Horror Bulletin
Horror Bulletin
The Moor, Arena Wars, Realm of Shadows, The Perfection, The Devil’s Path, and Destroy All Monsters
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The Moor, Arena Wars, Realm of Shadows, The Perfection, The Devil’s Path, and Destroy All Monsters

Weekly Horror Bulletin Issue #285

This week, we’ll start with three brand-new films, all of which we liked. 2024 has brought us “The Moor,” “Arena Wars,” and “Realm of Shadows.” Next we’ll watch a couple of fun films we missed in 2018, “The Perfection” and “The Devil’s Path.” Finally, we’ll head back to Japan with 1968’s “Destroy All Monsters.”

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


2024 The Moor

  • Directed by Chris Cronin

  • Written by Paul Thomas

  • Stars Sophia La Porta, David Edward-Robertson, Elizabeth Dormer-Phillips, Bernard Hill

  • Run Time: 1 Hour, 58 Minutes

  • Trailer:

Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone

This was grim and moody and quite slow moving. It pulls you along though, and we didn’t think it ever got dull. Much of it takes place on an endless flat and foggy landscape which makes it all the more chilling when something strange pops up. And it caps off with a satisfying ending. We’d give it a thumbs up.

Spoilery Synopsis

We open up on two children arguing about robbing the candy store. The little boy distracts the shopkeeper while his friend loads her bag with snacks and runs out. Her friend doesn’t come out, so she goes back inside looking for him; the shopkeeper says his dad came in and took him. We see “missing” posters of the boy as credits roll. Many missing posters, followed by headlines telling us that a man was sentenced to 25 years for the crimes. 

Twenty-five years later, Claire has grown up and talks to Bill, the boy’s father, about the killer’s sentence ending. They never found Danny’s body, so they couldn’t lock the man up forever; Bill wants to go up to the moors and search for Danny’s body.  He complains about how the vultures from the news have hounded him for years. 

Claire agrees to go with him and Liz to search the peat moss moors. They have a map and they’re systematically searching the whole thing, which is going to take many days. 

We cut to an old interview with people originally involved with the investigation 25 years ago. People talk about the moors, where the bodies were supposedly hidden. 

Claire talks to Mr. Thornley, an old friend who was in charge of the original search, and mentions that Bill still goes up there to search. He knows all about the moors and shows that the moors are much, much larger than Claire realized. “How could anything be found in this?” Thornley is confused why Bill is searching in that particular area. Claire goes to see Bill, who has a psychic (dowser) there pointing to areas on a map. 

Bill, Claire, and Liz go back out for more searching, and Liz reiterates how dangerous it is here. It’s all very scenic in a really bleak way. Claire wears a GoPro and records the whole thing. It’s miles and miles of bleak, foggy, grassy, swamp terrain. 

Claire falls into a ravine and hears the others calling for her. She finds a child’s shoe down there, and the others soon catch up to her. Bill looks validated. On the way back, Liz leads them past some kind of neolithic stone monument. Claire starts to panic about being lost, but Liz says they aren’t lost, and soon come to the road where they parked. 

Back in town, the police aren’t much interested in the shoe, saying it doesn’t indicate anything. 

Back to the interview shows, they talk about the man who was arrested for the crimes. They wouldn’t show the man’s face on the news, which made him even more scary to the public. He only got one life sentence, which is 25 years, but he must have killed many children. 

On the next trip out to the moor, Claire has a vision, seeing Danny– No, just a dream. Bill invites Alex, his dowsing friend, over, and they argue about someone else who’s involved– Eleanor, Alex’s daughter. Bill explains to Claire that Eleanor tried to help them before, but there were… issues. Alex has never asked for any money, so he’s not a crook. He really believes. 

Eleanor wants to try something different. She uses the dowsing pointer to go over the map and gets nothing. Then she touches the shoe that they found, and the pointer gets really obvious about a location. 

It’s a long walk from the road, most of the day just to get there. Eleanor wants to go help, but Alex is not supportive of the idea. Liz packs a whole lot of safety equipment just to be sure. Alex tells Claire that this sort of thing always has a cost for Eleanor. 

Soon, Eleanor picks up the spirit of a little girl on the moor. Something scares her, and she runs off– right over a cliff into a ravine. She’s obviously hurt, and Alex and Claire tend to her, but Bill starts digging where she fell and finds a body. 

Four weeks later, Claire complains about nightly nightmares about the little girl’s face in the mud. They didn’t find Danny, but the body was enough evidence to keep the killer in jail for a long time; the little girl died three years before Danny, so the killer was at it for a while. Bill, however, is still looking for Danny. 

