Mini-Reviews: HIDE AND GO SHRIEK, LAST NIGHT IN SOHO, MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH, and SCALPS

Hide and Go Shriek (1988) A group of high school friends celebrating graduation sneak into a furniture store to party and have sex but are interrupted by a killer in this enjoyably cheesy slasher. The movie is filled with stock characters and familiar plot elements, but it’s better made than you’d think and the cast is energetic and likable. The make-up FX leave a lot to be desired – there is a good decapitation by elevator – but it never ceases to be entertaining and the twist at the conclusion is genuinely surprising. B

Last Night in Soho (2021) Shaun of the Dead‘s Edgar Wright delivers a wonderful homage to the psychological thrillers of the 1960s with this mystery-horror about a fashion student (Thomasin McKenzie) who moves to London and is transported back to the ’60s, where she’s convinced she’s witness to an unsolved murder. Both elegantly shot and energetically paced, Last Night is what most current throwbacks aspire to be, both respecting the subgenres and adding to it with flares of surprises and thrills that could be found in the best of the Italian giallos of the ’60s and ’70s. The cast is excellent, especially Anya Taylor-Joy and Dame Diana Rigg in her last film role, and the screenplay by Krysty Wilson-Cairns is first-rate. Don’t miss this! B+

The Masque of the Red Death (1964) An attractive, but empty, Roger Corman production, this somewhat overrated adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe’s story features a tyrannical, Satan-worshiping prince (Vincent Price) who uses his luxurious castle as a sanctuary for he and his wealthy, corrupted friends against a deadly plague. Where Poe’s story reads as a metaphor for trying, and failing, to escape death, Corman’s film is little more than a handsomely produced series of lavish, colorful set pieces and stunning cinematography by Nicholas Roeg. Price is his typically scene-chewing, enjoyable self. C+

Scalps (1983) Infamous ’80s splatter from zero-budget auteur Fred Olen Ray about a group of archeology students who’re targeted by a vengeful Native American spirit that possesses one of the group and turns him into a disfigured killer. Not a good film in the technical sense, Scalps is stiff, muddled, and unconvincing but is nonetheless mesmerizingly watchable hokum that has plenty of low grade charm and some surprisingly effective make-up FX. B

Mini-Reviews: ALONE IN THE DARK, THE CAR, COLD PREY, and THE MOTHMAN PROPHECIES

Alone in the Dark (1982) A terrific mash-up of the slasher subgenre about three psychopaths (Jack Palace, Martin Landau, and Erland van Lidth) who escape from a mental facility and terrorize the hospital’s new doctor (Dwight Schultz) and his family. Suspenseful and more complex than the typical slasher flick of the time, this is infused with dark, witty humor, good acting, and some impressive, and brutal, death sequences. Poking fun of and embracing its material, Alone in the Dark is an ’80s gem. B+

The Car (1977) A goofy crossbreed of The Exorcist and Jaws, this features a small desert town under siege by a seemingly driverless, possessed killer car. James Brolin gives the movie an air of respectability but the whole thing is so silly and unconvincing you won’t take any of it seriously; as with most movies of this caliber, you can’t help be entertained by its goofy charms. C+

Cold Prey (2006) Thrilling Norwegian slasher about a group of snowboarders who take shelter inside an abandoned ski resort after one of the party breaks their leg. The group slowly comes to realize they’re not alone when a mystery person starts picking them off one-by-one. A beautiful snowy landscape and genuinely enjoyable characters heighten the story above its genericness, as does director Roar Uthaug’s eye for detail, creating an atmosphere of suspense and scares. A must-see. B+

The Mothman Prophecies (2002) Based on real case files dating back to the 1960s about a series of unexplained events surrounding the small town of Point Pleasant, West Virginia, in which a group of people claim to have seen or interacted with a large, winged humanoid that predicted several major catastrophes. When a Washington Post reporter (Richard Gere) investigates the mysterious death of his wife it leads him to Point Pleasant and the sinister workings of the mothman. More of a psychological mystery than an outright horror film, this has a surprisingly good cast and a serious take on the subject matter, making the story seem much more credible than it probably deserves. C+

