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Toronto85

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200 reviews in total 
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Stepfather II: Make Room For Daddy, 12 January 2014
7/10

The disturbed man looking for the perfect family, and will do anything to get it, is back at it again in 'Stepfather II: Make room for Daddy'. We pick up shortly after the original film, and see that the man formerly known as Jerry Blake is inside of a psychiatric facility serving his sentence for all the murders and attempts he committed. He breaks out early on and changes his persona yet again to a psychiatrist named Gene, this time targeting single mother Carol and her teenage son Todd. After brutally dispatching people in the way of him building a life with them, Gene makes it to the church on his wedding day ... but will he get through the ceremony without losing his mind completely?

Terry Quinn I thought 'Stepfather II' was really interesting in the sense that it separated itself from the other two films. In parts one and three, the stepchildren (Stephanie in 1 and Andy in 3) disliked the stepfather a lot. They could see that something was off with him, and it never really clicked. In this sequel, the son Todd really liked Gene the stepfather and looked up to him as a role model of sorts. His father just up and left him and his mom, so the writers did a great job of establishing Todd's need for a male figure. It kind of makes it all the more sad when it's revealed how sick Gene really is.

Terry Quinn puts in an amazing performance yet again as the deranged man who would kill for a perfect family unit. Meg Foster did really well as the mother Carol as did Jonathan Brandis as Todd. I liked the friend Maddie that they gave Carol, played by Caroline Williams. She was really good too. It lacked the intensity of the original film, but 'Stepfather II' is still very well done. The finale at the church as Gene prepares for his wedding is also very creepy.. and perhaps very bloody. I recommend this one!

7/10

The Stepfather, 11 January 2014
8/10

A serial killer who is in love with the idea of a "perfect family" preys on the Maine family in 'The Stepfather'. The film starts with us seeing Terry Quinn's character changing his appearance and leaving his family home after brutally butchering them. We fast forward some time later to him now going by the name of Jerry Blake, he's got a wife named Susan and is the stepfather to our lead character Stephanie. Stephanie can't stand him and suspects there is more to him than meets the eye. She begins investigating into the murder he committed a year prior, and it isn't long before he catches on. Others begin questioning him as well, and his former brother-in-law from the family he killed is on the hunt for him. With the walls closing in, Jerry beings to crack... and begins to kill.

'The Stepfather' is a brilliant late eighties thriller! I first came across it years back when TBS used to show a marathon of the Stepfather series on a regular basis. It's a basic story of a madman, but the performances by the actors involved takes it to another level. Terry Quinn is amazing as the psychotic Jerry Blake, just his mannerisms when he's having his meltdowns are spot on. Jill Schoelen, who became a late eighties scream queen, did a terrific job as the lead female character. And Shelley Hack put in a good performance as Stephanie's mom Susan, the woman he gave into the charms of Jerry.

There are some death scenes, some pretty brutal, but the intensity comes from watching Jerry Blake crack under the pressure. Not knowing when he'll snap leaves viewers on the edge of their seats, and when he finally does snap towards the end of the film ... things get scary. Highly recommended.

8/10

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Trilogy of Terror II, 10 August 2013
8/10

Trilogy of Terror II is the obvious sequel to the 70's made for TV film which featured three scary stories. This one has the same number of stories, and each have a satisfying ending to them like the original film. The first story is "The Graveyard Rats" which tells the tale of a woman and her lover who plan to murder her old rich husband for his money. They do the deed, making it look like an accident, but realize that they must dig up his grave in order to any money. Problem is the graveyard is filled with huge rats determined to devour anything in sight. The second tale is called "Bobby". A mother uses voodoo to bring her dead son back, only to discover that by doing so she has unleashed an evil force upon herself. And the final tale (the best one) continues the killer Zulu fetish doll story from the original, this time it attacks a woman alone in a museum who was brought in by police to look at it.

