[31 Days of Horror: The Final Chapter] Day 20 – Psycho III (1986)

Director: Anthony Perkins

Cast: Anthony Perkins, Diana Scarwid, Jeff Fahey

Screenplay: Charles Edward Pogue

93 mins. Rated R.

 

A friend of mine once told me that he believes the Psycho franchise to the most underappreciated franchise in horror. When I pined, he told me that while most people regard the original film as a classic, the sequels are mostly dismissed as they started appearing over two decades after the first film. When I saw Psycho II, I got what he meant. No, it isn’t the first film, but it doesn’t try to be. Today, we’ll take a look at the follow-up, directed by Anthony Perkins (Lucky Stiff) himself.

When Maureen (Diana Scarwid, What Lies Beneath, Another Happy Day), a nun, has a horrible accident, she goes on the run, leaving her old life behind. She finally ends up at the Bates Motel, being run by Norman Bates (Perkins). Norman has a new assistant in Duane (Jeff Fahey, Grindhouse, Atomic Shark) and a whole lot of skeletons in his closet after murdering Emma Spool, the woman claiming to be Norman’s true birth mother.

Psycho III isn’t as clean as its predecessors. There are a lot of moving parts here and they don’t hold up as well as what has come before. There is a subplot with the disappearance of Mrs. Spool and the journalist who suspects Norman. There’s the plot with Maureen and her striking resemblance to Marion Crane. Then there’s Duane, who has a plan of his own. Sadly, the multitude of plot points don’t hit as well as they did in Psycho II.

The film does have its merits, though. There are plenty of callbacks and referential material to firmly tie this film to the rest, and it does build on the story without retread. Psycho III takes its own path without falling back on the same story over and over. Sometimes, the film’s connective tissue with the original film helps, sometimes it does not.

Overall, Psycho III works well enough, though it never reaches the heights that it could or should. First-time director Perkins can’t juggle the pieces as well as should, but fans of the first two will find enough to like in this third installment.

 

3/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For my review of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, click here.

For my review of Richard Franklin’s Psycho II, click here.

 

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[31 Days of Horror: The Final Chapter] Day 19 – Patrick (1978)

Director: Richard Franklin

Cast: Susan Penhaglion, Robert Helpmann, Rod Mullinar

Screenplay: Everett De Roche

112 mins. Rated PG.

 

 

I really just picked out Patrick because I have a friend named Patrick. This one’s for you, Patrick.

So Patrick is an Ozploitation horror film from the 1970s  directed by Richard Franklin (Psycho II, Road Games). Susan Penhaglion (Soldier of Orange, Top Dog) plays Kathy, a nurse who takes on a new patient in Patrick, who killed his parents three years ago and now lies in a coma. Hospital owner Dr. Roget (Robert Helpmann, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Henry V) explains that Patrick is being kept alive for studies. What they do not know, however, is that Patrick has psychokinetic powers and can leave his body at will to commit all sorts of horrors. Can Kathy figure out how to stop it?

Well, Patrick is rather boring. Not my friend. Hi, Patrick. No, the movie Patrick is rather boring. Richard Franklin failed to bring life to this comatose film that has an interesting conceit but blows it all on meandering plot threads and little to no scares. You might think that Patrick perhaps just hasn’t aged well.

The movie, not my friend. Patrick, you have aged just fine.

Patrick, the movie, hasn’t aged well, but I think altogether, it didn’t work long ago and age has just not been kind.

I didn’t find the characters interesting, but I respect that they too started out well and were interesting at the beginning, but failure to further explore them with an interesting narrative tanked the movie.

I’ve heard that Everett De Roche’s screenplay was, at one point, over 250 pages (a massive tome that would’ve translated to a four-hour film), and that Franklin helped him fine-tune it. Well, the film feels like it retained that weighty rambling tone but cut all the interesting pieces.

