THANKSGIVING TERROR: Derelicts (2019)

We’ve talked about Thanksgiving horror films before — see our list right here — but now there’s a new one. Directed by Mark Newton and Matt Stryker*, Derelicts is all about a dysfunctional family suffering a home invasion on the day that people eat too much, watch football and pass out.

There’s an actor in here named David Lee Hess, which might give away the home invasion inspiration for this movie. Actually, it seems to have a fair bit of Rob Zombie in it, if you like that kind of thing. But this does a fine job with a $150,000 budget, with really interesting flashbacks, flashforwards, long moments of silence and plenty of gore.

I mean, there’s a killer with a stuffed animal mask. That alone should probably give you a reason to watch this.

You can watch this on Tubi.

*IMDB lists the director as Brett Glassberg, in case you are wondering.

CAULDRON FILMS BLU RAY RELEASE: Sator (2019)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This originally appeared on the site on January 31, 2022.

I’m so excited that Cauldron has released this. Their blu ray release has a director’s commentary and behind the scenes footage. You can get it from MVD.

Jordan Graham took seven years to make this movie, thanks to the limits of its budget, but he also built the cabin that it takes place in, did nearly every job of making the film and cast his grandmother, June Peterson, who has been haunted by the demon Sator since 1968 in real life, automatically writing a lot of the words that are shown in the film. She spent time in a mental hospital, which makes you wonder if this movie was just exploiting her mental illness or could potentially be the story of a real demon that might, you know if you’re a Christian fundamentalist, be using this movie as a way to get into your mind.

Director, writer, editor, producer, cinematographer and editor Graham told Flickering Myth “In 1968, she brought home an ouija board and conjured up Sator. She then spent the next three months talking with him through something called automatic writings. She sat in a chair with a pen and let Sator speak through her. She wrote thousands and thousands of pages across the course of three months. And then, at the end of those three months, she ended up in a psychiatric hospital.”

Deciding to use her home as a location and having her act in a scene where she’d discuss Sator, she began sharing things she’d never told him. Over the shooting of the film, Peterson’s dementia got worse and she was taken to a care home, where Graham would visit and interview her, as well as study thousands of pages of her automatic writings and a diary where she explained how Sator guided her, using those interviews to write and then rewrite the movie based on what she told him.

In the film, her grandson has disappeared into the woods, obsessed with Sator. Perhaps his grandfather sacrificed himself to the demon, but definitely, there are other followers in the woods, wearing skulls and eventually, the protagonist becomes lost in the timeless world of the woods and the call of a demon.

It’s a slow build, but if there’s a movie that proves that folk horror doesn’t exist simply in the past. The truly frightening thing is that Sator itself is so powerful that even as the ravages of age made Graham’s grandmother forget her family, she didn’t forget the demonic spirit that dominated her life. It makes me wonder if mental illness is real or is demonology or both?

This isn’t a perfect film, but it’s a singular work by an auteur and there are times that it works perfectly and other times that it feels like it’s going nowhere slow and then it rewards your patience. I can see some loving it as equally as I can understand people hating it.

Sadly, June Peterson died before it was finished.

THE IMPORTANT CINEMA CLUB’S SUPER SCARY MOVIE CHALLENGE DAY 26: Killer Queen (2019)

26. A Horror Film Released By Gold Ninja Video.

First off, rush out and buy this from Gold Ninja or watch it on Tubi. This movie feels like it emerged from another time and place and everyone who claims to be making movies that feel like they came from the past are liars because this movie gets every moment right while also staring into the future like it’s a blinding sun.

Shot on 8mm and looking like a grainy blast from out of nowhere, Ramin Fahrenheit wrote, directed and stars in this movie. She’s a young woman just out of the mental ward who goes from simple robbery to murder in the same way that I would try to decide what I want for dinner. She’s driven to kill by something that she can’t control, keeping herself hidden but always finding herself in the glaring spotlight and unleashing her vengeance.

Lo-fi as fuck in the best of ways, pushed forward by a score by Norman Orenstein, this honestly amazes me that it came from years and not decades or realities away, a movie that feels like Jess Franco coming through the fabric of time and space to become Canadian and devastate your senses all over again, yet with a more feminine understanding of just how cruel the world is but never forgetting to have scummy gore and a screwy narrative like Driller Killer without the New York art scene.

Every grindhouse inspired movie goes for broke with wacky action, goofy trailers and throwing some video effects to make it all look like it’s on dirty film. This is on dirty film with the beauty that can only come when audio and picture are made in two worlds, lending this a disjointed quality that activates the movie drug endorphins in my fragile mind, bringing me into that most magical planes of mental existence, that place where movies are perfect for their imperfection.

