Author Archives: jaythestingray

About jaythestingray

Hey everyone. My name is Jason AKA jaythestingray but you can call me Jay or whatever you want really. Well I will start with a brief history of my love of horror. I am a long time fan of film. Born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi. Horror has always been my favorite genre and a big part of my life ever since I was quite young. Even before could watch the movies I enjoyed watching the trailers on television. Some of my favorite movie trailers of that time were ‘Child’s Play’ and ‘The Offspring’. As a young child I was forced to watch “age appropriate” horror. Usually these were the PG and PG-13 films. When I was around 10 years old or so I was able to ride my bike to the local video store and pick up movies on my own. None of the video stores would rent me anything R rated at that age but I found a lot of these films that I also liked. ‘The Gate’, ‘Critters’, and ‘Tremors’ were some of my favorites of these and are still favorites in my collection to this day. Maybe a year or so later I was given the go ahead to rent R rated films and I was like a kid in a candy store (quite literally). Then came the “core” horror films that shaped me into the huge horror nerd I am today. ‘Friday the 13th’, ‘The Exorcist’, ‘Night of the Demons’, ‘Halloween’ & ‘Ghoulies’ were among my favorites when I was a kid. I really miss the video store atmosphere. It was something special that was just an all around fun time for me. Many weekends were spent with 5 VHS rentals for my $5 allowance, friends, and junk food. Those were the days. That is probably the reason why I still love horror so much these days. When the stress of life is bearing down on you, just pop in a cheesy horror flick and you can have that carefree feeling of a being kid again. I remained a big horror fan until the late 1990s when there was not a lot coming out in the genre. I went to college and focused on other things and other genres of film as well. I still watched horror but I did not get pumped up about the genre until probably 2003. There are 3 films I credit for getting me back into horror again: ‘28 Days Later’, ‘Resident Evil’, and the ‘Dawn of the Dead’ remake. All zombie films I know. But after this I started buying all of my old favorites again on DVD. I became active on many horror message boards shortly after. Then I joined youtube and met lots of great people that have enriched my fandom that much more. That is what I love so much about The House of Horror…the people. All of the people that watch and comment and the other members of the HOH crew have all been so great. Thank you to all of you! I am only here to have fun! Thanks to John for starting this whole thing and also a big thanks to Nic for creating the website. I look forward to the future guys! I always love getting recommendations from people so please let me know if there is a particular film you enjoy. Stay tuned for WICKED WEDNESDAY! Jason “jaythestingray”

Pet Sematary Blu-ray – FINALLY!

So it looks like the underrated horror classic ‘Pet Sematary’ finally has a Blu release date.  Paramount has announced that it will be released on October, 2 2012…just in time for Halloween.  So now we can all look forward to little Gage scaring the crap out of us all in 1080P HD glory.  This appears to be a bare bones release with no special features listed as of now.

 

 

 

YellowBrickRoad (2010)

Directors & Writers:  Jesse Holland and Andy Mitton

Cast:  Cassidy Freeman, Anessa Ramsey, Clark Freeman and Lee Wilkof

Rated:  R

Video Review | Rotten Tomatoes | Official Site

 

“Independent gold”….The words I spoke after my first viewing of this film.  You have to sift through lots of films these days to find gems like this one.  It is nice to see the finished product of filmmakers that are truly devoted to the craft.    Directors Jesse Holland and Andy Mitton went all in and it paid off big time.  To my knowledge it is both of their feature directorial debuts.  Horror fans paying homage to the genre and at the same time contributing something original as well.