Mini-Reviews: BLACK WATER, THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT, BROTHERHOOD OF SATAN, and OLD

Black Water (2007) Intense Australian low-budgeter about a small group of friends who find themselves trapped in a watery nightmare when their motorboat capsizes and they’re hunted by a large, bloodthirsty crocodile. The characters are all basically cardboard cutouts, but it’s the screenplay (by directors Andrew Traucki and David Nerlich) that makes the film work, utilizing the dire situation to its fullest effect by creating moments of true suspense and genuine surprises, right up until the end. B+

The Blair Witch Project (1999) The game changer that single-handedly created a new subgenre, this zero-budget scare show took horror to a new level at a time when the genre was becoming stale with countless Scream wannabes and soulless teen vehicles. Crafting its story around the structure of home videos, Blair Witch smartly uses bare-bones visual trickery by elevating the simple plot – three friends making a school video project about a mythical forest witch – into an atmospheric, dense, incredible suspenseful piece of filmmaking. Realistic characters and raw emotions help fuel the intensity, as do the moments of sheer horror, including the infamous, white-knuckle ending. A

The Brotherhood of Satan (1971) A well-made response to Rosemary’s Baby about a small town under the influence of a satanic cult that’s using the town’s children for sinister reasons. Moody and unpredictable, this mostly works because of its surreal, dream-like structure and surprising violence. The only thing keeping this from achieving cult classic status is its lackluster, disappointing ending. C+

Old (2021) A misguided adaptation of Frederik Peeters and Pierre Oscar Lévy’s acclaimed graphic novel, Sandcastle, about several groups of beachgoers who are effected by an unknown, supernatural event that rapidly speeds up their aging process. Director/writer M. Night Shyamalan’s screenplay is littered with plot holes and story inconsistencies, while the characters are vapid and unsympathetic. The biggest sin the film makes is explaining the mystery with a bumbling happy ending that essentially pulls the rug out from underneath itself. A genuine turkey. D

Mini-Reviews: THE LEGACY, LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE, and SOMETHING EVIL

The Legacy (1978) Shades of The Omen are seen in this handsome supernatural shocker about a couple (Sam Elliot and Katherine Ross) stranded in the English countryside after a motorcycle accident and invited to stay with a mysterious man at his posh country estate full of his wealthy business associates. It isn’t long until the “creative deaths” begin and escape becomes impossible. Elliot and Ross are both sympathetic and there’s some intense moments, but the final outcome isn’t quite worth the long build-up. C+

The Legend of Hell House (1973) A small team of scientists and psychics doing paranormal research inside a notorious haunted house are put through the wringer when they are bombarded by spiteful ghosts whom attack them both mentally and physically. Adapted by Richard Matheson from his own novel, Hell House is good stuff with a solid cast (Pamela Franklin and Roddy McDowell are excellent) and highly effective direction from John Hough, who wisely uses limited special effects – although there are several awe-inspiring ones – and more of an emphasis on complex characters to create tension. B

Something Evil (1972) Before Amityville and The Conjuring there was this made-for-TV movie about a young mother (Sandy Dennis) who comes to believe her family’s new farmhouse is haunted by a malignant entity. Directed by a young Steven Spielberg, this is a surprisingly intriguing film that works mostly because of the good cast and the subtle approach writer Robert Clouse tells the story. Much like The Changeling, this is a psychological slow burn more interested in characters than special FX. B

Horror Movie Alternatives for Halloween Night

If you’re not in the mood for Michael Myers or paranormal activities this Halloween you might want to check out these equally creepy flicks that’ll make your holiday night just as heart-pumping. With the help of my friends and fellow horror nerds, Frank Pittarese and Aaron Reid, I’ve compiled a list of horror movie alternatives for your All Hallow’s Eve viewing pleasure!

