Tag Archives: General Horror
Late one night during a raging storm, Tess Marshall (a relatable Georgina Campbell) arrives at the small house she rented for the weekend only to find the key missing from the lock box outside. She sees light and a figure inside so understandably exasperated; she bangs on the door, which is answered by an odd man named Keith (Bill Skarsgard, inadvertently carrying the baggage of previously portraying a psychotic killer clown). It turns out the domicile was accidentally rented to two parties for the same weekend! Since itâ€™s raining cats and dogs and they just happen to be in the most dilapidated and depressing area of Detroit, the two form an awkward alliance and agree to share the place together. What could go wrong? Everything could go wrong. Everything you could imagine and a dozen things your mind could never comprehend can go wrong.
Iâ€™m not going to be the one to spoil this filmâ€™s surprises. Nope, I knew nothing about it going in and Iâ€™m a hundred percent sure thatâ€™s the best way to see it. (Now whispering) I will say, writer/director Zach Creggerâ€™s BARBARIAN absolutely feels like being trapped in a nightmare that you canâ€™t wake up from. Thereâ€™s this horrible force that keeps pushing you forward against your better judgment as you go deeper and deeper and sense that where you came from is disintegrating behind you. There is nobody to help, in fact, your every plea for assistance is misconstrued and digs your grave deeper. Every choice you make to fix the situation backfires and makes things worse. You witness the darkest heartlessness of humanity and the unfathomable pain and despair that it fosters. There are no happy endings here, just inevitable decay and rot. Itâ€™s all so outlandish it canâ€™t possibly be real but itâ€™s happening all the same. You have a few glimmers of light, a few hopes for escape but you squander them trying to do that right thing for people you have no idea donâ€™t deserve it. Something primal makes you want to cry out for your mother and that may be the biggest mistake of all. BARBARIAN is an ordeal. It can be furiously frustrating at times when the most backward choices are made but I think that just adds to the anxiety and the feeling of hopelessness. Itâ€™s a bad dream of a movie and like many bad dreams, it can’t help being as fascinating as it is thrilling.
Orphan: First Kill (2022)
Oh, me of little faith. As a big fan of Jaume Collet-Serraâ€™s ORPHAN (2009), I was excited to hear that there would be a sequel but when I heard it would actually be a prequel that took place before the first film, I couldnâ€™t help but be a bit skeptical. How in the world were they going to pull that off? Isabelle Fuhrman was even reprising her role as pint-sized nogoodnik Esther! Say what now? Like many of us, I donâ€™t think Isabelle has gotten younger in the last 13 years. Obviously, they were going to use CGI in some capacity but thatâ€™s always less than convincing or a downright annoying eyesore. Well, Iâ€™m happy to say they pulled it off with flying colors. Thereâ€™s actually a lot of practical effects and captivating forced perspective trickery involved, and Iâ€™d even say that the few moments when the effect isnâ€™t 100 percent convincing only adds to the filmâ€™s overall devilish uncanny weirdness. They somehow transformed an obstacle into an attribute. Praise be.
The year is 2007 and kooky Estonian Leena Klammer (who suffers from a physical disorder that makes her look like a kid even though sheâ€™s 31) cleverly escapes the mental hospital where she so clearly belongs. A little computer research reveals that she resembles a girl named Esther who had disappeared four years prior in the United States, so she hatches a plan to take her place. Poor, unsuspecting Allen and Tricia Albright (Rossif Sutherland and Julia Stiles, who apparently has been hiding her light under a bushel for years) welcome the imposter Esther into the home they share with snotty son Gunner (Matthew Finlan) but there are little hints that something just ainâ€™t right. All this may sound like a slightly modified version of the filmâ€™s predecessor but stand warned, the film is as clever as â€œEstherâ€ herself, it anticipates your every assumption and merrily dances on the grave of your expectations (and to the tune of â€œManiacâ€ by Michael Sembello no less)
Director William Brent Bell and writer David Coggeshall (with story assist by OG screenwriters Leslie Johnson McGoldrick and Alex Mace) truly understood the assignment as they say.
