Monday, February 26, 2018

The Black Gloves

"The Black Gloves" (2017) (aka "The Owlman 2" for streaming release) is the newest film by the team at Hex Media which includes director Lawrie Brewster and writer Sarah Daly. This is the second film to feature their creepy, scary Owlman who was also prominent in "Lord of Tears" (aka "The Owlman"). The filmmakers have created a whole mythology around the Owlman with its roots in the folklore and old religions of the Scottish highlands. This movie takes place and is styled after the film noir movies of that period and is even filmed in black and white, which adds to the atmosphere of the film. The film is a wonderful mash up of genres: film noir, psychological thriller, gothic and atmospheric horror.

The film stars Jamie Scott Gordon as Finn Galloway, Macarena Gómez as Lorena Velasco, and Alexandra Nicole Hulme as Elisa Grey.

Finn Galloway is psychologist recovering from the recent loss of a young patient of his who had been haunted by an owlman creature she sketched. To help with his grief, he begins an investigation to discover the truth behind this mythical creature. The investigation leads him to an imposing mansion at the isolated Baldurrock Estate in the Scottish highlands where a once famous ballerina, Elisa Grey is living in seclusion and silence with her very intense ballerina teacher, Lorena Velasco. 

Finn Galloway tries to convince the women that he can help bring Elisa out of her long, silent, fugue-like state by conducting counseling sessions with her.  Elisa is a fragile and lost soul after a fall from fame and other horrors she has experienced at the house. Her ever watchful and very intense ballet teacher, Lorena, is a task master that demands nothing but the best from the fragile ballerina with hopes Elena will return to stage to perform her legendary performance as the Black Swan. Lorena herself is a former ballet star who faced an injury that prevented her from pursuing her destiny so she keeps pushing Elena so she can vicariously live through any future glories of her student. The codependency of the two women is extreme with Lorena the strict mother figure and Elena the helpless child. Can Dr. Galloway figure out the puzzle of Baldurrock, the Owlman, Moloch the ancient god, the controlling and overbearing teacher and the ethereal but wounded figure who is Elisa?

Macarena Gómez who plays the wonderfully over the top and sinister teacher is a Spanish actress whose looks, gestures and speech all fit beautifully into the film noir experience the filmmakers have created. The beautiful and talented, Alexandra Nicole Hulme does a superb job playing the broken ballerina, Elisa, who does what she can to reach out to the visiting psychologist for help from the horror she is trapped in. Jamie Scott Gordon is commanding as Dr. Galloway who is working through his grief and wants to help the young woman but has his own controlling nature and tragic life experiences to deal with.

Director Lawrie Brewster, writer Sarah Daly and their team of filmmakers provide us with a film you can really enjoy. The filmmakers excel at the cinematography. The rocking motion of the camera during the dream and/or reality sequences adds to the intense turmoil and tension on the screen very effectively. The filmmakers painstakingly created a film like that from the 1940s, very effectively using black and white film while mastering the use of shadows, reflections, sinister silhouettes and candlelight that makes this film so memorable. The Victorian looking Owlman with its long fingers and tall figure, is a very sinister creature you wouldn't want to run across in the woods or lurking around the corner of the hall. Whenever we see the Owlman onscreen it is a startlingly creepy experience.

Will the lengths that Elisa goes through trying to survive her experiences at Baldurrock with the Owlman, Lorena and Dr. Galloway, give her the strength to find herself and to live for another day?

I really enjoyed this horror noir film and highly recommend you immerse yourself into the dark, moody, contemplative and psychologically complex experience that is "The Black Gloves".

You can purchase this film at Hex Media's Hex Store.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

A Cure For Wellness

“A Cure For Wellness” 
Directed by: Gore Verbinski
Description: Lockhart (DeHaan), an ambitious Wall Street executive, is sent by his company to a remote sanitarium in Switzerland to retrieve a high ranking company official, Pembroke, who believes he is ill and will not leave.

