The Institute – #BookReview

Hello out there all you horror fans, it’s me Slick Dungeon, back with a review of a book from the master of horror, Stephen King. This time I am reviewing The Institute, a novel about kids with psychic abilities and what happens to them after they are kidnapped and taken to the eponymous Institute.

SYNOPSIS

In the middle of the night, in a house on a quiet street in suburban Minneapolis, intruders silently murder Luke Ellis’s parents and load him into a black SUV. The operation takes less than two minutes. Luke will wake up at The Institute, in a room that looks just like his own, except there’s no window. And outside his door are other doors, behind which are other kids with special talents—telekinesis and telepathy—who got to this place the same way Luke did: Kalisha, Nick, George, Iris, and ten-year-old Avery Dixon. They are all in Front Half. Others, Luke learns, graduated to Back Half, “like the roach motel,” Kalisha says. “You check in, but you don’t check out.”

In this most sinister of institutions, the director, Mrs. Sigsby, and her staff are ruthlessly dedicated to extracting from these children the force of their extranormal gifts. There are no scruples here. If you go along, you get tokens for the vending machines. If you don’t, punishment is brutal. As each new victim disappears to Back Half, Luke becomes more and more desperate to get out and get help. But no one has ever escaped from the Institute.

As psychically terrifying as Firestarter, and with the spectacular kid power of It, The Institute is Stephen King’s gut-wrenchingly dramatic story of good vs. evil in a world where the good guys don’t always win.

REVIEW

5/5 Stars

To say that the book is gripping would be an understatement. King hooks the reader in with threads of people who seem to have nothing to do with each other but in as the reader we know there must be a reason we are introduced to these characters. By the end the reader is fully invested and the action never slows or disappoints.

Luke Ellis is a child genius. He’s able to ace the SAT with hardly breaking a sweat, he is able to get accepted into two Ivy League schools, and sometimes, just occasionally, he can knock and empty pizza platter off of a table with his mind. He’s twelve years old. To him, the least interesting thing about him is his mild telekinetic ability.

Meanwhile we meet Tim Jamieson who makes a sudden and possibly irrational decision to get off of a flight to New York and go wandering for a while. He ends up in DuPray, South Carolina, where he becomes what is known as a night knocker. This is sort of like a police officer, but it’s more like a security guard who walks around town, making sure nothing terrible is happening to disturb the peace of the quiet town. Little does he know it, but eventually, Tim and Luke’s fate will collide.

Luke wakes one day to find himself in a room that is almost his, but not quite. It turns out he has been kidnapped and he is in what is known as the Front Half of “The Institute”. Here kids are kept and fed and experimented on. The people who took Luke don’t care that he is a genius, they only care about his psychic abilities. That’s an unfortunate mistake for them because if anyone can get out of the place and expose what is going on, it’s Luke with his genius level intellect. Only, he will need to do it before he is taken to Back Half. The kids who go there, never are seen again.

Of course, since this is a King book, there are moments that are truly and genuinely terrifying and might just give you nightmares. The book reminds me very much of Firestarter or even Carrie when it comes to kids and psychic abilities but it has it’s own flavor to it. In my opinion it’s one of the better recent Stephen King books and doesn’t suffer from a poor ending the way some of his work can. It left me wanting more and hoping that there might be a sequel. Psychic abilities is a subject that King likes to delve into a lot, from Danny Torrence in The Shining to The Institute and I feel like they all intersect in one way or another. I kept imagining what would happen if little Danny had been taken to the Institute instead of to the Overlook hotel or if the kids in the Institute had gone to that haunted hotel. Whatever the case, if King writes about these psychic abilities, I am all in because it always delivers a great story.

If you like Stephen King at all, pick this one up, you won’t be disappointed.

Institutionally yours,

Slick Dungeon

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

The Boy – #MovieReview

Hello all you internet boys and girls out there. Slick Dungeon here back to review another creepy movie for you all. There will be some mild spoilers but I won’t give away the whole thing.

The Boy stars Lauren Cohen, of The Walking Dead and Supernatural fame, as Greta. Greta has had trouble at home in America with an abusive boyfriend and she has taken a job in England to be a nanny for an elderly couple’s child. When she arrives, it turns out that the “boy” is just a life size and very creepy looking porcelain doll. The couple give Greta strict instructions on how to treat the boy, what his routine is, and everything she needs to do to take care of Brahms. They refer to the doll as a living being and treat it essentially as you would an actual child.

Greta does make a friend while she is there. Malcolm, played by Rupert Evans, is the local grocer and delivers food up to the huge house in the countryside where Greta is staying. He also treats Brahms like an actual boy whenever the elderly couple are there but it’s clear he is just playing along.

A lot of this movie does unfold in the way you are probably picturing. That is, pretty much like Child’s Play or any of the subsequent Chucky series, but without the humor. Odd things start happening when it’s clear no one else is in the house. Greta’s shoes go missing and are returned. Strange sounds happen. And most importantly, the creepy as can be doll, moves when there is no possible way for it to have gone anywhere.

At first I was getting impatient with this, feeling like I knew exactly where it was going. I was mostly thinking how Lauren Cohen knows those guys from Supernatural and they would make quick work of a cursed doll, and this could be a forty-five minute television episode instead of a full length film. But then, Greta starts playing it smart, if a little oddly. I’m not going to let you in on what happens from there in case you have not seen it, but it’s worth an entire watch through.

