Tag Archives: Magic

October Horror Day 26

Horror Journal

The evil killer doll sub-genre is always a good one for creeping out the kiddies and it is surprising how often you find adults even more creeped out by dolls than children. Dolls always have kind of creepy quality in the first place 


This is a bizarre film from Re-Animator director Stuart Gordon and though it is quite cheesy but still violent manages to be violent and disturbing, like a violent modern fairy tale.

What can you say about film that two people get torn apart by a giant teddy bear? What is even more disturbing is that this is actually a little girl called Judy’s (Carrie Lorraine) fantasy. She is on a vacation with her father David Bower (Ian Patrick Williams) and his wife Rosemary (Carolyn Purdy-Gordon who is Stuart Gordon’s wife and meets a gory end as usual in his films). When their car gets stuck in the mud during a sudden storm they go looking for help and find themselves in a strange spooky old house with a sweet old man Gabriel Hartwicke (Guy Rolfe) and his lovely wife Hilary (Hilary Mason). The house is full of dolls and toys because the old man is a toymaker. Judy is delighted when Gabriel gives her a punch doll to make up for the teddy bear she was forced to leave behind in the car

Another three stranded travellers show up, Ralph (Stephen Lee) and two unpleasant English punk girls called Enid (Cassie Stuart) and Isabel (Bunty Bailey) that were hitch-hiking. The old couple show everyone to their rooms and are nice and patient no matter how unpleasant some of their guests are. As the night goes on Ralph and Judy discover that the toys are alive but they are okay because the like toys the toys like them. The others suffer a much more grisly fate at the hands of the dolls and the mysterious toymaker.

Curse of Chucky

This is the latest story in the series about the serial killer Charles Lee Ray (Brad Dourif) known as Chucky who was trapped in the children’s doll by voodoo way back in the first film. It plays with the idea of being a reboot but as the film goes on it is clear that it is a true sequel

Nica (Fiona Dourif) is a young paraplegic who lives with her mother Sarah but Sarah dies not long after someone mysteriously send them a Good Guy doll, a creepy red-haired doll with a set of programmed catchphrases.

Nica’s sister Barb (Danielle Bisutti) comes with her family to help Nica make arrangements for the funeral with Father Frank (A Martinez) the local priest. Nica gives the doll to her niece Alice (Summer H. Howell) who loves him right away. The doll is Chucky but he seems a lot less messed up than the last time we saw him and there is room for a bit of doubt.

This vanishes when we see Chucky put rat poison into a plate of chilli just before the meals are served and we have no idea who has the poison plate. It is obvious who it had to be for the sake of the structure of the story but the film pulls a couple of false scares before the surprisingly brutal death for a poisoning.

I liked that this film took a look into Chucky’s history so we get to see him as a real nasty living person. Chucky is not a physically strong character which is why his kills involve some element of ambush but there was a nice bit of tension created when the main protagonist is paraplegic making the showdown a battle of wits.

The ending was a nice little call out to fans of the earlier films though anyone not familiar with them will just be puzzled. The story starts slow but at the halfway point it picks up pace. One of the best things about these films is the effects which bring Chucky to life which are just great and I have no trouble believing that doll is an evil little bastard.


This film from Full Moon director Charles Band has a strange story that almost feels like a sequel. Although the puppets do play an important part in the film they are not the main villain but then the film is called Puppetmaster, not Puppets.

We see André Toulon (William Hickey) in his room at the Bodega Bay Inn in California putting the finishing touches to his jester puppet before infusing him with magical life. Two Nazi agents arrive at the inn looking for Toulon but Toulon hides his puppets away in the wall then blasts his brains out to stop his secrets falling into the hands of the Nazis. This intriguing start hints a back story that would take two sequels to reveal.

Cut to the present day (sometime in the 80s) and a bunch of psychics in different parts of the country get a strong psychic message from Neil Gallagher (Jimmie F. Skaggs) another psychic they all used to work with. They know he was searching for Toulon’s secrets and go to see him at the Bodega Bay Inn.

