Hellraiser(2022) Review

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When I was 13 or 14, I was over at my big sister’s house.

I’d always been into horror. I’d watched Halloween, Children of the Corn, and a number of movies I can’t remember. Most of those were on late at night and only on HBO.

She brought out a movie and said, “I just watched this, and you have to see it.” It was the original Hellraiser. I’d never seen anything close to it. All of the blood, gore, and Cenobites. It gave me a whole new perspective on horror.

I’ve watched up to Hellraiser: Bloodline since that movie. I’ve tried watching the ones which came after. Maybe I need to give them another shot.

Because I was fascinated with the first movie, I was apprehensive about the new movie. I grew to love the original more than just about any movie I’ve watched. It’s a comfort movie for me. Lost Boys is another comfort movie. I’ll watch either of those when I’m sick.

I wasn’t sure what to expect. As the promotional materials came out, the shot of the new Pinhead, as well as the other Cenobites, I grew more anxious and excited. The first publicity still of Jamie Clayton is amazing. The other stills of the Cenobites had me more excited.

When Friday rolled around, I could sit down and watch it. I did so with nervousness and anticipation. I’d watched remakes of beloved horror movies that let me down. I’m looking at you, Pet Semetary (2019). That one was good until the end. I’d hoped for a better ending.

Then Children of the Corn (2020), which I didn’t care for either. It’s rare for me to like a remake.

Hellraiser(2022) is not a remake. It’s taking the source work, Clive Barker’s original, as well as the book, The Hellbound Heart, and taking it in another direction.

This direction floored me. I loved every minute of it. Jamie Clayton is amazing. Selina Lo is incredible as another Cenobite, but it was Odessa A’Zion as Riley that is the star.

She was incredible. I loved every scene with her.

But let’s get to the heart of this review.

The direction of the movie, the talk of addiction, and the absolutely beautiful gayness of the movie left me breathless. I wanted to see more of Colin’s (Adam Faison) and Matt’s(Brandon Flynn) relationship. I would have liked to see more of that.

The twists and turns. Riley fighting with herself over what she should or shouldn’t do.

I hope there is more of this to come. I will be waiting for it.

Black Phone and living through that era.

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There are few current movies or tv shows which return me to childhood. Black Phone did this, and it’s not about the clothes, the hair, or the music; it’s about the time feeling.

A lot of missing kids made the news when I was a kid. I won’t mention their names, but if you grew up in Utah in the early 80s, we all respond to one name. There were others, and it seemed a missing kid made the news once a week.

We didn’t have social media, I know we Gen Xers repeat this, but after dinner, we watched the national and local news. It’s the way our family’s worked. It felt like kids disappeared a lot then.

It wasn’t the satanic panic for some of us. It was the missing kids. This scared us. We didn’t accept rides from strangers for this reason.

I did things I shouldn’t have as a kid with all those missing kids. I rode my bike to my friend’s house. He lived what felt like ten miles away. I did it because I was home alone a lot. Another thing Scott Derickson and C. Robert Cargill nailed was that kids were home alone.

I got home from school at 3:15, but my father didn’t get home until 4:30. That’s if he didn’t leave a message on the answering machine that something came up at work. Then he may not come home at all.

I spent a lot of time watching movies on HBO. This was when HBO was good. Late-night horror movies, and if you had Cinemax, you had Skinemax.

We all had that time when we didn’t feel safe. Mine was after getting off the bus, and this car pulled over and asked us where someone lived. We all knew where the person lived. It was at the top of the street. We told this guy that. He asked me to get in the car and show him. Something was off about that interaction. I still feel that way.

Stranger Things comes close, but Black Phone nails it even better.

We grew up differently. We knew someone whose dad beat them. We knew whose parents slept around and with who. You knew these things if you lived in these small towns or on certain streets.

I felt for Fin in this movie because of that person in the car. I could have been Fin. I know it’s weird to say, but that’s how I’ve felt since that moment.

The movie is brilliant in the many ways it brings back those feelings.

Fin’s story and home life are the same as many of us. My father didn’t beat us, but we knew the feeling of it. Words may not be physical, but they hurt just as much.

The imagery of the movie. The basement, the houses, and the interaction with other kids felt genuine. The fights before, during, and after school happened. I didn’t win all the scraps I was in. I remember them, though.

My youngest sister and I are close. That feeling came across well between Fin and Gwen.

I’m unsure what else to put in a review for a movie that came out a few months ago. I loved it and the feeling of it.

Thanks for reading. If you have suggestions for what movies or books I should review, drop a comment below.

What to do, what to do?

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When I started this blog I had no idea what to do with it. It’s been a year since I bought the domain. Now, in the last week I figured it out.

