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When Evil Lurks, The Nun II, Hostel, Incident in a Ghostland, It’s Alive, Cold Prey, and The Bad Seed
Horror Bulletin Weekly Newsletter #253
We have a fun episode for you this week, with four full-length and short films. We'll take a look at “The Nun II” and “When Evil Lurks,” both newish releases from 2023. Then, we’ll watch the first “Hostel” film from 2005 and the very odd “Incident in a Ghostland” from 2018.
In addition, exclusive to our weekly email newsletter, we also reviewed:
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"It's Alive" (1974) [This was supposed to be in last week’s newsletter, but SOMEONE forgot to include it!]
“Cold Prey” (2006)
“The Bad Seed” (1956)
There are three bonus films this time because we just plain forgot to include “It’s Alive” in last week’s newsletter. Whoops!
Check out all our books with one easy link: https://brianschell.com/collection/horrorguys
Here. We. Go!
When Evil Lurks (2023)
Directed by Demian Rugna
Written by Demian Rugna
Stars Ezequiel Rodriguez, Luis Ziembrowski, Demian Salomon, Federico Liss
Run Time: 1 Hour, 39 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
Once upon a time in Argentina, they ran into a little bit of trouble in a town and the rural area surrounding it. That’s an understatement of how strange and gory this movie is. It’s really well made, dark and creepy, and gross in all the good ways. We thought it was great.
Pedro and his brother, Jimi, hear shooting out in the forest. It’s not a poacher; there are too many shots. “They are not hunting. It’s a revolver.” As the sun comes up and credits roll, the two go out to patrol their land. The dogs lead them to a man who’s been torn in half. No, it wasn’t a puma. They also find parts of some kind of machine.
They’re on Ruiz’s land, so they want to tell him about the body, but Ruiz doesn’t like them. Instead, they go to see Maria Elena Gomez, where the dead man was heading. The old woman says they were waiting for the man to come and kill Uriel, her son. What?
Pedro and Jimi go inside to see Uriel. He’s a diseased, rotten, bloated mess, but he’s not dead. The old woman says prayers didn’t help. The other boy there says they reported Uriel’s condition a year ago.
The two men go to the police, who think he’s drunk. Pedro wants to call the mayor. The “cleaner” that the sheriff called was the man who was killed. The cleaner is essentially an exorcist, so this is a matter of possession. The police still laugh at the whole thing.
They go to see Ruiz next, and he has no problem believing them. Ruiz says all four of his dogs ran off last month since the “rotten” makes animals crazy. They all talk about this going viral.
That night, Ruiz goes to the old woman’s house with his gun and sees Uriel for himself. “You don’t kill evil like that; it’ll only get worse,” she begs. Uriel wants to be shot and begs for it – he even threatens Ruiz’ unborn child.
In the morning, Ruiz’s wife brings Pedro and Jimi to see what happened, and Ruiz admits that he couldn’t do it. He knows that will only make it worse. The three men decide to carry the man away, and they all know it’s a really bad idea. It’s really nasty, but the three drag him outside, oozing and dripping all the way to Ruiz’s truck.
They drive hundreds of kilometers away, but when they get to a spot to dump the body, it’s gone. It must have fallen off when they swerved a while back. Everyone goes back home; it was far enough anyway.
Ruiz’s wife is afraid of one particular goat among their herd, one that is staring at them fixedly as the others run off. She warns him not to shoot it, as that will condemn them both. She wants to kill it with an ax. He blows its head off, and she kills Ruiz with the ax immediately. Then she turns the ax on herself, which is pretty rough.
Jimi and Pedro hear a knock at the door. It’s Uriel’s younger brother, who says the Ruiz’s are dead and his mother has vanished. They let him stay in the barn for the night. He warns the men that electric light shadows call evil, so they should turn out the lights. The two men decide to leave town the next day.
Pedro goes to his ex-wife’s house and warns them that they all need to leave, as badness is coming. He wants to take their two sons. Her new husband is… unsupportive of Pedro. They do give him new clothes when he burns his own. She reminds him about the restraining order. He says the rotten in town is spreading, and soon it’ll be all over the city. They don’t believe the story about “the rotten” and think that Pedro wants an excuse to take the boys children away.
Suddenly, the big pet dog eats the littlest daughter while the parents argue in the next room. The dog runs out, gripping her. Things get crazy really fast. As Leo and Sabrina scour the neighborhood for what’s left of little Vicki, Pedro grabs his autistic son, Jair, from upstairs along with his other young son, Santino.
Pedro flags down the police, who warn him about the restraining order. They all hear Leo, who has shot the dog after Pedro warned him not to use a gun. Oddly, little Vicki is back home, unscratched and perfectly fine, which isn’t what we saw at all. She whispers, “Daddy is going to kill you.”
Pedro takes Jair and Santino out in the car. At the same moment, Leo intentionally rams his truck into Sabrina. Pedro takes the kids to Grandma’s house, where they pick her and Jimmy up. They tell her about the possessed, but she’s skeptical. Meanwhile, Jair sits in the back seat, looking creepy.
Grandma explains the possessions to Santino. There’s even a song. “It’s not that bad if you take precautions,” she smiles. She says one of the rules is never to name the evils, and then she lists the names. They all argue with the annoying children in the car, and then… Sabrina phones, which is also impossible. Pedro gets out of the car to talk to her. She wants her children back, and she’s not nice at all on the phone.