Bad Ronald (1974) Ronald Wilby, teen misfit and social pariah, accidentally kills a young girl — so his overprotective mother (Kim Hunter) hides him in a secret room in their home. But when his mother dies, a new family moves into the house, unaware that an unhinged Ronald lurks within their walls. This made-for-TV thriller is one of my all-time favorites. They pack a lot into the 74 minute running time, giving Ronald a whole arc — from loser to lunatic — and we almost get two movies in one: the Ronald/Mom story, then the Ronald/Wood Family story. There’s a constant, underlying eerie discomfort in watching Ronald grow into a dangerous stalker, and Scott Jacoby runs the gamut from pitiful to creepy. You almost feel for the little weirdo. The climax is a bit abrupt, like they were holding back from doing something intense, but that (aside from an unintentionally comedic death) is my only minor gripe. -Frank Pittarese

Devil Dog: The Hound of Hell (1978) After their dog dies in an “accident,” the Barry family adopts a German Shepard puppy. What they don’t know is that the pup was bred by Satan himself, as a demonic creature, which soon takes possession of the family, starting with the children. This made-for-TV horror flick is most memorable for the kids. Co-stars Kim Richards (yep, the one from The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills) and Ike Eisenmann shared the big screen together twice before in Disney’s Escape/Return to Witch Mountain. Here, the wholesome pair head into new territory, becoming a couple of evil brats. Richard Crenna stars as their dad, forced to believe the unbelievable after the Satanic dog starts killing people (and after his wife starts slutting it up with Cliff Barnes from Dallas). While slow-paced, and suffering from some terrible special effects, this one is still enjoyable, if not thrilling. As a kid, the dog’s demonic form actually scared me, but I was a pushover like that. -FP

Drag Me to Hell (2009) “A dark spirit has come upon you.” Christine aspires to get the Assistant Manager promotion at the bank and is willing to make difficult choices to get her coveted job, including foreclosing on an elderly woman rather than granting one more extension. She soon regrets her heartless handling of the matter when she finds herself cursed. Inexplicable omens and visions of demons torment her until there is no denying she’s hexed. I decided to rewatch the unrated director’s cut of this cursed affair – the additional gore and extended scenes enhanced an already worthy horror. The impressive cast, creepy score, and beautiful cinematography amount to a classic story with personality. The pacing is flawless right up until the shocking ending. As Christine learns, be careful who you wrong in life because you just might be dragged to… Well, you know. “You will burn in Hell.” -Aaron Reid

Ghost Ship (2002) “We’re not the first people to board this ship.” A salvage crew discovers the lost MS Antonia Graza at sea, a mysterious luxury vessel that’s been missing for forty years. They board the ship to claim the riches inside, but the ghosts haunting this deadly cruise liner have other plans for their guests. I rewatched this haunted movie and returned to the ill-fated cruise ship for its final voyage. The opening sequence detailing what happened to the doomed passengers is still one of the most memorable and horrific scenes, to say the least. This haunted movie has an impressive ensemble cast coupled with creepy moments and a complicated storyline, making this horror a worthy rewatch contender, especially in October. The cliffhanger ending is a nice touch, wrapping up this haunting with a wink. If you‘ve never watched or it’s been a while, add this one to your list.  “We’re all trapped here.” -AR

Hell Night (1981) One of the better ’80s slashers, this creepy nightmare features Linda Blair as a new sorority pledge who along with a fellow pledge sister (Suki Goodwin), a horny frat hunk (Vincent Van Patton), and a frat gentleman (Peter Barton), are forced to spend the night in old Garth Manor, a gothic, abandoned mansion that is rumored to be haunted. The ghosts are tricks played on them by their school chums, but the murders are very real and the product of a deformed ancestor who still calls the manor home. Likable characters, a moody, Halloween-costume atmosphere, and some actual suspense make this terrific nighttime viewing. -Matt Dalton

