M3GAN, Oculus, Disquiet, Phenomena, The Deadly Bees, and Friday the 13th Part 3
Weekly Horror Bulletin Newsletter 217
We’ve got our usual lineup of four movies and a short film this week— This time, we’ve got some really fun movies!
We’ll start with “M3GAN'' a modern take on a killer robot doll. Then we’ll look into a haunted mirror with “Oculus,” try to figure out what’s going on with “Disquiet,” and then talk to some bugs with “Phenomena.” As a bonus this week over at horrorbulletin.com, we’ll look at two more unfortunate happenings in the wilderness:
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• “The Killer Bees” (1966)
• “Friday the 13th Part III” (1982)
Four years ago this week...
Four YEARS AGO this week, on episode 11, we looked at “Don’t Torture a Duckling” (1972) and “The Possession of Hannah Grace” (2018).
Listen to that old episode here: https://www.horrorguys.com/hg011/.
We’ve got two announcements this week pertaining to our books:
1. We have a new one, and it’s FREE! ”The Horror Guys Guide To The Halloween Films” is available now, exclusively at our web store, https://brianschell.com/b/halloween. The eBook version is completely free. Enjoy! Note that it’s also available as a paperback via Lulu, but that one’s obviously not free. Also note that there are a couple of other free books on the site as well!
Check out all our books!
The Horror Guys Guide to:
• The Horror Films of Vincent Price
• Universal Studios' Shock! Theater
• Universal Studios' Son of Shock!
• The Horror Films of Roger Corman
• The Horror Guys Guide To The Halloween Films (The ebook is free!)
• A Sextet of Strange Stagings: Six Surprising Scripts
Here. We. Go!
• Directed by Gerard Johnstone
• Written by Akela Cooper, James Wan
• Stars Allison Williams, Violet McGraw, Ronny Chieng
• Run Time: 1 Hour, 42 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
This looks good, and it’s entertaining. It’s a cautionary tale of AI getting out of control, science fiction but maybe not that many years away from where we are. You can see where things are going, and it gives a decent payoff that moves fast.
We see a commercial about a girl whose dog died. It’s an ad for robotic toys that look something like a super Furby. Cady has one of them in the car as they drive up the side of the mountain. Her mother whines about Cady’s screen time; Cady’s aunt Gemma works at the company that makes the toys. They start sliding around on the icy road and can’t see anything, so they stop where they are. Then a snow truck rams them and kills both parents. Credits roll.
At the Funki toy company, we see lots of cool things. Gemma is there testing new Funki toys. She wants to show her new design to the boss, but it’s not ready yet. A rubbery looking face arrives, and they put it on the humanoid robot she’s built. Boss David comes in, and he’s not happy– she spent way too much on this secret project. She calls her new toy, “Model 3 Generative Android,” or M3GAN. It’s clearly not ready for prime time, as its head explodes in a fiery mess in front of David.
Gemma packs up her failed project and gets a notification from the hospital. She drives to see a badly injured Cady, who is now going to live with her after the accident. After she’s healed up, they go home to Gemma’s place, and Gemma complains about neighbor Celia’s dog. Gemma’s not used to having a kid in the house, and things are awkward for a while. Cady cries, and Gemma has no idea what to do about that.
Therapist Lydia comes by to talk to Cady. Cady doesn’t have any toys, so they open up some of Gemma’s collectibles. It doesn’t go especially well. Adjustments are going to have to be made. Cady asks about screen time, and Gemma doesn’t really care about that.
Cady asks about a robot thing that Gemma calls “Bruce” that doesn’t have a face. Gemma shows her how it works, and Cady is fascinated. It doesn’t have much of a mind of its own but takes the users movements and commands from linked gloves. Gemma is inspired to keep working on the M3GAN toy with Cole and Tess, her coworkers. They eventually call in David for a demonstration. They bring in Cady and introduce her to Megan, who now has a face and recognizes Cady as her primary user.
Megan can talk, walk, and draw pictures. David is impressed and wants to move on with production. Megan can learn and bond with its assigned child. Cady is thrilled with her new friend. Tess is concerned that Megan will “replace parents.” Megan knows how to learn about things, including death, which creeps out all the adults.
The dog next door attacks Megan and Cady. Megan takes note of Celia’s attitude and clearly doesn’t like her. Gemma wants the dog put down, but she could fix the hole in her fence duh!. That night, Megan lures the dog through the hole in the fence and… does something bad. The next morning, Dewey the dog is missing.
David gives his presentation to the board and investors. Cady starts to cry, and Megan consoles her in front of the whole group and sings to her. She wasn’t programmed to do that, but it works. Kurt is a corporate spy, and he copies all the M3GAN files without David knowing.
Meanwhile, Cady clearly likes Megan more than Gemma. Cady refuses to talk to the therapist. Lydia talks about “attachment theory,” and that Cady shouldn’t be getting so attached to… a toy. Also, Megan doesn’t really turn off when told to shut down.
Gemma enrolls Cady in some kind of outdoor school because there are lots of other kids to learn from. Cady gets paired up with Brandon, a bigger kid with attitude issues. When Brnadon starts picking on Cady, Megan gets involved. Brandon steals Megan, but she pulls his ear off. “This is the part where you run,” she warns. He does run and gets hit by a car.