I really enjoyed 'Trilogy of Terror II', I thought it was a very good sequel to a strong film made years prior. The first two stories are scary and creepy, and are actually more creative ideas than the first two tales told in the original 'Trilogy of Terror'. Continuing the Zuni fetish doll story from where we left off with Karen Black in the first film was a brilliant idea! It's basically the day after Karen Black's character killed her mother while possessed by the doll. Good stuff.

Acting all around was brilliant, starting with Lysette Anthony who was the lead in all three tales. There were also some really good stand out performances by the supporting cast particularly in the first story 'The Graveyard Rats' from Matt Clark and Geraint Wyn Davies. Sad to say this has not been released on DVD yet, but it certainly deserves a release! Check this out if you come across it.

8/10

Strait Jacket, 10 August 2013
9/10

Joan Crawford's character is the prime suspect in a series of axe murders in 'Strait Jacket'. We get a back-story before the film really gets going. Lucy Harbin came home early one night from a trip to find her husband cheating on her with another woman. She kills the both of them with an axe while her young daughter Carol watched. Fast forward 20 years, and Lucy is just getting out to live with her brother Bill and daughter Carol. Pretty soon we witness some things with Lucy that make viewers question her sanity, such as her seeing decapitated heads in bed with her that later disappear. And then a couple of axe murders occur, and all signs point straight at Lucy...but a clever twist and exciting/creepy conclusion make 'Strait Jacket' much more compelling than many other horror films.

I love this movie, it's one of my favourite old time "classic" horror flicks. Joan Crawford puts in her best performance next to 'What Ever Happened to Baby Jane', you really feel for Lucy Harbin yet fear that she is slipping back into insanity. Diane Baker also puts in an AMAZING as the seemingly well put together daughter of Lucy (Carol). The murder scenes are well done and graphic for its time. The finale at the mansion when Lucy's boyfriends parents are attacked is filmed perfectly, it's creepy and the use of shadows makes viewers jump. The twist at the end as it's revealed who the murderer is was a shocking one, and acted out perfectly.

'Strait Jacket' should be seen by all, another brilliant masterpiece by William Castle. It's a scary and eerie little early slasher flick which has some good performances and terrifying moments.

9/10

Bats (1999)
Bats, 10 August 2013
5/10

An expert named Dr. Sheila Casper is brought in when "Bats" begin killing animals and people in a small town in Texas. Some bodies are first found all chewed up, and we discover the killers are large bats who have been injected with something thanks to a mad scientist Dr. Alexander McCabe. Those bats attack and infect a large number of other normal bats, and that's when it becomes feeding time. Whatever the scientist did to the bats he was testing gives them the ability to sense things that normal bats wouldn't, and also gives them the thirst for human blood. We see the bats attack our main group of characters, as well as the entire town until Sheila realizes the only way to stop them for good is to freeze them. Will this attempt to end their reign of terror work, or will the mutated bats live on and kill everyone in sight?

'Bats' is pretty much an average "animal/mammal attacks" type of horror movie. It really gave nothing too special other than a few moments. Those moments which work are the scenes in the small town when the bats attack the townsfolk. We get nice location shots of them attacking a bar, a grocery store, the outside of a movie theatre, etc. That was really well done. Where the movie fails is it's ending portion. It drags on way too much in which the experts and Sheriff Emmett Kimsey tries to kill them. Plus an added plot point of making it that the government was creating killer bats as weapons in war or something fell flat. I don't know, I thought it was really silly.

Acting was pretty good I thought. Lou Diamond Phillips as the Sheriff and Dina Meyer as the expert did a good job. The stand-out performance goes to Leon as funny guy Jimmy, he had some funny one-liners and delivered them perfectly. I'd recommend 'Bats' if you like these kinds of horror films where animals or birds attack. It wasn't bad, but could've been better.

5/10

Trilogy of Terror (1975) (TV)
Trilogy of Terror, 4 August 2013
8/10

'Trilogy of Terror' tells three different scary stories, each with Karen black in the lead role. These stories are well put together, and each have a eerie little twist at the end of them that left me shocked, and in one story, creeped out.

