The Undying Legend of George A. Romero

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Best Of Best of Movies Featured Scary Movies and Series

It doesn’t take a horror buff to know the name George A. Romero, whose uniquely nasty brand of undead carnage has horrified theaters and households worldwide since the late 1960s. His Living Dead series is one of the chief contributors to the look, sound and overall behavior of zombies in modern culture, and Romero is often described as “iconic” within the horror genre and “Father of the Zombie Film” for his essential and influential work within the Zombie sub-genre.

Starting out in 1960, just after graduating from college, Romero began by shooting short films and television commercials before getting together with some friends in the later 60s and forming what they called Image Ten Productions, the company that would produce his first cult classic, Night of The Living Dead (1968). Since then Romero’s work has been revered and detested in just about equal measure, and here I will explore some of the more notable entries in his filmography and why they were so divisive from societal commentary to pushing the limits of horror.

George Romero passed away July of 2017. RIP to one of the greats; George Romero February 4, 1940 – July 16, 2017

When there’s no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth.

George A. Romero

Night of The Living Dead (1968)

The original. The progenitor. The timeless classic which pioneered the entire zombie genre. Romero’s first major motion picture shocked audiences with its mix of graphic violence, creeping horror and sharp social commentary back in the late 60s, when all people had seen of zombies were the more focused and often voodoo-based flicks of the 30s and 40s, beginning with Victor Halperin’s 1932 opus, White Zombie. Night of The Living Dead tells the tale of a group of Pennsylvanians hiding out from the undead apocalypse in a farmhouse basement. Grim news reports detail the carnage in the surrounding areas as the group fend off the walking dead from their makeshift fortress. Being filmed in black and white certainly adds a lot to the grotesque atmosphere and hides a lot of the budgetary and technological constraints of the time, proving Romero’s first entry to be just as effectively gruesome today as it ever was.

Turns out there was a miss in the copyright of the original Night of The Living Dead so it can be readily streamed for free on many services as it is now in the Public Domain.

Stream Night of The Living Dead -1968 – free on Youtube

The Crazies (1973)

Crazies Romero Zombie Horror Movie Poster

The few films Romero released just after the critical success that was ‘Living Dead were sadly not so well received, one of these being The Crazies. The Crazies centers around a small town affected by an airborne bioweapon which causes people to become homicidal psychopaths. We follow a nurse (Lane Carroll) and her husband (W.G. McMillan) as they try to flee their infected town. When the US army turns up to control the outbreak, the chaos ramps up even more in what is, if not Romero’s best work, still a potent low-budget shocker with plenty to satisfy even discerning horror fans. Like many of Romero’s classics,The Crazies was a big enough hit to warrant a remake in 2010, with a fresh and terrifying look at the source material that some deem to be better than the original.

The Amusement Park (1975)

Romero’s The Amusement Park movie poster featuring a man who has a carousel in his head

While not exactly horror, and not exactly a feature film, Romero’s The Amusement Park is as sharp on social commentary as it is chilling. Believed lost until 2017 when a print was found and given a 4k restoration by IndieCollect, the film was originally commissioned as an educational piece on elder abuse but mothballed after completion.

Lincoln Maazel plays Martin, an elderly man on a visit to, you guessed it, an amusement park. What follows is a ride as unsettling as it may be upsetting for some, and though the metaphors on the way elderly people are treated by society are heavy handed, Maazel’s disoriented performance amongst the screaming crowds and roaring rollercoasters is as frightening as ever. The Amusement Park is Romero at the height of his vicious cynicism, a deeply unnerving psychological head trip peppered with absurdist jabs at an uncaring society. If Romero was alive to see its eventual release I’m sure he’d have more than one interesting story to tell, though to have it released at all is a blessing for any horror fan.

