Pyewacket (2017)

Pyewacket stars Nicole Munoz as Leah, a teenage girl frustrated at her life after her mother decides to uproot and move out into the countryside. In an act of desperation, Leah summons a demon called Pyewacket to kill her mother, however later has a change of heart. But Pyewacket has already been summoned, and it won’t go away empty handed.

Superbly crafted and dripping with tension, Pyewacket is a slow burner. Time is taken to get to know each of the characters, and to understand Leah’s frustration at being separated from her friends and been taken out of her comfort zone. It also shows that if you do believe in black magic and the occult, then you really shouldn’t take it lightly and should always be careful what you wish for.

Leah and her friends feel like real people, still in that moody teenager phase and treating black magic as a novelty. Leah’s petulant reaction over having to move house also seems like something a typical teenager would do. Nothing ever feels cliche or run of the mill. It’s refreshing to watch a horror movie that is true horror, and treats the audience with respect, rather than resorting to cheap jump scares and the like.

The final third is very impressive, and whilst the horror is stepped up, it never loses its identity and caves to typical horror tropes. The ending will be talked about for a long time. A horror movie that is genuine terror all the way through and teaches you to never mess with things you don’t understand.

4/5

JM

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Demons 2 (1986)

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I do enjoy watching these movies, however I don’t find them scary at all. I find myself laughing throughout most of it as the acting is very OTT in places. Things kick off here as a girl called Sally (Coralina Cataldi-Tassoni) is having a birthday party. However she storms off into her bedroom when she finds out a person is attending that she doesn’t want coming. At the same time there is a program on the television showing four people making a documentary. The four are being filmed entering a cordoned off part of the city that was infested with demons from the first movie. They inadvertently resurrect a dead demon which attacks them and chases them off. The demon returns to where the camera that’s filming the documentary is and begins to walk towards it. Sally is watching the program and realises that the demon is looking at her. The demon comes through the television and possesses her which causes her to attack others.

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There are others in the building that are slowly taken over, while a group barricade themselves in the parking garage, led by the bad ass Hank (Bobby Rhodes). Hank helps the others block the doors then arms himself with a double barrelled shotgun, preparing everyone for the onslaught of demons. The only ones you give a shit about are Hank and the pregnant lady and her boyfriend. Everyone else makes themselves expendable and unsympathetic because of how fucking useless they are.

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This is not as gory as the first Demons movie, and to be fair, not as good either. Bobby Rhodes kicks ass again. He throws himself into the role and seems to be the only one capable of handling themselves. The effects are great in places, and laughable in others, particularly during Sally’s transformation. The little demon thing that shows up later in the movie is hilarious. It looks like Gordon the Gopher on acid, (only certain people will get that reference).

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There are some atmospheric scenes, like the one pictured above, and the soundtrack is as kick ass as the first movies. There are some hilariously bad deaths and unintentionally funny scenes. I don’t rate it as highly as the first, not by a long shot, but it’s still fairly watchable. Definitely a movie to watch with mates for a laugh.

3/5

JM

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In the Mouth of Madness (1994)

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My second John Carpenter review brings us to this under-looked gem from 1994. The opening credits music is quite possibly one of the most bad ass fucking pieces of music ever. It’s music that seems like it belongs in a totally different movie. Check it out on YouTube and see why. Kicking things off we find John Trent (Sam Neill) being committed to a mental institution, despite protests from him that he’s not crazy. Soon after Dr. Wrenn (David Warner) stops by John’s padded cell to speak to him. Upon entering he finds the room, and John, covered in strange markings. John begins to tell Dr. Wrenn how he ended up in a mental institute all began when he was asked to look for a missing writer called Sutter Cane (Jurgen Prochnow).

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Strange things have been happening in town and some people seem to think that it’s the writings of Sutter Cane that are responsible, only he’s nowhere to be found. People are being murdered and seem to be going crazy after reading the books by Cane. John Trent is asked by Cane’s publisher Jackson Harglow (Charlton Heston), to track down Cane and bring him back. Trent is accompanied by Linda Styles (Julie Carmen) in tracking down Cane. The investigation into Cane’s whereabouts bring John and Linda to a town called Hobbes End, which just so happens to be straight out of Cane’s novels. Finding the town almost empty, John and Linda find out what has happened to Cane, and what will soon happen to the rest of the world.