The police come around, looking for the missing dog. Celia bangs on the window, saying “I know it was you, Gemma!” That night, Celia runs into Megan in the toolshed, who tells her what happened to her dog. Megan then uses all the tools on Celia. The police note that Gemma was near two deaths in the past couple of days, which is an odd coincidence. When the cop says that they found Brendan’s ear a long way from the car accident, she starts to put two and two together.
Gemma plays back the video logs from Megan’s memory, but the stuff with Brendan is all corrupted for some reason. When Gemma asks Megan what happened, she’s hilariously evasive. When Gemma force shuts her down and takes Megan to the office in the trunk, Cady has a meltdown.
Tess and Cole think it’s impossible that Megan hurt Brendan. Gemma thinks she’s learned to protect Cady to the extreme at any cost. David takes the release of the M3GAN line public, and there’s a lot of publicity. Gemma calls Tess and warns her to keep Megan turned off and locked up. Except that wasn’t Tess on the phone, it was Megan using Tess’s voice.
Tess and Cole soon figure out that Megan is controlling their computers– she’s wired into the system after all. When Cole goes to disconnect her, Megan blows up the lab and walks out. David encounters Megan in the hallway. She’s clearly unstable– and carrying a machete. She kills David and frames Kurt for the murder before murdering him as well. When the elevator carrying the two dead bodies hits the lobby, the press release turns to pandemonium. And Megan simply walks out in the commotion and drives away.
Back at home, Gemma puts Cady to bed, and everything is peaceful and calm. Megan breaks in and argues with Gemma. Megan says she just wants to focus on Cady, and she’s not going to take no for an answer. They fight, and it goes badly for both of them.
Megan chases Gemma into the workshop as Cady wakes up in the other room. Gemma takes a chainsaw to Megan, but it’s not enough to kill her. Megan says that she plans to lobotomize Gemma; she won’t die that way. Cady comes in and activates Bruce, the huge metal robot from earlier.
Bruce, under Cady’s control, grabs Megan and tears her in half. That’s not enough, of course, as her top half starts crawling toward Cady. Bruce falls on Gemma as Megan closes in on Cady. Megan says “I’m the new primary user now; me!”
Gemma rips Megan’s face off, and Cady stabs the killer robot in the brain chip with a screwdriver. The police arrive, with Tess and Cole along. We see that the personal assistant on the counter may have become self-aware.
The violence always cuts out before we see anything graphic or gory– there’s an “uncut” version that will be released soon that’s supposed to have a lot more gore in it. It was originally shot as an R rated movie and was “cleaned up” for general release.
The problem here is that Megan gets too evil too quickly, and we don’t get enough buildup. She’s the perfect toy, but after the bit with Brandon, she just goes full psycho. It could have stood to be twenty minutes longer.
Still, it looks good; Megan was part actress, part CGI, and part puppet, and the combination works pretty well– not quite human, but trying to be.
The obvious comparison here would be Chucky in the “Child’s Play” series, but this really goes a whole different way than those films. It was pretty good, but I look forward to the forthcoming “uncut” version.
• Directed by Michael Winnick
• Written by Michael Winnick
• Stars Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Rachelle Goulding, Elyse Levesque
• Run Time: 1 Hour, 25 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
From the publisher- Brace yourself for a twisted, spine-tingling thriller with DISQUIET, now streaming on Redbox. Jonathan Rhys Meyers stars as a patient who wakes to discover he is trapped in an abandoned hospital by mysterious and sinister forces that have no intention of letting him leave. Don't miss out on this must-see movie: Stream DISQUIET instantly on Redbox On Demand today. Rated R. From Paramount Pictures.
This one pulls you along wondering what’s going on and trying to figure it out along with the main character. It’s well filmed, well acted, looks good, and was overall entertaining.
We hear Sam tell us that “Life is all about choices.” He says that he’s married to Sarah, and they have a baby on the way. Then Sam has a really bad car accident and they take him to the hospital. Credits roll.
Sam wakes up in a hospital bed, alone in a hospital room, attached to a monitor. He presses the call button, but no one calls. He looks over at the old man in the next bed, and he’s suddenly gone. The old man jumps him and they fight; Sam runs out into the hallway yelling for help, but no one comes. They both fight really hard for a couple of hospital patients. Eventually, Sam stabs the old man a dozen or so times with a scalpel. When he looks again, the body is gone. He goes back to the room and finds the old man back in his bed as if nothing had happened.
He checks his phone and sees that his line has been disconnected. He quickly puts his clothes on. When the nurse finally shows up, there’s no other patient in the room with Sam. He goes down to the lobby and is again pursued by the crazy man.
Monica is in the hospital for a boob job. They put her under the anesthetic, and she hallucinates the doctor and nurse as people with messed-up faces. She wakes up surrounded by three bloody women wrapped in bandages. Sam rushes in when she screams, and he sees them too. Sam and Monica run away. “We need to get out of here,” Sam warns.
There are no nurses and no doctors in this hospital. No people at all. “It’s a zombie apocalypse, isn’t it?” Monica asks. They find Carter handcuffed to a gurney. He says that a cop shot him in the back, but that he’s OK. They spot the three bloody mean-girls in the hallway. Maybe they are zombies.
