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Deconstructing Herbert West: Re-Animator

The last Lovecraft piece I did was on Color out of Space which you can find here.

For this one I familiarized myself with the original story by H.P Lovecraft, originally published in 1922 as a serial story for the publication, Home Brew. You can find it here if you don’t have a copy.  I always recommend reading the source material before watching the movie and Lovecraft’s writing style is just so flawless.  His work is literally beautiful to read.

I then went on to watch:

Re-Animator (1985)

Bride of Re-Animator (1990)

Beyond Re-Animator (2003)

and finally

Herbert West: Reanimator (2017),  by Italian filmmaker Ivan Zuccon.

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

~The Original Short Story~

I think most films that center around the idea of Necromancy can easily be traced back to Shelley or Lovecraft.  I’ve often wondered if Lovecraft was influenced by her work. Although Shelley’s version, Frankenstein (1818) involved a misunderstood creature that at heart wants acceptance and love; a more romantic idealization of reanimation. Whereas Lovecraft’s version, involves a certain amount of madness and soullessness. 

“West was a materialist believing in no soul and attributing all the working of consciousness to bodily phenomena ; consequently he looked for no revelation of hideous secrets from gulfs and caverns beyond death’s barrier.” (How the narrator describes Herbert West).

-H.P Lovecraft

The character of Herbert West was originally written as an awkward, highly intelligent doctor whose fascination lies in the idea that as long as a corpse is fresh enough and there’s no physical damage to the body or brain tissue- it can be reanimated using a specific serum that he’s carefully developed.  I have to wonder if Lovecraft modelled the character of Herbert West after himself in some ways; awkward, no social skills, methodical, even the physical description of West, a slight spectacled, socially awkward man- sounds a lot like Lovecraft himself.

Over time, West has tweaked the serum to accommodate different organisms.  It’s described as a thick oozing liquid that’s injected into the corpse.  Starting off with animals, he works his way up to humans.  He doesn’t work alone in obtaining his specimens and carrying out his highly unethical experiments.  Luckily, he has a friend, the narrator. The one friend that’s been with him since studying at Miskatonic University. He not only respects and supports his work, but he acts as the voice the reason frequently, which seems to be lacking in Herbert West. He’s also a little afraid of Dr. West compelling him to stay by his side.  Herbert has no sense of humility, or humanity in general. Thinking that the only thing one needs to bring someone back to life is purely physical, neglecting the emotional aspect of humanity altogether.  His reanimated corpses lack a soul and reasoning. Naturally his experiments end in abysmal failures- creating a multitude of horrendous, bordering on blasphemous, zombie-like creations.

*Note the 2018 Italian version of the Re-Animator films is the only one that’s NOT a horror/comedy. 

Re-Animator (1985)

Re-Animator

I am embarrassed to say I haven’t watched any of these movies.  I’m not sure I would have appreciated them until now to be perfectly honest.  The 1985 version was the most entertaining of the bunch and has the slight edge in ratings getting a strong 4.5/5 on Rotten Tomatoes. The two sequels only garnered a 3/5.  Jeffrey Combs plays West flawlessly.  He’s cold, almost in-human, methodical, brilliant, mad, and all about science. This movie is pure entertainment from start to finish.  It stays fairly close to the source material other than the fact that in the movie, Dr. Halsey (Dr. Hill in the original story) is more of a villain than the character of Dr. Allan Hill.  In the story, West had more respect for Hill, (Halsey) other than the fact that he looked at West’s work with disdain, he actually wanted approval from the esteemed Doctor.  The characters themselves are entertaining in their own right.  We have West (Jeffrey Combs) and his loyal friend, Dan Cain, (Bruce Abbot), there’s Dr. Hill’s daughter, Megan, (Barbara Crampton) who just happens to be dating Dan much to her disapproving father. There are creature effects, great action sequences, a lot of boobs (it was the 80s so the sexploitation and gratuitous nude scenes are plentiful).  Finally, oh so much blood.  The special effects department reportedly went through 24 gallons of fake blood for this movie.  It’s classic 80s style horror with a lot of gore as well as some humor.  It’s an experience. Five knives out of five.

Bride of Re-Animator (1990)

Bride of Re-Animator

The plot roughly follows episodes “V. The Horror from the Shadows” and “VI. The Tomb-Legions” of the Lovecraft story, and follows doctors Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs) and Dan Cain (Bruce Abbot) as they attempt to create a living woman from dead tissue. It’s about eight months after the events that took place in the original movie.  Dr. West and  Dr. Cain are now Medics in the center of a bloody Peruvian civil war.  It’s here where Dr. West has ample access to corpses to further his research.  After an attack at their base, the pair are sent back to Miskatonic University where West sets up shop in Dan’s basement.  West can now reanimate individual body parts so he finds the heart of Meg, Dan’s original love interest, Dr. Halsey’s head ends up being reanimated making for some serious cringe and comedy. This movie is crazy from start to finish. I laughed A LOT in this one.  A zombie detective who’s still in hot pursuit of West for turning his wife into a zombie.  A reanimated Dr. Halsey’s head, relying on a zombie guard to transport him everywhere until he makes bat wings for his head for readier mobilization.  He then leads an entire zombie force of West’s former test subjects to hunt down Dr. West.  There’s A puppet zombie dog, some crazy action sequences, and a shitload of gore that may not be for everyone, but I liked it.  The forever loyal assistant, Dan is frequently, sometimes hilariously, shirtless and has to decide between his Peruvian love interest, journalist Francesca Danelli, and the newly reanimated woman containing the heart of his true love, Meg. This all leads up to a very interesting cat fight.  Although this movie wasn’t received as well as the first it’s still a cult classic, it continues the original Lovecraft story. Plus, who doesn’t want to see a villain that consists of a head and bat wings leading a zombie army? Three knives out of five.

Beyond Reanimator (2003)

Beyond Re-Animator

The movie starts off with Dr. Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs) in prison for 13 years because of a murder committed by one of his unfortunate experiments- (zombies- he made zombies). Continuing his scientific research in prison, using whatever he can find around the facility, he has now discovered the missing element in the reanimation process. The “NPE” (Nano-Plasmic Energy), it’s an energy that can be extracted from the brain of a living organism through an electrocution-like process and stored in a sparkly chip.  Using this in conjunction with his serum can possibly eliminate zombies altogether as it would not only restore the corpse, but also restore memories, skills, almost like their old selves right?