Sadly, I don’t like Patrick all that much. The movie. My friend Patrick is pretty cool. I don’t think you’ll like Patrick. But if you ever meet my friend, he’s alright in my book.

 

  • Patrick (1/5)
  • Patrick, my friend (4.5/5)
  • Patrick, the poster (4/5)

[The poster is pretty damn cool, though, right?]

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

 

For my review of Richard Franklin’s Psycho II, click here.

 

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[31 Days of Horror: The Final Chapter] Day 18 – The Rage: Carrie 2 (1999)

Director: Katt Shea

Cast: Emily Bergl, Jason London, Dylan Bruno, J. Smith-Cameron, Amy Irving

Screenplay: Rafael Moreu

104 mins. Rated R for strong graphic horror violence and gore, brief strong sexuality and language.

 

Well, that was just…bad.

The Rage: Carrie 2 is the Carrie sequel that is more like a bad Carrie remake that shoehorns in a Carrie connection but is sadly a very bland ripoff of Carrie. Did I cover all the bases?

In The Rage: Carrie 2, we are introduced to Rachel (Emily Bergl, Blue Jasmine, TV’s Shameless), a teenager who is growing up in foster care years after mother Barbara (J. Smith-Cameron, Man on a Ledge, Christine) went batshit. Now, Rachel not a part of the cool kids and is picked on for being strange and a little emo before emo was really a thing. When Jesse (Jason London, Dazed and Confused, As Far as the Eye Can See) asks her out, Rachel doesn’t know what to think. He’s a nice guy, but he doesn’t even know her, and what if it’s a trick? But what Jesse and the other kids don’t know is that Rachel is very special…and very dangerous.

The Rage is just terrible. It feels almost disrespectful to the original film to put such little effort into the sequel. Even bringing back Sue Snell (Amy Irving, Hide and Seek, Adam) from the original Carrie does nothing as she is introduced and then serves virtually no purpose. The background characters are flat, Rachel is not nearly as interesting as Carrie White was, and every mention of Carrie feels like you should just be watching the original, and that’s true.

This sequel is bad and not worth your time. Sure, it features a lot of stars of the 1990s teen fame like Eddie Kaye Thomas and Mena Suvari, but I’m guessing they all signed on to a Carrie sequel without actually reading a script. Screenwriter Rafael Moreu (Hackers) turns in a crummy little script that doesn’t even work as a ripoff. Yuck, it’s garbage. Stay away from Carrie 2.

 

1.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For my review of Brian de Palma’s Carrie, click here.

 

 

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[31 Days of Horror: The Final Chapter] Day 17 – Honeymoon (2014)

Director: Leigh Janiak

Cast: Rose Leslie, Harry Treadaway, Ben Huber, Hanna Brown

Screenplay: Phil Graziadei, Leigh Janiak

87 mins. Rated R for disturbing bloody images, sexual content and language.

 

I’d been meaning to watch Honeymoon for some time now. Yes, it’s because I love Rose Leslie (The Last Witch Hunter, Morgan).

Bea (Leslie) and new husband Paul (Harry Treadaway, City of Ember, TV’s Mr. Mercedes) have rented a cabin for their honeymoon. But things quickly change direction when Paul finds Bea wandering outside one night. She becomes distant and strange in her reactions and she won’t tell Paul what’s going on. It becomes clear to Paul that something horrible happened to Bea, but what?

Honeymoon is a small little horror film, but it is an extremely effective one. Leslie and Treadaway have amazing chemistry that raises the tension very well and the finale is unexpected and odd but very unnerving. It all seems a little easy to put together at times, but Honeymoon and its director Leigh Janiak aren’t hiding anything. It just feels like there’s more to it.

Honeymoon is good fun, and it’s creepy, strange, unexplained, and memorable. But best of all, it’s on Netflix. This is worth it next time you find yourself wandering the Netflix pages looking for something, anything, worth watching. I know you do it, we all do.

