.

The Faculty Review (1998)

My History With the Film:
I don’t recall the first time I saw The Faculty, but I remember being blown away by it. I wasn’t expecting much, and I’m not really a fan of body snatcher type movies, but The Faculty just hits all the right notes for me. It has a great cast, a fantastic pace, and wonderful tension. It’s one of the films that I have a blast revisiting every now and again and I’m glad it slowly seems to getting its due from the horror community.

What The Film Is About (Non-Spoiler):
A group of misfit high school kids become intangible in a conspiracy with their teachers who may or may not be monsters.

What I Liked About It:
- The cast is amazing. Josh Hartnett (Halloween H20), Jordana Brewster (Fast and the Furious), Laura Harris (Dead Like Me), Clea Duvall (Girl Interrupted), Elijah Woods (Lord of the Rings), and Shawn Hatosy (Animal Kingdom) make up the main students of the film. Famke Janssen (X-Men), Robert Patrick (Terminator 2), Salma Hayek (Desperado), and Jon Stewart (The Daily Show) make up some of the faculty. Usher also makes his film debut.

-The soundtrack is fantastic and is arguably the best soundtrack of any 90’s teen horror films.

-The combination of cliché high schoolers really makes this feel like a horror version of The Breakfast Club which is a great thing.

-I also love that it was filmed in Texas. It has that Varsity Blues feel, but with horror.

-The CG is actually quite effective in most of the movie and it holds up twenty years later.

-The feeling of isolation is brilliant in this film.

-The reveal of the host, along with the way the kids combat The Faculty is fun, believable, and enjoyable.

What I Didn’t Like About It:
-CG in the 90’s was great if it was done at a distance and this film is a prime example of it. When they chose to do something up close or make something move (like a head) things go from intense to flat out comical.

Additional Notes:
-The script was originally written in 1990, but no one was interested in making the film. After Scream’s success, The Weinstein’s brought in Kevin Williamson (writer of Scream) to re-write the script and rushed it into development.

-Tommy Hilfiger’s product placement included a deal in which the cast would appear in Tommy ads in both print (Pic 1, Pic 2) and on television.

-Scored by Marco Beltrami who also scored the Scream films, Joy Ride, and Dracula 2000.

-The cast was featured in the Class of 99’s cover of “Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2” music video. 

-Cast members with roles in other notable horror films:
  • Clea Duvall (The Grudge, Zodiac, Ghosts of Mars, Little Witches)
  • Josh Hartnett (Halloween H20, Penny Dreadful)
  • Selma Hayek (From Dusk Till Dawn)
  • Famke Janssen (Hemlock Grove)
  • Elijah Wood (Maniac)
My rewatch of The Faculty was just enjoyable as the other dozen times I’ve seen it. The film is so well made it has stood the test of time and is a lot of fun to watch. It might be a controversial statement, but I believe it is Robert Rodriguez’s best work. He always seems to do best when directing someone else’s writing.

The Faculty is a solid four out of five for me. It’s a great movie that never gets old and still holds up twenty years later. It’s a must own in my book.