Deep Red (1975)

Part two of my back-to-back reviews for Dario Argento films. Yesterday featured the widely appreciated Suspiria and today will star his 1975 serial killer film Deep Red.


Upon viewing it now, those lost in the run and gun style of current horror might find it too retro, slow moving, and visually unappealing. But Deep Red, to the horror veteran, is a prime example of classic terror and the form most buffs wish the genre would return to. Directed by cult favourite Dario Argento. Deep Red is a paced hour and forty five minutes, riddled with reddish goo and creepy circumstances. An added benefit of Deep Red is its intelligent level is raised than most of the genre films from that time. In keeping the viewer guessing until the very end, Deep Red knows it needs to provide the goods throughout and does so in sickening fashion. Starring David Hemmings, Gabriele Lavia, and Macha Meril, Deep Red’s cast and crew pack a potent punch mentally and visually while being accompanied by a startling soundtrack.

DeepRed (84)

With an eerie, innocent song playing, a scream echo’s throughout several rooms and a bloody knife is tossed at the feet of a child. Later, a psychic named Helga (Meril) attends a presentation. While reading the minds of some of the audience members, Helga has a violent outburst. She has witnessed images from a foul mind and states that the owner of these thoughts has murdered and plans to again. At her apartment, Helga begins to hear a children’s song playing. When the doorbell rings, Helga approaches the door but has a psychic intuition and backs away from the door. At the same moment, the killer bursts into the room and murders Helga. Down in the street below, Marcus (Hemmings) witnesses Helga break through her apartment window and rushes to attend to her. When Marcus becomes curious as to irregularities in the apartment, he sets out to uncover the identity of the killer.

Deep Red - Marc & Helga

I feel that I need to touch on this. It is a rare occasion when a film is just as sound structurally as it is musically. The compositions are incredibly ominous and bone chilling.Teetering between sweetly innocent and dangerously hectic. The contrasting sensation of what you’re hearing and what you’re seeing is intoxicatingly uncomfortable. As for the gore and its authenticity…One is more abundant than the other. While there is a substantial amount of blood, it has the look and consistency of red paint. Once you’re able to get over the dubious mush spewing from vicious lacerations, Deep Red is how horror should be treated. Argento was able to perfect his entries into the “giallo” genre over time and Deep Red was the beginning of it. Followed by the widely praised Suspiria, Argento’s Deep Red helped redefine a genre and inspire fellow horror enthusiasts like John Carpenter.

Deep Red: 7.5 out of 10.

Suspiria (1977)

Day number one of my back-to-back reviews for two of Dario Argento’s films. Today will be his 1977 horror Suspiria and tomorrow will be the 1975 classic Deep Red. Also guys, don’t forget to check out the top 10 section and discussion boards, as well as the double feature weekend featuring reviews of Evil Dead and Jurassic Park 3D. Enjoy!


In this day and age, Suspiria discourages and annoys even the most avid, albeit modern horror enthusiast. But to the horror obsessor with a thirst for the classics. It is a goose-bump inducing, stomach turning, heart stopping high that you never want to come down from. Just don’t consider it to be divergent. The over supplying and desensitizing processes of the current age have turned scatterbrains into attention seeking voids, deprived of any sense of pace. Suspiria might be too dramatic and put the scariness on the back burner as it cements its plot. However, its final sequence should be incentive enough, let alone the demeanour of its pulsating shocks present from the start, to give it the chance it warrants. Suspiria was at the forefront of the horror genre from 1977 and on, it inspired many and followed none. Directed by horror visionary Dario Argento and starring Jessica Harper as well as Stefania Casini. This paranormal fright fest is the follow up to Argento’s 1975 serial killer picture, Deep Red.


