The Control Group – 1 gnome

The Control Group ( 2014), 1 hr 24 min, Action, Horror, Sci-fi

“Trapped in an abandoned insane asylum, five college students and the rogue scientists who abducted them must band together when a supernatural threat appears.”

Five college students wake up in a buidling with no knowledge of how they got there. Is the place haunted? Maybe they were drugged? One by one they begin dying off. Seeking an escape from that fate, they stumble onto the knowledge that they’re subjects in an experiment. But the dead are coming back — why?

Sounds like a good movie, I would watch that movie. What I actually watched was a mishmash of gore and nonsense. Drugs, patient experimentation, plus zombies. I have only the vaguest of ideas about how it’s all connected, despite the fact that I sat through it.  I chose it because Brad Dourif is part of the cast. Actors gotta eat, I guess, I really hope he was paid more than scale.

This movie has two major problems: the dialog and the acting. Well, maybe three if you add the plot. The dialog is stiff and unrealistic. Way too much exposition and pseudo-reasonable-ness. (Yeah, not a word, whatever.) The acting is stiff and painful to watch (except Brad’s, his is fine). The characters are one-dimensional in execution, but possibly interesting “on paper”.  Even though I like this kinda stuff, I found this movie really hard to keep watching. Save yourself!

Ascent to Hell – 3.5 gnomes

Ascent to Hell (2014), 1 hr 30 min, History, Horror, Thriller

“When a realtor shows an old New York factory building to a group of would-be investors, they are unwittingly caught in its tragic and sinister history.”

A nobody realtor has been personally requested to sell a vacant industrial building. A famous chickadee wants her own clothing line, and so needs a factory. Thus begins our little movie. The realtor, the chickadee, and her entourage meet at the building and find themselves trapped in the building’s past. Can they escape before it’s too late?

The effects were not that great, but overall I enjoyed it. Great ghost story. Likeable heroine. Despicable characters I didn’t miss when they died.

What bugged me tho, is the ending. There is this trend in horror movies to have what looks like an ending, but it’s really a false ending. I’ve found that in nine out of ten cases the “false ending” should actually be the ending. None of this the bad guy isn’t really dead nonsense, just let it be. Unfortunately, this movie doesn’t end when it should.  I would have given it at least 4 gnomes if it had!

You can watch it on Amazon here: Ascent to Hell

The Devil’s Chair – 5 gnomes

The Devil’s Chair (2007), 1 hr 31 min, Horror

“With a pocketful of drugs, Nick West takes out his girlfriend Sammy, for a good time. When they explore an abandoned asylum, the discovery of a bizarre device, a cross between an electric chair and sadistic fetish machine, transforms drugged-out bliss into agony and despair. After Sammy is brutally assaulted and murdered by unseen forces, Nick becomes the number-one suspect. Years pass and Nick, who had been locked up in a mental hospital, is released into the care of eminent psychiatrist Dr. Willard, who is hell-bent on exposing the truth behind the killing. Accompanied by Dr. Willard and several of his students, Nick returns to the scene of the crime. However, the decrepit asylum hides a blood-drenched secret.”

Nick spends four years in a mental institution, having been convicted of his girlfriend’s murder. He’s seen something that’s not real and must come to terms with the fact that he’s not only delusional but that he killed his girlfriend. A famed psychiatrist has the brilliant idea to bring him back to the scene to help Nick come to grips with what he’s done. Bad idea. The body count starts to rise and nothing is as it seems.

I really enjoyed this movie! It starts off as one thing and turns into another — and I never saw it coming. Nick narrates, at first it appears as if he’s talking to the cops — we’ve all seen those movies — but the narration dissolves into commentary. Commentary on his true mental state. This movie is deliciously twisted and I can’t say too much more without spoiling it — it’s way too good to spoil!

You can find it on Amazon here: The Devil’s Chair

 

 

Bad Biology – 1 gnome

Bad Biology (2008), 1 hr 24 min, Comedy, Horror

“Driven by biological excess, a man and a woman search for sexual fulfillment, unaware of each other’s existence. Unfortunately, they eventually meet, and the bonding of these two very unusual human beings ends in a god awful love story.”