While this film got bashed by certain critics, and I can see why some of them did not like it, I don’t think it deserved the drubbing it got. It’s moody and strange and there are definitely some jump scares that seem a bit silly, but overall, I am pretty sure you are not going to expect what happens in the end.

If you like the creepy doll form of horror, this one is right up there with the good ones in my book.

Creepily yours,

Slick Dungeon

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

1922 – #MovieReview

Hey everyone, Slick Dungeon here. Today I want to review the Stephen King short story adaptation of 1922 playing on Netflix. There will be some spoilers but I will try to keep them mild here.

As far as Stephen King adaptations go, mileage tends to vary. Consider 1922 to be one that lands on the good side of these things. While the film can’t be quite as disturbing as the novella written by the master of horror, it does an excellent job of getting close.

The story revolves around a man named Willfred “Wilf” James and is played by Thomas Jane. Wilf is a gruff and quiet rancher whose wife has inherited a plot of land after the death of her father. Wilf wants to expand his farm with the land but Ariette (Molly Parker) wants to sell the land and move to Omaha instead. The pair have a fourteen year old son named Henry who is in love with his girlfriend Shannon (Kaitlyn Bernard).

Wilf and Ariette are long past loving each other and it’s clear that this argument is not going to work itself out. Wilf decides that the only way for him to get the land that he hopes to pass on to his son is to murder his wife. He even enlists Henry’s help to do it.

The fact that Wilf murders his wife should not be a spoiler for this because it’s what happens next that is surprising. The act that Wilf and Henry commit come to haunt them both in different ways. The film takes us through the rest of the year of 1922 seeing what happens to Wilf and Henry throughout.

Thomas Jane gives a masterclass example of conveying horror in a quiet but ever present manner. When you get down to it, it’s a simple story but the unfolding of events in the film leaves the viewer disturbed and on edge for the entire film. Certain sequences recall other King stories and adaptations, what with the prominence of endless fields of corn growing everywhere.

At no point to we ever really like Wilf but that won’t stop the viewer from being disturbed by what happens to him. The frequent use of rats in the film come at the most unexpected times and the imagery it puts in the viewer’s head will stick with them long after they have seen the film. And of course, the whole time, the viewer is thinking that Wilf really should have moved to Omaha.

Unlike a good portion of Stephen King stories, the end of this one does not disappoint. The horror is raw and gripping all the way through.

If you are a horror fan or a Stephen King fan (I know those groups mostly overlap) this is a great way to spend a little less than two hours. I just wouldn’t recommend having any snacks handy while you do unless you have a strong stomach.

Horrifically yours,

Slick Dungeon

Girl on the Third Floor – #MovieReview

Hey all, it’s Slick Dungeon here and I wanted to give you my take on the dramatic drywall antics of the film Girl on the Third Floor. Be forewarned, before you read on, there will be spoilers right in the very foundation of this review. If you really want to watch the movie before you read the review, go for it and then come back. If you don’t mind spoilers, read on. You do you.

The film stars CM Punk (aka Phil Brooks), Trieste Kelly Dunn, Sarah Brooks and Tonya Kay.

I’ll give you a quick run down of the plot but then I had a few questions about this movie.

Don, a class A jerk, who has defrauded a bunch of clients of their retirement money has moved into an old house. As is typical with horror films, the purchase of an old house is a poor investment and to make matters worse, the dude is trying to fix up the place on his own. He needs to fix it up before his pregnant wife moves in. About the first thirty minutes of the film is watching CM Punk listen to angry metal and totally mess up drywall. There are also lots of shots of him walking slowly as if he thinks someone is in the house and wondering where his dog got off to. Plus he picks up a lot of marbles that roll around out of nowhere and he doesn’t seem to think this is a big deal.

Guess what? Don is still a jerk when he meets an attractive woman named, Sarah, and then instantly sleeps with her despite the fact that he has a pregnant wife. We also get to see him talk to his neighbor across the street and go to a bowling alley. I had major questions about the bowling alley but we’ll get to those in a bit.

Don, despite being a jerk who likes angry metal, yelling at his dog, and cheating on his wife, also has a friend named Milo. His friend, who is innocent in all this, finds out that Don is still a class A jerk and had an affair. After a fun day of doing more drywall and then going to a bar, Milo goes back to work on the house only to end up talking with Sarah for a moment and then getting his head crushed in with a sledge hammer. To finish up the job, the also innocent dog is killed, cut up and stuffed into the dryer for Don to find. So for those keeping track, Don has ruined peoples lives, cheated on his wife, gotten his buddy and his dog killed and also been rude to the pretty odd bowling alley owner all because he wouldn’t just admit he sucks at drywall and hire some contractors with that money he defrauded people of. If you are getting the impression I don’t have a lot of sympathy for Don, you would be right. That guy sucked.

Turns out that the woman who Don had an affair with is a ghost. Yeah, you probably saw that coming. Or, if you were watching the film you would. The house they are renovating used to be a house of ill repute, if you know what I mean. And bad stuff happened there and then it seems bodies were buried and hidden and those spirits don’t exactly like it when renovations to the house are made. The rest of the movie is basically seeing if Don will survive, it his pregnant wife will end up dead and if anyone will figure out where the heck all those marbles are coming from. I won’t spoil the end but yes all those questions get answered.

The performances were interesting and the pacing of the film was overall good if a little too slow at times but I still wondered a few things about this movie.

