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Cindy Reviews The Human Centipede III (Final Sequence) (2015)

Synopsis of “The Human Centipede III (Final Sequence)” via IMDb: Taking inspiration from The Human Centipede films, the warden of a notorious and troubled prison looks to create a 500-person human centipede as a solution to his problems. 

Cindy’s Review: When the movie finished and the credits started rolling, my initial thought was: “I never thought I’d say it, but the movie needed less Dieter and more centipede.” The third installment in The Human Centipede trilogy begins much like the second, with the protagonist taking cues from the previous film. Dieter Laser (formally “Dr. Heiter” in the first film) plays “Bill Boss”, the warden of a prison with Laurence R. Harvey (formally “Martin” in the second film) as “Dwight Butler”, his trusty right-hand man. The movie also stars Bree Olsen (of porn and Charlie Sheen fame) as secretary “Daisy”.

Bill is having issues with his inmates and just can’t seem to keep them in line. With inmate-on-inmate violence, prank calls to his office and general disobedience, he’s taken to punishing them in increasingly brutal ways. Dwight presents Bill with the previous films in the hopes that they will help him, in some way, figure out the best solution to keep the prisoners under some semblance of control. The ultimate decision is to create a 500-person human centipede (ridiculous, right?).

Dieter Laser not only chews the scenery, he claws at it, gnaws on it, gargles with it and makes papier-mâché woodland creatures with the leftovers. Every line is needlessly shouted at top volume, with wide-eyes and bulging veins galore. When his character took to using a megaphone my eyes almost rolled back inside of my skull. His red-faced delivery had me convinced that he may eventually fall over and perish from a myocardial infarction. It’s as though director Tom Six threw his hands up and said “Give me over-the-top”. When an actor outshines a cameo from Eric Roberts (“Governor Hughes”), “over-the-top” is an understatement. 

I thought that the first movie was good and the character of Dr. Heiter had a solid place in the world of horror movie villains. I found the second movie to be the most disturbing of the trilogy, with Laurence R. Harvey highly contributing, a fact that unfortunately does not bode well in relation to my thoughts on the current film. This was supposed to be “100% Politically Incorrect”, and while some scenes definitely pushed the boundaries of political correctness, they could have and should have gone much further. If the ultimate goal was to shock and horrify, consider me bemused. 

I slogged through 80 minutes of sometimes incoherent shouting nonsense to finally get to the money shot. That said, I would have to recommend watching the film if only as a finale to the trilogy. It had its moments, one involving a kidney violation, another a stoma, even a “Just One of the Guys” throwback (Clayton Rohner as “Dr. Jones”) and of course the unveiling of the 500-person human centipede. But, that was pretty much it. I can’t hate Tom Six. I can’t hate this movie - I just felt like this was a squandered opportunity. In conclusion, I stand by my statement that this movie needed less Dieter and more centipede. 

TOTAL: 4/10 

Nightmarish Conjurings’ rating system just doesn’t apply to a movie like “The Human Centipede III (Final Sequence)” 

Happy Horroring! 
Cindy

Mr. William Nightshade Reviews Ghoulies III: Ghoulies Go to College (1991)

Ghoulies III: Ghoulies Go to College

Salutations my screechers, screamers, and scary dreamers,

Tonight’s tale of terror entitled “Ghoulies Go to College” describes diminutive demons causing cartoonish chaos on a college campus. 

The plot is mostly a lark and hardly concentrates on the dark which would work if the humor was more worthwhile instead of feeling juvenile.  It seems like the movie wanted to be a funny college comedy but the “humor” mostly made me scoff proving that their efforts never really payed off.  The only advantage to the light atmosphere is that the cartoonish score really tickles the ear and while it is not enough to right all the wrongs it is one of the few areas in which this picture is strong.

In one of a series of bad choices they decided to give the ghoulies voices which could have been refreshing for the third entry if they did not sound like Curly, Moe, and Larry.  Another one of this movies woes is that they chose to give the demons clothes that made them look like little toys dressed up to resemble typical frat boys. Since the monster effects are done practically they really are a joy to see but I would recommend watching one of the first two as this picture proves awful hard to view.

Story/Concept: 0
Direction/Style: 2
Scares: 0
Atmosphere: 1
Rewatchability: 0
TOTAL: 3/10 

In conclusion, even Kevin McCarthy and Marcia Wallace cannot save this steaming mess.

Stick to the shadows my fine friends.