 

3.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

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[31 Days of Horror: The Final Chapter] Day 16 – ABCs of Death 2 (2014)

Director: Rodney Ascher, Julian Barratt, Robert Boocheck, Alejandro Brugues, Kristina Buozyte, Alexandre Bustillo, Larry Fessenden, Julian Gilbey, Jim Hosking, Lancelot Oduwa Imasuen, E.L. Katz, Aharon Keshales, Steven Kostanski, Marvin Kren, Juan Martinez Moreno, Erik Matti, Wolfgang Matzl, Julien Maury, Robert Morgan, Chris Nash, Vincenzo Natali, Hajime Ohata, Navot Papushado, Bill Plympton, Dennison Ramalho, Todd Rohal, Jerome Sable, Bruno Samper, Jen Soska, Sylvia Soska, Soichi Umezawa

Cast: Eric Jacobus, Andy Nyman, Simon Barrett, Julian Barratt, Pat Daniel, Tristan Risk, Beatrice Dalle, Laurence R. Harvey

Screenplay: David Chirchirillo, Julian Barratt, Julian Gilbey, Robert Morgan, Alejandro Brugues, Jim Hosking, Toby Harvard, Erik Matti, Dennison Ramalho, Kristina Buozyte, Bruno Samper, Ossa Earlice, Robert Boocheck, Larry Fessenden, Hajime Ohata, Todd Rohal, Rodney Ascher, Benjamin Hessler, Juan Martinez Moreno, Jen Soska, Sylvia Soska, Vincenzo Natali, Jerome Sable, Nicholas Musurca, Jeremy Gillespie, Julien Maury, Alexandre Bustillo, Soichi Umezawa, Chris Nash

125 mins. Not Rated.

 

Who would think that The Human Centipede was part of a shared universe? Okay, take this rather lightly, but Laurence R. Harvey from The Human Centipede II (Full Sequence) appears as the same character in a post-credits scene from ABCs of Death 2. Stupid, but I’m counting it.

So if you have seen The ABCs of Death, this sequel anthology should explain itself, but I’ll go through the motions with you. 26 different directors were each given a budget, a letter of the alphabet, and complete creative control to craft a short film involving death. The 26 shorts are collected here in this anthology and played in order of letter. The shorts range from horrific to comedic to disturbed to gross-out. The style ranges from found-footage to animated to traditional narrative.

Now, just like the first film, any anthology is hit-and-miss. Some of the shorts are great, some are not. The shorts in particular that I enjoyed were:

  • B is for Badger
  • I is for Invincible
  • J is for Jesus
  • M is for Masticate
  • N is for Nexus

But overall, this anthology is much better than the previous one. There are more good shorts than bad ones on display here, and the overall tone is more refined than the first one, perhaps each of the directors saw the original series and took the feedback, though I’m not saying this was a requirement.

Now, there are still bits in the film that are absolutely terrible and overtly grotesque without redemptive qualities, but that’s the brilliance of ABCs of Death 2; in five minutes, you will have an entirely new tale. Therein also lies the issue of ABCs of Death 2. The formula can wear thin when the shorts wear thin. But that’s what you accept when you see this film, and I can deal with it.

ABCs of Death 2 is a worthwhile watch, and while there were some great pieces in the original film, there are more in the sequel. If you liked the first film, you will find a lot to enjoy here. If you didn’t like the first film, I wouldn’t expect to be swayed here.

 

3/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For the anthology film The ABCs of Death, click here.

For my review of Tom Six’s The Human Centipede (First Sequence), click here.

For my review of Jen & Sylvia Soska’s American Mary, click here.

[31 Days of Horror: The Final Chapter] Day 15 – Cloverfield (2008)

Director: Matt Reeves

Cast: Lizzy Caplan, Jessica Lucas, T.J. Miller, Michael Stahl-David, Mike Vogel, Odette Annable

Screenplay: Drew Goddard

85 mins. Rated PG-13 for violence, terror and disturbing images.