  1. Don shows up and starts poking around in the house. This disgusting black goo starts coming out of the wall. Okay, so maybe that doesn’t instantly make you think the house is haunted but I would think that maybe you would want to find out if that stuff is some kind of leak or dangerous chemical or something but Don is just like yeah okay. Why didn’t he watch more home improvement videos before starting?
  2. Similarly, this white goo comes through the electrical outlets at which point, I would think you would freak out. Not thinking that the house is haunted still but definitely, like, man I need an electrician here because, like, I don’t want my new baby to get electrocuted because I am pretty sure there is something wrong with the wiring. Why would you ignore that?
  3. Next Don talks to his neighbor who seems to give cryptic hints about life choices and the house he just bought. Why wouldn’t you want to know more here?!
  4. Then the dude goes to this bowling alley. There is no one there and there are only three lanes. The owner makes Don some food and asks him if he is visiting or new in town. Don tells him about the house he bought. At which point the owner asks Don if he is gay and tells him that the house has a history of being, “bad for straight men.” Dude. Someone tells you that about the house you just bought and your impulse is not to say, what do you mean by that tell me more?!?!? Really, I would be like that is one of the weirdest things anyone said to me but all Don does is say, “You’ve got a real nice way of welcoming people to town” angrily at the dude. I get missing the dry wall, the white electrical goo and rolling marbles not tipping you off about your haunted murder house but if a bowling alley owner tells you the place is bad for straight men and you don’t follow up, that is entirely on you.
  5. What did Milo ever do? This house seems to kill men who are bad to women because it has a bad history, but that Milo guy was just there doing some home chores. While the house doesn’t seem to like it, I’m not sure that the rules as this movie has set things out should have had Milo die. He didn’t cheat on anyone or anything. All he did was say that Sarah probably shouldn’t be there and he gets a hammer to his head for that? Come on murder house, stick to your own rules!
  6. When Milo comes in the first place he is baffled by the fact that Don hardly has any tools. Why didn’t Don look this stuff up? I’m gonna renovate a whole house. You know what I’m not gonna do? Read about how to do that!
  7. Okay so again spoiler here but Sarah is a ghost who died in like the twenties maybe but she seems to be up on modern lingo and able to use a cell phone. Do ghosts still get to learn stuff after they are dead? Also she can totally touch stuff all the time and Don even sleeps with her but she is dead, so uh, how does she even feel warm to him?
  8. Later the bowling alley is packed and there are a ton of people there. Does no one else there know that Don bought a murder house? If they do, then it’s pretty messed up that they didn’t warn him. Then again, Don is a class A jerk so I guess it’s all good.
  9. In the end one of the characters lives but then does more renovation on the house. The thing is that there are still at least two bodies in the place. This character knows about the house and why it is haunted yet they don’t check everywhere for other bodies. What the heck man? If you find one, you check the whole house, that’s the rule.
  10. A major plot point in this is this hidden third floor that Don finds when the roof of his bedroom basically collapses. His reaction to that? Just seal it back up. Okay, I get that you don’t get creeped out by a ton of marbles rolling around unexplained. I get that when you hear a laughing voice at all hours, you think it’s in your own mind, I get how you ignore that weird white goo coming out of electrical sockets, and I guess I get why you didn’t ask more at the bowling alley (although I totally would have) but how in the world do you look at a surprise third floor and not at least call someone about it?!?!?!
  11. I’m pretty sure that a neon sign flashing that said this was a bordello where people got murdered so you should probably stay away Don, would not have been enough for this guy to forget about the amateur dry walling. But when you find your dog murdered in the dryer for any reason, it is time to leave. What kind of an idiot stays in a house like this?!
  12. I guess a class A jerk is your answer.

I hope you enjoyed this review and remember that if you are about to take a sledge hammer to a wall because there is weird black goo coming out of it, you are probably better off going to the bowling alley and finding out why it isn’t a good house for straight guys. Or you know, watching some home improvement videos first at least.

Handily yours,

Slick Dungeon

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

The Fog (1980) – #MovieReview

“Eleven fifty-five. Almost midnight. Enough time for one more story. One more story before twelve. Just to keep us warm.” That’s how John Carpenter chose to start his masterful follow up to Halloween and prove that he is one of the all time horror greats. He showed us he could take a shoestring budget, a simple ghost story, a menacing tone and a crap ton of dry ice and fuel nightmares for decades.

What’s going on everyone? Slick Dungeon here and I just re-watched this classic from 1980 and wanted to give my thoughts on it and a little bit about horror in general. It has been a long time since I saw this movie so although, I certainly remember thinking it was a decent film, I had forgotten how good it actually is. Needless to say, I will be giving some mild spoilers here so be forewarned.

The beginning of the film is a story around a campfire. At this point in cinema history, that’s probably over done and most of the time would not work. But here, in this film, the whole movie is what amounts to a campfire story so it makes a lot of sense. Also, by framing it this way at the beginning, Carpenter is able to set up the atmosphere, give us most of the information that we need to understand the story, and introduce us to the town the story is set in. He takes the time do one very important thing that I think a lot of modern horror films lack. He sets the tone. If you think about one of the best horror films to come out in recent decades, Get Out, does the exact same thing. I know that gore splatter and body horror films are popular but they never scare me as much as a film willing to be patient enough to make the scares matter.