There they discover that he married the owner of the Inn Megan (Robin Frates) and that he is also now dead and they are not sure which revelation is more surprising to them.

Despite them all being psychic they seem shockingly unprepared when the puppets start killing them off and we see the puppets in action: Blade, Jester, Pinhead, Leech Woman and Drill Sergeant.

The showdown is between Gallagher and Alex Whittaker (Paul Le Mat) but when Gallagher disrespects the puppets they turn on him and finish him off.


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Posted by on October 26, 2013 in Entertainment, Film


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Review: Hellraiser IV – Bloodline

When you see Alan Smithee credited as the director then you know a film has had a problematic production history and in this film it really shows. Alan Smithee is a fake name used when a director has wanted to have the director’s credit removed. Someone who had a lot of respect for Barker’s original Hellraiser tried to create a film that did justice his vision but the editing and second shoots have compromised that film and we got this patchy incomplete product that tantalises us with what could have been.

This film is set in three time periods and is about three generations of the family of the creator of the Lament configuration musical puzzle box Phillip Le Merchant. The story is told by a descendant of his in the future Dr. Paul Merchant (Bruce Ramsay) who is on a space station trying to convince an enforcement squad to allow him to complete his mission and destroy the demons from the box. so he tell them his family’s history with the box

In eighteenth century Paris Phillip L’Merchant (Bruce Ramsay) creates a musical puzzle box to precise specifications for the wealthy aristocrat Duc de Lisle (Mickey Cottrell) who is a student of the occult and practitioner in black magic. As soon it is complete he delivers it to De Lisle who has his servant Jacques (Adam Scott) bring him a homeless prostitute who they kill and carefully remove her skin. Then in a ritual involving the box and Latin incantations De Lisle calls up a demon which takes form inside the skin and once complete De Lisle shows her a mirror so she can see her face and calls her Angelique (Valentina Vargas). Jacques is afraid but De Lisle reminds him that whoever controls the magic controls the demon as long as they don’t stand in hell’s way. L’Merchant didn’t leave after delivering the box but stuck around to watch what happened and is shocked by what he witnessed. After discussing it with an old friend he works on a way to fix what he’s done by creating the puzzle box. He breaks in to De Lisle’s chateau to try to steal the box back but he finds a scene of carnage from a wild party that we clearly missed. De Lisle is mutilated and dying while Jacques is having noisy sex with Angelique next door. L’Merchant tries to grab the box but he gets caught.

The next story is contemporary, set some time after the events of the third film. John Merchant (Bruce Ramsay) is a successful award winning architect but he’s haunted by gory nightmares that feature a strange woman but we know it is Angelique. His dreams are what inspired his latest project, a building that is also a mobile art work. The design is very similar to the puzzle box and of course this no accident. Angelique and Jacques are still around in present day Paris and Angelique sees Merchant’s picture on the cover of a magazine. She wants to see him a New York, sensing that he has inherited his ancestor’s design genius. Jacques refuses to let her go and she tears out his heart to show him what happens when you stand in hell’s way

Merchant gets presented with an award at a banquet held in his new building. When Merchant is giving his acceptance speech he sees Angelique at the back of the room and has flashes of memories of his nightmares and forgets the speech he was going to give and just gives them a short thank you. I sense this scene has been cut because that was bit abrupt. Merchant leaves with his wife and that night has a sex dream starring Angelique.

Angelique is still back at the building where she chats up a pudgy middle-aged businessman who can’t believe his luck. She takes him down to a basement room where she recovers the puzzle box from the concrete pillar where it was dumped by Joey at the end of Hellraiser III. She gets the man to solve the puzzle so of course there’s suddenly chains and hooks and he gets dragged off to hell through a crack in the wall and Pinhead (Doug Bradley) comes through. He knows who Angelique is and tells her things have changed in her absence. Pinhead takes in his surroundings and sees the influence the puzzle box as if it has been recreated in the design of the building. Angelique tells him about Merchant and her plan to seduce the secret of the building from him. Pinhead is less than impressed by this subtle approach and he brings a pair of identical twin security guards to the room. In a drawn out scene the two men have their heads twisted together by an elaborate evil torture device and they get fused into a new cenobite. Pinhead favours pain over temptation.