Suzy (Harper) is a young American ballet dancer who journeys to Germany to attend a very prestigious dance academy. Arriving at the academy, Suzy witnesses a young girl flee the school while whispering incoherent sentences seemingly to herself. After being introduced to her instructors and fellow students, Suzy eventually takes residence in the dorms with her classmates. Later on, Suzy and the academy learn that the young girl running away from the academy was a student by the name of Pat. She had suffered a horrible death as well as her close friend she recently took residence with. As time passes, Suzy and the girls begin to hear and see strange things throughout the academy. When Suzy and her friend begin to search for the truth, a harsh reality is unveiled.


Much like Deep Red, Suspiria reveals a majority of its secrets in the latter stages of the runtime. But while leading the viewer on this chase for answers, the mounting strain and tingling fear from a series of occurrences with unknown origins almost become unbearable. Disappointingly, there isn’t as much gore that you’d expect from an Argento film, but when the situation calls for excessiveness, Suspiria delivers. It continues to compile claim for one of the most over the top, gruesome death sequences in film and deservedly so. Drawing another similarity between Suspiria and Deep Red. The musical accompaniment is used to exquisite effectiveness throughout. It is extremely bizarre and entrancingly fear sustaining. Suspiria might prove to be a bore for some, but to those who can appreciate its phantoms and tactics, it is a rewarding nightmare.

Suspiria: 8 out of 10.

Evil Dead (2013)

Evil-Dead-2013 (1)

Relying on the nostalgia and gore a bit to eagerly for those not familiar with the original trilogy. But Evil Dead is a worthy re-imagining filled with enough blood and guts to ruin the stomach lining of die hard fans and new comers alike. It may tamper with the story and replace the comedy element with an emotional struggle, but it still serves as a monument to the genre masters of old. Evil Dead should be enough to appease the modern horror enthusiasts seeking a tasteless thrill (which I mean positively). The intelligent and psychological aspect of the film is never really present, which should be expected when dealing with this cult classic. If you go into Evil Dead expecting to be blown away with unfathomable depth and hidden messages, you’re sure to be disappointed. The most respectable trait in this rebirthing is its awareness of its limitations and how it plays within them. Evil Dead is what it is and what it is coincides with the original. A terrific horror movie that should soon be a timeless halloween flick that is sure to leave you queasy and demented.

This new chapter added into the Evil Dead franchise is directed and co-written by Fede Alvarez. Who, with the help of Diablo Cody, seems to draw inspiration from both of Sam Raimi’s original Evil Dead pictures. It stars Jane Levy, Shiloh Fernandez, Lou Taylor Pucci, Jessica Lucas, and Elizabeth Blackmore.


David (Fernandez), Olivia (Lucas), Eric (Pucci), Natalie (Blackmore), and Mia (Levy) head to a remote cabin in the forest from their youth. The group has brought Mia here to end her drug addiction. When Mia begins to succumb to withdrawal, she complains of an unbearable smell. Later, they stumble upon a cellar filled with dead rodents hanging on string and the book of the dead. When a passage is read from its pages, it releases a demon who dwells in the woods. As it possesses each member, the group must make life or death decisions in order to stay alive.


As soon as the traditional or petty cliche (however you chose to look at it) group of five arrive at the cabin, the memories flow back. For those familiar with the original like me, you’ll become overwhelmed. I began to reminisce of those frightening nights from my youth. When the tiny, rundown cabin with an even smaller tool shed to the right, stocked with countless tools of malice and mischief filled the screen, I felt innocent again. I’m probably playing this, yearning angle a tad to earnestly. But, at it cores it is technically a remake and it definitely intended to pull on the heart strings. As for the ones caught up in the hype, Evil Dead shouldn’t disappoint. If you watched the trailer before hand, you knew what you were getting yourself into.


As with any film dependant on gory scares and characters stupidity, there are sure to be faults. In the beginning, the acting isn’t as strong as it needed to be, with the exception of Jane Levy. But surprisingly, as the movie goes on, the performances improve. Levy is definitely the strongest. She gives a performance that should be worthy enough to break her through. I predict we will be seeing more of her from now on. The musical score is ambient at times and down right alarming when it needs to be. Featuring some sort of siren, screeching, and ascending bass lines, the soundtrack is equally terrifying. Try not to dwell on the little inconsistencies and the right choices that should have been made instead of the idiotic ones. Evil Dead is the cliche. It didn’t know when it conjured up its structure that it would be the blueprint for all future films of the genre.