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Cane has been chosen to usher forth the ‘Old Ones’, beings that lived long before humans ever walked the Earth. However bringing them back will not bode well for humankind. This is another one of my favourite John Carpenter films. To be fair to Carpenter, the only film of his I wasn’t keen on was ‘Ghosts of Mars’. Yes I am one of those people who liked ‘Escape From L.A.’ believe it or not. This has a lot going for it too. It has a great cast, great script and brilliant direction from Carpenter. The storyline borrows some bits from H.P. Lovecraft lore which only helps the film in my opinion.

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It’s another one that I recommend to people when I get the chance. I know many haven’t heard of it, and it is also one I will have to import from Germany if I want the blu ray. Sadly there is not even a UK release of this on DVD, so it will require importing, I’d recommend Amazon.de as your first port of call. If you haven’t seen it then track it down, I think you’ll like it.

4/5

JM

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Prince of Darkness (1987)

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For hundreds of years a dark secret has been kept in a church basement in Los Angeles. After the death of a priest who was guarding it, the key to the basement is entrusted to a priest (Donald Pleasence). He goes down to the basement and finds a large vat of green liquid. The priest hires a group of physics students let by their professor Howard Birack (Victor Wong).

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With the vat of liquid is also an ancient book which has been rewritten time and again, each passage warning of the return of the Devil. Through translating the book the students find that the green liquid is the very essence of the Devil himself. The area in and around the church has also attracted some strange people and other odd occurrences. A group of homeless people led by Alice Cooper no less, have congregated outside the church, resorting to murder to make sure that nobody leaves. One by one the students are snared by the evil essence leaving a small group fighting to survive.

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This is one of, if not my favourite John Carpenter films. The sense of unrelenting dread that runs throughout this movie is stifling. John Carpenter creates a mood where you know something is coming and there is noting you can do to escape it. There are a few familiar faces that tend to crop up in John Carpenter’s movies like Victor Wong, Dennis Dun, Donald Pleasence and Peter Jason. It is such a brilliant movie. I had to import the blu ray from Germany as the U.S version is region locked and no company as of yet has released it on blu ray, though I’m hoping Arrow Films give it a release as their stuff is always top notch.

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There are some incredibly unsettling effects and heart pounding moments that make this such an awesome horror movie that I do find myself constantly revisiting. It’s one of the rare horror movies that is genuinely scary, which is not a moniker you can attach to some of the shit floating around now. If you haven’t seen it then definitely give it a go. If you do watch it then pop back and leave a comment, would love to hear your thoughts.

5/5

JM

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Deep Rising (1998)

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“Full scream ahead” says the tagline. Well what a scream this film is. This is one of those brilliant, schlocky, B-movie type deals. The cast is not A-list whatsoever, but everyone is on such top form that it scarcely matters. Directed by Stephen Sommers (The Mummy), Deep Rising is perfect friday night fodder for you and a few mates. It all begins with John Finnegan (Treat Williams) who is the captain of a small boat. He has been hired by a group of mercenaries led by Hanover (Wes Studi) to take them to a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean which Finnegan realises Hanover and his goons want to rob. On board the cruise ship is a thief by the name of Triilian St. James (Famke Janssen) who is trying to raid the vault and ends up trapped.

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It’s not long before Finnegan and Hanover realise that something has made it’s home on the ship already when they get aboard to find the place in ruins. The group find that some sort of creature is aboard the ship and is feasting on the passengers. Leaving Finnegan and his crew battling the creature and Hanover’s mercenaries.

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This film has lots going for it. For a film that is 15yrs old, the CGI is mightily impressive. Hell I’d even go so far to say it trumps some CGI in today’s movies. The supporting cast is great too. Kevin J. O’Connor is great as Joey, a member of Finnegan’s crew. You have great actors like Jason Flemyng and Djimon Hounsou playing mercenaries. You also have the wonderful Anthony Heald, so adept at playing slimy characters, as the cruise ships owner Simon Canton, who knows more than he’s letting on. Also the gore is pretty gnarly too. I shit you not. For a 15’s movie it’s pretty full on. The creature has some sort of stomach acid that helps it digest the passengers, so when one is spat up you see what the effect is.

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I thoroughly enjoyed this. I stumbled across it ages ago and it still holds a place in my DVD collection today. Such a great movie that’ll go nicely with a few beers and a nice pizza. If you haven’t seen it then seek it out. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below too. Enjoy.