A new young doctor named Howard Phillips (Jason Barry)– (a nod to the author himself, H.P) is introduced as the new prison physician and the two quickly form a bond as West is assigned to assist him.  They continue Dr. West’s research because Dr. Phillips, it turns out, is the little brother of one of West’s victims and watched the good Doctor being led away in handcuffs 13 years prior.  He’s both fascinated by the research but contains higher morals than Herbert which keeps West from actually following through with experiments.  Enter journalist Laura Olney (Elsa Pataky) who’s doing an article for her newspaper on the prison.  Dr. Phillips and the pretty Laura develop a relationship and fall in love.  The evil warden of the prison also fancies the pretty reporter and through a brutal attempt at making her his own, Laura ends up dying. It’s here where the moralistic Dr. Phillips turns to Dr. West to bring her back.  I’m not going to give away spoilers other than this: there’s a little less gore in this movie but still some very cringey moments.  There’s a considerable amount of violence that eventually erupts in a pretty bloody riot at the prison.  It doesn’t really follow the original Lovecraft story but rather just another chapter with Jeffrey Combs playing the often comedic Dr. West.  It’s generally not well received, it’s not scary but has a few shocking bits.  If you’re a fan of the series, it’s definitely worth at least one watch. Two knives out of five.

Herbert West: Re-Animator (2017)

Herbert West: Re-Animator

This is a unique adaptation by Italian filmmaker Ivan Zuccon.  This is a much darker version of the tale. Starring Alessio Cherubini as Dr. West who tragically loses his daughter, Eleanor, a gifted student.  This adaptation was my personal favorite.  It’s dark and eerily shot, and goes deeper than the other films.  The cinematography was beautiful.  A true piece of art.  The story takes some artistic liberties with the original Lovecraft story but the end result is a unique, beautifully told, incredibly dark story.  It contains love, violence, some gore, but not over the top.  It’s more of a slow burner, of course there are subtitles but I assure you it’s worth the watch.  This Dr. West is devoted to his daughter and his love leads him down some dark paths.  The film was recently released on Amazon and I highly recommend it. Five knives out of five even though it’s not totally reliant on the original source material, it was creative and very well produced.

*NOTE: I was able to find all four movies on tubitv.com myself for free, I’m in Canada so it may differ from country to country.

H.P Lovecraft

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Images: 

Re-Animator (1985) Movie Poster  http://a-zhorror.com

Bride of Re-Animator (1990) Movie poster https://www.cinematerial.com

Beyond Reanimator (2003) Movie poster  https://fanart.tv/

Herbert West: Re-Animator (2017) Movie poster http://imdb.com

Mary Shelley Frankenstein book cover https://www.pinterest.ca User: frankensteinia.blogspot.com

Categories
Creepypasta Horror Horror Community Horror Fans Horror Fiction Short Horror Stories Short Stories YA Fiction

LIVE

An original short story

Keisha woke up to the sound of her phone blaring WAP. It may be as filthy a bop as it gets but as far as alarms go, this one actually perked her up in the morning. Like most 16 (almost 17!) year old girls, the first thing she did in the morning was check her socials and throw a 15 second vid out into the world. Filter : cat ears. Greeting : peace, love, and good vibes from KeishaKittyKat0604😸. As routine as brushing her teeth and getting dressed for the day.

Despite the school’s strict no-cellphone policy, Keisha was able to surreptitiously check her socials between classes – or in class, if it was math. She was already on a calculus level when the rest of her class was struggling with algebra. Makeup trends, dances, true crime stories, she had her favourites. She was also a whiz with analytics, which was as much fun as the content itself.

By the time the final bell sounded, Keisha was on her way home to go spend more time on her phone. Extra-curriculars weren’t an option. “We don’t have money for that!” became such a repetition that she didn’t even bother to ask her parents anymore. Not like they noticed. They were too busy fighting.

Her parents always fought but it had gotten much worse lately.  It turns out that grown ups use social media too, but they tended to use it for airing the family’s dirty laundry. Embarrassing.  Most nights now ended with raised voices and slamming doors.  Her sister, Chloe, was two years older than her and often just cranked up her music.  Megan Thee Stallion, Rico Nasty, Playboi Carti, King Von…Chloe only liked the freshest of the fresh on her playlists. Keisha would sometimes tag team content with her sister. They had some good sibling rivalry happening on social media.  Everyone knew they were sisters.  Keisha always reminded Chloe that she had way more followers, but it was all in good fun.  They were pretty tight and often tagged one another in videos and posts. 

The videos were a good distraction from the fact that their world was falling apart around them. 

It was a Friday night when their Dad finally packed up his tattered suitcases and left the house. 

That’s the night Keisha went live to pour her heart out to her followers. She received the usual love and support she was used to getting from half a world away.  A few new people joined the live stream but one name stood out. DemiGod666  😈. Keisha found it hard to believe they’d have anything in common. “What if they listen to like, Marilyn Manson? Ew.” It just made her uncomfortable.  Mixed in with names like PinkPixie99 and Fairy_Felicia, it just seemed out of place.  After she told her her followers what just happened at home, she let them know she’ll likely be making some different type of content to take her mind off things.  

“Drop you suggestions in comments Guys, I need something different to take my mind off all this crap.  Have a good night fam.”  She flashed the peace sign, offered a pout and ended her stream.  

She joined Chloe in their shared bathroom. Time to scrape off the day’s makeup.  They’d usually talk about their videos, cute boy followers that slid in their DMs, giggle and sing.  Tonight was different though.  The mood was somber.  Chloe didn’t even have music playing on her phone.  Just silence. 

“How was your night? Did you go out?”  Keisha broke the silence.

“I did for a little while. Me and Jasmine went over to Darrell’s house but then the boys showed up and it got boring so we jetted.  You?”  Chloe answered.

“Nah, I just stayed home in case Mum needed anything.  She hasn’t gotten out of bed much today.  I got her to eat some toast and tea after school, but she just went back to bed.  Didn’t want dinner.  I just made some KD.  You should see her hair right now.  Don’t think she’s showered in a few days,” Keisha said.

Chloe responded, “I know.  She looks awful.  I feel so bad for her.  I’m really mad at Dad right now, I really don’t want to see him but he says he wants to see us this weekend.  Ugh.”  She wrinkled her nose.

“He’s still our Dad.” Keisha reminded her sister.

“Whatevs, let me be in my feelings right now,”  Chloe retorted.

Chloe wasn’t one to hide her anger.  She was a bit of a hot head.  Typical Aries. They both recently watched a video that explained the traits of the zodiac signs. Chloe was her birth sign through and through. Keisha was a Gemini – she thought meant that she had this deep dual personality, but the video she watched said that she’s simply addicted to drama. Touché.

Keisha went to bed, face lit by her phone as she checked her stats and messages.  Over 110 000 followers and counting. One comment suggested she start doing some scary videos as part of a little series.  Like dare videos.  Keisha always saw herself as being pretty tough and she enjoyed the creepy side of the internet.  She liked true crime stories and scary movies.  She watched all those paranormal shows where the people hunt ghosts with special equipment.  

