Review : Night Of The Creeps (1986)

Night Of The Creeps, directed by Fred Dekker and released in 1986 is a cult classic which the majority of horror nerds knows. The premise of the film is rather simple : alien parasites, which resemble slugs, enter humans through the mouth and turn them into zombies. The movie focuses on two college students, Chris and J.C, who are joined by Detective Cameron to deal with the zombies…and the slugs !

Night Of The Creeps has everything : aliens, zombies, blood and humor. The cherry on top ? It stars our beloved Tom Atkins. Before establishing its main storyline, the film starts in the 1950’s to explain how the parasites end up on Earth. It also manages in a short time to give background to some of the characters which is very useful for future events. This introduction is in black and white and feels like a movie inside the movie. It then skips ahead to the 1980’s where we meet our main characters. Chris and J.C are very likable, funny, dorky and overall good guys. I particularly liked the way they interacted in a very brotherly manner. Their interactions were very funny and they were believable as best friends. The highlight of the film is definitely Tom Atkins who is once again a joy to watch on screen though my favorite character is J.C, our hero’s best friend, who reminded me a bit of Evil Ed from Fright Night.

However, the practical effects are very bad. The director tries to go around the cheap effects by using different angles which does work in some scenes but is too obvious in others. The most atrocious effects were the aliens in the beginning of the film. Does this make the movie bad ? Absolutely not ! If anything, it adds to its overall entertainment value.

Night Of The Creeps is filled with memorable lines including the famous “Thrill Me” ! It is hard to explain why this film is a classic but once you watch it, you will understand within minutes. There is nothing to dislike about Night Of The Creeps. I’ll go as far as state this : I think I just watched what is now one of my favorite films. Night Of The Creeps is a wonderful B-movie and a delightful piece of 80’s cheesy goodness. I cannot recommend it enough.

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Review : Hush (2016)

Hush was directed by Mike Flanagan and is available on Netflix. The main characters are played by John Gallagher Jr and Kate Siegel, who also co-wrote the script with Mike Flanagan.

Maddie is deaf and mute. In order to write her next novel, she retreats into her secluded house in the middle of the woods. One night, a man lurks outside, trapping her inside and threatening to kill her. A sadistic game begins as Maddie fights for her life.

Hush is the perfect example that great horror movies are not found in mainstream cinema nowadays. Don’t be put off by the fact that the movie didn’t get a theatrical release as it is one of the best recent horror thrillers you can watch.

The concept of home invasion movies is extremely scary to begin with. A home is a safe haven so the idea of a threat trying to break in is frightening. Add to that a character who cannot hear or scream for help, and you are in for a thrilling and chilling experience. Hush is a very well-made film. The sound (or lack of sound) is central to the atmosphere and the director uses it to perfection. There is not much dialogue in Hush and yet it doesn’t feel dull for one second. It is intense from beginning to end and will keep you biting your nails throughout.

The performances are also very good, especially from Kate Siegel. Her lack of reaction when the killer first enters the house is unsettling and terrifying. Her condition makes her vulnerable yet she is a very strong character while remaining believable and realistic. All the characters feel very real, even the killer who is not over-the-top and comes across as a real-life sadistic psychopath you could read about in the newspaper.

The killer takes his time and the physical violence doesn’t start right away. He lurks around the house and stays outside, reinforcing Maddie’s isolation. She becomes trapped inside her home just like she is trapped in silence.

Hush doesn’t rely on gore, which is quite minimal for a horror thriller. Instead, the director made the smart decision of creating an atmosphere filled with tension, mystery and fear.

In a film industry overflowing with remakes and sequels, Hush is a breath of fresh air and is one of the most creative thrillers I have watched recently. I cannot recommend it enough, especially if you already have a Netflix account !

Review : Ghoulies 2 (1988)

Ghoulies 2, directed by Albert Band, was released 3 years after the original film.

“Satan’s Den” has received its final warning; either the not-so-creepy House of Horrors spooks-up its act and scares some customers fast or its gateway to hell will be closed for eternity. Just when Larry and his uncle Ned think there’s not a ghost of a chance that they’ll save their show, they get some uninvited visitors to spice things up. The Ghoulies make “Satan’s Den” their home and profits soar as the demonic little creatures wreak havoc on the helpless fairgrounds.

Ghoulies 2 has a different tone than the first installment. It is more oriented towards comedy and is centered on the ghoulies themselves, which are the only real link to the first movie. Unfortunately, the film spends too much time on characters when their only purpose is to be killed off by the little creatures.

However, one major positive change in Ghoulies 2 is the creatures. Their design has been improved and the animation is better and smoother than in the first movie. Their movements are more realistic and the addition of stop-motion sequences was a huge improvement. Setting the action in a carnival and especially in a house of horrors was a very good choice as it is a great location for the ghoulies’ carnage to take place.

Though not as good as the first one, Ghoulies 2 is still a decent B-movie. All the fun happens in the third act of the film, which finally includes the famous toilet scene depicted on the original poster of Ghoulies.

Review : Ghoulies (1985)

There are movies you watch because they have a reputation of being so-bad-they’re-good. And then, there are movies you watch expecting nothing but nostalgic cheesiness that turn out to be very good. Ghoulies, directed by Luca Bercovici and released in 1985, is one of the latter.

As a child, Jonathan was almost killed by his father during a satanic ritual. After being saved and raised by Wolfgang, who has kept him unaware of his background, Jonathan inherits his father’s house and moves in with his girlfriend. Through his explorations of the house he begins unlocking the secrets and latent powers contained within his new found home. But there are other dark powers at work in the house. It is foretold that Evil will triumph and Ghoulies will walk the earth…

Ghoulies is indeed cheesy B-movie goodness at its best but it also offers more than that. I was pleasantly surprised as the movie is more character-centered than I anticipated. In that regard, the title is misleading as the creatures are only a secondary aspect of the story and are not the main attraction. Instead, the movie focuses on its main character, Jonathan, who becomes obsessed with understanding a past he knows nothing about. Ghoulies is about Jonathan playing with evil forces rather than creatures causing mayhem.