Storyline Written by Andy Mitton and Jesse Holland: “One Morning in New England, 1940, the entire population of Friar New Hampshire – 572 people – walked together up a winding mountain trail and into the wilderness. They left behind their clothes, their money, all of their essentials. Even their dogs were abandoned, tied to posts and left to starve. No One knows why. A search party dispatched by the U.S. Army eventually discovered the remains of nearly 300 of Friar’s evacuees. Many had frozen to death. Others were cruelly and mysteriously slaughtered. The bodies of the remaining citizens are still unaccounted for. Over the years, a quiet cover-up operation managed to weave the story of Friar into the stuff of legends and backwoods fairy tales. The town has slowly repopulated, but the vast wilderness is mostly untracked, with the northern-most stretches off limits to local hunters and loggers. In 2008, the coordinates for the “YELLOWBRICKROAD” trail head were declassified”

Early on the film has a very somber tone and continues thoughout.  I have read that many had a problem with the ending but I felt it was appropriate.  The tension was so high at the end that any ending would probably feel like a let down.  I felt that the ending was like the cherry on top.

After my first viewing I immediately put the film on again and watched it again.  This is something that I rarely do and can name similar experiences on one hand.  I also listened to the audio commentary after the second viewing.  I would also recommend this if you enjoyed the film.  It really gives you an inside perspective into the production.

The rating on IMDB is currently 4.5.  I usually do not pay much attention to these ratings and my advice is you shouldn’t either.  My main source for recommendations of films to watch usually comes from my friends and fellow reviewers on YouTube.  It is always nice to hear opinions from people that have nothing to gain from giving honest opinions of films.  I had heard nothing about this film.  I had low expectations as well.   It is released on Bloody Disgusting’s new line of DVDs called “selects.”  The selects line also includes the bizarre Japanese thriller Cold Fish, German Zombie film Rammbock as well as the upcoming Lucky McKee film The Woman.  I would highly recommend these three as well.

I wanted to also mention that my first attempt to rent this film was unsuccessful because I had apparently gotten the title confused with another film called Yellow Brick Road.  This film is quite different because it is actually a documentary about a group of mentally challenged actors that put on a production of Wizard of Oz.  Not a bad film but drastically different from what I was expecting.  It took me about 5 minutes in to realize my mistake.  Not a total loss but I had to find the film to rent somewhere else.

All in all, I would highly recommend this one to all horror fans.  It will be added to my collection in the very near future.  YellowBrickRoad is a perfect example of what can be accomplished on a low budget.

 

TrollHunter (2010)

Original title:  Trolljegeren

Director:  André Øvredal

Writer:  André Øvredal & Håvard S. Johansen

Cast:  Otto Jespersen, Glenn Erland Tosterud, Johanna Mørck, & Tomas Alf Larsen

Rated:  PG-13

Video Review | Blu-ray | Rotten Tomatoes

TROLLS!

That phrase sums up the whole film when the lead character, the troll hunter, runs out and screams this line in the film. 

First of all I would recommend everyone watch this movie.  It is a ton of fun.  I was actually caught off guard by how much I like it.  There I was at 2 in the morning, glued to the screen watching a movie about trolls.  It is a breath of fresh air in a very stale horror market these days.  That is why I loved it so much.  Because it’s so different than everything else coming out these days.  That is what the genre needs.  People need to take note of it.  Well, Hollywood already has and they have a remake set in motion for 2014.

This film is from Norway and is a shot on video, found footage style.  Yeah I know that seems to be done to death lately but it really works well in this one.   A documentary film crew is following a man who they think is a bear poacher.  Well it turns out that he is in fact a troll hunter.  He agrees to let them follow him and film his hunting of trolls if they follow a few rules.  Trolls have a great sense of smell and can in fact smell Christian blood.  So the crew has to confirm that none of them believe in Jesus.  As you can imagine things do not go as planned.

This film is very tongue-in-cheek but also takes itself very seriously at the same time.  Throughout the film it is if you are living in a world where Trolls actually exist.    I enjoyed this aspect of the film.  It reminded me of watching movies as a child.  I would think this would be a great movie for kids too.  Probably ages 10 and up depending on their maturity level.  It is rated PG-13 for “sequences of creature terror”.  Aside from that I don’t see anything inappropriate for younger viewers.