ORPHAN: FIRST KILL is a delightfully suspenseful, high-camp-infused, LIFETIME movie-bludgeoning, riotous throwback thriller that is every bit as entertaining as the (beloved, by me) sneaky gem that came before it. Iâ€™m not even sure we as a society deserve to have such a cinematic joy-dispenser after all of the dumb decisions we as humans have made over the years. Isabelle Fuhrman is a true marvel in her role that somehow harkens back to classic performances like Patty McCormack in THE BAD SEED (â€˜56) and Bette Davis in WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE? (â€˜62) at the same time; she truly owns this character. I thought I knew what I wanted from this film and I was worried I wasnâ€™t going to get it but the truth is itâ€™s better than I had the capacity to imagine. Now, I just hope I donâ€™t have to wait 13 years for the next one! Timeâ€™s a wastin! Weâ€™re not getting any younger!
One of the most satisfying experiences Iâ€™ve had going to the movies in many moons is when I went to see Ti Westâ€™s X. It just looked so glorious on the big screen with its huge skies, stark horizons, and broad, eye-popping aerial shots. Itâ€™s like an exquisite painting that uses every inch of the canvas properly, a perfectly designed iconic flag I cannot resist saluting. And of course, it stands on the shoulders of giants proudly declaring its loyalty to horror greats like Hitchcock, De Palma, Carpenter, and especially, the one and only, Tobe Hooper. Yet I forgot to post about it and the reason for that is that I talked about the movie so much to myself inside my head that I honestly thought that I had. But I recently snagged a copy on DVD and watched it again so nowâ€™s the perfect time to remedy that.
Itâ€™s 1979 and Wayne Gilroy (Martin Henderson) has a brilliant plan to take advantage of the burgeoning home video market by producing a porn movie. He gathers together the perfect cast with his main-squeeze, starry-eyed Maxine Minx (Mia Goth), leggy blonde bombshell Bobby-Lynne (Brittany Snow), and the generously endowed Jackson Hole (Kid Cudi). Helping out with directing duties is RJ (Owen Campbell) who brings along his meek girlfriend Lorraine (Jenny Ortega) to handle sound. The film is to be called â€œThe Farmerâ€™s Daughtersâ€ so Wayne rents out a rustic farmhouse in the middle of Texas (actually New Zealand) from two of the scariest oldsters you ever laid eyes on. Things get off to an uncomfortable and shaky start and go swiftly downhill from there. Iâ€™m not going to give anything away but itâ€™s like watching that â€œAmerican Gothicâ€ painting by Grant Wood being ripped to shreds by an alligator but both the figures in the painting and the alligator are aging and decomposing at an accelerated speed. Â
Thereâ€™s nothing quite like watching a horror film made by someone who truly loves the genre and X sends off love letter vibes in every frame. Thereâ€™s a certain type of eerie, menacing magic going on here that truly transports; itâ€™s like strolling at dusk through a midsummer nightâ€™s nightmare and when the you-know-what hits the fan the horror is palpable and feels as ancient and ubiquitous as time itself. My public service announcement is that if you suffer to any degree with gerascophobia (fear of aging) make sure you bring a blanket to hide under while watching this movie. Iâ€™m pretty sure I grew a gray beard and developed liver spots before the end credits.
Unsurprisingly and as usual, a major reason that I hold this film in such high regard is because of the people in it and the humanity it displays even in its darkest moments. Writer, director, producer, and editor Ti West gallantly makes a point not to look down upon, judge, or mock his rag-tag team of complicated yet personable outsiders. In one simple scene, they explain themselves and their outlooks and you kind of have to admire their freedom and ability to live outside societal norms unapologetically. It doesnâ€™t hurt that Britney Snowâ€™s Bobby Lynne sings a surprisingly moving rendition of Fleetwood Macâ€™s â€œLandslideâ€ which seems to momentarily stop the world from spinning. X is simply great filmmaking that is capable of conjuring up a cornucopia of emotions, horror being just one of them. Now, I better go buy some hair dye to cover this gray and maybe get some Geritol and prune juice while Iâ€™m at it. (Sobs quietly). Hey, why didnâ€™t I get a senior discount when I bought my movie ticket!?! Whippersnappers!