She let the idea roll around in her head, coming up with scenarios while she drifted off into an unrestful sleep.

*******************************************************************

A few of her followers suggested she partake in some 3:00am ghost hunting challenges where she and her sister would play with a spirit board and various apps on her phone. They played Charlie Charlie, which caused both girls to scream and end the video. The creepier the content she shared, the more followers and comments she got.  It was a rush. She went deeper. Keisha was aware of a new trending app that mixed adventure, creepiness, and coincidence. As long as you believed…

Rando-Journey insisted that the user try to “manifest” their end result. Want to find money? See a dog? A colour? Think hard, set your intention and then generate a location through the app. The girls started small. “Show me purple,” Chloe said, rolling her eyes. This was one step above a child’s treasure hunt. She was sure she had better ways to spend her time right now. The app generated a location, and off they went. 

They walked mere blocks before arriving at the location. The girls looked around and saw nothing but streetlights, a SLOW CHILDREN PLAYING sign, and the bus stop they used to use in elementary school. This was their neighborhood and they knew there was nothing purple around here. Chloe sucked her tongue, aggravated at the waste of her time when Keisha spun her around. 

Remember that tall-ass hedge around the property behind the bus stop?! We always wondered what was behind those bushes!”, she hissed.

Chloe nodded in the affirmative. And then she saw it.

What was once a thick, some-type-of-evergreen-looking hedge that completely disguised what lay in the offing was gone. Nothing but sawdust, and stumps that suggested whoever cut them down was a chainsaw rookie.

And a purple house. 

How had they not noticed that before.

Keisha was pumped. Chloe was not.

So someone bought the property, painted the house purple, and cut down the hedges. So?”, she said.

It’s still purple.” Keisha said firmly.

Chloe knew her sister was right.

Subsequent journeys manifested a friendly dog, a not-so-friendly cat, and $40. Keisha figured they could have just manifested the chicken nuggets they bought with the money to skip a step, but Chloe reminded her that this way they got the nuggs – and got to keep the change. 

The girls became more and more detached from reality as they spent almost all of their waking time online interacting with strangers.  Retreating into their bedrooms more and more, the house itself became a ghost. 

Struggling to fall asleep as ideas for new videos ran through Keisha lay in bed struggling to sleep, with ideas running through her head like a freight train. 2:14am.  It was Friday night so there was no school in the morning.  She sent Chloe a text.

K: 3 a.m. Rando-Journey? 🧭

C: Dude. No. 

    Too tired. 

    Tomorrow. 

K: Pffffft.

   Sneak out with me? 

   TONS OF VIEWS GUARANTEED ☠️

C: 😴😴

They had agreed when it came down to these adventures that they would never do it alone.  

An anxious Keisha broke the rules that night.

She carefully grabbed the car keys off the table downstairs, and left quietly through the back door.  She had just passed her driving test making it legal for her to drive, although she was supposed to have a licensed driver in the vehicle with her. She drove down the street out of sight and parked. She had her iPad for the app to generate coordinates while she filmed inside her car.  She hit the “Live” button.

Ok Guys, so I’m going on a Rando-Journey, I know, I know, I’m by myself but my sister was being a wuss so…” She gestured to her virtual audience.  “I’m going to document everything and take you all with me.” She proceeded to warn the hundreds of people slowly joining her live not to be stupid and do it alone. “I just feel confident tonight guys, I’m going to be careful don’t worry.  I have my pepper spray with me.  You like the 3am challenges so much that I thought, why not go on a late night Rando-Journey and see what happens.” She continued, “Tonight,” she spoke aloud, “show us something unexpected, no death, I don’t wanna die or anything, but show us something unexpected.”

A few moments later she had her coordinates, which she shared with her viewers.  She narrated while driving, pausing only briefly to pull over and respond to comments.  Some viewers were saying that they knew the general area she was in.  Some people recognized a few landmarks nearby.  Then she saw him again.  DemiGod666  😈💀💀. He had added a couple of skulls.  She never interacted with him, he never commented.  She just all of a sudden felt a quiver of unease go through her.  She knew she was being watched by more than a thousand viewers but this time, she actually felt like she was being watched.

The coordinates led her to what felt like the end of the earth.  The pavement dropped off and all of a sudden she was on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere. Alone.  It was then that Keisha concluded that this may not have been the wisest of choices.

“Guys, I’m a little creeped out right now, I’m not gonna lie. This road is so bumpy and dark. Ooof, my mother is gonna kill me if I bottom out in her car.”  It was right about then that an old abandoned house came into view.  Now, Keisha and Chloe grew up in this area their entire life.  They’ve driven everywhere and thought they knew all of the abandoned creepy places in town.  So how did this, too,  not end up on their radar? 

“Looks like an old abandoned farm house guys.  This is unexpected most def.  Chloe and I have lived here our whole lives and we’ve never seen this place before.  Never knew this road even existed.  I brought some gear, let me grab my flashlight.”  She looked into the camera on her phone when she saw a shape coming up behind her.  She felt something hit her hard on the back of her head, everything went black. The livestream cut out. 

*******************************************************************

Chloe woke up to her phone buzzing with notifications.  She tried to ignore it, thinking one of her videos must have just gotten a lot of hits.  She looked at the time. 3:44am.  The notifications kept coming and she got a sinking feeling in her stomach.

They were all notifications from “CLICK”, her video app.  They weren’t notifications though, they were DMs.

Something happened to Keisha! Exclaimed one user.

Someone’s got Keisha.  Another user.

Call the police now!  A regular viewer.

Call the cops, I recognize that area.  Another user in their circle.

I think I may know where that house is. From Pixie_Girl19, which was not just a random user but a friend of theirs from school.

Chloe’s heart raced as she checked her sister’s empty room with its unmade bed and then dashed into her mother’s room shaking her awake.  “Mom, something’s happened to Keisha, she went LIVE and people are saying something happened to her”, Chloe blurted out. “We need to call the police.”

In that instant, Donna sprang out of bed and threw on some clothes, all while dialing 911. Chloe hadn’t seen her mother move that fast since she tried to do one of the girls’ dance videos with them – the time she popped her knee out and had to stop.

Within minutes it seemed the police were knocking on the door.  Chloe pulled up her CLICK app and hit the LIVE button.

“Ok Guys, I need your help, I need to know what happened during Keisha’s Live.  Fill me in, the police are here now and we need to find her.”  She pleaded on the screen. A few eyeball emoticons started popping up in the video.  

“She was driving down the old highway that cuts off near Elmsdale,” advised one user.

“She was heading north towards the old Oak pass,” another person chimed in.

