[EXPRESSO] Black Parthenope (2022) | ♫ Goin’ Naples Underground ♫

Bringing you more new italian horror movies coverage, the new ones that just kinda “sprout” out of nowhere into the programming schedule of my local cinemas, with no fanfare and almost no national marketing budget to speak of.

And i guess this is the year of smaller italian horror movies like this that frustrate me, as they make good use of distinctive regional italian locations and have some potential, but kinda squander it or are afflicted by fairly big flaws.

Black Parthenope is a horror thriller set in the incredibly extensive set of underground catacombs and tunnels of Naples, the so called “Naples Underground”, where some business people met in order to sell the entire “underground city” to a company that’ll make parking lots out of it, but they get lost and haunted by the neopolitean folklore legend of the “Monaciello” (meaning “small monk”), a wronged soul that was shunned and then killed in the underground tunnels, forever seeking revenge on anyone that walks his haunting grounds.

The Neapolis Underground setting it’s great, some of the scenes manage to create a decent atmosphere, the cast it’s decent and it’s a well produced movie… but it’s almost brought down entirely by how shallow, grating and obnoxious the characters are, to say nothing of the aggressively awful dialogue, and how uneven and often middlesome direction can be, falling back to cliches in a way telling of this being a feature debut for the director in question.

While the final part partially redeems the movie from “proper bad” territory, the first act almost makes you wanna give up on it entirely, but at least you can tell that this movie was always meant to be a thriller-horror movie, unlike the previosly reviewed The Bunker Game.

Even so, it’s definitely not a bad effort!

[EXPRESSO] The Bunker Game (2022) | Paranazical Activity

Out of the blue a new italian (well, an italo-french production, but still, shot in Italy with italian actors) horror movie sneaked into cinemas here as an event screening.

I will say that this time i’m not so much disappointed or angry but utterly confused as to what they were even trying to do.

The setup is that there’s a LARP set up in a WWII nazi-fascist bunker in Italy, with an alternate history post-apocalyptic scenario, but when security measures break down, they evacuate the place and only the staff decides to remain and investigate to what happened, as the game/scenario creator has gone missing…

Given the title you’d expect the movie turning into either a battle royale, a Saw-style thingie, even a simple slasher, but nope, it goes into supernatural territory…. for reasons.

In the first part you kinda forget – despite the movie stating immediatly it’s a LARP – that’s a farce, a game, and i honestly wonder why it didn’t play the “alt-history Fallout cum Fourth Reich” scenario straight, i mean, the production values are quite good, the costumes too, so it could have been simply a modern nazisploitation flick.

For what it actually is, a horror movie, one where the horror part feels really forced and cliched, there’s some atmosphere due to the setting but no tension as the movie randomly veers into horror, the characters are token, unlikeable or barely have any screen time to be even worthy of adjectives.

The Bunker Game has some good cinematography, decent-to-good acting, but it feels way longer than its 90 minutes runtime, as it meanders about unsure of what the hell it’s even doing or saying, if anything at all.

Still better than In The Trap, but this one frustrated me way more since it had actual potential.

[EXPRESSO] Choose Or Die (2022) | Curse Text Adventure

It was just a matter of time before we got a movie like Choose Or Die, not only due to the rising prominence of videogames in popular culture, but also as a byproduct of the various legends like the Polybius one, and inadvertly of the metacurrent, as i got whiffs of an hypothetical Pony Island X Jumanji reboot crossover (plus references to the Waterworld Atari contest and the likes) from this.

Plus, it has Robert Englund in it. Always nice to see, regardless of the movie.

The plot sees two friends booting up an old 80s videogame, intrigued by the fact there was a competition with money on the line, but nobody ever claim the rewards in the following decades.

To their dismay, they actually enter the game, Curs<r, and will have to survive the surreal world laying before their eyes, as the game it’s actually, literally cursed, and can alter reality with destructive, immediate effect, forcing the player to make horrible binary choices.

It’s a simple premise but it’s novel enough, and the execution it’s surprisingly good, the direction is confindent has quite the bite, taking advantage of the premise (in this case the videogame elements) in a straightforward but also quite interesting and satisfying manner, leading to some really grisly (yet not over the top in terms of graphical violence) setpieces that show off some style to boot.

The likeable characters (especially the main protagonist), and compact runtime round up the package, making Choose Or Die a very nice surprise, overall, especially for Netflix’s often lacking offerings in terms of horror films.

It’s nothing special or deep, and maybe it was a bit longer it could have actually explored in any depth some of its themes, but regardless, a solid, fun, fresh teen horror romp with some pizzaz.