The Black Phone (2022)
Is modern life so bleak that THE BLACK PHONE, a horror-thriller concerning a boy who is abused both at home and at school and is abducted and kept prisoner by a devil-masked lunatic known as â€œthe grabberâ€ is somehow the feel-good movie of the summer? Yes. Donâ€™t blame the messenger. Iâ€™d even say it covertly sports the poignant reminder that we all survive and exist thanks to the acts and sacrifices of those who passed before us.
Ergo, Iâ€™d like to thank all my guardian angel ghosts out there. I see you and Iâ€™m mentally pouring one out to you.
Finney Blake (Mason Thames) is an affable 13-year-old living in an inadvertently hyper-stylish suburb in the aesthetically appealing golden year of 1978. Because he is modest and unassuming, most of his time is spent trying not to be beaten by marauding bullies or his brutish alcoholic father. Luckily he has a fantastic relationship with his younger sister Gwen (Madeleine McGraw) who has inherited their deceased motherâ€™s psychic gifts (and is routinely punished for them). Shortly after Finneyâ€™s only friend and protector becomes yet another missing boy in their neighborhood, Finney himself bumps into a horrifically bizarre character driving a very conspicuous Magicianâ€™s Van filled with black balloons. It doesnâ€™t end well. Finney finds himself in exactly the type of single mattress basement lair all sane minds fear. This one has a phone though- and it receives calls from his captorâ€™s past victims who are generous enough to share helpful advice.
Director Scott Derrickson and screenwriter C. Robert McGraw have already made it abundantly clear they know how to deliver the creeps with their previous collaboration SINISTER (2012). But whereas that film sometimes strained credibility in regards to human behavior, THE BLACK PHONE (based on a story by Joe Hill) has enough heart and soul to fully immerse you in the nightmare itâ€™s selling. Much credit goes to young actor Mason Thamesâ€™ portrayal of Finney who comes across as a fusion of the grounded stalwart Laurie Strode (as played by Jamie Lee Curtis) in HALLOWEEN (â€™78) and the mournful and inquisitive every-kid Mike Pearson (as played by A. Michael Baldwin) in PHANTASM (â€˜79). He instantly reads as someone you know or have known and if you donâ€™t recognize him it might be because you were him. Ethan Hawke is equally convincing as the chuckling twisted predator who thankfully keeps his monstrous cards close to his chest. And who among us can look the gift horse of a hilarious supporting part delivered by the incredible James Ransone (SINISTER 1&2, IT: Chapter II) in the mouth?
THE BLACK PHONE is able to elicit sympathy for its characters in a way that is sadly too unique in modern horror which ramps the suspense up to stellar heights. It wants to scare you silly on one end of the receiver but the other end wants to remind you that maybe with a little help from some friends (living or dead) all of us are capable of sticking up for ourselves, fighting back, and finally treasuring those closest to us. As a kid from the seventies, I couldnâ€™t help but appreciate how it presented a very recognizable sun-bleached world to me full of humiliations, aggravations, injustices, and the frustration of always getting a busy signal when you give Jesus a ring through prayer.
Ultimately, THE BLACK PHONE is a great reminder that horror films can do so much more than scare us, they can also inspire us to be brave in the face of what seems like insurmountable odds. Itâ€™s frightening, yet ultimately exhilarating; like an unholy cross between THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS and THE KARATE KID. Additionally, if you needed an extra reminder to stay the hell away from black vans this fine flick provides that too, and in spades.