We’re told the legend of the founding of Antonio Bay, involving a tragic shipwreck and it’s obvious from the start that even if every word of this legend is not going to turn out to be true, it will still be deadly. Even more so because the teller of the tale is able to time the tale so that it is finished at the very second that it is 100 years to the date that the shipwreck happened. We know there are ghosts coming for someone from the depths of the bay, through the fog.

Around the same time, a priest in town discovers an old journal belonging to his grandfather, full of murder and secrets buried for a century.

It turns out that the campfire story was only partly true. The shipwreck was deliberate and six men met their deaths because of it. Now, one hundred years after, these six men are coming back through the fog to take revenge on six victims.

Simultaneously, a ship out to sea is enveloped with fog, and a radio station operator starts seeing the impossible. The fog moves against the wind.

The rest of the movie is basically what amounts to guessing who will get killed and who will survive. And to be honest, the effects don’t all hold up that well. But it still works for a few reasons. First, Carpenter waits long enough to truly show us the monsters that they don’t have to look that good. Second, the performances by everyone in this are outstanding. To top that off, the film stars high quality actors including the ever entertaining Hal Holbrook, scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis and of course, the most famous Hitchcock blond of them all, Janet Leigh. Finally, Carpenter makes the stakes high immediately by murdering everyone on the ship at sea.

It’s a fascinating psychological portrait and while there are things that jump out at you and startle you, it never has to rely on that to be frightening. I wish more films could learn these lessons. Jump cuts are fun and entertaining but they simply don’t make for the greatest tone, and personally, I usually notice the edit and think, “yeah okay that was a jump cut, let’s move on.”

I can see how a lot of horror fans may have missed this film as it was never as popular as Halloween and it’s sequels and while it doesn’t quite grip you as well as The Thing, it is still masterful cinema. If you love a good ghost tale and have about ninety minutes, you should definitely check this movie out. And if, like me you haven’t seen it in years, it’s a great and fun look back on when horror took it’s time to creep up behind you before striking out.

Foggily yours,

Slick Dungeon

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

Blood Quantum – #MovieReview

Hey everyone, Slick Dungeon here. Shudder dropped a surprise zombie movie on everyone for halfway to Halloween and it was freakin’ fantastic.

I am a huge fan of zombie films. I know some people think they are played out and the whole genre is getting a little boring. While I may not agree, I can understand the sentiment with that fact that we have had umpteen seasons of The Walking Dead, several spin offs, other zombie shows popping up on Netflix and other streaming services. But, like zombies themselves, the takes on them are endless.

I will admit that I have never been a huge fan of the whole, “fast zombie” thing, maybe with the exception of 28 Days Later so I wasn’t sure I was going to like Blood Quantum.

I could not have been more wrong about that. Like the best zombie stories, this one is frightening, it has genuinely surprising moments, the action is intense and it reflects on modern day issues. The most fascinating part of the movie isn’t even the zombies themselves but the characters who are the focus of the story.

I’m not willing to give much away on this so I am just going to give you the blurb from IMDB and post a trailer for it.

Here’s the blurb:

The dead are coming back to life outside the isolated Mi’gMaq reserve of Red Crow, except for its Indigenous inhabitants who are strangely immune to the zombie plague.

And here’s the trailer:

If you are a horror fan, or a zombie fan, I am going to summarize it simply for you. You have to watch this!

The performances are spectacular and the whole thing is finally a fresh take. It’s not just the best zombie movie I have seen in a long time, it’s the best horror movie I have seen in a long time. Watch it if you haven’t!

Praisingly yours,

Slick Dungeon

Christmas Evil – #MovieReview

Hi everyone out there, it’s me Slick Dungeon. Today is the 75th of whatever, so I decided it would be the perfect time to watch a horror film about Christmas. Yep, you’ve seen Halloween, you’ve marveled at Friday the 13th but you know what? There are a whole lot more holidays out there so, why not Christmas? It’s as bad as it sounds so buckle up because I have an exclusive Slick Dungeon treat for you here.

First let me say, that there will be spoilers for Christmas Evil, or as it was originally titled, You Better Watch Out, or also as it was once titled, Terror in Toyland as well as for… Santa Claus. No not the movie, the person. Also, at the end of this I am going to tell you how you can watch this movie for free. That’s right, a no cost blood letting of a movie set during Christmas time. Just think of me as your local dungeon Santa Claus.

I saw the title of this movie and I knew I had to review it. I watched it and it’s not as easy to summarize as you would think. Believe it or not, it is somewhat difficult to give a fresh take on a movie where a guy watches his father, dressed up as Santa Claus, rub his mother’s stocking, gets a bizarre Oedipal complex because of it, becomes obsessed with Santa, creepily peeps into windows to watch children, steals from his place of employment to donate to a children’s hospital, commits some homicide, goes to an office party, sneaks into homes to give presents, commits some more homicide, drives around town in a van painted like a sleigh, runs into some neighborhood children and then gets in a switch blade knife fight with their parents, finally goes over to his brother’s house and is almost choked to death by him and then drives off of an overpass. Okay, actually, maybe a fresh take on this is not needed but… I have discovered something here in my dungeon and you are not going to believe it. I found Harry Stadling’s diary. Who’s Harry Stadling? Why, the homicidal Santa Claus of course!

Without further ado, here are his entries.

