Bloody Hell, Moloch, Ganja & Hess, and Halloween II (2009)
Weekly Horror Bulletin Newsletter 181
We’ve got our usual collection of four horror films and a short film for you this week. We'll start off with the second film in the Halloween franchise REBOOT from Rob Zombie. Then we'll watch the surprisingly good "Bloody Hell" and "Moloch" films that just came out, and then we'll discuss a vampire classic, "Ganja & Hess."
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Halloween II (2009)
Directed by Rob Zombie
Written by Rob Zombie
Stars Scout Taylor-Compton, Tyler Mane, Malcolm McDowell, Sheri Moon Zombie
Run Time: 1 Hour, 45 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
This one really goes off the rails with too many characters going in too many directions. We aren’t supposed to root for Michael to kill people, but that’s where this one goes around the halfway point. A long stretch that leaves you wondering where Michael is for a while. We really didn’t enjoy this one very much at all.
We start off with Deborah Myers visiting Michael in the asylum. He talks about a white horse. Credits roll.
Fifteen years later, immediately after the events of the previous film, Sheriff Brackett stops Laurie and takes away her gun. She says “I killed him.” They carry various survivors out of the Myers house, including Annie and Dr. Loomis. Laurie goes into surgery. The medics throw Michael’s body into the back of an ambulance, but they run into a cow on the road. The driver is killed, but the other medic watches Michael climb out of the back of the van and kill him. Michael sees his mother and a white horse. A vision that he keeps having of himself as a boy, his mother, and a white horse, that gets pretty tiresome. But Rob Zombie needed some way to get his wife back into this movie.
Laurie wakes up in the hospital and staggers to Annie’s room. We see that she has the worst nurses ever. Suddenly, the nurse keels over dead and Michael is standing there. There’s a protracted chase, and Laurie soon winds up limping through the rain outside, but everywhere she goes, there are dead people.
The night watchman comes into his office and finds Laurie hiding under his desk. He locks her inside to go get his car. Buddy the watchman doesn’t live long. Michael breaks in and kills Laurie– no, wait, she was dreaming. All the hospital stuff was just a dream.
We jump ahead two years, and these nightmares seem to be a regular thing. She now lives with Annie and sheriff Brackett. Laurie resents seeing her therapist, but Annie’s not too sympathetic. It’s been two years tonight, and she shot Michael in the head– it’s all over. There’s a Rorschach painting on the wall of the psychiatrist’s office that clearly has two white horses on it.
Dr. Loomis is in town. He’s a big celebrity primadonna now. He’s giving a lecture on, you guessed it, Michael. Even though they never found the body, he angrily swears Michael is dead.
Michael is not dead, he’s just been following visions of his mother out in the woods. Some rednecks in a truck spot him on the road and try to beat him up for trespassing. That goes badly.
Laurie goes to work, and her friends want her to go to the costume party tonight. Sheriff Brackett gives a speech about Lee Marvin, but Annie and Laurie have no idea who that is. As Michael eats the bodies of his recent victims, Laurie starts vomiting. We see that Michael has very weird visions and dreams.
Loomis argues with his assistant, Ms. McDonald, about the location shoot in front of the old Myers house. Laurie dreams about killing Annie and seeing her mother. She’s screaming and panicky at the psychiatrist’s office. Laurie is just a mess, and Annie doesn’t approve.
Over at the strip club, Howard gets told to take out the trash. He runs into Michael out there and threatens him. That goes badly. Michael goes inside and beats the owner and a dancer to death. In the struggle, the dancer pulls off part of Michael’s Mask.
Michael arrives in town and sees a billboard advertising Loomis’ new book. Loomis is having a huge book signing. Linda’s father comes to confront him for killing his daughter. The man pulls a gun, which is a little excessive. Ms. McDonald warns Loomis that there will be serious repercussions for messing with people’s lives.
Laurie freaks out and runs out of the house. The sheriff sends a deputy over to the house to guard Annie– just like last year. Laurie finds out in Loomis’s book that her real name is Angel Myers– Michael’s sister. She didn’t know until the new book came out.
Loomis, meanwhile, appears on a late-night show with Weird Al Yankovic. Loomis hates it, but his assistant says it was great publicly.
A bunch of boring stuff happens at a Halloween party. There are people we don’t know or care about that are suddenly introduced. Whatever.
Finally, Michael shows up at the part to kill people, and by this time, we’re OK with that. We see that Laurie has come to the party, and she now sees Deborah and Young Michael in a vision.