SLASHER MONTH: Child’s Play (2019)

EDITOR’S NOTE: This was first on the site on August 4, 2019

This is the first Child’s Play movie made without the involvement of creator Don Mancini and actor Brad Dourif. Instead, Lars Klevberg (whose film Polaroid has been lost in the legislative downfall of the Weinsteins) directed from a script by Tyler Burton Smith (who wrote the video games Sleeping Dogs and Quantum Break).

Mancini has criticized the remake while understanding that rights holder Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer can do anything they want. When asked if he and fellow producer David Kirschner would be involved, he said, “We said no thank you, because we have our ongoing thriving business with Chucky. Obviously my feelings were hurt… And I did create the character and nurture the franchise for three decades. So when someone says, “Oh yeah, we would love to have your name on the film,” it was hard not to feel like I was being patronized. They just wanted our approval. Which I strenuously denied them.”

Instead of the supernatural origins of the past, this Chucky is a Buddi doll created by the Kaslan Corporation. This kind of tears out the most frightening part of the Chucky concept — a doll that somehow comes to life yet is consumed by pure evil.

The real problem starts in a foreign Buddi assembly factory, where an employee takes out all of the safety protocols before killing himself. That doll eventually makes its way to the home of Karen Barclay (Aubrey Plaza) and her hearing-impaired son Andy (Gabriel Bateman, who was also in Annabelle and Lights Out).

While Andy eventually gains real human friends, Chucky places his friend’s happiness above all common sense and restraint. Unlike the past, where Chucky is motivated only by his own concerns, here you can see how his lack of human understanding leads to all of the murder and mayhem. He doesn’t realize how a movie that the kids watch, like Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, can provide laughter and pleasure while real death leads to life-changing results.

This Chucky also has the ability to command phones, household objects, drones and cars, as well as command an army of the next line of Buddi dolls on the night they are introduced, which includes a positively harrowing bear version.

I was totally prepared to absolutely despise this film until I saw it in a new light. I wondered, what if Claudio Fragrasso somehow got his hands on the chance to make Child’s Play? The results wouldn’t be all that great, but they’d sure be fun. That’s what this movie aspires to. It’s certainly entertaining — any movie where the adulterous villain is scalped by a tiller in a watermelon patch while taking down Christmas lights and his face is skinned off and passed around as a gift or a child is sprayed right in the face by a store manager’s blood is going to be a winner in my book. But it could have been a totally different film with a totally different title and lead character without changing the story all that much.

But hey — Mark Hamill is awesome as the voice of Chucky and Tim Matheson shows up as Henry Kaslan, the head of Kaslan Industries. I laughed out loud a few times. And I’m not as married to Chucky as a slasher hero as I am to Michael Myers, Jason, Freddy, Leatherface or anyone else. And let’s face — all of those characters have had some pretty bad movies in their history, too. This one isn’t as bad as any of those. Sure, Chucky looks like unfinished CGI, but you can’t have everything.

There’s also another Chucky movie coming out this year called Charles and Mancini has a TV series in development. Want to learn some more about killer dolls? Check out this list of ten evil dolls that we posted a few weeks ago.

Greywood’s Plot (2019)

Dom (director and co-writer Josh Stifter) is about to give up on his chase to find cryptozoological phenomena and maybe move out of his mom’s basement, but when he gets a video that shows a real chupacabra, he gets Miles (Keith Radichel) and they head out in the woods to have strange dreams and find whatever that skeleton they trip over out there in the darkness on the land that belongs to Doug Greywood (co-writer Daniel Degnan).

When this movie ramps up — and it does — it gets dark and gory while remembering that it’s also a combination black and white creature feature and a buddy comedy about two friends trying to fix their ruined relationship while finding a living and breathing actual goat sucker.

There’s not much else out there like this movies, shot on the smallest of budgets yet having the biggest of hearts. It’s absolute fun and you should do whatever you can to check it out.

You can watch Greywood’s Plot on Tubi.

MVD BLU RAY RELEASE: Aliens, Claws and Geeks (2019)

A day before his new television show Cry Me Dry goes on the air, it gets canceled and nothing actor Eddy Pine (Bodhi Elfman) says or does can get it back. His Hollywood career over before it’s begun, Eddy drinks himself into oblivion while dealing with a clown who shoves a mind-controlling obelisk up his ass which he gives birth to the next morning.

If this sounds like a movie you’d be into from that first paragraph, let me ice the cake: this was directed and written by Richard Elfman (Forbidden Zone)!