Eleanor doesn’t want to go back up there, but she talks about Thomas, who is her spiritual guardian and the one who “leads” her to things. She might be able to get Thomas to speak through her, something like a seance. Thomas says Danny is “dreaming in the dark” and moves the pointer to a very specific spot on the map, far from the road this time.  

Everyone packs up and heads back out to the moors. They find another of those strange stone monuments out there. The archaeologists don’t know who made them, but they’re very old. It gets too late to continue, so they set up a tent and camp. Eleanor says Thomas is nervous, which is new for him. Even Claire says the place feels like she’s been here before. 

It’s dark and foggy and quiet and very mysterious out there at night. Bill sees someone out there and gets stuck in a bog until Liz pulls him out. Eleanor and Claire have a long talk about Bill before they realize that Bill and Liz haven’t come back yet. 

Eleanor starts screaming, and Alex’s eyes are glowing. Liz gets on her radio to call for help, but she gets a very weird response. They all hear many children screaming for help outside the tent. Things get very strange with Eleanor, and her eyes bleed. Alex runs off into the fog. They find Alex a few minutes later, and he says he’s been lost in the dark for the past hour; that wasn’t him in the tent. They see a group of sheep with no eyes in the darkness. 

Morning comes and they see that their tent is surrounded by those stone monuments. Liz calls for help, and they airlift Eleanor to the hospital. Liz tells Bill that she’s had enough and won’t help in the future. 

Mr. Thornley calls Claire and tells her to stay away from the moor. He says that the killer was taken out to the moor yesterday to lead the police to bodies, and he escaped somehow. The killer is loose somewhere in the moors. Bill wants to go back up there, and he’s got a shotgun. 

Then we get a scene of Claire packing up and traveling, looking like she was leaving, and doing a podcast episode about coming to terms with what happened. Turns out that’s a false happy ending of something from before. 

We flashback to the GoPro, which shows Bill leading Claire with his shotgun up to one of those monuments. A crazy sheep rams his head into the monument and dies. Bill talks about human sacrifices out here from the stone age who were buried and preserved in the peat. “There’s something out here, something old and terrible. You heard the voice in the tent.” She didn’t, but he says it was clear to him.

It turns out that Bill does blame Claire for what happened to Danny. They come to the spot that Eleanor indicated on her map that last time. “The voice promised if I came here, I’d get Danny back.” Claire thinks Bill has lost his mind. Suddenly, Bill sees someone in the fog and chases them with his gun. 

Claire falls into a bog and slowly sinks as Bill returns. Several dead bodies rise up out of the bog as Claire sinks and Bill finds Danny. 

Commentary

Everyone has very thick accents, and the version we watched didn’t have subtitles. Depending on where you’re watching it, try to get subtitles. They are very British, but after a few minutes, we got used to it. 

It’s very slow moving, atmospheric, and moody. Really, the hopeless gloom and dankness of the setting are the biggest part of the film. The music and camerawork are really good; it’s slow-moving but not boring. There’s little horror at all until about 90 minutes in. 

We liked it– it’s more moody than horrific, but it does a good job with it.

2024 Arena Wars 

  • Directed by Brandon Slagle

  • Written by Brandon Slagle, Michael Mahal, Sonny Mahal

  • Stars Michael Madsen, Eric Roberts, Robert LaSardo

  • Run Time: 1 Hour, 36 Minutes

  • Trailer:

Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone

This wasn’t really horror, but a decent science fiction action flick with lots of gore and combat. And a satirical tone to it with plenty of dark humor. It’s got a very large cast that gets narrowed down as the mayhem flows along. We’d call it well-made overall and entertaining.

Spoilery Synopsis

It’s 2045 in the Big City. There’s some kind of arena fight going on; a man in armor with a pickaxe fights against a man in a prison outfit as two commentators talk about the bout. A woman in a mask, Cutie Pie, comes out and beheads the prisoner. 

TV execs talk about how to raise the ratings. “How do we win back the audience?” We cut to Luke Bender, in federal prison. He talks to the parole board about getting released. He’s not very cooperative and gets sent back in for more time. He gets a video call from Admiral Jordan, who asks how the hearing went.

Another prisoner, Arturo Perez, goes into the parole board, and he’s on death row. His only option is to participate in “Arena Wars,” the fighting show we saw earlier. 

We cut to the show, where there are ten new prisoners. The man there explains the situation and rules to them. “If you make it out alive, you get to go home.” They get no weapons. 