Next day Angelique introduces herself to Merchant and from the start Angelique tells Merchant she knows about his dreams and he eagerly tells her everything about the building – it doesn’t look like he needed either pain or temptation to blab about his building secrets, he just needed someone to show an interest. Despite Angelique’s methods working perfectly Pinhead tells her that it is time try it his way by kidnapping Merchant’s son. In this scene there is no explanation of tension between Angelique and Pinhead and it feels like has been badly edited.

Pinhead gets the kid and grabs the wife too and holds them hostage at the building so of course Merchant has to come. Pinhead tells Merchant what he wants and after some chase scenes around the building this story climaxes in the control room with Merchant on a computer console putting his mobile design into action. Pinhead realises he’s been tricked and that Merchant’s device was designed to open a gate all right but only to drive them back and close it permanently. It doesn’t work and Pinhead decapitates Merchant. His wife uses the original puzzle box to send them all back.

Back at the space station Dr Paul Merchant brings his story right up to date, to the moment after he opened the box with a robot and called up the demons then got interrupted by the enforcement squad. He tries to convince them that they are in real danger and should leave but they don’t believe him and insist on exploring the station. The enforcement squad get killed by the four cenobites taking one each and leaving just a psychiatrist called Rimmer. Merchant starts his program to activate the space station which he designed as a giant trap with himself as bait to kill the cenobites and seal the door to hell closed.

This is such a frustrating film. It looks like it was a pretty good film that may have been better than the second film but it has been butchered into incoherence by the production company. There was whole sub-plot of a conflict between Angelique and Pinhead that seems to have been deleted and Angelique’s role has been reduced. There wasn’t nearly as much gore as the original and it didn’t quite have the same dark tone but it is a big improvement on the third film. The acting was pretty average especially Bruce Ramsay playing three members of the Merchant family..

This film’s lack of success seems to have led the production company to take a different tack with three subsequent direct to video sequels with standalone stories featuring Pinhead and the cenobites appearing in the role of the minions of hell punishing sin.

Rating 7.0/10

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Posted by on September 2, 2012 in Entertainment, Film


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Review: The Serpent and the Rainbow

When people think of zombies the modern zombies from various horror films get brought up and people discuss whether the dead can run or just shamble or even if crazy sick people can be classified as zombies. This Wes Craven film takes his story of zombies back to the source and mixes myth and fiction with smatterings of truth to create an exciting thriller where you believe the protagonist is in real peril in a country on the brink of revolution.

Dr. Dennis Allan (Bill Pullman) is a medical researcher who is skilled at tracking down useful drugs from the medicine men of remote tribes. A couple of associates at a pharmaceutical company Schoonbacher (Michael Gough) and Andrew Cassedy (Paul Guilfoyle) show him evidence of a man in Haiti who was recorded as dead and buried but is currently walking around. They realise that there is a drug behind these stories with valuable potential uses and they want Dennis to track it down for them.

In Haiti Dennis meets up with psychiatrist Dr. Marielle Duchamp (Cathy Tyson). The vicious Tonton Macoutes secret police and Haitian army patrol the streets and they watch Dennis going into her hospital. Marielle shows Dennis a patient who has been made in to zombie but she has lost her mind and stares at them with a horrifying expression on her face. Marielle has lost track of Christophe, the man Dennis has come to see but she assures him that Christophe can talk and remembers his life.

