It's the middle of the July, and this month's Cutting Room is here to dive into all the horrors we've been checking out as the dog days of summer creep in! CR is a monthly post where we all do short, single-person reviews for movies we’ve watched on our own.
We have a long list of films to review, and while the movies you see here haven’t come up quite yet, they may receive the full review treatment in the future. Let us know if you have some thoughts on any of these movies, and check out past posts in the "More Horror" section up above!
Missing 411 (2016)
5 Missing Kids
This movie is a conflux of very specific and odd things that I loved when I was a kid. The Missing 411 idea comes from the am radio lunacy collection Coast to Coast, but back when it was awesome and with Art Bell. They theorized that a bunch of tragic missing child cases were actually all connected and supernatural . . . somehow. I used to stay up way past my bedtime and surreptitiously listen to Art Bell talk to maniacs about shadow people and government conspiracies and Mel’s Hole. Then someone went and took a part of that show and crammed it together with something else I loved: Les Stroud the damn Survivorman. Overall, the movie is decidedly not supernaturally oriented and is horror-adjacent at best. But if you’re a fan of true-crime stuff, this one is definitely worth a watch.
Well, this is a specimen… I’ve seen this movie referred to as “the Top Gun of horror”, and I have to say, I can’t really disagree. The homosexual overtones in this thing are immense, but that’s neither here nor there. We’re here because Freddy is here, this time preying on a new set of residents at the same house from the original. The movie does a relatively good job of helping build a little more depth to his character and there are some great practical effects, but overall, this one is really just a bridge between the monolithic tour de force that is the original and the all out romp that is the third. Watch it because you have to.
Primal Screen (2017)
4.5 Ventriloquist Dummies
This is the latest horror documentary coming at us from Rodney Ascher, whose previous work includes The S From Hell, The Nightmare, and Room 237. I found all of those to be interesting and well realized visual pieces, though a little hollow when it comes to the ultimate point being delivered. Primal Screen is no different in that regard. It looks stunning and is interesting, but I was a bit turned off by the relatively shallow look at how childhood fears can develop and become so gripping. It's very short, coming in at under a half hour, so let that be a pro or a con depending on how much time you have available... If you're like Jack, that's a definite pro. Me? I was left wanting more exploration. That is the point of a documentary, afterall.
The Axe Murders of Villisca (2016)
2 Black Eyeball Effects
Brass tacks for this one... I hated it. The story was extremely wasteful in terms of the way it used its source material. Dude flew off the handle in 1912 and brutally eviscerated like 15 people with an axe... That's jarring and great from a horror perspective. There is potential. What we get in this, however, is a poorly acted look at the interpersonal relationships between some seriously stereotypical characters that only uses the Villisca setting as a sort of haunted house delivery vehicle. Skip it. You'll be better off.
The Midnight Meat Train (2008)
6.5 Tofu Logs
It was supremely weird to watch a horror movie that I knew nothing about and come to learn that it stars Bradley Cooper and Leslie Bibb. This is an interesting and odd flick about a serial killer who mysteriously murders and conceals his kills on an end-of-the-line subway route. Bradley Cooper plays a struggling photographer who seems to have had the idea for "Humans of New York" first, as he uncovers what is happening and attempts to chase down the killer, played by Vinnie Jones of Guy Ritchie films fame. I enjoyed pretty much everything about this movie aside from some puzzling CG blood effects that looked fucking horrendous. I'm going to stop right here and give it a recommend. There is a lot of unique shit going on here, and there's a twist. Check it out.
The Dark Tapes (2017)
5 Missing Kids
We all really ragged on this thing back in April’s HRR for having a trailer that was absolutely plastered with awards. That trailer has since been taken down (perhaps because everyone pointed out the awards to content ratio) and replaced with the one you see here. In any case, some part of that initial silly trailer (probably the found footage anthology part) led me to claim it as my darkhorse for that month. This in turn managed to piss Jake off enough that he made me watch it as part of a bet I lost. In a move surprising no one, this movie was waaaaay overcompensating for its generally low budget and inability to string a sensical frame narrative together. However, in a move surprising me, there were indeed some underlying concepts here that could actually play. Ultimately this is something for you if you like your “ found footage anthology” sandwich with extra cheese on it.
Hell House LLC (2016)
I guess I’m starting this month out with a found footage double feature, although this one is a proper feature length entry. Hell House LLC is one of the more stupidly named horror movies I’ve stumbled across in my video queue, but something about it caught my eye to save to my watchlist. Relatively serendipitously Jack mentioned that the movie was reviewed roughly a day later and I bumped it to the top. Hell House, in short, follows a crew of friends that set up a commercial haunted house in an old abandoned hotel and start selling tickets. As you might guess, things go poorly. I don’t really want to give much more away than that as this is one you should experience for yourself.
Get Out (2017)
6 Cups of Tea
Typical Mark. Last to the party. I finally got to Get Out this month after Jack and Jake already weighed in. We’ve been discussing what Jordan Peele must’ve meant when he said that you had to experience this one in the theaters. I’m with the other guys that I’m 98% sure that that statement was essentially just a money grab, but there’s another 2% of my brain that admires the sound design in this movie enough to consider this as the possible reason. As for the rest of the movie, this one proves to be wildly inscrutable on close examination. Seriously, don’t think about the plot of this movie. Once you start to tug at this sweater it completely disintegrates… or maybe just turns into a tank top.
The Monster (2016)
5 Regrettably Loud Stuffed Animals
This is probably my most disappointing movie of the month. This was my top 1 from November’s HRR when I wrote that they just did well enough to hide their shitty CG monster. Well, I was wrong in some regard because the monster in this thing is pure practical, which was a great move on the filmmakers’ part. I do think they get “creature feature” vibe right with a slow reveal gradually building to a full-on (wo)man vs. monster story. The problem is that none of these characters are particularly intriguing and the characters you might actually like have shitty enough arcs that you just kinda feel bad for them the whole time. I actually think this was a well made movie, it just wasn’t enjoyable at all to watch. It is freely available to watch so if you’re in the mood for a relatively serious monster movie and you don’t mind characters that are basically just depressing give this one a go. At the very least, it’s watchable.