Michael, who was just at a party in town, suddenly appears at the sheriff’s isolated farmhouse in the county. He kills the deputy and Annie. Laurie and Mya come home and don’t see the deputy’s body outside. They do, however, find Annie inside, torn to pieces, but still slightly alive. Mya calls 911, and then Michael gets her.
The sheriff arrives home and finds Annie’s body and takes it badly. Old Michael, Young Michael, and Deborah carry Laurie away and hide in a barn. Someone sees this and reports it to the police department. They all surround the place with helicopters and police. Loomis hears about this on the news and rushes right out there; it’s a chance to revive his career.
Loomis goes into the barn and confronts Michael. Laurie screams that the ghosts are holding her down, but Loomis doesn’t see them. Michael yells “DIE!” and kills Loomis before every cop in the state shoots him.
Laurie walks out and picks up Michael’s knife. The cops open fire on her too. Sad music plays.
Just how long is that “Nights in White Satin” song, anyway? Did the local TV station have it on an eternal loop? What year does this take place? There are no cell phones and all the TVs show old black-and-white movies. The cars are all pretty old. Yet there were flat-screen monitors at the hospital.
We see Michael without his mask several times. Although it’s usually pretty dark, it’s more than we have seen before. On the other hand, he looks more like a cross between The Undertaker and Sasquatch without the mask.
The visions seem pretty pointless other than giving Sheri Moon Zombie a reason to return in this film and some unneeded motivation for Michael. Adding Deborah’s ghost to this was just a horribly bad idea. But it was trying to bring back the supernatural element.
By the 55 minute point, I was rooting for Michael to just kill ALL these people and move on, Laurie and Loomis included. Laurie was fine in the first film, but an irrational, drugged-up, hysterical lunatic in this film. There are too many characters, and pretty much everyone except the sheriff and Annie deserved a quick death. There’s way too much hysterical screaming and crying.
I can’t express enough how badly I wanted this to be over halfway through. We were supposed to be rooting for Laurie, but the problem was… we weren’t.
Bad. Bad. Bad.
Ganja & Hess (1973)
Directed by Bill Gunn, Lawrence Jordan
Written by Bill Gun
Stars Duane Jones, Marlene Clark, Bill Gunn
Run Time: 1 Hour, 50 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
An interesting film of the time, but it’s very slow. It’s dated, but not in a very interesting way. There’s a strong cast and unique director choices, but overall we didn’t find it very entertaining.
We are told that Doctor Hess Green, an anthropologist, was stabbed by a stranger three times. The dagger was infected, and he could not be killed. Credits roll.
We begin in a church. Reverend Luther Williams narrates that he likes his job and his people like him. He also works as a part-time chauffeur for Dr. Hess Green. He explains that Hess is an addict, but he’s not a criminal; he’s a victim; addicted to blood.
Jack Sargent welcomes Dr. Green into the building. George Meda will be his new assistant. Green and Meda talk over dinner; they talk about hunger. Soon, we get a dreamy sequence that includes Sargent and Meda wearing silver masks and a bunch of tribal people walking in Africa. Dr. Green was just having a dream. Meda’s up in a tree, drunk, and sorta suicidal. Green doesn’t want to deal with the police, so he talks Meda down.
Later that night, Meda goes berserk and stabs Green with an old bone dagger. Then he writes a letter with some pretentious-sounding stuff in it. He then takes a bath, points a revolver at himself, and pulls the trigger. Elsewhere, Hess Green wakes up, unharmed. He finds Meda’s body and licks up all the blood.
Later, we see Green stealing blood from the blood bank, in broad daylight. There’s a garden party, and Green’s nephew Enrico comes for a visit. Green goes to a bar, and a hooker comes over to earn some easy money. They go to her place, and her pimp comes out of nowhere to fight with Green. Green leaves, well-fed.
Before long, Meda’s wife, Ganja, calls looking for him; she’s not happy. She says George must have gone crazy again. Her hotel is canceled after her trip to Amsterdam, so she asks to come and stay with him until George turns up. She’s cranky and ill-mannered.
Before long, they’re having sex. He starts feeling hungry and runs away to hide in the attic with a glass of blood. She eventually finds him there and joins him for more sexy-time. The next morning, she’s got all kinds of demands for Archie the butler, and she’s already bringing up the topic of marriage.
