An oppressed woman’s (Madison) abusive husband is murdered. As police investigate, Madison starts hallucinating other gruesome murders. She learns the murders are happening in real time as she witnesses them. A supernatural link between Madison and the murderer provides a window for her to try to save the victims.
What I Thought
I can’t decide if I liked it or not. I’m going to offer a spoiler-free review because I feel this is a film you really need to experience for yourself, if nothing more than to debate it. There was SO much to unpack in this movie. It was a mammoth of a film clocking in at an hour and 51 minutes.
What I liked:
I enjoyed the 70s/80s horror throwback vibe with the synth soundtrack.
I liked the transitioning scenes into Madison’s visions.
The atmosphere was spectacularly grim, ominous and offered some great shots.
The makeup and gore effects were exceptional.
There were some unique kill scenes.
What I didn’t like:
I may have chuckled at a few scenes and lines that weren’t meant to be funny.
I didn’t enjoy the lead actress’ performance. I’m sure Annabelle Wallis is a lovely actress, but she seems more suited to say, soap operas.
The story line was confusing at points and felt like it was being tugged in a few directions at once.
It felt cheesy in spots. Maybe that was on purpose, I can’t speculate but, I wanted it to be better.
It felt really long. I think a couple of scenes didn’t even really need to be there.
I hated the ending line in this movie.
I LIKED those beautiful transition scenes but it was done several times which kind of took the beauty out of it. I felt at times that the story and dialogue were sacrificed for effects, but I often feel that way about James Wan films. Whether it was inspired by, or a nod to, I felt like I had seen this movie already, only in several other movies like The Ring, or House of Wax.
It didn’t really pick up until about two thirds through with a BIG crescendo in the last 20 minutes. Although those sequences were cool, they almost felt video-gamish to me. I definitely did not like the ending. It wrapped up like an after school special. Very lackluster.
Three out of five. This is a movie you’re either going to love or hate. I’ve asked around, and it’s pretty divided. The efforts were there, it has all the makings of a memorable horror film but personally, I was slightly disappointed. Maybe you’ll feel differently.
Where to find it
Was available on HBO max for 30 days, now available to rent/buy on VOD
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We discuss our thoughts on the Paranormal Activity franchise, this particular film, and some of the best moments- as spoiler free as possible! We also talk about some of our favourite horror movies and memories. It was a total blast.
Take a listen, leave a comment on the video with your thoughts, tell them Sam sent you.
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Director: William Eubank (Signal 2014, Underwater 2020)
What its about
A young woman decides to document the search for her mother after being abandoned at birth. The journey takes Margot and her crew of two into a remote Amish community looking for answers. We quickly learn this is no ordinary Amish community.
What I Thought
No, it doesn’t follow the original story. It’s related in title only. This is an independent story
with a similar found-footage style, but it’s not completely found-footage like the others, which was strange. I’ve heard this movie being described as a lower budget version of Midsommar.
The story flows fairly well and the characters are adequately developed for empathy with a little bit of humour. We genuinely want Margot to find her answers and be reunited with her long-lost family.
The story, although unique and enjoyable, primarily leans heavily on jump scares. A LOT of jump scares. It’s not until the third act of the film, where everything unfolds for the viewer, where it gets bloody and good. Although it doesn’t really feel like a Paranormal Activity film, the story and camera work was still engaging enough to keep me watching. Some pretty cool camera shots in this one.
I liked it.
If you can get past the fact that this doesn’t follow the storylines of the first six PA movies, it’s not TOTALLY found-footage, and see it as it’s own story, it’s actually pretty good. Not sure how they decided this would be part of the PA franchise, but it’s still worth a watch.
3.5/5. I’d even watch it again.
Where to find it
Available on Prime Video
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The long awaited Candyman has hit streaming sites and theaters and I for one, could NOT WAIT to watch it. As a Peele fan, I couldn’t wait to see his take on the infamous Urban Legend classic! Written by Peele and directed by Nia DaCosta (Little Woods 2019 and she’s been slated to direct the upcoming Marvels)
Please note: Contains spoilers
This is the fourth film in the Candyman franchise and is based on the short story, The Forbidden, by Clive Barker.