This is one is very reminiscent of some of the giant monster movies that I cut my teeth on.  Night of the Lepus and some of the Godzilla movies immediately popped into my mind.  There are also lots of great comedic moments in there as well.  In my experience, subtitled foreign films usually have a hard time translating comedy due to the language barrier but I did get quite a few great laughs during my viewing.

I do not really have much negative to say about TrollHunter.  The only minor thing I will mention is the CGI used in the film.  It is not bad at all but I think it could have been a little better.   I know this is an independent movie with a limited budget but some of the sequences did take me out of the film a bit.  It would be impossible to make this movie without some form of CGI.  I know it is a little nitpicky but it is the only negative thing I could think of.

So if you have a young one who enjoys horror/fantasy or you just want to feel like a kid again, checks it out!  The movie looks great on Blu-ray disc and you will love seeing the beautiful Norwegian mountains in HD quality.

7.5/10

Trolljegeren

Bereavement (2010)

Director:  Stevan Mena

Writer:  Stevan Mena

Cast:  Alexandra Daddario, Michael Biehn, Peyton List, Kathryn Meisle, and Nolan Gerald Funk

Rated:  R

Video Review | Rotten Tomatoes | Amazon

There are some evils…so unspeakable…they will scar you forever.

This film is directed by Steve Mena, the same guy behind such bloody independents as Malevolence and Brutal Massacre: A Comedy.  Bereavement is the second film, following Malevolence, in what looks too be a series.

The film opens on a boy being kidnapped.  To make things more interesting the boy has a condition where he cannot feel pain.  The mother describes the severity of the disease to a babysitter Shorty before he goes missing.  This man, who lurks in the shadows for the majority of the film, turns out to be a paranoid schizophrenic serial killer.  Flash forward a few years to the leading lady (Alexandra Daddario) going to live with her uncle (Michael Biehn) and his family.  She faces the usual “big city girl” in a small town problems.  For a while the film switches off between the killer training the young boy to kill and the leading lady.  Well she is eventually kidnapped herself.  This is when the film gets good and I will spare you the spoilers.

So I am being intentionally vague on the plot because it is what it is.  I hate to say it but this is a “paint by the numbers” entry into this subgenre of horror.  Not that that is a bad thing at all.  This film is actually very well made.  The director had obviously done his homework and manages to hit all of the high points.  Even though this film does follow a particular pattern it does offer some unique plot elements.

Personally, I did not get a lot of enjoyment out of this one.  Mainly this is because I generally do not enjoy this kind of film.  One could say that this is a love child of:  Hostel, Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Frailty.  I think that a lot of horror fans would like this more than I did.  Alexandra Daddario does a great job with the lead.  When I first saw her on screen I recognized her from Hall Pass.  Michael Biehn is another one of the best things about the film.  I was not expecting to see him in the film but it was a very pleasant surprise.  He should have gotten more screen time.  There are also some decent moments of gore throughout.

So if you like “torture porn”, “backwoods slashers” or just good movies I would recommend this one to you.

6.5/10

Violent Kind. The (2010)

Directors:  Mitchell Altieri & Phil Flores

Writers:  Mitchell Altieri, Phil Flores & Adam Weis

Cast:  Cory Knauf, Taylor Cole & Bret Roberts

Rated: R

VIDEO REVIEW | BUY IT 

This is the new joint from “The Butcher Brothers” (Mitchell Altieri and Phil Flores).  These are the dudes behind The Hamiltons and the putrid April Fool’s Day remake.  Also, it’s yet another film to classify itself as “grindhouse”.   

This plot is all over the place so I will be brief.  A biker gang becomes trapped in a farmhouse.  One of the girls gets possessed and wreaks havoc on the other members.  Another gang from the 1950′s shows up and wreaks even more havoc.

My initial thoughts were “why are these Dawson’s Creek rejects trying to be bikers?”  About half-way through this movie I was not very pleased with it but the mashed up ending actually has me somewhat intrigued.  It has been over a week since I have seen the film and I still think about the end sequence.  This movie is a mess but I did get quite a bit of enjoyment out of the end sequence.  Monsters, zombies. demons, aliens, psychos, etc….This one has it all. 

