Review: PREDATOR 1/4 scale Special Edition Jungle Hunter figure by NECA


There are some things from our childhood that make such big impressions on us that we hold onto and value them throughout our lives. When a large group of people hold onto the same thing, it takes on a life all it's own as a cultural phenomenon. Transformers, Star Wars, G.I. Joe, He-Man, Spider-Man, Batman were all huge parts of millions of peoples childhood, myself included. As I got a little older my interests changed and I moved on from He-Man and Star Wars and eventually landed on Aliens and Predator. 


In the summer of 1987 I was still just 6 years old and very much into all those things but at a friends birthday sleepover we were all introduced to ALIENS via VHS. His dad felt it was the right movie for us as young kids to watch. He was right, even though the Aliens, Chestbursters and Facehuggers scared the shit out of us, we loved it just the same because it was freaking awesome. Remember this was 1987 a year when parents didn't coddle their children. If we could deal with Luke Skywalker losing a hand, Serpentor killing Duke and the traumatic death of Optimus Prime, we could certainly handle a little bloodshed and carnage. 


So that year when we started to see these cool posters that simply said "Schwarzenegger" and the title Predator on it. We were all excited, even if we had no clue what it was about, we just knew he was cool and heard it was going to be a good movie. Soon enough I got to finally watch Predator and it blew my mind. I loved everything about it, Arnold and his soldiers were the ultimate badasses and they were being hunted by what would become one of the greatest movie monsters of all time. 



Soon after came the Aliens vs Predator comics (as well as their individual series) from Dark Horse and that just helped take my fandom to a whole new level. I think the culmination of everything was when Kenner finally released their toy lines for both properties. I sadly don't remember which Predator was the first I ever got, but I remember one night in Manhattan going into some obscure toy store(so many good ones back then) and finding them for the first time, seeing the Scorpion Alien and being so happy to have a representation in plastic of these creatures. Eventually the Alien vs Predator 2 pack came out and that to me was the best it could get, the closest to the movies we would ever see in toy form. Fast forward to 2016 and the love for Predator remains the same but the quality of the collectibles have changed...and thankfully for the better! 





NECA the company who has brought so many great cinematic characters to life in the form of awesome and highly detailed action figures has had the Predator (and Alien) licenses for quite some time now.  Years prior McFarlane toys reintroduced the properties to modern day collectors with solid if not imperfect interpretations of the main creatures. They eventually did only the few main creatures for each film and that was it. Eventually NECA acquired the license and have been churning out series after series of successful Predators, Aliens and even integral human characters like Schwarzenegger's Dutch and Sigourney Weaver's Ellen Ripley. With improved sculpts and articulation, these figures have set the new standard for the properties and continue to be a gold mine for the company. They have even updated those old Kenner lines and recreated the characters who were such zany creations as Lava Planet Predator and Cracked Tusk Predator and updated them to modern standards with popular results. During their run they provided us with a few great looking 1/4 scale Predators already, Masked and unmasked versions of the Jungle Hunter (Predator 1) and City Hunter (Predator 2) as well as a few other Predator characters. Their latest is a "Special Edition" of the Jungle Hunter and it lives up to that title. 

Boxed 1/4 scale Predator
As anyone who has purchased a NECA figure and more specifically one of their Predator figures knows, the sculpting and likeness on the figures is generally top notch. That is the case here as well. This new 1/4 scale Predator looks as if it stepped off the screen and into your home. The attention to detail is superb and everything looks as it should. From the actual netting (not painted on netting) to the skull band across his chest. This Predator perfectly recreates the iconic look from the original film. The figure comes with the usual multiple points of articulation and it also includes an extra right hand made into a fist as well in the event you want to have him in more of striking pose on his gauntlet equipped arm.