Pedro has a breakdown and tells Jimi everything that he’s seen. Jimi only knew half of it. Jimi wants to go to Mirta, a woman who lives in the country with no electricity, who can help and can lend them some money. They arrive, and she offers to let them stay. Since Jair pooped himself, they agree. Jimi and Mirta talk about the possessed, and Jimi admits that he’s not sure he believes Pedro’s story.
That night, Sabrina shows up outside the cabin. Grandma wakes up and finds her holding little Santino and is happy to see her. We see that she’s a bloody mess, but half-blind Grandma takes a while to notice. Eventually, she tells Jimi and Pedro that something is up there with Santino.
Mirta insists that the demon is inside Jair, but Jimi says no, he’s just like that. Turns out that when a demon possesses an autistic person, it gets confused and can’t get back out again. They get lost inside. Mirta has the “cleaner” equipment, and she knows how to exorcize the problem. She explains that this is all part of the demon’s “birthing process,” and the original victim, Uriel, is not dead yet. They need to fix that.
Mirta notices that the lights in town have gone off. That’s not a good sign. She and Pedro drive off to find Uriel, where they think he fell out of the truck earlier.
Jimi catches up with Sabrina, and she’s digging her hand into the top of Santino’s head, scooping out brains and scattering them on the road as she walks along. He rams her with his truck, drags her along on the hood, and then crashes into a tree.
Back at the house, Jair tells grandma that he’s cold and hungry, except Jair doesn’t speak.
Pedro and Mirta come to a schoolhouse full of children sitting silently at night. The children are possessed, and Mirta thinks they are hiding the rotten. One of the children says Uriel’s at the teacher’s house and points the way. A little girl says the boy is lying, and Uriel’s at her house. Mirta says they’re both lying; it’s right here.
They go back inside the school and find all the kids’ dead parents entombed under the stage. There are too many to tell, but Uriel may be under all those bodies. Pedro starts tearing the stage apart while Mirta sets up her exorcism equipment. Pedro finds Uriel, still alive, down inside there.
The children trick Pedro into going for an ax, and while he’s gone, they kill Mirta rather excessively. They also wreck her equipment. Uriel begs Pedro to kill him, so Pedro beats his skull in with the exorcism stuff.
Then, a demon child crawls up out of Uriel, now born, and all the children smile. The bloody, naked little boy walks outside, and now, the bad stuff is really going to hit the fan…
Pedro goes back to Mirta’s house and finds Jimi there. Uriel's brother in the barn admits to killing the original cleaner in the woods because the voice in his head told him to. He killed his mother, too. They give Jair his apple ice cream, and he starts coughing up blood and bits of Grandma.
Pedro goes outside and screams. Jimi doesn’t want to look in the kitchen where Jair is.
This is just all kinds of messed up. It’s not exactly a zombie movie, but it plays out like one. It’s more of a crazy demon virus. It’s a weird situation with a demon-possession system that I haven’t seen before, but it all seems realistic and feels like it may have come from real legends.
This is really good. Weird and unusual but excellent!
The Nun II (2023)
Directed by Michael Chaves
Written by Ian Goldberg, Richard Naing, Akela Cooper
Stars Taissa Farmiga, Jonas Bloquet, Storm Reid, Anna Popplewell
Run Time: 1 Hour, 50 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
The two surviving main characters are back, and as the title hints, the demon nun wasn’t as obliterated as they thought. It’s very consistent in look and feel with the first one. The cast and effects are all very good. If you liked or disliked the first one, you will almost certainly feel the same this time around.
In 1956 France, a boy helps the priest with services and does various things. There’s a dark closet in the basement, and there’s something evil inside. The boy gets the priest, and they investigate. When the holy water starts boiling, they know there’s trouble. Things go very badly for the priest after that, as “The Nun” arrives. Credits roll.
Elsewhere, Sister Irene deals with day-to-day issues at the convent. Sister Debra refuses to confess; there’s nothing to confess. There’s a story going around about a demon who lived under an abbey and looked like one of them. The Vatican sent in a pair of demon hunters who used an ancient relic to defeat the demon. Sister Irene listens quietly, knowing that she was there in the first film.
We cut to Sophie, who talks to Maurice, the caretaker at the school. He was known as Frenchie in the first film. A girl delivers food to the school and runs into the nun, who kills her. Sister Irene dreams of Maurice, who turns into a fanged monster, before she wakes up. The next day, she’s visited by a bishop, who tells her about a bunch of weird stuff that’s been going on in a moving pattern. They think the demon is continuing its rampage; Father Burke, from the previous film, has died of cholera, and they want her to investigate. Debra hops on the train to assist her friend, but she doubts her own faith.
Back at the school, Maurice fixes a cabinet for Kate, a teacher he’s sweet on. Sophie is being bullied by the three mean girls in school. They take her to an abandoned area of the school and play “Defy the devil,” something they made up to scare her when they lock her inside. Except there really may be something strange in there with her. She gets out when Maurice opens the door for her.