It’s 27 years after the events from the first installment. Artist Anthony lives with his girlfriend, an art gallery director, and her brother in Chicago. Looking for inspiration he ends up at the now abandoned Cabrini-Green. Meeting a local laundromat owner, Billy Burke, he learns of the legend surrounding a hooked man (Sherman Fields) that police believed was responsible for placing razor blades into candy. The candy makes its way to a little white girl causing an uproar in the community. Burke relates his own horrifying encounter with Fields. When he was a child, after witnessing a grisly event at his own home, he accidentally alerted police to Fields’ hiding place in the tower blocks, leading to ‘the killer’s’ demise upon being beaten to death. The legend- as we know- is if you say Candyman five times into the mirror, it will summon the spirit of Fields who will then go on to brutally kill the summoner.
Anthony’s inspired piece consists of a mirror on the wall. When you open the mirror it shows what the old dilapidated Cabrini-Green looks like now. He challenges gallery patrons to try to summon the Candyman. No one dares. Until that night when one of Brianna’s friends and his girlfriend get dreadfully slaughtered after saying his name in the mirror after gallery hours. The murder, although ghastly and affecting his girlfriend personally, boosts Anthony’s career much to his delight. As the news spreads, more and more people try the ritual, including an art critic and a group of teenage girls resulting in one very bloody bathroom scene.
Anthony starts undergoing unnerving physical changes in his body beginning in his hand from a bee sting making its way up his face. It’s at this point, we as the viewer, understand there’s a co-relation to the artist and the legend. Is he turning into the Candyman? What’s Anthony’s connection to this urban legend? (Watch and find out!)
I did notice an ongoing theme of oppression throughout the film. Anthony feels oppressed by the white critics, Brianna feels oppressed by her relationship with a brilliant artist. We learn that the generations of men possessed by the spirit of the Candyman, going all the way back to Daniel Robitaille, (Enter Tony Todd) were all victims of social injustice.
I found the juxtaposition between the newly gentrified neighborhood and the original slum notable as lower income neighborhoods are being replaced by over-priced freshly painted dwellings for the wealthy. More subtle socially relevant commentary. Even though the cast consists of successful strong black educated characters, the class and social struggle is still very noticeably discernible. At one point, one of Anthony’s friends says, “They like what we make, they just don’t like us.”
Without giving too much away, Anthony eventually accepts his fate as the next chosen one to become the next incarnation of the Candyman. Keeping the legend alive almost lends hope to the black community dealing with generations of; and ongoing- injustices, maltreatment, persecution and oppression. This also lends itself to a possible sequel. 🤞
I really enjoyed this movie. It was a fun and exciting watch from beginning to end. It was the right combination of nostalgia, (just enough to remind viewers of the original story seeing how it’s been 29 years since the story began) and current relevance. The kills were gory but not over the top or lingering to the point of torture. The acting was great and the writing superb, as always. Peele and DaCosta took a fan favorite/cult classic, and wove it into a tight, scary, pertinent fresh tale.
It was scary, but I could have used a little more fright. So I’m giving Candyman 4.5 🔪🔪🔪🔪 knives/Five.
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Sometimes horrific moments happen in movies outside the horror genre. Moments that stick with you forever. Inthis three part series I’m going to talk about horror within non-horror movies. I’ve asked around and came up with a list of only the most dark and disturbing.
Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory (1971)
This cult classic seems innocent enough. A contest with golden tickets won by five children across the world who become lucky enough to visit and tour the elusive Willy Wonka candy factory; PLUS a lifetime supply of chocolate. It’s a fantasy movie, a musical even. I watched this the first time at school in our gymnasium as a fourth grader.
What we expected was a whimsical musical. What we got was a terrifyingly creepy acid trip that left all the little kids at school screaming. Little girls turning blue and blowing up? People who hadn’t left their beds in 20 years? Devious little minions who sang songs of doom and life lessons. I didn’t know what the hell I was watching! I knew I liked it though. Needless to say the movie was never screened again at school. It remains one of the only musicals I’ll actually sit through to this day.
I mean, convince me Wonka WASN’T a child murderer. I dare you.
