The Witch [REVIEW]

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There’s evil in the wood – William

Sometimes a movie gets so hyped that when you watch it, you find yourself going hmmm is this really that good? In the case of The Witch, the moment I found myself confronted with such a delightfully shocking moment I found myself smiling afterwards.

The film plays for large stretches like a drama about isolation, religion and character study, when suddenly it throws something at you that changes the context of the film. The Witch is not a movie that you see coming. Some movies you can see the twists coming a mile away. The Witch plays in a way that some how feels wholly original while also being strongly connected to films of the past.

The incredibly detailed sets, costumes and period accents are the kind one normally sees in the kind of movie that would sweep awards season but mixed with the kind of horror one might expect from the love child of Argento and Lynch.

It is difficult to say more without getting into specifics that would ruin the surprises in the film. Suffice to say, The Witch will chill you, thrill you and if you have a heart condition possibly kill you.

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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.

Who Will Be The New Supreme? [TELEVISION]

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Each installment of Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk’s balls to the ways horror anthology American Horror Story leaves us with a question going into the final episodes of the show. First we wondered if any of the Harmons would escape the Murder House and just what would become of Vivian and Tate’s son?  Asylum followed the final girl horror trope to the very end, taking us through the deaths and even an alien abduction until intrepid reporter Lana Winters was the last one left standing. And this season facing the finale, fans are left with the question: Who will be the next Supreme?

At this point going into the finale almost anyone is fair game to be the new supreme. Here I will discuss the reasons each might and might not be the supreme leader of the Salem Witches. First we will only consider those who have thus been identified as witches. This means Delphine LaLaurie, Franken-Kyle, Spalding and Patti Lupone won’t be queen of the witches. We will also dimiss the witches council including Myrtle since they are all of the same generation as Fiona. That also means Stevie Nicks will not be reprising her melodic if wooden cameo. And finally, I think it is safe to say that Nan and Marie Laveau will not be escaping Papa Legba to rise to take the crown.

Now lets get down to our candidates. We will discuss what if any of the Seven Wonders they have performed, reasons why they may be the new Supreme and reasons why they likely won’t be. So without further adieu, may the best woman win!

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Misty Day was prematurely pronounced the new Supreme when the coven attempted to perform the Sacred Taking and drive current Supreme B Fiona to suicide. They didn’t get Fiona to off herself, but with witch hunters out for blood, Misty moved into the Academy along with the other potentials. Thus far Misty’s powers have been largely confined to resurgence. She has also placed the grave diggers under a trance, teleported to New Orleans and used telekinesis to grab a knife. She managed to bring herself back from the dead but couldn’t escape a coffin. I don’t think coffins are like witch traps?

We’ll make that 4 out of 7 Wonders. Telekinsis – Concillium – Transmutation – Vitalia Vitalus

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Zoe Benson is the most obvious choice as the narrator to be the Supreme. She represents our view point into the Coven and is arguably the most ‘normal’ of the girls (by TV standards). When Madison is cruel, Zoe stands as a kind counter point. she is literally the worst when the cops come knocking. She is also kind of a hypocrite; She freaked out on Queenie for killing the homeless rapist who tried to attack her but stabbed Spalding like it was nothing. She could also just be the victim of manic characterization from the writers. As far as powers go Zoe has got a few. She has her black widow lady bits power, she has moved stuff with her mind on several occasions, convinced Kyle they are happy together and using vitalis to bring that homeless guy back to life. She also stopped the zombies, brought the Axeman to the mortal coil and divined that Nan was murdered.

That’s 4 out of 7 Wonders. Telekinisis – Concillium – Vitalum Vitalis – Divination

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Madison was first ruled out as the next Supreme when Fiona killed her and she died. She also has a heart murmur. But then Misty pulled a Jesus and not only brought her back but fixed her bum ticker. She has exhibited several powers. First and foremost she moves things with her mind. She also can start fires, whether they be curtains or lighting a smoke. She also managed to transmutate or teleport when Cordelia tried to touch her. She might of coerced that man to walk into traffic, but if she did then why did she have Misty enchant the grave diggers. And she did bring that guy back from the dead. She could be the new supreme, but she is too much like Fiona.