In the end, if you’re not a fan of Raimi’s trilogy or you didn’t get swept up in the marketing commotion, you didn’t see Evil Dead this weekend. Odds are, you’re probably repulsed by excessive brutality and buckets of fake blood with pulpy, mashed organs floating about, strewn along the walls, so you wouldn’t enjoy it anyway. Even if you went in blind, the title should have been enough of an indicator. If all that wasn’t enough to discourage you and you witnessed Evil Dead this weekend with your closed minded brain and innocent eyes. All I can say is, welcome to our fucked up world. Yes, we enjoy this and yes, I’ll probably watch it again with a huge smile on my face.

Evil Dead: 7 out of 10.

Also don’t forget to check out this weeks top 10 and post on the discussion board, they can be found in there respective section.

Frontier(s) (2007)


It has its moments, but Frontier(s) tries to do too much with a non-sensical plot and teach too many lessons that it knocks out any interest you might have had. If it had stuck to a plain story with clear motives, even if they are familiar, been structured somewhat properly, and gave enough time to each aspect instead of jamming it all into a despicable mess, Frontier(s) would have been much better, at least half decent. It is another entry into the French extremist movement that is hit and miss. Martyrs and Inside being hits while Ils (Them) and Frontier(s) are misses (Ils not as far of a miss as Frontiers). Frontier(s) is an all night excursion with no horizon. Assembling parts from films such as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and draining political turmoil and sprinkling it throughout with no purpose. Frontier(s) doesn’t know how to translate conscious cinema, or create, nor convey enough scares and gore to encompass a genre.


Riots and chaos ensue after a right-wing extremist is elected president of France. A group of teenagers who manage to steal a bag of money plan to escape the craziness by fleeing to Amsterdam. During a series of events, Yasmine’s brother Sami is shot. The group decides to split up. Alex, Yasmine, and Sami head to the hospital while Tom and Farid drive to the boarder. Tom and Farid decide to stop at a sleazy motel where they are offered a free room and sex. They call Alex to inform them of their location and to invite them to the inn. Soon after, they discover the inn is run by a family of Nazi cannibals trying to create a pure race.


Karina Testa, the female lead is passable, but her incessant shaking is so frustrating. It is so genuinely annoying that you’ll find yourself yelling at her idiotic choices and unsanctioned mannerisms. I don’t know if it was the director, the writers, or Testa on her own who gave the go ahead on her continuous seizures, but it was definitely misplaced and overused. The build up didn’t even warrant a severe state of shock. The woman in Martyrs, hell, even Inside’s two leads went through more and took it better than someone who, for the most part is untouched. Yeah, you got your hair cut unwillingly, been hit a couple of times, seen some people die, but one of the girls in Martyrs was literally skinned alive and took it better and she was still able to make sensible choices, so honestly…suck it up. I know they’re trying to evoke a sense of empathy, but in reality you don’t really care what happens to any of the leads which is ultimately why Frontier(s) fails.

Frontier(s): 5.5 out of 10. The only reason they get a passing grade is some clever kills and appeasing gore. However, If this is your saviour and is the only reason you’re above 500, it might be time to reevaluate your picture.

Inside (2007)


Classified in the extremist movement along with other films such as Martyrs, Three…Extremes, and Frontier(s). Inside is frightening and psychotic with a healthy dose of gore injected every few minutes just in case it didn’t fully mentally and visually scar you with its dismembering brutality. It may be too over the edge for some, but the emotional underlying provided by the clever motives and nifty vantage points should be enough to settle your stomach. Much like Martyrs, Inside for the majority depends on a pair of ladies to take the reigns. Starring Beatrice Dalle and Alysson Paradis as sudden combatants thrust into a bloody, organ spilling battle. Directed by Alexandre Bustillo, Inside, another great french horror, is ruthless and thoroughly enjoyable as it drenches its viewers in bodily fluids and provoking utter terror.


