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Bonus Reviews: "Incantation" and "V/H/S Viral"
Horror Bulletin Bonus for Week 200
For this week’s bonus films, we’ve got an unrelated pair of films. We'll look at the Chinese import, "Incantation" which just came out, and then we'll look at the retro "V/H/S Viral" anthology from 2014
New Book: The Horror Films of Roger Corman
We do the usual “Horror Guys Treatment” for all the horror films directed by Roger Corman from 1954 up to 1990. Included are 29 full-length films that truly count as horror, and then watched them all. In addition, we’ll look at seven other noteworthy Corman movies that aren’t horror, including his first producing credit, his first directing credit, his favorite non-horror project, and a few others. If you love Roger Corman’s macabre masterpieces, we’ll cover all of them here.
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Fourteenth Issue of Horror Bulletin now available
The newest issue of Horror Bulletin Monthly, our monthly compilation of all our reviews, is out now. This includes all the bonus content and is available as both a print book as well as an ebook. If you don’t have time to read the website or email, here’s one more option for you!
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The Horror Guys Guide to:
Tales to Make You Shiver, Volume 1 and 2
V/H/S Viral (2014)
Directed by Justin Benson, Gregg Bishop, Todd Lincoln
Written by T.J. Cimfel, David White, Marcel Sarmiento
Stars Patrick Lawrie, Emilia Ares. Celia K. Milius
Run Time: 1 Hour, 21 Minutes
This is another VHS-tape-themed anthology.
Segment 1: Vicious Circles
Kevin videos his girlfriend, Iris. She complains because he’s addicted to taping things. There’s a police chase outside the apartment, and he rushes outside. He watches a cop get run over.
Segment 2: Dante the Great
The police interview Scarlett, the assistant to Dante the Great. He recorded everything— until his arrest. Just two years ago, he was just starting to learn magic, but then he came into possession of Harry Houdini’s cloak. With it, he could do real magic. Before long, he was doing big shows for big money.
Sometimes, the cloak gets moody and refuses to work. Yes, it’s hungry for blood. He just covers someone with the cloak, and it feeds. Scarlett explains that her boyfriend Clay went missing after Dante found out about him. Dante records all the murders. Eventually, they arrest him right on stage, but he immediately escapes. Scarlett swears to the cops that Dante uses real magic.
The whole SWAT team attacks, and he wipes them out easily with his magic. He and Scarlett fight for a while, which eventually results in the cloak eating him. The police are still looking for him even today…
Scarlett burns the cloak with the trash. Later, she finds it in her closet.
Segment 3: Parallel Monsters
During the chase from the initial segment, Iris calls Kevin as he chases the police and everyone else. A guy in an ice cream truck is running from the police; it’s going in circles for some reason. One guy gets stuck in the rear door and dragged for miles.
Elsewhere, a guy in a room full of technology powers up something that looks like a high-tech doorway. When it opens, the other side is a mirror of his own lab, and he sees himself on the other side. One of them crosses the border into the other guy’s universe. They trade sides and check out each other’s houses for fifteen minutes.
One of them is married, and the other has pictures of a Satanic ritual on his wall. On one side, the wife has several other men over visiting in her hot tub, and in the other, the wife simply sleeps. The two universes are definitely not exactly the same. There’s something going on outside, so Alfonso runs out to see. There’s a giant Satanic blimp chanting as it flies overhead.
Outside, he runs into the two men from inside, both with the same name. They chase after him, and their eyes glow.
Back in our world, the Alien Alfonso gets around by the sleeping Marta. He pulls down his pants to show a giant fanged penis. Back in Satanworld, the normal Alfonso sees the same thing. He runs back inside and finds the other Marta, who has something nasty where her vagina ought to be. He runs for the interdimensional gate and goes home. He is stabbed by the other Alfonso, who is killed by Satan-Marta on the other side.
With everyone back where they are supposed to be, Earth-Alfonso tries to get up after being stabbed. He screams for Marta’s help, and she comes in with a knife, stabbing him repeatedly for what “he” did to her a few minutes ago.
Segment 4: Bonestorm
The circling ice cream truck is still going, and Kevin pursues to rescue Iris from them. Somehow or other, the circling helicopter causes a bunch of Mexicans to kill each other.
We cut to another day when some kids are recording themselves doing skateboard tricks. They all decide to go to Tijuana for fireworks and drugs, but mostly to try this isolated tunnel one heard about. They get there and find a bunch of sacrificial-looking-things and pentagrams. One guy gets cut and bleeds onto one of the pentagrams.
A strange witchy-woman suddenly appears. She tears off one of the guys’ arms. Morestrange cultists suddenly appear, surrounding the skateboarders. The guy with the gun kills a few of them, but soon they kill all thirteen of them. Then the dead all get up and continue the fight.
Back in the police chase, Kevin finally catches up with the ice cream truck. In the back are video monitors. Iris comes on one of the monitors and tells Kevin to hit the “upload” switch. He does. Now these terrible videos can all go viral, which probably means something, but it’s left vague.
Well, that was a waste of an hour and a half. Easily the worst of the series.
The “Dante the Great” segment was really good, but it was also the shortest of the bunch. “Parallel Monsters” was just dumb. “Bonestorm” with nothing but annoying teenagers and shakycam; there’s gore but no real story.
These segments all took place in 2013, and several times you could see them filming with phones and GoPro cameras. Why was everything still cutting in and out with static like a VHS recorder?
Bad. Bad. Bad!