[EXPRESSO] Occhiali Neri/Dark Glasses (2022) | A Knife For The (Blind) Ladies

You know, this movie just existing should be reason enough to celebrate for many invested in horror movies and adiacent cinema grounds, i mean, a new movie from Dario Argento, and one that sounds like a throwback to old giallo thriller-horrors…. sounds promising, doesn’t it?

At least it does if you’re thinking of Suspiria’s Dario Argento, not the one who cursed us with the abysmal shlockfest of Dracula 3D back in 2012, i remember distinctly that one and will always bring it up as a testament that sometimes, yes, you can lose the “touch” (or the “power”) in a dramatically disastrous and disheartening fashion that shits on your entire legacy.

So yeah, i didn’t set myself for unwarranted expectations of competency… and sadly i was right.

Set in a solar eclipsed Rome, the plot of Dark Glasses see a young escort named Diana (Ilenia Pastorelli) being stalked by a serial killer, leading to a tragic car crash which makes her blind and with vague memories of the incident, and also makes orphan a young chinese boy called Chin (Xinyu Zhang). Diana receives help, a guide dog, and tries to make amends to Chin, but the serial killer comes back to finish the job….

I’ll say this: where Dracula 3D was the depressing kind of bad, Dark Glasses is so bad it’s actually laughable, with the trifecta of main characters where the best acting is actually provided by the seeing-eye dog (i’m not kidding, some unbelievably bad acting, especially from the lead actress), a formulaic and ridiculous script filled with embarassing dialogues, questionable editing, and a fuckton of not giving a shit.

Also the old-school practical gore effects by Argento’s regular Sergio Stivaletti are fun, it’s short and the soundtrack genuinely slaps.

Still crap, but better than Dracula 3D, at least.

[EXPRESSO] Seance (2021) | Spooky Slashing Schoolgirls

Late February isn’t exactly the usual “dumping ground” in terms of releasing horror movies that actually came out last year in most english speaking market, but whatever, i’m game.

Didn’t exactly heard much about this one besides being kinda ok… and i’m not gonna tell you it’s this underrated gem mistreated by a cruel and fickle press. I just can’t.

Set in an elite women’s college, Seance tells of the new enlisted student, Camille, able to join after the mysterious death of a student named Kerrie, following a prank at her expenses to try and scare her with the legend of the ghost of Eveldyne, a female student who killed herself there decades ago.

The newcomer gets herself and some of her bitchy asshole classmates in detention by standing up to their bullshit, but they do get spooked and intrigued when they try to make a seance to contact Kerrie… and it seems to work, but things soon get worse as the girls are stalked and killed like flies by someone or something …

Yeah, it’s teen slasher…. a very middling one at that.

It’s not that bad as a first time directing piece by Simon Barrett, who previously produced and penned horror movies such as Frankenfish, You’Re Next, 2016’s Blair Witch… and 2017’s Temple.

Sure, it’s pretty obvious who the culprit is, most of the kills leading to the reveal are very limp…. but it’s short, it redeems itself enough in the final act in terms of both gore and entertainment, helped by a good cast, decent acting and solid production values.

Thought it’s really predictable, and it’s basically the director hodgepotching horror cliches more to see what sticks than using them in service of a precise vision or tone, making for a watchable but forgettable and throwaway flick.

[EXPRESSO] Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022) | Hostile Makeover

There’s a lot that could be said about the Texas Chainsaw Massacre series, but you won’t hear it from me now since i really didn’t bother with anything aside the original and the delightful spoof sequel Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. I knew this was gonna be another “Godzilla style” sequel to the original that ignores everything else, so i rewatched that for a refresher before this one released as a Netflix exclusive a couple of days ago, but that’s about it.

Set decades after the events of the original movie, the story focuses on the aged serial killer Leatherface, targeting a group of young entrepreneurs that arrive in the ghost town of Harlow to basically sell it to rich people, and him coming in contact with a veneful survivor of his killings.

Yes, it’s Angela from Sleepaway Camp. Seriously, it’s not like it could be anyone else, and the movie right away it makes no secret that Sally is still alive, but basically handles it’s legacy character in a disappointing fashion, feels like they wanted to avoid a complete mimicry of what Halloween 2018 did… even thought otherwise it’s exactly what they did anyway.

As in, the attempt is pretty clear in intention, the result is more akin to to Halloween Kills, sans the messy baggage (and overburdened script), among other things.

It’s not “good”, but it’s quite entertaining in the same way as that movie was, as in delivers gore, lots of kills and good production values, the modern stuff makes sense, but in terms of story and characters it’s a mostly forgettable wash.

For a direct-to-video sequel it’s “fine”, and since it’s also really short, i say give it a watch if you like the series or slashers in general, just don’t expect much beside some entertaining kills.

Shriek of The Mutilated (1974) [REVIEW] | Have you ever had… a Yeti feast?