The casting is probably my biggest complaint about the movie.  Next to that is the writing.  They could have easily trimmed down the first 30 minutes of this movie.  Also, there is too much going on in the story.  A lot of the plot elements are really fun and different.  The 50’s biker gang was a nice touch also.  I would recommend this one for a rental only.  If you do decide to check it out do not expect much and try not to fall asleep during the first half of the film and strap in for the cool ending.

5.5/10

Heartless (2009)

Director:  Philip Ridley

Writer: Philip Ridley

Cast: Jim Sturgess, Clémence Poésy, Joseph Mawle, & Noel Clarke

Rated: NR

Rotten Tomatoes | Amazon | Trailer

Heartless is another “hoodie horror” from 2009.  This film is a return to directing for Philip Ridley.  Apparently he had not directed a film in 15 years.   I thought this one was interesting but convoluted at times.  A lot of ideas and concepts are squeezed into the 114 minute runtime.

This one focuses on Jamie who has been outcast from birth because of a heart-shaped birthmark over much of his face.  Jamie sees demons donning hoodies in the streets of London.  His mother passes away and he is forced to care for himself after a life of coddling.  Jamie meets a gentleman named Papa B who makes Jamie’s dream come true….to have his birthmark removed and live a normal life.

Well as expected things do not go as planned.  He is forced to pay back the favor bestowed on him by killing specific people, cutting out their hearts, and placing the on the church steps.  Throughout this whole process he falls in love with a young lady and he seems quite happy.   Jamie is forced to choose between his new found love and providing hearts for the bloodthirsty Papa B.

All in all I would say that this was a very entertaining movie.  The main drawback to me is the CGI demon faces on the hooded kids.  This is absolutely horrible.  Some of the worst I had seen in recent years and it really took me out of the movie.   With that being said I really liked the development of the characters in the film.  You can actually feel Jamie’s pain.  The relationship between him and his deceased father was particularly gut-wrenching.   The heart of the film centers around lessons learned and love lost.   Get ready for many twists and turns along the way.

Recommended for a rental

7/10

F (2010)

Director: Johannes Roberts

Writers:  Johannes Roberts

Cast:  David Schofield, Eliza Bennett and Ruth Gemmell

Rated: 18+

Rotten Tomatoes | Trailer

F is one of the most recent entries into the “hoodie” horror trend that has been going on over the past few years in the UK.   It centers around a group of teachers and students that are trapped in a high school at night and picked off by kids in black hooded sweatshirts.

The film opens on a class room where the lead character, teacher Robert Anderson (played by David Schofield), gives an upper class student an F on an assignment.   This student promptly gives Anderson a broken nose via headbutt in return.  The school turns the situation around and all blame is placed on the teacher.

Flash forward to the near future and Anderson is the butt of many jokes around the school.  He has no authority at all and the students take advantage of him.  He has turned to the bottle and now seems to be quite the alcoholic.  You learn that one of the students in his class is his daughter and they have a strained relationship to say the least.   He gives her detention for reading a magazine in class and later that night is when the hoodie kids strike. At first, the attacks seem somewhat harmless and more vandalism than anything.  Things get stepped up a notch and the kids start killing of the cast one by one in various bloody ways.

I have mixed feelings on this one.  The subject matter is odd to me.  The way the initial headbutt is handled by the school seems very reminiscent of the American public school system to me.   Some sort of “no child left behind” program comes to mind.  This part of the film was initially quite intriguing to me and actually held my attention quite well.

Some of the gore in the film is worth the watch.  Nothing to break the bank over but modern practical effects are always something that get my attention.  There are a few scenes in particular that are quite striking in my opinion.  Gore fans will not be too disappointed.

The acting in the film is hit and miss.  David Schofield does a decent job and is perfect for that part.  He can almost carry the film himself.  The security guard (played by Finlay Robertson) also did a good job and provided some comic relief to the film in his brief but memorable role.  All of the rest of the cast gave bland performances.

