I’ll say this for 2021: it’s a lot easier to access new releases, so week one of Hooptober is especially heavy on new films. And it works out pretty well: we have one bonafide WTF homage to giallo in James Wan’s Malignant that I adored, a Lucio Fulci pictures I can finally say I outright liked in The Black Cat, and with Kandisha it’s another successful left turn from Julien Maury and Alexandre Bustillo, most known for their French New Wave of Horror classic Inside. On the other side of the coin I’m sorry to say that Stan Winston’s Pumpkinhead, long considered a cult horror classic left a lot to be desired, and the action/horror hybrid of Blood Red Sky was extremely compentent in that it was a film, but pretty forgettable except for how much better it could have been.
I’m already two films deep into week 2, and there’s a lot to talk about so let’s jump into those quick summaries and see if anything grabs you and drags you under the bed. This year you can read the full reviews over on Cinema Dual, the site I share with my buddy Jon…In the meantime, smoke ’em if you got ’em…
After a prelude where a man is horrifically killed after being refused sanctuary in a farmhouse, we jump to the present day where widowed Ed Harley and his son mind the local fruit stand in some back wood country town that felt more than a little demeaning in 1988, let alone now. A gaggle of teens arrive to pick up supplies for their camping trip and a jerk who couldn’t wait 5 minutes gets on his motorbike and winds up killing Ed’s son in a mishap, They bail, and Ed seeks revenge by visiting an old witch who calls up the titular monster, a demon crafted to get revenge for the one who invokes him. Man in Suit monster mayhem commences, and Ed has to decide if vengeance is really what he wants.(full review here)
Madison Lake is a nurse in a bad situation. She’s been trying to have a child with an abusive partner, and after a particularly nasty episode is visited by a spectral something that murders her partner and leaves her in the hospital. Soon Madison starts having visions of this same killer murdering other people, only to wake and find out the murders are real? Who is the killer? What’s their connection to Madison, and do you think it has anything to do with the creepy science institute on the hill and the fact that Madison can’t remember anything before being adopted when she was nine? You bet, but that doesn’t stop Malignant from going to 11 with the freaky gore, unbelievable coincidences, and cringe-worthy banter that nonetheless will have you giggling like a loon as the blood splatters anywhere and everywhere.(full review here)
Nadja and her son Elias are traveling from Germany to New York on Transatlantic 473. Nadja is very sick, and there are doctors waiting for her in New York eager to work to see if they can help her. Only problem? The plane is hijacked by a motley crew of idiots with no discernible purposes (there’s something about money but it’s never made clear). Things get out of control and in order to protect her son Nadja has to embrace her particular sickness. Pretty soon the terrorists (thieves? who knows) get a lot more than they bargained for when bodies start dropping and chaos erupts. This goes on for over two hours. In that regard it truly feels like a transatlantic flight.(full review here)
A small English village (where everyone inexplicably speaks Italian) is the setting for a series of mysterious murders. Young, attractive photographer Jill Trevers thinks it might be connected to a vicious black cat who may or may not be in a war of wills with Robert Miles, the old man who listens in on the conversations of the dead and has mild psychic powers. What’s happening? How does the suave Scotland Yard detective Gorley move in so quickly on Maureen? How can two people suffocate in a locked room that a cat can clearly get in and out of? Don’t worry too much about these questions and just revel in the dreamlike visual narrative Fulci weaves around a plot that liberally ignores and steals from a number of Poe stories. Trust me: it’s fun!(full review here)
Three friends – Amélie, Bintou, and Morjana – spend their time bemoaning life in the estates of Paris while trying to brighten it up with graffiti. After Amélie is brutally assaulted by a drunken ex-boyfriend she recalls the story of discovered earlier of Kandisha, a Moroccan spirit and evokes her with some blood, a pentagram, and saying her name five times. Similar to Ed Harley in Pumpkinhead, when Kandisha comes to claim vengeance Amélie soon discovers the cost is not what she expected, and she and her friends have to figure out how to stop the killing before everyone they love is dead.(full review here)
Next week we go in a few wild directions, checking out a new horror comedy in the vein of Clue, some Japanese insanity, a lost Romero film, a classic nasty, and a bizarre import with the creepiest looking rabbit you’ll ever see.
Until then, keep it Blood Red.