One of the big selling points on this new version of the Jungle Hunter Predator is the inclusion of LED lights in his helmet and wrist computer. It was something that when I originally heard about it I didn't care too much about it one way or another. However after seeing it in person, I find it to be a very cool addition that while I won't have them on much, they are still fun for photographing and showing off to friends  It is another nice detail that NECA has added to give the figure some extra value and wow factor. It works really well, particularly in the computer gauntlet control panel that powers his helmets and weaponry as well as controls the nuclear bomb housed within as seen in the film. ( Note in order to operate the lights on the helmet you need to carefully remove the helmet, then pull out the plastic strip inside that keeps it in place. Instructions for both are on the bottom of the box)



Light Up LED Wrist Gauntlet
The poseability on the Predator is pretty good, I generally try not to mess around too much with joints for fear of loosening them too much. However the Predator has cut joints as opposed to ball joints at his hips so his range of motion there is limited but the figure looks all the better for it, but you won't be getting him in any Predator like crouching positions. Still there is enough there to get him in some pretty cool and natural looking stances.  


Paint applications on the Predator is pretty close to flawless. Everything is neat and as it should be, all shading and blending is done perfectly. The weathering on the helmet and equipment is also nicely handled. The skin even has a nice gloss to it that makes it feel more "alive."




Detailed look at paint apps and weathering on bladed gauntlet.
The Predator is easily one of the greatest sci fi alien creatures put to film. I don't think many will debate this statement. In my opinion it is second only to another famous space creature, the Xenomorph from the Alien series. The two 20th Century Fox icons have a long history of butting heads throughout their existence. Starting with the aforementioned Dark Horse comic series and one of the coolest moments in the Predator franchise, the scene in Predator 2 where Danny Glover's Lt. Hartigan discovers the Predator's trophy room aboard their ship and we see clear as day an Alien skull hanging on the wall. I remember seeing that and losing my mind. While sadly the actual Alien vs Predator films ranged from awful to terrible, their most recent pairing in figure form is something to rejoice over. Two months ago we reviewed NECA's 1/4 Alien from the original film. (known to studios fans as Big Chap) We gave it rave reviews and it's arrival only made us more excited to receive our Predator. The two look fantastic together and could easily be the centerpiece of any Alien and Predator fan. As they both stand approximately 20 and 22 inches tall. They are impressive. 

1/4 scale Jungle Hunter Predator and 1/4 Scale Alien Xenomorph


The Special Edition Jungle Hunter Predator is a must buy for Predator fans. It's price point at just around a 100 bucks makes it a great value. Especially given the size and detail it possesses. There are plenty of Predator items and collectibles on the market. Some are very nice, but you would be hard pressed to find one this cool for such a deal. The only qualm I might have is that it would have been awesome for it to come with the unmasked head as well, but that would have certainly added to the price and would have taken away another opportunity for NECA to maximize profits later on by releases a maskless version. I highly recommend this figure to anyone who is on the fence, I find that if you have even the slightest interest, any worries about the price or the figure will be nullified once you pull it out of it's box and set it up for display (OPEN YOUR TOYS PEOPLE)  If you wanted to look at it in the box you could have left it at the store! This guy deserves to be seen in all his glory because Dutch would be wrong to call this figure an "Ugly Motherfucker."


You can purchase the figure at the following locations 




Mondo resurrects the Madballs in the form of Mondoballs!



As a child of the 80's there was a plethora of strange and outlandish toys to choose from. Many of our fondest memories and fandoms come from that era. One of the strangest toys to surface back then were the supremely unique and morbidly gross Madballs. I personally remember them fondly and had a pretty big collection of them. 

The first one I was ever given was the mummy Dust Brain and from there on out, more and more creepy and cool ones made there way into my home. I even remember reading the Marvel comics and later down the line having the Madball action figures. It was a definite phenomenon at the time and all of my friends had them. My biggest and favorite memory of them though was the "dodgeball" esque fights my brother and I would have with them in our living room and the unfortunate moment he caught me in the spine with the Super Madball Touchdown Terror who had a nose made of extremely hard plastic. Game over. 




Like any toy property from childhood, they eventually fade away and all that is left are those fond memories. If we are lucky, some of those make triumphant comebacks and we are exposed to a great new interpretation of them. That is where Mondo comes in. Fresh off the success of their awesome 1/6 scale Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle line of figures, Mondo is prepped to release another line of toys that will capitalize on your nostalgia and take it to another level. 

