Love Object (2003)

Kenneth Winslow (Desmond Harrington) is a socially insecure young man whose life is mostly centered around work, work, and more work. That is, until he one day sees “Nikki” – an anatomically correct sex doll. It starts as a harmless joke from hos co-workers, but evolves into something far more serious as Kenneth decides to check out the website for the producers of the “Nikki” doll. For the stiff (no pun intended) price of 10.000 dollars he orders one of the sex dolls, and while feeling awkward with his own “Nikki” at first, he soon becomes obsessed with roleplaying. Things take a dramatic turn when he becomes interested in his new female co-worker, a real woman of flesh and blood…it’s almost as if Nikki becomes jealous and vengeful…

“Love Object” is a psycho-thriller with a rather interesting concept, where a person has been so separated from a social life that the roleplaying with his sex doll drives him into a state of mind where he can no longer differentiate between what’s real and what’s not. Desmon Harrington’s performance as the socially unstable bachelor is also brilliant.

The movie keeps the suspense up and have a kind of David Lynch-feeling. Udo Kier also has a funny little role as a curious landlord. While it is a low-budget movie that was filmed in only 18 days (!) it sure doesn’t feel like it. And it is a little creepy that sex dolls like “Nikki” actually exists, and for the same amount of money, too. You kind of have to conclude that a person who orders a sex doll for 10.000 dollars must be at least a little bit off their rockers…

IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0328077/

The Changeling (1980)

John Russel is on vacation with his wife and daughter when their car gets some serious engine trouble. John gets to a phone booth and calls for help, while his wife and daughter are playing in the snow nearby the car. Suddenly, a trailer comes speeding towards them and the tragic outcome is unavoidable. Half a year later, John tries patching his life together by moving to Seattle and continue his great passion: composing music and teach piano lessons. He rents a huge newly refurbished house from the early 1900s. But the huge empty house may not be as empty as he first thought. Every morning he hears a rhytmic knocking sound from the walls, and a child’s voice. Instead of being scared away, John becomes determined to solve the mystery. Is it all in his own mind – or is the house haunted?

One thing is certain; a weelchair hasn’t looked more creepier than in this film..

“The Changeling” has everything a good and suspenseful ghost movie should have. The movie has a serious tone throughout and there are no over-the-top special effects to be seen. Instead the focus is on the most important parts in the “haunted house” recipe: suspense and atmosphere. If you enjoy horror movies about ghosts and haunted houses, especially of the “good old kind”, this one is a must-have in the collection. In fact, this movie is what made me interested in the genre back then. It’s now been released on blu-ray with a CD of the soundtrack.

IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0080516/

Buio Omega

Frank Wyler is a three-year-old boy living with his housekeeper Iris in a millionaire-villa in the country. Iris has taken care of Frank since his parents died in a car accident when he was young, and since then, the relationship between Iris and Frank has developed into something… rather bizarre and toxic, to say the least. After growing up living isolated with Iris, she is now using him as a sextoy by giving him a handjob while he sucks her tits like an infant… he’s gotten pretty messed up in his head. But when he finds the great love of his life in the much more beautiful Anna, Iris becomes mad with envy and goes to a voodoo witch/doctor to throw a curse over Anna in order to get rid of her. The curse works perfectly where she ends up in a hospital and dies, and Iris finally gets Frank for herself again.

However, this doesn’t last long since Frank drives straight to the cemetery the night after Anna’s funeral to dig up her body and take her back home. On the way back he gives a random young lady a lift, who falls asleep in his car. He brings his “corpse bride” down in the basement where a pretty graphic embalming scene takes place. The young lady wakes up and sees a glimpse of what’s going on before Frank tortures her by ripping out her nails, then he gets help from Iris who chops her body up in pieces and throws her remains in the bathub with corrosive acid. Iris saves some of the flesh which she and Frank eats for breakfast. Then, Frank goes jogging and meets a another young lady whom he takes home and have sex with. While having sex with her, he imagines he’s having sex with Anna, who lies in the double bed right beside them, covered in sheets. And then, the woman he brought home with him notices his dark secret…

Those who are familiar with sleazy, underground italian horror from the 70’s that were banned left and right around the world, will probably know the name Joe D’Amato, the man with as many pseudonyms as there is gender options on facebook. Buio Omega, or “Beyond the Darkness” as it’s called internationally, is one of his most known works. The film is a remake of “The Third Eye” from 1966, an other italian horror film which I haven’t seen, so I can’t come with any comparisons. But I doubt it is as sick, dark, raw and unfiltered as Buio Omega, which really tests the boundaries on what’s allowed to be shown on screen. Correct me if I’m wrong, though. Mutilation, necrophilia, cannibalism, detailed torture scenes and other taboo stuff with higly convincing gore effects that punches you in the nose.

