The Shrine, Makeupalooza

The Shrine

The Shrine has earned my respect as a horror movie by relying heavily on makeup effects. Factoring out the Evil Dead remake, you don’t really see a lot of that, y’know? Sure, it looked cheesy, but that’s the fun of it! Retro-glamor with a dash of horrific mutilation and tides of blood. The premise of the movie is really neat, and the scares are viable whether you laugh or scream at goofy looking monster masks.

The ShrineCarmen is a journalist looking to find her next big scoop. She thinks she already has it; several disappearances of European tourists in the Polish village of Alvania. After acquiring a journal from one of the tourists and being haunted by his bloody-eyed visage in a dream, she decides that she’s going to Poland. Not without conscripting the aid of Sara the intern and Marcus the estranged boyfriend first, of course.

In Alvania, they find an enormous patch of dense, dark, unmoving fog, as described in Eric Taylor’s journal. The locals don’t take very kindly to the presence of strangers, and are quick to turn them away from the fog. Carmen notices that the fog is the only part of Alvania that the townsfolk are safeguarding, so naturally, it must be where the tourists are. The team sneaks over to the fog to investigate, and Carmen and Sara go on in. Marcus stays back, because fuck that noise. It’s spooky.

The ShrineIt’s all downhill from there. The townsfolk capture the lot and murder Sara with a ritual that involves hammering a mask with large iron spikes where the eyes would be into her head. The same masks had been seen earlier in a room full of corpses. Clearly the fog has some greater significance if it would incite such an occult reaction. On the brighter side of things, I was relieved to find that the Alvanians didn’t function as a one-dimensional antagonist force due to the snazzy twist near the climax. Horror movies don’t have a lot of room for fluid morality; you have to appreciate the little things. Anyway, we’re nearing spoiler territory, so I’m gonna have to cut this short.

Overall, I’d consider The Shrine a decent horror flick. It’s not radically original, but it has its own unique charm, particularly with the horror evoked by
the iron masks. That could just be personal preference talking, but faceless masks always seem to get under my skin.

The ShrineHorror Movie A Day thought The Shrine had a tactically boring startup with a scare-fest second half, and I’m inclined to agree. As far as pacing goes, setting your audience up with low expectations and then bringing out the big guns works wonders. That specifically may or may not have been planned, but it works all the same. Here’s the alt review for a more detailed look at The Shrine:

Devil, the Hellevator


The movie I’m about to tell you about is called Devil, but it should have been called Hellevator or had a tagline like that. “Devil,” psh. That’s about as creative as naming your pet hamster Rodent. As far as Satanic horror movies go, it’s not actually very scary. It gets super tense at parts through utilization of flickering lights coupled with unusual deaths, but never really steps into that jump-scare territory. That’s what happens when the entire movie occurs in a malfunctioning elevator and you’re not allowed to know who the one making trouble is, I suppose. Not a lot to work with.

Devil begins with a priest dying by falling out of a rather tall building, and a narration describing a priest dying and how that kind of thing usually means Satan is up to shenanigans. Then, five people get into an elevator and it enters inspection mode. Then, the lights flicker and someone gets bit. You may be hoping they turn into a demon zombie, but they don’t, for which I am profoundly sorry. The security guards watching via the elevator’s camera call the police to defuse the situation, which brings Detective Bowden to the scene.

DevilBowden is a recovering alcoholic who lost his wife and daughter in a hit and run car accident several years prior. That might seem irrelevant, but it plays an important role later on, so hush. He’s the one who doesn’t believe in the Devil because he thinks people are bad enough on their own. Ramirez, the religious security guard and narrator of the beginning of the film, gives him some guff for it, though they eventually join forces to take on Satan in a loose, moralistic sense. You can’t actually fight Satan, I don’t think.

Anyway, here’s the lineup of people trapped in the elevator in case you want to sleuth who the devil is before you watch the movie, if you even plan on it:

  • Ben Larson, a temp security guard.
  • Jane Cowski, an old woman.
  • Vince McCormick, a scumbag mattress salesman.
  • Tony, a former mechanic and Afghanistan veteran.
  • Sarah Caraway, a rich and tricky young woman.

DevilBy the way, Sarah Caraway is played by Bojana Novakovic. That’s a name I haven’t heard since Drag Me to Hell. That one and Devil are similar, though the latter lacks a sense of humor and focuses more on being a moral lesson, the lesson being “you better not do nasty shit or the Devil gon’ come round and kill you dead.”