She earns 4.5 out of 7 Wonders, a half point deducted for lack of clarity. Telekinisis – Transmutation – Pyrokensis – Concillium – Vitalum Vitalis

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Queenie is full disclaimer by pick for new queen of the witches. I think she deserves it the most after all the shit she has been through. Not to mention her extraordinary efforts to redeem the irredeemable LaLaurie. She managed to survive a Minotaur and two silver bullets. She has her voodoo doll power which isn’t one of the wonders. She has exhibited telekensis multiple times. She also divined that the blood was Marie’s in the green house. She used vitalis to bring back Misty. To top it all off she descended to hell and communed with Papa Legba to bring about vengeance for Marie by ending Delphine’s immortal life. And it’s implied she teleported into Delphine’s house. She tore out those bricks, and brought Misty back like no bodies business and her trip to hell was essentially as easy as doing a Google Search for the where abouts of Marie.

Queenie comes the closest with 5 of the 7 Wonders. The descent to hell is more difficult than mind control. Telekinisis – Divination – Transmutation – Vitalum Vitalis – Descensum 

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A lot of people online have speculated that Cordelia is the heir to the throne of the coven. This is a possibility. Knowing Murphy and co. anything is possible. Thus far she has not exhibited nearly as much power as any of the girls. However in the most recent episode Fiona tells her that her power of sight never left it was within her. It is strongly implied that Cordelia’s  lack of powers is less to do with said powers and more to do with her own lack of self worth. Essentially that living in the shadow of Fiona has crippled her emotionally thus stunting her powers. She does however possess telekinisis, an affinity for green magic, healing spells and the sight definitely would count under the umbrella of divination.  The other theory is that her fertility spell worked and she is pregnant with the next supreme. That is less likely then Cordy being queen, but who knows?

Cordelia is the worst bet with 2 out of 7  Wonders. Telekinsis – Divination

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The final option is that Fiona has orchestrated her own faux demise with the intent on carrying out the murder of the coven. Could she have done something to the Axe Man’s mind? Would they really fake us out and then have them all killed before the Supreme is revealed? Yes, they totally could. This is the show that killed off it’s entire core cast with the only surviving person on the opening credits Jessica Lange.

Fiona IS the Supreme! She has exhibited 6 out of the 7 Wonders on the show thus far. And you could likely count summoning Papa Legba as Descenum! Giving her good ole lucky 7. 

In a few days time it will all be over with. But with this show the last hour spent with our favourite Coven could yield just about any results. American Horror Story Coven concludes with The Seven Wonders this Wednesday 10pm on FX.

 

ParaNorman [REVIEW]

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You’re gonna love my boyfriendHe’s like a total chick-flick nut – Mitch

When I was a wee lil homo my favourite movies were the ones which were essentially geared towards kids but totally not appropriate for them. Gremlins, The Dark Crystal, Return To Oz, Beetlejuice and The Addams Family were amazing, spooky and definitely not preferred viewing for the easily scared kiddies. Paranorman is very much in the vein of movies from that era. Zombies, inappropriate sexual moments (freeze framing mom’s aerobic tape anyone?). That sensibility pairs perfectly with the subject matter and epic stop motion work (from the people who did Coraline) make for the perfect combination of zombies and heart.

Norman Babcock can talk to dead people. Rather then being some Haley Joel Osment wannabe he is a zombie flick loving outcast whose best friend is the ghost of his dead Grandma. When the ghost of a local town weirdo (and his estranged uncle) Mr. Pendergrast tells him he is the only person who can stop a witches curse he embarks on an epic adventure to save the town with the help of his new friend Neil, the town bully and his older boycrazy sister and Neil’s roidtard older brother. I won’t ruin what happens in the third act but the film reveals itself to be equal parts hilarious and completely heart warming with the perfect message about being an outcast and misunderstood. Being victimized can all too often lead to victimizing others. And being afraid is ok, as long as you don’t let it change who you are.