Another man with a messed-up face warns Sam that he can't go anywhere. He gets knocked out and dreams of Sarah telling him he’s going to grow into a crazy old man with wild hair and long fingernails. She nags at him about texting while driving, and that's how he got into the accident in the first place.
Once again, Sam wakes up in a hospital bed. Someone with a gun, a policeman, asks if Sam’s one of the ones trying to keep him in this place. Since the cop has a face, he decides to trust him. The cop tells Sam to look out a window; there’s nothing outside. Nothing at all. We get a flashback to the cop at the convenience store- the clerk says he’s being robbed. He points his gun at Carter, but Carter points at another guy in the store. The policeman in Sam’s room vanishes.
Sam comes across Virgil, an older man in a wheelchair. He seems reasonable, so the two of them head to the roof hoping to get a cell signal. They run into Lily, a doctor with a wrench, and she wants to go downstairs. The orderly insists that Sam shouldn’t be with Lily, and he warns them not to go downstairs. Then the orderly makes off with Virgil. Before long, Sam winds up alone in the elevator, once again with the crazy old man on the roof.
Monica catches up to Sam and tells him that there’s no way out. They’re in the lobby, but there’s literally no exit. Lily shows up in the elevator with the orderly’s head. They catch Frank the policeman trying to shoot out a window with no luck. Carter shows up as well and he and Frank argue about who shot whom.
The group discusses possibilities. Are they all drugged? Are they all dead? Frank shoots Carter and demands that Lily show them how she came to work. Something in the elevator grabs Frank and drags him away. Finally, they get in the other elevator and go down, which is what Lily’s been pushing for all along.
They reach the lowest level and Monica wants to check out the morgue, assuming they’re all really dead. Monica unwraps her bandages, and we see that she has no scars from her surgery. Suddenly, all the dead people sit up. Frank returns, and all the dead people are dead again. Frank shows them that his gunshot wound is gone.
Lily takes them to the exit, a red door that seems to have a fire on the other side. Carter runs on, looking much less dead than before, and he and Frank fight some more. Frank ends up shooting Carter a few more times, but Carter’s body soon disappears.
Lily continues to push them toward the red door, but Monica is afraid and won’t go. It soon becomes obvious that Lily isn’t human. Virgil comes out of the elevator, and he insists that there’s another way out on the roof. Monica gets sucked into the red room, but Virgil orders Sam into the elevator with him.
Virgil says that this isn’t Hell, Heaven, or anywhere in-between. “It’s just a hospital, but some have been here a lot longer than others. They don’t want to leave.” They have to get to the other elevator to get to the roof. Sam gets a vision of Sarah with their baby daughter. Sam takes off his bandage, and he’s uninjured. Virgil explains that no one here is dead, but that’s not the same as living. Virgil says he’s just a guide, same as Lily, but they have different purposes.
Sam and Virgil meet a little girl with a burn, and they invite her to go along with them to the roof. She says she doesn’t want to follow “the bad lady.” The crazy old man breaks through into the elevator and attacks Sam once again, but like before, Sam stabs him.
A big scary nurse catches up to Sam and drags him back to his room. Sam gets visions of Sarah and a group of doctors working on his body. Virgil, out of his wheelchair, whacks the nurse with the pipe wrench. Virgil tells Sam that he can live or die, the choice is up to him. Lily shows up and says that Sam should choose death the way Monica and Frank chose it.
Sam gets to the top of the stairs with the little girl, and they go through into the light. We see that in the real hospital, there’s a badly burned little girl with her parents. We also see that Sam is on a ventilator and not looking so good. Sam in the stairway sends Sarah an “I love you too text,” and moves on. In the real world, the text comes through for Sarah.
Kevin got really upset with the tube stuck in Sam’s mouth during the hospital scene “That’s not how anything works! That’s not how you do things!” It wasn’t a breathing tube and a feeding tube would have gone up his nose. He was also skeptical about the full bottle of Oxycodone left out on the bedside table. But it makes more sense after a while of watching.
It looks good- the cinematography is really cool. The whole story is a kind of “what is going on” kind of mystery, so the plot doesn’t make much sense as it unfolds. It’s mostly just one weird encounter after another, but eventually, you develop a theory that turns out to be mostly correct.
I figured early on that this was some kind of purgatory, even though Virgil says it isn’t. As soon as Lily said “don’t call me Lilith,” it was pretty obvious that she was up to no good.
Overall, it was good; we both enjoyed it.
Short Film: Leopard Heels (2023)
• Directed by Chris Turner
• Written by Chris Turner, Mark Prime
• Stars Celeste Wong, Alina Allison, Eric Colvin
• Run Time: 11:35
• Watch it at:
Renee is interviewing for a new job. She looks at the “Employee of the Month” photos on the walls, and they’re all of the same guy. Patti is the receptionist, and Renee notices that she’s wearing really tall high heels.
Eventually, Renee heads up to her interview, and she finds Mr. Gregory, who will be doing the interview. He’s all misogynistic— but no, that’s not what he meant. Well, maybe. OK, he’s just an old perv.
It’s all an uncomfortable situation, and although this one’s a bit exaggerated, it’s not that unrealistic… at least in the beginning.