In the first story "Julie", we meet a high school jock type of guy named Chad who wonders what his teacher Julie looks like under all of the stuffy clothes she wears. Julie has the whole librarian look going on. She has her hair up in a bun always, glasses on, multiple layers of clothing, etc. Chad becomes almost obsessed with her, and comes up with a sick scheme to drug and take photos of Julie half naked in bed as a way to blackmail her into sleeping with him and doing what he wants. It's not too long after that we discover Julie isn't all she seems, and that leads to a well put together twist.

The next is called "Millicent and Therese", both of whom are sisters who have nothing in common. Millicent is the good girl with morals, values and no make-up. Therese is basically a sexually suggestive woman who uses her sexuality and looks to get what she wants. Anyways, Millicent tells a story which paints Therese as their mother's killer and makes out as if Therese sold her soul to Satan. We the viewers soon get a better insight into the two sisters and their personality when their psychiatrist comes on, and realize that not all that Millicent has said is true...

The third and final story is the most terrifying, it's called "Amelia". Amelia is a happy young woman who lives on her own in a high rise apartment building. She's gotten a Zuni fetish doll shipped to her which she planned to give to her boyfriend as a gift, he studies anthropology. The doll comes with a scroll which states this specific doll is possessed by the spirit of a Zuni hunter named "He Who Kills"...and once you remove the gold chain from around it's neck, it will kill again. The chain accidentally comes off, and it goes after Amelia in her apartment leading to a genuinely scary ending.

'Trilogy of Terror' is a good made for TV movie from the 70's, I lied it for it's interesting conclusions to each tale. Even if the story was a little weak or slower moving, the twist at the end saves it. For example, I thought the first two stories lacked compared to the third, but the endings saved them! Karen Black was magnificent in all of her roles in each story, this movie had to have a strong actress to make it work and she did. I highly recommend this one.

8/10

The Dorm That Dripped Blood, 2 August 2013
7/10

A deranged killer attacks a group of students in 'The Dorm That Dripped Blood'. Five university students volunteer over the Christmas break to close up the dorm, clean up things around campus. PRetty soon we see that some maniac has the intention of killing them. He or she knocks off a couple of students (violently), and then starts playing pranks on our main group left at the campus. The psychopath destroys a huge dinner they make, cuts the phone lines, fixes the lights to shut off, etc. Very soon, the murderer starts attacking our main group leading to the identity being revealed in an interesting little ending.

I thought 'The Dorm That Dripped Blood' was a good addition to 80's slashers, but didn't have the same flash that some of the other films at that time had. Production values seemed low in this one, so a lot of the film is poorly lit. The acting isn't the best ever, Laurie Lapinski was okay as the lead heroine. Daphne Zuniga, who is probably the most famous in the cast, puts in a good performance. Nothing spectacular, but nothing that took away from the film in a negative way. The scares are well done, the location of the dark dorm/campus helps in that! We get some stalking scenes with the killer and the characters which were creepy. The killer's identity is weak, but doesn't make this a bad film at all.

I highly recommend 'The Dorm That Dripped Blood' to all horror fans. It is a relatively unknown slasher film that I don't believe has ever had a proper DVD release in North America. Check it out if you can!

7/10

The 4th Floor, 2 August 2013
6/10

A young woman inherits an apartment on "The 4th Floor", and discovers some deadly secrets. Jane Emelin's grandmother passed away after a bizarre accident in the building, so she gets the apartment on the fourth floor. Immediately she meets her crazed and wacky neighbours, some of whom seem very off. She also has a slew of people doing weird things across the street from her, she has a perfect view from her place into theirs. It has a "Rear Window" feel to it, very well done. Pretty soon after, her neighbour below begins banging on the ceiling scaring Jane late at night and even during the day telling her to keep quiet. The person below soon fills Jane's apartment with rats, frightening her! But this person's issues go much deeper than wanting Jane to keep the noise level down... and the person goes further than simply putting a few rats inside of the apartment.

