All Cheerleaders Die [REVIEW]

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Somebody got fucked. Somebody got killed. And I’m going to PE! – Leena

I was just the other day reading Final Girl and agreeing with Stacy on how awesome horror flicks about witches are. There just aren’t enough. And then I came across a positive review for All Cheerleaders Die. I figured I’d give it a go. And god damn am I glad I did! While it suffers from some less than mind blowing CGI moments and standard contrivances of low budget horror comedy, it’s a pretty fun ride. After her childhood friend Alexis dies suddenly, Maddy decides to try out for the now vacant spot on the cheer leading squad. What the girls don’t know is that Maddy is out for revenge. When things take a dark turn and the squads car careens off a cliff, Maddy’s ex girlfriend and teenage witch brings the girls back.

The girls navigate life as zombie succubi, body swapping drama, sex, drugs and the violent urges of the Captain of the football team. The audience is treated to a subversive horror comedy that manages to play into all the tropes one expects like sexy cheerleaders and lots of gore, while still having some fresh ideas. There are some great laugh out loud moments, and some pretty dark moments don’t sour the otherwise comedic tones. While it might not have the same cult quality of films it pays homage to (Jawbreaker, The Craft, Shaun of the Dead), it is a hilarious treat for fans of movies about mean girls and murder.

Happy Birthday HP Lovecraft [RECOMMENDATIONS]

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Today is HP Lovecraft‘s Birthday. The horror icon was born on August 20th 1890. His legacy has expanded well beyond his work and gone on to influence some of the greatest minds in horror including Clive Barker, Stephen King and John Carpenter. In fact his influence is so pervasive in the horror genre that you will routinely hear the word ‘Lovecraftian’ used to describe works with an obvious bit of the writer in them. To celebrate what would of been his 124 birthday, I bring you a list of some of the best Lovecraftian horror. Please note that only a few of these are adaptations of his work, many are films which draw on the themes pioneered in Lovecraft’s work.

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In The Mouth Of Madness Part of master of horror John Carpenter’s loose ‘Apocalypse Trilogy’, it is often hailed as the best Lovecraft movie ever, despite being an original concept. It tells the story of a man tasked with tracking down a Stephen King-esque writer who has disappeared without turning in the latest manuscript for his series of novels. The novels have been driving people to commit violent acts  and have become best selling books, with film rights already sold for the latest volume which no one has even read. Darkly funny, gruesome, bizarre and with way more to say than any movie made in 1994 has any business having.

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The Thing The best of Carpenter’s trilogy. Critically panned upon it’s release, The Thing is now considered one of the greatest horror films ever made. A group of researchers stumble upon something from outerspace. When it begins to replace the men one by one, chaos begins to erupt. Come for the best practical effects ever. Stay for the nihilistic study of identity.

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Prince of Darkness The weakest of Carpenter’s trilogy, it oozes with the eerie references to ambigous evil that permeate Lovecraft’s work. Rather than trading in standard religious imagery, Carpenter gives us pillars of green ooze, inter-demensional portals and transmissions from 1999 (which in 87 was the future). Definitely worth checking out even if it is the weak middle entry.

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The Re-Animator Pretty much what it says on the box. Adapted from the titular story, it tells the story of a scientist who discovers a process by which to re-animate the dead. A classic flick that started one of the longest spanning horror franchises.

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From Beyond Stuart Gordon brings us the classic tale of a scientist who ends up creating a way to see beings from other dimensions. It’s got psych wards, some fantasticly gooey practical effects and is an incredibly colorful movie, awash in pinks and neon colors.

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Banshee Chapter From Beyond is retold as a paranoid found footage thriller about government experiments, number channels, LSD and the horrors of the unknown. Going into it, I was unaware it was a Lovecraft adaptation and as a result nearly went full blown Scanners. I often poo-poo found footage but I love this terrifying little gem.

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Absentia This baby shocked me when I checked it out on Netflix one day. It takes a shoe string budget and crafts a terrifying story of insectoid monsters from another dimension who steal people from our world. It starts off as any good Lovecraftian horror should, low key before building to a wild conclusion.