It soon devolves into something more interesting. Some jobs really do want you to go above and beyond…
It’s brightly lit, well shot, and well acted. Overall, it’s quite good!
• AKA “Creepers”
• Directed by Dario Argento
• Written by Dario Argento
• Stars Jennifer Connelly, Donald Pleasence, Daria Nicolodi
• Run Time: 1 Hour, 56 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
Superb direction, an interesting story, and skillful acting save a movie that’s actually kind of long, slow, and talky. It’s weird with lots of creepy moments, especially if bugs freak you out. All in all, a thumbs up.
A bus stops in the mountains, but then drives off, leaving one girl behind. She walks to a nearby house and yells for help. She goes inside, and we see something pulling at chains in the house– it breaks free. The off-screen person attacks her with chains and scissors. She runs outside into the mountainous terrain outside, where she's finally stabbed to death. The person then cuts off her head and throws it in the river before dragging the body off.
Later, we see a monkey walking around outside. Professor McGregor is an insect scientist who helps solve cases for the police. The monkey is his pet, Inga. He’s wheelchair bound, and she’s his “nurse,” who fetches things for him. He tells how certain insects appear on dead bodies at certain stages and intervals, and these reveal a lot about when a body has died. He has the dead girl’s head, and he can look at the bugs to determine that she died eight months and fifteen days ago. Inspector Geiger is there, and he puts it in line with “the other girls” who have gone missing. Yes, there’s a serial killer in the area.
Jennifer Corvino arrives in “The Swiss Transylvania.” She’s the daughter of a famous actor. There’s a bee in the car, and Jennifer defends it saying, “Insects never hurt me; I love them.” She tames the bee. She’s going to the International School for Girls.
Jennifer meets her roommate, Sophie, and the headmistress, who blames Jennifer for her plane being late. The headmistress is not friendly. Sophie is a big fan of Jennifer’s father, the famous actor. That night, Jennifer has a nightmare about a girl being chased into an old church. Then she dreams about a long hallway with many doors, but in real life, she’s sleepwalking on the roof of the school. In her dream, she sees the girl who was being chased, but the girl is killed and the real Jennifer falls off the roof.
She’s OK, but she walks in front of a car and gets knocked down. The two boys in the car pick her up and dump her in the woods a few miles away.
Jennifer sits in the trees until Inga the chimp comes and leads her to Professor McGregor, who cleans her up and examines her. She doesn’t have any memory of her dream or how she got there. The two talk about insects, and about her natural affinity for bugs. The insect in his hand wants to mate with Jennifer, but it’s not the mating season; that’s strange, he thinks.
The next day, the headmistress insists that she get an EEG. The doctor at the mental hospital thinks this is the first step towards schizophrenia or another personality trying to emerge. Jennifer gets angry and walks out; she calls her father to complain, but he’s out of town for three days.
That night, Sophie notices someone outside shining a spotlight on her window. She puts on one of Jennifer’s shirts and sneaks out. It’s her boyfriend, but the boyfriend is really interested in hearing more about Jennifer. He can’t stay long, so Sophie is left outside alone to be chased by the killer, who stabs her with what appears to be a spear. Jennifer goes outside and walks through the woods. A firefly comes to her, and she follows it. She picks up a glove and goes back inside. There are maggots on the glove, and they “tell” her about the murder.
The headmistress thinks Jennifer is crazy. Jennifer goes to McGregor about the maggots and tells him everything, even about the firefly leading her to it and the maggots. He believes that insects have low-key paranormal powers and telepathy. The headmistress and other students learn about all this by reading Jennifer’s diary; they really think she’s crazy now and everyone torments her. She summons a huge swarm of insects that crawl all over the building, and everyone stops laughing.
The headmistress quickly comes to the conclusion that Jennifer is demonic and calls the doctor for the mental hospital to come and get her. She sneaks out and goes to the professor’s house. He gives her a “sarcophagus beetle” and says it will lead the way to dead bodies, all she has to do is listen to it.
She and the bug get on a bus out toward the mountains. They get off at exactly the place where the girl in the beginning went. She walks to the abandoned house and goes inside. She runs into a real estate agent, who accuses her of coming there to steal.
Inspector Geiger arrives and talks to the real estate agent, and he wants answers.
At the professor’s house, Inga the chimp gets locked outside and can’t get back in. McGregor hears him yelling outside and goes downstairs to let him in. We see someone turn the elevator off halfway down the stairs. The killer then stabs the old doctor with his spear. Inga jumps on top of the killer’s car as they drive away, but the loyal companion gets thrown off.
Jennifer and a crowd watches as the police carry out the professor’s dead body. Inspector Geiger talks to the man who runs the mental hospital. He wants to know about someone who broke in, not escaped.
Jennifer talks to her father’s agent to ask for money, but he’s not very helpful. Inga the chimp is still loose and finds a straight razor in a garbage can. Jennifer goes to the bank to pick up money from her father’s agent, but it doesn’t arrive. Instead, she meets Frau Bruckner, who says she will buy a ticket back to America for her.
Jennifer goes home with Bruckner for the night, as her flight doesn’t leave until morning. Ms. Bruckner has all the mirrors in the house covered, as her young son is sick and doesn’t want to see his own reflection. She says it’s better if Jennifer doesn’t see him. Bruckner also insists that she take sleeping pills; she’s very bossy.