Directed by Kevin Ko
Written by Che-Wei Chang, Kevin Ko
Stars Hsuan-yen Tsai, Sin-Tang Huang, Ying-Hsuan Kao, Sean Lin
Run Time: 1 Hour, 50 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
This might be a case of lost in translation, but this one didn’t quite click with the Horror Guys. It’s in the “found footage” style, and it’s overall well made. Good acting, effects, high production values. The story amps up tension, but failed to really be that frightening to us. Maybe being a parent would have helped, as there were really terrible things happening to a child with a mother helpless to fix it.
We are told that intentions can change outcomes, like on a video of a train going by, you can make it go forward or backward depending on the way you look at it. Is that an optical illusion, or is it a reality?
Li Ronan says that six years ago, she violated a terrible taboo. Then there was a car accident, and she explains that the more you understand, the more it plagues you. We see videos of the police involved with the accident committing suicide. She shows us a symbol and tells us to memorize it.
We hear that Ronan is getting her daughter Dodo back next week, assuming she passes her evaluation. Dodo is very shy and doesn’t recognize her. Hsieh, the man from the orphanage, mentions that she often called him “Dad.”
We get footage of six years ago from a mental institution. Li has given away her new baby to an orphanage. She tells them that the more you know about his deity, the more likely you are to experience something bad from it. Eventually, in the now again, Ronan brings Dodo home and shows her to her new room.
Right away, weird things start happening. The power goes out, something breaks in the next room, things spill in the refrigerator. And there are sounds like she’s never heard before. Li checks, and Dodo is asleep in her room— at least until the screaming starts.
Six years ago, Ronan, Yuan, and Dom are visiting the mountains. They’ve come for a private family ritual, but Ronan isn’t family and cannot stay. An old woman looks at Ronan’s hand and decides she can stay after all.
Back in the modern day, Ronan finds little worms all over the apartment. The principal calls; Dodo bit another kid. That night, Dodo says she sees a bad man crawling on her ceiling in the bedroom. The same thing happens at school the next day. We see some weirdness going on at school. “If you keep thinking about monsters, the monsters will live inside your head,” Ronan warns Dodo.
Back at the family ritual, the old woman talks about this baby in Ronan’s tummy. That’s the first Ronan had known about it. They sneak out and record part of the ritual. There’s a little girl there who wants to show them someplace fun. They follow her into a little shrine with that symbol from earlier. There’s also some frogs in a box that the girl wants to feed some hair. More weirdness occurs.
Back in the present, Dodo goes up to the roof of the building by herself and climbs out on the ledge— and jumps. We don’t see exactly what went on, but she soon climbs back up onto the ledge. Dodo finds a camera and watches the footage from six years ago. Ronan grabs her and takes her to the hospital for paralysis.
Six years ago, the trio decides to go into the “Tunnel you must not enter.” They watch the ritual proceed.
Back in the modern day, Ronan is given a notice that she’s lost possession of Dodo. Ronan sneaks Dodo out of the hospital and Hsieh takes the little girl to stay at his place.
Six years ago, they find the little girl covered in writing in front of the forbidden tunnel. Yuan kicks the door in, and they all hear a baby crying inside. This goes badly for Yuan. Things get out of hand, people die, and it all gets very cult-like.
Back in the present, something starts beating on the roof of Hsieh’s car. They go see an old man who does a ritual for them. Dodo must not eat for seven days.
Hsieh, the man from the orphanage, tries to get the corrupt file from six years ago to play, and he’s started losing his teeth. Is it cursed? He wants to go find an ancient Buddhist monk that might be able to help explain things. He soon learns the meaning of the incantation. He admits calling children’s service on Ronan, because he didn’t believe her, but now he does. Then beats his head on the desk until he dies.
It gets a little disjointed at this point and many strange things happen to Ronan and Dodo. The ghosts do something more to Dodo, and she once again ends up in the hospital. Ronan tells us that Dom’s family worships a malicious deity, and that’s what caused all this. The doctors say it’s not looking good, and the malnutrition hasn’t helped any.
Dodo, who is still supposed to be paralyzed, walks out of the hospital that night and returns with a woman all covered in runes. Ronan finally plays us the video of what happened in that tunnel six years ago- the taboo that she broke…
Yuan and Dom are down in the tunnel, and it’s quite big. There are bats living down there, as well as a locked door. There are many mirrors for some reason. They find little shrines with hair and teeth. There’s also a big metal shrine that seems to be making a sound.
Suddenly, Dom starts eating the teeth and hair. He gets all crazy. Arms come out of the wall and take him. Yuan runs as fast as he can. Once Dodo was born, all Ronan saw was fear. Ronan videos herself telling Dodo that if she ever wakes up, that she should forget Ronan and even forget her own name. Move on.
Ronan goes back to Dom’s family’s place in the mountains and finds it deserted now. She goes back into the tunnel, this time covered in runes herself. She breaks the remaining mirrors and picks up things that have been disturbed.
We then cut to a couple of experts who say it’s the incantation and symbol that cause the curse to spread, not the other way around. By showing this video to us, Ronan hopes the curse will spread enough to be lifted from Dodo. She then lets the spirit take her and bashes her head into the altar.
Later, we see that Dodo recovers.
Ronan mentions that she’s recording all this so that little Dodo can watch it as she grows up. Things are so bad though, would anyone want to watch this horrible stuff when they get older? It’s supposed to be memory-making, not evidence…
It’s interesting, being from China and all. There’s lots of cultural influence and ghosts, but I didn’t follow a lot of it. I’d imagine that if you were a single parent, this might get under your skin more than it did for me. It’s well made and amps up the tension as it goes, but it just felt too long to me.
As far as ”found footage” goes, this one of the better made ones. It’s creepy and alien, but there was a lot here that I didn’t quite understand.
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