The show’s hosts, Samson and Moses, introduce the show and their regular killers. They look like wrestlers crossed with superheroes and combat suits. Calypso and Cutie Pie we’ve seen before. Each of the prisoners is injected with something. The prisoners joke about getting convicted of murder, and the only way out is to murder some more. 

One nervous young prisoner gets cut up right away. A couple of guys wait in the back, and their heads explode; that’s what the injections were about. Before long, Perez is the only fighter left alive. He beats the guy with the knives, but then another fighter comes out to stop him. Then he’s pulled into a hole in the wall by someone. 

The executives come to the conclusion that no one can root for these terrible criminals, they need a real hero to play the game. Luke Bender is pulled back into the meeting room; the show wants him. The head of the company Belladonna, wants Luke to audition by beating up his bodyguards, which he does easily. Belladonna knows that Luke is innocent; he’s read his classified file. Luke really has no choice. 

Luke gets another call from the Admiral, who knows all about his cover being blown. Luke gets on the truck to the arena and meets the other prisoners on his “team.” They are a classy bunch, and they all get checked into the facility. 

The doctor works on the established fighters, who are all on some kind of drug that isn’t working as well as it used to. He warns that if it wore off on-air that it might be a problem. 

Samson and Moses come on the show and tell everyone that they have something new, an innocent man. He was in prison because he had orders from his commanding officer. There’s lots of talking as we get to know everyone and then the show begins. 

As before, one guy gets torched. The birdman with the knives comes out next, but there are too many prisoners left alive, and they manage to overpower him. Luke has a knife, but he won’t kill the man, so another prisoner does it. 

“Meat Wagon” comes out next, and he’s big and tough, punching right through some prisoner’s chest. He and Khan work together to beat him. Luke starts talking about the team working together. The next contender is taken out by the prisoners pretty easily, and the crowd really roots for Luke. 

There’s a break in the show, and the producers invite the prisoners for a meeting up in the club. Belladonna talks to Luke, the new fan favorite. Luke wants to know if his fiance and her father are still alive, but Belladonna gives an evasive look. Belladonna offers Luke a vague “opportunity” to talk about if he survives; the network wants to make a spinoff series starring Jake. He can’t kill Jake, but shows that his fiance and her father the Admiral are both dead; that Admiral on the phone was a deep-fake. They knock out Luke.

The remaining prisoners try to support Luke, “We’re family.” We see that one of the fighters, Domino, isn’t taking her special mind-control drugs. 

The shows come back, and Moses has been ordered to keep the show going no matter what he sees. The battle starts, they lose one of the prisoners before defeating the next fighter. The next fighter is Mr. Smiles, a clown-themed killer. Billie beats him to death with his own mace without losing anyone else. 

Belladonna and the other execs watch from the control room as Domino joins them from downstairs. 

The armored-pickaxe guy from earlier attacks the four remaining prisoners. Cutie Pie sneaks in and whacks Jake in the back with her machete. Khan gives Luke some kind of drug that makes him better. The group works together to beat them both. Belladonna asks Domino how Khan snuck in that drug, and she shoots both his guards. Belladonna sends her down to the arena. 

Cutie Pie, impaled with her own machete, tells everyone that none of them really want to be there, and that even they are fighting against their will. 

Belladonna comes down to the arena and confronts the four convicts, using Boggs as a hostage. Billie cuts him in half with a chainsaw, and it’s quite bloody. Boggs presses a button and disables the explosives in their heads before showing them to the exit. 

The crowd cheers and Minty, Bille, Khan, and Luke leave the arena. 

As the end credits roll, we watch interviews between Moses and various characters we’ve seen earlier. 

Commentary

The concept is a new take on “The Running Man,” with the costumed fighters in an arena and an innocent man forced to fight for his freedom. This one has a surprisingly large amount of talking and drama for what amounts to an action movie, but it mostly works well. 

I kept expecting Perez (Robert LaSardo) to make a comeback later on, since we didn’t really see him die in the early scenes. He just sort of disappeared into a hole in the wall, which was an unsatisfying end to one of the few recognizable stars of the film. Michael Madsen, who got top billing, doesn’t get much screen time, but he plays one of the commentators and does well with the role. We both joked that Eric Roberts was literally phoning in his role, but at least that was explained in the story, and there was a good reason. 

The acting is decent, and the lighting, sound, and music are good. The sets seem appropriate, and the acting is decent for a movie of this type. The fight choreography looked good, and it all made sense. 

There aren’t really many surprises here, but we definitely enjoyed it.

