Horror Bulletin
Horror Bulletin
Sting, The First Omen, Insane Like Me, Titane, Cthulhu, and Jesus Shows You The Way to the Highway
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Sting, The First Omen, Insane Like Me, Titane, Cthulhu, and Jesus Shows You The Way to the Highway

Weekly Horror Bulletin Issue #283

Note: We’re trying something new this week; we’re including the audio podcast embedded in the newsletter as a convenience for you. If you like it, hate it, or it causes technical issues, or if it just doesn’t work, let me know: email@horrrorguys.com

This week, we’ll start with three brand-new films, all of which we liked. 2024 has brought us “Sting,” “The First Omen,” and “Insane Like Me.” Then we’ll talk about a really weird one, “Titane” from 2024. For our bonus movies, we’ll look at “Cthulhu” (2008) and “Jesus Shows You The Way to the Highway” (2019). 

Check out all our books with one easy link: https://brianschell.com/collection/horrorguys

Psst: for the next five days, you can get the June 2024 “Horror Bulletin Monthly” issue from Amazon for FREE. Link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0D6966JGS


Sting (2024) 

  • Directed by Kiah Roache-Turner

  • Written by Kiah Roache-Turner

  • Stars Jermaine Fowler, Ryan Corr, Alyla Browne

  • Run Time: 1 Hour, 32 Minutes

  • Trailer:

Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone

What’s worse than spiders? Spiders from space! In addition to the creep factor, this has a lot of dark humor and offbeat characters. The story is a little basic, but they dress it up nicely into an entertaining film.

Spoilery Synopsis

We hear that an asteroid passed near to Earth yesterday, and today it’s unusually cold outside– it’s a very rare ice storm. We watch an old woman knitting– until she hears something upstairs running around. She pulls out an [antique] phonebook to call an exterminator. We see from the notes on the wall that it looks like she has Alzheimer’s. 

Frank the exterminator comes by but the “Bug Brothers” are parked right outside. Frank warns the confused Helga about the green snot coming out of her vents. He hears the noise right away and goes in to check it out. He finds a blood trail in the back bedroom and a “Bug Brothers” hardhat before he starts screaming. Something drags him back into the room and closes the door. Old Helga forgets all this and goes back to her knitting. She hears banging noises and calls an exterminator… 

Four days earlier, we see a meteor crash down into Helga’s apartment building, and a big spider hatches out of it as Credits Roll.  A kid breaks in through the ventilation shaft and finds the spider; she puts the spider in a matchbox and Gunter, a mean-looking old woman, comes in. As she crawls through the ducts, we see the other people who live in the building. We see that the girl is Charlotte, and she’s Ethan the apartment manager’s stepdaughter. Gunter is her grandmother who owns the building. Her mother is Heather. 

Charlotte names her spider “Sting” and feeds it other bugs.  Charlotte’s other grandmother is the addled Helga, who watches horror movies and knits all day. Charlotte wrote a comic book, and Ethan drew it, and it’s become quite popular. They are working on the next issue. Sometime during the night, the spider gets into the vents. Not long after, something eats Gunter’s parrot in a really gnarly way– it’s partly melted and half-eaten. 

Ethan calls Frank the exterminator. He’s sure it’s not rats and that whatever it was, it came through the ducts. We soon see that Charlotte’s spider is back in the jar and that it really hates mothballs. Frank and Charlotte talk about pets; he says spiders only know “Eat” and “Kill,” they can’t love. Charlotte continues feeding Sting, and Sting is getting bigger. 

Maria is doing things in her apartment, and we see there’s a spider in there. It jumps at her, and she loses track of it. She’s been bitten, and soon falls down, paralyzed but not dead. The spider crawls down her throat then out her abdomen. 

Ethan finds Maria’s dog in the ventilation shaft. He takes the dog back and finds what’s left of Maria. Charlotte goes to see Erik upstairs to buy one of his aquariums for Sting. She’s taught it to whistle, and Erik is a little creeped out. Erik is a weird biology student, and he wants the spider. Erik calls Ethan about the spider and it’s dangerous– and quite large. 

Ethan confronts Charlotte about the spider, and she doesn’t take it well. They fight about her real father. Erik says he’s going to turn into the spider to the Department of Health, but he actually keeps it and feeds it bigger things from his specimens. It’s soon big enough to break out of the glass aquarium. 

Gunter fires Ethan, her own son-in-law. Gunter says he’s weak and a quitter. That night, Gunter hears her cat in the hallway, but when she drunkenly crawls into the event, the spider gets her. 