She has 7+ clits. Because of this, she’s always horny. In an orgasmic frenzy, she kills most of the guys she fucks. Oh, and she gets pregnant every time. Giving birth to a deformed mutant baby a scant 2 hours after sex.  Why doesn’t she use condoms? Does it matter?

He has a huge mutant dick with a life of its own. He must keep the his monster dick drugged, or it will act of its own accord. It eventually breaks away and goes on a rape spree.

There, I saved an 1 hour and 24 minutes of your life. You’re welcome.

Maybe this is a comedy. Maybe this is an ironic look at our fucked up sexual mores. Maybe it’s just bad. Either way, watch this mess at your own risk, I wash my hands of the whole thing.

 

The Curse of Sleeping Beauty – 5 gnomes

The Curse of Sleeping Beauty (2016), 1 hr 29 min, Fantasy, Mystery, Thriller

“The Curse of Sleeping Beauty” is an entirely new, dark vision of the classic Brothers Grimm adventure. Thomas Kaiser (Ethan Peck) inherits an ancestral mansion that has been in his family for generations — only to learn that he has also inherited an ancient curse stemming back to the Crusades. Forced into his new role as “protector” — the guardian appointed to keep the evil demons in the house at bay — Thomas must unravel the mystery of the house, while struggling to awaken the beautiful Briar Rose (India Eisley), held captive in a terrifying netherworld seen previously in his dreams.”

Thomas, a young man stuck and half-living since his girlfriend/fiancée died, and subject to sleep paralysis and a strange recurring dream, suddenly inherits a house from an uncle he’d never heard from. The uncle was obviously crazy, as evidenced by the bizarre mementos he left behind and by the deranged warnings and instructions in a final letter. Thomas’s one goal is to unload the house as fast as possible. But strange things begin to happen. Dozens of people have disappeared in or around the house for decades, it has a reputation and may be haunted (if you believe in that sort of thing).

The movie follows the typical haunted house pattern:

  • weird shit happens in an ancient house with hidden rooms and a sinister back story
  • a plucky female investigating the disappearance of her brother
  • the wizened paranormal investigator who comes in to help our heroes navigate the hidden world of the supernatural

While those markers may be clichés, the movie never felt stale. The mythology is interesting, the atmosphere was truly disturbing. There were nice surprises, and the unanswered questions didn’t leave me feeling disappointed because the story was lacking, but because I wanted to know more. The ending was superb! We know he’s going to kiss her — she is Sleeping Beauty after all — but the consequence of that action? Delicious!

You can watch it on Netflix, or Amazon, here: The Curse of Sleeping Beauty

 

They’re Watching – 5 gnomes

They’re Watching (2016), 1 hr 35 min, Comedy, Horror, Thriller

“The renovation of an old house in a village somewhere in Eastern Europe will bring the crew of an American home improvement TV show, up against superstitions, misunderstandings and bloody violence.”

Shot in the found footage style, a Home Improvement show follows along as an American woman buys a dilapidated old house in the country somewhere in Eastern Europe. Six months after the purchase, the crew returns on a follow-up visit. The house was so bad that they expected her to be sitting in the middle of a mess, crying because she’s in over her head. But before they re-visit the subject of their show, they spend time in the neighboring village, which is (surprise surprise) filled with superstitious villagers. And boy are they a creepy bunch! The American crew sees things they’re not supposed to see and manages to ruffle a lot of feathers. The clueless-and-stupid-American trope is strong here. Eventually, they leave the village to do what they came to do and find the house beautifully restored and the American lady very happy and content in her new home.

The bodies don’t start piling up until much later in the movie. After another foray to the village and more feather ruffling, they return to the nice secluded house for some good old fashioned slaughter. The villagers have run amok! But why?

I almost didn’t watch this because of the “comedy” tag, but I took the chance and was very glad I did. I can see why it was labeled a comedy, but I didn’t find it particularly funny — parts were amusing, but overall there was little funny about the movie. That being said, it was fun! The clues are there, and the ultimate reveal is satisfying and worth it. I would not only see this movie again, but I’d buy it. Must see!

You can see it on Netflix and it’s available on Amazon here: They’re Watching