2024 Realm Of Shadows

  • Directed by Jimmy Drain

  • Written by Robert Bieber, Jimmy Drain, Lewis Leslie

  • Stars Tony Todd, Vernon Wells, Jimmy Drain

  • Run Time: 1 Hour, 25 Minutes

  • Trailer:

Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone

It’s an anthology of tales wrapped around witchery and good versus evil. Some of the short stories had no dialogue, which was interesting. Despite top billing, Tony Todd only makes a small appearance, but he’s always good to see. We thought some of the stories were a little on the weak side, but as a whole, it’s a decent piece of work.

Spoilery Synopsis

We are told about a magic dagger that has been sought and fought over for thousands of years. Credits roll. 

Nalum goes to the strip club and talks to the other girls working there. We cut to priests talking and praying. The women go into the basement, set up an Ouiji board, and do some kind of spell that opens the Realm of Shadows…

Mallick's Dreamlady

Mallick walks into a bar and talks to Sarah, the bartender. His friend comes in and wants Mallick to hit on the girl who just came in. Sarah is replaced by a strange new man who says he can make that girl like Mallick, but he needs a strand of her hair. Mallick gets some hair for the guy, who vanishes. 

In the morning, Donna, the girl from the bar, comes to his apartment. They have fun, then she stays all day, watching him do laundry and mundane stuff. Mallick figures out that something is wrong and goes back to the bar to ask Sarah about the relief bartender; she says there isn’t one. He and Sarah leave together, and we see the strange bartender there after they leave. 

Hike

Mallik and Sarah are now a happy couple, and he has a ring for her. In the morning, she leaves him a note and takes the ring with her. He then goes for a hike in the hills. When he gets home, Sarah is there waiting for him and crying. He wakes up, that was all a dream, so he goes into the other room and proposes to her. (No one speaks in this segment). 

Abashed

A woman finds a book of hexes in the bookstore. Her boyfriend reads the Bible and doesn’t want to have sex with her. She uses the hex book to put a spell on him. They get married and she starts doing cocaine. They argue, and she uses her voodoo doll to make him kill himself. No one speaks here either. 

The Initiation of Profesor Kimmer

Dan, a new college professor, dreams about a coven of witches. He goes to school and assigns a ten-page essay on the first day (he deserves whatever he gets for this). A girl named Star wants him to read her rough draft.  He meets his boss after work, and the man tells him to watch out for sexual harassment. Dan seems to have some history of it. 

Dan’s wife is going to a family reunion, but he can’t go with the new job and all. He says he thought they were past her not trusting him alone. He grades essays, and reads Star’s, who has a love letter to him written into hers. 

The next day, Star arrives early to talk to Dan. She knows that he’s broken the rules before with his indiscretions. She wants an “A” or else. Oh, and sex. She wants sex too. The new Assistant Dean talks to Dan about Star, and she warns him about Star. Dan talks to a priest about the situation. 

Star corners Dan at a party and she’s drugged him somehow. Star is part of the coven, and they use a knife on him. The Assistant Dean comes in and wrestles the witches for the knife. Dan visits his wife, Jamie, in jail later; the Dean and his assistant reveals that she was the leader of the coven and this whole thing was a setup. 

Cadaver

It’s Halloween, and Peggy calls in to the radio call-in show. We flashback to her doing witchcraft. She reads up on Jon Beedham, the greatest dancer in the world. She practices dancing herself and goes to an audition for one of his shows. She gets pregnant by him, but he soon abandons her. Seven months later, she reads a book on witchcraft and cooks her own baby. 

Other than the radio call-in bit in the beginning, no one speaks in this segment either. 

Meet Michael

The little girl, Gaylen, has an imaginary friend that her parents can’t see. She says “Michael” lives on the roof and comes in when her parents go to bed. Her mother experiences some strangeness and wants to have the house blessed. 

A pair of priests come in to do the blessing. The priest wonders if Gaylen has seen pictures of the Angel Michael, and the parents say no. Later, we see a camera flyover of the house with an angel on the roof. 

Fate Upside Down

Father Dudley walks through the park at night and encounters a demon. “What you did was necessary,” he says. The demon gives him the dagger. Dudley talks to Robby and gives him the dagger. 

We cut back to Nalum and the witches and Ouija board from the opening. Nalum has poisoned the others, who all fall over dead; she’s got the other dagger. The priests from before call Father Dudley to fight…

The end.

Commentary

The bigger-name stars only appear in the final segment, so don’t come looking for a lot of Tony Todd here. Vernon Wells and Harley Wallen have a very brief after-credit scene. Most of the segments star the director, Jimmy Drain, and he’s pretty bland in every segment. He seems to do a decent job directing, but maybe it would have been stronger to leave the acting to someone else. It was also confusing because he played different roles in different stories but sometimes had the same character name, which made no real sense. 

