Horror Movie Roundup – Curse of Chucky, Bates Motel Season 1, & Many More!

 

Curse of Chucky

That deliciously dastardly devil doll we all know and fear is back with a vengeance: literally. Chucky (voiced by Brad Dourif) has got an ax — and a knife, poison, and electronics — to grind in this, the fifth installment of the horror franchise. Curse of Chucky, written and directed by Chucky’s creator, Don Mancini, returns to its Child’s Play roots and delivers on what fans fell in love with way back in 1988 – more serious scares, with only a touch of its trademark snark.

Bringing to mind an Agatha Christie style set of circumstances, in which an estranged family must gather together in a roomy old family estate in order to hear the reading of a Will, Curse of Chucky casts Fiona Dourif as Nica, a disabled young heiress who must contend with her greedy sister, horny brother-in-law, their innocent young daughter, and her mysterious nanny… Oh, and a certain redheaded, freckled-faced talking doll.

Curse of Chucky is nicely restrained, eking out suspense and building characters before all voodoo hell breaks loose. Beautifully shot, and very well-acted, Curse of Chucky is, indeed, a cut above the rest.

Highly recommended.

 

Bates Motel Season One

Bates Motel: Season One is now on Blu-ray and it looks amazing! A TV show like this which is shot and acted in such a cinematic manner is a real treat in HD, and it’s even more fun to binge-watch back-to-back than it was, waiting from week-to-week.

Though some folks might have a little trouble reconciling a Norman Bates (Freddie Highmore) who goes to high school and uses a cell phone, most everyone will agree that it’s worth whatever mental readjustments it takes in order to get to know Mrs. Bates (Vera Farmiga) in this modern-day reboot. She’s a classic, complex, fully realized mom / femme fetale who’s sexy, sad, logical, and crazy all at once. The characters reflect the feel of the series – which is simultaneously erotic, repellant, dramatic, satirical, and chilling – and the stories unfold like the layers of a patient undergoing therapy.

Highly recommended.

 

We Are What We Are

We Are What We Are, which is getting a limited theatrical release, is sort of the horror genre’s answer to this year’s indie darling, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints. Actually, the films could have swapped titles and made more sense in relation to their plots. You see, We Are What We Are is a cannibal film. An arty, angsty, dramatic, family-dynamic presentation to be sure, but at the end of the day it’s a horror about killing and eating people. Elegant, macabre, poetic and slow-burn, director Jim Mickle is certainly the next-best successor to the legendary Terence Malick.

Taking place in the Catskills, We Are What We Are follows The Parkers – Marge (Kelly McGillis), Frank (Bill Sage), and their teenage daughters, Alyce and Iris (Odeya Rush, Ambyr Childers) – a reclusive family deeply committed to keeping old traditions alive… even though some people have to die in order for them to do that.

The film looks picturesque as can be, is well-acted, and very smartly plotted… until the finale comes along and scatters all that to the wind like so many petals.

Tentatively recommended.

 

QUICK PICKS

All the Boys Love Mandy Lane: This flick was a sensation at the 2006 Toronto International Film Fest, and though it’s been on the shelf awhile and its star (Amber Heard) has blown up, it stands the test of time. It feels as though it could have been made yesterday, bolstered by an excellent soundtrack, lack of pop culture references, and acted as well as can be expected given the standard “teenagers in a cabin” setting. In the end, however, it’s all about a head-shaker of a twist, reducing our characters to nothing more than vulgar nitwits who serve only as cabin, er, cannon fodder.

Blood: The Fairburn brothers (Paul Bettany, Stephen Graham) are British detectives who have lived in the formidable shadow of their police chief father (Brian Cox). In trying to prove themselves, they hopelessly destroy a case against a serial child-killer, and find themselves having to cover up their own crimes. I love the cast of Blood, and it seems to be well-directed, but it’s hard to tell through the mish mash of editing – you see, the 92-minute movie is boiled down from a a six-part BBC television series… and, it shows.

The Devil Bat: The old Bela Lugosi vehicle from 1940 flies out on creaky wings to Blu-ray this week. A bitter scent-inventor, Dr. Carruthers, is betrayed by his employers when they became rich fat-cats thanks to perfumes and aftershaves he created. He extracts reeking revenge by growing giant bats in his lab and sending them out to kill his former employers. Ah, the sweet smell of success!

Paranormal Asylum: The Revenge of Typhoid Mary: Inspired by true events (yeah, right…), this very low-budget film follows a pair of low-budget filmmakers on their quest investigate the mystery of Mary Malone, aka Typhoid Mary (Jenny Lee Mitchell), who was sent to live in a quarantined isolation after she was blamed for spreading Typhoid Fever. Turns out, the quarantine was an insane asylum crazy enough to rival Bedlam, and so after Mary died, her spirit is restless indeed.

Also available now: As Night Falls, and 4 Dead Girls.

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Reviewed by Staci Layne Wilson

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