From Mondo: 



"Introducing MondoBalls™ - gross-out toys of the 80s and 90s reimagined through the eyes of Mondo!

Everyone who’s anyone remembers Madballs, the now classic toy balls featuring disgustingly fun characters like Horn Head and Slobulus. Now imagine that same style of of toy applied to other licenses…Friday the 13th, Gremlins, Marvel and many more!

MondoBalls™ are highly detailed, affordably-priced vinyl ball figures with a wide variety of characters and licenses. Creative Director of Toys/Collectibles Brock Otterbacher says, “This line is one of the most fun projects I’ve ever had a chance to work on! We’re super excited to launch these gross little guys, and what better place to start than with three of the characters that started it all - Skull Face, Horn Head, and Slobulus, from Madballs!”





Starting in February, Mondo will be offering the first three characters in the line for pre-order, exclusive to www.mondotees.com! These are expected to ship by summer. More characters and licensing announcements to follow in this spring. For now, we’re thrilled to share a preview of Venom from Marvel Comics!"


Needless to say these look awesome and the future possibilities are endless. Cannot wait to see what is in store. Stay tuned from more from Mondo and Mondoballs!!!

Review: The Boy


January has long been known as a dumping ground for sub par horror films. For years studios have released their less than desirable fright flicks in the first month of the year, I am not certain why or when this practice became a thing, I only know that it exists. This month already saw the release of "The Forest" a film that had some promise in it's strong lead and premise, failed to deliver a satisfactory horror experience and make any real noise while being quickly forgotten. So when I initially saw the trailer for Lauren Cohan's (Maggie from the Walking Dead) horror film "The Boy" I was intrigued but also very wary given the release date. Still, I am forever a sucker for a creepy doll movie, and even though I was most recently disappointed (though that disappointment was not unexpected) by the snoozefest that was Annabelle (still can't believe that movie made 256 million dollars worldwide), I was kind of excited to watch this.



The Boy revolves around the simple story of a young American woman named Greta (yes... Greta) who moves to the UK to become a nanny for the son of a stuffy old rich couple who are leaving him to go on a trip. No big deal, except there "son" Brahms is actually a large creepy porcelain doll who loves to stare at things. The reasoning behind Brahms existence and the parents strange practices revolving around it are part of the mystery. Eventually as they should when a creepy doll is involved, things get weird.

One thing about creepy doll movies is you need to really have two things going for you to make them work. The first is you need to find ways to make an inanimate object repeatedly scary or creepy and find different ways to present it to the audience to keep them from getting bored with the blank stare a doll will have. The second is you need to have a great story as to why the doll is evil or alive. Does the Boy succeed on these fronts? Yes and no.


The Boy features a solid cast who lend credence to a admittedly silly but promising premise. Lauren Cohan delivers a well balanced performance that rarely has you questioning her decision making process which helps with the suspension of disbelief necessary to enjoy a film like this. Co Star Rupert Evans also brings a likability to his role as the well meaning Malcolm. Still The Boy is a horror film and there are horror bits here that will equally satisfy and frustrate the avid horror fan. For each solid creep out moment found within, there is one that will have a horror fan rolling there eyes due to the cliche'd nature of the scare. The film would have been better served to push the envelope and commit in areas and scenes that turn out to be cheap and telegraphed dream fake outs. The landscape of January horror is littered with the corpses of films that have relied on this tired dream scare tactic. These scenes would have have been far more effective had the filmmakers figured out a way to get them to actually be REAL within the context of the story. The "character" of Brahms the boy doll is a great design that while not outright creepy like say Annabelle, still has enough of an odd look to deliver an eerie presence whenever on screen so in that regard yes it does succeed as a "Doll horror film".