Sarah (Paradis) and her husband are in a deadly car crash four months before Christmas that only her and her unborn baby survive. On Christmas Eve, Sarah paces her house alone, mourning her departed husband and anticipating the scheduled delivery of her baby the next morning. An unexpected visitor knocks on Sarah’s door begging to use her phone. When Sarah refuses, the visitor reveals personal information about Sarah and tries to force her way inside. Sarah immediately calls the police who find nothing unusual, but say they will check up on her at various times in the night. The woman (Dalle) returns and breaks into Sarah’s home. The woman forcibly tries to remove Sarah’s unborn child. Sarah manages to escape into her bathroom and lock herself in. Throughout the night, Sarah is constantly tortured by the woman as she tries to break free.


The scares may trail off in the second half, but the nonstop back and forth action, detailed gore, and new characters make up for the lack of fright and keep the experience fresh. Using extreme in the literal sense, for example capturing every bludgeon on the fetus camera which might be too raw and uncensored for the unseasoned viewer. Inside takes pride in its unforgiving nature as it should. Each slice, stab, and strike is enhanced and given genuine personification through Paradis and Dalle’s invested appearance and reactions. Inside, besides its buckets of gleeful gore, proposes some serious statements regarding the significance of reproduction and displays the dark side of humanities inability to effectively cope. Inside is a jackhammer to the senses and a chainsaw to the heart.

Inside: 9 out of 10.

Three…Extremes (2004)


Assembling three of the most prominent and respected directors in the genres of horror and thriller. Three…Extremes is a moody, vicious, and down right disgusting compilation. It features shorts directed by Chan-wook Park (Oldboy), Fruit Chan (Durian Durian), and Takashi Miike (Ichi the Killer), each respectively unleashing their most emancipated efforts. While each short is equal in their monstrosity, individually they work on different levels and aspects of trepidation. The segments are entitled “Box” (Miike’s), “Cut” (Park), and “Dumplings” (Chan). Three…Extremes is consistent and even making it a rare spectacle in horror anthologies. When you combine Miike, Chan, and Park, you know what you’re getting yourself into. Sleep tight…

Dumplings: Fruit Chan.

An actress who is disgusted with her aging visits a woman to help her reclaim youth. The woman makes dumplings infused with a special ingredient that helps regenerate bodily properties. When the actress discovers what the special ingredient is, she is forced to make some difficult decisions on the length she is willing to go to retrieve her youthful looks.


Cut: Chan-wook Park.

A film director returns home from work one evening when strange events start to occur. When an intruder knocks him unconscious, he wakes on one of his sets with his wife being tied to a piano. The captor then begins to play mind games with the couple. As the stakes are raised, the director begins to crumble under the pressure.


Box: Takashi Miike.

A shy woman continuously has reoccurring nightmares in which she is buried alive in a box. While she is awake, she begins to see her long lost sister appear. During a series of flashbacks, the woman begins to realize the connection between her nightmares and apparitions.


I’ve always found it a bit odd that no hostage ever seems to understand that their captor is criminally insane. However, being this insane comes with its fair share of hilarity and apparently Mr. Park thinks so as well. The out of place humour in his short “Cut,” is a wonderful comical contrast. “Cut” is by far the most diabolical and ruthless of the shorts, with its twists, brutal truths, and cringing gore. “Dumplings” by Fruit Chan is the one short I’ll issue a warning for. Deliberately crossing the line and never looking back, “Dumplings” is not for the squeamish. Mixing a smart story with unexplainable acts, literally deplorable, “Dumplings” will leave you turning away in repulsion. Finally, Takashi Miike’s “Box” is the more generic and tame of the three I guess you could say. In no way am I taking anything away from this spine chilling tale. I am just stating that in comparison, “Box” isn’t nearly as physically despicable. “Box” is an excellent scare and will put you on the edge of your seat in fear. With each short working off one another, Three…Extremes is a vomit inducing, psychologically scrambling, eye burning thrill.