Dawn of The Dead (1978)

1978 Dawn of the Dead Horror Movie Poster

Ten years after his original zombie horror show Romero returned with Dawn of The Dead. While it features no characters or settings from its predecessor, this was the second film in Romero’s Living Dead series and focused on the wider effects the zombie outbreak has on society. Boasting a much larger scale and a clearly bigger budget, Dawn focuses on two Philadelphia S.W.A.T. team members, a traffic reporter, and his television executive girlfriend as they seek shelter from the rotting hordes in an abandoned shopping mall. It is often regarded as one of the best zombie movies ever made for its uncompromising and shocking gore, sharply misanthropic social commentary and no-holds-barred zombie action.

Shot at the Monroeville Mall and in Pittsburgh; the special make-up effects were created by Tom Savini, also a Pittsburgh native. To this date the mall still holds an annual Zombie Fest.

Creepshow (1982)

Creepshow (1982) Movie Poster

Creepshow saw Romero leaning more into his campy tendencies with a hilarious horror/comedy anthology film based on the E.C. horror comics of the 50s. Written by, and starring none other than Stephen King himself, Creepshow is a colorful, wacky homage to pulpy low-brow horror that pays true tribute to its inspirational works. An all-star cast including Tom Savini, Leslie Nielsen and Hal Holbrook play out five brief but volatile short horror films with such stories as a rural man dealing with an extraterrestrial visitor, a man using unorthodox means of revenging his cheating wife and a terrifying monster breaking free of its holding cell and causing a path of destruction.

Day of The Dead (1985)

day of the Dead 1985 Romero Zombie horror film

Romero’s Living Dead series is back with another scathingly cynical view on society decorated with buckets of blood and gore. Day of The Dead is the third in the series and, while not considered to be as incendiary in its message and haunting in its execution as previous entries, it still has a few gruesome tricks up its sleeve. Its story sees the zombies coming together and evolving as the survivors of the outbreak hunker down in an old missile silo underground. Focus is given more to the dangers of people rather than the undead this time around, with survivors devolving into cavemen below the surface while the zombie hordes begin to thrive in their new kingdom. Day of the Dead deals with the conflicting ethos of science vs military in a ravaged Earth, demonstrating as clearly as ever that humans don’t need to be nukes into oblivion when their own idiocy can get them into a similar state.

Land of The Dead (2005)

Land Of The Dead Horror Movie Poster featuring zombies and a city

Fast forward 20 long years and Romero proved once again that his zombies simply don’t stay dead. Land of The Dead developed Romero’s concepts of human hierarchy further by splitting the surviving factions of humans into upper-class, who live out the apocalypse from the comfort of their high-rise tower block, and lower-class, who must sweat it out in the makeshift slums below. While some of the originality of the original trilogy is lost in the sometimes-on-the-nose social commentary this time around, there is plenty of flesh-eating fun to satiate the hungriest zombie fan. Paul Kaufman (Dennis Hopper) enforces brutal class distinctions between his feudal society while a secret rebellion is in the works to overthrow him. Couple these elements with a horde of evolving zombies that are learning to adapt, and the chaos of Land of the Dead is really something to behold.

Diary of The Dead (2007)

Diary of The Dead (2007) movie poster featuring someone recording zombies in a burning city

Now here is a curveball that none saw coming. With Romero’s fifth installment in his Living Dead series he decided to change format completely and shoot the whole affair in a found-footage/documentary style. While independently produced, the film did see a theatrical release by The Weinstein Company. This entry takes place at the beginning of the outbreak, telling the tale of a group of students and their professor attempting to make a horror film in the forest. Before long the living dead hone in on the class and begin to pick them off one by one. Romero’s political edge is as prevalent as ever, with a good amount of his jabs being taken at the media and their implication in disastrous events, in this case the zombie apocalypse. There’s not a whole lot more to say about Diary of the Dead as, as entertaining and effective as it can be, the whole field starts to feel a bit trodden by this point.