———————————

Christmas Eve 1947

Dear Diary,

Oh boy am I excited! I just saw Santa Claus putting out presents. My brother Phil saw him too but he’s convinced that it wasn’t Santa. He thinks it was Dad. Phil is going to be so messed up when we grow up, I just know it.

Later the same night

Oh man, oh man, I just saw Santa gettin’ frisky with mom. It was weird and I am sure Dad is going to be so upset. I’m not going to let it bother me though, I’m sure thirty years from now I’m not going to become obsessed with Christmas, make my own Santa suit and commit triple homicide or anything.

Also, I must have been good this year because I got a lot of toys and I write surprisingly well for a four year old. Too bad I smashed a snow globe and cut my hand with the pieces just to see my own blood.

Anyway, I gotta get to bed now. I’ll write more here soon.

Love,

Harry

Thanksgiving Eve 1980

Dear Diary,

I know it’s been a while since I wrote, sorry about that. Next year I am making writing in my diary my New Years resolution. I’m sure I will live past Christmas, why wouldn’t I?

I’ve been watching some neighborhood children with binoculars that I got last Christmas. My brother Phil is a real jerk cause of that thing he said about Santa when he was six but these binoculars are nice. Most of the kids in the neighborhood are great but there’s this one who looks at dirty magazines. Not sure if I will strangle him but I am definitely going to get a closer look at the bushes by his house later.

I work in a more depressing than can be expressed toy factory now. I have insanely decorated my house with all kinds of Christmas stuff but hey it makes me happy. It was a rough day at work yesterday. See, I used to work “on the line” at the factory making toys. But they promoted me to be a manager so now I just mostly get aggravated at ad campaigns for false charity that the factory puts out and tell people how much the toys they are making suck. Strangely, I still plan to give out several of these toys to good boys and girls.

Anyway, work was a real downer again. See there was this one guy, Frank, who still works the line and I mentioned to him how I missed it. For unknown reasons he then straight up grabbed my sandwich out of my hands and ate it right in front of me. He’s a nice guy though. Well, I thought so anyway. See he wanted to get out of town early with his wife. He asked me to cover his shift so I did. Then I went to the bar to get a drink. Guess who was there? Diary you are never going to believe this! It was Frank and he called me a schmuck! I wish I could put him on the naughty list! He wasn’t leaving tonight, he was leaving in the morning. What a jerk!

I got so mad I decapitated one of my dolls. With my bare hands! While humming Christmas tunes!

After that I wanted to unwind so I peeped into my brother’s window and saw him making out with his wife. The way you know it was my brother’s house is that there is a random sign in the middle of the lawn that says Stadling for no apparent reason. I stood next to it for a while and gawked awkwardly. I was pretty tired so I left without saying hi or anything.

Love,

Harry

Thanksgiving 1980

Dear Diary,

My brother Phil, who has two sweet kids, wanted me to come over for dinner but I flaked on him. Why? Well, see I watched the Thanksgiving Day parade at Macy’s and I saw Santa in the parade. I decided to ditch dinner and make a home made Santa suit of my very own instead. Yeah, I know that there are still more than twenty days until Christmas and that I put the suit together in a single afternoon but it’s important to be really prepared. Phil will get over it I’m sure. Anyway my flaking on him can’t possibly be as bad as him at six years old saying Santa was not real. That’s just evil.

The fur in the suit was real soft so I hugged it and smelled it like a maniac. I’m sure there’s nothing wrong with me.

Later that night

Thought the old van could use a spruce up so I painted Santa’s sleigh on it. I made good use of my time though by also reciting my nutso Christmas list while I did it. I think it looks really nifty and no way it will stand out to say, people who see me murder someone later when I do it in front of a crowded church. The cops will never catch Santa Claus! Err… I mean, paint job looks great!

Love,

Harry

The next day

I came across some kids from the neighborhood today. They told me about what they had been wishing for. One of them wished for a lifetime subscription to Penthouse magazine. It’s that same little punk from before. I’m really going to telegraph in this diary that I might kill him but never do it in this movie. I have a better idea.

Later that night

Hid by the bushes at that kid’s house. I rubbed dirt on my face then kissed the side of his house because… well I don’t know why I did that. I don’t think the audience will know why I did that either. Then I nearly grabbed him but he got in the car with his mom who never saw me even though I am a grown man who hides in bushes and am really obvious in every shot where the kid shows up. And by almost grabbed him I mean my closed fist was about a foot away from him the whole time even though I could have grabbed him. Also the kid’s mom totally slapped him and it seems like that might be a regular thing but I guess that’s fine because any kid who points out a man hiding in the bushes deserves a good slap from his mother?

With that done, I went back and made some toys in a make shift toy shop that I have in my house because, well, it’s there.

Love,

Harry

Christmas Eve Eve 1980

Dear Diary,

Went to the office Christmas party. Guess what? Everyone here is a jerk! They made this ad campaign about donating toys to a kids hospital but they didn’t even know how many kids were in the hospital or how many toys were actually needed. Oh and in a bonus jerk move, they expect the workers to donate some of their own money to contribute to this so called charity drive they are having. It makes me want to murder someone!

Then again I might have freaked some people out by talking about how I know the tune now. Some of them don’t know the tune and some know it but use it for ill gotten success. They need to get with my tune!

Had to bail on the party, I’m not much of an office guy.

Later that night

Went back to the factory and stole a few bags of toys. I know I said they sucked and weren’t good enough for kids but I’m going to take them right over tomorrow to that kids hospital and giving these sucky toys right to them, dressed as Santa!