The spider jumps down and bites both Heather and Ethan. Charlotte’s got earphones on and misses all of it. It drags them away before she takes the headphones off. She does notice, however, when it steals her baby brother. She quickly makes a solution of mothballs in water bottles and loads pesticide into a squirt gun. 

Gunter and Ethan wake up webbed and unable to speak. Charlotte checks on Helga, who is fine. Helga saw the spider, but it ran away from her– because she smells like mothballs. Charlotte finds Ethan next, and she works to release him from the webbing. 

Frank shows up outside, and we’re back to the opening scene. We see that Ethan and Charlotte are in the basement and cornered by the spider. Ethan runs it off with the mothball-water. Frank comes rolling in through the vent and joins them. The spider comes back and gets Frank anyway. They soon find Heather and William and break them free. 

The family lures the spider into the trash compactor and after a lot of desperate fighting with the wiring, they compact it. Ethan gets electrocuted, but Heather wakes him up. 

Charlotte finally tells Ethan that she loves him, so it’s all going to be OK from now on. Then we cut over to a dark corner, where spider eggs are hatching…

Commentary

The many segues between apartments and characters are very smoothly done. We quickly get to know all the characters and their relationships, which is nice. The family drama is interesting, but there’s not so much of it that it detracts from the horror story. Unlike “Infested” (2024), there’s only one spider in this one, but it’s a big one. 

It’s good!

The First Omen (2024) 

  • Directed by Arkasha Stevenson

  • Written by Tim Smith, Arkasha Stevenson, Keith Thomas

  • Stars Nell Tiger Free, Ralph Ineson, Sonia Braga, Bill Nighy

  • Run Time: 1 Hour, 59 Minutes

  • Trailer:

Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone

This one didn’t work for The Horror Guys. Too many things were like the first Omen movie, which came across as lazy. They tried changing and adding things to the mythos as if it was a requel. And it was kind of dull. We’d recommend just sticking with the trilogy of original Omen movies.

Spoilery Synopsis

Some workmen raise a stained glass window with a winch as the priest walks by. The priest then goes to listen to confession, where Father Harris tells another priest, Father Brennan, about a baby that wasn’t conceived normally. We flash over to a woman strapped to a table; the man says the baby should be a teenager by now. Harris gets up and leaves, “I just want it all to be over.” Just at that moment, the stained glass window over them shatters and Father Harris is im-poled with a pole. 

Credits roll as we shift to 1971 Rome. Cardinal Lawrence is at the station to pick up Margaret, a new nun about to take her vows. The convent is also an orphanage, and they care for lots of girls. She meets Sister Anjelica, who is weird. She also meets Carlita Scianna, one of the older children, and she gets licked in the face for it. 

That night, Margaret is alone in her room and gets a jump scare. Another soon-to-be nun, Luz, comes in from the nightclubs; she’s having some fun before taking her vows. They talk about why they have decided to become nuns. 

We get a settling-in montage as Margaret meets everyone and starts doing nun things. It seems like a fun, happy place, except for Carlita, who is always sullen and creepy. That night, she sees some nuns tying Carlita to the bed. 

Luz wants Margaret to go to the disco or a bar, and Margaret admits she’s never been to one, ever. They immediately meet Alfonso and Paolo. She has a few drinks, a few dances, and wakes up in her bed at the monastery. Luz says that Margaret had a very good time. 

Later in the morning, Margaret prays as Father Brennan, from the opening scene watches from afar. He warns her about Carlita, “evil things” happen around her. He wants to talk again tonight. Margaret goes back to the convent to watch a woman give birth forcibly. A long claw comes out of the mother, and Margaret faints at the sight. 

Sister Anjelica talks to Carlita and then goes up to the top floor of the orphanage. She comes out giggling as all the children watch. “It’s all for you,” she whispers, looking at Carlita, and then she sets fire to herself, jumps off the ledge, and hangs herself on the way down. 

Margaret goes to see Brennan as planned. She tells him what happened with Anjelica. He talks about there being “two churches,” the one for God and the other for secularism. The good church is losing power to people who are more and more becoming unbelievers, so they have a small group who have decided to give people a reason to fear, so church attendance will improve. They plan to give birth to the Antichrist, to cause fear, and the fear will turn people to the church. She believes that Carlita is intended to be the mother of the Antichrist. Margaret gets scared and leaves.