Review: The wellness center sits in an ancient castle on a hill in a remote area of the Swiss Alps. People in the nearby village see the rich guests being driven up to the spa but they never see anyone leave.

 Lockhart arrives to the picturesque setting and is given the runaround to see Pemboke. He is told to return later in the evening. On his way back to the village he is in an accident causing him to wake up in the sanitarium three days later with a broken leg.

So starts his journey unraveling the puzzle that is the sanitarium and its powerful residents. There’s the facility’s Director Volmer (Isaacs) who doesn’t want anything to set back the treatment of his patients. There’s a young woman, Hannah (Goth), who says she’s a special case and is under the guardianship of Volmer. There’s patient Victoria Watkins (Imrie) who likes to solve puzzles and is digging deeper than she should into the dark history of the institution. There's the "vitamins" everyone takes from blue bottles. And last but definitely not least is the Sanitarium itself, a gothic castle framed by the mountains of the alps – full of majestic beauty and wellness of its famed healing waters on the outside but masking a dark reality of its many treatment rooms and wings and even darker creatures in the aquifers.

This movie is visually stunning. One can’t help admire the castle, the mountains, the treatment rooms, the swimming pools, the architecture and the lighting. In addition to its sunny appearance, there’s the mysterious atmosphere and dread that builds as the story moves forward. Once its over, you may be left with many questions to ponder but overall I enjoyed this captivating piece of gothic horror.

Friday, December 26, 2014

The Babadook

"The Babadook" (2014) starring Essie Davis, Noah Wiseman, Daniel Henshall is surprisingly creepy horror movie about a children's pop up book that has a horrible creature that comes to life to terrorize a mom and her young son.

Widowed mom Amelia (Essie Davis) is trying to keep up with the demands of life - working and being a single mom to a very precocious son, Samuel (Noah Wiseman).  Her husband died taking her to the hospital when her son was born seven years earlier.  She is still working through the grief of losing him.  Samuel is quite a handful, getting kicked out of school, causing problems with his cousin and making life very difficult for his mom.

One night Samuel picks out the nightly storybook to read together before bed.  It is titled "The Babadook" and is a scary popup book about a shadowy creature that is trying to get in and terrorize the family in the book.  As Amelia reads it, she quickly sees it escalate into violence between the mother and the son and immediately hides then tries to destroy the book.
However, being a special book, it is returned to them and the Babadook monster, first only seen by Samuel, continues to intrude deeper into their lives.  Soon Amelia, and the viewer, doesn't know what is reality or what is within the characters' minds.

"The Babadook" is a very effective psychological thriller and horror story.  It creates a menacing and oppressive atmosphere as the mother and son become isolated from the world around them as they try to deal with this monster that may or may not be only in their minds.  The cinematography, music, eerie sound effects and great acting by Essie Davis contribute to an enjoyable horror film that will send chills down your spine.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

House at the End of the Street

"House at the End of the Street" (2012) starring Jennifer Lawrence, Max Thieriot, Elisabeth Shue has a mother and daughter moving into a home next door to a house where a family was murdered in this horror/thriller.

After a divorce, Sarah (Shue) moves her daughter Elissa (Lawrence) to a small town where the only house they can afford is next door to a house where years earlier the mother and father were killed by their daughter, Carrie Ann.  Local lore has it that Carrie Anne got away and is living the the woods nearby.  Carrie Ann's brother, Ryan, was away at boarding school during the murders and he has moved back into the home much to the dismay of the neighbors.

Of course Elissa meets Ryan and they hit it off even though Sarah would rather she stay away from him.  Little does anyone know, Ryan has a secret - he has sheltered his crazy sister in a hidden room in the house all these years and she is always trying to escape!  Will Elissa get too close to Ryan and his secrets for her own good?