Irene and Debra go to the church from the pre-credit sequence and look at the outline of where the priest burned up. Irene immediately starts seeing strange things. We get a flashback to Irene and Maurice, her colleague in the first film; he said he was moving to Hungary, and that’s where all the trouble is happening now. Could the problem be following him? She figures out that he’s possessed.
Sophie runs into the nun once again, but it doesn’t do anything. Irene talks to Jacques, the little boy who watched the priest burn. She chases the boy to the newsstand from Hell, where a bunch of magazines turn into a life-sized picture of the nun, Valak. She then gets a vision about human sacrifice and weirdness before she faints.
At the school, the headmistress runs into Maurice at night, and he’s not himself. He leaves her alone, but she hears mysterious children behind a locked door and goes in to see who’s in there. It’s Jacques who beats the old woman to death with a censer. Kate finds her body the next morning.
Irene goes to see an expert at the Catholic Archives, and they talk about Saint Lucy, the patron saint of blindness. “The Eyes of St. Lucy” is a holy relic, and that’s probably what Valak wants. He tells Irene where to find the eyes and also suggests that they can use them to send Valak back to Hell. The eyes are buried somewhere in the boarding school.
At the boarding school, Kate and Sophie, who are mother and daughter, both dance with Maurice. He suddenly has a seizure, and Valak starts chasing all three of them down an endless hallway, where they run into Irene and Debra. When Irene explains that Valak is inside him, no one is more surprised than he is. They knock him out and chain him to the wall.
They go into the room where the headmistress died, and they all think the Eyes of St. Lucy are in there. The “devil’s eyes” in the stained glass point the way to a spot on the floor. They dig and soon find them; in the meantime, Maurice has escaped and turned into a goat monster like the one that used to be in the stained glass. There is much running, screaming, and hiding.
Sophie’s got the Eyes, and Maurice wants them. After a whole big thing in the bell tower, Sophie gives Irene the eyes, and she uses them against Maurice, who laughs and absorbs them. Things are looking really bad for our heroes when Irene notices they’re standing in a pool of leaked wine in a wine cellar with loads of casks. They pray and turn all the wine into the blood of Jesus, which is what killed Valak in the first film. The evil nun bursts into flame, and elsewhere, the goat monster goes back into the stained glass.
Maurice survives, and it looks like he, Kate, and Sophie will have a happy ending.
In a mid-credit scene, the Warrens, from the Conjuring movies, get a call from a priest…
I think The Nun may be the patron saint of loud jump scares. People appear and disappear into thin air as if they were Batman, and not just the possessed ones, either.
The church knows about a powerful holy relic buried under a school somewhere. They know all about it but have never bothered to send anyone to find it. Ever? Right.
As with the first film, the sets and locations are really nicely done, Valak and the other bad things are realistic, and it’s all very creepy. Also, like the first film, there’s no explanation for much of what goes on; it’s just weirdness for the sake of weirdness. If you liked the first film, this is more of the same; if you didn’t, then this is… more of the same.
Short Film: The Last Halloween (2014)
● Directed by Marc Roussel
● Written by Marc Roussel, Mark Thibodeau
● Stars Ron Basch, Emily Alatalo, Angela Besgarah
● Run Time: 9:43
It’s Trick-or-Treat time once again, and the little ghost boy gets a can of cat food at an old woman’s house.
The four kids move on to the next place, where a creepy old man gives the devil-boy a dead bird.
The next place looks like a prepper’s military compound, and he tells them to leave. There’s a woman named Kate who comes down the stairs; she looks sick. He tells her that they can’t just open the door for just anyone anymore. They could be infected…
What is going on here?
Was that Julian Richings? Spoiler: Yes, it was.
It starts out mundane but gets really weird quickly as we see this is not a normal place.
It’s well-lit, well-shot, has good music, and it’s not clear until the end what’s really going on. OK, I’m still not quite sure, but it’s all really good.
Incident in a Ghostland (2018)
Directed by Pascal Laugier
Written by Pascal Laugier
Stars Crystal Reed, Mylene Farmer, Anastasia Phillips
Run Time: 1 Hour, 31 Minutes
Beth reads some H.P. Lovecraft to the others in the car. No, it’s her writing; it just compares to Lovecraft. Younger sister Vera is not supportive. They are passed by an insane-looking ice cream truck. Credits roll.
Beth tells the shopkeeper that her mother has inherited a local house from her aunt. She watches the weird ice cream truck drive past the store. She reads the newspaper about the “Family Killer” who has now offed five families in the area.
Beth, Vera, and their mother, Pauline, get to the house and turn on the electricity. It’s a smelly old lady’s house. The girls soon get an ugly-doll jump scare. Vera whines about how Beth is afraid of everything. Vera is convinced that Pauline loves Beth more. None of them notice the ice cream truck parked on the street.
A big bald man attacks Pauline out in the hallway since they all left the front door open. The big man sniffs both of them and then drags away Vera. Pauline attacks the strange woman and tells Beth to run away before the big guy comes back. Pauline then stabs the big guy about a hundred times.
Years later, Beth still has nightmares about all that. She’s married with a son now and is a best-selling famous horror writer. She’s recently written a book called, “Incident in a Ghostland.” It’s a partially autobiographical book about what happened all those years ago. She gets a panicked call from Vera, screaming and begging Beth to come back. Vera still lives in that house, and she’s mostly insane now, so Beth leaves her husband at home to go check on her mental sister.