 

Damn, this movie drove me crazy with its marketing. Seriously, I was one of those people.

Cloverfield is presented as found-footage from an incident that took place in New York City in 2008 in which a large creature terrorized the city. We are mostly filmed by Hud (T.J. Miller, How to Train Your Dragon, Deadpool) who is at a going-away party for his best friend Rob (Michael Stahl-David, In Your Eyes, LBJ). While there, Hud and the rest of the party witness the beginning of the attack and flee the party into the streets of New York. Hud joins up with Marlena (Lizzy Caplan, The Interview, Allied), Rob, his brother Jason (Mike Vohel, The Help, The Case for Christ), and Jason’s girlfriend Lily (Jessica Lucas, Evil Dead, TV’s Gotham) in an effort to seek shelter and hopefully find Beth (Odette Annable, The Unborn, TV’s Pure Genius), who left the party earlier after a fight with Rob.

People don’t give enough credit to director Matt Reeves (War for the Planet of the Apes, Let Me In). Over the last decade, he has crafted several films that should be classics of their respective genre, but have largely gone unnoticed or underappreciated. Cloverfield often finds itself lost in the mostly unimpressive found-footage subgenre, but its characters are developed, its visuals are striking, and its pace is excellent. At a tight 85 minutes, Cloverfield doesn’t let up.

Drew Goddard (The Martian, TV’s Daredevil) put out a real nice screenplay with mostly-sharp dialogue, although there are times where his dialogue gets a little too expositional, and T.J. Miller is forced to give that exposition, which isn’t a strong point in his performance.

Overall, Cloverfield is an experience like no other. This is a film that deserves to be seen and have more recognition, and maybe it will with the success of the Cloververse that I still don’t really understand. If you don’t get motion sickness, you just might enjoy the ride.

 

4/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For my review of Dan Trachtenberg’s 10 Cloverfield Lane, click here.

For my review of Matt Reeves’s Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, click here.

For my review of Matt Reeves’s War for the Planet of the Apes, click here.

 

 

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[31 Days of Horror: The Final Chapter] Day 14 – [Happy 10th Birthday!] Paranormal Activity (2007)

Director: Oren Peli

Cast: Katie Featherston, Micah Sloat, Mark Friedrichs

Screenplay: Oren Peli

86 mins. Rated R for language.

 

Ah, Paranormal Activity, the franchise that killed Saw. I’m over it. I’m so over it.

The original Paranormal Activity has a fairly straightforward plot: A couple, Katie (Katie Featherston, Psychic Experiment, TV’s Solace for the Unloved) and Micah (Micah Sloat, The Death and Return of Superman) get a video camera to document the eerie happenings at their home. The strange activity seems to be centered around Katie, and Micah, having only just hearing about it, decides to attempt to capture it on film. What follows is a found-footage collection of the three weeks the camera is on.

The frights in Paranormal Activity are interesting, unusual, and a little intense at times. Director Oren Peli (Area 51) shot the film in 10 days using a script that was essentially a guided outline and created the characters alongside Featherston and Sloat to create as much realism as possible. Katie is depressed and sad as the movie shows the horrors she has experienced most of her life while Micah is kind of an asshole as he fails to see the toll inflicted on someone he supposedly loves. Neither performance is particularly exemplary but they are serviceable enough.

Credit should be given to Paramount Pictures and director Steven Spielberg for shepherding the film to release, as well as the horror fans who requested it in their homes. Paramount went all in on the finished product, opting to show the finished film without title cards or any credits in fact, playing up to the gimmick, and Steven Spielberg suggested a more marketable ending that this writer actually prefers to the original, if only slightly.

Overall, Paranormal Activity would be a good starting off point for horror fans. It is creepy but not altogether scary, and its thrills do not rely heavily on gore or dread but more a fun atmospheric ambiance. In fact, this is a film that is better outside of the theater, so gather some friends, turn the lights off, and enjoy!

 

3.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For my review of Christopher Landon’s Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, click here.