Margaret and a bunch of the orphans go to town, and while they are there, a riot breaks out in the street. Margaret gets a scare that might all be in her own head. Sister Silva, the head nun, wonders at Margaret’s mental health. Maybe it’s too soon to take her vows. They end up arguing about it, and Silva makes the decision final. “Stay away from Carlita, or there will be consequences.” 

She goes to town and runs into Paolo, who apologizes for something right before a truck runs into him, cutting him in half. 

The time comes, and Luz takes her vows, but Margaret sits in the audience. Margaret sneaks out and goes to the office to find Carlita’s file. She finds a secret passageway to a dungeon where the files are located. She learns that Carlita was the fourteenth in a whole string of deformed babies in the church’s attempt to birth the Antichrist. All the others died as deformed babies. 

She goes right upstairs, files in hand, and grabs Carlita, who does indeed have 666 in the roof of her mouth. The priests and nuns grab Margaret and lock her in the “bad room.” While in there, she has several visions or hallucinations. 

Father Gabriel lets her out of the room and takes her and the files to Brennan. The three of them look through many files of deformed children. They find a photo of another experiment, healthy but this one has no photo. “There was another survivor, a sister.” Margaret just happens to remember having 666 on her scalp. 

Margaret remembers that night at the nightclub when she blacked out. She was impregnated by the devil. Gabriel and Brennan soon figure this out as well. Carlita was too young, so the church brought Margaret back to… what? This is June 6th, at midnight, they’ll be coming for her. “I need it out of me now.”

Brennan puts Margaret in a car and drives to an abortion clinic. Margaret starts feeling sick, and then the car crashes in front of a church. Margaret levitates out of the car and jerky-walks into the church, growling and roaring all the while. We see her belly getting larger as we watch. She passes out. 

Cardinal Lawrence explains it all, and it’s pretty much what Brennan suspected. The church itself made the Antichrist just to stir up trouble. 

The nuns tie her to a table, and the doctor starts cutting as all the old nuns watch. She gives birth to a big blob. The doctor then cuts open the blob, and inside are the babies; twins. Margaret asks to hold the baby, but she has her eye on the plate of scalpels. She stabs Lawrence, not the baby. Then she starts moving the scalpel toward the baby and she ends up getting stabbed… by Luz, who’s on their side now. 

Sister Silva gives orders to burn everything, leaving Margaret and the girl baby to burn. Margaret picks up the girl baby and then Carlita comes in and pulls her out. 

We cut to a priest and Luz in a car talking about the US Ambassador’s wife, who is about to lose her child in birth. They plan to offer him the boy child as a trade…

Some time has passed, and Carlita, Margaret, and the baby are happy. Father Brennan comes to warn them that “they know you’re alive. None of you were supposed to survive, especially the girl. They will come for you. They’ve even given it a name, your son… Damien.” 

Commentary

The very first scene, with the priest impaled by a pole was ripped right from the first movie, which seemed really lazy. Then the crazy nun jumps from the roof with a noose around her neck. Really? This is supposed to be a prequel, not a requel. Does the devil only know four ways to kill people? 

It’s an OK story, but the very limited deaths were all ripped right from the original “The Omen” film. Except… Damien’s mother was literally a jackal, not a woman. 

Yeah, it’s not only dull, it wants to add new stuff, like Damien’s heretofore unknown sister. Not good. Not good at all. 

Insane Like Me (2024) 

  • Directed by Chip Josin

  • Written by Britt Bankhead, Chip Joslin

  • Stars Britt Bankhead, Eric Roberts, Grace Patterson

  • Run Time: 1 Hour, 26 Minutes

  • Trailer:

Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone

It’s got vampires, action, spiritualism, romance, and angst, so there’s a lot to like about it. Britt Bankhead pulls off a decent job as his first lead in a movie, and Eric Roberts is always a hoot to see. It’s pretty good for an indy work, and we’d give it an overall thumbs up.

Spoilery Synopsis

It’s Halloween, and two couples get together to go into the Masker Hotel, which is supposed to be haunted by as many as 200 ghosts. No, it’s really a surprise “Welcome Home” party for Jake, who has just come home from overseas. Samantha hints that she’s pregnant with Jake’s baby. 

The guy from “You Hear it First” arrives with his cameraman, and he didn’t know there was a party, he’s just here to film for his TV ghost-show. The girls tell him that something’s been going on in this town for a while, but people are still disappearing. Then the two girls reveal they are vampires and bite them both. 

Will, Jake, and Samantha soon find out they’re in the hotel with a bunch of vampires. There’s a lot of fighting.

