This review Roundup is a collection of movies that hit home video in 2019 that I just got a hold of. I’ll start with what I considered the best of the bunch, Scary Stories. The film is a documentary about the book series Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and its lasting effect it had on its readers. Last year at the theater we got a live-action adaptation of the books also called Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. When I saw the theatrical movie I genuinely had no idea it was based on books. People around me were dumbfounded not only had I never read them, I had never even heard of them. I’m a product of the 1980s and 1990s when these books first hit big and I simply had no idea of their existence. After watching this documentary, I realized I was not the norm. The books had a huge influence on people and in the film you see people to this day drawing inspiration from them. Whether it’s their tattoos, their artwork, becoming (horror) writers themselves, the books left a lasting impression. It shows how libraries and schools banned the books which maybe my city did and that’s why I didn’t read them. It interviews the author’s family and what the books meant to them. It also shows how not only the stories, but the incredible artwork influenced a generation. The artwork in the books might be more popular than the stories themselves. When they released an anniversary edition of the books with different artwork the internet exploded. Having not read the books, despite being a nerdy loner in the 80s and 90s, this documentary isn’t geared towards me, but what makes a documentary good is that even though you might not be the target audience for the material, you still find the movie interesting. And I did. I learned a lot about these books and the people inspired by them. I learned how kids who grew up reading them then got into other horror writers like Stephen King or became horror writers themselves. If you are/were a fan of Alvin Schwartz and his series of books then definitely check this out if you haven’t already.
Second we have Clownado. Yeah you read that write and yes it’s about a tornado of clowns. Well sort of. A group of clowns is trapped in a tornado thanks to a witch’s spell after a man is killed by one of the clowns. A woman wanted to get away with the man so she leaves the traveling show after the witch does her spell. But of course the clowns come after her in their tornado and it’s kind of a mess. This is a movie I should absolutely love and I wanted to. It has some fantastic practical effects which I prefer. There are some great kills/blood/gore with these effects and I loved that aspect of the film. Unfortunately it’s one of those lower budget films with really bad acting. I know not everyone can afford A-list talent for their film, but watching these people try to act was painful. It’s 100% a cult flick and I can respect it for that reason, but man was it tough to get through. The CGI is bad, but you expect that in this type of movie. If you grew up on the practical effects of 1980s horror it might be worth a watch for the good practical effects, but you might not get through it in one sitting like me.
Third we have Door in the Woods. We’ve seen this film a thousand times before. Ok maybe not specifically a haunted door, but we’ve seen haunted mirrors and possessed items a lot. It stars David Rees Snell from The Shield who moves into a new house with his wife and son. The son seems to be on the spectrum and is immediately bullied at school. The three go for a hike and see a door wrapped in chains standing upright in the middle of the woods. So as anyone would do, they take this mystery door wrapped in chains home with them and shockingly things start to go weird. Being new to town the wife goes to the library to look up the town’s paranormal history and surprise, the town had a run on missing kids back in the day. But it all stopped 20 years ago. She meets a local woman who was the mother of the last missing girl who explains what she did to stop the disappearances. You guessed it, the door was part of it. Their son gets taken and the parents, along with a psychic type have to figure out how to get him back. The film isn’t bad per se, but it’s not original in the slightest. The ending is pretty twisted which I really liked. Bravo for that.
The lack of originality is also the biggest flaw of the next film Lost Gully Road. A woman is trying to escape an abusive relationship and hides out in a house in the woods. She doesn’t necessarily want to be there, but is told to hide out there for a few days until things can get better. Once there she realizes there’s something odd about the house. She hears noises. Things seem to be moving. She feels a presence around her. Turns out the house has a past of its own with a rapist. It’s not unwatchable or anything, but we’ve definitely seen this movie many times already. Heck the new The Invisible Man has a similar theme and yes I know this came out before that.
Last we have Darkslide and I’m going to be honest, this is absolutely bizarre. It’s a little over 2 hours long so right away you know it should have a big edit in it. No name horror movies should never be more than an hour 40 tops, more like 90 minutes. It’s about a group of skateboarders trying to make the ultimate skateboard movie. The first hour is about one of the brothers disappearing. Then they sell weed to pay for their movie. Then they go on their road trip to make the skateboard movie. The first hour, yes hour, has no horror elements in it. It’s lame skateboarder characters smoking weed and skating on a road trip. A full freaking hour of it. Then it becomes a Descent clone. They fall into a hole (that somehow none of them saw coming) and are trapped in a cave/tunnel system with a creature. It’s like The Descent and every other similar movie, but truth be told, if the entire movie was this storyline I might have liked it a lot. The creature is pretty cool and the environment totally works, but that first hour is so unnecessary. You don’t need to see them selling weed to pay for the road trip. Just go on the road trip. You don’t need to see them surfing and all the skateboarding. If you cut a good 30 minutes (or more) from that first hour and cut a lot of the backstory, you have a decent Descent inspired flick. I almost shut the movie off after an hour because I almost gave up on it being a horror movie. Once it flips its switch it’s solid, but it takes forever to get there.