Survival of The Dead (2009)

Survival of The Dead (2009) horror movie poster featuring a zombie reaching for you

A zombie virus has plagued the Earth, and one group of soldiers traverses the more rural areas to scavenge for supplies after abandoning their post. The soldiers hear of a safe haven on Plum Island, however when they get there they find a fierce battle between warring families, The O’Flynns and The Muldoons. The O’Flynns want to exterminate all zombies for good while the Muldoons want to live peacefully among their living-dead friends and family. A plot like this leaves plenty of room for Romero’s signature scathing wit, though even the most die-hard fans will admit at this point that their hero is starting to run out of ideas. Sub-par directing, questionable acting and a script that doesn’t quite know what it wants to be makes Survival of the Dead barely a footnote in the legacy that once took theaters by storm.

George Romero’s Other Works

Aside from his extensive work with Zombies he also contributed to horror with the following films and TV show.

 Martin (1978)
 Knightriders (1981) 
Monkey Shines (1988) 
The Dark Half (1993)
Bruiser (2000)

created and executive-produced the television series Tales from the Darkside, from 1983 to 1988.

I didn’t play practical jokes at home. I had a strict upbringing, which is part of my rebellion. I was raised Catholic and went to parochial school, which is why priests and nuns appear in my movies a lot, and I don’t have very much nice to say about them.

George A Romero

If you are inspired by George A. Romero like we are you can now study horror at the George Romero foundation.

The Best of High Rise Horror Movies

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High-rise tower blocks have been a setting staple in action blockbusters throughout history through such films as Die Hard (1988) and the Towering Inferno (1974), though the horror genre has gotten plenty of mileage out of the batophobia-inducing megaliths too. Even the legendary Evil Dead series which has mostly kept to its cabin-in-the-woods roots is now moving its demonic antics into the concrete skies with the upcoming Evil Dead Rise. High-rises are often crowded, tightly packed and dizzyingly high up, leaving room for plenty of horrifyingly tense horror cinema. Below are some of the best high rise horror films to utilize a skyscraper or tower block as their setting, and a look at why exactly this choice is so terrifying.

Demons 2 (1986)

Lamberto Bava’s sequel to his 1985 horror thrillride Demons demonstrates exactly why tower blocks are a nightmare waiting to happen. A demon invasion makes its way into an apartment block through a film being broadcast one saturday night, and a few survivors must fight their way through the block to safety. Produced by the legendary Dario Argento, Demons 2 indeed lacks a bit of the joyful wackiness of its cinema-based original, which is by rights an imperfect classic, and sadly ends up devolving into a reskinned b-grade zombie movie before long. Bava seems to be crafting a sequel as quickly as he can here, with scenes reminiscent of Romero’s original trilogy and the then-just-released Gremlins. The gore and practical effects which made the original what it was are still present, though the vivid colour palette of Demons has been replaced with a lot of dominating blues and greys which sap the energy out of several scenes. Perhaps if its predecessor wasn’t such a cult classic, Demons 2 would have stood a better chance, as it still serves as a great example of nail-biting high-rise horror.

[•REC] & [•REC]² (2007/2009)

rec movie poster based on a horror film in a high rise building featuring a girl and a dark background

REC is a Spanish found footage horror film co-written and directed by Jaume Balagueró and Paco Plaza. Both REC and its sequel take place in an apartment block during a zombie outbreak. While the first relies on the found footage of a news reporter picking a very unfortunate night to cover her local fire station, the sequel utilises shots from SWAT team cams and some intruding youths to craft an even more tense and terrifying ride. The claustrophobia is very apparent here, with hordes of ferociously fast zombies taking up corridors and whole stairwells at a time. Doubly horrifying is the introduction of lockdown to the building, wherein characters realize that not only will the undead kill them if they stay, but the authorities will kill them if they try to leave. This makes the feeling of imprisonment much more acute, and makes the towering backdrop all the more effective

Poltergeist III (1988)

poltergeist 3 movie poster featuring a blonde girl and a scary high rise building

Poltergeist 3 was co-written and directed by Gary Sherman, and is the second sequel to Tobe Hooper’s legendary and massively influential 1982 classic. It was the final feature of Heather O’Rourke before she tragically died at the age of 12, adding even further to the already-present ‘Poltergeist curse’ that had been plaguing cast members of the franchise since its first entry. After being repeatedly tormented by supernatural horrors, Carol Anne moves in with her relatives in a tower block in Chicago in order to undergo therapy. However, the ghostly evil appears to have followed her as she begins to experience terrifying visions, as well as spectral figures in the mirrors of the relative’s high-rise apartment.