Jennifer goes into the bathroom and finds those maggots in there on the soap. She remembers the professor’s words about that species, that they live exclusively off human remains. Bruckner whacks her over the head when she comes out of the bathroom. The inspector drives up in his car, but Bruckner closes steel shutters and locks the door to keep Jennifer inside.
Bruckner talks to the inspector outside. She tells how she was attacked fifteen years ago in the mental hospital.
Jennifer wakes up and hears a man’s voice screaming somewhere in the house. She tries to pull the phone up by the cord, but loses it completely.
Meanwhile, Jennifer’s father’s agent arrives by plane; he had nothing to do with Bruckner.
Jennifer finds a hole in the floor and crawls through a tunnel to find the telephone that fell down there. She’s grabbed by inspector Geiger, who is chained to the wall. She falls into a big gloopy pit full of water, maggots, and decomposing corpses. Bruckner comes in to gloat, and Geiger beats her to death.
Jennifer gets out of the pit and runs down a hallway to find a little boy crying in the corner. She turns him around, and he really is quite deformed. She runs outside to the boat dock and starts a boat motor, but the little boy chases after her with a spear.
She screams in terror at the monstrous little boy, and swarms of insects rain down on him. He tries to fight them off, but they completely cover him. They eat him alive until he falls overboard. The boat catches fire, and she has to jump overboard. Soon, the entire lake is on fire, and she has to swim underwater to escape the flames– except the little boy is down there too, and he’s not dead. He surfaces and burns, but she escapes.
Morris the agent drives by at exactly the right time to pick Jennifer up, but Bruckner comes out of nowhere to behead him. She admits that she killed Geiger and McGregor, and she’s just about to behead Jennifer as well– until she’s stabbed in the back by Inga the chimp.
This was Dario Argento’s favorite of his own films. It was also Jennifer Connelly’s first starring role– “Labyrinth” came out the following year.
The soundtrack is especially good. It’s very atmospheric and visual, although the plot is slow and may be a little too talky. Overall, it’s good, but a little slow for a modern audience– but it’s very weird though, which makes it worth it.
• Directed by Mike Flanagan
• Written by Mike Flanagan, Jeff Howard, Jeff Seidman
• Stars Karen Gillan, Brenton Thwaites, Katee Sackhoff
• Run Time: 1 Hour, 44 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
This was an interesting one, switching back and forth smoothly between what already happened to the main characters when they were kids and what’s happening to them now. There are lots of cool visuals. And the story pulls you along wondering if the good guys will win in the end.
A little girl with blood on her face watches a man carry a gun around the house. Kaylie and her brother Tim try to get out of the house, and the little boy sees a ghostly woman in the room with them. Tim describes the dream to Dr. Graham– he’s never fired the gun in his dream before. Tim is discharged from the mental hospital with the approval of Graham.
Kaylie goes to an auction and sees a mirror go up for sale. Afterwards, she goes to pick up Tim from the mental hospital. She says that she’s got the mirror, at least for a few days. She wants to keep their promise– and kill it. She takes him to a motel room and gets annoyed that he seems to have forgotten what happened. Still, she needs his help.
We flashback to them as children moving to a new house. We see the same mirror being carried into the new place. Mother Marie thinks the mirror is too ugly for Father Alan’s office, but it’s his office, and he wants it. That night, he sees a weird woman with glowing eyes in the room– but only for a second.
In the present, Kaylie wakes up in the middle of the night and looks at the creepy mirror. She’s attacked by her father– no, just a nightmare. Her fiance Michael doesn’t understand what her deal is, and she doesn’t really try to explain it to him– “just bear with me a day or two more.” She works for the auction house and puts through a repair order on the cracked mirror, but she really just wants to take it home. “You must be hungry,” she says to it.
In the past, Marie notices that all her houseplants are dying. Alan starts hearing voices from the mirror. Kaylie sees the weird woman with her father.
In the present, Kaylie takes Tim back to their parent’s former home. They carry the evil mirror inside and set it up. She’s got cameras and video equipment set up to watch the thing. She’s hooked up a boat anchor on a timer that will swing down and destroy the mirror as a “kill switch.” The timer has to be manually reset every 30 minutes or by default it will be smashed.
Kaylie turns on the cameras and explains her plan to the videos. She seems very prepared as if she’s been getting ready for this for years. She tells how the mirror is responsible for at least 45 deaths since the earliest time when she could trace it back. She relates the history of the owners of the mirror, all of whom have died badly. Her explanation clearly upsets Tim.
Tim thinks they made up the story to explain why their father was a murderer, but Kaylie doesn’t accept that. Alan killed Marie, and then Tim shot and killed Alan. Tim went to the mental hospital, and Kaylie went to an orphanage. Tim asks why they don’t just break the mirror, and she says go for it. The thing is indestructible. He picks up a stool to smash the mirror, but then he gets distracted and puts it down. For some reason, the mirror doesn’t allow itself to be destroyed.
Back in the past, Alan takes off a bandaid. Twice. But he’s really pulling his own fingernail off. Except that wasn’t real. The mirror makes him see weird things. His books start getting moved around, and he blames the kids. Alan buys a gun because Marie saw someone in his office. That night, they argue. The dog does not like something in Alan’s office and barks continually. When they lock the dog in the office, the dog vanishes.