Chloe was watching the comments closely and relaying the info to the police officers at the same time.  She heard them radio an alert  for the area, and a BOLO for Donna’s Toyota.

“I think she could be at the abandoned Fairclough Mansion, I’m almost sure of it.  Someone came up behind her and hit over the back of the head.  She’s gotta be there!”  Thank you, Pixie_Girl19.

The police sped off to investigate. Officer Browne and his partner Cruz responded first and found the old road that led to the Fairclough property. 

Man this place has grown wild over the years,”  remarked Officer Browne.  

They parked further down and turned off their headlamps ready to walk.

“Wait! Is that the Toyota?”  

The two officers got out of their car, flashlights in one hand, the others resting on their pistols.

 It seemed to be the girl’s car.  Her purse was still in it and her cell phone on the ground nearby.

The two men kept walking, approaching the doorstep of the creepy old house. Weeds had taken over the stairs now.  Browne motioned for Cruz to go around back while he went through the front.  The front door wasn’t locked.

*******************************************************************

Cruz cautiously stepped around the back of the house trying to not step on any twigs to make a noise.  He went in through a busted old window, landing in the kitchen.  He met Browne in the lobby. 

To the left, at the end of the hall there a soft glow of light.  The two men approached, floor creaking beneath them.  When they approached the lit room at the end of the hall they drew their guns and entered yelling, “Police!” The room was empty other than a small woman’s pink an black hoodie draped over a lone chair.  The only other thing in that room was a lamp on the floor with no shade on it, giving off a harsh blinding light.

The officers scoured the rest of the building and called for backup to search the nearby road and fields.  The GPS had been turned off on the phone making it impossible to ping and locate. The last known location was this house. 

For three weeks volunteers from the community led that search, stapling posters of a smiling innocent Keisha in her favorite pink and black hoodie.  No one had heard or seen anything.  Leads went nowhere and the trail simply grew cold.   

Donna and Chloe tried their best to keep it together although a large piece of them was now missing.  Chloe was still trying to get ready for college but had major hesitations about leaving her mom.  She had been accepted with honors to the Sciences program.  Her plan was to become a microbiologist and Keisha would have been the mathematician, always with her stats.  God, Chloe missed her sister, the pain weighed so heavy on her heart.  That night she cried herself to sleep and dreamt about Keisha. 

Keisha tied to a chair, being beaten, abused, starved, or worse.  Keisha’s colorless face looking up at her through lake water with dead eyes.  Keisha with worms and snakes coming out of her mouth and eyes.  Keisha’s dismembered body being found in a suitcase somewhere.  The nightmares were always the same.  She figured she’d have them for the rest of her life.

*******************************************************************

Eight months later. Chloe’s home making dinner for her and her mother. While she waited for the lasagna to bake, she opened an app she hadn’t opened since shortly after her sister disappeared. 

The bright light of CLICK opened, with a video immediately playing. Right away she noticed messages that had gone unread.  She went through them one by one.  Friends sending their love and regards.  Sending prayers to the family.  She was even tagged in a few videos made by fellow creators discussing the case, still trying to find answers.

When she got near the bottom of her message list.  There it was.  KeishaKittyKat0604😸 with a video attached.  Only the video was dated three months ago.  Chloe’s heart raced as she opened it not knowing to shout for her mother or not first.  The video was only 60 seconds long. You see a dark warehouse with one lamp on, no lampshade.  A male voice is heard, “Welcome to the show Chloe, by the way… You will NEVER find her.” He followed that up with a loud obnoxious, maniacal laugh.  The video ends with one close-up large brown bloodshot eye and, “I see you…”

Chloe dropped the phone.  

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Categories
Horror Community Horror Fans Horror Fiction Short Horror Stories Short Stories YA Fiction

Reflection

An original short story.

Kaia had no idea where or how far away from home she was. At seven years old she wasn’t much for directions or telling time. She only knew that the sun was going down and if she didn’t find her way out of these trees she’d miss dinner and tonight it was lasagna, special for Aunt Janice’s birthday. Her favourite. The whole family was gathered for the celebration, including grandma and her world-famous baked goodies.  Her cousins were over, too. Sara and Ivan. Jerks. Kaia wished she could hang out with the adults. They were gathered in the kitchen, which was enourmous. Kaia figured her parents were rich, probably gazillionaires. They always threw these big fancy parties where all the food was bite sized and everyone drank out of long fancy glasses.

That’s how it started. Everyone was celebrating, her mom fussing in the kitchen, the children being too loud.

Why don’t you kids go outside and play until dinner,”  her Dad suggested.

Off they went. 

With a backyard that consisted mainly of a small garden plot and trees, the obvious place to play was in the trees.  Kaia and her cousins would do things like build forts with tree branches and climb the enormous trees, but their go-to was hide and seek. 

Sara hid first, but her efforts were futile. She was not a tiny girl and she wore a pink, fluffy sweatshirt. It may as well have been a beacon for the seeker. Sara was nabbed in a minute’s time.

Ivan was a little more creative. That bummed Kaia out, she didn’t feel like searching for him anyway,. Kaia didn’t really enjoy playing with her cousins that much because they were bullies. Picked on her her for being skinny, mocked her long curly red hair that sometimes got knotted up and fluffy-fuzzy. “Your hair looks like a toilet brush,” Sara would say. Ivan would laugh hysterically over the unfunny joke every time. 

Kaia wanted to outsmart them on her turn to hide. She ran quickly through the brush. She could feel the burdocks grabbing at her purple sweater as she ran, but she didn’t care. “The longer it takes for them to find me the more peace I get,” she thought. 

She found a tree, hustled up as high as she could, and scrunched herself into a little ball. Trying to make herself invisible. She heard her cousins yelling in the distance. 

In the distance.

How far had she run? 

She waited and waited for her cousins to come find her but their cries just got more distant and further away. A feeling of panic washed over Kaia.  She descended the tree, not that graciously though, scraping her leg and leaving an open bleeding gash on her right calf. She cried out.

Sitting on the ground at the foot of that tree Kaia cried until snot came out of her nose, which she angrily wiped on her purple sweater.  “Ok, enough crying,”  she told herself.  “I gotta get home or I’m going to be stuck out here in the woods all alone all night.”  The very thought prompted more tears. She gathered herself and decided to find home.

She had been running, dodging trees and bushes, for what felt like an hour. She finally accepted the fact that she was lost and alone. She collapsed on the ground, exhausted.

When Kaia opened her eyes, the sky had grown much darker.  The woods were beginning to make their night-time noises.  The peepers were out, a few frog noises, an owl.  The noise of rustling brushes.  That scared Kaia enough to dart out of the thicket.

