Last American Horror Show (2018)

Beyond the three terror-filled tales that Last American Horror Show has to offer — Night of the Sea Monkey, Lamb Feed and Homewrecked — it also has horror royalty in the cast like Felissa Rose, Lynn Lowry and Arch Hall, Jr.

Yes, that’s right, the star of Eegah and The Sadist is in this as the grandfather of an entire town of cannibals ready to sacrifice any folks that wander in. Between that and Felissa going on a date with a man who claims to be Christian and ends up being anything but — and oh yeah, Lynn Lowry dissecting a sea monkey with an electric carving knife — there’s some fun stuff in here.

All of these stories started off as shorts which were assembled into an overall longer film with the Felissa-starring framing sequence.

Of course, it’s in no way as great as Amicus films or Trilogy of Terror, but you know that going in. In the old video rental days, this would have been a fine fifth film for your five for five bucks for five nights stack. And really, that’s high praise around these parts.

You can watch this on Tubi.

Happy Face (2018)

Stan has a complex life. He’s dealing with a manipulative cancer-stricken mother and in order to find a place to fit in, he’s taped up his face to distort it, which allows him to join a therapy group for those with disfigured faces.

The other encounter group patients soon discover his trickery, but they allow him to stay in the hopes that he learns to cope with the death of his mother while he shows them how they can use their ugliness to feel better about themselves.

Director and co-writer Alexandre Franchi has hired first-time actors with real facial deformities to give this movie a dramatic edge that it may not have otherwise. It never feels like a sideshow. Instead, this feels real and lived in.

As someone that used role playing games to get through my high school years, the fact that the members of the group play also comes off as authentic. It allows them to become someone they aren’t. Someone different. And perhaps have power in a world where the ugly are often the strongest.

Black Pumpkin (2018)

On Halloween, two kids in a small town have awakened a monster known as Bloody Bobby from years of sleep. Now, they must survive, if they can! Black Pumpkin is written and directed by Ryan McGonagle, who also produced Bloody Bobby, which was the start of this storyline.

It’s a slasher with a synth score and allusions to Halloween. I mean, let’s not hold that against it. It has a ten-year-old child as a slasher and I certainly liked that angle, especially when he’s going against two other kids his same age.

Of course, there’s going to be another film in this series, Legend of Fall Creek, which the end of this movie sets up.

You can learn more on the official Facebook page. You can catch this on demand and on DVD from Uncork’d Entertainment.

Werewolf (2018)

Originally known as Wilkolak in its native Poland, this film was written and directed by Adrian Panek.

After the end of World War II, a temporary orphanage has been established in an abandoned palace surrounded by forests. There, eight children liberated from the Gross-Rosen camp and Hanka, a former inmate, are attempting to create a new home and remember what it is like to be normal. However, the feral dogs of the SS have been released into the wild and have now come to the orphanage in search of food, which means that the terror of war never goes away.

While not a perfect film, the idea of the dogs being abused into abusing and killing humans being reflected on the children, who must escape a similar cycle of abuse, is a really solid idea that underpins everything in the story. There’s plenty of tension and some harrowing animal on human moments of violence. There are also some terrific performances by the young cast that are worth watching.

You can learn more on the official site and the official Facebook page of this film.

Werewolf is available on demand and on DVD and blu ray from Indiecan Entertainment.

Roobha (2018)

A beautiful twenty-year old dancer with a secret named Roobha has fallen for the much older Anthony. Each of them finds an escape within the passion they have for one another. However, once their families discover their secret love, their worlds fall apart.

Born in Jaffna, Sri Lanka and raised in Toronto, Canada, this is the third film by director Lenin M. Sivam, who wrote this along with Jesuthasan Antonythasan (who also plays Anthony).

The secret is that Roobha is transgender and her conservative family does noy understand her. Finding work on the streets of Toronto, she has endured ridicule and assault before falling with Anthony, whose poor health and family life make a happy ending untenable.

This isn’t a happy story, but an interesting one. You can find it on demand from IndieCan Entertainment.

Cicada (2018)

This is what 2020 was missing. Giant cicada sucking the blood of humans so hard their heads explode. Sure, the effects are low budget and the story of four people coming together in the endtimes — who knew that they would involve giant bugs filled with sugar which somehow turns them into flying bombs — has been told before. But sometimes, you just need to turn your brain off and enjoy the silliness of a movie that dares to have the tagline “Kills humans dead.”

Writer/director David Willis understands just how goofy this all is and treats this story with none of the reverence that it deserves. After all, this is a movie where a disgraced baseball player and his exotic dancer girlfriend must come together with a scientist and a bartender to save the world. Or at least Los Angeles, I guess.

There are long stretches of people being destroyed by bugs. Some of you may think to yourself, “This really seems like way too much insect on human violence.” I’ll answer that by saying that if you watch a movie called Cicada, you shouldn’t just expect bug homicide. You should demand it.

You can learn more on the official Facebook pageCicada is available from Wild Eye on demand and on DVD.

My Summer As a Goth (2018)

I totally did not expect to enjoy this movie at all and came away totally enjoying it. It’s the first film written and directed by Tara Johnson-Medinger, who definitely gets the tone and voice right for this coming of age film.