Pauline is there, and she says Vera is still troubled. Vera locks herself in the basement now; she’s really unhinged. In the morning, Beth halfway sees the ice cream truck in the yard outside, but it might have driven off. Later, she finds Vera made up to look like a doll and chained to her bed. She looks and acts as if she’s possessed; “We broke your sister, and now it’s your turn,” we hear the voice of the ice cream truck driver all those years ago.
By the time morning comes, Beth is also looking pretty rough around the edges. She confronts Vera, who says it’s her turn now. She sees that her memories aren’t what she thought they were; Pauline was killed in the attack. It hasn’t been sixteen years and Beth’s still actually there that night in a vivid fantasy, escaping from reality. She’s not a bestselling author, she’s not married, and she doesn’t have a kid.
Beth finds herself tied up and having doll makeup applied to her face by the ice cream truck worker. She’s warned to not move no matter what happens as she’s posed among the many dolls in the room. The bald man comes in and sniffs her all over before spanking her like a doll. He’s about to burn her with a blowtorch when he gets distracted.
Beth and Vera run outside in the dark and make for the woods. They see the sheriff’s car pass by on the road, and they scream for help. The police call it in, and it seems like the whole ordeal has only been a few days. Suddenly, the ice cream worker comes out of the field and shoots both cops. Both girls are soon back in the ice cream truck in chains.
Beth retreats into her made-up world, where her mother comes to a fancy party with her. Her husband and son are there, and suddenly, H. P. Lovecraft shows up. He says her novel is a masterpiece. “Call me Howard.” Beth sees sister Beth screaming at the window outside, and Pauline says there’s nothing left for Beth there. But Beth reluctantly accepts that she needs to go help her sister.
Back in the real world, the bald man attacks and chokes Beth until the creepy doll-in-the-wall gets his attention. She then runs into the next room and repeatedly bites the ice cream woman. During all this, more cops arrive and shoot both the tormentors.
Both girls are wheeled out by the paramedics; there are dozens of cops at the house now.
It’s all over the place. It starts out as a stalker/home invasion story, then progresses into a weird family drama, into a possession thing, and then goes back full circle into the home invasion thing again with a side order of kidnapping and brainwashing.
There are lots and lots of loud jump scares in this, so beware. It’s a very surreal, atmospheric, weird game of reality versus what’s worse than reality.
Directed by Eli Roth
Written by Eli Roth
Stars Jay Hernandez, Derek Richardson, Eythor Gudjonsson
Run Time: 1 Hour, 34 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
The situation is realistic except for the idea that so many people could keep the whole thing a secret. The acting and direction are very good. The effects are brutal and visceral. If you don’t mind a lot of blood and pain in your horror movies, this one’s for you.
Three friends, Paxton, Josh, and Oli, leave a hostel in Amsterdam. They talk about museums, but they really just came to Europe to get high. They soon find out how easy that is. There’s a fight at the club, and the three are soon thrown out. They go to a brothel next, and Josh is pretty uncomfortable with that, but he makes do. They have a lot of fun but return to the hostel after curfew and can’t get in.
They stop at Alex’s place, and he says he knows where to get the best girls. He has photos that he uses like a catalog; he has the best girls and some stories to go with them. The Slovak girls in that place go crazy for Americans, and he tells them exactly where to find it. The story is irresistible, and they plan to go there.
They get on a train and talk to a Dutch businessman who knows the place they’re going. “You can do anything to the girls there,” he says. The strange man eats a meaty salad with his fingers and makes a whole thing of being a hands-on meat-eater.
They get off the train in a fairly desolate area in Slovakia and take a cab to town. It’s a very scenic place, and the three make their way to the hostel, which is huge and nice. It’s even got a spa, which the guys visit immediately. They meet Natalya and Svetlana there. That leads to dancing, drinking, and many hijinks.
Morning arrives, and Oli is nowhere to be found. John and Paxton check on him at the desk, but Oli checked out earlier this morning. Oli doesn’t answer his cell. Kana runs up with a photo of her friend and Oli; they seem to have run off together. Paxton doesn’t really believe that.
A bunch of kids jump out and demand bubblegum. The two guys spot Oli on the street and follow him into the “torture museum.” It turns out that it wasn’t Oli; it was just someone wearing what looked like Oli’s jacket. We cut to Oli’s head, sitting on a table, as a man in a real torture chamber whistles as he goes into a room with a screaming girl and cuts her toe off. Was that Kana’s friend?
Josh, Paxton, and the two girls go out partying, but Josh starts feeling sick and goes back to the hostel to sleep. Whatever it is takes longer to kick in for Paxton. He ends up passing out too, but in a locked storage room at the club.
We cut to Josh, who’s cuffed to a chair with something over his head so he can only see out of one eye. He sees a “surgeon” come in wearing scrubs and a mask. He pulls off the hood, and Josh gets a real look at where he is. He’s handcuffed to a chair, and the surgeon has a drill.
The surgeon uses the drill on Josh; we see it’s the salad-eating businessman from the train. “I always wanted to be a surgeon.” He toys with Josh, telling him he can go, but he doesn’t mean it. When Josh offers him money, the man says, “No, I am the one paying them!”