I didn’t know this was here,” she said out loud as she came upon a pond. She bent over and cupped her hands to take a drink of water. The moonlight lit an eerie glow over the pond. Kaia could see her reflection and the forest behind her as though she was looking into a mirror. She saw a tattered- looking girl with dirty clothes. Her mom would be pretty mad that she put a hole in her pants from that tree. The blood was clotted and dried in a perfect circle of red on her kitty-cat leggings.  She could see her stupid face, freckles and that mess of curly hair, matted with sweat and sticking up everywhere.  Out of frustration she smacked the water with her hand.

Her reflection changed. It was still her but her reflection was smiling and Kaia wasn’t smiling. Quite the opposite.  Just then, the reflection winked at her.

***************************************

She had hoped that her terrified ear-splitting wails would draw her family near. To come save her. No one came. She was still alone, the image from the pond seared into her memory. An eerie, pensive calm washed over her. “What if the face in the pond can talk?” she thought. “What if it can help me find my way home?” She approached the shining pond slowly, cautiously. She closed in on it, until she could see her reflection again.

Who are you?” she asked.  

Why, I’m you silly! Can’t you tell?!”, The Reflection responded with a giggle.

Reflections don’t talk,” Kaia retorted.

A shiny object in Kaia in The Reflection’s hand grabbed her attention.

Something…gold?

The thing twirled around and around The Reflection’s finger. 

You can have this locket, it will help you get home,” The Reflection began softly . “It has a compass inside and it will point where you need to go.”  The locket. Still twirling around that one finger. It caught the moonlight, the reflection dancing across the pond’s surface. Hypnotizing.

Kaia motioned for the locket, but it was just out of her reach. The Reflection swam out a little further. Kaia chased the treasure into the water. This was her locket. This was her compass. Her ticket home.

Kaia was shoulder deep.

Follow me Kaia, reach for my pendant,” The Reflection encouraged in a whisper. “Stay with me.” 

Kaia found herself kicking, struggling to stay afloat. She was not a strong swimmer. She wouldn’t even put her face under water, causing her to lose out on her swim badge in Brownies.  Dipping under. Swallowing acrid, metal-tasting water, the grit of sand in her teeth. More kicks. In one swift motion she breached the surface, gasped for air, and dipped under. Kaia was gone. Only a few bubbles remained floating at the surface.

*******************************

Bill Powell walked alongside Sheriff Ruiz. “Used to be an old mill and pond around these parts back in the 1960s,”  Powell noted. The entire community was two days into an intense search for the missing seven year old.

If you needed a town history lesson, Powell was your man.

Yessir, back in, I wanna say ’67, ’68, a young girl named Eloise Harris went missing,” he continued.  “The whole town went looking for that little girl. Sweet little girl, red curly hair, freckles,” he described.  “Decade later, all they ended up finding were bones,” Powell said. He turned to face the Sheriff.  “That mill shut down after some accusations that one of the workers had done something to that little girl, and that pond all but dried up over the years,” Powell continued, explaining how Eloise Harris was found. “That’s when they found her….well what was left. Just a skeleton clutching a locket. I think it had a compass in it if memory serves me.”

I seem to remember coming across that case in my files when I took over here in 99’, they never actually pinned anyone for that did they?”  Ruiz asked.

Nope.  But these woods are full of secrets, there are probably trees here older than man itself.  Some say she accidentally drowned, some say she was dumped here, some say the ground just seemed to open up and swallow her whole, spittin’ out her bones, but… no way of proving nothin’,”  Bill said in a grunt. His hips were killing him.  

The search party found their way to the clearing on an unseasonably warm Saturday afternoon. Right where the old mill and pond used to be, right where Powell said it would be.  Sheriff Ruiz saw something in the distance. He walked toward this patch of colour, kicking up dust and sediment as he strode across the dried out pond. A girl’s sweater.  Purple.  

Kaia’s mother identified the sweater as hers.  There were no remains to be found.  Tucked up into the sleeve was a gold locket.  Ruiz popped the locket open, revealing a compass with a shattered screen.  On the back, the initials E.H. were neatly inscribed.

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Little Girl Lost https://pixabay.com/photos/girl-forest-enchanted-young-magic-1464038/

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The Buck

A short fiction story

When Amanda awoke all she could think of were those sharp hooves breaking through her windshield. Lying next to her in her overturned pickup truck was a bloody mess of hair, glass and blood. She felt a prick in her arm. Antlers. Attached to those antlers was a set of stone cold dead eyes. Life completely drained; pupils mid-dilated. For a very brief moment she felt compassion because this wasn’t in her plan. As she admired those eyes and lifted a hand to stroke its face, an unexpected kick of the beast in her car knocked her out once again.

This time when she woke, The Buck had disappeared. Like it had never been there in the first place. Broken glass shards remained but no blood. Had she dreamt it all? Didn’t she just hit a deer?

She unbuckled her seatbelt, brushing the bits of glass shards out of her hair and off her lap. She tried to get her bearings, but saw nothing familiar. She looked to her left. The road looked like it may have been used regularly at some point, but those days are clearly long gone. Cracked, crumbling pavement. A thick forest full of trees in various stages of decay lined the disused road. A glance in the other direction offered the same view. Same cracks. Same crumbling pavement. Same trees. Then she saw it. The Buck. Standing across the road, not a single scratch on him. Easily a ten pointer. Daddy hunted her whole life, Amanda knew that she was staring at a coveted prize.

It made no sense. Must be a different deer. She looked over to where her car lay crumpled up in the ditch. “Damn Japanese cars, ain’t worth a shit!”, she heard her father’s voice in her head. He died three years prior from lung cancer. A grim scene snapped her back to reality. There she was. Laying on that seat, face pushed up against the driver’s side window. She was still in that car. 

Amanda looked herself in the eyes. One had started to turn black and bloody. Lying next to her was the eviscerated Buck. She turned quickly to where she had just seen the Buck only seconds before. It was gone. 

She heard what sounded  like hooves clacking on that crooked, busted up road. She turned around slowly.

It wasn’t The Buck. It definitely wasn’t the deer. Instead, some kind of blasphemous beast towered over her. Something straight out of the Old Testament. It… He must have been at least eight feet tall. From the waist down it was almost human, only more grotesque. Transparent skin revealed giant green and blue pulsating veins. Muscular legs tapered to hooves instead of feet. Like some centaur from hell. The top half could only be described as a wolf/man, some six hundred pounds or more of pure powerful, frightening muscle.  Its head. The horns. A ten pointer. The creature met her gaze. She fixated on its yellow, shining eyes.

She must have been holding her breath without noticing, because the next thing that hit was the smell. It was visceral. She recoiled at the stench as it leaped forward, stopping inches from her face before letting out a terrifying howl. The creature’s breath replaced the air in her lungs. Like a combination of hot garbage, sulfuric fish rotting out in the desert sun. Amanda coughed, gagged and screamed. 