Jake goes to the sheriff, who blames Jake for killing his daughter Samantha, who got lost somewhere along the way. The sheriff has Jake committed…

Nine years later, Jake’s still in the asylum, and he gets visions of Samantha wanting help. He tells the doctor that he’s normal again, and he’s due to be released soon. He denies seeing Samantha, who we see in the room with him like he does, and he says the vampires were just his imagination. 

He’s released, and we soon see him carrying a body out to the desert to bury and patching a hole in his leg. “Samantha” still wants his help. 

We cut to the library, where Samantha’s sister Crystal and her three friends are researching the deaths from nine years ago. Crystal is a bartender and meets Jake later that night. The sheriff and deputy Will come in looking for trouble but Jake leaves. 

Crystal and her friends go to a party, and she tells them that Jake’s back in town. Jon and Josie go off into the woods to smoke, and Jon gets bitten by another vamp, as do many of the other “kids.” Jake shows up and takes a head off one of the undead. 

Jake kidnaps Mary, one of the vampire women, and takes her home to his lair. No, that was a flashback, maybe. He leaves Crystal and Haydin in his garage and goes vampire hunting; he still sees Samantha. 

Jakes goes to the hotel, but Will is there, and he’s a jerk. Crystal and Haydin show up as well, and they all look for each other. Will’s been in denial about the vampires, even though he’s seen them himself. 

Suddenly, vampires attack! Everyone decides to hide in the basement. Will calls his father, the Sheriff, who thinks Jake has been killing people. Josie also shows up, now a vampire, and that results in another fight. Will gets bit, and the sheriff takes it poorly. 

The Sheriff wants to fistfight Jake, but then Haydin shows up and bites the old man. 

Jake wakes up, and Crystal and Erica are tied to old beds in the asylum. Doctor Stoker comes in and sews Erica’s mouth shut before biting her all over. Samantha leads Jake downstairs; she lets him out somehow. The sheriff and Dr. Stoker obviously know each other; they have a business arrangement. The doctor turns on the sheriff, and he gets a vision of Samantha before Jake shoots him. 

Samantha stakes Dr. Stoker in the back before shooting herself in the head. Jake sets his explosives, grabs Crystal, and goes outside as the whole place blows up. 

Commentary

It’s got some noticeably weird editing in spots as some scenes start and end abruptly, and possibly out of order. So someone can be committed to an asylum for nine years just on the word of one sheriff? It must be the South. 

It’s low-budget, but the pacing is decent. The sets and settings are good, as is the camerawork and lighting. The music is pretty bland, but not annoying. Eric Roberts is always fun to see, even though he’s not trying very hard here. 

Short Film: Mr. Suits (2024) 

  • Directed by Drew Benton

  • Written by Drew Benton

  • Stars Andrew Golucki, Simeon Fuller, Alex Irwin

  • Run Time: 4:07

  • Watch it:

What Happens

A man gets a call in the garage. He yells at his employee on the phone; he demands that the man be fired. Suddenly, he sees someone strange down in the parking garage, and the stranger is carrying a hammer. This isn’t going to end well…

Commentary

It’s short, simple, and tells us what we need to know. It’s well shot, and the suspense works well. There’s not really any explanation as to why it happens, but what we get looks good!

Cthulhu (2008) 

  • Directed by Don Gildark

  • Written by Grant Cogswell, Dan Gildark, H. P. Lovecraft

  • Stars Jason Cottle, Casey Curran, Ethan Atkinson

  • Run Time: 1 Hour, 40 Minutes

  • Trailer:

Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone

Lots of things happen without much happening. The characters seemed to almost get interesting and understandable but fizzled on the way there. There is some strangeness, but not enough of it. This seems like it should have been better than it was, a little bit of a missed opportunity.

Spoilery Synopsis

We hear about the former U.S. border, mass evacuations in Asia, and other disasters as credits roll. It’s in the near future with things going downhill globally. Russell gets a call that his mother died; his boyfriend says that sucks and begs him for twenty bucks. He listens to a radio report about the last polar bear in the wild dying. 

He stops on the road to help with a traffic accident and gets blood all over his shirt. When he gets to the funeral parlor, the funeral has already finished. His sister Dannie is glad to see him, but his father, the reverend, wants him to stay a while. Barnes, the lawyer, needs to talk to Russell about the estate. 

Russell goes to a warehouse at the docks and finds hundreds of names scratched into the walls. Not only that, but a whole bunch of cultists are marching in. He sneaks down to the dock and rows away as darkness falls. 