Later that day, Green goes into the city and has a bite. Meanwhile, Ganja needs some wine and goes into the wine cellar to find some. Instead, she finds her dead husband in the freezer. When he gets home, she reveals, “I just couldn’t fix dinner. I know you killed my husband.” A bit later, she tells a childhood story about a snowball fight. Not long after, the two get married.
He mentions that he wants her to live forever. “You’re into horror movies. I can dig it,” she replies. They talk in bed and then do other things, and the next thing you know, she’s dead and bloody. But she doesn’t stay that way. The next morning when she wakes up, she’s not sure what happened. “I dreamed you murdered me.” He gives her a glass of blood. and she finally gets it.
The pair invite Richard, a guy from the community center, to come over for dinner. She has sex with Richard, and then she scratches his back and licks the blood off. He doesn’t survive the night. They dump his body in a field, and she doesn’t really take it very well. They read in a book that the cross can kill them and want to learn more.
Reverend Williams is running the church service as usual. He talks about not letting evil in the front doors of the place. He asks if anyone wants to be prayed for, and Hess Green walks up to the altar. They pray for him and sing, and he smiles as he walks back out again. He then goes home and has Ganja move a light bulb to put him in the shadow of the cross. He asks Ganja to “come with me.” He falls down, dead.
Ganja looks at the cross and considers what she wants to do. Instead of dying, she calls an ambulance for Hess. She looks out the window and sees Richard jumping over Archie’s dead body.
It’s a strange film. We’re told in the opening text that Hess Green was stabbed with a dagger and became a vampire. We then spend the next 25 minutes watching that happen. Why tell us that it happened and_ then_ show it happening? We had assumed he was already a vampire at the film’s start. This part is really boring, as George Meda babbles and mumbles about nonsense for far too long.
It picks up a bit in the second part, after Hess Green has actually become a vampire. The Ganja vs. Archie rivalry bits are funny. Hess and Ganja only kill a couple of people before he figures out how to end his problem, so he’s not particularly evil, just cursed.
The highly-modulated African chanting gets really annoying after a while. It was really pretty racy and sexy for the early 70s, but I found it tedious and really boring; it could have done with a lot of editing. This is a highly-regarded vampire film, and I will admit, it’s unusual and has a unique style to it, but it’s just so awfully dated and slow that it’s hard to sit through.
Short Film: Brackish (2022)
Directed by Christa Boarini
Written by Christa Boarini
Stars Laura Palacio, Lauren Crandall, Michelle Hardy
Run Time: 8:19
We see a woman underwater, and she has strange eyes. She watches a couple of old people in a canoe paddling by and ignores them. Another woman stands on the dock and does a nature landscape painting as the water-creature watches. The painter decides to take a break and have a swim…
There’s no dialog in this one at all. The acting here is good, the strange water creature is suitably alien and strange-acting without being terrifying, at least at first. The story goes about how you’d expect, but it looks good and tells the story that it needs to tell. If I had a complaint, it would be that the painter and the woman fishing looked a lot alike, and it wasn’t immediately clear what was going on.
Bloody Hell (2020)
Directed by Alister Grierson
Written by Rober Benjamin
Stars Ben O’Toole, Meg Fraser, Caroline Craig
Run Time: 1 Hour, 33 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
It’s a romp of an adventure with Ben O’Toole doing an amazing job of playing his character twice over. We get to see the predicament he’s in today, interspaced with flashes back showing what led him to be there. Full of dark humor and gore, this is a really good one.
In Helsinki, Finland, Alia runs through the woods with people in pursuit. “When is she going to learn she can’t escape family?” She jumps in the lake to drown rather than be retaken by these people, but they pull her out too soon. In Boise, Idaho, Rex goes to the bank at the wrong time. The place is being robbed by men in masks. Credits roll.
We resume in a courtroom, as Rex is on trial for what he did during the robbery. He shot all of the robbers like an action hero in a movie. One innocent hostage was killed, and he gets the blame– and eight years in prison.
Eight years later, he sees his own face on the cover of “True Crime” magazines. He buys the magazine, and the clerk recognizes him; he’s something of a celebrity now. Photographers start following him around. Some people think he’s a hero, some people think he’s a psycho twat. He decides to go to Finland to avoid the paparazzi. “A whole new adventure in a foreign land, with no baggage. No one will know who I am.” Cut to a man running through the woods in Finland. Something big gets him.
At the airport, a creepy man tells Rex not to go to Helsinki and that a couple behind them were talking about “Getting” Rex, but what does that mean? There’s a taxi waiting for Rex when he lands in Finland. The taxi is set up to gas him in the back seat, and he soon passes out.