Her instincts kicked in and she bolted – or tried to. She didn’t even make it off the road into the thicket of trees before she felt the hairy, otherworldly strength of that beast pull her back. Back… back… She felt herself being lifted and carried while the beast ran. She felt the whips of branches and foliage leaving bloody gashes on her face. She had no idea where she was going… but a curious mixture of clairvoyance and dread told her she wasn’t coming back. She knew she only had herself to blame. She had been killing since she was a teen. Her Daddy showed her how to hunt and gut.  Hunting became her obsession. It began small with neighborhood cats and dogs before the inevitable escalation. Children went missing in her small town.  No one ever found them, and that was the plan. Outrun the rumours. Leave before being caught. People were already talking and in small towns…rumors hold weight.

She used her obsession to liberate her father. At the end, when her Daddy was sick, she felt the most compassionate thing to do would be to slit his throat and end his suffering. She knew he appreciated it even though he seemed unprepared, maybe even a little shocked. But she knew. He knew. He always knew. 

This was her fate.

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Buck https://boredomtherapy.com/s/terrifying-photos-from-trail-cams?as=799&asv=1&bdk=0

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Let’s Talk About Hell House LLC.

Hell House LLC. (2015)

I’m reviewing this series as a whole.

Underrated. Definitely underrated.

I didn’t even know about this series until I stumbled upon a YouTube list for horror movie recommendations.

There are three installments, all directed by Stephen Cognetti.

It’s found-footage style horror, which I love. It always feels so real, like piecing together a puzzle.

Shot documentary style (also a fan of this style).

The First Installment:

A crew known for their horror tours and attractions decide to use the abandoned Abaddon Hotel in Upstate New York as the site of their next haunted attraction, (I smell bad idea.).

The night of October 8th 2009- opening night (sin) 15 tour-goers as well as the staff DIE. Authorities simply dismiss it as an “unknown malfunction.” (typical “authorities”)

Five years later, another documentary crew goes exploring for answers led by respected (and no fucks given) journalist, Diane Graves. Interviewing people close to the case, people who have previously broken in and taken some very intriguing photos, they eventually find their way to the one survivor from that fateful night at the Abaddon.

Starting off with a break and enter, Diane and her crew soon discover there is more to the Abaddon than meets the ol’ eyes and next thing you know. Boom. Gone. But note: Not before leaving a trail of their own evidence, video footage and photos behind.

I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. I thought the story was written well, the acting was good and the overall aesthetic pleasing for a nice grim watch.

NOTE:

Includes clowns likes these

If you’re a Coulrophobe, or someone afraid of clowns (Ooooh I hate fucking clowns)…be prepared. There were some scenes that are going to be gif-ing in my head for bit.

The Second Installment: The Abaddon Hotel

Hell House LLC. Part 2- The Abaddon Hotel (2018)

Released as a Shudder exclusive.

Eight years later…

More documentary-style as we follow of another team of journalists led by Jessica Fox, host of the local investigative show- Morning Mysteries. This begins with an anonymous tip. There’s just so many unanswered questions from the 2009 tragedy. People need answers. Jessica needs answers!

Supernatural events inevitably occur as the crew set up shop in a place where 15 people previously died (that’s always a stellar idea).

I have to say, I did enjoy this film despite its mixed reviews from critics. Again, a bunch of unknown actors do a pretty good job in making you feel like you’re part of this unfolding mystery. And those goddamn clowns make another appearance! Didn’t solely rely on jump scares, it was a little more subtle than that. It kept me hooked for 89 minutes.

Thankfully, more evidence and footage was created from this journey into the Abaddon…

The Third Installment: Lake of Fire

Hell House LLC. Part 3: Lake of Fire (2019)

This time we’re following a billionaire named Russell Wynn (you may remember that the original footage was sent to ‘Morning Mysteries’ by Wynn media group) who wants to use the once-again abandoned Abaddon Hotel as the location for his immersive theater piece Insomnia, loosely based on Faust (some pretentious shit).

Yeah, Russell knows the grim history but he decides to proceed anyway (of course he does), subjecting his actors and staff to the same supernatural entities (fuck those clowns) that attacked the Hell House crew and the not-so-wise Diane and her team (Boy, nobody really cares about anyone do they?).

Morning Mysteries is back – with a new host. This time Vanessa Shepard is documenting Wynn as he prepares for the opening. She’s also trying to figure out who this mysterious dude with the massive scar (which could have been done better with this budget) on his face is. What are his motives? The reveal comes toward the end of the movie. I hate giving away spoilers, but I can tell you it’s anti-climatic.

Thank God some of the original props left over from the Hell House crew are still there. They can use that in their production (yes… great idea!).

Goddamn clowns.

Despite actors just disappearing and freaky events occurring, the show must go on.

I enjoyed this film, though considerably less than the other two installments. Parts of it felt rushed. Like Cognetti just wanted to tie up some loose ends, and bring the story of three films worth together in 85 minutes. It wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t great.

What WOULD be a great addition to this series would be a prequel. Why is the Abaddon haunted to begin with? I’d like to see that explored.

All in all, I felt like this was one of those little treasures you accidentally stumble upon. I don’t remember any hype about these movies at all. I give the whole series a good solid four knives out of five.

Trailer for Hell House LLC.

Trailer for Hell House LLC. Part 2: The Abaddon Hotel
Trailer for Hell House LLC. Part 3: Lake of Fire

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Images Sources:

Hell House LLC 2015 image – https://tugg.com
LLC/ clowns image https://bloody-disgusting.com
Hell House LLC 2 image- https://geeksofdoom.com
Hell House LLC 3 image- https://www.slashfilm.com
Goddamn Clowns image- https://screen-queens.com

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Let’s Talk About Train to Busan

Train to Busan (2016)

My exploration of foreign horror movies continues with another stop in Korea.

As a zombie flick aficionado, the glowing reviews from the community and critics alike – 94% on the Tomatometer and 88% Audience Score at Rotten Tomatoes – meant I had to board the Train to Busan. And boy, I’m glad I did. This film is Director’s Yeon Sang-ho‘s third outing, although he’s worked on a number of projects as a writer and producer.

This may be one of the best zombie movies I’ve ever seen (Dawn of the Dead 1978 and 2004 notwithstanding). It was fast-paced. It was tense. It was intense. Bolstered by impressive acting courtesy of Gong Yoo, Ma Dong-seok, Jung Yu-mi and the very young and adorable Su-an Kim, there was also some humor with a lot of heart in this one. It really hit all the marks.