Russell goes to meet Dannie and Mike at the bar. He and Mike go way back, childhood friends. As they talk, we get a flashback to Mike finding Russell in a suicide attempt as teenagers. That night, Russell dreams that the kid in the car accident gave him a magic rock, which he still has when he wakes up. 

Aunt Josie, in the nursing home, tells Russell that his mother left him something in the furnace at home. Then she starts speaking in a strange language. He has dinner with the family later, and that’s all very awkward, especially when his father asks “How’s the gay life, Russell?” He’s not too supportive of the lifestyle. Russell says his father’s belief in “The Old Ones” is just a silly cult. Dannie says none of them really understand him. 

We flash back to Russell and Mike as teenagers talking about girls and masturbating together. Some guy at the bar, Zadok, looks at Russell’s magic rock and says it’s for Dagon, and used to be used for human sacrifice. Zadok tells them a story about fishing and catching a thing that looked like a giant baby. Russell gets introduced to Susan from school, but he doesn’t really remember her. She’s married and flirts heavily with Russell. 

Russell plans to meet up with Zadok for more answers, but gets a note to stay away from him. The old man tells about the lost city that used to be out in the bay on an island; the people there did rituals doing inhuman things and human sacrifices. “They came out of the sea and killed lots of people. You know what a Shoggoth is? Everyone goes back to the sea with them.” He asks Julia about the cultists that he saw. She tells him about her little brother; the cult took him five years ago. 

He goes to Susan’s house to see a book, and she says she wants him to give her a baby. Her husband wants that too. They offer him a bunch of money to do it. That doesn’t work, so they drug him and she has a go without his willing help. 

Russell starts doing research on all the missing people in town as well as the Dagon cult. He tells Mike that it’s father’s cult that has been killing people. He goes back to the warehouse at the dock, but all the names are gone now. He does find a blue sphere that glows and gives  him a vision when he touches it. 

Russell comes across Julia’s little brother, a blind boy, who says he’s waiting for Cthulhu. He ends up running around some dark tunnels and sees some weird-looking creatures down there. He goes to Mike’s house and rambles about what he saw. They argue about peanut butter and jelly until they stop and have sex. Mike says it’s not really gay, it’s just an extension of their friendship. 

In the morning, they leave Mike’s place and find the blind boy dead, nailed to a guard railing. It’s the day of the auction of his mother’s estate, and Russell is the executor. The sheriff comes to the auction and arrests Russell for murder and rape of a minor. Turns out, the sheriff doesn’t much like Russell’s family. The sheriff punches Russell. 

He dreams that he’s at the bottom of a lighthouse, and he sees a cage full of people on the beach. When he wakes up, the jail is surrounded by protesters carrying torches. The cell door opens, and Russell takes the opportunity to leave. 

He finds Susan and demands answers, but she’s not cooperative. She and her husband drug Russell and leave. Later, he goes to his mother’s house to see what she hid in the furnace. It’s a videotape of his mother, who explains everything. She wanted him away from his grandfather, who wasn't dead, and he went back to the sea. Then his father comes on and talks about eternal life through Cthulhu. He says Russell will lead them all into the sea. 

Russell runs outside and beats an old man to death in self defense. Phones all over town start ringing. A national alert says to stay in your homes. Helicopters fly over and we can see the smoke from across the river; the violence from outside of town is coming their way. Russell tells Mike about the plan for them all to go back into the sea. They get shot at on the road; people are going crazy everywhere. 

Russell goes to his father’s house, and his father shoots the sheriff and the deputy. Dannie and everyone else is there, and they start chanting. “Would you like to see your children?” They lead Russell to a bathtub full of his inhuman spawn. “The old world is dying and we’re giving birth to the new.” People are coming up out of the ocean as others go in, and Russell’s father demands that he make a sacrifice. Mike will be perfect, he says, as he stands there holding him in place. Russell roars and swings back to make a fatal blow. Does he take out Mike or his father? Blackout to credits, and we are left to wonder.  

Commentary

Neither Cthulhu, nor any of his friends, actually make an appearance here. We see some pale-looking people in the sewers, but only briefly. The rest is all about people “going into the sea” and coming back. 

The acting is mediocre at best, especially the lead actor; he’s just not good (Kevin disagrees and thought he was pretty good). We get a lot of exposition about natural disasters, maybe climate-change related, we don’t know, in the beginning, but we see nothing out of the ordinary in Russell’s home town. Maybe that’s the point; the villagers have been doing things to ensure that nothing like that happens in their town. 