I liked 'The 4th Floor', it was a pretty well done suspense film. Jane is basically being harassed by her neighbour below in an attempt to get her to move out. We get some suspects; her boyfriend who wants her to move in with him, a creepy female neighbour, a locksmith who lives across the street and a nice but odd male neighbour who takes a liking to Jane. According to everyone in the building, the neighbour below is an old lady who NEVER comes out. We of course find out differently, and also discover what really happened to Jane's grandmother. Lots of mystery.

Acting was well done by all in this one, with Juliette Lewis in the lead heroine role. "The 4th Floor" doesn't have all the blood and special effects that others have, but it doesn't need it. It's story and very creepy conclusion/twist that make this a must see!

6/10

When a Stranger Calls, 29 July 2013
7/10

This remake of 'When a Stranger Calls' attempts to take the intense and terrifying first fifteen minutes of the original, and makes a full length film of it. It's the classic story of the babysitter alone at night getting harassing calls, soon to find out that the caller is inside of the house all along. Jill Johnson (Camilla Belle) is the young teenage girl who has the responsibility of taking care of the Mandrakis' two kids. Once she gets to the house, which is practically an estate, she begins receiving harassing phone calls from someone asking her "have you checked the children". It's eventually revealed to Jill that the calls are coming from inside the house, and it's up to her to get herself and the children out alive.

This house is HUGE! It's got an indoor pond, at least a dozen rooms, and lights that turn on and off when you enter and exit each area of the house. I am so happy that the people who made this film actually used their large location to their advantage! Jill runs through almost every inch of the place, being stalked by the crazed caller. We actually get some very tense moments in this one when Jill discovers the caller is in the house, very well done. Acting was really good from Camilla Belle, you can feel her fear. The film is basically surrounding her and her character, so it's good that she put in a good performance. Katie Cassidy who is a scream queen herself put in a good job in the supporting role of Jill's friend/enemy Tiffany.

I am definitely in the minority when it comes to this remake, I thought it was pretty well done. It was not near as good as the original and the first 15 minutes of tension in that one, but I like that this remake focused ENTIRELY on the babysitter being stalked by the serial killer which is something the original failed to do.

7/10

3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
The Haunting, 29 July 2013
4/10

A group of insomniacs do their best to put viewers to sleep in 'The Haunting', a truly disappointing attempt at a horror film. Eleanor (or Nell) lives a boring life and has for years, taking care of her ill mother. Now that the mother has passed away, she's having trouble sleeping so when she see's an ad for a sleep study on insomniacs, she jumps at the opportunity. She and two others (along with the head of the study) have to spend a few days inside a creepy old mansion in which it's deceased owner (Hugh Crane) was a sadistic creepy guy who loved children. Each night some strange stuff happens; loud noises, ghosts climbing into bed with Nell, that sort of stuff. The group discovers the secret behind Crane and the children who died there, leading to an odd ending in which Nell feels compelled to stay in the haunted house forever.

'The Haunting' has got to be the most non scary horror film out there, when it really shouldn't be. It had a huge budget, a large creepy old house, a decent story had it been told better... but at the end of the day is just not scary or even remotely terrifying at all. The "scares" are few and far between, and when a ghost does appear they aren't eerie to watch. Most of the ghosts are the dead children from years ago, but they are nice ghosts and try to help Nell. The main villain Hugh Crane is not scary or intimidating at all, even when he finally appears it falls so flat. And one of the most disappointing things about this remake is that it does not use the huge mansion to it's advantage. The noises that we hear late at night are not well done at all, and the actors do not react in an appropriate way to the "scares".

I thought Lili Taylor put in a very weak performance as the lead Eleanor. Some of the acting choices she made during the "scary" moments feel flat and felt forced from on her part. Liam Neeson hammed it up for the cameras and seemed out of place in this. Catherine Zeta-Jones and Luke Wilson however did good jobs in the supporting roles. Overall 'The Haunting' remake is a failure. Stick to the original 1962 film, it was much better.

4/10


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