The film takes itself dead seriously where there’s no room for imagination, which in this case could have turned it into a spectacular turkey, but despite its narrow budget it’s so well constructed that it works fine the way it is. It’s as gory as it is psychological, and explores the darkest corners of the human mind.

Also, great soundtrack by Goblin.

IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0078916/

Hell's Ground

The movie opens with a guy who crashes his car in the woods and then gets beat to death with a shovel. Then we get to another location where a creepy, disturbed old dude in a bloody shirt looks straight into the camera and says “you’re on the road to hell, my children” (in urdu) and ends it with an evil laugh. Yikes..

Then we get introduced to some teenagers who prepare for a road trip out in the countryside of Pakistan, something their parents are not so happy with. At the same time, the government puts out a warning regarding the water, as it could be infected with some virus that turns people into zombies. After a while on the road, and smoking dope, the kids stop at Deewanas Tea Shop, a real stinky shithole of a place, run by the creepy old dude we saw in the beginning. He drools while mumbling about a place called Hells Ground, while the kids buy some potatoes and moves on. Then the phone signal disappears and the van that had a full tank is suddenly empty, and after getting lost in the woods, they find themselves surrounded by a horde of zombies. If all this was not bad enough, a serial killer wearing a burqa and a big spiked ball is on the loose. Welcome to Hell’s Ground..

Hells Ground (aka Zibahkhana) is known as Pakistan’s first slasher-flick. The film is as much a Texas Chainsaw Massacre-worship as it is a tribute to 70’s horror. The film also works as a kind of a big rebellious middle-finger to Pakistan’s strict authority and religion, so yeah, the film has some huge balls, as huge as the film’s slasher villain uses as the murder weapon.

Otherwise, there’s not much new under the sun here. It’s a straight-forward slasher-flick mixed with some zombies and the same old character tropes we have seen a thousand times. Visually, the film looks great, it’s well directed and has that raw, unpolished 70s-look. The use of dirty, disgusting locations and intense colorful lighting with the environment of Pakistan’s countryside, gives it an eerie and unique atmosphere.

And the scenes with Burqaface alone makes the movie worth a watch.

imdB: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0887973/

Session 9 (2001)

Danvers State Mental Hospital is an old asylum that has been empty since 1985. An asbestos team lead by  Gordon (Peter Mullan) and Phil (David Caruso) is hired to do the preparations for the renovation of the old building. With a bonus payment of 10.000 dollars hanging over their heads if they get the job done within one week, the working environment becomes filled with stress and bickering. This is nothing compared to what the asylum has in store for them, however…

Down where the most crazy of the patients were held, one of the workers finds an old sound recording of the interview with Mary Hobbes, a woman with three personalities: “The Princess”, symbolizing her innocence, “Billy”, who is her protector, and “Simon”, whom the doctor tries to come in contact with. Even though Mary’s story belongs to the past, it’s not without consequence for the asbestos workers.

“Session 9” is a psychological thriller that’s at times a bit slow, but builds up to something really creepy. While not perfect, it’s a pretty well-crafted horror movie that manages to keep the suspense up while keeping jumpscares and cgi-effects at a minimum. It’s a movie that plays primarily on the psychological horrors: knowing that there’s something scary there but it isn’t something you can see or touch. The ending puts everything together in a really creepy context, and is prone to give quite a chill.

IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0261983/

The Lodgers (2017)

Set in 1920’s rural Ireland, “The Lodgers” tells the dark tale about Rachel and Edward: twins that are living alone in a large but crumbling mansion which used to belong to their ancestors. We learn early on that they have strict rules they need to follow: they need to be in bed by midnight, they cannot let anyone else enter the house, and trying to escape might put the other one’s life in danger. The sinister force that haunts them wants them to continue their family’s “sin”, something Rachel is determined to not let happen, and this puts both her and Edward’s life in danger from the wrath of “the lodgers”.

While this movie is mostly presented as a horror film, it’s more of a gothic drama with a rather sad story than a scary one. While the house is beautifully atmospheric and creepy, there wasn’t much of a build-up to keep up the tension. The “sin” that “the lodgers” wants the twins to commit is also too easy to figure out very early in the movie, which doesn’t make it much of a surprise when Rachel reveals it later. There was a lot of potential for some real good chills and scary moments, but in that regard it didn’t have much to deliver. The movie does have strong visuals and good acting, so if you’d go for it and expect a gothic drama instead of an actual horror movie you may not be disappointed.

IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4399952/

Ravenous (1999)

During the Mexican-American war in the mid 1800’s, Captain John Boyd is sent up in the mountains to Fort Spencer, a secluded camp where a small group of weirdos keeps it guarded. One evening a disturbed, frozen Scottish man named Colquhoun arrives. He tells a horrible story about his gang of people somewhere up in the mountains, who were forced to eat each other in order to survive. Some of the men join Colquhoun and head up to the mountains to look for survivors.

