Five Sleeper Hits on Streaming

Summer is always a rough season. Summer combined with the Corona virus lockdown is almost unbearable, but being stuck inside doesn’t have to be torture. I found these five low budget gems, definitely better than expected, that should satisfy your horror movie cravings.

We Summon the Darkness (2019)
Service: Netflix

“There’s a lotta evil out there.”

For anyone’s who has ever worn a leather vest over a jean jacket, sported big feathered hair, or been bullied for listening to Ozzy or Slayer, all over the misguided belief that heavy metal is Satan’s music for devil worshippers, this one’s for you. Set in the 80s, this low-key thriller about three victims falling prey to a murderous cult with diabolical intentions isn’t particularly scary or gory, but it definitely harkens back to those old glossy B slashers that the studios used to churn out. The movie stars a gaggle of Hollywood’s brightest teen stars, led by Alexandra Daddario, and Johnny Knoxville, surprisingly right at home, playing a smarmy televangelist. The energy is high and acting is decent, honestly though, absolutely nothing else stands out here. Both the plot and the twists are totally predictable, it’s a little hard to tell if that’s by design or not. If I was one of the filmmakers, I’d get all meta and say, ‘oh yeah, it was supposed to be that way.’ People really enjoy homages, and stickin two giant middle fingers up to the real evil in the world, those big greedy corporate churches, for lying to the world about great music, using the lord’s name in vain, and besmirching religion. That, plus a bitchin’ soundtrack, and heavy metal couture, so 80s, you can almost smell the AquaNet, there are worse ways to spend a Saturday night.

Spring (2014)
Service: Shudder

“I gotta make sure you’re the kinda crazy I can deal with.”

There aren’t too many well-made horror romances out there in the world, but this movie is in top ten. Spring, the story of grieving young man who finds love with a mysterious woman, while on a vacation in Italy, is just as refreshing as its name sounds. It’s simply a beautiful movie, everything from the strange Lovecraftian story to the incredible cinematography, and the dark, creepy suspense to the blossoming love between two strangers. What makes the film work, besides getting lost in charming scenery of Southern Italy, is the chemistry between the leads Lou Taylor Pucci and Nadia Hilker, it’s sweet, like saccharine, yet, definitely filled with a touch of danger and mystique. Their romance moves a little fast and even seems unrealistic, but if you factor in love at first sight (hey, it can happen), and remember the vulnerability of a lonely, grieving, inexperienced young man, it becomes real easy to understand why he would be attracted to an alluring, beautiful, mystical 2000 year old creature. It’s almost sad to watch her toy with him so effortlessly, then again, the boy is as impulsive as he is lost. A violent episode in the film’s beginning shows he’s far from a perfect hero and they might just be morally matched. As for the girl and her “condition”, well, you’ll just have to go watch the movie to see if her intentions are pure or not.

Ghost Stories (2017)
Service: Hulu

“Things are not always as they seem.”

This movie about a skeptical professor and paranormal debunker is a cleverly disguised anthology from IFC Midnight, turns out to be one of the scariest movies that I’ve seen in a long time. Triple threat writer-director Andy Nyman stars as the wry skeptic investigating the disappearance of his hero mentor. Once he finds him, he is then tasked with looking into the old man’s three most disturbing cases, which brings the professor on a terrifying journey of self-discovery. Nyman, along with co-creator Jeremy Dyson based their script off their hit theater show of the same name. The writing, cinematography and performances here are all phenomenal, in particular, Martin Freeman as a haunted banker, and in a mystery role, that I won’t give away. Ghost Stories makes good work of jump scares and sports some deep Hammer vibes, paying homage to numerous horror films, so it’s not inventing the wheel or anything, just making really good use of the tools from the tool box. Sometimes, that’s all a proper horror film needs.

One Cut of the Dead (2017)
Service: Shudder (Japanese subtitles)

“One take, no cuts. With one camera from start to finish.”

Shin’ichiro Ueda’s brilliant feature debut is a bit of movie inception. The movie starts off as a seriously cheesy low-budget zombie movie about an indie film crew filming a zombie movie in an abandoned warehouse, when suddenly, they’re attacked by real zombies, much to the director’s delight. If you’re still watching by the time the credits roll about 37 minutes in, yes, you read that right, boy, are you in for a treat! As you’re sitting there wondering ‘what the hell was that?’ a new movie starts. Well, sort of, it’s a flashback, and all good things to those who wait. One Cut of the Dead isn’t really a cheesy low-budget zombie film, it’s a hilarious meta-satirical comedy about filmmaking, including the backstage antics of producing live television. There are a ton of references to zombie movies and lots of gore and screaming, of course, but, the real prize here is the storytelling. One Cut features a strong message about the collaborative filmmaking process, and the resourcefulness, courage and heart it takes to be in the entertainment business. I guarantee, by the third act, you’ll forget all about those 37 minutes wasted in the beginning and cheer on the film crew’s spirited efforts to make their zombie movie.