I have come to realize The Boy is turning out to be a difficult film for me to review in depth as I found it a mostly enjoyable watch, and while sitting in the theater I was thinking mostly positively about it, but after processing it, I came to focus on it's flaws a bit more. The third act is where the film will either make or break it to most viewers. While I still liked what was done here and was kind of surprised at a reveal, there was absolutely no way I could overlook the fact that it was essentially the same reveal as another recent horror film which I can't name because it would spoil the entire film for you, and that it lifted a piece of it's climax from another horror film that all horror fans will find familiar. This is puzzling and you have to wonder if it was done knowingly or not. So in regards to the dolls backstory and does the film succeed? I would say yes but also no because of it being a rehash of another film in a sense.

It may sound like I did not enjoy the film after all since I just finished pointing out it's flaws, still thats not the case. I did dig it for what it was and I feel that while it isn't some new benchmark in horror, it still is a decent watch thanks to it's cast. It won't surprise the more hardcore or seasoned horror fans with it's scare tactics, but it must be said that at the preview screening I attended, the crowd which was comprised of mostly teenage girls who (undoubtedly lured there more so by the marketing teams promise of meeting some local teen youtube singer than their desire to witness a great horror film) were all screaming and jumping throughout. As I exited the theater most of them seemed to have enjoyed it and were talking rather positive about it. So perhaps this film does have an audience out there beyond the die hard horror fans and that is okay too. Horror fans are very fickle and their interests and tastes can at times be baffling even to other horror fans so you may never know what one will end up liking. As a fan of creepy doll movies it did enough right for me to give it a positive review but I can totally understand if someone does not. I think The Boy is a film that is certainly worth a look even if it may not be a film you come back to again and again, it might be one that is a fun spooky watch on a lazy night. Sometimes that is all you want out of a horror film, and more than you can usually expect from one in January.




Natalie Dormer talks with us about THE FOREST


We recently sat down with actress Natalie Dormer to discuss her upcoming film The Forest. Check out our interview below as she tells us about her experience in the real Aokigahara Forest, her favorite part of filming as well as her thoughts on what this films scariest attribute is and explains how she felt about taking on this role with a story steeped in Japanese lore. 

(Please Note we had a audio synching issue with the voice and video for the first question, all other questions are as they should be)


SYNOPSIS: Rising with terrifying grandeur at the base of Mt. Fuji in Japan, the legendary real-life Aokigahara Forest is the suspense-filled setting of the supernatural thriller.  A young American woman, Sara (Natalie Dormer of “Game of Thrones” and “The Hunger Games”), journeys there in search of her twin sister, who has mysteriously disappeared. In the company of expatriate Aiden (Taylor Kinney of “Chicago Fire”), Sara enters the forest having been well warned to “stay on the path.” Determined to discover the truth about her sister’s fate, Sara will have to face the angry and tormented souls of the dead that prey on anyone who dares come near them. These malevolent spirits lying in wait for Sara at every turn will plunge her into a frightening darkness from which she must fight to save herself.

DIRECTOR: Jason Zada
WRITERS: Ben Ketai and Sarah Cornwell and Nick Antosca
CAST: Natalie Dormer, Taylor Kinney, Yukiyoshi Ozawa, Eoin Macken

THE FOREST IS IN THEATERS NOW.


Join the Experience & “Enter the Suicide Forest

#THEFORESTISREAL


Rest In Peace : Angus Scrimm


Angus Scrimm was one of my favorite Horror icons. As a huge fan of Phantasm for many years, I always had a soft spot for him and his character The Tall Man. My friends and I watched Phantasm together one night when it first hit dvd, The film is a blast to watch with a group, how could it not be with Jody, Reg and Michael getting caught up in some hilarious antics while trying to outsmart the Tall Man, one of our favorite memories from it, was his intro on the dvd. We all remember it and quote that "helloooo" he starts off with whenever we mention it. It caught us completely off guard and we burst into laughter not at him, but just how out of the blue it was, he then proceeds to speak about the film and you could tell he really is proud of it and he should be.