Alia reads a bedtime story to little Olli. There’s yelling and banging in the house, but they pretend not to notice. Rex wakes up hanging from the ceiling in what appears to be the basement. He’s missing one leg now. Upstairs, we see a man putting away the remains of a large dinner. Rex argues with himself over what to do next. It’s a really cool way to do an inner monologue or exposition for the audience. He works out that a family has kidnapped him for… something.
Around 2 a.m., Olli sneaks down into the basement to look at Rex. Rex tries to talk the boy into giving him a knife, and manages to knock him out. Just then, Alia comes in, and Rex tries to talk her into letting him go too. Rex has Olli caught between his legs as a hostage. She gets Olli away and takes him upstairs.
Alia says Olli fell out of bed and broke his nose when she awakens the rest of the household. Mother slaps Alia and blames her for doing this. They soon figure out that his injuries are not from falling out of bed. While the others are at the hospital, Alia comes downstairs and treats Rex’s wounds.
Alia explains that her family is insane, but she doesn’t want them killed. Actually, she says he won’t be able to kill them. If he got away, they would find him. This is all because of Pati, the oldest and hungriest brother. They plan to eat Rex, bit by bit. She tells how Pati was born a monster with a taste for human meat. Alia has tried repeatedly to escape the family, but cannot get away. They once put her in a cage for six months.
The family returns home from the hospital where they left the boy and they immediately notice Rex’s bandaged leg. They sedate Rex. We get a flashback to the bank robbery, where Rex shoots the bad guys, including the one with his hands up, who accidentally shot the innocent woman hiding in the closet as he died.
Rex wakes up as the uncle starts to cut his other leg off. Just as the uncle approaches with more sedation, Rex cuts through his bonds and sticks his knife in the man’s ear. How is he going to proceed with only one leg? He goes through the suitcases of all the former victims and finds a few interesting things. He considers what to do about Alia– help her or leave her here? It looks like he’s chosen to leave.
The family discusses what to do now. Rex probably won’t make it to civilization, but they prepare for the worst. Alia is put back into her cage. Turns out, Rex was hiding under the kitchen table. With a nail gun. And he makes quick work of the family. Except for Pati, who wakes and starts clomping down the stairs; He’s huge, like a troll. After a quick, twisted battle, Rex comes out victorious.
Rex and Alia drive away to pick up Olli and go back to the USA.
Rex lives in his own mind so much that he has long conversations and arguments with himself, but at least we get to see the “other him” while he does it. The imaginary Rex says everything the real one wishes he would have said, which is a lot of fun. The two Rexes talk out their difficulties, which gives a very different spin to a somewhat tired horror plot.
At its heart, it’s a kidnapping, cannibalistic, torture-porn film. But it’s funny, so there’s that. Actually, it’s really good.
Directed by Nico van den Brink
Written by Dean Baker, Nico van den Brink
Stars Sallie Harmsen, Anneke Blok, Markoesa Hamer
Run Time: 1 Hour, 39 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
They find well-preserved bodies in the bog that appear to have been sacrificed with their necks cut in a specific way. But that’s just ancient history, right? Well, not exactly. This one is good, creepy, and builds nicely as we figure out what’s going on here.
In 1991 we start in a house next to a huge peat bog. Where a little girl sits in a closet, trying to catch a mouse. There’s screaming coming from the floor above, but the girl doesn’t want to hear that. Then blood drips through the ceiling, and she hides. Thirty years later, we see Betriek, all grown up with a daughter of her own. Credits roll.
Betriek and her daughter live with her mother and grandfather. Grandfather Roel says that they found something weird in the bog. That night, out on the moors, “The Bag Man” digs in a hole. He suddenly stops and sees something– they find his corpse the next morning.
Some American experts come in to study the thing they found, and they ask about the police investigating the dead man in the next field. They say he died of hypothermia last night. The Americans check out what looks like a really old dead body in the bog.
Betriek wakes up when she hears her mother having a seizure. As she puts her daughter back to bed, she sees someone standing outside. Grandad blames the nearby American party, but Jonas, the leader of the Americans, doesn’t know anything about it.
The doctor suggests that mother’s seizures may be caused by something not physical, maybe some old trauma. Grandad shows his great-grandaughter, Hannah, the wildlife cameras he’s installed on the property.
Betriek has drinks with Jonas later that evening. She tells him there’s a kind of “family curse” that keeps the locals afraid of her family.