2. Full Metal Jacket (1987)
It was around this time that movies and TV shows about the Vietnam war were ubiquitous. Platoon took home the Oscar but I always go back to Full Metal Jacket. Sure, I may be biased as a Kubrick fan and the latter half of the film doesn’t maintain the same pacing as the first half. But man, that first half! Watching the sadistic drill sergeant single out the slow witted Leonard Lawrence who the sergeant nicknames Gomer Pyle is heartbreaking. Flawlessly portrayed by Vincent D’Onofrio, the character suffers some horrific abuses at the hands of his platoon at the encouragement of Gunnery Sergeant Hartman. Hartman thinks his brutal methods will bring out the toughest in his soldiers but what he doesn’t count on is the erosion of Leonard’s sanity. Being pushed too far he takes his frustrations out on the hard-ass drill sergeant and then ultimately himself. This scene stands out as one of the most shocking and violent scenes I had scene up until that point.
Another note: Everyone talks about Nicholson’s Kubrick stare… I’m sorry, but Vincent D’Onofrio NAILED it. Chillingly.
3. Trainspotting (1996)
How many times have you watched this one? You know the scene I’m going to talk about don’t you? This movie outlined the consequences of ignorance, addictions and overall reckless behavior. An instant cult classic, this film went places no other movie dared to go. The climbing out of the nasty toilet scene, the accident in the sheets scene. The neglect and ultimate death of an infant due to heroin addicted parents. The horrific, and preventable death of Tommy. So many awful scenes made this a raw and honest movie. Still one of my all time faves. One of, if not THE most ghastly scene many of us were left traumatized by was “the baby scene”.
As Renton forces himself to detox at his parent’s home, he falls into painful withdrawals, fevers and hauntingly chilling hallucinations. Everything Renton feels guilty about from the addiction itself, to how he’s treated others, to how he stood by and watched a neglected baby die at the hands of his “friends” unravels. Still reeling from the unexpected and tragic death of Tommy, his many regrets make for an uncomfortably disturbing scene.
Next week we’ll look at few more examples of horror scenes in non-horror movies. I hope you’ll join me!
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Last Friday, June 4th, Warner Bros decided to put up The Conjuring 3 for rental for 48 hours. I watched it through Amazon Prime for $24.99. I imagine a lot of people paid the price to rent the third instalment of this franchise.
I am a BIG fan of the Warrens, I’ve always followed their cases as a paranormal enthusiast.
The first Conjuring movie was phenomenal. I had zero complaints, and it left me counting down to the next movie. I can’t remember waiting in such anticipation for a follow-up. It altered the horror genre at that point — moving from body horror and torture porn into more traditional horror. Truly scary, creepy, edge-of-your-seat horror. One of the best horror movies of the decade, hands down. I was also a big fan of the second movie simply because I’ve studied that Enfield Poltergeist case at length. I felt the movie did it justice.
Here were are at number three however: The Devil Made Me Do It. It’s important to note that this is the first Conjuring not directed by James Wan, although he did contribute to the story. Based on the true case of the 1981 trial of Arne Johnson in Connecticut. Johnson stabbed another man to death. His defense: he’s possessed. Yes, it was an interesting case, but there were more interesting cases involving the Warrens that may have made for a more exciting watch. The Snedeker house or the Smurl family haunting, for example.
The first 20 minutes of this film was good. It started strong with a few exciting scares. But then… it slogged. The pace went from breakneck to glacial. A few scenes felt like re-hashes of previous scenes in The Conjuring franchise. Some were way too long.
The film didn’t really explain the Arne Johnson case. So if you want to know more about that, you’ll have to do your own research.
I had questions about “The Occultist” character throughout. I couldn’t tell if she was a ghost, a demon, or a real person until the last quarter of the film. I felt like the story lacked flow. There were moments where I was left wondering if it was veering toward a romance movie.
The Conjuring 3 relied far too heavily on just a handful of creepy scenes and jump scares for payoff. Excessive CGI and loud effects clouded the fright factor in this movie. Is this an action or horror movie? It certainly didn’t flow with the previous two installments.
Despite having the largest budget of all three (!!!) and the magnificent build up from The Conjuring 1 & 2, this movie was a big let down. I’m only giving this movie 🔪🔪/5 and that’s being fucking generous. The one saving grace was seeing Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson reprising the roles of Ed and Lorraine Warren, these two have some of the best all-time chemistry and I love their sheer dedication to these roles. Without them, this movie would be a knife-less 0/5.