Blood Quantum (2019)
Service: Shudder

“Every one of those motherf****** is a time bomb.”

Blood Quantum is essentially zombies on a modern-day reservation. You get all the blood-thirsty ravaging undead and pensive natives struggling to survive day-to-day, while reconciling their anger, resentment, and fears. Writer-director Jeff Barnaby channels his inner Romero and delivers biting social commentary on real life native troubles by drawing parallels to surviving in the zombie apocalypse, thus, immediately making it a better than average zombie story. Life on the reservation hasn’t improved, but it hasn’t necessarily deteriorated either. The white man is still trying to kill us. Same shit, different millennia. A little closer to the heart, there’s nice family drama subplot involving a wayward son named Lysol, wonderfully played by Kiowa Gordon. Lysol is one complex dude. He’s angry and alluring, righteous, and terrifying, and I don’t think it’s a stretch to say he represents a lot of young native men across the North America. Sadly, in a film filled with quirky interesting characters, Lysol is one of the few fleshed out characters. Dropped plot points involving back stories is just one of tiny problems that all add up over time, keeping the film from being truly great. I read director Barnaby wore several post production hats to ensure he told the story he wanted to tell, but I can’t help but wonder what the film could have been, if only it had a bigger budget and better editing. Despite its obvious flaws, this is a solid horror movie with nice cinematography, comical one-liners, ranging from cheesy to endearing, and plenty of zombie action and bloody carnage.

Recipe of the Month – July

One minute I was shuffling around my living room, worried about the current state of the world…

I suppose I could pour my heart and soul out, in another boring, feeble attempt to explain how summer depression disorder works, or, I could blame it on aliens. Lucky for you, I was totally kidnapped by aliens!

I don’t remember a thing, except when I woke up, a strange voice in my head told me to make these amazing Toy Story Alien Popcorn Balls found over at TotallytheBomb.com and binge-watch 5 seasons of CW’s The Originals, so that’s what I did.👽

alien-popcorn-balls-1
Photo by TotallytheBomb.com

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • ⅓ cup corn syrup
  • 1 cup unpopped popcorn (about 6 cups popped)
  • 1 tsp Neon Green GEL food coloring
  • 12 Candy Eyeballs

 

For the full recipe instructions, please visit here:
https://totallythebomb.com/ready-for-the-claw-toy-story-alien-popcorn-balls

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Photo by TotallytheBomb.com

 

 

September Seduction

I love a good summer storm. Anyone else? Warm breeze. Dark clouds. Rumbling thunder. Lightning strikes. Can you smell and feel the hot rain?

September is like a good storm brewing. It’s a sexy month. The weather dances the tango with you. The unbearable heat embraces you and swings you around, dizzying your mind, and just when you can’t take it anymore, there’s a cool nip at your nose, keeping you on your toes. You never know what September might be thinking. She’s as tempestuous as the sea, like a wild woman searching for the calm.

September likes to remind us of what we love and who we are. She brings back memories and yearns for new adventures. She makes us lose track of time. We’re constantly dreaming. She sees through the false smiles. She wipes away our summer tears and nudges us to do things that make us feel whole. Do not ignore her.

This is your time. Look out upon the horizon and take in the electrifying light show of last summer storm. Enjoy September. She has so much more to offer than being a pre-month. September doesn’t live in the shadow of October.

September is the lover you wish you could hold onto.

 

Darkest Before the Dawn

I’ve been struggling with my writing for several days. Weeks, really. The summer blues have had a strangling hold on me this year. I had several ideas on how I wanted to approach this month’s blog post. At one point, I wrote out a long piece about suffering from summer depression. It read like a book report on Seasonal Affective Disorder, and it had nothing to do with Halloween.  As my deadline came and went, guilt followed, then, the shame of failure set in, and soon, it was hard to write anything at all, not even one of my goofy movie lists.

Group therapy 

I belong to a few Halloween groups around the web, wherever I can find like-minded creatures. Halloweenophiles always seem to find each other. It’s nice not to feel the burden of being the weirdo sometimes. It’s a sure bet, the second Halloween merch hits the stores, people post pictures and store locations. We know how to comfort each other, most importantly, we understand why it’s important to do so, no explanation needed.

it's time
©Sam Heimer

Sensing the buzz, off I went, in search of Halloween, looking for pumpkins, skeletons, black cats, and any sliver of orange and black. My local Michael’s did not disappoint.

Continue reading “Darkest Before the Dawn”