Love,

Harry

Christmas Eve 1980

Dear Diary,

I glued a beard on my face. I am now Santa Claus. First on the agenda, laugh like a maniac in the mirror. Next I invaded some houses and tossed some packages under the tree for them, even though they already had a bunch of presents. For unknown reasons I brought the big kitchen knife with me and cut into some packages while leaving others. No one will notice my painted van, I am sure.

Also I left a huge bag of dirt for that one kid, so there. I did leave it outside his house though, so it’s not under the tree and I’m not sure the kid will understand it was from Santa. Still, sweet justice!

Went over to that hospital and gave those toys. They totally accepted them even though there was no arrangement and the staff had no clue who I was. Well, I mean they knew I am Santa Claus obviously but they still were a little suspicious. Maybe they’ll remember me by my van next time. It’s the one with a sleigh painted on both sides.

After that I drove over to the church. I waited for everyone to start coming out while I waited at the bottom of the steps. These three people were real jerks to me. So I stabbed one of them in the eye with a toy soldier. Note to self, that’s maybe too sharp for the kids. Then I murdered two other people with an ax because they were also jerks. Good thing no one looked at my license plates or followed me at all. Also good that no one called an ambulance or even attempted to give first aid to those people I killed. I feel great though!

My next stop was leering in at a different Christmas party. They saw that I’m Santa and made me come in and dance. I gave some gifts away and then intimidated the children as much as I could. It was great!

I heard while I was at the party the cops couldn’t find me because I was dressed as Santa. Thank goodness they didn’t think to ask about the hugely obvious van I drive around or anything.

My next stop was Frank’s house. I first tried to suffocate him with my sack of presents but then I decided to just slit his throat with a Christmas decoration. Man those stars on top of trees are sharp! Also, his wife is a real sound sleeper cause she didn’t even wake up until Frank was bleeding out on top of her. I did leave some gifts for the kiddies though, cause they were good all year. I’m pretty tired but Santa’s work is never done.

Love,

Harry (I mean Santa Claus)

Christmas Day 1980

Dear Diary,

Been driving around for a while now. Decided to go back to the factory. I turned on all the assembly lines and just let all the toys fall and break. What’s that? Are they some of the same toys that I delivered to the kids hospital? Yes, why do you ask? I hate those toys but those kids deserved some really bad toys because… they were good?

Once that was done I started to drive over to my brother’s place but the thing is… Christmas lights. I saw them and got my van stuck in a snow drift. Then these kids showed up and they were like, yay, Santa! They came around and started to hug me and I gave them gifts. But then this one guy who was at the church saw me and he pulled out a switchblade. I was pretty worried there but his daughter easily disarmed him and gave me the knife. There was a bit of a scuffle but I got away okay in the end. In my van. That no one has identified to the police in any way whatsoever yet.

Finally got over to my brothers house to celebrate Christmas with him, and the fact that I had snuck into his house to give his kids inferior presents. Oh, and that I had murdered four people. But you know what? Phil, my brother, he tried to choke me to death! We got in this big argument about how I am homicidal and how he told me Santa wasn’t real when he was six. Some people just can’t take a little Christmas cheer I guess. His kids stuck up for me though and were sent upstairs. For a minute I was really out of it. I seemed like I was dead and everything so my brother did the logical thing and dragged my body to my van and put me in it. Jokes on him though because I woke up and slowly punched him right in the face.

Then this angry mob carrying make shift torches showed up. It was crazy! They were marching down the street, switch blade guy right in the front. I knew just what to do. I jumped in my sleigh and drove off the overpass. That’ll teach them.

My van may or may not have flown up into the air but you know I ended the movie with, “A merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!”

Maybe I’ll land on Tim Allen’s rooftop and I can get a new job.

Love,

Harry (Santa Claus)

———————————–

Wow, so there you have it folks, straight from Harry’s mouth! What a weird story. And it only took ninety or so minutes to watch. I know you are dying to see this so I did promise to tell you how to do it for free.

It’s easy. Sign up for Shudder for a free thirty day trial with the code SHUTIN. You can get the channel on Amazon prime video here. If you don’t have Amazon prime you can sign up for that for a free trial too and then look for the channel Shudder. Put in the code above and you are all set to watch some amazing Christmas mayhem. Enjoy! Tell ’em Harry sent you.

Merrily yours,

Slick Dungeon

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

Friday the 13th (2009) – #MovieReview

File This under Did We Have To?

Just when you thought my reviews of Friday the 13th movies were over, I’m back with another one. Slick Dungeon here, wondering why I just watched this. Maybe my review will answer my own question?

Okay so, I know I missed some of the originals but there are some films that can’t even be found in my own dungeon so I was left to watch this one. Just go with it and pretend those other films didn’t really happen. Kind of like this movie does.

I’m going to give you a summary of the… plot? And then I have a few thoughts about this thing. There are spoilers for this that will flow as free as the blood from a machete wound so you have been warned. If you haven’t seen the movie and you don’t want spoilers, watch it now and come back.

The movie starts with the decapitation of Mrs. Voorhees to dispel us of the notion that she could be the killer or that this is at all a straight remake of the first one. Then we get a group of teenage campers who are out in Crystal Lake, looking for weed, having sex and the whole bit. Of course they camp right near Jason, tell a story about Jason, then get killed by Jason. Finally, the credits roll like twenty minutes in to the movie. It’s a few months later and Clay (played by Jared Padalecki) is out looking for his sister who we know is one of the campers from earlier. We also know that she looks exactly like Jason’s mother. We don’t see her die on camera so there’s no guarantee she’s dead.