Sincerely,
Mr. William Nightshade

Ravenous (1999)

Salutations my screechers, screamers, and scary dreamers,

Tonight’s tale of terror entitled “Ravenous” concerns a cowardly captain’s disgraceful demotion to the deserted frontier of Fort Spencer in the snowy Sierra Nevadas.  News of nasty cannibals comes by way of a weary wanderer.  The soldiers’ search for survivors sets them on a collision course with a wily wendigo.

The opening quotes quickly make it known that this film is going for a different tone so one can tell right away a strange ride is ahead full of lots of dark humor and a feeling of dread.  This movie really excels when it comes to the story it tells and it ends up being smarter than it seems by tackling horrifically dour themes.  Throughout the story is peppered with drama, horror, comedy and myth so while some might call this a genre bender but I find it more akin to a genre blender.

Given all of the genres this picture combines it is impressive that the acting manages to shine.  Our lesser players could have simply been prey but luckily they went out of their way to create subtle personality ticks so that even their small performances transfix.  Though our hero is conflicted about his cowardly behavior he soon finds himself to be an unwilling savior and has to resist selling his soul as the wendigo attempts to devour him whole.  Of special note is our villain who is obviously having a blast as he chews his way through the scenery and most of the cast. 

At the time of release many critics praised the score, but please indulge me now as I add seventy four words more.  The opening quotes may make the tone clear but the soundtrack further enhances the atmosphere by eliciting just the right amount of unease before breaking into a banjo solo that seems destined to please.  To further show off the composer’s aplomb the final fight ends in a western sounding psalm further proving that the music is one of the film’s greatest assets as they match each other note for note with their many facets.

Story/Concept: 2
Direction/Style: 2
Scares: 0
Atmosphere: 2
Rewatchability: 2
Nightshade’s Notions (extra credit): 1
TOTAL: 9/10 

In summation, my readers more prone to getting queasy might find that the gore makes them uneasy but those who want something different are in for a real treat so sit down, get comfortable, and bon appetit.

Stick to the shadows my fine friends.

Sincerely,
Mr. William Nightshade

The House at the End of Time (2013)

Salutations my screechers, screamers, and scary dreamers,

Tonight’s tale of terror entitled “The House at the End of Time” sees senior detainee Dulce, an innocent inmate, released and returned to her haunted home.  She soon sees familiar forms frequenting her household’s hallways bringing back memories of mystery, murder, and manifestations. Her honesty in doubt, driven Dulce digs into her house’s hidden history.

This film starts off with a shot then jumps around through time to fill in the plot.  While the breakneck beginning may leave one feeling befuddled the makeup effects keep the story from getting muddled as we watch the events slowly unfold and our lead alternates between young and old.  The advantage of the slower pace is that our lead actress is given plenty of space to turn her role into a truly well rounded part that exudes a lot of character and heart.  Her struggles with finances and marital strife are problems that feel so true to life that I found myself hoping that she would succeed because I was able to sympathize with her need.

The supporting players are given a lot to do so they end up feeling well developed too.  When the priest was initially shown I let out an audible groan because the doubting cleric has become so stale that I was annoyed to think it would corrode this tale.  Surprisingly, the priest was an especially refreshing change as he never thought Dulce’s story was strange but instead began to research the house’s history in hopes of solving the bizarre mystery.  This was the movie’s first indication of how it planned to defy expectations by pretending to show us the usual ropes and then subtly subverting the horror tropes.

The moody lighting adds something more and paired with the creaking score they help one to feel haunted and alone which is perfectly consistent with this picture's tone.  At the beginning the feeling of dread is strong but it diminishes as the film moves along so this movie may cause some aggravation for those who do not stick around for the culmination.  To be honest, this clever yarn had me so involved that I wanted to see how it all was solved and I did not mind the lessening tension but I still feel it deserves a mention.

Story/Concept: 2
Direction/Style: 2
Scares: 1
Atmosphere: 2
Rewatchability: 1
TOTAL: 8/10

In conclusion, to give credit where credit is due this film offers a creepy point of view on an idea that is not a horror concept in a manner that is surprisingly adept so those wanting cheap scares should just turn away but those tired of the usual should definitely stay.

Stick to the shadows my fine friends.

Sincerely,
Mr. William Nightshade

Sinister (2012)

Hello again, my creepies!

So in the midst of all of life’s craziness, I was called to a friend’s house to hang out and watch a movie. You’ll have to read the review of what I thought of said movie, which was Sinister (2012).

Here I was, sitting on the mattress-made-couch in my friend’s living room. We sat around eating dumplings and hot-and-sour soup and joking about our high school experiences from the past, when my friend perked up and said “hey, I have Sinister on Bluray and I haven’t cracked it open yet, anyone want to watch?”