Paxton wakes up in the morning and goes back to the hostel, and the clerk says he checked out this morning. Paxton says it must be a mistake. His room has two girls in it who invite him to the spa, almost exactly what happened the previous day with Natalya and Svetlana. The “Bubblegum kids” steal Paxton’s phone.
Paxton tracks down the two girls that he knows, but they say that Josh is with Oli now. The girls say the missing guys went to an art show, and Paxton insists on going there to meet them. They drive to what appears to be a very old factory. There are a bunch of cars in the lot, and the drivers all seem to know one another. The man at the door says admission is free for Paxton.
Natalya leads Paxton inside, and we hear the surgeon whistling as he dissects what’s left of Josh. Paxton soon sees everything, but he’s grabbed from behind and dragged away. As he’s dragged down the hallway, we see all manner of torture going on inside those rooms.
Paxton’s chained to a chair as the guards verify that he’s an American. A German man who seems very nervous comes in as he pulls out a big pair of scissors. Paxton talks German to the guy, so the man puts a gag in his mouth to shut him up. That’s when the guy starts up a chainsaw behind Paxton. Paxton vomits in terror, and the man cuts off a few of Paxton’s fingers. The man then slips in the puke and cuts his own leg off with the chainsaw. Paxton slips out of a cuff because half his hand is missing and gets loose in time to shoot the man before he can call for help.
Paxton then shoots the guard and unlocks the rest of his cuffs. He opens another room and hides on a cart under a dead body. Someone grabs the cart and wheels it into an elevator. The man takes the bodies to a “chop shop,” where he cuts up all the pieces for disposal.
Paxton knocks the man out and gets back into the elevator. He winds up in a dressing room, where he steals clean clothes and gloves to hide his missing fingers. He finds a business card, “Elite Hunting,” with some pretty high prices in the back. An American tourist comes in and wants to know what it’s like. Paxton says, “It was good.” The man’s paid a small fortune to kill someone, but he’s not quite sure how it all works. But he’s very excited to get going on it.
Paxton leaves the place and gets outside, where all the drivers are. He hears a woman screaming inside and goes back in. It’s the American, who is blowtorching Kana’s eye out. Paxton shoots the guy, but Kana’s eye hangs by a thread. He helps her by cutting it off with scissors. It oozes orange puss in a big gusher when he snips it off.
Now, the two of them work their way back outside. They steal a car and drive off. On the road, he sees Svetlana, Natalya, and Alex talking together on the street and runs them all over. Then, all the little “bubblegum” kids surround the car, and he buys their help with a bag of candy to slow down their pursuers. They are vicious little bastards. The kids, I mean.
The police have a checkpoint on the road and don’t look friendly. Paxton and Kana run off by foot to the train station. Kana sees her disfigured reflection in the glass and jumps in front of a train— on purpose. Paxton uses the distraction to hop aboard a train going the other way.
Paxton hears the Dutch businessman, the one who killed Josh, a few seats behind him, giving the same speech he made to his friends on the way into town. When the man gets off, Paxton follows him into the restroom– and locks the door. Paxton cuts off two of the man's fingers, almost drowns him in the toilet, and cuts his throat.
Paxton then gets on another train before anyone finds the body…
All the “travel” stuff in the beginning seems very realistic and believable. It’s all well-shot and looks really good. All the acting is flawless from all the characters. Kevin pointed out that the only thing in the film that isn’t believable is that so many people could keep this a secret.
All the bad guys dress identically, so they’re easy to spot.
There’s lots of gore and torture here, although some of it is just offscreen. Still, if you’re into this kind of film, it’s a good one.
It's Alive (1974)
Directed by Larry Cohen
Written by Larry Cohen
Stars John P. Ryan, Sharon Farrell, Andrew Duggan
Run Time: 1 Hour, 31 Minutes
Spoiler Free Judgement Zone
This was thoroughly creepy and well done. A movie that holds up even today. The baby was primarily POV, causing actions and reactions of those involved, and it was effective.
Lenore wakes up in the middle of the night. It's time, and both she and her husband, Frank, are ecstatic. They wake up their son Chris and send him to Charley, a friend's house. They smile as they take one look at the wonderful nursery they've set up for the new baby. At the hospital, Lenore says she thinks this one feels different from when she had Chris.
The men talk about pollution in the labor waiting room and how people learn to live with it. Roaches adapt to pesticides, so there's no reason people can't do it, too. Then they all play poker.
In the delivery room, Lenore insists that this one is different. The doctor admits that this is gonna be a gigantic one with a big head. Frank watches as one of the doctors comes out of the OR with his throat clawed out. Everyone except Lenore is dead. There's a great deal of blood and screaming.
Both parents think someone stole their baby. The police arrive and mention that something broke out the skylight on the third floor, and there's lots of blood and tissue up there. It was... something small. The doctors wonder if she's been exposed to radiation.
The doctor thinks the baby climbed out of the skylight after killing the doctors. He compares it to an animal. Lt. Perkins says they'll have to kill it like an animal when they find it.
As Frank leaves the hospital to go home, we see something rustling in the bushes. The radio announces that the police are looking for a murderous mutated infant, and they even mention Frank and Lenore by name on the radio.
