Directed by Jack Perez
Written by Adam Glass and Jack Perez
Starring Daniel Letterle, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Chelan Simmons, Carmen Electra, Adam West, C. Ernst Harth, Alana Husband, La La Anthony, and Nick Carter
The horror movies of the 1950s have a certain cachet, not as exemplary films but as enjoyably cheesy. It’s a nostalgia thing, and it’s no surprise that filmmakers like Larry Blamire have used that as inspiration for their own efforts. Capturing that feeling of how we think movies were is a delicate task, and what is intended as homage can come of as misinformed, disingenuous, and cynical. By way of example, I give you the MTV production, Monster Island.
aka Dracula in Pakistan
Directed by Khwaja Sarfraz
Written by Naseem Rizwani
Based on Dracula by Bram Stoker
Starring Rehan, Habibur Rehman, Deeba Begum, Allauddin, Yasmeen Shaukat, Sheela, Baby Najmi, Asad Bukhari, and Nasreen
I can’t seem to escape vampires this year. Ganja & Hess, Kiss of the Damned, Near Dark, Da Sweet Blood of Jesus, Trouble Every Day, and arguably Veerana — nearly a quarter of the films I’ve covered this HubrisWeen have been blood-suckers. So it’s perhaps fitting that I close out the event with one more. Known hereabouts as Dracula in Pakistan, it’s the boundary-pushing Zinda Laash (literally “The Living Corpse”).
aka Whispering Corridors
Directed by Ki-hyeong Park
Written by Jung-Ok In and Ki-hyeong Park
Starring Kang-hee Choi, Gyu-ri Kim, Min-jung Kim, Roe-ha Kim, Yu-Sook Kim, Mi-yeon Lee, Jin-hee Park, and Ji-hye Yun
A teacher is strangled and strung up to look like she committed suicide. There’s a long history of vengeful spirits in books and movies, but what we get in the Korean film Yeogo Goedam is something rather different. The ghost that haunts the girls’ school has anger issues, but mostly it wants to be a normal student. Murder is just something unpleasant that she engages in from time to time.
aka Alligator X
Directed by Amir Valinia
Written by George Michael Kostuch, Cameron Larson, Caleb Michaelson, and Claire Sanchez
Starring Lochlyn Munro, Mark Sheppard, Elena Lyons, Paul Wall, Caleb Michaelson, Ricky Wayne, and Scott L. Schwartz
It used to be that prehistoric critters would turn up in lost worlds, places that were isolated and difficult to access. Sometimes a natural disaster, like an earthquake or hurricane, would release them on an unsuspecting modern world. After Jurassic Park, of course, those pesky scientists kept bringing them back to life. Xtinction: Predator X mixes and matches a few of the prehistoric origins to create something remarkably uninteresting.
Directed by Tetsuro Takeuchi
Written by Satoshi Takagi
Starring Masashi Endô, Kwancharu Shitichai, Yôko Asada, Guitar Wolf, Drum Wolf, Bass Wolf, Mikoto Inamiya, Naruka Hakajo, Taneko, and Yoshiyuki Morishita
Sometimes a movie is so overstuffed that it transcends petty issues like coherent narrative and physical laws. The enthusiasm of the production is enough to propel the audience past any concerns about logic or story structure. Such a movie was Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead, a gleefully gory zombie romp from Australia. Wild Zero is another such film, also about zombies — this time from Japan.
Directed by Shyam Ramsay and Tulsi Ramsay
Written by J.K. Ahuja, Shyam Ramsay, Omar Khayyam Saharanpuri, and Safi Ur-Rahman
Starring Jasmin, Hemant Birje, Sahila Chaddha, Kulphushan Kharbanda, Satish Shah, Rajesh Vivek, Roy Kamal, Vijayendra Ghatge, and Gulshan Grover
Reviewing movies from unfamiliar cultures can be challenging. I’ve been watching Japanese movies and shows for long enough that I have at least some context for films like Organ. India is a large country with many distinct and separate regions, and watching only a small number of Indian movies in no way provided me context for Veerana. Therefore, for this review I will assume that anything I find weird, confusing, or off-putting is a result of my own ignorance.
Directed by Mary Lambert
Written by Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris
Starring Kate Mara, Robert Vito, Tina Lifford, Ed Marinaro, Michael Coe, and Rooney Mara
Urban legends were all the rage in the late 1990s and early 2000s, in no small part due to the exhaustive series of books about them by Jan Harold Brunvand. These took the stories out of the realm of academic journals and presented them for enjoyment to a larger audience. It was inevitable that we’d get a slasher film using these modern folk tales as a gimmick. It was also probable that the sequels would wind up being released direct to video, as was the case with the third installment Urban Legends: Bloody Mary.
Directed by Claire Denis
Written by Claire Denis and Jean-Pol Fargeau
Starring Vincent Gallo, Tricia Vessey, Béatrice Dalle, Alex Descas, and Florence Loiret Caille
I’m generally willing to meet a film at least half way. A slowly paced story with lengthy silences isn’t a deal-breaker for me, and the horror of the human condition is my kind of thing. English, French, Japanese, Hindi — the language doesn’t matter as long as I can follow along with subtitles. But at the end of the journey, I need to have felt something more than tedium. Trouble Every Day only added irritation for me.
Directed by Spike Lee
Written by Spike Lee and Bill Gunn
Starring Stephen Tyrone Williams, Zaarah Abrahams, Rami Malek, Elvis Nolasco, Felicia Pearson, Katherine Borowitz, Joie Lee, and Naté Bova
For a long time, it wasn’t easy to see Ganja & Hess, especially not as originally released. The distributors pulled it from theaters, recut it (removing around a half an hour from its run time), and re-released it as Blood Couple. A complete print was donated to MoMA and has had a few releases, most recently though Kino Lorber. I mention this because because by doing a remake of the film as Da Sweet Blood of Jesus, Spike Lee essentially brought Bill Gunn’s version to a wider audience.
Directed by Antonia Bird
Written by Ted Griffin
Starring Guy Pearce, Robert Carlyle, Jeffrey Jones, Stephen Spinella, Jeremy Davies, Neal McDonough, David Arquette, and Joseph Runningfox
Cannibals are one of the lesser horror monsters. Since 1977 they’ve primarily been mutants, hillbillies, or mutant hillbillies, but throughout the history of film they’ve been refined gourmets, restauranteurs, ghouls, zombies, and even middle-class Americans. One seldom-used take is based on the Algonquian legend of the wendigo, a powerful being may once have been human. An interpretation of this creature is the basis for Antonia Bird’s remarkable horror movie Ravenous.