This was intended to be a reboot(don’t give me the “reboots usually suck” stuff). I’ll be doing reviews for all the horror movies and books I watch and read.

This starts Monday with Black Phone. My wife and I watched it in the theater. I purchased it when it released on Blu-Ray. I am one of those who still believes in owning a physical copy of something I love.

I have a long list of books and movies to get through. I’ll probably be seeing Barbarian next week as well. A review of that to follow.

The Best Horror of the Year, Volume 13, review

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I’ve always had trouble reading anthologies. I don’t know why, but I read this one in a few days.

Let’s get into it.

Ellen Datlow has put out a lot of anthologies, which is putting it mildly. I have a couple of the others she’s done, but this one is my favorite. The variety of stories, the depravity of a couple of them, and how I felt after I read them are something I haven’t felt with an anthology in a while.

I had fully intended to cover each story in this anthology, but with the twenty-four stories, novelettes, and one poem, I felt it would be too long of a post and while I enjoyed every story in this anthology, there were some standouts, at least to me and what I look for in horror.

While it is an anthology of horror, some of the stories are noir and crime, but they all have that horror element.

I wanted to cover all the stories I enjoyed from this anthology, but as this is the third attempt at writing this review, eliminating the story by story analysis, I hope this works better.

Each one of these stories stuck with me but there are five that stood out to me. This doesn’t mean I didn’t love the rest, only that with how I approach horror, these five stood out.

Story five, “Cleaver, Meat, And Block”, by Maria Haskins. I wasn’t sure about this story as it was relatable to our current pandemic and all that goes with it, but it ended up being my favorite in the anthology.

The story, of which I won’t spoil as you’d hate me if I did, was devilish, and I caught myself laughing at times I probably shouldn’t have. The ending of this story gave me a bit of peace, as I thought of numerous things while I read it.

There is a frostiness to this anthology, and with that, I mean there are a few settings in the cold. My favorite of these “Mine Seven”, by Elana Gomel, was creepy and the descriptions of the cold left me feeling chilled. It had the feeling of being hunted, which is somewhat prevalent in this anthology as well. There were many times when I’d finish a story and think, wow, but “Mine Seven” and the coldness throughout the story, made me feel like I was there.

“Scream Queen” by Nathan Ballingrud gave me so many feelings. There were times it reminded me of Adam Neville’s “The Reddening” and that detachment from civilization thing that Neville does in that book. I love the idea of this story so much. I love old horror movies and the premise of this story made me think of some of those movies.

“Trick of the Light”, by Andrew Humphrey reminds me of Gemma Amor’s “White Pines”. Driving to the coast to look at some small town, take pictures and discover things that aren’t what you believed them to always elicit fear in me.

Growing up in Utah where the mountains, lakes, and rivers are within driving distance, I could relate to being away from society aspect and wondering what’s going on in that small town you just drove through but didn’t stop because it gave off a weird vibe. That’s what this story was.

“Two Truths And A Lie”, by Sarah Pinsker, gave me all the feelings of Channel Zero’s first season. The old TV show, and all that happened on that show, not to mention the mental decline of Denny in the story, which we see only through the eyes of his brother, was a story that made me think about if Mr. Rogers was a sinister person, similar to the character in Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang, but I honestly thought more about the Bowler Hat Guy in “Meet the Robinson’s”, which I know is weird.

Those were my favorites of this anthology and while I wanted to dive into each story, it would make this post a lot longer and I’m fighting off a cold.

This is the first anthology I’ve ever read cover to cover, and I think that says a lot about the stories on the pages. I loved every one of them, but as I said, the post would have to be so long to accommodate that.

Please pick up this anthology. There are so many stories that I loved but didn’t list because of the sheer volume of greatness on the pages.

While I linked to either the author’s website or their author page, I was not able to find one for Andrew Humphrey, so my apologies Andrew.

I’m linking to Amazon, but you can get it at an indie bookstore as well.

Happy reading.

What to do, what to do

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As with everything, this space is something I never understood. I don’t know how to write a review for a movie, game, or book, and I’m not sure about doing those things.

But here is what’s going to happen: I will write the articles about horror, whether they’re reviews or not, because I love horror. It’s honestly my favorite thing. My wife and kids don’t get it, hell, sometimes I don’t, but I love it.

I have a big list of books to get through in the coming year and this is one of two blogs I write, so I’ll keep going if you keep reading.

Im currently making y way through, “The Best Horror of the Year”, by Ellen Datlow and The Book of Accidents by Chuck Wendig. I’m also learning about Norse Paganism for my own purposes.

I’ll post on Tuesday and Thursday something horror related.

Halloween Kills?