The film contained some of the most extraordinary zombie sequences ever committed to film. The scenes left me biting my fingers and weaving tapestries of foul language so loud and intricate that the dad in A Christmas Story would blush. Oh fuuuuuuddddgggggeeeee….

The film follows a father and daughter (Su-an Kim) on their way back to the child’s mother. The parents are divorced. A seemingly straightforward train ride goes off the rails when a biotech plant has a massive chemical leak, resulting in a rapid-spreading zombie apocalypse across Korea.

The train travels to outrace the spread. There are some phenomenal fight sequences, some insane zombie transformations. People fighting for survival, incredible train crash sequences that even Michael Bay could take some notes on, a heartless rich dude that’s willing to save his own ass no matter the cost, (I’m looking at you Billy Zane in Titanic). This movie really has it all.

I mean, look at this zombie transformation sequence:

Holy Crap right?

The characters have to overcome so much in 118 minutes, (yep, it’s close to two hours long but it’s one of the shortest-feeling two hours ever) that you really develop empathy for the passengers. There is some great character development between tough guy Yoon Sang-hwa (Ma Dong-seok) and Seo Seok-woo (Gong Yoo), who initially pegs the latter as as an uptight coward. The relationship flourishes into near-brotherly love territory, and mutual respect.

Yoon Sang-hwa’s pregnant girlfriend, Seong-kyeong (Jung Yu-mi) transforms from a meek, mild woman who is largely dependent on her brutish boyfriend for protection, to a strong fierce lead.

I even cried in this movie. I CRIED IN A FUCKING ZOMBIE MOVIE. I recommend a lot of movies but this one is hands-down, 100%, cannot miss must-see zombie action. One watch cemented it in my list of all-time faves. 5 EMPHATIC knives out Five!

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Train To Busan Movie Poster: https://www.wellgousa.com/films/train-to-busan

Featured Image: https://web.sas.upenn.edu/korean-studies-student-blog/2017/04/17/train-to-busan-review-by-mia-leyland/

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Let’s Talk About The Burning

I missed this one over the years. HOW.

Things you NEED to know about this movie:

This is the first movie under MIRAMAX , the production company launched by the disgraced Harvey Weinstein and his brother Bob. Weinstein was desperate to get into the horror movie genre after seeing the success of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre ($$$$) on a relatively small budget. Weinstein started tossing ideas around and wrote a treatment. Peter Lawrence and Harvey’s brother, Bob wrote a script in six weeks. The project was a rushed disaster from start to finish. Thanks to Mr. Max and Mrs. Miriam Weinstein (Miramax) for funding this film even though it went WAY over budget (up to 1.5M depending on the source) because your sons had NO CLUE what they were getting themselves into. The end result is one of the very first 80s Summer Camp slasher flicks. It’s important to note that this film was conceived BEFORE the Friday the 13th movies.

The story is loosely based on the Cropsey legend in Upstate New York where Weinstein camped as a kid. Our antagonist is a drunken jerk named Cropsey, the caretaker of Camp Blackfoot. In a series of unfortunate events initially meant as a prank, poor ol’ Cropsey get lit ablaze like a Roman Candle on the 4th of July.

In true 80s horror fashion, it’s an over the top death that made me giggle.

I’m pretty sure this all started with just two tealight candles. STOP: DROP & ROLL.

The credits start rolling and it’s like a who’s who of horror and 80s heavyweights. The makeup and special effects are done by THE MAN Tom Savini <3, the music is composed by Rick Wakefield of the band – Yes. What in the actual fuck? How have I missed this?

Cut to a hilariously insensitive scene involving what I can only assume is an orderly showing a new and noticeably uncomfortable doctor around the hospital. He can hardly contain his excitement when it comes to introducing the doc to the burnt “freak” that is poor ol’ Cropsey. “You ain’t never seen a freak like this man.” Such good bedside manners. This is our first glance at the truly horrific damage that’s been bestowed on Cropsey.

The next thing I see is fucking Jason Alexander. Full head of hair and all. He’s the wise cracker of the group. How off brand! Then I noticed Brian Backer (Fast Times at Ridgemont High). A baby faced Fisher Stephens. Holly Hunter! There’s even a scene involving a hyped up canoe trip where Woodstock (played by Stephens) is rowing furiously as the kids cheer him on, “Go Fish! Go Fish!” I guess they figured no one would notice that.

The kill ratio in this one averages about one ever 10 mins or so and involves some very creative uses for hedging shears.

I actually really liked this movie, it was exactly what I was looking for the day I watched it. A campy, 80s slasher flick that gave me a few laughs, a few surprises and exactly 91 minutes of pure entertainment. I’d watch this again. 5 knives out 5.

Official Trailer

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The Burning Poster (Left) : https://www.moviepostershop.com/the-burning-movie-poster-1981

The Burning Poster (Right): https://www.redbubble.com/i/poster/The-Burning-Horror-Movie-by-alessiofano/49191579.LVTDI

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Let’s Talk About Possessor

Possessor 2020 Brandon Cronenberg

4 Things:

There were some film sequences with flashing lights and colors that made me physically nauseous. So beware.

If you like David Cronenberg (Dad) films, you’ll probably like this.

If you like Black Mirror, you’ll probably like this.

A lot of stabbing. Like, A LOT of stabbing.

Possessor is Brandon Cronenberg’s second outing – his debut was 2012’s Antiviral.

Cast includes

Jennifer Jason Leigh ❤

Andrea Riseborough, who you might recognize from the 2020 version of The Grudge, Mandy and Black Mirror.

Sean Bean. He lives up to his meme in a deliciously gory way. Such a fine fire poker bludgeoning hasn’t been seen since Beverly wielded the tool in the men’s washroom in 1994’s Serial Mom.

Christopher Abbot. I’m gonna be honest, I don’t recognize him from anything. Sorry Chris.

Possessor falls into a few horror categories. Science fiction horror, psychological horror and also body horror.

The plot involves an unknown agency that has the technology to transfer a person into someone else’s body – allowing them to control the host. Unknown agencies being the nefarious organizations that they are, the hosts are used to perform assassinations. The victims are high-profile targets of ill repute.

The struggle occurs when the main character, Tasya (Riseborough) encounters Colin: her next victim. Colin is dating the daughter of her next target. They end up fighting for control of Colin’s body and mind.

Give me back!

This film also explores how Tasya begins to fall away from her herself, forgetting who she is. She’s guided throughout by Girder (Jason Leigh), who interviews her after each job. Girder provides trigger objects to Tasya to gauge where she is mentally. As the interviews progress, Tasya seems to care less about the objects. At one point she expresses guilt over something she did as a child, but by the end, that guilt is gone. You can never tell if Girder actually cares for Tasya or whether she’s trying to completely disconnect her from herself and make her the ultimate assassin.