Attack The Block (2011)

attack the block movie poster featuring a group of teens in front of a high rise building

As its name suggests, Attack The Block takes place in a London apartment block and centres around the gang of youths that live there as they take on a vicious alien invasion. The charismatic teens trawl the streets and their beloved block evading police, rival gangsters and the otherworldly horrors that hunt them. Director Joe Cornish dials into a perfect blend of action, horror and comedy, doubled with plenty of satire on class and ethnic barriers, all aided by the sprawling urban setting and lively, if not a little unhinged, characters who live there.

Candyman (1992) 

Candyman Urban Legend Horror Movie Poster with a bee in an eye

Bernard Rose’s Candyman terrified audiences the world over in 1992 with its bleakly horrific depiction of the real-world superstition known widely as ‘Bloody Mary’. According to the lasting urban legend, one must say the name of their malevolent force in question five times in front of a mirror, and the thing will awaken and kill them.

Fascinated by local urban legends, Helen (Virginia Madsen) investigates the myths and superstitions surrounding the one-armed Candyman, writing a thesis on how the residents of the Cabrini-Green ghetto use his legend to deal with their surroundings. However, she confronts her worst nightmare when a series of murders, dangerously close to the Candyman’s modus operandi, start taking place around her. Jordan Peele’s 2021 remake expanded on the lore of Candyman in an interesting and often exciting way, though never managed to be as deliriously scary as the ‘92 original breezed its way through being. Playing more on themes of police brutality and ‘ghetto gentrification’, Candyman 2021 tries to add a lot of recent topics to the mythos, more than may have been necessary when considering the classic themes which are just as prevalent.

Cloverfield (2008)

Cloverfield horror movie poster featuring burning high rise buildings in NYC and the statue of liberty

Cloverfield tore theatres a new one back in 2008, changing the game completely for the found-footage subgenre and for monster movies in general. Utilising the shaky-cam technique, director Matt Reeves created a monster movie with such sparse shots of its titular monster that a tension and mystery was retained around the monolithic creature and its origins right up until 2018’s legacy-destroying sequel The Cloverfield Paradox.

In 2008’s Cloverfield, a group’s surprise leaving party for their friend is disastrously interrupted by an explosion in downtown New York, which it is soon revealed was caused by a gigantic rampaging monster. The party’s survivors must flee across New York, documenting each atrocity as it occurs. Technically the film takes place in several tower blocks, including the survivors traversing the roof of one collapsing tower to another which allows for some dizzying shots of the city below.

American Psycho 

American Psycho Movie Poster with a Man holding a knife

Adapted from the 1991 novel from Bret Easton Ellis, American Psycho concerns investment banker/serial killer Patrick Bateman and his homicidal exploits around Manhattan. Starring Christian Bale, Willem Dafoe, Jared Leto and Chloë Sevigny, the Mary Harron-directed chiller is as sadistic as it is confusing, with Bateman’s unreliable first-person account of a disjointed plot involving brutal killings as well as equally intense conversations about business cards. Much of the plot takes place in Bateman’s high-rise apartment complex and the other establishments he inhabits around the suffocating Manhattan streets. The cold megalophobia of the film’s setting adds a new layer to Bateman’s madness, as well as adding to the exposure of the more low-key insanity of the society he lives in.