One of the few horror movie characters who, while looking like a normal human, still really scared me as a child. The Tall Man and his legion of silver spheres always seemed like a boogeyman who could never be stopped and you could never escape. That was terrifying to me. Scrimm of course would go on to do the sequels and was always a highlight in those films. Everyone I have ever talked to who had met him always stated he was the nicest man, he lived a long life and will forever be remembered and held in the highest esteem by horror fans the world over. We can all hope that the upcoming Phantasm V Ravager film will be a proper send off for Angus. Till then we will have the original and it's sequels to help his legacy and memory live on. It's time I pull my Tall Man action figure out of its storage bin and keep it on permanent display. Our thoughts go out to his loved ones, family and friends. He will be missed.

                         

Review: The Forest



At the base of Mt. Fuji lies the Aokigahara Forest aka The Suicide Forest. As you can probably guess it was given this nickname due to the high number of suicides that have occurred there over the years as it has become something of a destination for those with thoughts of ending their lives. The forest is said to have a long history of association with demons via Japanese mythology and others have claimed it is simply haunted. That little bit of info should give you an idea of the starting point for the basis of star Natalie Dormer's new horror/psychological thriller, The Forest.

The Forest tells the story of twin sisters Sara and Jess Price (both played by Dormer) who share a special bond and are able to "feel" each others presence and general state of well being. When Sara awakens one night after sensing Jess may be in trouble, a feeling that is elevated when she cannot reach her sister who has moved to Japan to pursue her teaching career, Sara does what any good sister would do and hops on the next flight to investigate.

Does this setup sound familiar to you? If so there is a reason behind that, it is very reminiscent of another Japan set tale, 2004's The Grudge.  While The Grudge was more of a straight forward ghost story about little Asian kids and hair monsters The Forest luckily ends up focusing more on ones personal ghosts. While the film still dabbles in the supernatural, it at it's core is more about human fears and sadness.

The Forest for me is a very mixed bag, there is good and bad here, but as a whole it feels as if  the bad outweighs it and doesn't quite get to the level I had hoped. On the positive side, The Forest is a very good looking film, I enjoyed the cinematography, particularly during Sara's "lost in translation" moments while exploring Japan. Director Jason Zada has some really nice shot compositions and it carries on through the rest of the film. Natalie Dormer's performance is the highlight here, as she really does bring the emotion necessary to the role, you do care about her plight and you do buy her love and concern for her missing sister.

Being that The Forest is a horror film, the main question many of you will be asking is "Is it scary?"
Well that depends on the viewer, there were quite a few audience members in our screening that seemed into it, however to a more seasoned horror fan, The satisfaction is few and far between and the reliance on predictable jump scares is cheap. There are a few sequences I found effective and wish there were more of those throughout, but the film definitely is more focused on it's characters internal struggle with her own emotions such as guilt, sadness, childhood trauma and how those can be horrific in their own right particularly when the titular forest brings those to the surface for those who enter.

I was initially intrigued by the film based on it's setting and premise, however I was a bit apprehensive as well because of the vibe I got that reminded me of those early 2000 horror films, such as the aforementioned The Grudge where they look nice, have a good atmosphere yet they just don't go anywhere. Unfortunately while The Forest has a lot of promise with it's strong lead performance and ideal setting, it fails to capitalize and commit on this promise and concept to make it a fully effective horror film. I feel that it may have worked better as a straight up drama about a woman looking for her sister if it isn't willing to relish in being a true horror film. It felt as if it wanted to walk the line for fear of becoming one or the other. I don't doubt some of the general audiences may enjoy it but for me it's a missed opportunity to do something special. The Forest is not a bad film, it's just rather bland.


Music from The Walking Dead: Episode 0608 :From Start To Finish


As this is our final post of the year, this seemed fitting. We here are fans of The Walking Dead, the show certainly has it's flaws and questionable writing at times, but we can't but help be entertained and invested in the journey of Rick Grimes, Carl, Glenn, Maggie, Carol, Daryl and the rest of the crew. Recently the show aired it's midseason finale, which many (myself included) was a bit lackluster and had what I feel is possibly one of the dumbest moments of the series. Let me not get started on that handing over the guns to a psychotic murderous person with a knife thing.

Jessie is cool and really good looking but her kids are just the absolute worst.