4/5

JM

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Angel Heart (1987)

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New York, 1955. Harry Angel (Mickey Rourke) is hired by a mysterious businessman named Louis Cypher (Robert De Niro) to find a man named Johnny Favourite who reneged on a deal that he had with Cypher. Apparently Johnny Favourite has been missing for quite some time and Mr. Cypher is eager to find him and collect on his payment.

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Angel’s investigation takes him to the deep south where Voodoo is rife. There he meets a young lady called Epiphany Proudfoot (Lisa Bonet), who was Johnny Favourite’s daughter. She too says she hasn’t seen Johnny in years. As Harry Angel digs deeper, things begin to turn a lot more sinister, as Johnny Favourite’s old associates want him dead, and some of them are turning up dead themselves. To say any more would spoil the story. The whole film has a sense of foreboding running throughout it, and you fear for how things will turn out.

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This film is directed by the brilliant Alan Parker, who also did Bugsy Malone and one of my favourites, The Commitments. He brings a wonderful outsiders view to the city of New York, and later on in the deep south. Everything is shot with saturated colour, with just the smallest glimmer of light shining through. The script is brilliant and everyone is on top form. De Niro as Louis Cypher (Lucifer, geddit?) is menacing, I mean…really. Rourke is great as Harry Angel and shows how good he can be when his heart is really in it.

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I have seen this film many times, and each time it still grips me. I remember reading that Bill Cosby lost his shit at Lisa Bonet when he saw this movie as she was doing The Cosby Show not long before. It really is worth a watch, I definitely recommend it.

5/5

JM

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The Believers (1987)

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I remember stumbling across this gem whilst channel hopping late one night. It is a fantastic thriller directed by the late, great John Schlesinger (Midnight Cowboy, Marathon Man). It stars Martin Sheen as a psychiatrist called Cal Jamison who moves to New York with his young son after his wife is killed in a tragic accident. He is trying to get closer to his son and help him overcome the loss.

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Dr Jamison is called in by the NYPD to assist them with the deaths of two young boys who are believed to have been killed in a voodoo ritual by a cult. As Dr Jamison digs deeper into the cult he and his son become then become their target.

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Martin Sheen is always worth watching in my opinion. No matter what film he’s in, he always brings his A game. Here he is magnificent as Cal Jamison, you sense the dread creeping in as he struggles to uncover those involved in the cult and find a way to battle their black magic and stop them from getting his son.

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There is some fantastically skin crawling effects, particularly the scene where Cal’s girlfriend Jessica Halliday (Helen Shaver) has spiders crawl from a pulsating wound in her face. The supporting cast is great too. You have Robert Loggia and Jimmy Smits as two police officers who also become the focus of the cult as they themselves are looking into the deaths of the two boys. Harris Yulin is fantastic as the slippery businessman Robert Calder who has a few skeletons in his closet.

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I definitely recommend this sinister little movie to anyone. I know lots haven’t heard of it, I myself was one. Now I recommend it to anyone I can. If you are looking for a decent horror/thriller to tide you over then seriously consider this.

4/5

JM

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House of Usher (1960)

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I have always had a soft spot for anything starring Vincent Price, however I entered this film with some trepidation as it is directed by Roger Corman who isn’t exactly renowned for his high class entertainment.

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The film centres on a young man by the name of Philip Winthrop (played by Mark Damon) , who travels to the House of Usher to meet his fiancé Madeline Usher and take her back to Boston. There he is welcomed by the butler Bristol, who informs him that he cannot come in as Madeline and her brother Roderick Usher (Vincent Price) have been stricken with a mysterious illness. Philip insists the butler let’s him in. Philip is then informed by Roderick that it is impossible for Madeline to leave, as there is a curse which means that when there’s more than one Usher in the bloodline, they are cursed to go insane and die. What follows is a night of insanity that all will struggle to survive.

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The film is based on a story by Edgar Allan Poe. The transfer itself is immaculate and credit must go to ArrowFilms&Video in this regard as they really have done well here. The acting from Vincent Price is always great, and he doesn’t disappoint here. Mark Damon however is not very convincing, so perhaps it’s no surprise that he now makes a living producing movies and not starring in them. Madeline played by Myrna Fahey does the best with what she’s given, but it amounts to little more than screams and shrieks.