Land of The Dead (2005)

Land of the Dead horror movie poster

Land of the Dead was written and directed by George A. Romero, and is the fourth of Romero’s six Living Dead movies. As zombies begin to inherit most of the world, survivors of the apocalypse have built a walled city to protect themselves. However, the living dead are evolving more by the day, and a plan to overthrow the city leadership is in the works. Land of The Dead features a very on the nose portrayal of a modern political climate, with the rich and powerful living in Fiddler’s Green, a luxury high-rise, while the rest of the population are left to fend for themselves in the slums below. Fiddler’s Green eventually becomes the target of not only the zombies but also the working class, in a finale that shows exactly why tower blocks are the perfect setting for a metaphor on civil unrest.

High Rise (2015)

High Rise Horror movie poster

Another film to utilise the Snowpiercer-esque visualisation of class hierarchy through its setting is Ben Wheatley’s 2015 dystopian thriller High Rise. Based on the 1975 novel of the same name by British writer J. G. Ballard, High Rise takes place in a luxurious tower block in the 1970s. With a wealth of modern conveniences at their fingertips, the residents of the building grow gradually less dependant on the outside world, allowing them to live each day without even leaving. As the infrastructure becomes brittle and tensions begin to rise, the block is soon thrown into chaos as a full class warfare erupts. Without a clear protagonist in mind, viewers must wade in the moral ambiguity of one atrocity to the next, deciding for themselves who, if anyone, can be considered a hero in it all. Like Snowpiercer in a skyscraper, the violence and debauchery this societal breakdown results in is as entertaining as it is brutal, though with no clear moral alignment the plot of High-Rise can become confusing.

1408 (2007)

1408 horror movie poster featuring 2 mens faces and an old key

Based on the chilling Stephen King short story of the same name, 1408 stars John Cusack and Samuel L Jackson and centres around a grand old hotel in New York that is said to be haunted. Mike Enslin (Cusack) is an established horror author who stays in apparently haunted places and documents his finds. After overexposure to pseudo-supernaturalism, Enslin is becoming bored of his work until he hears about the legendary hotel and room 1408. He is soon trapped in the room with seemingly no escape.

Being trapped in such a high floor of a hotel is played out effectively, with Enslin hanging out of windows and trying to scale across the outer wall to the next room. The setting adds another dimension to his imprisonment and retains a hopelessly bleak air as Enslin’s mind is pushed to breaking point.

Train to Busan presents: Peninsula (2020)

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So I watched Train to Busan presents: Peninsula (2020) last night and my exasperated sigh that began as the credits rolled has just about come to an end. 

For those who don’t know, Train to Busan (2016) was a hugely successful south-Korean zombie flick from 2016, which made use of its tight £8.5 million budget to create, believe it or not, a unique and exciting entry into the world of modern zombie films. The film utilised strong direction, a cast including zombies played by dancers and contortionists, exhilarating action in a snowpiercer-esque limited setting and some genuinely emotional moments to engage critics the world over. Then, the one thing happened that nobody really wanted: Next Entertainment went and got sequel fever. 

Train to Busan worked because of its limited setting and, dare I say, its limited budget. A common gripe with sequels of films like this is that they go “all Hollywood” and layer in as many computer-generated effects as they can over a rushed plot and basically try to crank every aspect up to eleven, many times missing the point of what made the original great and alienating those who appreciated it the most. That, sadly, is exactly what has happened here. 

Train to Busan presents: Peninsula Has No Heart

Firstly, the heart of Train to Busan has been ripped out in Peninsula and replaced with one mechanical and unfeeling, one that tries desperately to imitate the organic beating of its predecessor while any right-minded viewer frowns at the blatant algorithms forming their emotional experience. Basically, the sentiment is so forced into Peninsula that it borders on emotional manipulation at several points, wherein the film may as well have held up title cards saying FEEL NOW rather than spend so much time lingering on mediocrely-portrayed anguish and cheap, oh so cheap misdirection. Without spoiling anything, I honestly wished they’d committed to the more tragic ending that was implied in the final scenes rather than backpedal in their inferral that we as viewers couldn’t handle it.