The hoodie gang kids themselves came off as odd to me.   The kids are almost like monkeys as they climb around on set pieces and hop around the frame as they murder.  It really seems as if they are doing some sort of odd parkour display.  Also, they all have totally black faces.  So black in fact that I originally thought they had digitally removed the faces but later I saw that they wore black masks under the hoods.  The combination of the black masks and the dark lighting of the film really made the faces black and added to the ambiguity of the characters.

Lastly, the ending is something everyone seems to discuss about this one.  I will avoid spoilers so I will just say that it is left open ended and the viewer can form his own opinions about what happened at the end.  I just looked on in amazement when the credits rolled.   After having thought about it for the last two weeks my thoughts have changed.  Now I don’t really think it is that big of a deal and is something different but at first I wanted a resolution…which there was none.

All in all I would say that this is a forgettable film.  Recommended for a rental.  The film has a short runtime (75 min) and I speculate that the ending was not intentional but rather because of budget constraints.  If you like this small subgenre of horror/thriller you should check it out for sure.

I would give this one a 6/10

Chain Letter (2010)

Director: Deon Taylor

Writers: Deon Taylor, Diana Erwin & Michael J. Pagan

Cast: Nikki Reed, Keith David, Betsy Russell, Brad Dourif, Ling Bai, Michael Bailey Smith, Noah Segan, Clifton Powell, Matt Cohen, Cherilyn Wilson

Rated: R (Blu-ray), DVD is unrated

IMDB | Chain Letter [Blu-ray] | Youtube Trailer | Youtube Review

 

Chain Letter had a limited theatrical run in late 2010 and was released on Blu-ray/DVD in the US on 02/01/11.  This was recommended to me by fellow House of Horror reviewer and founder Savini1979.  John and I are usually on the same wavelength on horror so I went ahead and made the purchase.  All in all this was a fun watch.  The film seemed very reminiscent of the teen slashers from the early 2000s such as Final Destination.  With a few spots of social commentary and excellent gore this one was not a disappointment to me at all.

The plot on this one is significantly predictable and far-fetched but don’t rule it out just yet.  A chain letter in the form of an email is sent out by a madman to the “usual suspects” group of teenagers.  If they delete the email then they will be murdered.   You all know how that is going to play out.  But I will tell you the ending will surprise you and is very much against the grain o f the average Hollywood horror these days.  I did enjoy the ending very much.

We also get some great co-stars from other horror films.  Brad Dourif and Keith David both have sizable roles in the film.  These are not the one scene brief cameos you may be expecting.  They actually have roles that are pivotal to the plot of the film.  Another face familiar to horror is Michael Bailey Smith.  Smith played Pluto in “The Hills Have Eyes” remake.  He adds some brawn to the lead bad guy (Chain Man) in the film.  I figured it was some wrestler playing the part until I saw the credits.

What sets this one apart from the flock is the gore.  The gore effects in the film are excellent and some of the best I have seen in some newer flicks.  Very original kills in this one…something you don’t really hear very often.  Multiple horror elements are combined to make a fairly convincing and scary killer.  The film also looks good on Blu-ray.  It has that “polished” look that most modern horror films have.

All things considered, I would recommend this one for a rental.   If you are a huge fan of slashers and love gore you may want to pick it up.  It looks great in HD and is still relatively inexpensive on Blu-ray.

6.5/10

High Lane (2009)

Director: Abel Ferry

Writers: Jennifer Johanne Bernard, Louis-Paul Desanges

Cast: Fanny Valette, Johan Libéreau and Raphaël Lenglet

Rated: Not Rated

IMDBDVD | Trailer | Youtube Review


It seems the “new wave of French horror” is not the head turning phrase it once was just a few years ago. Many of the recent French horror films I have seen have been hard to watch. So having been disappointed multiple times in the past year I kept my expectations relatively low. High Lane was released on DVD in the United States on 02/08/11. It has been out in other countries since its original release in 2009. I gave this one a watch this past weekend.