The villagers clearly want Russell to have a child, so they put Susan up to raping him. The fact that he’s gay just makes it more of a challenge for them. 

Lots of stuff happens, but it’s really hard to follow exactly what’s happening or why. I guess at the end, Russell does what he’s told and brings about the new world, but there’s no real reason why he changes his mind. 

I am confused. 

Titane (2021) 

  • Directed by Julia Ducournau

  • Written by Julia Ducournau, Jacques Akchoti, Simonetta Greggio

  • Stars Vincent Lindon, Agathe Rouselle, Garance Marillier

  • Run Time: 1 Hour, 48 Minutes

  • Trailer:

Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone

This was one very strange movie. It was entertaining though, and while we didn’t always understand why the characters were doing what they were doing, we could follow the plot. The weird plot. Everything about it was good, and we would recommend it.

Spoilery Synopsis

We get close ups of dirty-looking machines as the credits roll. We soon see that it’s just an artsy look at the engine of a car being driven by a father with an annoying daughter in the back seat. She takes off her seat belt, the father grabs for her, the car crashes. We cut to a hospital, where they put a titanium plate in the girl’s skull. She is released, and in the parking lot, she gives the family car a kiss and big hug. 

Years pass, and Alexia is an adult now; she’s still got a scar, but it fits right in with her punk look. She’s at the most pornographic car show ever; it even has bouncers. We linger on one dancer, Alexia, who really likes cars; she licks it all over and rolls on it for five minutes. Afterward, in the shower, Alexia gets her hair caught in another dancer’s nipple ring, which is really awkward. 

She’s even got fans who want autographs– or maybe he’s more of a stalker. She stabs the man in the ear with a knitting needle, and he dies painfully. She puts his body in the back seat of her car and goes home, where we see she really does have some kind of automobile fetish; she masturbates with the car. 

In the morning, there’s a news report about Adrien, a little boy who went missing ten years ago; they are finally closing the case. There’s also a number of bodies that have been found, four so far this year– it could be a serial killer. Alexia still lives at home, and her father is a doctor. 

We cut to Alexia licking and biting another woman, but she gets carried away and the other woman gets angry. Alexia throws up and then takes a pregnancy test. She tries to give herself an abortion using the knitting needle, which looks really painful. She’s not bleeding; it’s all black up there, like motor oil or something. Then she stabs her girlfriend to death with the same knitting needle. When the woman’s roommate comes downstairs, she kills him with the fireplace poker and a stool. The roommate’s girlfriend sees this, and Alexia learns there are a lot of people in this house! 

She goes home and sets her parents’ house on fire, after locking them in the bedroom. 

She gets a ride to the train station, where she sees her face on a digital “Wanted” poster. She also sees posters for the ten-year-old case of Adrien, who’s been computer-aged to show what he’d look like right now, and he sorta resembles Alexia. Alexia goes into the restroom and cuts off her hair and wraps tight bandages around the bumpy parts of her torso. She then breaks her own nose to make herself look different. 

We cut to the police station, where the detective has called in Vincent, Adrien’s father, to identify his lost son, who appears to have been received. Yes, it’s Alexia, pretending to be Adrien. Vincent says yes, that’s his lost son. “Adrien” doesn’t speak, presumably from the trauma of being kidnapped for all these years. 

Vincent takes his “son” home to meet Rayane. She undresses in her room and narrowly avoids being caught with her shirt off. Vincent then goes into the next room and works out; he’s very well built for an old guy, and we see him injecting something, probably steroids. He then gets angry when he can’t do enough pull-ups. He’s got some issues of his own. 

In the morning, Vincent puts a brace on Adrien’s nose and trims his hair to look more natural. He gives Adrien a job at his fire station– he’s the captain. Vincent does get annoyed when Adrien won’t speak. At home later, Vincent “forces” Adrien to dance with him, resulting in a fight. Vincent, however, knows she has the knitting needle and tells her to fight like a man. 

Later, Vincent gives himself an extra dose of steroids with a lot of wine and passes out. Alexia/Adrien ses him there and considers killing him in his sleep, but doesn’t. Alexia’s pregnancy is showing more and more. She decides to stay and embrace the role of the missing son, and even starts helping on the fireman’s EMT calls, “he” even gives CPR to one old woman and saves her life.

Rayane, one of the firemen, sees the wanted poster for Alexia on his phone, and he takes a gooooood look at Adrien. Later, all the firemen dance strangely, letting off steam, and Alexia watches them. Rayane tries talking to Vincent later, but he doesn’t want to hear it - he tells him to never talk about his son. 