A different group of people are going up to Crystal Lake to spend the weekend and run into Clay. This one dude Trent is a total jerkwad and from the first second he is on screen we are all waiting to see Jason finish that dude off. Anyway, the story goes like you would expect, Jason stalks the people, kills them in horrific ways and in the end he is stopped at last. It’s a story we have seen on screen at least eleven times before and there isn’t really much new here, other than the fact that after eleven films, this doesn’t work so well when you try to start over.

Still, I had a few thoughts about this movie.

  1. I wondered why I didn’t like this but then I figured it out. I hate virtually everything Michael Bay does. This was only produced by him but I still see his fingerprints all over it. There is modern (for 2009) music in it and it just feels wrong. Everyone is sweaty in practically every shot. The camera doesn’t hold still long enough to actually build tension. The characters are one dimensional for the most part, with the notable exception of Clay, his sister and the character of Jenna (played by Danielle Panabaker). It feels like a big Hollywood set even in the parts that are clearly just people walking in the woods due to the way it’s shot. In the end this is like trying to do horror with a glossy color poster with attractive people from 2009 instead of an old black and white Victorian portrait that actually looks creepy. Putting a modern spin on the film making style does not help this.
  2. It seems like they wanted to feed into every stereotype from these movies to give the audience what they wanted. The thing is, that what the audience actually wants is to be surprised and scared by these movies. So if you see people doing drugs or having sex or whatever, and then they get killed, it’s not scary and it’s no longer a surprise. Also, I never related to these characters much (not that I do in the other ones either really) so when they die, it’s not real impactful.
  3. There was a disturbing lack of car trouble in this movie. How can this be a Friday the 13th movie if the only reason that a car doesn’t start is that there are no keys? Did someone open that Crystal Lake auto repair shop? Cause that was my idea!
  4. Also, the guy who tells the campfire story of Jason does a terrible job. It’s not suspenseful and there is no one to jump out at the end. Come on man, learn to tell a story, otherwise this is just lazy.
  5. This stars Jared Padalecki and there is no Jensen Ackles in the movie. Come on Sam Winchester, you can’t win this without your bro.
  6. I didn’t find the kills in this one particularly inventive. I know after all those movies that came before it’s hard to come up with something new but try a little harder guys. I saw a circular saw and you know how many people got killed with one? Absolutely none.
  7. Jason doesn’t kill Whitney (the missing sister) because she looks like his mother. But he basically keeps her prisoner in his house. Sorry but this makes no sense. Why would Jason take his own mother prisoner. Also, Whitney finds out right in the beginning that she looks like his mother but doesn’t really pull the whole impersonating his mother until the end of the film. What? Why not? I mean she could have done that in the first fifteen minutes and then the movie is over.
  8. Trent is a jerk. They make Trent such an obvious jerk in this movie that you can tell the film makers were like, here’s the guy you can cheer for when he gets killed. Look how jerky his jerkiness is. Let’s make him more of a jerk. Wait he’s not jerky enough so let’s have him cheat on his girlfriend so the audience understands how jerky he is! So yes, there are not one but two attractive women who just want to be all over Trent even though… he is a jerk. Okay…
  9. I did not see an old man warns those kids away from that place scene. This movie fails. The closest we get is an old woman telling Clay that “he just wants to be left alone” with no other explanation. I need an old guy warns people away scene. If you make a sequel to this movie, hire me for that scene, I am available. Also, I work cheap.
  10. While Derek Mears does a great job playing Jason, he’s on camera too much. These movies are always better when you are not sure when he’s going to pop up or from where. As soon as we see Jason, it gets a little less scary and in this one we see him almost right from the beginning. The early ones hid Jason a lot more and that worked to their advantage.
  11. The jump scare at the end of this was so predictable. Again, if we have seen it a bunch of times, even though you are doing a reboot, we are going to see it coming. How about just try something new? Oh wait, you can’t. That’s why you did a reboot. Okay fine.
  12. For a reboot though, this is actually not that bad. I have definitely seen worse reboots. It just never felt… necessary to me though.
  13. This film make the 12th movie about the Voorhees in the series. Can we please, please get one more? Let’s get everyone who survived these to team up and hunt down Jason. And let’s make sure that I am there warning those kids away from that place!

I hope you have enjoyed my reviews of this series. It was fun to take a look at these movies again. Until next time, I’ll be hanging out at a local hardware store near a lake and telling people not to go to that place.

Superstitiously yours,

Slick Dungeon

PS Want to see Sam Winchester without his brother and Killer Frost without the Flash face off against the Voorhees family? Check it out below.

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th – #MovieReview

Happy Friday out there to all of you! Is it Friday? I mean, maybe? Anyway, I spent six hours and forty minutes watching a mega documentary about the Friday the 13th series and I am here to give you my take on it.

Let me start by saying that I am a horror fan and one of the series I have fond memories of is this series, so I am somewhat predisposed to enjoy this documentary. That being said, I think that anyone who has an interest in film making at all, would get a lot of value out of this film too.