There are several segments with no dialogue, and the music in these is quite good. Actually, I think I liked the “silent” segments better than the ones with dialogue. I think “Cadaver” was probably the best of the bunch.

As Kevin always says with movies like this, “It needed more Mel.”

The wraparound segment didn’t go anywhere, and the ending was more of a cliffhanger than an ending. The stories are on the weak side, but it’s well-made and looks good.

Short Film: Occupant (2024) 

  • Directed by Peter Cilella

  • Written by  Peter Cilella

  • Stars Daniel O’Brien, Lauran September, Caroline Jennings, Kira Powell

  • Run Time: 4:21

  • Watch it:

What Happens

A father tells his young daughter a twisted bedtime story. Then he goes into the next room, where his wife tells him he just came into the room and said he was going to bed a minute ago. Then he hears something strange outside and goes out to investigate. 

Commentary

It’s a really simple plot that mostly focuses on the creepiness of having something in your backyard. We’ve seen scenes like this in numerous “Body Snatcher”- type movies, but this is well done. If I had a complaint, I’d say the dark scenes are a little too dark, but what’s happening is always clear.

2018 The Perfection

  • Directed by Richard Shepard

  • Written by Richard Shepard, Nicole Snyder, Eric C. Charmelo

  • Stars Allison Williams, Logan Browning, Steven Weber

  • Run Time: 1 Hour, 30 Minutes

  • Trailer:

Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone

This was an excellent movie to go into blind. It starts out as one thing, then goes somewhere else. And somewhere else again. Some things could be predicted, and some things not. We really liked it a lot. Very entertaining.

Spoilery Synopsis

A woman lies dead in bed, with people talking in the hallway. With her mother dead, Charlotte may be able to go back to performing, something she hasn’t done in years. She gave up her career to care for her ailing mother. Credits roll. 

Charlotte calls Anton and Paloma and leaves a message about joining them in Shanghai. She sees a billboard for Elizabeth Wells, who is now a big cello star. She meets Paloma and Anton at a concert. Lizzie is there as well, and Charlotte clearly doesn’t like all the praise that she’s been receiving. Theis and Geoffrey, two old teachers, are there too. We get a flash to Charlotte shaving her head, slicing her wrists, and getting shock therapy.

Lizzie and Charlotte talk, Lizzie says she would never leave the group, but she is going on vacation starting tomorrow. As they come back inside, a man throws up, gets a nosebleed, and collapses. There’s some kind of hemorrhagic fever down south, and someone thinks maybe that’s what he had. 

Anton asks Lizzie to play for them, and she asks Charlotte to play 2nd chair. Charlotte says she’s an amateur now, but also doesn’t take much convincing. It goes well, and we see the two of them running off and kissing, dancing, and having lots of smoochy fun afterward. 

Lizzle asks Charlotte to go on her trip with her tomorrow. Lizzie doesn’t feel well before they leave, but she only has a few days and doesn’t want to waste it. They get on a cheap, nasty bus to somewhere, and Charlotte admits she can’t speak Mandarin at all. Lizzie swears she’ll be fine. 

She’s not fine. She pukes all over the bus, just like that guy last night. The bus driver angrily pulls over to let her poop in the road, and it’s a whole scene. Lizzie cries and whines a lot, but there’s not much Charlotte can do to help on the bus. She pukes again, and this time, it’s full of squirming bugs. She freaks out, scratching at herself, and the angry bus driver wants them off the bus. 

Walking through the Chinese countryside, Lizzie insists that she’s dying and Charlotte needs to stay away from her. Lizzie sees things crawling around underneath her skin; Charlotte sees it too. Charlotte pulls out a great big cleaver, and Lizzie cuts her own hand off. 

We flashback to Charlotte giving Lizzie some of her mother’s hallucinogenic drugs. She got the cleaver from a food cart guy. She faked the rest to convince Lizzie that she had bugs inside her. Soon, Lizzie isn’t going to be any competition for the cello jobs. 

Three weeks later, at Anton’s music academy, Anton welcomes Zhang Li, the new student that we saw perform in Shanghai. Zhang Li’s mother leaves in a cab, and Lizzie comes to the gate, with only one hand. She tells the story from her point of view; she says she took some pills and cut her hand off. She does blame Charlotte; she really knows everything. The next day, Anton and Paloma kick her out, he doesn’t want her around the place now. 