House of Dark Shadows (1970) The first movie adaptation of the classic TV series, Dark Shadows, this is essentially a retelling one of the show’s most popular plots, that of 200-year-old vampire, Barnabas Collins (Jonathan Frid), as he awakens within his coffin in modern day Collinsport, Maine, and feasts on the blood of his living relatives. This is a crisp, handsome production with excellent acting from Frid and the rest of the Dark Shadows ensemble, including cast regulars Nancy Barrett and Joan Bennett. It also happens to be one of the most effective vampire flicks of the ’70s. -MD

The Norliss Tapes (1973) Roy Thinnes stars as David Norliss, an occult investigator, called into action by Ellen Cort (Angie Dickenson), who was attacked in the night by her walking dead husband. As the body count rises, it becomes apparent that there’s a sinister secret behind James Cort’s resurrection — something demonic. Made for TV, this Dan Curtis production feels a whole lot like The Night Stalker, Curtis’s very successful pilot film that aired the previous year. That movie got a sequel and a TV series. The Norliss Tapes did not. But the structure is the same. We have a supernatural creature, an investigation, occasional cutaways to some poor soul getting murdered, and an overarching narration from the lead character. In this case, the narration comes from tapes, recorded by Norliss. Had this gone to series, that would have been the monster-of-the-week format. Unlike The Night Stalker, this is mostly humorless, and the opening ten minutes that set up the “tapes” premise is incredibly dull. But from then on, turn off the lights and soak it in, because this is Dan Curtis doing what he does best: death, crypts, and shock-value storytelling. -FP

Session 9 (2001) Although it doesn’t contain the typical horror movie tropes or slasher cliches, Session 9 is so unnerving and suspenseful that it’ll keep you on the edge of your seat while you down your popcorn and candy corn. Taking place almost entirely within the walls of a former sanitarium, the film follows a small asbestos removal team as they try to clean the place before the week is over. Tensions builds among the coworkers as personalities butt and ulterior motives are brought to light. Although its paranoia subplot seems to have been borrowed from The Thing, this is a smart movie with interesting characters and an overwhelmingly bleak environment that adds to the plot’s intensity. It all leads to a genuinely disturbing ending. -MD

Sleepy Hollow (1999) Tim Burton’s atmosphere-drenched adaptation of the famous Washington Irving story was a return to form for the director after the lunacy of Mars Attacks! with a perfectly cast Johnny Depp as the nervous Ichabod Crane who’s sent to the small village of the title to investigate a series of bizarre murders. The chilly, woodsy setting along with the visually rich set decorations of jack-o-lanterns, scarecrows, and the Headless Horseman ring true for a dazzling Halloween viewing. -MD

Frank Pittarese has been an editor of comic books for 30 years. You can follow him on Instagram and Twitter. A Massachusetts native, Aaron Reid is also on Instagram and writes movie reviews for Letterboxd.

Mini-Reviews: Horror Now Streaming

Anything for Jackson (2020) A good idea is not fully realized in this lackluster crossbreeding of Rosemary’s Baby and James Wan. An older couple (Sheila McCarthy and Julien Richings) turn to Satanism in order to bring back their dead grandson, Jackson, by imprisoning a pregnant woman (Konstantina Mantelos) in their house and using witchcraft to transfer Jackson’s soul into the unborn baby. After a good first 30 minutes the screenplay (by Keith Cooper and Justin G. Dyck) descends into unbelievable plot twists and dreary character motivations that don’t make any sense. Nice try, but no cigar. (Shudder) C

Blood Beat (1983) An obscure supernatural slasher about a group of friends spending Christmas in rural Wisconsin and are in danger when the bloodthirsty spirit of a samurai warrior starts killing in the area. This is plagued with unnecessary subplots (two characters are psychic) but once the paranormal stuff kicks in this is an enjoyable, nonsensical myriad of oddball aesthetics and dream-like structure. Writer/director Fabrice-Ange Zaphiratos admitted to being on drugs at the time he wrote the screenplay, which explains a lot. Under the right circumstances, this could be your new favorite Christmas horror movie. (AMC, Shudder) B