A woman leaves her house the next morning and hears a baby out in the hills. The baby, which has big teeth, gets her. Frank goes to work like any other day. His boss, Bob Clayton, knows all about what happened--- he has connections at the hospital. He suggests that Frank take some time off--- Oh, and take the service elevator downstairs to avoid the media people. Bob then gives orders to clean out Frank's desk because he's not coming back.
The police start finding bodies. Lenore's nurse isn't particularly diplomatic about all that. The nurse is actually recording their conversation to sell to the media, but Frank catches and fires her. Who can they trust?
We watch through the baby's point of view as it climbs into a milkman's truck to catch a ride [They had a milkman in 1974?]. It soon kills the milkman.
A professor comes to see Frank about signing over the baby's body for examination. Lenore tries to be brave, but she freaks out.
At the pharmaceutical company, the executive thinks maybe their birth control pills may be the cause of all this, but he wants the baby destroyed so that there's no evidence of wrongdoing.
The police call Frank and say they have the infant cornered over at Chris's school. The policeman walks Frank inside, and there are a lot of cops there. Frank swears that the thing is not related to him, but the baby is in the room listening to their conversation. The cops send Frank home, but the child kills another cop. They wonder why, of all the schools in Los Angeles, it would pick the same school that Chris attends.
We see that now, the creature is in Frank's house. He thinks Chris has come home from Charley's house when he finds a mess in his son's bedroom. Lenore starts acting sketchy as if she's hiding the baby. The baby's crib feels warm to the touch, and Frank knows something is up.
Sure enough, Lenore finds the baby and reaches down to pick it up. She's gone completely batshit lunatic at this point. Chris runs home from Charley's house and goes in through the basement. Frank gets his gun and goes down there as well. It kills Charley, but Frank shoots it several times. Again, Frank tells Chris that the thing isn't related to them.
The doctor and police lieutenant decide to let Frank take along in the search. They issue him a shotgun. They follow the blood trail into the sewers, where it can travel anywhere unseen. They all go down there, and Frank hears the cry of the baby. He cocks his gun and goes to investigate.
Frank finally finds the baby, crying in the dark. He tells it to stop crying, or the police will hear him and come. He puts his coat over it, crying, and tries to smuggle it out of the sewer. The police arrive, and he tries to run with his child. The police lieutenant shouts, "It can't be saved--- it's gotta die!"
About a dozen policemen corner Frank and the baby outside. He wants them to lock it up and study it, but not to kill it. The cops aren't buying that, and they end up shooting the baby about sixteen dozen times.
Lt. Perkins gets a call; "Another one has been born in Seattle."
What's scarier than giving birth? This!
We only get little glimpses of the child, and its own point of view is blurry from it having bad eyesight. The film is mainly the reactions of Frank and the other people. The creature we see is pretty good, but obviously a doll/puppet, and it's terrifying. John Ryan, as Frank, looks more like a gangster than a PR guy, but his reactions are on point and well done here. It was far better than the low-budget sequels that followed.
Cold Prey (2006)
Directed by Roar Uthaug
Written by Thomas Moldestad, Martin Sundland, Roar Uthaug
Stars Ingrid Bolso Berdal, Rolf Kristian Larsen, Tomas Alf Larsen
Run Time: 1 Hour, 37 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
This is a pretty good one. It follows a familiar formula, but it’s well made. If you’re a fan of the slasher genre, you’ll probably like this one. We did.
A boy with a birthmark runs through the Norwegian snow as credits roll. Someone buries him in snow. We get news reports about many people going missing in the snow; it’s a common thing with all the tourists.
Five young people are going on a skiing trip, but Eirik knows a special, private place where they won’t be bothered by all the tourists. They park and climb up the very uncrowded mountain. Jannecke, Eirik, Mikal, Ingunn, and Morten Tobias all talk as they climb.
They are miles and miles from anyone else. It’s beautiful, so they get busy on the slopes. It’s all fun and games until Morten Tobias breaks his leg.
No one has any cell signal, so what are they gonna do? They spot a house on the horizon, so they drag Morten there. It’s a resort that appears closed for the season; Eirik breaks a window and lets the others inside. There’s no working phone there either.
They light a fire and get working on Morten’s leg. They do first aid with super glue. It gets dark, and the car is too far away to reach at night. They plan to walk to the car in the morning, but in the meantime, they explore the hotel. They go down into the basement, where Eirik finds the generator.
Meanwhile, upstairs, Jannicke sees someone outside. Mikal and Ingunn find room 237, which is all burned up inside. They find a guest register that no one has signed since 1975. They find a photo of the boy with the birthmark.
Mikal and Ingunn get a room together, as do Eirik and Jannicke. Morton Tobias just gets drunk on the couch, alone. Things don’t go as Mikal planned, so he leaves to pout. Someone then kills Ingunn with an ice pick.
In the morning, Mikal takes breakfast to Ingunn, but when she doesn’t answer the door, he leaves it outside. Eirik bundles up and leaves to walk to the car over the mountain. Instead, he follows a fresh blood trail to Ingunn’s body. Someone hits Eirik in the head with a pick.