The movie’s tone is set already within its first seconds. You don’t exactly know what to expect, but will quickly realise that this film is one of a kind. The film is known for its black humour, but it is first and foremost a pure horror movie with blood n’ gore where the humour is kept on a more subtle level. The greatest thing about Ravenous is how unpredictable it is, how the tension builds up, and the use of great forest landscapes that adds to the grim, cold atmosphere. It’s always refreshing to see actors actually interact with the real nature instead of standing in front of green-screens in a studio, isn’t it…

It also have top notch actors, but Robert Carlyle as Colquhoun really steals the show here. He does a truly terrifying portrait of his character. Watching his grin with the blood dripping from his mouth as he stares with his crazy eyes…that’s something that just sticks with you.

IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0129332/

Grave Encounters

Grave Encounters is a “found footage” horror movie about a reality TV series where three paranormal investigators visists historic haunted landmarks in the United States, like we’ve seen in “Ghost Hunters”, “Ghost Adventures” and numerous more of these shows that’s exploded in the recent ten years. But “Grave Encounters” was ahead of its time, according to what a producer tells us in the introduction before the movie starts. The film revolves around the sixth episode of “Grave Encounters” where the entire crew were to inspect an abondened haunted asylum where they disappeared and were never seen again. The only thing that was found was the 70-hour raw footage trimmed down to the last episode. And the producer that introduces us to the episode also tells us that what we’re about to watch is real, has not been tampered with, and just been edited strictly to cut down the time.

The movie also does not hesitate for a second to throw in some obvious satire on “Ghost Adventures”, which has become one of the most famous series in the genre. Grave Encounter’s host and producer Lance Preston (Sean Rogerson) can easily be seen as a parody of Zak Bagans with the same style of clothing, hairstyle and manic behavior. The crew also brings along a psychic, a dude that looks like a mix of Mick Jagger and Iggy Pop who must turn on his acting skills between the takes. The series has so far been a pure hoax with its five episodes, but after they get locked inside the mental hospital while camera gets rolling and shit starts to happen for real, they show their true colors and aren’t as tough as they seemed to be. Well, exept the host, Lance, who pushes the crew to keep the show going.

What makes Grave Encounters one of the much better found footage films is the realism, great acting, and steady narrative. They go from being characters in a fake series where everything is scripted, to obviously distressed and scared people when things begin to actually happen. It’s that “what-if” scenario that makes Grave Encounters stand out from the found footage-jungle out there. What if all of those paranormal investigators actually got a real up-close encounter with a ghost? Would they run away, or would they actually stay and get more out of it? Well, in this case we know the answer, but it’s a funny thing to think of when you see one of these shows in disbelief. Also filmed in a hospital where the narrow, dark corridors give a cool, isolating atmosphere, and overall a great tension that builds as a locomotive till the end.

imdB: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1703199/

Monsters of October

We’re soon heading into my favorite month of the year: October, the month of Halloween! Last year I had “Monsters of October” , a series of horror movie reviews that I would update with 3 times a week during the whole month. This year I’ve decided to give this another run, and on October 1st the second “Monsters of October” will start!

Ghostland movie review

For those of us who are into the horror movie genre, Pascal Laugier is a familiar name. He earlier brought us “Martyrs” , a movie that even to this day keeps shocking its audience (and french horror is known for not being shy about breaking a few boundaries here and there). He’s also behind two lesser known horror movies: “House of Voices” aka “Saint Ange”, and “The Tall Man” , the latter being more of a mystery thriller. In other words: I couldn’t help but being at least a little curious about Mr. Laugier’s new addition to horror, “Ghostland” .

The story follows a mother and her two daughters as they are on their way to their new home: an old country house they’ve inherited from her aunt. Early on, we learn that one of the girls (Beth) loves writing horror stories, which causes a bit of jealousy in her sister (Vera) as their mother keeps encouraging Beth’s talents. We also learn that Beth is quite a fanciful personality – an important hint which will make sense later on.

On their first night in the new home, they’re attacked by intruders who’s intent is murder – two characters that are so over-the-top that they’re almost a little unbelieveable: a skinny goth-looking transvestite and a huge ogre-looking freak who is (of course) retarded. And they’re driving a candy truck. Oh yes. However, even though the villains are a bit too much, they actually fit well inside the already weird country house filled with creepy dolls and strange knick-knacks.

While “Ghostland” does not shock or repulse in the same way as “Martyrs” did, it’s still an intense and suspenseful movie, and shows that Laugier’s still got what it takes.

next ›