That night, Grandad decides to sit outside and watch for possible trespassers. Betriek finds a strange man in the kitchen. “I’m sorry– they’re making me do it!” He lets out a scream and almost kills her mother when Grandpa comes in and whacks the man with a hammer. Everyone is pretty traumatized after that.
Jonas comes over the next morning to apologize, since it was one of his men who snapped. Betriek asks if the man would have been around age ten back in 1991 which is very oddly specific. Grandpa says “It’s all happening again. It’s her again. We must leave as soon as possible.” Mother then has another seizure which results in an MRI. While at the hospital, Betriek, runs into a weird little girl who mumbles something to her, and she gets a glimpse of something monstrous. The girl says, “Nu amerit,” which translates to “She never died.”
The American, Jonas, tells Betriek that the afflicted man, Radu, was last seen digging on his own away from the site. He says that they dug up another old bog-body, and it was at least hundreds of years old. They talk to the Bagman’s father, who claims that his son was “sensitive” and he just knew where to dig. They talk about the legend of Faeke, and how some people take it really seriously. It’s even been incorporated into the school musical. Supposedly, the bog whispers to people. Betriek and Jonas argue and she runs out across the bog with him in pursuit. They end up smooching away. Nothing a little swamp-sex to liven up a relationship!
Jonas returns to his camp, and his experts show that the various bodies they found all had their throats cut, vertically. Back at home, Grandpa’s friend says they’re in the same place they were thirty years ago; they both know what’s happening. Jonas’s assistant Sonja looks up the legend of Faeke. As she reads the story, we see the school children on stage re-enacting the story. The evil Walter got Faeke pregnant, and Helen, Walter’s wife, accused Faeke of being a witch. The heathen god of child sacrifice, Moloch, helped her to escape in return for her offspring. Faeke cut her own throat– vertically. This was the source of the curse.
Betriek goes to see the Bagman’s father again, and he talks about psychic vibrations. He manages to hypnotize her and put her into a trance where she remembers the pre-credit sequence; she was the little girl in the closet.
Betriek goes to Jonas’s tent and finds the eight bodies they dug up. They’re all from different eras, and they’re all female. They are also all related. Back at the house, Grandpa Tases one of the scientists who was approaching the house. Something else comes up behind him…
Betriek explains to her mother that these women were all sacrifices to Moloch, just like grandma was. Her mother wants to know how she knew that. Back in the swamp, Grandpa sees his dead wife’s ghost. Sonja asks Jonas, “You don’t think it’s still happening?” At this point, he figures it out. “They’re still sacrificing people to Moloch!” Naturally, tonight is the big Faeke Festival, and there’s a parade and ceremonies.
Grandpa comes back to the house, and he now looks a lot like Radu did when he was possessed. Betriek hides her daughter in the closet as Grandpa breaks in the back door and tries to kill her. Betriek whacks him with a fireplace shovel. He’s out cold now, but her mother has vanished. He wakes up and mother, who is now possessed, kills him.
Jonas is trying to reach the house, but gets his foot stuck in a bear trap. Betriek’s mother, along with a number of townspeople who are dressed up to look like buffaloes, tie her up and pull out a razor blade. We think they’re going to sacrifice Betriek. Nope. Betriek’s mother slices her own throat vertically.
Moloch finally makes an appearance, and he’s really something. Jonas finally arrives, and finds Betriek and her parents’ bodies. The two of them let Hannah out of the closet. Some time passes, and Jonas offers to let them live in his guest house. She decides to stay where they are, as she wants things to be stable… for Hannah. He _really _wants to help, but she totally shoots him down. “With these things, sometimes it’s best to just leave it be,” she says as she steals a pack of sugar, just like her mother. Later, we see her ghost standing outside, looking inside at a thing sitting inside with her daughter.
What’s gonna happen in thirty more years?
This one is just foreign enough to be really interesting. It's a local legend that we don’t know, and the whole story is the mystery behind it being exposed. The characters are all interesting and realistic, the situation is tense, and there’s lots of suspense all around. The setting, the foggy swamp in the Netherlands, is really cool.
This has gone on for centuries, so why didn’t the family move somewhere else in all that time? I guess the ending kind of explains this, but not satisfactorily. Apparently the women all just accept it as their destiny.
You don’t get much monster here, just some glimpses and one scene. Other than that, it’s a grim, foreboding, kind of film with lots of baked-in dread and angst. I really liked it.
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