Jannicke and Mikal go downstairs to refill the generator but find a secret closet full of mountaineering equipment and clothes, enough to outfit dozens of people. The next room looks like it’s had someone living there recently. Jannecke finds newspaper clippings about the missing boy and the “hotel of evil.” The hotel has been closed for more than 30 years, but the equipment on the shelves is nowhere near that old. Then, they find a whole box of wedding rings. Maybe all those missing skiers didn’t die from exposure?
Jannecke goes to Ingunn’s room and finds a bloody mess. They all come to the conclusion that maybe they aren’t alone in the old hotel. Mikal goes looking for Ingunn again but instead encounters a man with a pickaxe. He gives the man the slip but gets caught in a bear trap until the man catches up.
Jannicke and Morten Tobias make a real show run for the pantry, where they hide. Jannicke says she’s going to have to leave him locked in there while she tries to run for help. She runs outside to the shed, where she finds a shotgun. She remembers seeing a shotgun shell and goes to retrieve it.
The two plan to lure the man into the basement and then shoot him. Jannicke turns the generator off to get him down there. Then she finds the car keys, along with the bodies of her three friends– no, Eirik is not dead yet. The man approaches, so she tells Eirik to lie still and play dead. They don’t shoot the man, but they do lock him in his lair– with Eirik.
They open the door, and it’s the killer holding Eirik up in front of him. They waste their one shotgun shell on him. Morton holds the man at bay, bluffing with the empty gun, while Jannicke runs the other way. The bluff doesn’t work out well for Morten in the long run.
Jannicke runs to the shed, puts on some skis, and gets hit from behind. She later wakes up on a sled with her dead friends, being pulled by the masked killer through the snow. He rolls them, one by one, into a crevasse. She plays dead until the man is right on top of her, and then she stabs him with a box cutter. The two wrestle for a bit at the edge of the cliff, but eventually, she pulls his mask off, and we see the birthmark. He’s the missing child from long ago.
She hacks him good, and he goes over the edge. As he falls, we get a flashback– his own parents were the ones who buried him in the snow to murder and abandon him.
They mention a few times that the rooms are cold. The place has been shut down for years with no heat. It’d be below freezing inside, which would have burst all the pipes, not to mention we’d see everyone’s breath. That little generator wouldn’t put out nearly enough power to run a furnace, so all they had was the fire in the common room.
It’s quite good. Maybe the middle is a little stretched out, but overall, it’s definitely worth the watch.
The Bad Seed (1956)
Directed by Mervyn LeRoy
Written by John Lee Mahin, Maxwell Anderson, William March
Stars Nancy Kelly, Patty McCormack, Gage Clarke
Run Time: 2 Hours, 9 Minutes
Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone
This is a sinister classic that’s beautifully made. It’s also kind of a dated, stretched-out slog. So it’s a love-it and dislike-it at the same time situation.
Colonel Ken Penmark is shipping out, and he says goodbye to daughter Rhoda, wife Christine, and old Aunt Monica, who runs their boarding house. Christine thinks Monica spoils Rhoda.
Leroy, the maintenance man, comes in. Monica says he has the mind of an eight-year-old. He and Rhoda don’t get along. Rhoda is still salty that Claude won a penmanship medal at school; it was the only gold medal given out by Miss Fern.
Rhoda and Christine go to the park where Miss Fern is having a picnic for the children. Christine asks Miss Fern if Rhoda acts normally at school; does she act like a normal child? Fern gives an evasive answer.
Back at home, Monica listens to two of her boarders, Emory and Tasker, talking about a nurse who poisoned a bunch of people. Christine says she doesn’t like reading about murders. Christine says she’s always had the nagging feeling that she was adopted.
They hear over the radio that a child at the picnic where Rhoda is has accidentally drowned. It was eight-year-old Claude Daigle, the boy who won the penmanship medal. Rhoda comes home and doesn’t seem particularly upset by what she saw. In fact, she thought it was exciting!
Leroy sees right through Rhoda’s nonchalance. He whispers silently, “I’ll find a way to scare you!”
The next morning, Miss Fern comes to see Christine. Mrs. Daigle asks Miss Fern to see if Christine knows anything about Claude’s missing penmanship medal; it wasn’t on his body. Also, Rhoda was the last to see little Claude alive. She’d been grabbing at his medal all day after following him around. She was even seen on the pier where they found the body. “So many things may have happened,” Fern says. Again, Fern is evasive about what she really thinks, but she doesn’t want Rhoda back next year.
Miss Fern doesn’t come right out and accuse Rhoda, but it’s heavily implied. Then Hortense and Henry Daigle come in. She’s drunk and hostile. She accuses Miss Fern of knowing more than she’s telling. “There’s something funny about the whole thing. You know something? Miss Fern dyes her hair! It was no accident.” She rants drunkenly. Everyone implies that Rhoda killed Claude, but that’s crazy because they’re both just eight-year-olds.
Ken calls and asks about the accident. He says he’ll be gone another four weeks. Christine doesn’t let on that anything is unusual. Christine goes into Rhoda’s room to get a locket for Monica and finds the missing penmanship medal in there as well.
When confronted, Rhoda plays ignorant and denies everything. She says that she and Claude were playing a game, and he loaned the medal to her for winning. Rhoda’s a really transparent liar, but Christine doesn’t have much choice but to believe it.
Christine remembers and asks about an old lady where they used to live. The old lady fell down some steps and died. She left Rhoda her favorite item, a crystal ball. She also knows Rhoda had something to do with that old lady’s death.