 

 

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[31 Days of Horror: The Final Chapter] Day 13 – [Friday the 13th] Friday the 13th (2009)

Director: Marcus Nispel

Cast: Jared Padalecki, Danielle Panabaker, Aaron Yoo, Amanda Righetti, Travis van Winkle, Derek Mears

Screenplay: Damian Shannon, Mark Swift

97 mins. Rated R for strong bloody violence, some graphic sexual content, language and drug material.

 

Hey all, I figured that we could talk about the 2009 iteration of Friday the 13th today in honor of this holiday. I watched the entire Friday the 13th franchise several times this year and felt that I haven’t visited this reboot in some time, and no time better than the present.

Now, describing the film may be a spoiler in some ways, so I’m going to keep this thing real tight. A bunch of youths visit Camp Crystal Lake, the sight of a horrific killing spree that took place back in the 80s involving the mother of a boy who drowned in the lake. The youths are interested in drinking, drugs, and fornicating, as they should be. Then, Jason Voorhees (Derek Mears, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore) shows up and starts picking them off one by one as vengeance for the death of his mother. Who will survive, who will get laid, and who will get slayed?

I actually really like this reboot. I say reboot because this is, in the truest sense of the word, a restart to the franchise as it takes elements from the first four films and then forges a new path. I think Jared Padalecki (Phantom Boy, TV’s Supernatural) is a great lead with a motive and a likeable personality. I think Travis van Winkle (Bound & Babysitting, TV’s The Last Ship) is a monster-asshole and I prayed that he get his.

I think what Friday the 13th gets right is that it is a reboot of a franchise that pays homage to the entire series rather than just a carbon copy of replica of the original. This is something A Nightmare on Elm Street just couldn’t crack. Director Marcus Nispel (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Exeter) and screenwriters Damian Shannon and Mark Swift (Baywatch) melded together a brand new layer or two to the mythology while respecting what came before. Fans were pissed at some of the decisions regarding this reboot to which I always point out that Godzilla has been rebooted numerous times, not always the same way, and fans rejoice at every opportunity for more.

The film faults when it takes its humor further than its frights, and it has some hiccups because of it. I would say 90% of Kyle Davis’s scenes should have been cut as well as some of the more disgusting humor that took me out of the experience as it just wasn’t funny.

I would tell you to give this film a try again. I think Friday the 13th is a pretty solid reboot to the franchise that we all know and love, and it saddens me that we are about to pass the longest waiting period for a new installment. Sadness. Please, Jason. Please.

 

4/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

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[31 Days of Horror: The Final Chapter] Day 12 – Final Destination 3 (2006)

Director: James Wong

Cast: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Ryan Merriman, Kris Lemche

Screenplay: Glen Morgan, James Wong

93 mins. Rated R for strong horror violence/gore, language and some nudity.

 

When I was young, I would watch scary movies with my mother. At a certain point in the film, when she could take the scares no longer, she would announce, “I’d just give up and let ‘em kill me!” In the Final Destination franchise, I’d actually be inclined to say the same.

Final Destination 3 picks up five years after the original with an entirely new cast being hunted by Death/Fate. Wendy Christensen (Mary Elizabeth Winstead, 10 Cloverfield Lane, TV’s Fargo) is at an amusement park with boyfriend Jason, best friend Carrie, and Carrie’s boyfriend Kevin (Ryan Merriman, 42, A Sunday Horse). But when Wendy has a premonition that the rollercoaster she boards will have a horrific malfunction killing everyone on board, she and several others get off the ride. When her premonition rings true, everyone rejoices, until they begin dying one by one in the same order they would have died on the coaster. Wendy has one tool: a camera that has clues to each death. Now if she can just stop Death from killing her friends…

Final Destination 3 is more of the same, and in that way, fans should enjoy themselves. It retains the mythology of the original film after the first sequel skewered the rules for its own amusement. My only major problem with being same old in this franchise is that, after two films, you kind of just stop caring if the characters will live because you know, there’s no chance of that. It’s only, who will die next? This is the installment where that becomes extremely apparent and it takes all the emotion out of it, even if that emotion is replaced with a macabre humor.