Vincent calls Adrien’s mother for a visit, and she tries to be friendly. Meanwhile, Alexia has developed some kind of abscess in her stomach, and it itches terribly. She continues to bleed black stuff. Her mother catches her naked and immediately catches on to what’s going on. She doesn’t care, she just doesn’t want Vincent to get hurt. “He needs you.” 

Vincent asks for Adrien’s help injecting the steroids, and then Vincent shaves Adrien, who clearly doesn’t need it. Rayane won’t let up about Adrien, so Vincent hands him a propane bottle in the middle of a forest fire. BOOOM! Problem solved.

Vincent straight up says, “I don’t care who you are, you’re my son,” so it’s clear that even he knows something is up. She drops her towel, and he still doesn’t care. Later, Adrien does a sexy dance for all the firemen to watch. They… aren’t sure what to think. Vincent walks in and sees it too; he walks right back outside, in denial. 

Later, Alexia has sex with a firetruck. Vincent sets himself on fire in his room, just a little bit.  Meanwhile, Alexia’s stomach bursts open, showing metal inside. She comes into Vincent’s bedroom, and they kiss. That’s too much for Vincent, who pulls down the sheets and sees just how pregnant “Adrien” is. He calms down and comes back to the room, helping her to give birth. She pushes, and he helps with his EMT training. 

The baby comes out, crying, and he suddenly knows Alexia’s name. Alexia, on the other hand, stops breathing and dies. Vincent picks up the crying baby and we see that it’s partially made of metal. 

Commentary

The moral of the story seems to be “Don’t have sex with vehicles,” but I could have maybe misinterpreted the meaning. 

This is a very weird movie. It wasn’t always clear what was going on, but it was always interesting. The weirdness just piles on top of itself, and it really works well. Oddly enough, I kept being reminded of “Tetsuo: Iron Man” (1989). It’s got a similar vibe, although this one is a lot more realistic. 

It looks good; it’s well filmed. Most of the time, the plot made sense. It’s very disturbing, and yet it’s also really involving. 

Jesus Shows You The Way to the Highway (2019) 

  • Directed by Miguel Llanso

  • Written by Miguel Llanso

  • Stars Daniel Tadesse, Augustin Mateo, Guillermo Llanso

  • Run Time: 1 Hour, 23 Minutes

  • Trailer:

Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone

This is a heaping helping of surreal weirdness that never lets up. There is a story among strange effects, odd characters, retro futuristic technology and effects, stop motion animation, and masks. It’s likely that you’ll love it or hate it, and we were on the love it side. Or at least liked it a lot.

Spoilery Synopsis

The credits look like a 1980’s home computer loading screen. It is, in fact, a virtual reality video game, and the researchers find their man in the VR helmet has had his eyes ripped out. But Agent Tracy isn’t dead yet. 

Elsewhere, Agent D. T. Gagano, a hunchbacked dwarf agent, reads a book. He gets a quick brief about how the Soviet agents have infected the Psychobook with a virus. They put Gagano and his partner Palmer into the Psychobook game. 

Inside, people have strange paperlike masks over their faces and walk in stop-motion movements. The two agents are inside an enemy agent’s house, and they have a strange fight. Eventually, they defeat the enemy agent. 

Gagano watches his wife, Malin, boxing at the gym. He goes into the shower with her to make love, but he hurts his back. He tells her that he wants to quit the CIA. He watches a very strange “Batfro” video on TV. 

Gagano and his partner get a call for another mission. Malin wants to leave the city, but he just wants to make pizzas. He still hasn’t quit the CIA, even after seven years of talking about it. She says he can stay or go with her, but she’s not waiting for him anymore. 

Gagano and Palmer go back into the Psychobook for their mission. They wear paper masks of Robert Redford and Richard Pryor. Gagano succumbs to gas, but Palmer has to fight a Soviet agent who looks like Stalin and is captured. “Stalin” wants Palmer to help him sell “the substance.” 

Palmer wakes up from the game, but Gagano doesn’t, he’s stuck inside. Palmer calls Malin and tells her the bad news. Meanwhile inside the virtual reality, Gagano orders a pizza margherita and watches Batfro on TV. Batfro is a black man in a cheap Batman suit; he’s also the president. Gagano can still talk to the computer interface, Jiminy Cricket, but he just wants to go home. They tell him that he can’t wake up, and he’s only living on borrowed mental energy. 