Did you rent The Conjuring 3? What did you think? Leave a comment!
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In my last blog I discussed the movie, Anything for Jackson. It’s one of the BEST horror movies I’ve seen in a long time. I have now watched it a total of three times. You can find it streaming on Amazon Prime- The Super Channel. It’s worth the subscription, plus Amazon often offers free trials for the extra channels. Remember when we used to rent movies? Think of it like that. WATCH IT!
An elderly couple will do anything for their grandson. Anything. This movieshowcases the devastation of grief and guilt. Jackson tragically died, and in grief, the couple turn to Satanism to bring back their grandchild.
This movie is fast-paced, superbly written and flawlessly executed. This horror movie is made for horror fans. It helps when the creators are also horror fans.
Last week I had the absolute pleasure of co-hosting a podcast with Anya Gorre from Horror and More with Anya Gorre. We were thrilled to have the chance to talk to Keith Cooper, the writer of this film. The man behind the nightmarish, intense and completely unnerving, Anything for Jackson. We learned SO many interesting tidbits about the movie, the filming process and behind the scenes info. It was a fun conversation amongst horror fans, and Keith was great! Take a listen below!
If you haven’t watched Anything for Jackson yet, I highly encourage you to. If you have, what did you think of it? What were your favorite scenes. Drop a comment!
I’m always searching for the next great horror movie to write about. This is it. This is the sleeper hit of 2020 and can be currently found on the Super Channel through Amazon Prime. It’s a total hit! THIS is the movie I’ve been waiting for and I’m telling everyone about it. The current trend in horror seems to be slow-burners. This movie ignores that trend and delivers a fast-paced, hard punching, good old fashioned horror movie. A welcome change. It felt like a throwback to films like Rosemary’s Baby and The Omen. It feels like it was written BY a horror fan FOR horror fans. I haven’t been this excited for a film since Saint Maude! It’s an absolute MUST SEE.
An elderly couple will do anything for their grandson. Anything. This movie showcases the devastation of grief and guilt. Jackson tragically died, and in grief, the couple turn to Satanism to bring back their grandchild.
This film, directed by Justin G. Dyck, was not only exceptionally written by Keith Cooper, it’s perfectly cast. Julian Richings portrayed Dr. Henry Walsh. It’s Henry you REALLY feel bad for. His performance garnered him an award for Best Actor at the Blood in the Snow Canadian Film Festival. Sheila McCarthy, one of Canada’s most honored actors in film, television and stage- was flawless at playing the kindly doting wife and grieving grandmother. You feel a genuine affinity for her. Shannon (the pregnant victim/host) is portrayed by Canadian actress/writer/producer, Konstantina Mantelos who nails it. Then we have actor/composer, Josh Cruddas who portrayed the brooding, cringeworthy and sinister Ian, another Satanist in their group. Ian is a character. Cruddas played him superbly. 👌
This movie does NOT mess around. Within five minutes we have a seemingly normal senior couple going about their morning only to stop, noting the time, and suddenly kidnapping a pregnant woman (Shannon) dragging her into their home against her will. Once restrained and gagged, Audrey (McCarthy) reads from a prepared statement apologizing for the circumstances, explaining they mean her or her unborn child no harm. The prepared statement indicates to us the degree this has been meticulously planned.
Finding a thousand year old satanic book seems to hold the key to bringing Jackson back, and this young pregnant woman’s unborn child will make the perfect host.
Dear sweet Audrey practices a little necromancy with some local crows.
“We can’t be bringing dead things to life.” Henry tells Audrey in which she admits she’s been doing it all morning. Eventually ending up with a murder of reanimated crows circling their home. This is where we learn that they may not be totally educated in what they’re doing. Boomers, am I right?
Performing a ritual from a book they literally know nothing about brings about some unfortunate circumstances. Disturbing circumstances. (spoilers)
Throughout the film you can’t help but feel consistent empathy for both Audrey and Henry. For Audrey’s loss, grief and desperation, and Henry; just trying to be a supportive loving husband who will do literally anything for his wife, getting caught in the middle of a horrific situation.