Josh Tyler of CinemaBlend is quickly becoming my favorite movie reviewer around. According to him, Ramirez knows the secret of the Devil. He knows it super good-like because his grandma told him. He just doesn’t tell anyone until everybody’s already dead. You should read this other review because it’s silly and clever and I like it:

Light Reading Turns Dark in Ninth Gate

Ninth Gate

Cancel the search party, we found him: Johnny Depp in a crappy Satanic horror movie called Ninth Gate. I only call it crappy because it’s one of those forgettable Netflix once-offs that’s lovely to see once, but any more than that and we’re going to have a problem. The problem is, the protagonists are too pretty. Both of ‘em. Johnny Depp and Emmanuelle Seigner? Get to the sex scene unprepared and you might rupture a blood vessel. Get to it several times, and you might rupture a lot more than that. That’s a joke, see.

Ninth GateAs I was saying before you interrupted me, Ninth Gate is a film about collectors of Satanist literature, and the things they will do to see their goals through to the end. Dean Corso is a dealer of rare books, and a scoundrel when it comes to undercutting his competitors, and it is for that very reason that Boris Balkan hires him to hunt down one of the rarest pieces of Satanist literature known to man: The Ninth Gate of the Kingdom of Shadows. More than a book hunt, Corso is hired to validate the authenticity of the remaining three copies of this ancient, eeevil tome.

On the flipside, Lena Olin, the wife of the man who sold Balkan the sacred Satanist work, wants her property back at all costs. “At all costs” to a worshipper of the King of Demons should have obvious implications, suffice it to say she plays the part of the antagonist up until the moment in which she doesn’t.

Ninth GateThroughout his journey, Corso is offered assistance by an unnamed girl with an air of mystery about her. At least, that’s what is intended. If you’ve even an inkling of how Satan works by movie standards, you’ll know exactly which role Emmanuelle Seigner fills with her evasive half-answers, curious disappearances, and glowing eyes. Spoiler alert, of course, but it doesn’t play a very large role in the greater plot. No, the sex scene isn’t a part of the greater plot. Get off my back, you.

I would say Ninth Gate would go down best preceded or followed by Rosemary’s Baby, as the two have thematic similarities that blend well. If you’re hoping Johnny Depp will make this one great, you’ll be disappointed, but that doesn’t mean you can’t kill some time watching him fend off cultists in goofy robes.

Ninth GateTotal Film pulls no punches in saying that Ninth Gate is just another heaping helping of Satan’s leavings. Unoriginal, uninspired, the like. Ninth Gate is standard as far as throwaway horror movies go, which leads me to believe that the only reason this review was so brutal is because of Depp’s presence in the cast. I could be wrong, but good actors in bad movies tend to yield such brutal reviews. Here’s the alt review so you can see if I’m right:

ComplainerMan’s Top Five Horror Movies

I love horror movies! Good ones, awful ones, long ones, short ones, startle-centric ones, suspenseful ones; a little bit of fright makes for a lot of entertainment! The nice thing about horror movies is that everyone and their mothers want to be responsible for the next big horror franchise, and most of the movies they grind out are flat-out bad. That is where the so-bad-it’s-good genre comes from! But we aren’t going to be talking about those. Top five horror movies coming at ya!


#5 – Rosemary’s Baby

Rosemary's BabyWhat’re you doin’ lookin’ at me like you didn’t expect classics on here? Mia Farrow, people! This is an allegorical film about a Catholic girl marrying a Protestant man, and her metaphorical journey through hell serving as punishment for their forbidden love. Forbidden by her family, anyway. It’s got conspiracy theories, it’s got a Satanic cult, it’s got a bizarre ritual that must have been particularly difficult to film; good stuff!




#4 – The Cabin in the Woods

The Cabin in the WoodsNow I’ve gone modern satire. What’s with this top five? The Cabin in the Woods eagerly mocks the horror industry’s long list of clichés by incorporating them as control mechanisms of the antagonistic force. Every time the ditzy heroin drops the knife right next to the assumed-dead villain, you’re witnessing the puppeteers hard at work. The best news is, depending on how you roll, this movie is capable of making you both laugh and cringe. Simultaneously, potentially.



#3 – The Fly

The FlyBack to classics! Jeff Goldblum makes such a wonderful quirky scientist type. What begins as a curious venture into sci-fi takes a terrible twist when a crucial bout of experimentation goes critically wrong. The most gruesome and interesting portion of this particular film is the transformation Dr. Seth Brundle undergoes after the incident. The effects are on par with modern 3D in the area of quality, so you’ll definitely get a kick out of the vomit-drop scenes.