Clearly the Commandant has double-crossed Gagano, and Malin knows it. Palmer tries to move in on Malin, but he also wants to rescue his partner. He wants to finance Malin’s kickboxing academy. 

In the Psychobook, Batfro and Mr. Sophistication get after Gagano about his credit card being declined. They shoot Gagano but it doesn’t have any effect because he’s not physically there, so they lock him in a cage with some of Batfro’s political prisoners. 

Stalin gives Batfro orders about Gagano. They want to take over the Psychobook from inside, and Gagano can give them access to the source code. They need the Ark of the Covenant, but it’s guarded by Shaolin masters. Three kung-fu masters try to take him out and lose; Stalin sends them back with upgrades, and they win the Ark. 

Stalin and Batfro celebrate their victory. Stalin then shows Gagano a video of Malin and Palmer having sex. Stalin wants Gagano to get revenge. Mr. Sophistication releases Gagano and tries to make a deal with him, showing him the original version of Psychobook. Gagano enters his security code and one of the kung-fu masters does the rest. 

Back at headquarters, the Commandant sees that the whole system is being hacked. The Commandant wants to blow up Ethiopia in retaliation, but “The President” won’t allow it. With full access, Stalin kills Mr. Sophistication and the kung-fu masters with giant laser-blasting fly monsters. The flies chase Gagano until he finds Palmer’s avatar. They use a mirror to fight the fly’s laser blasts. 

The fly wakes up, and it’s just a guy in a rubber suit now. His name is Roy, and he wants to help Gagano. We flash back to Roy, who thought he was Jesus, crucified to a tiny little cross. He met Palmer, who told him all about “the substance.” Stalin turned him into a giant fly and sent him to fly-land, or something like that. He says that he and Gagano are really in an experiment at MIT; he doesn’t work for the CIA at all. “This is all just a virtual projection in 1997.” 

Batfro shows up and kills Roy. The old soldiers give Gagano some candy that contains “the substance,” and they say it’ll send him home. 

Back in the real world, Stalin orders the Commandant to kill Gagano’s comatose body, so they take him out to the beach and burn his body as Palmer watches. Later, inside Psychobook, Palmer finds a hard drive that contains what’s left of Gagano, which he gives to Malin. 

Malin plugs him into a portable TV, and he talks to Malin. He wants to go away with Malin now, but he’s just a TV image. He still wants to finish his mission and stop Palmer, who is dealing “the substance.” “I’m not dead, I’m trapped inside a portable TV.” The Commandant throws the TV off the roof, but it’s intercepted by Captain Lagucci, a drag queen performer and soldier. 

Lagucci sets Gagano in front of a TV showing actual Batman and Robin reruns. Palmer tries to convince Malin to run away with him as Gagano watches. Malin doesn’t think she can stay in love with a portable TV, and wants the three of them to open a kickboxing school. She turns the TV toward the window and leaves. 

Later, some men pack up all the stuff in the apartment and put it out for garbage. An old woman dumpster dives and finds the TV. She takes him to Roy, who now leads a cult. Batfro and the police raid the place as they all eat some of “the substance.” Roy pours some of it into the TV. 

Gagano awakes on a bed at MIT just as Roy said. The Commandant is actually the doctor in charge, who says Gagano has been experiencing paranoia symptoms. He gives the little man a check and thanks him for participating in the experiment. He asks Roy the way to the highway on the way out. Gagano gets in the car with his wife; now they have the money to open the kickboxing academy. They drive off, happily ever after. 

Wow. 

Commentary

If this could be any weirder, I would have any idea how. It doesn’t make a huge load of sense, and it’s all very dreamlike; it’s like Jodorowski met David Lynch and they decided to collaborate. 

The dubbing is terrible, but probably intentionally so, as it really adds to the tone of the film. It’s a mix of just about every exploitation genre. At first, it all looks like hot garbage, but it’s also clearly exactly what the creators wanted– it’s really well made, intentional garbage. 

It looks as if they simply gave Batfro a generic 1960’s Batman costume and then had to blur out the logo in all the scenes. It’s hilariously done. 

It’s one wild thing after another, and it never relents. You’ll either love it or hate it; I don’t see there being much middle ground here. 


Stay tuned for more reviews next week!

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Horror Bulletin
Horror Bulletin
Join Kevin and Brian for a weekly podcast episode. Every Friday, the guys release both a video and audio podcast episode that covers everything new in horror, along with a handful of great (and awful) movie reviews!