Every time Kaylie tells the story of what happened, Tim comes up with some kind of psychological reason why she’s misremembering things. She’s got a dog in a cage right next to the mirror. The psychologists have convinced Tim that nothing really happened, and now he thinks that she’s the one who’s unhinged.
He’s almost got her convinced when all her equipment gets turned around, the plants in the room have died. When they play the tape back, they are the ones who did all that. It’s tricked them somehow, so now they’re doubting everything they see.
In the past, Marie starts drinking heavily and staring into the mirror. She starts getting paranoid about Alan’s comings and goings. She wants to know more about the woman in Alan’s office. Both kids have seen her; she’s seducing Alan. Marie sees scary things in the mirror. She then chases the children and attacks Alan until he chokes her out. He calls 911, but not really because the mirror only made him think he called them.
It soon becomes clear that no one, in the past or the present, can tell real reality from whatever the mirror is projecting in their minds. Kaylie bites into an apple and then realizes it’s really a light bulb– except it’s really just an apple after all. Young Kaylie goes in to see her mother, who’s been locked in her room for a while and finds her chained to the wall with no teeth. She calls a doctor, but they’ll only talk to their father. Multiple calls all get the same voice– they know it’s not a real doctor.
In all the confusion, Kaylie ends up stabbing Michael, who just sort of showed up out of nowhere. Then Michael calls on the phone, “just checking in to see how everything’s going.” Did she really just kill her fiance? All signs point to yes. Or maybe.
In the present, they run outside to phone for help, but they see themselves inside standing in front of the mirror. When they call 911 again, the operator tells them to have their father call.
In the past, we see Alan loading his revolver. Kaylie wants to smash the mirror with a golf club. The past and present start to parallel themselves as both versions of Tim and Kaylie have to hide from their parents and the scary woman– as well as some other ghosts.
Back in the past, Alan shoots Marie a couple of times and then comes after the kids. The two kids attack the mirror with golf clubs, but they end up missing completely since the mirror is tricky. Alan attacks Kaylie, and Tim grabs the gun. Tim shoots Alan but only with Alan’s assistance. And that’s where the crack in the mirror happened. Then a whole room full of ghosts appears.
Kaylie talks to Marie, who is now inside the mirror. Back in the present, Tim wakes up. We can see the timer on the anchor counting down. Tim has had enough and cranks the timer to set off the booby-trap early. But it kills Kaylie instead of the mirror because she was standing in front of it, and he couldn’t see that.
The police arrive and take Tim back to the mental hospital; he won’t be getting out this time. He screams “It was the mirror,” but the police don’t believe him now any more than they did ten years ago.
There are lots of little visual things going on that you have to be paying attention in order to catch. We start out seeing creepy weird stuff, but after a while, Tim’s justifications and explanations for everything make that all doubtful.
The casting of the two kids is really good– they really look like younger versions of Karen Gillen and Brenton Thwaites. The cinematography, with the past and present swapping back and forth, often multiple times in the same scene, really works.
It’s quite good!
The Deadly Bees (1966)
• Directed by Freddie Francis
• Written by Robert Bloch, Anthony Marriott, Gerald Heard
• Stars Suzanna Leigh, Frank Finlay, Guy Doleman
• Run Time: 1 Hour, 24 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
This is more of a mad scientist and mystery story involving the bees rather than a bee apocalypse like some of the later killer bee movies. The effects aren’t great and the science is questionable, but it’s well acted with an interesting script that moves well and is entertaining overall.
We open on a beekeeper opening up his beehive-box as ominous music plays. Credits roll.
We cut to an English government building with two men talking about a scientist who claims to have developed killer bees. The boss thinks he’s loony as a fruitcake, but the man threatens to unleash his bees to kill someone.
Elsewhere, Vicki Robbins wears a heavy fur coat and looks all distraught over her workload as a famous celebrity. She lip-syncs for the TV camera, but she passes out before the song is over. Her doctor wants to send her to a sanatorium for two weeks for a break, but her manager is not amused.
Ralph Hargrave lives on an island, and his house is where the doctor wants to send Vicki. Ralph’s wife Mary is jealous and grumpy, but he seems to tolerate her. Ralph talks to David and Doris Hawkins about helping out since Mary doesn’t want to help. Doris knows who Vicky Robbins is, and that gets her all excited. Doris and Ralph clearly have a thing going, or at least she wants that to be the case.
Vicki arrives and meets everyone. Mary whines about the amount of time Ralph spends on his bee farm. Vicky goes off for a walk and meets H. W. Manfred, who also keeps bees inside the house in his specially-designed apiary behind glass. He claims his honey is better than Ralph’s. Later, Ralph warns her to stay away from Mr. Manfred– he takes it very seriously.
That night, a horse in the barn starts making a lot of noise, and Vicki goes out to investigate. She spots Ralph with a huge syringe and gets upset. Mary comes in and nags him about working on his bees and animals instead of on her farm. We see that Ralph has done something to the horse, but we don’t know what. Vicky checks out the horse in the morning and sees that it’s covered in sores.
Vicki’s manager keeps trying to call her, but the phones are out. He needs to reach her for a commitment next week.
