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Portland Horror Film Festival 2017: Longer-Length Horror Shorts

Posted in Action, comedy, drama, Foreign, horror, Movies, Sci-Fi, suspense with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 28, 2017 by aliciamovie

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Reviewed by Alicia Glass

For those Horror directors and writers who’ve had a shade bit more experience, or who need longer than fifteen minutes to tell their stories of terror and woe, we have a series of Horror shorts to shock and terrify. From the familiar twisted into something new, to ancient powers of the macabre, sit still for these longer shorts and let yourself be carried off into a whole new darkness!

‘Creatures of Whitechapel’

Country: UK

Director: Jonathan Martin

Review Rating: 8 out of 10

Spoilers will cut you down!

It’s the dark cold heart of London, and a killer stalks the alleyways of Whitechapel, hunting down the Ladies of the Night. But it turns out, that killer is actually a her-self too, and she has a Master she’s working for. What could “Jacqueline the Ripper” possibly need with those body parts she stole? Dr. Frankenstein needs a heart for his latest creation, poor thing; the eternal quest of man to make a thing with his own two hands, simply so he can boink it. He needs other parts too, and that’s why he sent the Lady Igor out in an opera cape and top hat with a scalpel blade, never imagining that she would find some kind of redemption in the arms of Mary Kelly. Nevertheless, Master needs a heart (and still doesn’t see the irony in that statement), so he can bring his lady love to life and hopefully responsive movement. Even Dr. Praetoris, Frankie’s fellow scientist, rival and skeptic, doesn’t quite seem to understand that women monsters stick together, through death and beyond!

When done well, Horror mashups are a terrific thing to behold, and Creatures of Whitechapel has certainly done that! The storyline rather reminds me of the awesomeness that was Penny Dreadful, well remembered and always missed, with scenes and sets inspired by From Hell and Victor Frankenstein, original musical scores that won awards and put me in the mind of Sweeney Todd, this particular short makes my little black heart so happy. We women really should get more gender-bent roles in the Horror world, that opens up all kinds of amazing intertwining possibilities!

‘The Madame in Black’

Country: Sweden

Director: Jarno Lee Vinsencius

Review Rating: 7.5 out of 10

Drawn from a Swedish legend in which a Countess was burned for witchery that purportedly killed her husband and children, which was of course turned into a mirror game for generations to come, very like the American legend of Bloody Mary, The Madame in Black also appears to be a parlor game for young adults who really should be more leery. Our siblings in the short played the game when they were very young and apparently the Madame makes no distinctions about what age she continues to haunt a person. Emma convinces Alex, while they’re hanging out drinking with their significant others, to say the words before the mirror again, and next thing you know, a scary Lady draped in all black is terrorizing everyone!

The story of course puts me in the mind of the movie The Woman In Black, and the atmosphere surrounding the short is very reminiscent of The Conjuring. The “gotcha!” scares are fairly good, and the makeup job for the Madame (when she is fully shown) is pretty darned terrifying, if a little predictable. While I agree it’s important to have background story to whatever game you want to play inside your Horror movie, a little too much time is spent on the brother-sister and their friends dynamic, which could be easily achieved with some flash scenes, and leave more time for the admittedly-good jump scares and hauntings of the Madame in Black.

‘Elegy’

Country: USA

Director: CJ Gardella

Review Rating: 6.5 out of 10

All around is the cycle of life and death, and nature reflects that in its simplicity and savagery. A brick house out near a swamp teeming with animal life that devours each-other endlessly holds many secrets, where the lines between being alive and being dead, or even undead, blur and become indistinct. A man and a woman walk the lonely halls of the house, attempting to not antagonize each-other, but rather understand the mysteries of the dead and the dying, and even returning back to a kind of existence. A strange kind of harmony exists, with the insects and those who feed off of death, and that which withers finds a kind of quiet beauty in its preservation.

The entire short, especially the animal scenes of hunting, killing, and decaying, really reminded me of the Lars Von Trier film Antichrist, and that was an incredibly odd one. The animals and insects caught on film mid-snap are certainly wonderful to look at, and the truly great thing about this short is the creepy between-life-and-death atmosphere the filmmakers manage to convey. In a short fraught with unique imagery, where none of the characters actually speak, one can only expect some confusion about what the short is attempting to convey in the depths of Horror. I’m still not entirely sure, but I wager it was some kind of descent into madness to study the whole process of death, and perhaps, how love never actually dies.

‘Others Like You’

Country: Italy

Director: Eugenio Villani

Review Rating: 7 out of 10

When does an obsession go too far, and land one in the depths of sheer Horror? Ester wants a child so badly, she’s been binging a series of one-night-stands to get herself pregnant, but somehow never manages to carry a baby to full term and birth. Especially after seeing the female Doctor for a pregnancy test, and showing off that what I assume is a hysterectomy scar all across her abdomen. Doc Greta herself is a scarred survivor and no longer able to have children either, yet she still manages to “mother” a group of hidden monsters, creatures of the old world and old ways, where the sacrificial math of one life for one life is perfectly valid. Ester’s looking for her missing kitten, and though it’s rather unfair of Greta to say Ester can’t even look after a kitten much less a baby, luring Ester to a place of dark birth magic doesn’t seem like the kindest lesson.