The Brain (1988) A sort of cross between David Lynch and Roger Corman, this schlocky Canadian low-budgeter pits a high school rebel (Tom Bresnahan) and his girlfriend (Cynthia Preston) against a mad scientist-type (David Gale) who’s using the mind powers of an alien brain creature to control the population of the nearby town. Rubbery but fun monster FX and a sense of spirit help lift this above its mediocre plot. Re-Animator‘s Gale is underused but Bresnahan and Preston are likable and if you don’t take any of it seriously you might enjoy this late ’80s cheese fest. (Amazon) B

Dahmer (2002) An example of a good performance trapped in a mediocre film, this biopic of notorious killer, Jeffrey Dahmer, stars Jeremy Renner as the Milwaukee Cannibal who, in his younger years, started picking up men at bars, drugging and raping them, and eventually graduating to murder. Renner is terrific in the title role, giving the character both the charm and hint of underlying boiling rage the real Dahmer evidently had. Unfortunately the script (by director David Jacobson) doesn’t give the real life figure much to do, at times making the movie feel somewhat aimless and transparent. (Tubi) C

Freaky (2020) Amusing variation on Freaky Friday in which a mousy teenage girl (Kathryn Newton) switches bodies with a serial killer (Vince Vaughn). A good cast (Vaughn is pitch perfect) and some funny moments help mask an uneven screenplay that at times feels forced and lacking the organic flow found in writer Christopher Landon’s earlier, and superior, Happy Death Day 2 U. A terrific opening and the use of practical gore FX throughout give this a slightly higher rating than it deserves. (HBO Max) C+

Jeruzalem (2015) An interesting take on Cloverfield, this features a small group of travelers who’re stuck in the middle of literal hell when the city of Jerusalem cracks open and spits out various demons and monsters, all caught through the camera of a character’s smart glasses. Because of obvious budgetary restraints there’s too much time spent on uninteresting characters standing around and talking, but when the action gets going this is an enjoyable monster mash. (Tubi) B

Mini-Reviews: The PARANORMAL ACTIVITY Series

Paranormal Activity (2009) A young couple, Katie and Micah (Katie Featherston and Micah Sloat), come to believe their home is haunted and set up video cameras to capture evidence. Things get progressively worse and they call on the help of a psychic, who informs them it’s most likely a demonic entity that is after Katie. Although The Blair Witch Project kick-started the modern found footage craze, it was Paranormal Activity that opened the floodgates and released a wave of imitators, many of which are still being released today. Thanks to its minuscule budget and extremely effective approach at the subject matter (showing less is indeed more), this is a terrifically fun and unsettling little scare show that reminds us of why we are naturally afraid of the dark. A

Paranormal Activity 2 (2010) Taking place a few months before the events of the first film, PA 2 centers on Katie’s sister, Kristi’s (Sprague Grayden), family and the arrival of her new baby boy, Hunter, which is subsequently followed by a mysterious break-in that prompts Dad to set up security cameras. Both respecting and adding to the mythology, PA 2 is a good follow-up that doesn’t overplay the scares or abuse its power by trying to exceed the original in special FX. It smartly focuses on likable characters and builds suspense naturally. Although not as intense as the first film – more family members lessens the horror of the activities – this is still a worthy entry. B

Paranormal Activity 3 (2011) Shaking things up for the series is this fantastic third entry that takes the storyline to 1988, when Katie and Kristi were kids, and shows how they became the targets of the malevolent demon that terrorized them in the previous films. When little Kristi (Jessica Tyler Brown) begins talking to an imaginary friend named Toby, and strange things begin to happen, her stepdad (Christopher Nicholas Smith) sets up VHS cameras around the house to find out what is going on. Ignoring the subtlety of the first two, PA 3 goes full-out funhouse with inventive, scary set pieces and a less serious approach, although the last 20 minutes will have you on the edge of your seat up until the slam-bang finish. B+