That being said, for the most part Peninsula knows what it is, and as a result is a fast-paced and often fun action movie. Much of the claustrophobic tension falls by the wayside for car chases and gunfights so heavy on CGI that one would be forgiven for thinking they’d wandered into Zack Snyder’s latest picture. Every time we are shown a crowd of zombies, which here serve more as fodder than a threat, at least half of them look superimposed or computer generated which, along with the borderline cartoonish style, can break immersion regularly. Some of the long-take action scenes are competently pulled off and enjoyable, even despite feeling a little derivative. Any scene in which a somehow-indestructible car mows down hundreds of computer-generated undead (which happens more than enough) is enough to draw an exasperated groan from anyone familiar with modern, high-budget zombie flicks. 

Aside from a few unique ideas, such as twisted survivors throwing strays into their zombie arena to battle captured undead and a clever idea involving a little girl and her remote-control cars, a lot of Peninsula feels a little too familiar to justify its runtime. If they are indeed setting up a series of zombie films here then I hope they continue the variation in concept and boil things back down in an attempt at a more focused zombie flick. We all know the genre has more to give, if only those creating it could show enough restraint to remember what made zombies great in the first place. 

Reboots, Remakes and Requels in Horror

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While new and fresh ideas are popping up all the time in the world of horror films, particularly amongst indie circles, some of the older nightmares can be just as potent. This is why films and franchises from as far back as the 1920s are to this day being graced with sequels, reboots and complete remakes. Of course it can be argued that to remake an old horror property is simply an attempt at draining the pockets of the nostalgia-susceptible, but a lot of creators go into such a process with a deep love of that original, be it Nightmare on Elm Street, The Evil Dead, or The Invisible Man. Sometimes people simply want to capture the essence of what made one of their favourite films great and share that with a modern audience, though a few recent entries have had trickier, cleverer ideas up their sleeves. As we are about to see, the line between ‘terrifyingly worthy tribute’ and ‘embarrassment to its predecessor’ can be a fine one, and not all make the cut.


Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022)


Tobe Hooper’s 1974 horror classic The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was scary bordering on masochistic, and since then has been tarnished with a horde of shoddy sequels and rebooted more times than an 80s Macintosh. Filmmakers seem content simply chopping different bits off the original’s title each time they reset; first we had The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003), and then Texas Chainsaw (2013), and now Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022) horror remake. Many try to tack on enough lore just to fill and warrant their runtime, though our skin-masked maniac’s latest outing seems far more heavily focused on gore. Of course, gore isn’t what made Hooper’s masterpiece what it is, but it certainly helped. Sadly David Blue Garcia’s take utilises mainly CGI gore that can tend to look animated when it ramps up, and Leatherface himself never felt immediate enough to be actually scary. Olwen Fouere plays a returning Sally Hardesty (played originally by Marilyn Burns) in what seems like an attempt at the ‘returning leads in horror’ trend currently headed by Jamie Lee Curtis and most of the Scream (1996) cast, though Sally’s comeback was in no way as effective or as thought-out as the aforementioned. While it is worth a watch for gore completionists, Texas Chainsaw Massacre ultimately proves itself to be merely another in a lengthening line.


Scream (2022)

Scream 5 Horror remake


Tyler Gillett and Matt Bettinelli-Olpin got a lot of things right with Scream (2022); it was rife with the meta-awareness of its predecessors and aware of the change in their relatability as the years had gone on, perfectly willing to integrate itself into the new modern age and do so effectively. It brought back cast favourites from the very beginning of the franchise and even got so meta as to question what kind of addition to the franchise it really was, coining the term ‘requel’: not quite a horror remake, not quite a sequel.

Scream (2022) is a clever whodunit horror, though somewhere along the way it forgot to be scary. Aside from a couple of tension-building moments, most of the runtime is spent winking to the audience rather than actually being a horror film. Still, it is a funny, self-aware and welcome addition to the franchise, one that fans of any of the previous sequels will likely enjoy.