I teased it a couple of times, so why not, let’s go down deep into the yeti hole by fishing out cult exploitation crapfest Shriek of The Mutilated, a classic go-to for fans of the cinematic abysmal, a common territory for most movies about the legendary humanoid cryptid Bigfoot/Sasquatch/Yeti, as the poor bastard it’s quite popular fodder for bad movies regardless of decade.

This is some primo shlock, coming from Michael Findlay and his wife Roberta Finlay, both infamous exploitation directors and producers behind many erotic and horror films, but i’d wager you most likely know them for the rather infamous Snuff from 1975, aka them riding the rumors around the existence of actual snuff films, marketing Snuff itself as a real snuff movie and making it about non-Charles Manson guiding around his cult followers into a killing spree.

Continua a leggere “Shriek of The Mutilated (1974) [REVIEW] | Have you ever had… a Yeti feast?”

[EXPRESSO] El Paramo (2022) | Thy Patience Consumed

Some really fresh (as in “new”) Netflix content for me and you, El Paramo is set in 19th centhury Spain, where a family living in a remote house is haunted by an entity that feeds on their terror, and it falls upon the young boy Diego to save his mother from the entity… and herself.

…. or so this is premise as Netflix puts in the description. A correct synopsis that doesn’t spoil the experience, i’m not harping on that, i just prefer to describe this movie as “mother simulator”, since the mother not only has to suffer her husband basically disappearing and never coming back most likely due to the wars happening outside their isolated refuge, having to defend herself from a supernatural beast that she thought was just a legend, but also having to put up with her son, one of the most annoying and dumbass child character i’ve seen in a recent horror film.

Stupid, grating and spineless too, just in case the kid wasn’t annoying enough to deal with, even though it eventually leads to his character arc going where you would expect…but until the last act he doesn’t come off as the more sane and kind character he actually is, but as cowardly dumbass that almost makes this movie an accidental “anti-Babadook”, as for most of it i was rooting for the mother to get rid of both “annoyances”, not only the monster, and have some peace.

That said, let me stress that the movie it’s not bad, the setting it’s pretty good, the cinematography it’s also quite nice, the creature’s lore and design are spooky enough and played fairly decently for tension instead of jumpscares, and there are some atmospheric moments, but there’s just not much to it and overall it’s mostly average.

Silent Night (2012) [REVIEW] | Remake Night

Ah yes, Christmas horror, a tradition now decades old, one that inevitably leads one to talk about the Silent Night, Deadly Night series, that – while not inventing the notion, as Bob Clark’s Black Christmas was already a decade old itself by then– had quite the impact back in 1984, and definitely helped the subgenre grow into a profitable niche, while also spawning two sequels and two other numbered entries that really had nothing to do with 1984’s Silent Night, Deadly Night at all.

So yeah, if you know me.. you already know we ain’t talking about any of those directly, there’s always a catch, so we’re revisiting the 2012 remake of the 1984 original Silent Night Deadly Night, simply called “Silent Night”, following the then common trend of remakes shortening titles.

It was either that or Silent Night, Bloody Night, which is – odd as it may sound – not a rip-off and actually pre-dates both the original Black Christmas and the original Silent Night, Deadly Night.

Continua a leggere “Silent Night (2012) [REVIEW] | Remake Night”

[EXPRESSO] Dos (2021) | Flesh Sewn Shut

Browsing Netflix new releases and this caught my eyes, i mean, the simple title made me curious and i’m always in when it’s a spanish horror thriller about two complete strangers waking up to found themselves literally sewn together and placed into a room.

It’s not human-to-walrus surgery, but i will indulge regardless, it’s also fairly short, clocking just above 60 minutes (plus credits), quite surprising some other bloated films Netflix has as exclusives.

It has definitely an arthouse feel (the finale with the title reveal it’s really indicative of director Mar Taragona’s ambition), but the bold decision to compact it all in a shorter runtime pays off in spades, both for impact and in cutting out the fat from the narrative.

The main mystery keeping the story going is the identity of the culprit, and of course the purpose of joining together two people by literally sewning their flesh together, which is ultimately not the Saw-esque random ass gruesome torturer with a deviant penchant for justice and retribution you might think it’s gonna be revealed. It’s not that… exactly, and it’s a shame because the script never properly explore the themes it tackles, nor manages to fully utilize the isolated setting and premise, going for an arthouse ending, with some impact but ultimately not that satisfactory.

A shame since the movie is already intriguing before that, with plenty of questions and the grisly circumstances, while the two are trying to make sense of the really uncomfortable – even more since they’re butt naked – situation they’re in, leading to some good drama and time spent with this likeable and relatable “surprise duo”.

Shame it hasn’t much depth to it as it clearly wanted, (i’d guess it was originally meant to be a lot longer), but it’s a decent watch.