There’s an interesting thread throughout the film that focuses on dishonesty. Almost all of the characters in this film were dishonest with themselves and the people around them. The parallel drawn to our lives on social media is noted.

The film is aesthetically stunning, the gore scenes were done really well. I did have a couple of problems with this movie. I feel like there were a lot of unanswered questions and I had to actually research the ending to fully understand what happened. I get it now but…

I like bleak films, but this was bleak from start to finish. Par for the course for 2020.

Because I felt like something was missing, I’d rate this film 4 knives out of 5.

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Images:

Movie Poster- https://www.theguardian.com/film/2020/nov/26/possessor-review-brandon-cronenberg-andrea-riseborough-sc0fi-horror

Fighting for Control – https://www.indiewire.com/2020/07/possessor-trailer-cronenberg-body-horror-1234574434/

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Let’s NOT Talk About Cannibal Holocaust

Disgusting.

Fuck no.

Just no need.

Who is this for?

I wanted to do something fun and different. Explore some new forms of horror. First stop: Italy. I like gelato. I liked Suspiria. Why not?

I researched the big names: Argento, Barva (Mario and Lamberto), Fulci and Deodato.

Italian horror basically breaks down into four subtypes:

Exploitation : Lots o’ titties/ vibrant colors ❤

Giallo : Over-the-top bloody murder mysteries where the formula is : hot chick, titties, blood. ❤

Nunsploitation: I mean the Vatican is there. I get it, but still… weird.

Cannibalism.

I remember seeing a gruesome poster for Cannibal Holocaust when I was a teenager somewhere and thinking, “What in the actual fuck?

I needed to know more.

I would later regret this.

I learned that ALL the animal violence in the film is REAL. That’s a big fuck no. I can handle gore if I know it’s fake. I absolutely draw the line at animal violence, fake or otherwise. Nope.

I learned that the actors had no idea what they were getting into when they accepted roles in this film. The lead actor, Gabriel Yorke (Alan Yates) was never even given a script throughout the filming. Yorke, in particular, feared that he had unknowingly signed up for a snuff film.

This film pushed the actors to their absolute limits, and I think Deodato was a fucking sadist. I’m all for artistic liberty but quite frankly, I feel movies like this serve no one except for the director’s ego. Where do we draw the line? Films like A Serbian Film or Human Centipede? Are we sure we’re not just pandering to someone’s depravity?

Instead of including pics to promote this atrocity of a “movie”, I’m going to include an interview with the lead actor from the film. You can see that this man is fucking haunted.

This putrid piece of gratuitous shit aside, it seems like Italian horror regurgitated formulas and once they reached peak saturation and sophisticated, psychological horror movies like Silence of the Lambs came onto the scene, people were no longer seeking the shock, gore and exploitation films. Everyone needs a break. Trends die – thank God.

I am not rating this film because I never finished it. I saw enough and I don’t wish to promote it.

Next Stop: Korea.

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Let’s Talk Lovecraft & Color Out of Space

Color Out of Space 2019 Directed by Richard Stanley

As a life-long horror fan, I only recently realized that many of my favorite films have been heavily influenced by H.P Lovecraft. Movies like The Thing, The Void, In the Mouth of Madness, Event Horizon, and Prince of Darkness always stuck with me and remain some of my favorites to this day.

I love the concept of how minute and insignificant we are as humans in the vast expanse of the unknown. Where do we really fit in? I love movies that showcase the frailties and imperfections of people. Lovecraftian horror is sometimes referred to as Cosmic horror because there’s often an element of what would happen if we were to encounter alien life? How would it affect us? Would it be horrific? Gory? Would it cause madness?

For this one, I decided to read the original short story, The Colour Out Of Space (1927) and then watch the film, for comparison. The film is loosely narrated seemingly by Lovecraft himself. I have to say the film stayed fairly close the source material which was impressive. With the exception that in the short story, Nathan, or (Nahum) has three sons, no daughter. Of course reading the story and watching a modern film based on that story are two entirely different experiences. The story was dark, eerie, with un unnamed narrator explaining what happened in the small fictional town of Arkham, Massachusetts when a meteor crashes and essentially poisons ALL life. Vegetation becomes inedible, animals are basically driven mad as they undergo horrific physical changes, and the people go insane and die.

It’s important to note that this was one of Lovecraft’s most popular short stories and one of his personal favorites. The story has been adapted into several movies over the years; Die, Monster Die! (1965) The Curse (1987), Color From the Dark (2008), The Colour Out of Space (Die Farbe) (2010) and then this most recent adaption starring Nick Cage with a modest twelve million dollar budget.

Now for the review:

When the meteorite first hits the Gardner farm

Rotten Tomatoes gives this film a score of 86% on the TomatoMeter and an audience score of 82%. Not bad. This was the first time in a while that I didn’t pause the movie to go get snacks or go to the bathroom. Visually, this movie was STUNNING. The use of the magenta-like color was not only gorgeous but eerie as fuck. As the Gardner’s land becomes increasingly contaminated with this bizarre color it mirrors the level of madness in the characters. Nathan (Cage) becomes increasingly crazier (Cagier) throughout the film. I have to say, Nick Cage was PERFECT for this role, and I’m not usually a fan of his work but he did a superb job in this movie. There’s also a memorable performance by Madeleine Arthur who plays daughter, Lavinia. I found her character the most intriguing as she struggles between her teenage life as a young quick-witted Wiccan and what’s happening around her. Part of her feels responsible for what’s happening to her family after performing a well intended ritual for her mother’s cancer. She seems to be the only one in the family, besides her stoner brother, Benny (Brendan Meyer) that knows they have to get away from this farm. You really root for her but then…

Poor Lavinia

There’s some pretty great shocking scenes in this film. A staple for Lovecraftian horror. The more shocking and unsettling, the better! But let’s just say there’s a scene involving Mom/Theresa (Joely Richardson) and young son Jack that will haunt your nightmares for years to come. It’s gruesome, it’s shocking, it’s spectacular! Totally Lovecraft.

And if this hasn’t made you want to watch just yet, I should mention that Tommy Chong has an unexpected yet welcome appearance in this film. Reading the character of Ezra, (Ammi) in the short story, I don’t think anyone could have played that part better than Tommy Chong who absolutely nailed it.

Tommy being… well… Tommy

I THOROUGHLY enjoyed this movie AND short story. I wasn’t this happy with a film since The Void. I keep thinking about it. That’s how you know you’ve watched a good movie, you’ll replay it for days in your head. I would definitely watch this again. Since, I have picked up the book, The Complete Fiction by H.P Lovecraft. I am currently devouring it.

5 knives out 5.

If you’d like to read the original short story, here’s a link where you can find it.

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