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To be quite frank this film didn’t really to it for me. The build up was a tad tedious and I found the payoff just didn’t live up to all that went before. Still worth a watch I’d say, but not a purchase for me. The extras include a commentary with Roger Corman and Joe Dante, an interview with horror expert Jonathan Rigby and a video essay by David Cairns examining the film in relation to Poe’s story. Also included are an original trailer and an interview from 1986 with Vincent Price, which has French subtitles that can’t be removed as it was originally broadcast on French TV. The jewel case release has a fabulous reverseable sleeve with art by Graham Humphreys, however a lovely steelbook will also be available.

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This copy of ‘The Fall of The House of Usher’ was graciously provided by the kind folks over at www.facebook.com/ArrowVid. You can pre-order your copy today from www.arrowfilms.co.uk

2/5

JM

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Event Horizon (1997)

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This film is fantastic. Let me just stress that right now. Paul WS Anderson has never, until this day, made a better movie. I don’t think it’s a fluke. The guy has some talent, but instead decides to waste it on the terrible Resident Evil films. Which is a shame, because here he shows a real flair for building suspense. 

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 When a research ship called the ‘Event Horizon’ returns after being missing for 7 years, it’s up to the crew of the Lewis & Clark to find out where it has been, and what it’s brought back with it. 

Event Horizon has got to be one of my favourite horror movies, if not my number 1 horror of all time. Sure people can say A Nightmare on Elm Street or Hellraiser are better, but it’s all about preference. For me Event Horizon hits all the right notes. To begin with its cast is great. Laurence Fishburne and Sam Neill are awesome as Captain Miller and Dr. Weir respectively. The supporting cast of Jason Isaacs, Kathleen Quinlan, Sean Pertwee, Richard T Jones, Joley Richardson and Jack Noseworthy are all brilliant too. Nobody feels like a spare wheel, and everyone has a part to play in the telling of the story. The story itself takes its time. Leaving more to your imagination, it is a haunted house style movie that doesn’t rely on jump scares. For me, real horror is something that builds up, and really gets under your skin. Now I’m not saying I don’t jump at jump scares, because I do, but to me it’s a cheap tactic to elicit fear. I’d rather watch something that makes me cringe and feel uncomfortable. That mentally puts me in a place I’d rather not be. That’s real horror. A lot, if not all, is down to the fantastic script by Philip Eisner. He has created a ship in the Event Horizon, that takes on a life of its own, figuratively and literally. It’s a character in its own right and that’s something that is not easy to do. You fear the ship. You fear where it’s been and where it’s going to return to. That is the power of the script and how it conjures up these images in your mind, asking you to visualise these horrible things. 
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The film was released in 1997, and kind of flew under everyone’s radar. A lot of people slated it and I really can’t see why. I mean sure people are entitled to their opinion, but the level of hate this film got is quite something. Like I have said already, I just adore this movie. No horror movie has left quite an impression on me quite like this one has. The cast are on top, top form and the effects, set design and sound are just exquisite. 


The gore is used sparingly, but very effectively during the movie. It never feels gratuitous, and is only there to serve the story. That’s another thing I feel is missing in modern horror. It’s hard now to imagine that Event Horizon is nearly 20 years old, but it’s a movie I happily revisit time and time again, and so should you. 
5/5

JM

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The Initiation (1984)

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The Initiation was released in the later half of 1984. It was released when video stores were stuffed to the gills with cheap slasher movies and various knock-offs. The plot revolves around a young girl called Kelly, who keeps having a reoccurring nightmare about her father being stabbed and a mysterious burning man. She speaks to her teacher about it who tries to help her decipher it’s meaning.

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Also at this time Kelly is due to undergo an initiation ceremony to become a member of her fraternity. The ceremony involves breaking into her father’s department store and stealing a uniform. Needless to say it doesn’t go smoothly, leaving Kelly and her friends at the mercy of a mysterious killer.

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The plot concerns other titbits including the above, but to say any more would spoil it. In terms of slasher movies it actually has a better plot than most. There are some neat little twists, and not everything is as it first appears. The ending is handled a little cackhandedly, and I found the acting of some to be a tad cringeworthy, but overall it’s perfect friday night entertainment.

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The only extras on the DVD are a theatrical trailer. The copy of The Initiation was graciously provided by the kind folks over at www.facebook.com/ArrowVid. You can order your copy from www.arrowfilms.co.uk right now.

3/5

JM

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