Another short that happens to be well-shot but whose storyline is near-inexplicable, Others Like You peels back the layers of women’s Horror, that deep desperate pain and emptiness of childlessness. Very much like the movie Grace with its eternal question of, ‘How far would you go for your children?’, the short adds its own dark European magickal twist that may send even the strongest advocates of The Handmaids Tale running away in disgust!

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Movie Moxie’s 31 Days of Halloween – Day 27 – May

Posted in comedy, drama, horror, Movies, Romance, suspense with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 4, 2013 by aliciamovie

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Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Studio: 2 Loop Films

MPAA Rating: R

Director: Lucky McGee

Review Rating: 8

Traumatized by a difficult childhood and the lack of ability to connect with those around her, in desperation May decides if she can’t make friends, she’ll really make a friend!

The really horrific parts of the movie don’t generally happen til right at the end. Until then, save for the screaming one-eyed Angela Bettis as May in the mirror flash at the very beginning, most of the horror is just May herself being incredibly awkward and terribly alone. She tries, oh so very hard, to get people to talk with her, to understand her, knowing all the while she’s so very different that it would indeed be impossible. Take the Boy for example, Jeremy Sisto’s character Adam. May has a serious thing – for his hands. And the would-be lesbian girlfriend, after deciding her time with May was just a fling and didn’t mean anything, gets her just desserts in a scalpel-cutting embrace that is beautiful and absolutely terrible at the same time.

Yes I am going to go ahead and ruin the ending, sorry, the film is worth sitting all the way through anyway. May decides to take only the beautiful parts from these people she’s tried to make connections with, like literally, and puts together a Frankenstein’s monster of a friend that she dubs AMY. The finishing touch isn’t May popping out her own eye so AMY can see her, oh no. There’s one last surprise that I will leave for the movie to show you; once again, it’s quite worth it. Beautiful and dreamlike with nightmarish qualities woven throughout, May tells a story of a lonely girl whose ability to sew and a love that brings dark life to scorching light.

Death Race 3 Inferno

Posted in Action, drama, Movies, suspense with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 16, 2013 by aliciamovie

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Reviewed by Alicia Glass

Studio: Moonlighting Films

MPAA Rating: R

Director: Roel Reine

Review Rating: 7

Carl Lucas, aka legendary driver Frankenstein, returns to fight for his and his crews lives when Death Race is taken global!

So Weyland of Weyland Enterprises is selling the still wildly popular Death Race franchise to upstart Niles York (Dougray Scott), this is how this whole mess gets started. Niles is brash and headstrong and wants nothing more than to take Death Race all around the world, bigger and more numbers of races, more exotic locales, and of course much more gruesome deaths. He buys the franchise from Weyland and subjects Ving Rames character to a speech about getting old and retiring in favor of new blood, to which Weyland does get the last word but leaves like a beaten dog. Carl Lucas, played by actor Luke Goss, is still driving as the masked Frankenstein, having won four races in a row and anticipating winning his fifth and his freedom. Only to discover, as he’s dragged before Niles Young and informed he gets to lose this new Death Race if he wants to live, that he’s being transferred to a hellhole of a prison in Africa for the newest installment of the show. Danny Trejo as pit crew boss Goldberg, along with everyones favorite genius Fred Kohler as Lists, and Lucas’ female driver Tanit Phoenix as Katrina Banks, and Robin Shou as 14K from the previous movie, are all transferred along with Frankenstein.

First thing at the new prison is, of course, the fight that inevitably comes with new fish being brought in. Frankenstein was wearing his mask when they brought him in, but during the fight the mask is knocked off and Carl Lucas is revealed to be still alive, to be his amazed pit crew and leading lady, who all thought he had died in a previous movie. Some minor resentment is quickly gotten around as all the Protags realize, hey, we’re in Death Race once again and if we want to live, we gotta work together. Then we’re subject to another Death Race first, the female elimination round, in which sixteen women try to kill eachother down to ten, each vying for the right to ride with the Death Race drivers. We have an ambitious new director, Niles Young himself in the taping room, several new drivers that are all psycho in their own ways, and a new course in the Kalahari desert that leads the drivers to civilian interference and participation. Much to-do is made about Frankensteins reputation and how he can easily be replaced due to simply wearing a mask, how the legend will endure and live on, and the film certainly proves that. Also a Death Race first, there is what we in the film industry call a “Gotcha!” ending that I won’t spoil, but is quite good and deliciously ironic.