Meanwhile, in Minneapolis, Charlotte is home alone and is hearing noises from inside the house. Lizzie is there and gets her with a Taser… 

Anton and Paloma can’t get into the academy because Lizzie is blocking the driveway. She has Charlotte in the trunk of her car. Anton realizes that both women are crazy. Charlotte explains how she was helping Lizzie; she knows what Anton does to all his girls. She’s come back to save all the girls from him

We flash back to Anton going full Weinstein on young Charlotte. He demands perfection, and he’s very serious about it. 

Charlotte wakes up on stage in Anton’s special room. She’s all dressed up and chained to the floor. Theis and Geoffrey are there, as is Lizzie and Paloma. She accuses him of raping both herself and Lizzie, but Lizzie’s on his side. He makes her play, warning her that if she makes a single mistake, it will be Zhang Li who pays the price. 

Charlotte argues, but in the end, she has no choice but to play. She does, in fact, play perfectly, and Anton sends Zhang Li back upstairs. He leaves the room, telling Theis and Geoffrey to “come and get me when she stops biting.” 

The two old pervs move in on her, but Lizzie says she wants her first. Suddenly, the two old teachers collapse and die; Lizzie has poisoned them both. Charlotte smiles and Lizzie kisses her; we get a flashback to the Taser incident and the two of them making up. Lizzie knows that Charlotte was actually right with all this. 

Paloma walks to Anton’s study, and she’s got a knife in the back. It’s the two former cellists against Anton now. He admits that he’s sick and promises to get help. They both gang up on him and slice him to bits. Charlotte gets her arm graphically sliced in the process. 

Lizzie, who’s missing an arm, and Charlotte, who’s now also missing one, work together, each contributing a hand to play the cello for Anton, who has no arms or legs at all as well as his eyes and mouth sewn shut. But they left him his ears… 

Commentary

The Mount Rushmore of horror: Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers, Freddy Krueger, and that Chinese bus driver. Wow. 

This was two full years before either COVID or the Weinstein trial, and it predicted both quite well. We went into this blind, and thought we were going to get a plague movie for quite a while. 

Still, it twisted and turned a few times, and some of it we predicted– and some, we didn’t. This definitely entertained us.

2018 The Devil’s Path

  • Directed by Matthew Montgomery

  • Written by Matthew Montgomery and Stephen Twardokus

  • Stars Stephen Twardokus, JD Scalzo, and Jon Gale

  • Run Time: 1 hour 27 minutes

  • Trailer:

Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone

This was beautifully filmed entirely in a forest with trails, and manages to have a surprising number of guys in it. But it’s mainly about two of them, and the back and forth between them is done very well. There are points that require a suspension of disbelief - especially when you ponder them afterward - but we still liked it quite a bit.

Spoilery Synopsis

It’s the early 1990s. Noah explains that he’s felt the most comfortable in the woods; it’s people who scare him. “This place was our chance to leave it all behind.” Credits roll. 

A man hides in the woods and watches people walking on the trail below. He spots a guy with a beard and chases after him. He seems a little weird and “out of it.” He stops and sits next to the bearded guy and starts playing with his tarot cards: “the devil” and “the lovers.” The weird guy is Noah, and the bearded guy is Patrick; they start talking. Noah admits that he doesn’t get out very often. 

They watch a gay man cruising in the woods. Another guy, Stan, comes in and sits between them. “Love doesn’t exist on Devil’s Path,” says Stan as the other two get up and leave. The two walk on and pass a couple of “missing persons” posters; Patrick points out that they both look like Noah. There’s a blocked-off trail, and Ranger Tom says it’s closed until they find the missing men; some people have been attacked up there. 

Ranger Tom gets called away, so the two guys decide to walk down the forbidden trail anyway. Noah takes his medication with shaky hands. The area seems to be where gay men hook up for sex, and Noah seems a little uncomfortable with that. “People don’t come here for love or romance; they come here to get off,” Patrick says. 

They continue walking down the path. Patrick says that he’s an EMT and comes out here to “feel something.” Noah goes off to pee, and Patrick sees someone run past him with blood on his hands. He runs to Noah, who’s bleeding from a head wound and has trouble standing. He says that the other guy did it. The bloody-handed guy comes back with a friend and weapons, so Noah and Patrick end up running through the woods. 

Noah has a plan to take a backcountry trail to the parking lot, and they run in the direction they need to. Patrick has asthma and has trouble keeping up, so they stop. Noah walks to a stream to wash off the blood, and we see his back is all scarred up; there’s something weird about Noah. 