#2 – The Thing (2011)

The ThingThe Thing gives me the creeps. It’s so bloody terrifying. A creature that can hijack your body without you knowing it, then use you as a mutated meat puppet to slaughter everyone around you and carry on the cycle of deception and elimination. It follows the function of a basic slasher movie, picking off one protagonist at a time, but the concept itself is so profoundly disturbing (to me at least) that it earns rank two on the top five. I chose the remake over the classics because the effects were… fitting.


#1 – Let the Right One In

Let the Right One InThis has got to be the redemption that the vampire genre so desperately needs after enduring all those need-not-be-named blood-sucker farces. A Swedish film, Let the Right One In explores the relationship between a young, bullied boy and an elder vampire wearing the body of a young shut-in girl. Their sweet, curiosity-driven relationship is the main draw of the film. It ranks first due to its flawless fusion of innocent romance and bloody dismemberment and death.

Rosemary’s Baby is Throwin’ Up the Horns

Rosemary's Baby

Rosemary’s Baby comes from a tiny, self-generated time period where Satanic horror flicks were considered pretty in-fashion and thus deserved a nice cast and crew. It tells a tale of an innocent Catholic girl who moves into an apartment with a dark past, and slowly descends into a conspiracy against God and humanity. That sounds pretty epic, I’m sure, but the story progresses cautiously, giving you time to notice the oddities and signs that lead to the Devil. I like the acting, I like the setting, I like the film. Let’s roll.

Rosemary and Guy Woodhouse are a young married couple looking to rent an apartment in Manhattan. Guy’s looking to secure a better career as an actor, but his luck isn’t doing much for him. Rosemary’s a child of strict Catholic upbringing, estranged from her parents due to their detesting Guy’s mixed Jewish/Protestant upbringing. She is satisfied to be a housewife to her husband.

Rosemary's BabyGuy’s career takes off when his rival suddenly goes blind, a very spontaneous misfortune indeed. With his future growing brighter, he decides to ask Rosemary to have a baby. Hence the movie’s title. Apparently having had studies Rosemary’s ovulation cycle, he holds a “baby night.” On that very night, Minnie Castevet, an older woman met earlier on, brings over a chocolate mousse for the two to eat. Rosemary doesn’t like it because of a chalky undertaste, and Guy gets pissy at her for being ungrateful. She eats what she can and dumps the rest.

Enter the dream sequence. You see a lot of things here, like the Pope, Rosemary sans some clothes, a Satanic ritual, and Satan getting funky with the poor, drugged lass, and a bunch of old yet familiar people standing around and watching. One could infer that the perceived events are false, but this is a Satanic horror movie. Anything that would make the main character look “crazy” is obviously real.

The pregnancy doesn’t go well. Rosemary experiences excruciating pains, but her doctor (recommended to her by Roman and Minnie Castevet, their nosy neighbors) says that it is normal. Fearing for her baby’s well-being, she invites a bunch of her young friends over for a small party to get their opinions on the matter. They immediately show concern and practically order Rosemary to stop seeing the quack and get a second opinion. Once the party is over, Guy is particularly vehement that Rosemary sticks with her current doctor. Right as she’s about to shout him into a corner, the pain stops.

Rosemary's BabyIt isn’t quite all well and good from that point, though. Signs of a Satanic cult begin to pop up, centering around a strange book that hints at a plethora of anagrams. Suddenly, Roman Castevet’s name begins to ring quite a different bell. But I’d rather not spoil the end of the movie for you.

After doing a bit of reading on the film, the entire plot could very well be an analogy for Rosemary’s discomfort with marrying a man who wasn’t Catholic born and raised. Think about that. Marrying a Jewish/Protestant man to a very devout Catholic might make her associate him with the Devil. But that’s just fan speculation, so don’t put too much faith in it. No pun intended.

Drew Morton of Pajiba points out that Rosemary’s Baby is more of a religious psychological thriller than a horror movie, since elements like visual terror and startle factor are completely absent. As it were, the film itself is almost a word-by-word cinematic adaptation of the novel of the same name by Ira Levin. Very rarely do you see such fantastic book to movie transitions, so even if you haven’t read the book, Rosemary’s Baby is probably worth the watch. And, as I mentioned, Mia Farrow is cute as hell. Gander hither:

Dracula 2000, Not Quite Bram Stoker

Dracula 2000
, despite its sci-fi sounding name, is a contemporary rendition of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. It is dark, religious, surreal, and sexy (painfully so), to say the very least. While it could have very well been the resurrection of the vampire movie genre, it did have some sharp shortcomings that managed to anchor it away from glory.