Storm of the Century (1999)
I love watching winter-set horror films in the summer for a little mental relief from the heat but I also love to watch wintry horror flicks in the heart of the season when they are the most relatable. Come to think of it, I also dig them in fall and spring so I just took a long time to say I enjoy them all year round. Recently I popped in an old double VHS tape of Stephen Kingâ€™s STORM OF THE CENTURY, which I enjoyed when it first aired and I found myself surprised at just how well it has aged. Itâ€™s truly chilling, has atmosphere you can cut with a knife and is filled with so many interesting characters performed by a cast of truly talented actors. Thereâ€™s also a phenomenal central villain, a runtime that provides full immersion and a rather nasty moral dilemma that could leave you with frostbite. King himself has called it his personal favorite of all the television productions based on his work and Iâ€™d totally agree if not for the fact that SALEMâ€™S LOT (â€˜79) exists.
A small town is presented in full frenzy as they prepare for an oncoming winter storm. I can tell you from experience that New England storms are especially fierce when you reside by the ocean, as is clearly the case with fictional Little Tall Island (which weâ€™ve visited before to meet DOLORES CLAIBORNE). Enter Andre Linoge (a perfectly unnerving Colm Feore) who begins offing oldsters with his wolf-faced cane, causing suicides, revealing everyoneâ€™s darkest secrets and leaving graffiti everywhere that says, â€œGive me what I want and Iâ€™ll go away.â€ I donâ€™t want to reveal what tree this dog is barking up but I will say that I have a psychic hunch that Shirley Jackson would give his wicked proposal a big thumbs up.
Helping to make the horrific circumstances all the more harrowing is the fact that those caught in Linogeâ€™s crossfire are played by cream of the crop character actors like Jeffrey DeMunn (THE BLOB â€˜88, THE GREEN MILE â€™99), Julianne Nicholson (personal fave THE OTHERS (2000) & Emmy award winner for MARE OF EASTOWN in 2021), Becky Anne Baker (the mom from FREAKS AND GEEKS! She’s excellent) and even good old â€˜80s staple Casey Siemaszko (THREE Oâ€™CLOCK HIGH, STAND BY ME). Some may be surprised that Tim Daly, best known for the sitcom WINGS is wonderfully nuanced, earthy and relatable as the troubled, narrating lead, but anyone who has seen 1988â€™s fatal witch attraction flick SPELLBINDER knows the score (plus, who doesnâ€™t amongst us want to support Tyneâ€™s bro?).
Director (and former stuntman), Craig R. Baxley would go on to bring other Stephen King teleplays to the small screen (ROSE RED (2003), KINGDOM HOSPITAL (2004)) but heâ€™s best at his game here juggling compelling performances, creating a believable town to get lost in and throwing out striking imagery (with the help of cinematographer David Connell).
Iâ€™d even say you could take this in as a precursor to the type of work Mike Flanagan (MIDNIGHT MASS) has been excelling at delivering to Netflix recently. Like Flanaganâ€™s output, STORM OF THE CENTURY helps to erase the delusion that the big screen is superior to the small, especially when weaving such expansive tales. Though a hit with ratings and critics alike, STORM OF THE CENTURY has seemed to fall toward the bottom of Santa Stevieâ€™s bag of horror toys but Iâ€™m of the thinking it deserves to be much more appreciated. Personally, I think itâ€™s the gift that keeps on giving. It’s top-tier Stephen King in my book.
I feel itâ€™s my civic duty to write a review for the latest SCREAM movie and yet all I really want to do is talk about how much I love the last installment in the franchise, SCREAM 4. Iâ€™m super happy that the new film is doing well with critics and audiences alike but where was this gushing positivity when brilliant Wes Cravenâ€™s last film hit the scene eleven years ago? Yikes, thatâ€™s another thing thatâ€™s vexing me; was 4 really released that long ago? If I had to guess, I would have said it came out about five years ago. In any case, the new SCREAM is reasonably well done and offers plenty to keep one entertained even if I didnâ€™t exactly click with any of the new characters (at least not like I did with Kirby in 4) and I felt not enough time was spent with the returning OGâ€™s. Itâ€™s OK though, Iâ€™m probably still going to watch it countless times in the future and surely the newbies will gel with me over time.