Patrick and Noah argue about the whole situation. Noah tells Patrick that this could be a defining moment in his life. He shows Patrick a photo of his older brother, who used to come out to these woods a lot. They argue about saving an injured bird, which Patrick mashes to put it out of its misery. Noah has a knife that he says his brother gave him, but Patrick says it’s his knife; he hooked up with Noah’s brother once and he stole the knife. They stop arguing when their two pursuers approach. 

The two argue about the nature of love. Noah looks for his pills, but the bottle is gone; Patrick says he threw them out, his mom got hooked on those. They find a covered place to hide, and Noah wants to spend the night. Patrick wants anything but that since he’s afraid of the dark. Noah admits that he beat his uncle to death for trying to hurt his brother; the brother confessed and went to jail. Noah got sent to a mental hospital, and he only just got out. 

Noah wants to know where his brother is, and he thinks Patrick knows what happened to him. Patrick says they only messed around a little bit, and he has no idea where the brother is. Noah tells the story about following his brother into the woods; the brother was there with Patrick. Patrick came back out of the woods, but the brother, Michael, didn’t. 

Patrick agrees to show Noah where the body is; no, he was just distracting Noah until he had the opportunity to stab him with the knife. Patrick runs off through the woods, and Noah tries to catch up. Patrick runs right into the two baddies, who accuse him of attacking Noah. They call him a “Homophobic piece of shit.” Patrick then kills them both with a rock. Noah catches up, “You killed them.” 

Noah admits that he bashed himself with a rock and got blood on the other man’s hand. He begged the other man to get help, making them think Patrick was the one who hurt him. Yes, Noah set this whole thing up to spend time with Patrick and get a confession out of him. 

Patrick’s lost his inhaler, so he doesn’t get very far. Noah’s got it, and smashes it in front of him. Patrick dies. 

Noah turns around and finds Michael’s body right there, hanging from a tree. “I’m sorry Noah,” is written on a cassette tape. 

Noah limps down the path on the way out of the woods. He’s still hurting from being stabbed. He finds a bench and passes out. 

Some time jumps, Noah is cleaned up but moving slowly, and talks to Ranger Tom. One of the missing men has shown up completely fine, but now there’s a poster for Patrick. Noah plays the cassette tape recorded by Michael for him, apologizing and explaining things. Michael killed himself for “cheating” on Noah with Patrick. 

Noah sits on the bench next to a guy named Steve and they awkwardly talk. Noah is still all messed up inside, trying to unload, and Steve tunes him out clearly only there for a hookup as he leaves Noah alone for another passing guy. 

Commentary

It’s more of a psychological thriller than a horror movie, but it’s very well done. Of all the places in that huge forest, they stopped right at the place where Michael was, completely coincidentally?

We know from the beginning that something’s going on with Noah, but we don’t know what for a long time. There are a couple of twists here, but nothing out of place or that requires too much of a stretch of logic. 

The acting is good between the two main guys, and the setting is perfect for this story. It was a little draggy in a few places, but overall, I liked it.

1968 Destroy All Monsters

  • Directed by Ishiro Honda, Jun Fukuda

  • Written by Ishiro Honda, Takeshi Kimura

  • Stars Akira Kubo, Jun Razakim, and Yukiko Kabayashi

  • Run Time: 1 Hour, 28 Minutes

  • Trailer:

Spoiler-Free Judgment Zone

In the far-flung future of 1999, the world is at peace, space travel is commonplace back and forth from the moon, and Godzilla and all the other big critters have been rounded up and imprisoned on a big island. Life is great until aliens show up to mess it up. This was a pretty fun one with impressive model work.

Spoilery Synopsis

The year is 1999, in the future, there’s a base on the moon, and spacecraft go back and forth on a daily schedule. We watch a spaceship launching. Credits roll. 

We are told about the underwater base near an island where scientists study marine life. All of the Earth’s monsters have been collected and live on this island and live together in MonsterLand. Godzilla, Rodan, Anguirus, Mothra, Gorosaurus, and Minilla are all there. If they try to leave, there are devices that drive them back. The control center is deep in the Earth under the island. 

In the base, Kyoko gets a call from the moon. Her boyfriend, Katsuo, thinks there may be monsters on the moon as well, but the call is cut off before he can explain further. There’s yellow gas being poured into the control room, and everyone passes out. The monsters are also being gassed, and they pass out as well. All communications to MonsterLand are cut off. 

The U.N. tries to see what’s going on, and someone is jamming their cameras. But who? The Soviets call, and Rodan is there destroying Moscow. Paris is dealing with Gorosaurus. The major cities of the world are being destroyed one-by-one by monsters, some of whom are from previous films that we didn’t see introduced earlier. 