Marielle takes him to see a friend of hers, a  Voodoo priest Lucien Celine (Paul Winfield) who runs a night club with voodoo rituals for entertainment. Lucien is friendly but not happy about giving them any information. Lucien asks Marielle if she will be taking part in the rituals and she says no but she gets a drug blown in her face on her way out and is soon dancing erotically, possessed by the voodoo goddess Erzulie. Then a dangerous looking man comes into the club, Dargent Peytraud (Zakes Mokae), head of the Tonton Macoutes and practitioner in dark evil Voodoo. He is responsible for many disappearances and enemies of the state being turned into zombies and people are gripped in fear that they may lose not just just their lives but their souls to this man. Peytraud starts tapping on his glass and one of the dancers gets possessed by something crazy and murderous and attacks them. No-one gets harmed and Peytraud is seen slinking off.

Next day Marielle takes Dennis out to Christophe’s village where his sister tells them he has been seen hanging out in a cemetery. They find Christophe who is frightened and traumatized by his experience. He believes Peytraud has captured his soul and he sends it into people’s nightmares. They manage to calm him down and ask him how he was poisoned and he tells them that someone blew powder in his face. He was fully aware of everything while he was getting buried.

Dennis and Marielle go back to Lucien and tell what Christophe said. Thery need someone who can make the zombie powder and Lucien gives them a name. They find Louis Mozart (Brent Jennings) running a cock-fight at his bar and he is cagey and suspicious but Dennis doesn’t back down. He wants the powder that makes zombies and he wants a demonstration that it works. Mozart feeds some of the powder to a young goat which collapses apparently lifeless within minutes. Dennis examines the goat and secretly marks it. He tells Mozart he’ll be back the next day to see the goat resurrected.

Marielle takes Dennis to a pilgrimage involving a procession of a statue of the Virgin Mary to a large cavern with a sacred lake. She explains that Voodoo incorporates other religions and Mary is worshipped as a form of the Voodoo goddess Erzulie. Dennis and Marielle have grown closer and they make love in a small cave above the celebration

On the way back to his hotel Dennis gets picked up by Peytraud who wants to know he’s doing in Haiti. Dennis claims he’s on holiday but Peytraud doesn’t believe him and warns him leave. The police station he was taken to echoes to the sound of people screaming in pain and its clear Dennis is in a lot of danger.

The following day they go back to see Mozart and he shows them a healthy active young goat but Dennis checks and sees no sign of the cut he made and he knows it’s not the same goat. He takes the full jar of powder, tips into his drink and downs it in one and leaves telling Mozart he knows he’s a fraud. This is a performance and just as he guessed Mozart follows him out and promises to make the real powder for him but he demands Dennis help him make it which suits him just fine. He takes them to a cemetery to dig up a body that he will need and tells them to come back the next night

Dennis and Marielle go back to Marielle’s house and Dennis gets grabbed by the Tonton Macoutes and taken to be interrogated by Peytraud. Dennis tells him everything but Peytraud really just wants to hurt him and this involves Dennis’s scrotum, a very large nail and a big hammer. Afterwards they dump him outside Marielle’s house. She nurses him back to health but fortunately no major damage was done by Peytraud.

Still in pain Dennis goes to Mozart with Marielle and the three of them slowly over a few days prepare the powder from many ingredients in a process involving a combination of chemistry, cookery and magical ritual. Once they have finished Mozart puts the jar of yellow powder in grave to stay for a day.

Dennis and Marielle return to her beach house to rest. When Dennis wakes up the body of Christophe’s sister is in the bed next to him instead of Marielle, her head severed. Several Tonton Macoutes burst in and photograph him next to the body. They grab him and Marielle take them to Peytraud who tells him he’s getting sent out of Haiti. If Dennis comes come back he’ll be tried for murder and executed. They him put on a plane in cuffs, freeing him only at the last minute. Fortunately Mozart gets on the plane and gives him the powder before getting off on a baggage truck.

Back in the US they examine the powder and they are excited by the potential. Dennis can’t get in touch with Marielle and he can still sense Peytraud’s evil influence even there. Dennis flies back to Haiti where Lucien grabs him and takes him into hiding. Peytraud uses magic to kill Lucien and one of his men blows zombie powder in Dennis’s face. He passes out in the street and is taken to hospital where he is pronounced dead but is really paralysed and helpless. He has to lie there while Peytraud gloats over him. They put him in a coffin with tarantula, just for the extra touch of evil, and then bury him.