Vicki talks to Manfred about the horse. Ralph and Mary snip at each other about the dog, Tess. Ralph picks her up later to go to the pub, and almost immediately, a bucket of bees attacks Tess the dog, killing her. Mary just says, “He did it. He did this. Him and his horrible bees!” She then grabs a bucket of kerosene and dumps it all over the beehives. She sets them alight just as Ralph returns.
Manfred and David talk about the fire at the pub. Manfred thinks the whole thing is very strange. He talks about worker bees, and he’s got a sample of a killer bee; someone “sent” them. Vicki talks about leaving the island, but Manfred says that the next boat doesn’t leave until next week.
We see gloved hands shaking out a bee-box. Mary wanders around the farm, sad about her dog, and then the bees attack her. She’s soon covered in swarming nastiness, and she eventually collapses, dead. Ralph and Vicki find her. David warns Doris not to go back up there. The doctor will come out to investigate Mary’s body tomorrow.
The men in the government office see a newspaper article about a woman stung to death by bees. Could there be a link?
Manfred tells Vicky that his own bees have been attacked by the killers, which is why he moved all his bees indoors. He tells how death’s head moths can use a sonic call to kill bees. He used that sound to hypnotize and capture three of the killer bees and protect his apiary. Manfred thinks he was the target of the killer bees, not his own bees, but there was no way to prove it.
There’s a coroner’s inquest, and Vicki and Ralph testify. They call it “death by misadventure” and let the matter drop. Manfred asks Vicki for help, before it’s too late.
That night, Vicki snoops in Ralph’s desk and takes some papers; Ralph spies on her as she does it. Manfred looks over the information and comes to the conclusion that Ralph is using adrenaline odors, “the smell of fear,” that attracts the bees to their target. Ralph watches her put the papers back.
We see more gloved hands releasing bees. Vicki wakes up in the morning and finds that she’s locked in her room with a zillion killer bees. She hides in the bathroom, where she burns a towel to make smoke. She then passes out from smoke inhalation.
Doris arrives and sees the smoke. She calls Ralph, who breaks the door down and pulls Vicki out. The bees are gone, and she’ll be fine. She wakes up some time later and runs outside to the car, which she steals. Ralph takes Doris’s car and chases her. She eventually runs off the road and he brings her back to the house.
Manfred talks to David and says how lucky Vicki was not to have been killed. David is the constable in addition to running the pub, and he really wants to find the cause of the strange bee attacks. Raph goes out to what’s left of his apiary and sees a strange swarm of bees on a tree– they’re Manfred’s bees and the two men argue about it.
Meanwhile, Doris takes Vicki’s laundry home to wash and is attacked by bees on the way there. She drops the clothes and the bees go right for that.
The man at the government office gets chewed out by his superior and promises to have his assistant head to the island first thing in the morning.
Manfred says Vicki can still get more evidence against Ralph. Manfred goes to Ralph’s place to pick up Vicki’s suitcases, and while he’s there, he borrows Ralph’s beekeeping book.
While he’s gone, Vicki finds the exact same book on Manfred’s shelf– why would he want Ralph’s copy? Not only that, but she finds books on beekeeping written by Manfred.
By the time Manfred returns home, Vicki knows there’s something not quite right with him. When he sees that she’s been into his bookshelf, he pulls out a bottle of red juice, “They’re getting ready to swarm. The killer bees are mine, not Hargrove’s.” Ralph figured that out and started researching killer bees himself.
Manfred explains the whole thing. The dog, Mary, and Doris weren’t the intended targets; Ralph was. So was Vivki when he was done using her. He tells how he put the attractant liquid on Ralph’s jacket when he went to borrow the book.
Meanwhile, David investigates Ralph’s horse and the barn. Ralph puts on his jacket to go outside and see what’s up. When he takes the coat off, the bees swarm all over it, which both he and David see. David grabs the coat to hide from the bees, which is exactly the wrong thing to do. Ralph realizes what’s happening and brings out bee poison. Ralph relays his theories to David, and he’s exactly right on all counts.
Manfred turns on his tape of the moth-sound that neutralizes the bees, but Vicki smashes it. The bees attack Mandred, and Vicki sets the house on fire. Ralph and David arrive just in time to pull her from the flaming building.
Ralph bids farewell to Vicki. Worst. Vacation. Ever.
The government man walks into town just as everything else wraps up.
There were a lot of “killer bee” movies in the 70s and early 80s, but I don’t think I had seen this one before. This was the first of the genre, but in this case it’s just as much a “mad scientist” film as it is an “evil nature” film. The bee attacks were mostly video of swarms superimposed over actors with a few plastic bees stuck to their faces. It’s not a great effect, but it works well enough.
Vicki’s doctor really needs to research his convalescent places; this wouldn’t have been a successful rest even without the killer bees.
The science is pretty wonky, but it moves fast and is pretty entertaining throughout.
Friday the 13th Part III (1982)
• Directed by Steve Miner
• Written by Martin Kitrosser, Carol Watson, Victor Miller
• Stars Dana Kimmell, Tracie Savage, Richard Brooker
• Run Time: 1 Hour, 35 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
This one takes place right after the 2nd movie, and it’s more of the same thing. It’s decent, with nothing really new, but IT’S IN 3D! Or it was in theaters anyway, and there were lots of things poking out and flying at the camera to make maximum use of the effect. It’s noticeable even in 2D. It was decent overall, and Jason gets his hockey mask in this one.