When they worry that they have done the ritual incorrectly, they consult one of their fellow Satanic Church members- Ian. He’s creepy, clearly unstable, angry, has some questionable hair, and we just know he’s going to fuck something up. He then informs the couple that they have done the ritual correctly, but it’s incomplete. There’s a second part that needs to happen. The sacrifice part. What they’ve actually done is just open the gates, as Ian tells them, “Every ghost in purgatory is going to be crawling to find a host“. The end result is that all these lost souls and frightening entities are now drawn to the Walsh house like a magnet. This results in several hauntingly memorable scenes, characters and creatures. There’s some truly horrific imagery in this already dark movie that are going to stick with you for a while.
Ever lie in your bed at night wondering… What if I look down right now and see a face? A horrendous face? Yeah… It’s like THAT.
This movie was SO good that I watched it twice. I didn’t want to miss a thing. It was flawless in its conception, execution, acting, writing and highly deserves recognition. Being touted as Canada’s response to Hereditary is a lofty standard to live up to but this film delivers. And delivers. And delivers. I would just advise AGAINST watching this movie alone in the dark.
EXCITING NEWS!! I will have the pleasure of co-hosting an upcoming podcast with Anya Gorre where we’ll be talking to the writer of this film, Keith Cooper himself! Stay tuned!
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It’s been a few weeks since my last post but that’s because I’ve been waist-deep in Fulci movies. If you’re a gore lover like myself I urge you to explore the films of Lucio Fulci. Known as the Maestro, or Godfather of Gore. An accomplished Italian filmmaker, director, cinematographer, screenwriter, and actor- he was a true artist and visionary. Besides Dario Argento, no other Italian filmmaker has attained such acclaimed status among horror fans. His films span nearly five decades and although he produced comedies and Westerns, he was most notably revered for his giallo and horror films. Among horror enthusiasts Fulci has attained cult status as one of the true masters of the genre. Every scene, every camera angle, every word was carefully crafted by this man. He has influenced countless directors in the genre and you can find nods to his work in many modern horror movies. He is a legend in the horror industry and as a horror fan I needed to explore his work.
Admittedly, I watched House by the Cemetery first, not realizing it was part of a series known as the Gates of Hell trilogy consisting of three incredible films. There is some debate that there are technically four films in this series ( If you include Zombie (1972- also known as Zombie 2, Flesh Eaters or Woodoo) but most critics agree on three. This series is a MUST SEE and MUST OWN for gorehounds and die-hard horror fans. The first of which is City of the Living Dead (1980)
A reporter and a psychic race to Massachusetts to close the portals of the damned after a priest commits suicide tearing open all seven gates to Hell. The pair have just three days before the dead begin rising from their graves. I have to say the gore effects are FANTASTIC! The zombies are disgusting and putrid. No lumbering cheesy zombies here. Over forty years later, the zombies are STILL terrifying. The effects are NOT AT ALL what you’d expect from a 1980 horror film. It contained some exceptionally gruesome bloody death scenes the likes of which I’ve never seen before. Scenes like bleeding from the eyes, entrails oozing out of people’s mouths, and craniums being torn open like watermelons on Canada Day- exposing seeping, slimy brain matter! 👍 Most grotesque. Highly recommend!
Next was The Beyond (1981), (my personal favorite of the bunch) the follow up to City of the Living Dead. A woman inherits a mansion from her uncle in Louisiana. Sure, it needs repairs but the real issue is that horrific murders have occurred here, oh, and it’s built over an entrance to Hell-(oops). As she renovates the home it stirs up some horrifyingly dark mysteries. This movie stunned me and I think it’s safe to to say it’s quickly made it’s way up to my Top 10 Horror Films of ALL TIME. The overwhelming sense of gloom and dread, shocking gore scenes, a waking nightmare. This movie really encompasses all things Fulci. Right down to the color scheme of ‘The Beyond”, which is sort of an afterlife. So much thought was put into this film and it really comes through when you watch it. Truly an experience.
