Published on October 30th, 2015 | by Ed Sum


Some Obscure Horror Films To Watch This Halloween

The Lake on Clinton Road

The Lake on Clinton Road is one of those shaky cam movies made on a microbudget. Thankfully, it’s not a POV type of movie, but the quality is comparable to a few The Asylum products. If it’s meant to create any terror, one of them has to be in why suffer watching this product at all? Maybe skipping to the good parts can help, but even when the frights are found, this film is not worth investigating. The issue here is in how the story is delivered. The narrative tries to grab you with a lone female about to be interviewed inside a police station, and it should be good, but once the screams happen, the visuals fails to send shivers down your spine. This movie is more about T&A than about authentic horror. Although the film purports to be based on true events — like about a menacing black truck that fades in and out of existence and UFOs fly in and out of the lake — perhaps the writers are better off deciding on a focus. A story about alien abduction in secluded places makes more sense than one about ghostly possession.

2 Stars out of 5

Jesse Peyronel’s Siren

In Greek mythology, a Siren is a half-bird and half-woman whose enchanting songs will lure sailors to their deaths. They either jump off the boat or sail it to the rocks. These men would do anything to earn their love, including fighting amongst themselves, but ultimately the victor will not find sharing the rest of his mortal life with this hybrid creature easy. In later interpretations of this legend, the Siren eats her mate.

In writer/director Jesse Peyronel’s film, Siren (2013), Leigh (Vinessa Shaw) is a woman with a pheromone that draws men in. She rejects them because they see her as a projection of their ideal love and that’s not what she wants. Her condition began when she entered puberty and there’s no cure. She sent out samples of her sweat to various chemical laboratory for analysis, and so far none of them have found a cure. One of them wants to do the opposite and exploit it! Leigh want nothing to do with this and although free from this secret corporation, she is not free from a male domineering society.

This movie’s reinterpretation of the myth is spectacular. It stays true to the legend but yet be contemporary. Unlike sci-fi or fantasy products which tends to demonize mythical beings, this tale makes them human. The twist that could’ve been used to lift the curse if Peyronel was going by Ovid’s Metamorphoses, But the story here seems more in league with Homer’s Odyssey.

The strong performance by Shaw gives the siren figure a new dimension. When she meets a drifter by the name of Guy (Robert Kazinsky), who has lost the ability to smell, the clichéd romance that must occur doesn’t feel too forced. The movie feels like a Harlequin Books style fantasy-romance with a touch of spy drama mixed in. When Leigh has to be careful with age old adage of beware of Greeks bearing gifts, that includes being wary of beefy strangers carrying large backpacks. Interestingly enough, as Guy’s past gets revealed, it’s Circe (She’s the Greek Goddess of Magic) that’s involved in getting the two to meet. This greco-name inspired multinational company offered Guy a chance at redeeming himself. The only condition is to catch Leigh.
People who enjoys Shaw’s works will find this film simple and for purveyors of myth cycles, this movie is worth checking out. Poseidon approves.

3½ Stars out of 5

Simon and Phillip Rhee’s Furious

Simon and Phillip Rhee’s Furious is perhaps one of the strangest piece of Eurasian cinema to emerge out of the 80’s. It’s cult status is well earned and for many owners of bootlegged editions of this movie, perhaps those VHS tapes can now be ditched in favour for the DVD that’s being released on July 21st by Leomark Studios.

This movie stands the test of time quite well. It’s like watching a late era Bruce Lee film mixed in with some original Mad Max noir. With a strange plot that involves revenge, the only thoughts coming from newcomers to schlock filmmaking is the thought of what the f*ck is this film is supposed to be about? There are more moments of orchestral music than dialog to slightly confuse viewers. Although the acting is lamentable, the martial arts is what most owners will want to see time and time again. These brothers star in this film and they are better known to demonstrate their prowess as stuntmen in other movies like Dark Knight Rises and Best of the Best.

If this film is supposed to present Simon (Simon Rhee) undertaking a spiritual journey, what’s presented is a muddled affair that tries to assault the senses. Watching this chase film is ultimately about having a experience with the visual presentation than a narrative one. If this movie had a larger budget and the interest of a writer well versed in Greco-Roman literature, I can see this movie aspiring to greater heights like in Lucius Apuleius’ The Golden Ass (where the hero seeks atonement for his misdeeds after being transformed into a donkey). But this movie is for what it is, a piece of surreal cinema with its menagerie of wizards and warriors who love pulling chickens out of their hats.

3 Stars out of 5

Psycho Beach Party

One reason to watch Psycho Beach Party is because this film is one of Amy Adams early films. She has a supporting role in this movie about the loss of innocence. Florence Forreset (Lauren Ambrose) is a character who suffers from dissociative identity. Her alter-ego, Ann Bowman, is a sexual predator and in what she goes after are more than just a few studs at the beach to have her way with. This is film is a throwback to many a 60’s beach party movie that I used to watch (thank god, I stopped) featuring Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello. There’s definitely a false sense of innocence that is wonderfully recreated, but this movie does not stand the test of time that well.

The humour is not quite there. There’s no feelings of nostalgia being felt. The direction is nice, but the narrative doesn’t reach out to grab viewers right away with its horror-slasher film aesthetic. I’m more ready to seek out a local performance of the Broadway play, Gidget goes Psychotic, after watching half an hour of Psycho Beach.

3 Stars out of 5

Blood Moon

Originally released 2014 (London FrightFest Film Festival)
Arriving to Video:
September 1, 2015, USA
October 5, 2015, UK

Tales from Weird West can often be fun. When produced right, it brings a sense of unfettered doom in an untamed land by immigrants who do not know any better when they decide to set up shop in the middle of nowhere. In Blood Moon, the joy is in the fact of how the Navajo legends about shape-shifters — werewolves in this case — are told over a campfire. The respectful treatment of this lore at at the forefront of why I love this film.
This movie plays with the conventions of what makes a Wild West tale in the supernatural vein good. Travellers (a deputy marshal and his wife, a London Times journalist, a priest, and a saloon owner) are forced to hole up in a town that’s not their own by bandits. Before anyone in this motley group know it, they discover that leaving is not an option. They learn that there’s a creature stalking them. The tension that develops is more between each other than with them and the paranormal. The dialogue that happens between them and careful use of the music helps create that sense of impending dread.

When compared to Drew Cullingham’s Umbrage: The First Vampire, I can’t help but be reminded of certain similarities in this movie’s thematic construction. There’s a growing sense of claustrophobia and unease as the human characters try to figure out what to do when the supernatural arrives. UK-made Wild West features are sometimes hard to fathom since sometimes the writers may not necessarily know how to convey a sense of what life was like back then. I have no problems with British actors playing Americans, but when the story casts them into standard archetypes, that’s when issues arise. All of the method acting could have been toned down a notch. I loved how real the sets looked. When considering the location used for this film’s shoot is located in Kent, UK, I was blown away at how everything looked when filmed at night. Maybe a visit to Laredo Western Town is in order. Even the period costumes looked authentic.

More of the wolf-man (Ian Whyte) could have been seen, but I feel that can distract more than add to the product. Even though the monster appearances are limited to quick shots here and there, and the gore limited, that’s all any horror movie needs. Some creatures are not meant to be constantly seen, and this film is spectacular in that regard. More oomph to the climax could have helped this film make an impact, but for a period piece, it does a good job at showing that the West can be remade in the UK. This product does it right, and that’s nothing to howl at.

3½ Stars out of 5

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