Hours later he starts to recover in dark coffin and he screams out for help. Then he hears someone digging up the soil. It is Christophe and very soon Dennis is free. As he staggers through the streets to Peytraud’s dungeon, revolution actually breaks out. The ruling family have fled the country and the people have taken to the streets to the cry of Liberte.

Whether due to effects of the zombie powder or because of Peytraud’s magic the dungeon seems to be full of evil traps hampering Dennis’s progress down through the prison. Peytraud has the upper hand at first but Dennis’s spirit guide possesses him giving him the power to fight Peytraud and send him crashing into his soul jars, releasing some very vengeful spirits who attack and burn him.

They leave the dungeon and go through Peytraud’s torture room where Dennis has a vision of Peytraud attacking him but Peytraud gets thrown into his own chair and his bollocks pierced by a nail before he and his chair get dragged down to hell. Marielle drags Dennis out of his fantasy and the film ends to the sound of happy people revolting in the streets.

I know when I first saw this film I was expecting a full out horror but this is more of a political thriller mixed with elements of witchcraft horror. It certainly isn’t a zombie film but it could be said to have the most real life portrayal of zombies. I liked the political angle of the film too where the zombie powder is used to turn rebels into shambling warnings of the state’s power. The film has a great cast especially Zakes Mokae who gave Peytraud a real nasty edge. I thought the film did better with the political thriller side and felt the magic showdown weakened the ending a little bit even if it was left ambiguous enough to be open to rational interpretation. Overall a very good film and one reminds that zombies have a history much older than Night of the Living Dead.

Rating 8.5/10

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Posted by on August 6, 2012 in Entertainment, Film


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Review: Devil’s Rock

 Second World War, two Kiwi troops are sent to the German occupied Channel island of Forau to blow up a big gun as a diversion. from the real D-Day invasion plans. After a tense time getting past landmines on the beach Captain Ben Grogan (Craig Hall) and Sergeant Joe Tane (Karlos Drinkwater) make it to the gun with little problem and get to work planting explosives. They hear terrible screams from inside the German fortification and investigate further. They find all the German soldiers dead, brutally slaughtered and their bodies are torn apart. Suddenly a German officer appears and shoots Tane dead and captures Grogan.

When Grogan come round his he is tortured by the officer Colonel Klaus Meyer (Matthew Sunderland) who want Grogan to tell him about the Allies’ invasion plans but Grogan tell him northing. The scream start up again making Meyer very nervous . He scoops up a bucket full of gore from the bodies lying around and leaves to feed whatever is screaming. When returns Grogan demands to know what is going on.. Grogan escapes and chase Meyer through the tunnels of the fortification.

He come to room with magic symbols on the floor and a grimoire full of spells on conjuring demons. And chained to the wall is a woman (Gina Varela)who looks just like his dead wife. She begs Grogan to free her but just then Meyer then enters the room, shoots Grogan in the leg and shoots the woman in the head He explain that the woman is a demon that they conjured to use as a weapon against the allies. She can look like whoever she wants to different people including people that they love. She is not dead and indeed she comes back to life soon after. Meyer proves she is a demon by tossing severed leg down at her and she transforms into a horned demon.

Meyer tells Grogan that he needs his help to send the demon back to hell and if Grogan assists him he will turn himself into the allies and give him all the information he has about the German plans. The two men must put aside their mutual hatred and work together to defeat the demon and escape.

This film has fairly low budget but it does make very good of what money it had, with very authentic sets and realistic looking gore all over the place. The only problem for me is that the film seems to take place when most of the action is already over and instead of onscreen action there is a lot of the characters talking to each other – it is almost like this film is the third act of story padded out to a feature film length.

The acting is great especially from Matthew Sutherland and Craig Hall. Overall the film is okay but a bit long of the dialogue and short on the action.

Rating  6/10

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Posted by on August 3, 2011 in Entertainment, Film


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