A perfect flick for grown horror hounds with a soft spot for spooky stop motion or the lil weirdo in the making in your life. Check it out on DVD and Bluray.

The Lords Of Salem [REVIEW]

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We’ve been waiting, Heidi… We’ve always been waiting. – Margaret Morgan

Much has been said about the latest from musician turned horror director Rob Zombie‘s latest endeavor The Lords Of Salem. Many have praised it’s atmosphere and style while many others have lamented it’s lack of story and characterization.

I would fall into the former. I was intrigued from the very first moments of this film. His bizarre hallucinatory homage to 1970s art house horror is visually brilliant and surprisingly full of of characters that I enjoyed.

Zombie’s muse and wife Sheri Moon Zombie plays local radio DJ and recovering crack/heroine addict. When she receives a mysterious record addressed to her from The Lords she plays it on air. It gives her a headache and peaks the interest of that night’s guest, a local historian who specializes in the Salem witch trials.

What follows is a complete mind fuck that had me pulling the covers up to my nose at times. I have noticed several people say they believe that Zombie was inspired by Ti West’s The House Of The Devil, but in actuality I think they were both drawing on iconography of 1970s and early 80s horror. Sets are visually striking and the cinematography is likely the best in any of his films yet.

Add to this some delightful and heart felt performances by the cast. Sheri turns in what is definitely her best performance yet in my opinion. Her relationship or lack their of with Whitey is heart breaking and forms an emotional core for the film which shows a great deal of maturity. However I would be stupid if I didn’t point out the obvious use of Whitey as a stand in for Zombie as they have more then a striking resemblance and a softness that contrasts his gruff exterior.

I have to say that Heidi’s landlady and her two “sisters” are a definite highlight. Dee Wallace is delightfully air headed and sinister. Judy Geeson is delightful as the ring leader of the three. And quite possibly my favourite performance in a horror film this year would be Patricia Quinn who is best known as Magenta from Rocky Horror. She is so insane and creepy and awesome I found myself cheering at the trio’s evil antics.

While it may not be everyone’s cup of tea, Zombie has created a film which is regardless of opinion something which is highly original and recalls a better age of horror. It is definitely a breath of fresh air given that some of the biggest releases in the past year have included PG-13 fare and reboots a plenty. Horror isn’t always supposed to appeal to the widest audience possible. Sometimes it is better if it has a tiny budget and is sprung from the mind of someone who truly is in love with the genre.

Black Sunday [REVIEW]

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You will never escape my vengeance, or of Satan’s! – Princess Asa

In preparation for the premiere of American Horror Story’s third installment subtitled Coven I have been brushing up on my witch-centric horror films which brought me to the classic Mario Bava flick Black Sunday aka The Mask of Satan.

Released in 1960 the film occupies a unique place within the realm of horror. Not part of the Universal lead golden era of horror and not quite in the full swing of the days of Hammer Horror. Shot in black and white the film definitely has the feeling of a classic Universal horror while some of the slightly gorier moments are obviously part of the horror ushered in with Curse Of Frankenstein in 1957 by Hammer.

The film features some incredibly striking sequences. The one that stands out the most is definitely the opening sequence in which the witch princess Asa is put to death. A mask depicting Satan with long spikes on the inside is hammered to her face before the Inquisitors attempt to burn her at the stake.

200 years later the witch rises in an attempt to rule with the power of Satan. Barbara Steel is flawless in that 1960s kind of way as the dual roles of the witch princess and her doppelganger Princess Katia.

A perfect film for Halloween time and it gets bonus points for being banned in the UK for 8 years. Any film banned in the UK is pretty much worth watching (see Texas Chainsaw Massacre etc).