Well the lack of discussion in the horror community should have been an indication of how this one played out. This is not really a bad film but it is nothing you have not seen before. It really reminded me of Wrong Turn in Croatia. No original kills and little gore to boot. Also, it was quite boring at times also.

The plot of this one is a group of 5 friends, who get their jollies from climbing mountains, decide to travel to Croatia to climb rocks and see a famously dangerous bridge. When they get there the trail is closed but they decide to push on and climb that sucker anyway. They get to the bridge and things take a turn for the worse. Some of them fall prey to traps set around the area. Eventually the kids start getting picked off one by one and they learn they are being stalked by a crazy hill person. The whole thing turns into a slasher a la Wrong Turn and you can imagine what happens from that point on.

The cinematography is one of the positive things about the film. The shots in the beginning of the film when they are climbing look great. I can only imagine how that would look on Blu-ray. Also, the acting is not too bad. Some of the characters were kind of annoying at times but I guess that is the purpose in the first place. The gore effects are few but well done when present. And finally, I did really enjoy the ending. Nothing like I expected.

All in all I would recommend skipping this one unless you just really like creepy mountain mutant movies. This one pales in comparison to most of the well known French horror films of the past 10 years.
5/10

And Soon the Darkness (2010)

Director: Marcos Efron

Writers: Jennifer Derwingson, Marcos Efron, Terry Nation & Brian Clemens

Cast: Amber Heard, Karl Urban and Odette Yustman

Rated: R

IMDB | And Soon the Darkness [Blu-ray] | Trailer

I had been curious about this one since it I had heard it was being made. The theatrical release was toned down to a limited release and I still had heard nothing about it. No buzz, no bashing or negative talk…..nothing. It was released on DVD & Blu-ray on 12/28/10 and still I had heard nothing about this one. No reviews or anything. Well I finally watched the film and I can understand why no one is schmoozing it up.

Like many horror films to come out in recent years this is a remake. The original film with the same name came out in 1970. In my opinion it is an underrated film you never really hear anyone talk about either. This leads me to ask the question “why remake a film no one will recognize?” I thought the whole purpose of these remakes is to cash in on the name recognition and popularity of the original. Well most teenagers with fat pockets will not have even heard of the original film. But I think these film studios threw logic out the window years ago anyway.

The film stars two lovely young ladies Amber Heard (Zombieland, Pineapple Express, Never Back Down, Etc.) and Odette Yustman (The Unborn, Cloverfield, You Again, Etc.). They are the main draw of the film and both do a decent job acting. These two also have both seem to be making names for themselves in the horror genre. Amber has been in All the Boys Love Mandy Lane, Zombieland, The Stepfather (2009) and the upcoming John Carpenter film The Ward. Odette has been in Cloverfield and The Unborn. I always applaud when actors continue to work in the horror genre considering the stigmas placed by Hollywood.

Taking a break from travel

Well the film essentially has the same storyline as the original film with a few small differences. In this film best friends Ellie (Yustman) and Stephanie (Heard) are cycling through Argentina (not France as in the original). They party too hard one night and miss their bus the next morning and are forced to try to peddle to the next town. They stop for a little break and slip into some revealing bikinis to sunbathe. After they have an argument, they split up and Stephanie goes on her own and Ellie is kidnapped. Stephanie then searches for her lost friend for quite a while and finds out the dark secrets of this town. If you have seen the original film you know what happens from here on out.

The writing is probably the weakest part of the whole movie. On a positive note it does look very good on Blu-ray and the acting is not terrible. Some very unique camera angles are used also. Some of those work out and others just come off as cheesy and pretentious. If you are curious why the ad campaigns were so non-existent you will find out a few minutes into the film. Overall it a fairly boring watch and they could have trimmed it down quite a bit. About half-way through I started checking my watch for the runtime. I would avoid this one but I would recommend picking up a copy of the original film.