Still, it wasn't all bad. It did have a few cool zombie scenes and it provided us with this absolutely beautiful piece of music. In the final scene as Rick and co. attempt to make their way through the heard using that good ole walker gut poncho tactic, things start to slow down, the majority of the sound drops out and in comes this haunting combination of piano and synth goodness that is easily one of the most moving pieces of scoring found on the show. I have been thinking about it since I had seen it and it's impact during this scene elevated it greatly. I only wish Ron and Sam's dumbasses weren't in it to damper it. I did some searching and have finally come across it. As we end one year and begin another, this music seems perfect to reflect on what this year brought us good and bad, and what lies ahead. Credit must be given to the talented Bear McCeary who composed this killer piece of work. So give it a listen and hopefully it inspires you to take advantage of life in 2016 or at the very least steer clear of some Walkers and hope the mid-season premiere delivers the same way this epic tune did.



Best Horror films of 2015


So as 2015 comes to a close, we must all assess what this year was to us? Personally for me it was a year of ups and downs. Some very low lows and some absolutely fantastic highs. The horror films of the year seemed to follow that same pattern. There were quite a few horror films that were released this year, however they seemed to be more misses than hits. I also noticed that some of them really divided audiences. We definitely had debates and discussions about what was good and what wasn't, so lets just get down to it, shall we?

WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS



I almost left this off the list this year, not because I didn't like it, but because I actually forgot it came out this year since I saw it in theaters in it's initial limited release. Special thanks to Ryan Turek for the reminder, because I would have been extra pissed at myself if I didn't include this one. What We Do in the Shadows is first and foremost a comedy, a brilliant and hilarious comedy. Still, it is also a vampire movie and one of the best I have seen. The documentary styled story of 4 vampire roommates and their newly turned "friend" sets the stage for a film that respects the vampire stories and myths that have come before and manages to show just how inconvenient being a vampire can actually be. The cast are all brilliant, it would be hard to choose a favorite here as Clement, Waititi, Brugh and the rest of the bunch are all at their best, with their comedic timing being impeccable. There is plenty of blood shed in this film that help it fall in the horror genre and it is simply genius the way it infuses vampire lore from different time periods, and laugh out loud comedy all into one amazing package. 

As a huge fan of Flight of the Conchords I was excited to see this film and so glad I got to see it in a packed theater as the crowds obvious enjoyment of it made it that much more of an enjoyable experience. I will say it isn't for everyone and the understated humor will go over a lot of peoples heads and the A.D.D. viewers will undoubtedly miss some of the funnier and subtle jokes when they aren't paying attention. This is the first of THREE horror comedies we have on our list this year, which says something about the quality of serious horror films released this year. What We Do in the Shadows is a must see for vampire and horror fans. 


THE FINAL GIRLS 


I would classify the Final Girls as a horror comedy, which generally are not my thing, but this one is more than just your run of the mill horror comedy. This film is a passionate love letter to Friday the 13th, The Burning and other camp slashers of the 80's. We unfortunately did not have a chance to review it at the time we saw it, but we did make sure to spread the word. 

The Final Girls tells the story of a group of friends who end up inside a fictional 80's camp slasher and have to figure out how to make it home while trying to survive the attacks by the hulking masked, machete wielding, Jason Voorhees homage, Billy Murphy. That is about all I really want to give away for those that haven't seen it.  

Director Todd Strauss-Schulson delivers stylish and vibrant visuals that make the film jump off of the screen. He truly delivers one of the most beautiful looking films we have seen this year and we look forward to seeing what he does next. The films score by 
Full of laughs (many of which, expertly delivered by Workaholics Adam Devine), the Final Girls is still at it's core a story about a mother and her daughter, and it is this story that injects the film with a great deal of heart, that will certainly cause some viewers to tear and choke up. Much credit must be given to Taissa Farmiga and Malin Ackerman, who anchor the entire film with their heartfelt performances. 

While many will say it's not a full on horror film, and shouldn't be on this list, particularly with it's PG-13 rating. The Final Girls is just a really well put together film and quite possibly in a sense, the best Friday the 13th film made in years. If that is not worthy of year end, best of horror list. I don't know what is. 

