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Masters of Horror: Sick Girl (2006)
The bug from hell
This episode of Masters of Horror revolves around a killer insect that isn't your run of the mill bug; large spider legs, slim tentacles and a face like something that would audition for a Cronenberg movie.
Bug fanatic of service is Ida Teeter, a single white female living in an apartment packed with bug displays and shirping noises. One day she receives a package (with our little friend) and accidentally lets the content break loose.
The body count begins; the building's dog gets hunted by the killer insect; don't ya just love this? In the meanwhile Ida falls in love with Misty, a girl who spends her time drawing sketches at Ida's work. It doesn't take long before our sketch artist, Misty, gets invited to Ida's apartment and ends up getting bit by the killer bug. Pus, transformations, infections make Ida slowly realise what's happening to her newly acquainted girlfriend!
This episode features very likable characters and some very creepy special fx; The bug isn't CGI which makes it look more convincing and menacing.
The only downside to this episode is that -like "Accident on and off..."- it becomes a parody of itself near the end. That aside, you're in for some under the skin scares and some gruesome splatter gore!
***1/2 out of *****
The Garden (2006)
A horror movie with an identity crisis
I saw this movie at the BIFFF (Brussels international festival of fantasy film) and found it struggling with it's plot material.
A young boy suffers from nightmarish visions and as a result has a tendency to put his body full of razor cuts. The boy resides with his father who is recovering from alcoholism and fails to be of support for his troubled son.
When father and son end up having a car accident caused by a vision the boy has, they get rescued by an elder man named Ben (Lance Henriksen).
Ben has a spooky air around him; vanishing and appearing at random pace throughout his ranch, always the sharp answer or life lesson on his tongue.
Ben has a weird agenda as he manipulates the father into alcoholism again and the boy into experiencing weird visions.
The movie tries so hard to build up the Christian undertone (think tree of life, adam & eve, apocalypse themes) but fails at each occasion.
The visions of the boy are the only up tempo sequences as the rest of the movie focuses on Lance Henriksen talking in Chinese fortune cookie lingo.
A shame, because the production values are there, the star (Henriksen) is wasted with this kind of script and the editing tries to contrast every moment of suspense with random actions (like heating up a stove, cleaning a fish, ...) This is B-movie material, a rental for the Henriksen fans, others should wisely avoid.
The Dark Half (1993)
Underrated King adaptation: pick a number
George Romero didn't translate King's book to the letter when he made this screenplay; perhaps for the better because his version is an equally interesting take.
Starring Timothy Hutton as a famous pulp novelist writing under the name of George Stark, the main character works; Thad Beaumont is clumsy, intelligent and quite the family man. Married to Amy Madigan and a father of twins.
When someone threatens to expose Thad for the pulp writer he is, Beaumont decides to let the world know he is George Stark. Good call you'd think, but George disagrees.
Thad's friends and family become the target of a guy going by the name of "George Stark". Like the characters in the books he has a taste for underground killings and a flair for rock 'n' roll one liners.
As the killings continue, Thad becomes entangled in an investigation directed at him.
This material is at fist glance unknown territory for George Romero, having spend too much time writing dialogue for zombie victims. Sure, Martin and Monkey Shines were proof the man could write a good script, but "the dark half" is as clever in its writing as it is to the point.
Add to that a wonderful score by Christopher Young (you haven't lived until you've heard the main theme, reprized at full glory in the end credits) The American DVD is full screen, the European (UK) has the widescreen, so avoid that US edition.
Dark Half is an inventive thriller that relies very much on the steps of belief (it builds the fiction, which few horror films do).