The other big disappointment in this installment is the loss of Tony Todd’s Bludworth from the first two films. Todd does not appear in this film save for a cameo voice role as the devil at the amusement park, but I felt that his character really means something and to lose him is a big waste.

Overall, though, the film was fun enough to keep my enjoyment level high enough for the runtime. Leads Winstead and Merriman are very nice to watch and have good chemistry. The film is nicely shot and the pace is quick enough. In fact, some versions of the DVD even feature a Choose Your Fate feature that plays like a Choose Your Own Adventure where you get to interact with the movie as it plays out. It’s a fun little feature that should make watching with friends enjoyable.

Final Destination 3 is more of the same, but that isn’t necessarily the worst thing. The film could have been much worse, but as expected horror, it plays well enough thanks to some nice lead performances, a smart screenplay, and capable enough cinematography. Fans of the franchise should be sated here.

 

3/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For my review of James Wong’s Final Destination, click here.

For my review of David R. Ellis’s Final Destination 2, click here.

 

 

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[31 Days of Horror: The Final Chapter] Day 11 – Tusk (2014)

Director: Kevin Smith

Cast: Michael Parks, Justin Long, Haley Joel Osment, Genesis Rodriguez, Johnny Depp

Screenplay: Kevin Smith

102 mins. Rated R for some disturbing violence/gore, language and sexual content.

 

When people ask filmmakers and storytellers where they get their ideas, I would imagine they rarely say, “from a podcast.” Well, that’s what happened to writer/director Kevin Smith (Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Holidays). On his Smodcast show with Scott Mosier, the idea percolated throughout episode 259 until they came to the story that became Tusk, the first film in Smith’s planned Canada Trilogy.

Wallace Bryton (Justin Long, Live Free or Die Hard, Frank & Lola) is a host of the podcast The Not-See Party with best friend Teddy Craft (Haley Joel Osment, The Sixth Sense, Almost Friends). Wallace plans to travel to Canada to interview the famous “Kill Bill” Kid, but when that plan falls through, Wallace finds another potential story at the home of Howard Howe (Michael Parks, Kill Bill vol. 2, Django Unchained), an elderly man with a very interesting past and a loneliness for someone to bestow his tale upon. But Wallace quickly finds that he is in for more than mere stories when he is drugged by Howe and awakens with a few body improvements. Now, Teddy and Ally (Genesis Rodriguez, Big Hero 6, TV’s Dame Chocolate), Wallace’s girlfriend, must travel to the great north to find him with the help of famous inspector Guy LaPointe (Johnny Depp, Edward Scissorhands, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them).

Tusk is a rather odd film. It appears on the surface to be a satirical take on the Body Horror Subgenre of films, but Smith plays it completely straight. Almost too straight in fact, as I didn’t find myself connecting to the characters in an interesting or emotional way. Smith’s famous dialogue is rather absent as Wallace, Teddy, and Ally are all flawed in a way that makes them too unlikable. The plot runs its course rather easily, but there is still fun to be had here. It just isn’t as blatant.

That being said, Michael Parks is excellent. The late great actor is a thespian of the odd and extreme, and he plays Howard perfectly. The scenes featuring him are the best in the film. I also loved Johnny Depp having a little bit of fun and not playing the same character that we’ve seen numerous times. It’s great seeing his push the envelope of LaPointe to strange new avenues, and I look forward to seeing how he is further developed in the concluding chapters of this trilogy.

The trilogy idea is rather fun as well, and Smith has already pushed on with Yoga Hosers with word on Moose Jaws unknown at the moment. It’s clear that Smith is interested in making his films for him and I can respect that. It just might not be all that lucrative.

 

2.5/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

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