There was an excited “YES!” from everyone in the room, aside from myself, who sat indifferent. I’d heard of Sinister, don’t get me wrong. I knew that it existed. I just hadn’t gotten around to watching it and I had NO idea what it was about.

And so we watched.

The opening scene- a family being hung from a tree. Alright, disturbing. But way to try to reel me in with some cheap thrills, Sinister.

One hour in. I was begging them to turn it off. Was I bored? No. Was I unhappy with the storyline? No.  I was so terrified of the death scenes that I had my hands over my eyes to distract myself from the horror that was happening. There’s just something about watching a family get drowned to death in their own pool while strapped to their lounge chairs (and watching their feet twitch as they try to escape) that made me lose it. Maybe it was the music.

It freaks me out every single time. It’s horrible. I’ve always known music has a huge impact on how a film flows, but I never thought that it would disturb me this much. (This was when I started saying “Okay, do you guys want to do something else now?”)

But alas, I made it to the end of the film. My body felt like an overcooked noodle. Mentally, I was shot. Every sound around me made me jump out of my skin. It made me despise children.

So it did its job.

For those of you that have never seen Sinister, I rate it as one of the top 5 scariest horror films I’ve ever watched. The story is realistic, brutal, and it makes you hope that you don’t have any kids living in your house.
Mr. Boogie, or Buhguul, isn’t nearly as involved as I wish he was, though the sequel looks like it’s going to involve him much more (and it comes out in August, you guys! Yay!) but he’s still scary. I like that he’s not the center of attention- the weird looking antagonist doesn’t steal the show, but what Ellison (the main protagonist) is going through takes the main stage, and everything going on around him is like a well-orchestrated horror choreography of terrifying, gory, horribleness.

Story/Concept: 2
Direction/Style: 2
Scares: 2
Atmosphere: 2
Rewatchability: 2
That’s a crazy 10/10. I’m obsessed with this movie, actually. So much so, that I messaged MoodyVoodies (Shannon interviewed them, actually!) to make me a Buhguul doll to add to my ever-growing horror collection. If you’re looking for an epic horror film, this is it.

Until next time, spooks,
Taylor Terrible

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

Salutations my screechers, screamers, and scary dreamers,

Tonight’s tale of terror entitled “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” sees a sustenance surveyor, struggling scribe and spouse, scientist, and psychiatrist actively attempting to avoid assimilation as peripatetic pod people plan to poach the planet.

Recent remakes, revivals, and re-imaginings are rarely robust.  Is “Invasions of the Body Snatchers” a regrettable and routine retread or a revolutionary resurrection?

While this is most definitely a remake it still manages to offer its own take while tipping its hat to what came before and fleshing out a little bit more.  The use of a city as a main location is the first obvious alteration which helps to add to the feeling of dehumanization before the aliens begin their occupation.  While a change like this adds a level of sophistication some of the original’s ideas do get lost in translation so those wanting to see the concepts in their full realization would do well to give both films their scrutinization.

This movie really breaks a lot of new ground when it comes to both music and sound.  The resonance made by the pods or the alien’s screams are memorable enough to infect one’s darkest dreams and for those who still want something more, add to that an unforgettable score.  Occasionally the sounds overpower the action which is my only point of dissatisfaction.

The special effects nearly steal the show from the creepy pods to the way the spores grow.  They wisely used only practical effects to portray the way the extra-terrestrials infect.  The visuals and sound are done so well that it often becomes hard to tell how much of the film is a clever cheat versus the parts that are actually concrete.

Story/Concept: 1
Direction/Style: 2
Scares: 1
Atmosphere: 2
Rewatchability: 2

TOTAL: 8/10

In summation, this picture is a good example of what it takes to be a truly classic remake.

Stick to the shadows my fine friends.

Sincerely,

Mr. William Nightshade

INDIE HORROR FILM OF THE WEEK: TALES OF POE

Synopsis of “Tales of Poe” via IMDB:

“Based on the classic works of Edgar Allan Poe - a unique spin on three of Poe’s popular stories (The Tell Tale Heart, Cask of Amontillado, and Dreams). Directors Bart Mastronardi and Alan Rowe Kelly weave together a compelling and suspenseful anthology that will captivate Poe enthusiasts and horror fans alike.”

My Review

“Tales of Poe” is probably one of the most visually beautiful indie films I’ve had the pleasure of seeing.  I’m typically not a fan of anthology movies - but “Tales of Poe” does everything right.  The acting is superb, the visuals are striking and the score is mesmerizing.  