Paranormal Activity 4 (2012) Returning to the present day, several years have passed after the events of the first two films. A new family is seemingly bombarded by paranormal activities after they meet their weird new neighbor, Robby (Brady Allen), whose mother is mysteriously absent. PA 4 is a misstep in the series, with dull characters and a muddled plotline that doesn’t seem to make sense or really fit in with the overall mythology. The use of modern technology (Skype/FaceTime video and Xbox Kinect) to document the action is clever, but the lack of scares and a climax that is essentially ripping off PA 3 is a bummer. C

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (2014) A return to form, this fifth entry in the PA series wisely spins-off from the focus of Katie, Kristi, and Hunter, and delivers a new story about teenager, Jessie (Andrew Jacobs), who believes his neighbor, Ana, is a witch. After he and his friends break into Ana’s apartment he begins experiencing bizarre mood swings and unexplained activity in his home, including levitation and a retro Simon game that communicates with him. Written and directed by Christopher Landon (Happy Death Day 2 U), The Marked Ones is injected with much-needed energy and sympathetic characters; as with PA 2, the movie both respects and adds to the mythology and introduces a plot twist that actually works. Fast-paced, funny, and scary, this is probably the best of the sequels. B+

Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension (2015) After discovering a specialty videocamera that allows you to see spirits, a father (Chris J. Murray) uses it, and other cameras, to find out what’s happening in his new house when his daughter (Ivy George) begins acting strangely. Basically just recycling the plot of PA 3, Ghost Dimension lacks the verve of Marked Ones and by now the mythology is becoming a bit convoluted, showing just how thin the filmmakers are stretching the already overused plot. There are some good scares and the use of 3-D is clever, but one can’t help have the feeling of déjà vu when a lack of surprises envelopes the already shaky foundation. C+

Mini-Reviews: BLACULA, DARKNESS FALLS, NIGHTMARES, and THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN

Blacula (1972) Classic ’70s exploitation flick starring the great William Marshall as Prince Mamuwalde who is turned into a vampire by Count Dracula and, centuries later, rises from his tomb in modern day L.A. Director William Crain focuses more on well-written characters and suspense than cheap shocks and in doing so creates a movie that’s much better than its schlocky title would suggest. B+

Darkness Falls (2003) Thinly plotted ghost story about a small sea-side town terrorized by a vengeful spirit, whose attached itself to a man (Chaney Kley) who witnessed his mother’s murder at the hands of the malevolent entity years earlier. Stiff acting – Buffy‘s Emma Caulfield Ford is wasted in a one-dimensional role – and transparent plot devices harm the already mundane story, and even at just 85 minutes this feels way too long. D+

Nightmares (1983) Light but fun Twilight Zone-like anthology of four stories centered around urban legends. The first (and best) features Cristina Raines as a mother who, along with the rest of the town, is living in terror after a madman escapes from a nearby sanitarium. The second has Emilio Estevez as an arrogant teenager whose obsession with a video game leads to dire consequences. Third has Lance Henriksen as a disillusioned priest who finds road rage with a demonic pick-up truck. The last chapter pits Veronica Cartwright against a giant rat that has invaded her suburban home. Definitely worth a look for the anthology fan. B

The Town That Dreaded Sundown (1976) Before Michael or Jason there was this influential slasher based on a real case about a hooded killer terrorizing a small Texas town in 1946. A surprisingly taut film, director Charles B. Pierce smartly injects moments of humor in between scenes of brutal, and intense, violence, creating a terrific pace and solid storytelling. Only a needless voiceover narration hurts an otherwise good little movie. B+

Mini-Reviews: COUNT YORGA, THE SIGNAL, THIRTEEN WOMEN, and WHITE NOISE

Count Yorga, Vampire (1970) This slick production is one of the more satisfying vampire films of the ’70s. Robert Quarry is first-rate as the Hungarian Count Yorga who, shortly after immigrating to Los Angeles, starts mingling and then preying on a group of college hippies. Fast-paced and surprisingly scary at times, this is worth seeing just for Quarry’s seductive performance. B+