We begin with a heist, in which several smugglers break into the vault of Abraham Van Helsing, hoping to make away with something of value to sell out of country. Unfortunately, all they can find inside are dusty books, furniture, crucifixes, and an ominous coffin surrounded by traps. Figuring that the coffin contains whatever treasures they’re hoping for, they blow the vault and escape.

A disorienting leap into a vivid nightmare of a bland looking girl named Mary nearly derails the suspense of the last set of scenes, but the save goes to Dracula for making a micro-appearance. Just an introduction interlude leading up to the Vampire Lord’s grand return while the smugglers fly him back. Gerard Butler shirtless. Right on.

Dracula then proceeds to haunt Mary’s waking dreams while slowly accruing “attractive” (yucky) female followers via the bite of night, I’ll call it. He only gets guy followers because of his initial bloodthirst, and they die quickly anyway. It’s all about the sexy girl vampires, right? Besides, Gerard Butler! He don’t need no competition.

Abraham books a flight to follow the smugglers, leaving his partner Simon to ponder just what the hell happened. Instead of running the business in Helsing’s stead, he follows him to find out just what. His travels cause him to cross paths with Mary, whose nightmares have been worsening because Dracula’s out and searching for her. Their connection (Mary and Drac’s) remains unspoken until the final parts of the movie, and they do register as quite the spoiler, so I’ll leave you in the dark for that one.

After a while, the plot spirals downward into one great vampire hunt, and Abraham Van Helsing winds up dead, one of the more disappointing parts of the movie. Simon and Mary face off against Dracula and his vampiress trio, discovering his origins and just how to destroy him. But with his power returning so quickly, do they stand a chance against him? Well, I don’t know, you watch the movie and tell me.

A few words on actors, then I’ll leave you to it. Christopher Plummer makes an excellent Helsing. I found that I preferred him out of all the other characters. Justine Waddell is probably the low point of the cast, by my speculation. Her performance is dull, almost lifeless, and clashes with that of Plummer and Butler. Hell, even Jonny Lee Miller (Simon) manages to overshadow her. Basically, if not for Mary, Dracula 2000 would actually be a pretty okay Dracula spin-off..

Oh, and one final thing. Omar Epps, who plays Marcus, the head honcho of the heist brigade, is hilarious as a vampire. He goes from cold, calculated criminal to fangly standup comedian instantly. Absolutely brilliant.

According to James Berardinelli of ReelReviews, Dracula 2000 is basically a butcher job of every last aspect of the original Dracula, Gerard Butler doesn’t do his part justice, and everything else fails just as badly. I suppose you could say my review was a mite lenient because I (don’t hate me) have yet to see the original Dracula. Here, distract yourself with this before they start throwing rocks at me:

Drag Me to Hell: If Satan was Funny

Drag Me to HellThat’s more or less the only explanation there could be for this half-horror comedy of shock value. This movie will do one of two things, as it reaches so far into the extremes of visual nastiness. One, it’ll gross you out, but only if you’re high to high-moderate squeamish. Two, it’ll make you laugh your ass off. It’s like every single scene was written with this thought in mind: “Okay guys… What makes you throw up?”

I suppose I should describe the plot. Not like it matters in a film like this. Tiddle dee hee. Miss blondie main character girl does home loans or something. A NASTY old gypsy woman comes in and asks for an extension on hers, and blondie turns her down, saying that her credit history is bad or whatever, and that she’s going to lose the house. So the gypsy woman stalks her, steals one of the buttons from her shirt, puts a Satanic curse on it, then gladly gives it back. Blondie, being a complete dumbass, keeps the button and leaves.

Drag Me to HellFast forward a bit, blondie starts having these violent hallucinations where the Gypsy woman keeps appearing before her and… eh… doing really nasty things. Like puking in her mouth and fisting her throat all the way up to the elbow. Hey! Get back here! Don’t you stop reading! I know you can see this. Just bear with me for a bit! Okay. Right. ANYWAYS, blondie decides that enough’s enough, and that she should go see the Gypsy woman in her home. You know, to say sorry and to make amends and try to get the old freak her home back. Turns out, the Gypsy woman died. Don’t ask me how, but somehow blondie manages to tip the open casket over and have dead Gypsy puke embalming fluid into her mouth. Hey, hey! Sit down. I’m still not done. Just, a few more paragraphs.