After the sudden death of her father, Joey Javitts (Natalie Shershow) goes to stay with her grandparents for the summer while her famous author mother goes on a book tour. While there, she meets the goth neighbor Victor (Jack Levis) and decides to change everything.

Oh to be sixteen again and Manic Panic-dying your scalp for the first time. My Summer As a Goth may not ring true for those deeply invested in the subculture, but for those of us on the outskirts or outside, it presents a charming tale of a young girl seeking to find herself. The supporting cast is really fun and I loved the way the movie chose to show text messages as animation.

It starts streaming on demand on November 11. Check it out. I think you’ll end up liking it too. Take it from someone who went to Darkwave nights every Sunday and felt out of place because he can’t dance and didn’t wear makeup. It gets the alienation right.

You can learn more on the official site and official Facebook page.

The World Is Full of Secrets (2018)

There have been plenty of movies about girls telling scary stories in the dark. However, this one has a style all its own, as its young actresses stare right at you in long takes of them voicing each frightening story, while narration is provided by the only one of them to survive a horrible night back in 1986.

Written, produced, directed and edited by Graham Swon, each girl’s story goes from the mistreatment of Christian women to how witches were hunted and finally to just how simple it is to go mad.

Your enjoyment of this movie is going to depend on how much you can handle the artiness of locking the shot and having twenty minutes of dialogue play as a character stares directly at you with no other action. I found it somewhat brave and an interesting choice, while Becca loudly encouraged me to turn this off and put in something else.

That said, all of the women in the cast — Elena Burger as Becca, Dennise Gregory as Clara, Ayla Guttman as Suzie, Alexa Shae Niziak as Emily and Violet Piper as Mel — are quite good at delivering the lengthy dialogue that this film demands, as well as the subtle emotions that need to be conveyed. It’s by no means a perfect film, but one that I couldn’t stop watching, even with the cajoling of my wife.

I’m so glad I never went to any parties where I was asked to look into mirrors or participate in seances. My teen years were strange enough without walking the left hand path. Once things start getting fuzzy and you start seeing double images, you’ve either be drugged or you’re about to be part of something occult, right?

If you’re willing to listen — and go along with this film’s leap — you can get this movie on blu ray from Kino Lorber, who were nice enough to send us a review copy.

Its Just A Game (2018)

Brianna (Hannah Cohen-Lawlor) is sick of dealing with mean girls and conjures up a cult who takes care of everyone she ever had an issue with, stabbing them right in the throat and even devouring their tongues. Yes, if you’ve ever been bullied, you may feel some level of catharsis through this one.

This was written and directed by Daniel Emery Taylor, who also made The HospitalThe Hospital 2Camper Massacre, Paranormalice and Repulse, which is in pre-production.

Once our heroine brings Sister Amelia and Brother Marco (Leah Hudspeth and Alex Zuko) into her world, no one that treated her badly is safe. They are joined by Brother Thaddeus (a cameo by Taylor), Sister Daphne, Skullgirl and the Pigmen, while following the orders of Mother Murder (Cassandra Bryson). This strange family of killers are all pretty interesting and I wish they had another film to expand on each of them further.

This makes great use of its $50,000 budget and lean 70-minute running time. There’s plenty of bloody mayhem — indeed, I’ve never seen two killers aardvark on the dead bodies of the teenagers they just murdered — to go around for even the most jaded of horror fans.

You can learn more at the official Facebook page and the Film Freeway page. This is available on demand from Wild Eye.

Lake Michigan Monster (2018)

Arrow has been steadily releasing some modern stuff in addition to their gorgeous rereleases, like The Deeper You Dig and Jesus Shows You the Way to the Highway.

I love that they put this out, as this is one of the stranger movies I’ve seen in a while and imagine what that entails. The winner of the Audience Award for Best International Feature at the 2019 Fantasia Film Festival, this movie feels like a mix of art film, cartoons, monster movies and old serials, all in black and white with occasional color.

Captain Seafield (Ryland Brickson Cole Tews, who also wriote and directed) is hunting down the titular beast who killed his father. So he assembles a crew to take it down, including weapons expert Sean Shaughnessy (Erick West, who also ran camera, did makeup and produced), sonar whiz Nedge Pepsi (Beulah Peters, also on camera and producing) and former N.A.V.Y. (Nautical Athletes and Adventure Yunit) officer Dick Flynn (Daniel Long).

Along the way, the Captain screws up at every opportunity, losing his crew and even having to assemble a new one made up of ghosts before meeting the beast that just might be his sister. But you know, if you’re Ahab and you finally found your white whale, would you stop? And why do Milwaukee liquor stores close at 9 PM anyway?

You have to love a movie that brags that it’s been “banned in four lakes” and ends with the kind of eye damage that would make Fulci weep.

The new Arrow Video release — this is also playing on their on demand channel — comes with a sober and drink cast and crew audio commentary, as well as another option to hear critics talk about the film while you watch it. There are also interviews, behind the scenes on the effects and even the first season and pilot episode of L.I.P.S., Tews and Mike Cheslik’s sci-fi comedy web series.

You can get this from Arrow and I totally recommend it. It just works perfectly.