Eddy must protect his life — and the universe — as the obelisk is at the center of an interstellar war between clowns and aliens. Now, Earth — and Eddy’s ass — have become the battlefield.

As Eddy would soon say, “My mother’s a junkie wh***. My father’s an alien from outer space. Killer clowns are out to get me. My a**hole’s the portal to the Sixth Dimension and they canceled my f***ing series! Do you really think everything’s going to be ok?”

To battle Clown Emperor Beezel-Chugg (Verne Troyer) and a mind-controlled human clown (Nik Novicki) and his oversized chicken-suited partner Lenny (Steve Agee) as well as stay ahead of the Men in Black and masturbating green aliens, Eddy must join forces with his female-identifying trans brother Jumbo (Steve Agee), an expert on the unknown named Professor von Scheisenberg (French Stewart) and the professor’s gorgeous Swedish assistants Helga Svenson (Rebecca Forsythe) and Inga Svenson (Angeline-Rose Troy), who both fall for our hero.

Somehow, this also has George Wendt as a priest.

This is a movie filled with bathroom humor, puke, political incorrectness and, yes, aliens and clowns. If you want to see a movie that is silly for the sake of being silly without worrying what anyone cares about it, choose this one.

You can get this from MVD.

The Lonesome Trail (2019)

Based on the book by Arlette Thomas-Fletcher, who also directed the movie, The Lonesome Trail is all about Mike McCray, a cattle baron trying to keep new homesteaders out of his mining town and Carlson, the preacher who rescues them with his Bible instead of a gun. But when the ruthless McCray attacks again, even Carlson’s family members may not stay on his side.

If you’re in the mood for a faith-based western — instead of the lawless Italian ones that are often on this site — The Lonesome Trail is for you.

Thomas-Fletcher is the first African American, woman to write, produce, direct and executive produce a western movie. She fell in love with horses and westerns when she grew up around farming, horses and watching western movies and television shows with her father.

You can get The Lonesome Trail on digital from Gravitas Ventures. You can learn more on the official site.

Chattanooga Film Festival: Broken Hearts (2019)

When Indigo (Maye Harris), a sheltered teenager with congenital heart disease, meets and befriends Sarah (Ellie Adrean), a more rebellious teen about getting a heart transplant, she decides to break free of her New Age parents’ strict worry and start living as an actual teenager.

Director and co-writer (with Max Kaplow) Alessandra Lichtenfeld has put together a cute glimpse into teenage life while being smart enough to reference The Parent Trap. There’s plenty of emotion in the short run time of this film.

Valhalla – The Legend of Thor (2019)

A remake of the 1986 animated film Valhalla, this film takes advantage of Thor’s popularity to tell the story of Røskva and Tjalfe, two Viking children who travel from Midgard to Valhalla with the gods Thor and Loki to face the Jotnar, the Fenrir wolf and Ragnarok.

Shot on location in Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, this has characters that look nothing like the Marvel films. That’s great because this movie demands to stand on its own two feet.

Røskva and Tjalfe become the servants of the gods yet learn that the ones that they worship are just as human and filled with issues as all of us. Yet can they help those very same flawed gods when the end of all there is looms large?

I thought this was going to be one of those WalMart sneaky films where people buy it because they think it’s the real Thor, but this feels closer to the mythological Thor than the more popular Marvel movies. It’s definitely worth a watch.

You can watch this on Tubi.

In a New York Minute (2019)

Amy Chen (Amy Chang) is a food critic haunted by a past breakup that has led to her developing an eating disorder as her co-worker Peter (Jae Shin) attempts to heal her stomach and get her to fall for him, which may happen when they have to act together in an ad for a pho restaurant.

Angel Li (Yi Liu) is in a loveless marriage with an American businessman named Howard (Erik Lochtefeld). She’s just scored the role of a lifetime, playing a spurned woman who jumps off a bridge, all while she falls for a writer named David (Ludi Lin).

Nina Wong (Celia Au) came to America thanks to her family paying a high cost which she must pay by selling her body as an escort. But can her relationship Ian (Roger Yeh) help her escape the constant toll of selling herself?

Based on a Chinese short story, In A New York Minute is an Asian and Asian American-led film that explores love in three different stories.

First-time writer/director Ximan Li — who co-wrote the script with Yilei Zhou — has created a great interconnected film that comes together quite well. It doesn’t get overly dramatic and allows you a window into lives and experiences that you wouldn’t get to have otherwise. Isn’t that what all great movies should do for their viewers?

In A New York Minute is available on digital from Gravitas Ventures.