Friday 13th (2009)


Friday 13th (2009) is an example of a reboot that simply didn’t do enough to distinguish itself from its predecessors. While technically-sound and boasting plenty of gore, director Marcus Nispel’s (director of 2003’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre reboot) vision sadly followed too many of the same beats as practically every other film in the long-running franchise, proving that a sleek, modern look isn’t all that’s required to resurrect someone like the immortal Jason Voorhees.

The story does take some interesting turns, though all we are eventually left with are a handful of 00’s horror cliches and hollow half-scares. With a ‘reimagining’ like this, some expectations arguably have to be subverted, otherwise what is the production but an attempt to milk some more cash from the franchise? Unfortunately everything here that is expected to happen, happens, and the experience as a whole is forgettable, even in terms of late-stage Friday 13th titles.


Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City (2022)

Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City (2022) horror remake poster featuring people with guns


Welcome To Raccoon City is an indisputable homage to the golden era of the Resident Evil game series, though it also throws into question whether or not this is a good thing for a film. Paul W.S. Anderson’s take on the series was heavily flawed and received mostly negative feedback, especially as it went on, and one of the factors for this was always thought to be its departure from the plot and themes of the games in favour of the story of Alice, played by Anderson’s wife Milla Jovovich. Now that we have a perfectly functioning cinematic version of the games themselves, complete with likeable cast, plenty of action and great callbacks to the originals, it becomes apparent that the problem may not have been wholly with Alice. Following the beats that the Resident Evil games did actually makes for quite a hollow cinematic experience, even when done with all the heart and care a fan can muster.


Wrong Turn (2021)


Here was a hell of a curveball in terms of horror reboots. While not by any means perfect, Wrong Turn (2021) completely reinvented the meaning of backwoods brutality by swapping out its predecessors’ cackling mutant hillbillies for The Foundation, a group who rejected modern society to live in the woodland, and who protect their way of life using savage measures.

Wrong Turn does lay it on thick in terms of political ideology, and it is odd to see a film in the series take itself so seriously. That being said, the film’s balance between being that of strong ideas and that of a strong body-count is what keeps it afloat for the majority of its runtime. Some truly haunting imagery and wince-inducing kills make up for the shaky pacing and ridiculous choices of its lead characters (it is a slasher after all). Anyone interested in seeing the effects of some gruesome woodland booby traps will find more than enough here to enjoy.

Evil Dead (2013)

Evil Dead (2013) horror remake poster featuring a woman and red background


My personal favourite horror reboot. Evil Dead (2013) manages to capture perfectly the ferocious insanity of the original while also creating a uniquely dark spin on its story. Five friends spend a night in a cabin in the woods to cure one of their heroin addictions. When addict Mia (Jane Levy) begins facing demonic and invasive threats, she must convince her friends that far more than withdrawal is plaguing her before it is too late. Fede Alvarez manages to keep some key items as love letters to Raimi’s legendary films, such as that tree for example, and amps up the gore and violence to vomit-worthy levels. Faces are stabbed, hands are split, heads are chainsawed and all is done with a gleeful knowingness of what makes Evil Dead special. Let’s not forget the iconic Necronomicon, which makes an appearance as well. And with Evil Dead: Rise just around the corner, it’s nice to know there’s a future for such an uncompromising horror entity.

Halloween (2018)


Blumhouse’s Halloween reboot is one of their better horror films. What makes Michael Myers scary is the apparent randomness to his killings, and Halloween (2018) knew exactly where to go with it. After a shaky intro (what is even happening there? Does Michael have the ability to send the mentally ill into a frenzy?) we are then given a very solid setup involving a returning Jamie Lee Curtis as Laurie Strode, her family, Michael’s foreboding transfer from psychiatric hospital to maximum security prison (what could go wrong?) and even a little self-awareness with the ‘by today’s standards’ quip. Instead of Laurie returning in the same brief way Sally Hardesty did, she and her family are key players in Michael’s latest bloodbath, showing Laurie’s preparation and the deadly results it yielded.