This is a SCREAM movie so Iâ€™ll give away as little as humanly possible. The film opens with a scene that mirrors the first filmâ€™s famous opening but with a few less teeth and a victim (Jenna Ortega) who somehow survives. Soon we are introduced to her estranged sister (Melissa Barrera) and her close-knit group of friends (including twins who are nephew & niece to departed Randy Meeks). As the ghostface killer continues to strike, weâ€™re again informed that everyone is a suspect as the group of teens discuss elevated horror, legacy characters and “requels” like an exhaustive buzzword laden Twitter feed. The SCREAM flicks have always been pointedly meta/self-aware so itâ€™s appropriate to offer this update of current horror film discourse and yet my corny self would rather be hanging out with Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox) at her new job as a morning news show host or maybe getting a glimpse of Sydney (Neve Campbell)â€™s new husband. At least we do get some Dewey (David Arquette) downtime, even if his character has been dumped in a trailer & is hitting the bottle.
Directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillet (READY OR NOT) do an admirable job of respecting the series overall (even throwing out a blink and youâ€™ll miss it Easter egg of life saving proportions) and some of the kills are wonderfully vicious (including one creepily conducted in the broadest of daylight). Thereâ€™s no way Iâ€™m going to look this gift horse in the mouth as the film successfully puts the franchise back on track on multiple levels and thatâ€™s something to celebrate. I guess Iâ€™m just a bit let down by what and whom the film chooses to focus on when there are so many angles that might have been more interesting (at least to me). I will say that the films final reveal, though anything but innovative, is performed well and is sufficiently psychotic (even though I prefer part 4â€™s more passionate revelation). Ultimately this is a laudable feast for fans thatâ€™s nutritious enough even if I didnâ€™t leave the table completely satiated (like I did after viewing Part 4. Damn, I love that one so much. Justice for Kirby!).
Christmas Evil (’80) By Michael Campochiaro of Starfire Lounge
Lewis Jacksonâ€™s cult classic Christmas Evil (1980)â€”or as it was known during production and before the distributor changed the name, You Better Watch Outâ€”opened in a few theaters to little notice back in 1980. Then it mostly disappeared, only to see a revival of sorts in recent years on Blu-ray and streaming. For many of us itâ€™s now an annual holiday watch. Christmas Evil has something special going for it that few other Christmas horrors do: itâ€™s quite possibly the most pointed critique of the holiday season ever made.
Released during the slasher boom set off by Halloween (1978), Christmas Evil mightâ€™ve been marketed as a slasher (honestly, it was barely marketed), but thatâ€™s not what Jackson was going for. Like its anti-hero protagonist, it was an oddity, a methodically paced character study of an unstable, Santa-obsessed, middle-aged toy factory worker, which shares more in common with Taxi Driver than Halloween.
The film opens in 1947 when young Harry, his little brother Phil, and their mom secretly watch Santa Claus (their dad in disguise) deliver gifts under the tree. Later, after Phil flatly denies that Santa is real, Harry sneaks back downstairs, only to find a softcore version of â€œI Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clausâ€ happening between sexy, lingerie-clad Mommy and horny and hungry Santa Daddy. Disturbed by seeing Santa putting his mitts (and mouth!) all over my Mommy’s lusciously nylon-and-garter-belted legs (and beyond!), he runs upstairs, breaks a snow globe in a fit of rage, and intentionally cuts his hand with a shard of the glass. Fade to red, and the filmâ€™s original title screen appears.