I’ve been a fan of Poe for as long as I can remember, and typically when people reference his work (whether in film or literature) its usually for his story “The Raven.” I was delighted to see that directors Mastronardi and Kelly picked stories that weren’t overly popular but still recognizable.  I have always been a fan of “The Tell Tale Heart” and I love how it was presented, with a twist, in this film.  The opening, where we meet The Narrator (played amazingly by Debbie Rochon) and the ending (where we have learned of all that The Narrator has done) of this first story is priceless and held my attention from the minute it started to the minute it ended.  “The Tell Tale Heart” is also where we are introduced to the talented Alan Rowe Kelly, who plays Miss Lamarr.  The second story of the film is the “Cask of Amontillado” where we get to see, once again, the captivating and mesmerizing Alan Rowe Kelly as Gogo Montresor and Randy Jones as Fortunato Montresor.  Both are amazing in their roles and in the telling of this story of greed, murder, and mayhem.  However, the final part of the anthology was what really blew my mind.  The telling of the “Dreams” poem was absolutely breathtaking and gorgeous and features Bette Cassatt as the Dreamer, Caroline Williams as the Angel of Dreams, Adrienne King as the Queen of Dreams, and Amy Steel as the Mother of Dreams.  The visuals were just striking and the music was on point.  It really had a lasting affect on me - words can’t do it the justice it deserves.  It’s just absolutely beautiful.  

I could go on and on about how amazing “Tales of Poe” is, but I truly believe it is a film that needs to be seen and not just read about.  It’s such a breath of fresh air to see such classic stories on screen that are done in a way that is still respectful of the author yet have the artistic flair of the director.  All in all, I can’t say enough good things about “Tales of Poe,” and I congratulate both Bart Mastronardi and Alan Rowe Kelly for putting together a visual masterpiece. 

In conclusion, I give “Tales of Poe” a 5 out of 5 stars.  I can’t think of anything that this film does that would deserve less than the best.  If you have the chance to view this indie film do so, as you will be in for a visual treat and some of the best renditions of Edgar Allan Poe that you have ever seen.  

SM

Poltergeist (1982)

Synopsis of “Poltergeist” via IMDb: 

“As a family moves into their new home, they notice strange events that mostly affect their young daughter.”

Cindy’s Review  

In anticipation of another (pointless) remake, I was personally asked by Ms Shannon McGrew to review the original “Poltergeist”. It is almost impossible for me to give an unbiased review of this classic movie. Yes, I used the adjective “classic” to describe this film as it is now over 30 years old. 33 years old, to be exact. It was released in the US on June 4, 1982 and while I was not lucky enough to see it in the cinema, I was able to view it countless times on cable. Allow me to reiterate. Countless. Times. More times than I have fingers and toes to count on. So please be prepared for an entirely biased review of a modern horror classic.

“Poltergeist” is a movie that is not only entertaining on a cinematic level, but also rich in urban legends, and steeped in tales of a troubled production. I’m sure most readers have heard of the “Poltergeist Curse”, and if you haven’t I will explain briefly; several of the actors perished in seemingly odd ways after filming, the most famous of them being Heather O’Rourke (Carol Anne) who died at age 12 during surgery to repair a bowel obstruction. As for the troubled production, the film was directed by Tobe Hooper (“The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”) and produced by Steven Spielberg (“Jaws”, etc.). The trouble was apparently that Spielberg became heavy-handed while Hooper stood aside. This of course is all hearsay but I will admit that the movie certainly had that Spielberg touch.

Aside from all of the urban legends and production issues, this movie is just plain good. The story centers on a nuclear family living in a newly built sub-division complete with a dog and friendly neighbors. All seems right with the world until young Carol Anne starts talking to the “TV People”. It’s just a child’s imagination gone awry, right? And then, the kitchen chairs piled themselves on the table, duh! That’s just one of the many modern conveniences afforded by living in a brand spanking new home isn’t it? No. The family is actually being haunted by a poltergeist.

I have numerous memories from this film, one being the amazing score by Jerry Goldsmith (“Alien”). It has resonated with me for over 30 years. I still get chills when I hear the children’s voices singing “La, la, la” to the haunting tune. Another memory that has planted itself in my head is the scene in the bathroom mirror. I try my best not to write “spoilers” in my reviews, even for movies that have been out for decades (and shame on you if you haven’t seen “Poltergeist”!), but *spoilers* there is one amazing moment of face-ripping gore. 