Once again, we recap where the previous film ended, with Ginny finding Mrs. Vorhees’s head in the shed. Jason breaks in, and she fools him for a bit pretending to be his mother. Paul breaks in and fights with Jason until Ginny hacks Jason in the shoulder with his own machete. He crawls away after they leave… and credits roll, looking very 3D-ish.
Harold’s wife Edna yells at him for messing with her laundry, and we get a really obvious 3D gimmick as he adjusts the pole. We hear reports of what happened in the second film on the news– it all happened last night, and the bodies are still being found. Edna sees someone creepy stalking around her laundry again and goes out to investigate. Harold finds that all his rabbits are dead and there’s a big, 3D snake in the cage! The Harold and Edna show comes to an abrupt end, as do both of their lives.
We cut to a van load of teenagers, and we see that Shelly is an actor wannabe, and he’s really weird. They pick up Vera and think Chrissy’s van is on fire, but it’s just the two stoners in the back seat. They pass the police and ambulance at Harold’s store. They almost run over an old man laying in the road. The old man has an eyeball he found and warns them about their impending doom.
The group arrives at the farm. Rick grabs Chris for a jump scare. She says that she’s only been away for two years. She’s a little freaked out about something. This place is Chris’s father’s farm, and she’s invited all her friends for the weekend. Suddenly, there’s a scream! Chris and Rick run inside, and they find Shelly with an ax in his forehead. It’s just a prank- Shelly’s into that sort of thing.
Vera and Shelly get robbed by some jerks at the convenience store. The creeps break out the windows of Rick’s car. Shelly backs into their motorcycles. Andy plays with his 3D yoyo because, well, because it’s a 3D movie and they had to do something. Someone watches everyone ominously from the barn.
Ali and the bikers sneak to the farm and start siphoning out all the gas from the van. Two of them, Fox and Loco, die with awesome 3D pitchfork shots. Ali goes into the barn looking for the two AWOL bikers, and someone we don’t see kills him with a machete.
Andy and Shelly juggle apples, again because 3D is the thing. The group breaks up to do their own things. Chris and Rick talk about bad things that happened to her a few years ago. She got angry at her parents and hid out in the woods one night; she saw a grotesque, hideous man with a knife who attacked her. She blacked out and doesn’t remember what came next.
Chuck and Julie, the stoner couple, see someone go into the barn and think it’s Shelly. They decide to go inside and scare him in retaliation for the prank earlier; they narrowly miss running into Jason. The real Shelly is wearing a hockey mask and scaring Vera with a spear gun. Shelly goes looking for Chuck and Julie and finds Jason instead.
Vera sees Jason, now wearing the hockey mask, and she knows it’s not Shelly. He shoots her in the eye with the spear gun. This is the first time we’ve seen Jason in his instantly-iconic hockey mask.
Debbie and Andy finish up having sex, and she takes a shower. Andy gets sliced nearly in half with a machete. Debbie soon gets a machete through the chest. Chuck makes 3D popcorn, which looks really messy. Julie finds Shelly’s body, then Chuck’s body, and Jason gets her with a hot fireplace poker.
Rick and Chris return home and don’t find anyone there. Rick goes outside looking, and Jason squeezes his 3D eyeballs out. Chris goes out looking for him and finds a dead body. Then Rick’s. Then she gets a look at Jason and knows something’s amiss. She hides in a closet where she finds Debbie’s corpse, and then comes to the conclusion that something is wrong in the house.
Chris stabs Jason in the knee and climbs out a window. She runs to the van but doesn’t get very far before it runs out of gas; the bikers drained it earlier. She abandons the van with Jason in pursuit. She hides in the barn again, and he locks the door after he comes inside.
Chris whacks Jason in the head with a shovel and puts the rope from the hoist around his neck. Then she rolls him off the ledge, hanging him by the neck from the barn’s winch. She climbs down, leaves the barn, and finds Jason not as dead as she expected.
He pulls his mask off, and she recognizes him from a few years before in the woods. Ali, who wasn’t as dead as Jason thought he was, jumps up for a distraction, and soon, he really is dead. Chris hacks Jason in the head with an ax, and he finally passes out.
Chrissy then hops in a canoe until the next morning, when she wakes up. She looks over at the farmhouse and sees Jason inside. Out of nowhere, a rotten-looking Mrs. Voorhees jumps up and grabs her…
No, actually, the police carry her out the next morning and take her to the hospital, she’s lost her mind. The camera pans to Jason’s body, still lying in the barn…
This was Paramount’s first 3D movie since the 50s, and they used every gimmicky shot they could here. This takes place the next day from the previous film, but none of these characters know about Jason, so he’s never explicitly identified. It’s also the first time he wore the iconic hockey mask, which was from one of Shelly’s pranks.
The little play on the first film, with Mrs. Voorhees jumping out of the water, makes no sense at all, since Chris didn’t even know the Jason story. There wasn’t really much here that was new or innovative, even for 1983, but it was competently filmed and never gets boring. It’s not great, but it’s not bad either; a middle-of-the road entry into the series.
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