Hagazussa (2017) – Experimental Witch Horror

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Lukas Fiegelfeld’s debut chiller, Hagazussa (2017) (Hagazussa being a German term for Witch) is commonly mentioned alongside Robert Eggers’ debut flick The Witch (2015). This is not only for obvious titular reasons, but also for their moody, slow-burn atmospheres and psychologically bleak plots depicting young girls taken in by the darkness. Although there’s comparisons to be made, the two witch films do differ in many key ways. While The Witch has, for all its oddities, a rather straightforward plot, Hagazussa plays with ambiguity in a way reminiscent of such experimental films as David Lynch’s Eraserhead (1997) and Denis Villeneuve’s wholly interpretive Enemy (2013). From the opening shot of Fiegfeld’s snowy chiller an effect takes place on it’s audience. Some may shuffle uncomfortably at the slow motion frames of snow, accented by MMMD’s permeating stringed-drone soundtrack, though those familiar with hypnotic and slow burn cinema will already be settling in with a smile on their faces. 

Like the works of Andrei Tarkovsky, Hagazussa relies on an atmosphere of gradually-building dread to drag it along. While this could have been achieved with the tight, focused shots of snowy mountains and moody forests alone, MMMD’s cerebral drones help accent every frame to its full artistic potential. Atmospheric horror and drone music have always gone hand in hand on some level, though recent years have seen the two forming a dreadful bond. MMMD’s is a relaxing dread, more akin to the sounds of Bernard Hermann in his work for Hitchcock’s Vertigo, though retaining the world-ending vibrations boasted by many doom/drone groups. 

Hagazussa witch horror film poster featuring a witch with antlers

Hagazussa is a cerebrally-focused feast for the eyes, aiming to bring you down to its speed and keep you there until the final head-scratching scene climaxes. That’s not to say that you’ll be enjoying only mountain scenery and expressionist artistry. Hagazussa unflinchingly plays with themes of madness through isolation, child molestation, implied bestiality and multiple instances of rape in a bold way. It’s essentially that quiet kid you befriended in school, only to later find their collection of black metal CDs and skinned rodents; an analogy I’m sure we can all relate to. 

History of Hagazussa

Germanic folklore image from the Bohemian region

Hagazussa relates to the German folklore tale of Perchta, a ‘Christmas witch’ who was said to punish those with untidy houses or those too lazy to have all of their flax spun by a certain night with fire and disembowelment. While traditional ideas run rampant in Hagazussa, rather than tell a tale of Perchta herself the film focuses more on how these tales of darkness can affect superstitious groups, leading to prejudice towards its character of focus, Albrun (Aleksandra Cwen) from surrounding villagers. A sense of self-loathing pervades every scene, making the viewer feel like one of the villagers themselves, observing each increasingly degenerate act as all human decency falters. The idea of loneliness in a populated land, being surrounded by people with no intent to help does wonders for the hostile foreboding the film is trying to invoke. 

Hagazussa (2017) Trailer

Without delving into spoilers, the third act of Hagazussa indeed involves a payoff of sorts, introducing a revenge aspect to the plot as well as some very dark psychedelic hijinxs. It’s very much worth wading through the admitted snails-pace of much of its proceedings, and features an ending that warps the viewers recollection of the whole film, meaning that if you weren’t already questioning everything you had just seen, you will by the time the credits roll. The heavy themes in Hagazussa will be polarising for some, though rather than just random shock factor inclusions they felt more by-products of an already bleak alternate universe, and rather fitting. 


Those with patience, and perhaps a little energy (I fell asleep during my first watch) will find artistry and atmosphere by the bucketload in Hagazussa, as well as a disturbing depiction of one woman’s struggle against dark urges and darker neighbors. While not for those with delicate sensibilities, it offers challenging source material that arguably goes further in terms of experimentation than Robert Egger’s comparative witchy outing of two years previous, from it’s opening to it’s beautiful final shot that will be burned into my mind for years to come.

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