So blondie, now totally hopeless, goes to a fortune teller to see what’s in her future. The poor guy gets a full frontal blast of Satan’s goat face, so he turns her down and refunds her money. After a while, the fortune teller calls back and tells her about the potential Gypsy curse, which finally clues blondie in that her button is evil, and that she has to make a gift of it to ANYONE else. That way, they’ll be sucked into Hell instead of her. Simple, right? Nope.

Turns out blondie’s a real hardcore philanthropist. As in, she goes into a coffee shop, looking for a random person to afflict with damnation, and no matter who she sees, they appear happy with life and not deserving of the eternal flame. I forgot to mention, she has an asshole co-worker who she hates avidly. Yeah, no, she doesn’t give it to him either. She decides it’d be a better idea if she dug up the Gypsy woman and shoved it down her throat. Yeah, that constitutes a gift. Right…?

Drag Me to HellMoral of the story, it doesn’t work. Blondie thinks it does. She survives the deadline. Then her dumbass boyfriend somehow finds the button in her coat and hands it back to her. She gets dragged to Hell! Yeah! Epic unexpected conclusion!

Brass tacks are better late then never. The acting’s corny, the characters are unbelievable and flat, the special effects will make your brain hurt, the nasty factor will make you giggle… It’s a bad movie. But, as I always say, some movies are so goddamned bad that they actually loop around the spectrum and become quite entertaining to watch. So like, imagine that this movie is a desperate person with nothing but bad ideas, flailing about in pitiful hope that they can entertain you. That’s what Drag Me to Hell is.

Yeah! Awesome! Get this movie. Get it, I tell you! You made it this far, didn’t you? After all that mouth-puking stuff I described in vague detail, thankfully? Why not? Nothing to lose except your lunch. So buy it, torrent it, I don’t care. Watch it and have a laugh. Maybe you’ll even laugh so hard you’ll throw up. Maybe then they’ll let you act in the sequel! I hope there isn’t a sequel. Alright, I’m out.

The Devil Inside… Almost Had It

The Devil InsideSo very close! The Devil Inside was half an hour away from being the best exorcism movie I’ve ever seen. It touched on so many potentially amazing topics, such as the spheres of demons, their real purpose in the world, their demeanor, even their names. The problem was that the movie only grazed on these possibilities, leaving so much to be desired. Additionally, the ending made me cry. Not because it was emotional, but because it was horrifically bad. It’s like they got bored. I’ll explain.

The movie revolves around the possession of Mara Rossi and the fact that she murdered three people during an exorcism being performed on her. Twenty years later her daughter, Isabella Rossi, travels to Rome to visit the mental hospital her mother is incarcerated in. On the way, she learns of the nature of demons and exorcism by visiting an esteemed college that teaches relevant material. She meets two jaded exorcists, Ben and David, who perform sacred rights in secret, behind the backs of he church and the Vatican.

The Devil InsideAfter viewing a successful exorcism, Isabella has the priests perform one on her mother, this time without permission of the hospital she is held in. Results are unstable, resulting in David’s possession, and ultimately, death. Then Isabella gets possessed, and they all go to a hospital. Ben has gone a bit loopy after experiencing all this, so he panics and attempts to take her to a friend of his in the church in an attempt to exorcise her. They try to drive there, but Isabella’s demon hops over to the driver and they all die in a car crash. That’s the end of the movie. I forgot to mention that Michael, the camera guy and friend of Isabella. He plays little more than the role of the unbelieving friend.

That’s… basically the entire movie right there, plus or minus a few scare events. Now, what I think they should have done differently in regards to content is that they should have focused on making a technical exorcism documentary as opposed to restricting their movie to being a typical horror exorcism documentary. The fact that the movie spent so much time trying to be scary nullified the potential to cover other interesting material, like the hierarchy of demons and other such topics I mentioned initially.

The Devil InsideI’ll assume that the reason the film industry prefers to stray from making movies with demons portrayed as anything but completely evil and sadistic is because the idea of anything less than hostile interaction with demons is considered taboo. Which, in retrospect, is a real shame, because the situational comedic value of demonic insight and demeanor would really make a movie great.

Tell you what, you want to know about the movie, and my opinion of what the movie was like, not what it could be like. Here it is: The movie, overall, was too short. The scares were predictable but still satisfying, the effects were good, the acting was consistently good for a shockumentary, and the overall demeanor is different enough from most exorcism movies to be enjoyable. It’s about an hour and a half long, so you can go out and see it without wasting a good chunk of your day.