Time passes, and Ken mails his daughter a glass tea set packed in excelsior. Monica looks at Rhoda and says, “I wish she were mine.” Apparently, Christine has accepted what happened and is an unwilling accomplice now.
Rhoda goes outside to play, and Leroy antagonizes her. Rhoda mentions that she knows Leroy sneaks naps behind the furnace in the basement. He says he knows what Rhoda did to that little boy. He says that the police will find the bloody stick that he hit Claude with. Leroy then takes the excelsior to the basement and lays down for a nap.
Mr. Tasker, a mystery author, comes over for dinner, and Rhoda goes upstairs to eat with Monica. Christine asks Tasker about “a story I’m considering writing” about a child murderer. Is that even a real thing? Tasker says it’s actually very common. Christine’s father, Richard Bravo, also comes over, and he disagrees. The three debate whether criminal children all come from poverty-ridden slums or whether a “normal” child could be a criminal. Tasker thinks some children are just born “blind” to some things; they’re “bad seeds” born that way from the beginning. He tells the story of one woman who went from continent to continent, a real psychopath. When he mentions the woman’s name, Richard recognizes it.
Tasker leaves, and Richard asks if something’s bothering Christine. She mentions the fear that she’s been adopted and what Rhoda might have inherited from her. “Whose child am I?” Her father is very evasive. Christine starts to think back and—her mother was the very woman that Tasker had been talking about, and Richard adopted her. She has “evil murderer” in her genetics, and she’s passed them on to Rhoda!
Monica and Rhoda come downstairs, and Frank takes a long look into Rhoda’s face. He shakes his head; he doesn’t see it.
Later, Christine catches Rhoda trying to dispose of her shoes that she used to beat Claude. Rhoda admits the whole thing with Claude and about the old woman in Wichita. Christine tells Rhoda to send the shoes down to the incinerator.
Leroy taunts Rhoda about killing Claude with her shoes. He says he took her shoes out of the incinerator. This gets under her skin, and she gets mean. He admits he doesn’t really have her shoes, but now he really does believe she’s a murderer. He later goes down and does find the shoes in the incinerator.
A bit later, Christine catches Rhoda stealing some matches. Monica asks what’s been bothering Christine lately; have Kenneth and her broken up? The old woman gets nosy, offering vitamins and sleeping pills to make Christine feel better.
Hortense Daigle comes back, drunk again, and she wants to talk to Rhoda. Rhoda comes in, and Monica drags her right back outside, leaving the drunk woman with Christine. Hortense makes all kinds of accusations along with mentioning how “sick and sloppy” Christine is looking, which is true.
Monica comes in, and they hear screaming. They both look out the window- the basement where Leroy sleeps is on fire, and the door is locked. Christine knows exactly what happened even before the man is finished screaming. “I should have known this would happen,” Christine says as she loses her mind. Monica takes Rhoda upstairs, away from Christine, who has a complete breakdown.
Later, Christine gives Rhoda some vitamins. Rhoda asks, “So many?” Christine admits that she dropped the penmanship award in the lake near where Claude died. Rhoda admits what she did to Leroy, but Christine knows all about it already. Christine reads Rhoda a bedtime story as she goes to sleep. “I can’t let them take you and lock you up. Only I can save you, so sleep well.”
Those weren’t vitamins; that was a whole handful of sleeping pills. Christine then goes into her bedroom and shoots herself.
Ken is there at the hospital with Monica, Richard, Emory, and others. It’s been two days. “Why did she do such a thing?” Monica tells him the part of the story that she saw. Monica consoles Ken, “You still have Rhoda. If we hadn’t heard the shot and gotten the doctor quickly, Rhoda would be gone.”
The doctor says that Christine won’t be the same if she survives. Everyone but Richard leaves, who asks the doctor if Christine had been saying anything in her delirium. She just kept repeating about “Bad seeds.” The doctor supports Richard’s idea that inheriting a murder gene is unrealistic.
Ken goes home and hugs his sweet, innocent little girl. We hear that Monica has promised to leave her songbirds to Rhoda, and they’re going way up high on the roof to sunbathe tomorrow…
Ken goes to bed, and Rhoda puts on her raincoat to go outside. The phone rings, and it’s Christine calling Ken, who is starting to wake up; the doctor says she’ll recover. Meanwhile, Rhoda is at the park, on the pier, looking for the penmanship medal, and she’s struck by lightning. Well, that came out of nowhere!
Monica’s big into therapy and psychiatry; she claims she knew Sigmund Freud. The whole theme of the movie is insanity and psychopathic children. The idea of nature/nurture is also thrown around a bit, as Rhoda comes from a “fine family.” As we learn later, blood does tell.
Monica’s one of those annoying busybody neighbors who get in the middle of anything.
This was adapted from a play, and it really shows. The characters give long monologues, and there are only a few sets. “Man, this is long,” Kevin said at the hour-and-a-half point. He was right; this was really stretched out. Plus, there were at least three different places it could have had a satisfactory ending, but it just kept going and going with more story.
It’s a significant horror classic that has been remade several times, but it’s pretty dated and very slow-paced for the modern viewer.
Stay tuned for more regular and bonus reviews next week!
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