Jennnifer Lawrence ("Hunger Games") plays an unhappy teen well and Max Thieriot ("Bate's Motel", "Nancy Drew") is great as the mysterious neighbor.  This was a pretty good horror thriller that keeps you guessing and has some unexpected twists and turns.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

House of the Long Shadows

"House of the Long Shadows" (1983) starring Vincent Price, Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, John Carradine and Desi Arnaz Jr. is a comedy / horror movie about a man who on a bet goes to a haunted house to write a book.

Kenneth Magee (Arnaz), an American writer places a $20,000 bet that he can write a novel in one night.  In order to concentrate and get in the mood, he goes to an old mansion without electricity to write the novel.  It is supposed to be deserted but soon after his arrival in the dusty old house, other people start arriving.  Who are the assorted characters that keep coming out of the stormy night?  And who else has been hidden away in the house for the last 40 years?

A somewhat fun comedy / horror story that brings out all the classic horror tropes: candlelit walks through a dark, scary house, thunder and lightning, secret passageways and creepy characters.  Classic horror stars Price, Lee and Cushing join in the fun and even though not a spectacular movie, it may just be worth it to you to see these horror greats all together in one film.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Day of the Animals

"Day of the Animals" (1977) starring Christopher George, Leslie Nielsen, Lynda Day George, Richard Jaeckel, Michael Ansara, Ruth Roman and Jon Cedar is a tale of all of nature's animals going crazy and attacking a rural town.

A diverse group of folks are vacationing in Northern California and are taking helicopters up into the mountains for a week long guided hike.  Unfortunately the group picks the day that the Earth's ozone layer has become so depleted that the sun's radiation is particularly strong above 5000 feet and the radiation causes all the animals to go crazy and start attacking the humans.

Animals start killing off our hikers one by one and the group becomes fractured because of two camps of people, one led by the hikers, Paul Jenson (Leslie Neilsen in an off type role where he plays a bad guy) and the other led by the guide and local Native American (Ansara).  Of course, not staying together is the worse thing they can do but who can make smart choices when all the animals are attacking and it seems like the end of the world?

"Day of the Animals" is a fun, nature strikes back horror movie from the '70s.  The characters are over the top, the animals are attacking the horrific fun has just begun!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Nothing But the Night

"Nothing But the Night" (1973) starring Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing, Diana Dors, Georgia Brown, Keith Barron and Gwyneth Strong is a mystery/horror movie about a mysterious girl and the foundation that takes care of her.

The trustees of the Van Traylen foundation which takes care of orphaned children keep ending up dead and it appears to be suicide but police colonel Bingham (Lee) doesn't believe they may be murders.  During his investigation, he seeks the help of his friend Sir Ashley (Cushing) who is a psychiatrist.  One of the orphans from the foundation survives a bus crash and is soon caught up in the mystery.  The sinister goings on lead the policy and psychiatrist to a remote British island where the Van Traylen foundation and orphanage is based.

"Nothing But the Night" is a good mystery / horror movie that is also somewhat of a police procedural.  The mood and atmosphere is filled with a sinister quality that keeps the story engaging.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Five Dolls For an August Moon

"Five Dolls for an August Moon" (1970) starring William Berger, Ira von Fürstenberg, Maurice Poli, Edwige Fenech, Howard Ross, Helena Ronee, Teodoro Corrà, Ely Galleani, Edith Meloni and Mauro Bosco is a psychedelic murder mystery from Italian horror director Mario Bava.  

George Stark (Corra) is an extremely wealthy man who owns a mansion on a remote Mediterranean island.  He invites a group of friends and potential investors for a weekend of relaxation and potential business investment involving a brilliant chemist Professor Gerry Farrell (Berger).  The business rivalries soon end up overriding any friendships and intrigue turns to murder as one by one the guests turn up dead.

"Five Dolls for an August Moon" is like Agatha Christie's "And Then There Were None" on acid.  It takes place in the swinging '60s and all the characters are good looking and dressed glamorously.  The music is over the top fun and the extreme sudden close ups of the characters add to the overall visual feast which is this movie.  You'll want to watch the fantastic opening cocktail party scene over and over just for the fun of it!