Perhaps it’s a little twisted but I loved as a kid, to watch something that just scared me so bad that I couldn’t sleep and Jason was one of those movie monsters that often haunted my dreams. I think there is a deep human need in all of us to allow ourselves to be frightened. I think we need these movie monsters and we need to see our fears on screen and then see them defeated. And I think we still have a deep need to think that at any time, that fear we thought was gone, could come back. It’s cathartic to watch these movies if you ask me, and I don’t apologize for being a fan of horror. But still I recognize that not everyone would want to watch these or to watch a documentary about them. But if you are interested in horror, I am not sure I have seen a more extensive and well done documentary than this one.

The series goes into the extensive history of all the films, including the originals, Freddy VS Jason and the Friday the 13th (2009) reboot. But it also includes some talk about the comic books, novels, toys and even goes into the often forgotten Friday the 13th television series. And as if that wasn’t enough, it is hosted by none other than the original Tommy Jarvis himself, Corey Feldman. It’s got interviews with nearly everyone you would want to hear from that had something to do with the movies. It is quite the time commitment though, so you’ll probably want to break it up by chapters unless you happen to have nearly seven hours to sit there at once. Okay, yeah so one sitting might be fine in this day and age…

I really found this documentary fascinating and informative. Everything from how the shoestring budget original film came together, to how Freddy and Jason finally got pitted against one another. It pulled back the curtain on a lot of the effects, and a ton of the choices that went into making each movie. It also showed how the struggle with the MPAA was a running theme through everything they did. It’s got Kane Hodder giving his take on the films he was in and how he (in my opinion) totally got ripped off when it came time for Freddy VS Jason. It delves into the controversies surrounding some of the films and it surprised me just how aware the film makers were of the parts that fans did not react well to. Whether you love or hate these movies, it’s apparent everyone was trying to make the best films they could, and it’s a gripping look at how it was done.

I don’t want to spoil too much in this so I just want to give you my favorite moment from the whole thing. Ted White who played Jason in one of the films was doing a stunt where he was near the final fight of the movie. The actress was supposed to bring Jason’s iconic machete down onto a pick-axe he is holding. The head of the pick-axe was supposed to meet the blade of the machete. That’s the shot you see in the film. But, when they did the stunt the first time, the actress was a little too fast and Ted White hadn’t yet rotated the pick axe up. As a result the machete cut his finger and he needed to go to the hospital for stitches. Well, being that this was a movie and near the end of Jason’s final battle, Ted had a prop machete sticking out of his shoulder with all this fake blood on him. He goes to the emergency room and walks up the nurse there and everyone is freaking out over it. As soon as he gets to the nurse he calmly says, “Do you have anything for headaches?”. To me, that moment just summarizes the horror, the humor and the the perfect reaction to the best of Friday the 13th. And honestly, that’s just one in a ton of great stories in this documentary.

I know it’s a long time commitment but I can’t recommend this movie enough. If you haven’t yet gotten Shudder you can sign up for it on Amazon Prime for a free trial. To me Shudder is worth it for their Friday the 13th collection alone, but they have a bunch of other good stuff on there too. I believe that you can still get a free trial of it for 30 days if you use the code SHUTIN too, so you don’t have much to lose other than time. (Not trying to give the hard sell here, just saying that I really like Shudder)

I’ve watched the entire Friday the 13th collection on Shudder and while they don’t have every movie in the series, they definitely have the best one (the first four). But out of all the movies in that collection, I enjoyed this one the most. I hope you’ll take some time and check it out.

Documentingly yours,

Slick Dungeon

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!

Smoke and Mirrors: The Story of Tom Savini – #MovieReview

How’s everyone out there doing? Still shut in like the rest of us? Need a movie to watch? Well, there is a documentary I can recommend to anyone who is a bit of a horror fan. Usually I do a review in which I tell you the plot of a movie, then give my irreverent thoughts and questions about said movie. In this case, it’s a documentary and much harder to do that. What I can tell you is that you should watch Smoke and Mirrors: The Story of Tom Savini.

If you have watched a movie in the last 40 years or so where there was a violent death involving blood and you for even one second thought it looked realistic, you can thank Tom Savini. His story is fascinating from when he was a young kid obsessed with monster movies to his adult days fighting in Vietnam and on through his legendary film career. He’s an actor, stuntman, director and special effects artist all rolled into one. If you happen to watch Locke & Key on Netflix, you will see a cameo by him and I recommend you watch the documentary first in case you don’t know who he is. If you have watched Friday the 13th recently you probably have seen his name in those credits too.

His filmography is long and impressive and his approach to his special effects is refreshingly straight forward. Sometimes when I watch modern horror films and it’s nothing but CGI, I find the scares much less frightening and the film much less enjoyable. I used to wonder why that was but now that I have seen this documentary I know it’s because of Tom Savini. He went through the Vietnam war and saw some gruesome stuff so he knew what looks real and what did not. It also helps that unlike some CGI, his effects are three dimensional and can be touched. One really simple example is in Friday the 13th. In one scene, an ax is about to buried into someone’s head. Right before the ax connects with the face, it hits a light overhead and the camera lingers on the light swinging for just a moment. This makes the hit with ax feel much more real. Why? It feels like it has actual weight to the thing.

Tom was full of ideas like that (and still is really) but I found this film fascinating and you should go watch it.

Praisingly yours,

Slick Dungeon

PS Want to see Tom do his thing? Click below.

This page contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product through one of them, I will receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). I only ever endorse products I have personally used. Thank you for your support!