Three…Extremes: 9 out of 10.

House (1977)


Supposedly it’s near impossible to review, but I’ll do my best to prepare you for House. I don’t think I’ve ever come across a film that so blatantly exposes every aspect of its objective as House does. Everything from the cliched crew of young teens, each with their own unique trait such as the sporty one or the good looking one, to its obvious attempts at immature humour or idiotic, yet hilarious punch lines. Combining comedy and horror in addition to nauseatingly psychedelic visuals, watching House you feel as if you’re taking hallucinogenic drugs. Just know when you’re about to view House that you are entering a realm of a murderous cat and a hungry piano, these quite possibly being the least bizarre.

House Hausu 1977 piano playing fingers-620x

When Oshare finds out that her father will be bringing his new girlfriend with them on their summer vacation, she decides to travel to her aunt’s home instead. Eventually bringing along all of her friends from school, the girls journey their way to the house. Once there, strange and confusing things begin to happen. As their stay becomes more and more suspicious, the girls begin disappearing one by one.

House (1977)

The horror doesn’t arrive until roughly the forty minute mark, but the set up to it is actually more troublesome than the intentional terror. Youthful banter, dizzying camera work, and the strangeness of it all is so disgustingly unpleasant you’ll want to look away. With the exception of their names, it is excruciatingly difficult to tell any of the girls apart. This leads to my only problem with the film. The characters are many and there isn’t enough time invested in them, so while these barbaric events take place, you don’t fully care what happens to the girls. This being the only fault, the sheer weirdness and horror heavily outweigh the problem. The musical score is equally as pungent. Flipping between sweetly epic and semi harmonics, it is enough to give you goosebumps. All in all, for what it is, it’s a great Halloween film.

House: 7.5 out of 10.

Battle Royale (2000)


When Quentin Tarantino (one of the greatest directors and writers of all time) claims that Battle Royale is the only film in the last 20 years he wishes he’d made, it should be incentive enough to drop whatever you’re doing and watch it. Full of innocent, eager, bright eyed students who are forced into savagely murdering their peers before the allotted time expires. Battle Royale puts a surprisingly political twist on gore and horror. Directed by Kinji Fukasaku and featuring a youthful ensemble soaked in blood and armed to the teeth, Battle Royale is as fun as it is painful to watch. Battle Royale is a “how to” video on violence and murder.


A group of ninth-grade students from a Japanese high school are forced by legislation to participate in a Battle Royale. Forty-two students enter and have three days on a secluded island to be dwindled down to one. Each participant is given a bag at random filled with various weapons and supplies, the luck of the draw is crucial. If the students refuse to murder their classmates or a single survivor is not crowned by the end of the given time, a collar rigged with explosives will detonate and kill all remaining combatants. As the battle rages, it is clear that some will use whatever tactics needed in order to survive, while others simply cave in to their morals.


Battle Royale is not a horror so much as it is horrifying to watch. Most of the time it’s not even the killing or severed flesh that gets to you. While you’re watching these combatants tear each other apart, you find yourself thinking about how quickly the kids turn on one another and the psychological damage the battle inflicts on the participants, let alone the physical toll. The background of the war is a mountainous island that Fukasaku uses in a flawless divergence. There is something that gets under your skin as you’re watching countless murders take place in a spectacular forest or beside an infinite mountain rage with the ocean as a backdrop. Battle Royale is cruel, potent, overwhelming, and should be viewed with caution.

Battle Royale: 8 out of 10.