I could go on, and on, and on but then we’d get into spoiler territory. My objective is to get you to see the movies I review positively, not become so bored you turn to Reality TV. I shall endeavor to conclude here with some final thoughts. The visual effects led by Richard Edlund (“Ghost Busters”) were spectacular for the time and the main actors (Craig T. Nelson, JoBeth Williams, Dominique Dunne and Oliver Robins) really caused you to care about what was transpiring throughout. The fact that I was practically the same age (we’re both December babies) as young Carol Anne made the film totally relatable. The fact that I used to believe in ghosts certainly helped too. ;)

If you haven’t seen this movie, again shame on you, please do so before going out to see the remake/reboot. It has all of the charm and charisma of an early-80’s horror film that we all love. It has heart, scares, gore and a haunting score. It even has a cool “twist” to the storyline resulting in one of my favorite scenes in any horror film. I guarantee you will not regret it. 

Concept/Story: 2
Direction/Style: 2
Scares: 1 (That clown, though)
Atmosphere: 2
Rewatchability: 1 (I’d honestly give this a 10/10 if could, if solely for nostalgic reasons)

TOTAL: 8/10

Happy Horroring!
Cindy

I, Madman (1989)

Salutations my screechers, screamers, and scary dreamers,

Tonight’s tale of terror entitled “I, Madman” relates a rabid reader’s realization that several slayings mirror murders made known in a novel.  As acquaintances expire and actuality and fantasy fuse, our horror haunted heroine begins believing the book’s baddie is butchering beyond the bounds of his binding.

In the eighties slasher fare became so one trick that they all began to have a special gimmick but this film pulls off an incredible feat by fully utilizing its clever conceit.  Whenever the main character starts to read her book the lighting takes on a different look and then within the same camera shot she appears as a character from the novel’s plot.  These transitions are pulled off with such accuracy they help blend fiction with reality.

The claymation creature and the killer’s comical run emphasizes that this movie was made to be fun.  Our slasher has a cartoonish look as if he had just escaped the pages of a comic book and though he may look silly when he gives his quarry chase he proves imposing when he adds a victim’s nose to his face.  The kills, like the segues, also deserve commendation for their use of fog and dramatic illumination.

Sadly this picture did not get everything right as it is severely lacking when it comes to fright.  A perfect example of how the horror falls flat is when they use the horror trope called the spring-loaded cat.  Although to give credit where it is due this film did offer something new in the form of a clever final chase which proves to be a saving grace.

Story/Concept: 2
Direction/Style: 2
Scares: 0
Atmosphere: 1
Rewatchability: 2

TOTAL: 7/10

In conclusion, as an avid bibliophile the concept of this movie really makes me smile and once I tempered my scare expectations I found myself entertained for the entire duration.

Stick to the shadows my fine friends.

Sincerely,

Mr. William Nightshade

Carriers (2009)

Salutations my screechers, screamers, and scary dreamers,

Tonight’s tale of terror entitled “Carriers” finds four friends cruising cross country while a worldwide pestilence plagues the population.  Contagious kids, conceivable cures, cruel killers, and conceited collectors cause clashes in ethics and egos.

The story here is very rote but there is one special thing to note and that is that the focus is on a deadly disease instead of the more typical horde of zombies.  The fact that the threat could be real piqued my interest and allowed me to more willingly invest.  Though the moral dilemmas are fairly routine the plague framework was a nice change of scene.

Another pleasant and unexpected twist was that they actually allowed some humor to exist.  These days apocalypse films are so full of despair that I frankly find it hard to even care.  Being able to laugh made me feel less jaded so it hit all the harder when the darkness invaded.

Since the situations are pretty unremarkable it falls to the actors to make it memorable.  Most of the actors are very capable and manage to bring a lot to the table but one of the leads ends up with little to do making her performance hard to review.  The supporting cast also deserves some mention as their turns help ratchet up the tension.

This picture smartly relied on the concept of less is more when it came to the makeup and the score.  One may not have even noticed that the music was there until it jumped to life to get a scare.  The makeup effectively created a sense of dread whether it was a simple blister or the rotting dead.

Story/Concept: 1
Direction/Style: 2
Scares: 1
Atmosphere: 2
Rewatchability: 1

TOTAL: 7/10

In brief, even though the situations are run-of-the-mill this movie is still able to provide a thrill.  The acting added a lot of heart which helped this feature stand apart.  Apocalypse pictures are often the same old thing but this one managed to feel different and refreshing.

Stick to the shadows my fine friends.

Sincerely,

Mr. William Nightshade