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I follow horror Twitter pretty close. Being a horror writer it’s a necessity. Last week after the movie came out there was all sorts of stuff on there about the movie.

Some people liked it, others hated it. I didn’t see an in between.

I got Peacock the other day for the sole reason of watching the movie. I was able to get to it today and damn. I have some thoughts.

First, let’s talk about all of the blood. There is more blood in this movie than was used in the entire bloody bed scene in the first Nightmare on Elm Street.

I don’t have a problem with blood, so let’s get that out of the way. It was the gratuitousness of it. There was blood gushing at so many places that it started to feel comical. The opening with couple, neck wound, the kid at the end, neck wound. The kills weren’t very creative. I understand that Michael isn’t Jigsaw, and I’d never want him to be, but the kills were boring.

Neck wound, neck wound, neck wound, maybe a midsection, but the neck slicing felt like a fetish was being satisfied.

Second, let’s have a discussion about the mob.

I get it, it’s supposed to be a commentary on current events, but let’s not hit everyone over the head with it. That was so in your face that it felt comical.

I like Anthony Michael Hall, his portrayal in The Dead Zone TV show is one of my favorites, but I didn’t like his reasons for doing what he did. It felt forced, but so did the whole mob action.

There are better ways to do social commentary than beating us over the head with it.

Now let’s talk about the gore, because this stood out more than the neck wounds.

The gore was over the top. Yes, it’s needed in a horror movie, but having it overwhelm the narrative was off to me. The gore for gore sake was every where.

We didn’t need to see the man’s head split open. Sometimes it’s better for the viewer to assume what his head looks like, not to show it.

I won’t talk about Big John and Little John, that’s been covered by others.

As I’ve been away from this blog for the last couple of weeks writing stories, I’ve wanted to get back, but I haven’t read or watched anything that stood out. Not until today.

My wife and I are making our way through Midnight Mass, but I feel stuck on it, and a bit bored.

I’ll try and get through it, but it may be like when my wife and I attempted Bly Manor. We stopped at the fourth episode. It was boring.

Until next time…

House of 1000 Corpses Review

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Before I get too involved with this I have to give a bit of back story for this movie.

:Backstory:

I watched it a long time ago and didn’t care for it. It was trippy, crazy, and I found it to be too weird for my tastes.

But I do have a reason for that. The first time I watched it, my wife was out of town for her brother’s wedding. I was unable and partially unwilling, to attend the wedding.

I had three days alone, yes I had to work, but my kids were young, and my wife had to be there. I believe my mom went up with her to see my sisters on that drive as well, which was great for my mom.

So, I got some liquor, a few flowers and had a solo party. I hadn’t watched the movie and wanted to.

Now, I got pizza, so I ate that, had a few beers, played with the flower, and turned the movie on.

I remember bits and pieces of the movie, and in my alcohol, and flower-addled state, barely remember the movie, which is why I felt I needed to watch it again. I did that this past Friday.

I understand this was Rob Zombie’s first movie, and being a fan of his Halloween remake, I’ll give him a break for some of the weirder camera things, but damn that color-shifting really messed with my head.

:Spoilers For House of 1000 Corpses Follows:

Into the Guts of It

At the opening of the movie, we see the clown, played by the incredible Sid Haig and Michael J. Pollard, who is one of my personal favorite character actors. His character in Scrooged is very loved in our house.

That’s when the chicken at Captain Spaulding’s is no longer on the menu as two people attempt a robbery, it does not go well for them.

While Captain Spaulding is cleaning up or main characters are on the road looking for the backroad stops that dot the outer highways of the United States. As someone who’s traveled on Route 66, there is a lot of these, but the randomness of their locations is part of the charm, as well as the journey along America’s backroads.

As our main characters arrive, the mess is nearly cleaned up, and our “heroes and heroines” are unaware of what they’ve walked into. This is the point where any self-respecting horror fan thinks, “something crazy is going to happen soon.”

Our mains take a run through the Murder Ride. With their ride, they, and the viewer, discover someone we hadn’t heard of, at least for me I’d heard of every one of the killers mentioned except for Doctor Satan. This stuck in my mind the first time, and there are flashes of an operating room in my memory from that long-ago party.

Our main characters leave the Murder Ride, and they’re back on the road, driving in the torrential downpour, looking for more roadside stops.

The House of 1000 Corpses

They come along with a woman standing in the rain and argue about whether to pick her up. Let’s put this another way: They’d ridden the Murder Ride, and Captain Spaulding gives them directions to the tree where Doctor Satan’s body is, and they see a scantily dressed woman standing in the rain. I would think about stopping, but having a preservation instinct, and not residing within a horror movie, I would have passed her. You can say what you want about this, but I wouldn’t have stopped.