Thirteen Women (1932) A pre-code supernatural slasher that predicted future films like Final Destination about a group of school friends whom all receive ominous horoscopes from a mysterious psychic that foresee their untimely demises. Based on a novel, this is a surprisingly gruesome movie for its time and doesn’t shy away from the violence, including an intense opening in which a circus trapeze act goes horrible wrong. Apparently several scenes were cut before the film was released, which would explain why we only meet a handful of women and not the thirteen as promised; this is still worth checking out and at just 60 minutes, it’s a quick little gem. B

The Signal (2008) A variation on the zombie movie about an unknown radio signal that turns most of the population of a city into maniacal/delusional murderers. Segmented into three parts directed by different filmmakers (David Bruckner, Jacob Gentry, Dan Bush), the film achieves a moderate level of suspense in the first story but is hindered by a dull middle half filled with uninteresting characters and annoying plot devices. C

White Noise (2005) After the accidental death of his wife, Anna (Chandra West), an architect (Michael Keaton) is confronted by a stranger (Ian McNiece) who claims Anna has been sending him messages via EVP. Desperate to communicate with her, Keaton starts experimenting with radio waves and unleashing malignant entities that start wrecking havoc in his life. Shades of J-horror can be seen in this supernatural tale that was most likely inspired by the then-recent popularity of Japanese films Ring and Ju-on. It might not be original but this is decent stuff with a likable character in Keaton and some creepy moments. B

Mini-Reviews: Found Footage Edition – “No, sir. I didn’t like it!”

Aliens: Zone of Silence (2017) A young woman (Sarah Hester) ventures into a section of Mexican desert known as the “Zone of Silence,” a UFO hotspot where her brother was last seen before mysteriously vanishing. Written and directed by Hollywood visual FX producer Andy Fowler, Zone of Silence is essentially Blair Witch with aliens, but the end result isn’t quite worth the long, tedious build up. C 

Atrocious (2010) While on vacation in a small seaside town with their parents, two teens investigate a local urban legend of a ghost that will only appear to someone after they get lost in the nearby woods. When things start to go bump in the night, the teens dig deeper and discover the sinister truth. Coming in off the heels of REC, this Spanish POV chiller manages to create a creepy atmosphere and a few chills, but it takes way too long for anything truly interesting to happen and by the time the truth is revealed it comes off as moot. C

Dark Attachment (2017) A father and son come to believe their home is haunted and call upon the help of a kooky medium (Madam Della) to cleanse their house. A pathetic and lazy attempt at mimicking Paranormal Activity (it makes Paranormal Entity look like The Exorcist), this features zero story structure, incompetent direction – and it took four people: Hunter and Jerry Burkhead, Della, and Dennis Miller, Jr. – and rock bottom FX (watch out for that fishing line!). Ed Wood made better films than this! F

Ghoul (2015) Atmospheric but empty found footage about a small group of American filmmakers doing a documentary on a deceased Ukrainian cannibal and, as a joke, ask a medium to invoke his spirit but accidentally summon something far more sinister. Good acting and a sense of impending doom help the movie overcome its lack of any real scares and the always annoying FF trope of characters who, when in doubt, endlessly scream at each other. Only the final ten minutes has any real flare to it. C

The Poughkeepsie Tapes (2007) A second-rate geek show of shoddy filmmaking, this Saw reject is so desperate to shock you that it forgets to tell a compelling story. The movie is essentially just a series of “disturbing” scenes of torture and violence wrapped in a weak police investigation plot, in which we’re forced to watch endless interviews with some of the hammiest actors alive – I’ve seen more convincing acting in school plays. Tacky, tasteless, and dull. D

Unknown Visitor (2021) A 50-minute short movie seen entirely through the fish lens camera of a doorbell security system, in which a couple are receiving nightly visitations from a strange woman. What could have been an interesting idea for a much shorter YouTube video is stretched thin with cardboard characters and cockamamie plot twists. C