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Midnight Meat Train This movie left a lot of fans pissed. SPOILER ALERT the butcher kills people to be fed to giant evil monsters living under New York. That’s right bitches! Full blown Ancient Ones slumbering under the city that never sleeps! While it isn’t the greatest movie, it’s definitely a lot of fun. One of those horror movies that was dumped direct to video, but could have totally done well in theaters. It also is the only movie where Bradley Cooper didn’t get on my nerves other than Guardians of the Galaxy.

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The Mist All good Lovecraftian horror has to be about the human drama. It can’t all just be death cults and tentacles. When a thick fog blankets a town, a group of people are trapped in the local grocery store. In the mist lurk various monsters which mostly go un-glimpsed. Frank Durabont (aka the dude who ran The Walking Dead when it was still good) gives us everything we could want. We have the woman who insists on leaving despite the clear and present danger, the survivors split into two opposing groups, Marcia Gay Harden chewing scenery like her daughter Carrie just asked to go to the prom and Sam Witwer in uniform! But most importantly, that ending! Bonus points if you can get a hold of the DVD that features the movie in Black and White.

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Enemy Beards, strippers, spiders and doppelgangers. Jake Gyllenhaal plays an actor and a history professor who happen to be identical. Life swapping ensues. A slow burn thriller that will leave you with so many questions. Come for the Donnie Darko-bearded twin wank bank material and stay for a disturbing and insane movie about identity and spiders.

Hostel: Part II [QUEERS FOR FEARS]

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Movie: Hostel: Part II Year: 2007 Cast: Lauren German, Roger Bart, Heather Matarazzo, Bijou Phillips, Richard Burgi

Plot: Picking up where the first installment left off, 3 art students studying in Italy for the semester take the train East to Slovakia on the advice of beautiful nude art model and possible gay lady Axelle. When the trio find themselves victims of the murderous Elite Hunting Group, shit gets real.

Why So Queer: What is truly queer about this movie is how no one talks about how queer it is. Lauren German’s Beth shows zero interest in any of the men on screen, and obviously has lady wood for nude model turned procure-er of murder victims. But the film doesn’t make a big production about it. And at the same time because it leaves the flirtation at that, rather than giving the viewer gratuitous lesbian sex it doesn’t seem exploitative. Each of the three girls are approached by their ideal match to lure them in, the nerdy one likes ren-fair dudes, the blond bimbo likes em big and burly and Beth has a thing for leggy brunettes from the Former USSR. Beth isn’t a victim in any case. Bonus points for one of the most balls to the wall scenes in a horror flick in the past decade; when Heather Matarazzo’s shy nerd is strung upside down and slit open with a scythe so a lady can dial Elizabeth Bathory on her bloody pink telephone.

Robin Williams Dead at 63 From Apparent Suicide [R.I.P]

Yesterday news broke that comedy legend Robin Williams had died as a result of an apparent suicide. While Williams was best known for his comedic work, he had a very diverse filmography. In honor of his memory, let’s take a look at 3 of his horror adjacent roles.

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Insomnia this psychological thriller follows a detective as he ventures to Alaska to investigate the murder of a young woman. Williams plays a local crime novelist who is involved with the case. Williams is completely chilling in the role and it was one of the roles that showed that he was more than just a comedy actor.

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One Hour Photo In what is pretty much his creepiest role ever, Williams plays a photo lab technician at a super market. He becomes obsessed with a family who’s photos he develops. A complete mind fuck for those who know him best as The Genie in Aladdin, the film is a delightful thriller that is well acted and beautifully shot.

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Death To Smoochy An often overlooked gem of black comedy, Williams simultaneously plays a standard Robin Williams character (manic and hysterically funny) and totally against type (foul mouthed and cruel). Many weren’t fans of the pitch black comedy, but it stands the test of time. It shows both the humor that made Williams a star, and the darkness often only briefly glimpsed by the camera.