In present day 1980, we find Harry working at a toy factory and living in an apartment that appears to be decorated full-tilt for Christmas year-round. Stage and character actor Brandon Maggart plays Harry. He is excellent in the role, and also the source of one of my favorite fun movie facts: heâ€™s Fiona Appleâ€™s dad! What makes Maggartâ€™s performance so effective is how he engenders such sympathy for Harry, who is looked down on by his coworkers, treated like a nuisance by his brother, and generally ignored by the rest of the world. Heâ€™s very much spiritually connected to Travis Bickleâ€™s â€œGodâ€™s lonely man,â€ even talking to himselfâ€”or having total breaks with realityâ€”in the mirror frequently throughout the story.
Harry already fancies himself a street-level Santa, clearly: he spies on the neighborhood children, keeping notes on whoâ€™s naughty or nice in a huge, leatherbound book. Itâ€™s chilling to watch him peeping through the kidsâ€™ windows, yet at the same time we never really feel any of them are in serious danger from Harryâ€¦.well, except little foul-mouthed, Penthouse-reading Moss Garcia, who Harry seems particularly disturbed by because he represents the new, profane world of 1980 (â€œNegative body hygieneâ€ and all) while Harry is stuck in an idealized 1940s fantasy life. That fantasy is important to remember as you watch the film. With Harry as our unreliable narrator, itâ€™s hard to know whatâ€™s real and whatâ€™s not. Are peopleâ€™s reactions to Harry filtered through his own fractured lens?
Harryâ€™s breakdown seems fueled by an inability to reconcile his nostalgic, pure view of Christmas with the cynically capitalist way the rest of the adults in society see the holiday. Harry identifies with the children who still believe in the magic and wonder of Christmas, yet reality repeatedly shatters these notions, day after day, making it almost impossible for him to maintain his composure.
Seeing the adulation Santa receives at the Macyâ€™s Thanksgiving parade triggers something in Harry. He immediately constructs a Santa costume of his own, builds toys in his workshop, and by Christmas Eve his mania is in full swing. He glues his Santa beard to his face (ouch!) and heads out to deliver some holiday cheer. He alternates between sweet acts of Robin Hood style kindnessâ€”delivering bags full of toys to a childrenâ€™s hospital, which he stole from the toy factory after becoming completely disillusioned with the placeâ€”and cold-blooded murders. The bloodletting is spontaneous at first, but then calculated, as Harry sneaks into the house of a particularly crass coworker and murders the man in his bed while his children eagerly await Christmas morning, just down the hall.
As Harryâ€™s Christmas Eve massacre carries into Christmas night, he has a series of encounters with holiday revelers, some jovial and some disturbing. After a final confrontation with his brother, who has deduced that Harry is the killer Santa the news media is reporting about, Harry drives off in his van, on which he has painted a Santa sleigh. Driving wildly, he crashes off a bridge and thatâ€™s when the film takes a turn for the surreal, as the sleigh-van literally flies off into the night, with Harry reaching a state of pure Yuletide bliss.
I tend to think Harry perished in the crash that Christmas evening, but it also appears that Phil is witnessing the flying van just as we are, so maybe not? Either way, Christmas Evil sticks with you. Jackson never directed another movie again, which is a shame, but at least his sincere, troubling, and borderline-genius piece of work has finally found its audience, all these years later. The allure of nostalgia is powerful, after all, making the core of Harryâ€™s story all too relatable for many viewers.
The Hand (1981)
In a strange turn of events, it turns out I rather dig Oliver Stoneâ€™s THE HAND. This is odd because I remember it boring the hell out of me when I watched it as a kid. To be fair to my younger self, 1981 was an incredible year for horror and itâ€™s still easy for me to see why it paled in comparison to the more exciting and innovative films of that year. Additionally, itâ€™s very possible I needed a lot more life experience to appreciate THE HANDâ€™s bitter, misanthropic tone. Thereâ€™s a whole lot of yelling and domestic squabbling in this flick and Iâ€™m sure my younger self was looking for a lot more murder and mayhem.
Now I find, if you can get past the outrageous premise, THE HAND is solid psychological horror and a compelling dive into insanity. Heck, the maddening journey Michael Caineâ€™s hair endures is worth the viewing alone.