Martyrs (2008)


Warning: Do not take this film lightly. Martyrs is quite possibly the most disturbing film you will ever see. Leaving myself and my colleague distraught, horrified, and exploding with disheartening questions. Martyrs will eat at your soul and make you beg for the existence of an afterlife. Martyrs is full of blood, fright, religion, and humanities relentless pursuit of redemption. Martyrs is essentially everything that a horror film should be: terrifying, psychotic, emotional, and challenging. Directed by Pascal Laugier and starring the outstanding duo of Morjana Alaoui and Mylene Jampanoi, Martyrs is the sound that keeps you awake at night and the reason you crave forgiveness. Do not watch this film. You may convince yourself that you want to see it, but I implore you to consider the alternative.


After being the victim of an abduction and the subject of physical and mental torture, Lucie (Jampanoi) manages to free herself from her captors and escape on foot. Lucie is placed in an orphanage where she becomes best friends with a young girl named Anna (Alaoui). Fifteen years after her terrible ordeal, Lucie and Anna are on a quest to find her captors and inflict their own form of justice. Arriving at a seemingly normal home in the suburbs, Lucie quickly passes judgement without consulting Anna. What happens next is a horrid series of events that leaves Anna and Lucie in pain, vulnerable, and searching for answers.


If you plan on watching Martyrs despite my warning, please view it, as best you can, in it’s natural form. This means unrated and if you must, the English subtitles are on and the original French dialogue, no dub, as this is the only way to view Martyrs. I would only recommend Martyrs to a seasoned veteran of horror and cult films. Even that wasn’t enough to shield me. I don’t know if it is possible to watch Martyrs and have a perfect sleep the following night. If you happen upon Martyrs by mistake or you only watch horror films on special occasions, do not watch Martyrs, you will regret it. I have nothing against this film, in fact I love it. In my opinion it is the perfect horror film, which is the problem. Martyrs exceeds its boundaries and accomplishes what every other horror or thriller sets out to do, terrify to the point of sleeplessness and doubt. Excellent direction from Laugier and powerful performances from the two female leads Alaoui and Jampanoi, Martyrs sets the bar and leaves everyone else trying to reach it.

Martyrs: 10 out of 10.

A brief explanation on the rating.

I awarded Martyrs a perfect 10 based on the simple fact that it is the definition of its genre. As far as I am concerned there is no where else to go. No other horror or thriller that has been made even remotely comes close to challenging Martyrs. By no means is Martyrs my favourite film (although it is one of them), it is just the perfect horror/thriller and should be treated with respect and viewed with caution and optimism.

The Innkeepers (2011)


Every horror fan should take notice of Ti West now, so there are no regrets later down the road. The Innkeepers, West’s most recent full length feature is a paranormal voyage into human sanity. The film stars Sara Paxton (The Last House On the Left), Pat Healy (Rescue Dawn), and Kelly McGillis (Top Gun).

Claire (Paxton) and Luke (Healy) are the only two remaining employees at the Yankee Pedlar Inn. The Inn is nearing it’s final days and Claire and Luke are trying desperately to capture real proof of the Inn’s haunted past. As the days near the end, disturbing and unexplainable events begin to happen. As time goes on, the events become more serious and begin to take a toll on Claire and Luke.


West is quickly asserting himself as a force to be reckoned with in the horror community. Directing not only two films considered to be included in the best horror films of the past five years (The House of the Devil and The Innkeepers), West has also contributed to the recent horror anthologies The ABC’s of Death and V/H/S. I will have reviews for both of those anthologies out soon. Sara Paxton gives one of the most likeable character performances worthy of the audiences empathy in recent memory. Paxton and Healy portray a legitimate friendship and the deterioration of not only themselves, but also of their relationship. The tension created by the films deliberate pace causes genuine havoc and fear to take control of the audience. There is a scene 5-10 minutes in length of an EVP recording session that will shred your nerves. If you come into this film expecting buckets of blood and an excess of gore you will surely be disappointed. The Innkeepers sets out to keep you up at night out of terror, not nausea and vomiting. To throughly enjoy The Innkeepers, shut off all the lights, curl up in the fetal position and sweat it out, alone if you dare.


The Innkeepers: 6.5 out of 10.