The woman leads them down a road and we see someone shoot out their tire. Having driven on wet, dirt roads growing up, the narrowness of something on those roads causing a blowout is remote as hell.

With the damage done, we’re left to watch what, if you’ve seen any horror movie, will play out for us.

While there are glimpses of what’s coming, our first interaction with the house’s inhabitants, namely Baby, who makes advances on one of our main characters, who pushes her off, which visibly frustrates Baby.

The rest of the group joins in and enters the house. All of them are visibly unnerved by the house, most noticeably is Rainn Wilson’s character’s girlfriend who grows impatient with Baby and her advances, finally, after a dinner that’s a call back to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre dinner scene, she’s had enough and attacks Baby. This was the wrong move and maybe the character knows this as all of them flee the house.

Will the Sadist’s Please Step Forward

Their leaving pauses the inevitable. This becomes clear as Rainn Wilson’s “Bill” steps from the car to open the gate, which sat open as they drove through before their tire blew, which leads me to believe, and as we find out later, was intentional.

The beatings commence as two characters we’d seen earlier hop down from their perches.

The following scene few scenes are horrible in their graphic gore, as well as the creativity of Rob Zombie and the special effects and makeup departments for the film.

We see Bill, who is turned into a merman by one of the inhabitants, who is proud of his creation.

The torment and debauchery these characters deal with while in the House is incredible, and now I understand why I blocked so much of this movie.

The next few scenes were difficult to watch.

My biggest gripe about the story is the underlying story of the father. I wish this wouldn’t have been in it. I understand it, there needs to be a sort of hero or the setup for an all is lost scenario, but I didn’t care for it.

It added to the depravity of the situation for the characters, and this as any horror fan knows leads to some of the best parts of these movies.

Like lambs to the slaughter, they’re carried or dragged to the where Doctor Satan is.

As they’re placed, one runs, and Baby gets her blood on. I have never been a fan of Sheri Moon Zombie, and maybe it’s because her portrayal of Baby felt over the top, but her portrayal in Rob Zombie’s Lords of Salem was truly incredible and is one of my favorite performances.

We’re shown a tunnel system, which as a horror reader, reviewer, and writer made me think of Brian Keene’s Urban Gothic. I’m not sure if Keene’s book was influenced by House of 1000 Corpses, but I can see it in the darker parts of the movie as well as the book.

Once sacrificed to Doctor Satan, our lone survivor or Final Girl, fights her way out and does exactly that just before the credits roll, but that’s not the end and I won’t spoil it, although I’d like to.

Before I leave today I’m going add a few books to read if you like horror, but especially the Final Girl.

Stephen Graham Jones: The Last Final Girl

Grady Hendrix: The Final Girl Support Group

Stephen Graham Jones: The Only Good Indians

Stephen Graham Jones: My Heart is a Chainsaw

These are books I’ve either read or are on my TBR. I believe Stephen Graham Jones and his grasp of the slasher is above everyone in the genre.

If you liked the review, please leave a comment and thanks for reading.

What can you say about Horror?

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This is the first post on this blog, but it’s not my first blog, and I’m looking at it as a reboot, or more appropriately, a regeneration.

I grew up in the ’80’s watching Doctor Who on PBS late night. When my father wasn’t home, which was often, I’d stay up and watch movies on HBO or Cinemax. Those late nights got me through a lot of my early teenage years.

But let’s start earlier.

For years as a kid I was either a vampire or a werewolf for Halloween. My mom would do my makeup and I’d go out with my sisters from house to house in our neighborhood. These nights were my favorite. There was no fighting in the house, at least I didn’t see it and everyone got along.

After my parents divorced in ’85, I watched a lot more horror, then as if my providence, my mom rented Halloween and Children of the Corn. Those movies are my foundation for horror, especially Halloween. That movie did something to my brain. I haven’t been the same since.

In ’87 or ’88, I’m not sure which, my big sister and I watched Hellraiser. She said that it would change the way I looked at movies, or something like that. I always looked up to her, and still do. She was right, it did change the way I looked at movies.

I’d never seen such brutality as within the Cenobites, which is why it’s my favorite horror movie and why it will be the first review on this blog. I will review the movie as well as the book, ‘The Hellbound Heart.’

Let’s move forward to today. I read a lot of books which is evident by my Goodreads.

Most of the books I read are horror, with a little of everything else thrown in, for flavor.

Now as I contemplate where I’m headed and the direction I wish to take, this blog falls in my lap.

I love horror in all its forms, as is evident by my Goodreads account.

As a writer of horror, I will be faithful to all aspects of it.

If you wish to suggest a book or movie that I should read, than do so in the comments.

Have a blessed day.