Caine stars as Jonathan Lansdale, a writer and illustrator of a CONAN-like comic strip that apparently his entire sense of identity relies on. One day he finds himself on the losing end of a road rage incident and his right hand is severed. Sadly the hand also goes missing and it is presumed to be lost forever (if only he were so lucky). Let me tell you, Jonathan does not adjust to his new predicament well at all. Soon heâ€™s having black and white nightmares of his rotting paw crawling around stealing jewelry and visions of it strangling a homeless man (played by Stone himself). Landsdale landslides into several fun hallucinations including a lobster coming to life, a shower faucet nearly giving him the finger and even a giant hand attacking through a store front window.
Stone makes many an interesting directorial choice even if they donâ€™t all work (I could have easily done without the scene involving a fake cat senselessly jumping through a glass window being shown twice- as it didn’t work the first time). His greatest decision may have been to completely drop the reigns on Caine and allow him to go as bonkers as humanly possible. I could watch Caine go mad forever especially when his sad descent is scored by the great James Horner (WOLFEN, DEADLY BLESSING). Sure, the pacing (literally) crawls at times but there are still so many layers to enjoy. You get a psychological thriller, a family divorce drama (complete with little Christina (Mara Hobel) from MOMMIE DEAREST), a student/teacher romance, a wife and yoga instructor affair, a monster movie, a revenge movie, a cabin in the woods flick AND thanks to an X-Mas tree murder- a Christmas horror movie! Just when you think THE HAND has finally stopped delivering the goods, the incredible Viveca Lindfors shows up! Iâ€™m really glad I gave this crazy flick a second chance, young-me didnâ€™t know what he was missing.
Magdalena: Possessed by the Devil (’74) By Michael Campochiaro of Starfire Lounge
I was feeling under the weather recently so I did what any normal human being would do: I curled up in bed to watch a 1970s West German Devil-possession flick dubbed into English on YouTube. What, you donâ€™t do that when youâ€™re sick?
Truth be told, neither do I but sweet Satan am I glad I did this time. Iâ€™m not even sure how I stumbled upon Magdalena: Possessed by the Devil (1974); I probably have some lunatic on the internet to thank. And of course I have William Blattyâ€™s The Exorcist to thank because that little book you may have heard of set off a possession frenzy in the 1970s that produced not only William Friedkinâ€™s smash hit film adaptation, but also any number of movies and TV clones. It wasnâ€™t just in the United States either. Those crazy Italians and the almost-as-crazy Spaniards made a bunch of knockoffs. Then the Germans saidâ€”Ha! Okay fine, hold my HofbrÃ¤uâ€”and made the truly insane Magdalena (known stateside as Beyond the Darkness).
I donâ€™t even know how to describe this movieâ€¦take The Exorcist, strip away any semblance of seriousness, age up the lead actress to a teenager, add in staggering amounts of nudity and vulgarity, and just let the madness flow like draught beer during Oktoberfest. The story is simple: an orphaned teen (Dagmar Hedrich) begins writhing around like sheâ€™s having sex with the air, telling every man in site to â€œstick it in herâ€, and generally behaving in all sorts of ways not typically condoned in polite society. When possessed, she relishes antagonizing a series of truly stupid and horny men. Eventually sheâ€™s in the care of two doctors who begin to realize thereâ€™s more to this than medical science will ever be able to explain.â€¦much more!
Hedrich is to be commended for her performance. She absolutely commits to the madness. I swear sheâ€™s naked for half the film, at least, and not just naked but naked while running, rolling, fighting, and cackling her way through the story. Pardon the pun but sheâ€™s like a woman possessed.
Basically Magaldena is a German sexploitation film that happens to have satanic possession in it. After watching this crackerjack I felt less under the weather, and in fact, much better. Look, sometimes satanic possession is just what the doctor ordered.
Note: Make sure to visit MC at his home joint HERE!
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