The acting is overall what you would expect from a B-movie but Peter Liapis, portraying Jonathan, really shines and gave an excellent performance. Most of the characters are cliché and yet very likable, even the stereotypical jerk was not as annoying as you’d expect.

The design of the ghoulies was well-made considering the budget of the film. All the creatures are different so it adds a nice variety to the mix. Though the animation wasn’t very good and the eyes looked lifeless, they were extremely fun to watch. If you have any affection for 80’s B-movies, you will love them ! My personal favorite was the green goblin featured on the original poster of the film.

Rather than making another typical creature-feature, the director made the wise choice of building a real story integrating the ghoulies rather than use the script as an excuse to show them. Though they are not shown enough, they are used in a smart way as they seem to become a physical representation of Jonathan’s unhealthy obsession with the occult and finding out about his dark past.

To conclude, Ghoulies is a great B-movie experience which I highly recommend. I was expecting somewhat of a bad movie and was pleasantly surprised to watch a well-constructed story with interesting characters and really fun creatures.

Review : The Outsiders (1983)

The Outsiders was directed by Francis Ford Coppola in 1982 and has a terrific cast : C. Thomas Howell, Matt Dillon, Patrick Swayze, Ralph Macchio, Tom Cruise and more.

The Outsiders takes place in a small town in the 1960’s and focuses on the ongoing conflict between two rival teen gangs, the Greasers (poor white trash boys) and the Socs (kids from the richer part of town). Our main character is Ponyboy (yes, that’s his name) who lives with his two older brothers, orphaned when their parents were killed in a car accident. One night, to defend Ponyboy, Johnny – his best friend – accidentally kills a boy from the rival gang. The two friends go into hiding only to return into town under dramatic circumstances. 

This coming-of-age story, despite being quite typical, has one element that elevates it above other similar films : Coppola’s vision. The movie is filled with beautiful shots, inspiring camera angles and amazing image compositions. The Outsiders is visually beautiful and poetic. Though a bit over-sentimental at times, which is a bit odd for a story revolving around young men, the film is compelling and an emotional experience.

The cast is also excellent. They all portray their characters in a very raw and realistic manner. It is not surprising most of these actors became big stars in the following years. Their brotherly affection, whether between the three brothers or their closest friends, was depicted in a very touching manner and was very believable. It is almost impossible not to care for these boys, struggling to find their place in this world.

The Outsiders is a great story and a very poetic film with a great soundtrack which I highly recommend. It might appear as overly-dramatic to some but when you’re a teenager, everything is !

Review : Frankenstein’s Army (2013)

Frankenstein’s Army was directed by Richard Raaphorst and was released in 2013 in a limited number of theaters. The movie takes place at the end of World War II, in Germany. Russian soldiers stumble across a secret lab where Nazi scientists, led by Victor Frankenstein, have created an army of zombie soldiers from different body parts.

Frankenstein’s Army is very inconsistent throughout with parts feeling completely irrelevant while others extremely fun. The main issue of the movie is that it is found-footage. It doesn’t work at all especially since the video quality of the camera is too good and modern to pass for 1940’s equipment used during wartime. It is simply not believable at all and feels like a gimmick used to justify mediocre camera work.

The acting is passable at best but the Russian accents are cartoony and none of the characters are likable thus their demise has no real impact on the viewer. However, the movie’s best achievement is the design of the zombie creatures. As much as you don’t care about the soldiers, the creatures are what keeps you watching. Their design is really innovative and creative and the practical effects are very well made.

Overall, the fun takes place in the second act of the film, with a weak first act and a silly final act. Frankenstein’s Army might be worth watching for the creatures’ designs but there’s not much more to it.

Review : Howl (2015)

Howl was directed by Paul Hyett and released in 2015.  The movie takes place on the last train out of London, on a foggy night. Joe is the ticket collector who has to deal with all the stereotypical and annoying passengers. After hitting something on the tracks, the train is forced to stop in the middle of a forest.  The driver goes out to investigate but never returns. Soon, the passengers and train employees find themselves fighting for their survival as creatures of the night lurk outside.

The movie begins very slowly as we follow Joe collecting tickets and meeting all the passengers, from the workaholic to the obnoxious teenager. The real action only begins 30 minutes into the movie but once it starts, it is an enjoyable watch through the end. The characters are very cliché and yet very believable, especially if you ever had to use public transportation on a daily basis. You’ll surely recognize types of passengers you’ve had to deal with.

Howl has some interesting imagery and setting the action inside a train was a very good idea as it turns out to be a very efficient location for a werewolf movie. However, I felt it was not used to its full potential. There is not enough tension and no real sense of confinement and the scenes taking place outside the train were more thrilling and intense. The special effects were also very good and the amount of blood and werewolf rampage was enough to make Howl a thrilling horror adventure.

I especially enjoyed Hyett’s approach of a well-established creature. His werewolves do not transform to the full moon and return to human form once the sun rises. Instead, their transformation takes place gradually. At first, they still look human but then appear to be more of human-werewolves hybrids, giving them a unique look. Some may not like it but I think it works very well.

Though there is nothing original in Howl, as the premise has been used countless times before, it is still a very well-made film with realistic characters who don’t act like movie heroes. Though its location is not used to its fullest, it is still a very good werewolf movie in the tradition of An American Werewolf In London. I definitely recommend it.