The third and final instalment in the Gates of Hell trilogy is House by the Cemetery also released in 1981. A family relocates to Boston so the husband/father can conduct scientific research. The son begins seeing a ghost girl leading him to dark evil secrets of the basements and the true nature of the house and how it all ties into a series of murders happening in the city. The English dub on the boy, Bob, is just awful but it was tolerable because the movie was phenomenal! So much gore tied into a perfectly told story. There’s a harrowing, bordering on annoying, bat scene, but other than that I thoroughly enjoyed this film. Again, some of the most uniquely done death scenes, makeup and special effects for that time. It’s SO impressive. MUST WATCH!
The series as a whole was incredibly good. I was in awe at many of the death scenes. And there are many- the death counts are often high in Fulci films. What impressed me most though was the whole story, how it developed and progressed throughout the three films. Fulci was an incredibly thoughtful, meticulous and articulate artist, and this shows through this series of films. At times it’s easy to forget you’re watching films from 1980/81, the effects are THAT good.
After consuming the Gates of Hell I needed more Fulci. I delved into Aenigma from 1987. This was another movie I ABSOLUTELY LOVED! Another MUST OWN for your collection. Have you ever seen anyone die by snails? If you’re curious about that, this may be the film for you. An unpopular girl is harassed in her boarding school leading up to a terrible accident leaving her comatose. Enter a new student. The comatose student then possesses the new girl to exact revenge on the miserable assholes that caused her accident.
This isn’t your average revenge story. It’s bloody, it’s gruesome. It’s full of “holy shit they went there!” moments, and trust me when I tell you, you’ll definitely want to check out that death by snails scene. Oh so much gore! Fantastic!
Ok, so what else can I find in my subscription services? I found The New York Ripper next.
The New York Ripper (1982) falls into the giallo genre. Giallo were movies that took serious subject matter, like a murder and tried to solve it. Think of them as visually stunning, sort of sexy detective novels come to life. Young attractive women are being brutally murdered in New York City. NOTE: This is a highly sexualized film which made it not so popular among critics. There are eviscerations, brutal stabbings, one woman gets stabbed to death in the crotch with a broken bottle, someone else is suffocated with a plastic bag. Lots of gore and the body count is high in this one. Fulci himself makes an appearance as the Chief of Police trying to keep the murders out of the press.
The killer is identified as missing two fingers from his right hand and talks to his victims via the telephone in a Donald Duck voice. The duck voice is a little off-putting until you understand why the killer does the things he does. According to the documentary, Fulci for Fake(2019) by Simone Scafidi which includes never before seen footage and interviews with those closest to Fulci, he had originally written this film differently. A horse riding accident that left his daughter Camilla bed-bound for some time altered how he approached this film. I won’t give away spoilers but Fulci’s grief about his daughter’s accident plays a very large role in this film. I thought it was great. A really gross and perturbed whodunnit.
The most recent film I’ve watched was The Black Cat (1981). Based on the Edgar Allan Poe story. An American photographer teams up with a Scotland Yard inspector to solve a series of murders. The suspect? A man’s cat. A great tale in it’s own right but with a Fulci spin. Easily overlooked but definitely worth a watch. Lots of blood, a creepy atmosphere and a killer opening scene.
Although many viewed him a serious, often cranky man, I’m not sure fans realize how difficult his life was. Besought with tragedies like the suicide of his first wife, rearing two daughters on his own, his own health (heart and diabetes) issues that he battled with silently in fear that he would never work again. In addition, he was an extreme perfectionist with his work, refining scripts and redefining special effects. If he deemed an actor not good enough, Fulci would step in himself. He was highly respected by his peers as a filmmaker but his gory movies were quickly going out of style as filmmakers like Dario Argento gained popularity with his technical abilities and arthouse style films. Argento was Fulci’s rival for many years as his films often toppled Fulci’s at the box office. It wasn’t until 1994 that the two met at event where Argento was being honored. Fulci, despite the rivalry, stood up- with great pain as he was very ill- to give Argento a standing ovation. The two would team up together for Fulci’s very last film, The Wax Mask- a remake of the 1953 Vincent Price classic, The Waxwork Museum.
Although he passed away in 1996 alone in his sleep, today he has a legion of fans that simply cherish his work and contributions to the genre. His legacy lives on in close to 30 movies and this horror fan is determined to see them all.