KRAMPUS


We reviewed Krampus (<--- click there to read it) earlier this month and we liked it a lot. It was not a perfect film by any means, but it did enough right to get on this list. An original horror film in wide release in theaters featuring a bevy of practical monster effects is always a reason to rejoice for us horror fans. What Krampus may have lacked in pacing and some story elements, it more than made up for with it's atmosphere and creature carnage. Director Michael Dougherty has crafted a holiday film that will surely become a an annual Christmas watch the same way Trick 'r Treat became for Halloween. Like The Final Girls, Krampus is another PG-13 entry on the list, a rating that will have some gorehounds crying foul, however don't let the rating dissuade you. Krampus delivers enough mayhem and terror to be classified as a horror film, while having that same charm and sense of humor as Trick 'r Treat that will still make it a fun and entertaining watch for most of the family.

LAST SHIFT



Last Shift was probably the surprise of the year for me. I knew absolutely nothing about it as it snuck under my radar and I opted to just go in blind without so much as a trailer watch. What followed was a simple yet effectively creepy tale of a rookie police officer Jessica Loren on her first night on the job, in an empty police department on it's final night of operation. As you can imagine, things go bad as Jessica begins to encounter strange and horrific occurrences as the night goes on. 

In our review for the film (which you can read here ) I likened it to the type of horror and storytelling found in the best of the Silent Hill video games. Which is about the highest praise I can give something given that I hold those in high esteem as some of the greatest horror experiences available. Much of director Anthony DiBlasi's film hinges on the performance of it's lead Juliana Harkavy. The rest of the small cast deliver solid performances, but Harkavy is especially up to the task and delivers a well balanced, believable performance while carrying the majority of the film on her shoulders.  With a lesser talent this role could have crippled the film, and it would have failed, but she holds everything together. Much needs to be said about DiBlasi's restrained approach to the direction, as the film unfolds and the horror escalates, it never feels cheesy or laughable, the serious tone is kept throughout and just as with the lead actress, with a lesser talent in the directors chair the film could have stumbled greatly. 

While this years crop of horror was in my opinion not the strongest, Last Shift would have ended up high on our list no matter it's company, it's a strong and serious horror film, that plays up the creepy imagery and gives us something a fresh as well with the police horror angle. Last Shift is also proof again that going into a horror movie knowing nothing about it can easily yield the best results. It must also be noted that the consensus from friends and people on social media seem to be mostly positive. Which is no small feat, but well deserved. 

OUR HORROR FILM OF THE YEAR : IT FOLLOWS


Well, here it is. Our 2015 horror film of the year. IT FOLLOWS. One of the most divisive horror films I can remember in recent years. It Follows split audiences down the middle, those that loved it and those that hated it. I have heard all the complaints and reasons from the "Hate it" camp and I could not disagree more.

 It Follows (which we reviewed here ) for us, was akin to watching someones nightmare unfold on screen. The overwhelming sense of dread that permeates the film is just one part of that. It Follows explores death and the realization of ones own mortality through the eyes of a group of teenagers (played to realistic perfection by Maika Monroe and the rest of her fellow castmates). It Follows doesn't rely on gore for its horror but rather a restrained sense of impending doom and an underlying creepiness throughout, capped off with what has to be considered the horror score of the year by Disasterpiece. The camera work here by director David Robert Mitchell is superb and has a vibe reminiscent of the original Halloween, particularly the opening scene. I don't want to simply rehash our review for the film so I will end by saying that It Follows landed it's spot as our horror film of the year because it delivered everything we hoped for when we sat down in the theater. A creepy, haunting film that was well directed, acted and scored. Everyone is entitled to their opinions on what a horror movie should be, and we hope and wish for more to be like It Follows. Maybe next year, 



Honorable Mentions:

ASH VS THE EVIL DEAD


I don't think anyone really held out hope for a new Ash-centric Evil Dead movie after the release (and lackluster fan response to 2013's  Evil Dead remake/reboot film. While I happened to enjoy it quite a bit upon that first viewing, and loved the look of it, it simply wasn't the Evil Dead without Ash. I have never been a big Army of Darkness fan as I prefer Evil Dead 1 and 2, but was happy and surprised to see that Ash was actually returning to the Evil Dead franchise. Of course I didn't think it would be any good. So after I watched the first episode, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it and how much "Old Ash" worked. It was as good a sequel that we could have hoped for and every time I watch an episode I find myself thinking "I can't believe I am watching an Evil Dead TV series and it's good." The show manages to keep all the trademarks of the films and the humor more often than not is spot on. There are a few weak spots here and there and not every episode has been great, but they have all been entertaining and seeing Ash back in action is really just a great deal of fun. While granted, it is a TV show and not a film, I think most Evil Dead and Ash fans will agree this is a legitimate sequel to the Evil Dead franchise and it is a satisfying one at that! That is something I don't think anyone would have expected a year ago and makes it deserving of being on this list without a doubt.   


WE ARE STILL HERE


We Are Still Here was a film I was really hoping to love when I sat down to watch it. I didn't watch any trailers (and as usual I was glad I didn't) and I was just anticipating it based on the poster alone. In the end I ended up thinking it was only okay after my initial watch. I couldn't put my finger on why it didn't necessarily connect with it initially, but I do remember having somewhat of an issue with the performances, as something just felt off to me. With more time to think about it I opted to give it another watch and found I enjoyed it much more on my second viewing with most things coming together for me. It is in fact a classy old fashioned ghost story that takes it's time setting up it's brutally impressive payoff. This is one of those instances where perhaps I hoped for something else and didn't get what I wanted initially. Ultimately though, director Ted Goeghegan and his cast that includes horror regulars Barbara Crampton and Larry Fessenden put together one of the better genre entries of this past year. It may not be for everyone, especially those with a shorter attention span, still it's worthy of a look as I think most horror fans will find something to like about it. 


INSIDIOUS CHAPTER 3


Insidious chapter 3 was not everything I had hoped it would be prior to seeing it, but it did enough things right to warrant this honorable mention. I was actually very much into it 2/3 of the way through it, then it kind of veered off into the Elise doing hand to hand combat with ghosts stuff I didn't care for in the previous installment and that kind of took me out of it. Still for much of it's early running time I found it to be quite an effective horror film. It was obvious that there was a lot of love put into it by director Leigh Whannell, his cast and his crew, who got the most out of their budget. That went a long way for me to focus more on the positives of the film. Granted for those that don't care for the series this one probably won't change any opinions on it, still, Whannell crafts some genuinely cool and inventive sequences throughout and Insidious Chapter 3 ended up being a story worth telling after all.  

CREEP


A late entry to this list, but still deserving. As a fan of Mark Duplass I was interested in seeing what he could do here, as I mostly associate him with his character Pete on FX's Fantasy Football Comedy The League. So I as usual went in knowing little to nothing about it and was caught off guard by it being a documentary styled found footage flick. This worked well though as the set up calls for it and explains why everything is being filmed in the first place. To be totally honest, about 1/3 of the way through Creep, I was saying to myself  "This is dumb" yet I also noticed that as the film proceeded on I became more and more on edge. The tension and suspense was all there and that meant the film was doing it's job. Duplass plays the titular creep to perfection and the entire film keeps you guessing as to what he will do next. Everyone who has seen the film knows about peachfuzz, Duplass characters werewolf mask, which I bring up because even though I knew it was coming the second "peachfuzz" reveal is chilling. Creep is an effective little film that won't be for everyone, especially the anti-found footage crowd, but for those who can give it a chance, they may find it to be a frighteningly uneasy watch. 


EX MACHINA


The only reason Ex Machina is not in the actual best of list and only an honorable mention is because for me while it certainly has some horrific aspects, it is first and foremost a sci fi film. So with that being said, it is a fantastic sci fi film that features brilliant performances by all 3 of it's lead actors who are all at the top of their game here. Particularly Alicia Vikander who is a revelation here. The production design coupled with Alex Garlands razor sharp direction all led to a very personal and quaint story about god complex and the age old questions about the dangers of Artificial Intelligence. Ex Machina is a must watch.