Dr. Yoshido gives a press conference, and he can’t explain why Tokyo hasn’t been attacked. On the moon, Katsuo sees a UFO, but it escapes. The moonbase people get a call to return to Earth and land on MonsterLand– some new creature has taken over the island, and they need to learn more. 

Katsuo and the others land at the base and find Kyoko and Dr. Otani there. “I want all of you to cooperate with us,” says Otoni. He says they are still controlling the monsters from there; he orders Mothra to derail a train. Then they go in and meet the Kilaak Queen, who is behind all this. Kilaak is one of the asteroids, and she’s from there. The queen is also shielded against attack.

There’s a gun battle between the rocket men and the mind-controlled scientists of the island. They take Otani along with them, but he still looks possessed. He won’t answer any questions and jumps out a window at the first opportunity. The people from Kilaak capture Yoshido and Katsuo as another gunfight breaks out. 

Surgeons cut into Otano’s brain and remove a tiny transmitter that was implanted in his skull. An old farmer up the mountains finds a strange piece of metal and very soon, scientists from the moon base come to pick it up. The device is what the Kilaaks have been using to call the monsters. They announce that all the original island scientists need to be captured, including Kyoko. 

Suddenly, the air raid siren goes off, and Rodan attacks Tokyo. Godzilla, Mothra, and Manda soon show up as well. All the monsters converge on Tokyo!  The tanks and missiles start firing, and they blow up more buildings than the monsters have wrecked. There’s a lot of wreckage; Tokyo is in ruins. The Kilaaks have built a new underground base in Izu, and that’s why the monsters have come. 

Kyoko walks right into the control room and wants to talk to the leaders and the press. “If all of you allow the Kilaaks to stay here, they will send the monsters back to MonsterLand.” Katsuo tackles her and pulls off her mind-control earrings. Kyoko wakes up, but she doesn’t remember anything after the poison gas. 

Katsuo flies the rocketship to Izu, but can’t land because Godzilla is under the ship. The land forces open fire on Godzilla, and Anguirus shows up to assist the big lizard. Rodan chases the rocket away. 

Katsuo and two associates find the Kilaak cave and go inside. The queen appears and invites them inside the huge facility, which includes docking areas for the UFOs. She says they want Mount Fuji, and says the humans have no right to it; then the doors open, and they’re released with the message. 

Meanwhile, the humans have built a new control center on MonsterLand and get ready to recall the monsters. Katsuo heads to the moon when a signal is detected from there. They open fire and blow up the entire Kilaak moonbase. They see the Kilaaks in their true form, little metal worm things. The group finds a strange machine that creates the monster-controlling waves, and they disable it. 

Dr. Yoshido wants to use the monsters to attack the Kilaak’s base in Mount Fuji. The first to arrive are Minilla and Godzilla. Anguirus, Manda, Baragon, Rodan, Kumonga, and Gorosaurus show up right after. 

Suddenly, a UFO shows up; it’s none other than King Ghidorah! The Kilaaks are controlling him, and the Queen calls to taunt Dr. Yoshido. The Earth monsters remember him and attack right away. Godzilla holds him while Mothra and Kumongo shoot webs at him; meanwhile, Minilla jumps up and down excitedly. 

The monsters team up and make quick work of the three-headed space monster. A burning monster comes down from space and crashes through buildings. It wrecks the base on MonsterLand, turns around, and comes back for more. The Queen reports that her fire dragon has destroyed Yoshida’s machine, and Tokyo is next. 

Except… free from control, Godzilla turns on the Kilaaks, shooting their base over and over. The monsters will fight for Earth even without being controlled! The Kilaaks turn back into metal slugs and hide. Katsuo says he can shoot down the fire dragon. It turns out the “fire dragon” is really just a flying saucer in disguise, which Katsuo is able to shoot down. 

Yoshio, Katsuo, and Kyoko watch as the various monsters all head back to their home. The ‘Zillas wave at them as their helicopter passes. 

Commentary

Not one monster, or two, or even three. This one has all of them, eleven in total, including Godzilla, Minilla, Rodan, Mothra, Anguirus, Kumonga, Manda, Varan, Gorosaurus, Baragon, and King Ghidorah. We had to look up Manda, he’s from Atragon (1963) and Anguirus, from Godzilla Raids Again (1955). Gorosaurus is from King Kong Escapes (1967). 

There are a lot of models and miniatures in this, more than in several of the previous films. The monsters are just the aliens’ pawns, but the spaceships are pretty cool. 

It wasn’t as silly as “Son of Godzilla” and was pretty good!


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!