Posts Tagged ‘gore’

As promised, Netflix dropped the second entry in their horror film trilogy based on the books by RL Stine (see here for my review of the first movie). And while I’m getting to it later than I did last week (hey, I wanted to see a Marvel movie in the theater for the first time in a year), I’m here to report on the film and what I thought about it.

I’m also here to report that in 1978, my parents were in their teens, and I was influencing this Earth from another world. God, I was busy that year. So much chaos to sow!

Starting off almost immediately after the end of the first film, 1978 finds the survivors of the most recent massacre locating the only survivor of the 1978 Camp Nightwing massacre. We are then sent back to summer 1978, where campers and staff from Shadyside have an uneasy relationship with the campers and counselors from Sunnyvale. And while that would normally be bad enough, the curse of Sarah Fier awakens to wreak more havoc on the camp. But while that happens, terrible secrets will be uncovered. Ones that will affect the course of history up to the (film trilogy’s) present day.

Gotta say, I’m more disturbed by how awful the Sunnyvalers are to the Shadysiders than anything in the film. Seriously, I know these kids are rich and used to having their way, but some of these kids are freaking psychopathic! Also, why are there no adults? Only counselors and staff in their twenties! Except for counselors, most of the staff at my camp were in their thirties or older. And we never had any murders!

That aside though, this was a fun sequel and a fun slasher. It takes a lot of cues from the early Friday the 13th films and Sleepaway Camp. The storytelling is pretty tight, with more emphasis placed on the character development and interplay, as well as developments in the plot, than on gore and horror. Actually, the gore and horror is mostly held back, but that seems to benefit the film. This film knows that its strengths are in the characters, so it uses horror to move their dynamics along.

And speaking of characters, the actors do a good job in their roles. Sadie Sink of Stranger Things fame plays Ziggy with the same great attitude she brings to her character Max, along with a great side of being hurt by life and the people around her. As for the other actors, you really believe that they’re these characters. It helps that a lot of the campers are actually played by teens and preteens, which brings a sense of realism to the story. And when they interact with each other, you really feel the love, animosity, and other emotions/prejudices in these characters.

That being said, it’s not very scary. At least, not for experienced horror fans. Yeah, there’s blood and murder and the undead, but no atmosphere or suspense to really terrify you. Someone who faints at the sight of blood might get scared, but not someone whose seen a lot scarier stuff.

Still, this is a fun horror movie and much better than I thought it would be. On a scale of 1 to 5, I’m giving Fear Street Part Two: 1978 an even 4. Same as the first film. If you watched the first film and was worried about the second, I can at least assure you it won’t be time wasted. I’m looking forward to seeing the third film and how they wrap things up. It appears they’re going to do an American Horror Story and use most of the actors from the first two films in new roles. I wonder if that will be significant.


Another reminder, my Followers of Fear: there’s only 18 days left to take part in the ten-year blogging anniversary Ask Me Anything, or AMA. Just send me a question with where you’re from by 11:59 PM on July 28th, 2021. If you do, you’ll be entered for a prize. All questions should be sent to my email at ramiungar@ramiungarthewriter.com. I look forward to reading your questions and answering them.

Unless I don’t get enough questions. In which case, forget it.

Until next time, my Followers of Fear, good night, pleasant nightmares, and disco music is dead. Let’s keep it that way.

A poster from a play from the Grand Guignol.

*Trigger warning: this post goes into a lot of dark and uncomfortable topics. If talk of gore, murder, sexual assault and similar subjects upset you, stop reading now. You’ve been warned.

Have you ever seen any version of Sweeney Todd? Whether you saw a stage production or watched the movie, Sweeney Todd is somewhat of an outlier among famous Broadway musicals. It’s dark, bloody, and deals with subject matter other plays don’t, such as rape and cannibalism. It’s basically a slasher story with singing.

Now, if you’re like me (and I assume most of you are, if you’re reading this blog), you not only wish there were more plays like Sweeney Todd, but that some of these plays went further in terms of gore and terror. Well, recently I found out that there was a theater dedicated to plays just like that. And it ran for nearly seventy years.

The Grand Guignol Theater was a theater set up in an old Paris chapel in 1897. To summarize its history, the theater at first performed naturalistic plays centered around prostitutes, street thieves and alcoholics. A typical evening at the Grand Guignol would feature five or six short plays, alternating between cynical slice-of-life comedies, horror shows, and more traditional comedies. However, after a change of ownership, the theater began to focus more on horror.

And as time went on, the theater became famous for it. In fact, the Grand Guignol performed over twelve-hundred plays in the course of its existence, focusing on subjects such as insanity, strangulation, rape, leprosy, hypnosis, eye gouging, stabbing, rabies, and so much more. One actress, Paula Maxa, estimated she’d been “murdered” at least ten thousand times in sixty different ways, among other things. To enhance the terror, the theater staff developed a number of techniques to make the horror onstage seem as real as possible, and actors acted as if everything onstage was actually happening.

It wasn’t uncommon for audience members to puke or faint during performances.

This was all to the delight of Andre de Lorde, one of the Guignol’s writers, who judged his plays based on how many people fainted during a show. Along with psychologist and friend Alfred Binet, he wrote over a hundred plays, all particularly gruesome.

And audiences kept coming back. Like many modern horror fans, they were seeking a thrill. And the Grand Guignol provided. At its peak, celebrities and even royalty visited for shows.

So why did it close? Well, there are a number of theories. By the 1930s, the theater had shifted away from gory shockers to psychological dramas, and attendance began to dip. The rise of movies and TV shows, some of the former being quite gory or sensational themselves, may have also played a part. Theater management even believed revelations about the Holocaust may have played a role, saying “We could never equal Buchenwald.”

Whatever the case, the Grand Guignol closed in 1962. Today it’s a theater space for a deaf acting troupe.

But while the theater closed, its legacy still exists. Many small theaters and troupes around the world have been formed to preserve the Guignol’s legacy and produce their own Guignol-style plays. The Guignol’s also made its way into popular culture, and has been referenced in music, movies, books and more.

Still, wouldn’t it be amazing if the Grand Guignol was truly revjved? If one of the groups inspired by it managed to achieve the same popularity and staying power as the original theater?

Perhaps someday it will come back. And then perhaps Mr. Sweeney Todd won’t be so lonely anymore.

As soon as I heard about this film, I knew I had to check it out, even if I was in Germany. Why? Because  the companies distributing it, Nerdist Industries, has for a long time been providing me and millions of other nerds with the latest in everything geeky and cool (which at this point are basically the same thing), all while being freaking hilarious at it. If the folks at Nerdist thought highly enough of the film to distribute it, I wanted to check it out.

The Hive follows Adam Goldstein (played by Gabriel Basso), a young man who wakes up covered in blood and sores and with no memory of who he is or what happened to him (sounds like my morning this past Thursday). Using clues around him, Adam starts to remember not only who he is, but the events that caused a very powerful and dangerous virus to spread around a summer camp and beyond and what happened to his friends (played by Jacob Zachar, Kathryn Prescott, and Gabrielle Walsh).

The first thing I have to say about The Hive is that it feels like the most recent Evil Dead film, if that film had been made to be serious rather than humorous, the villains less supernatural but much more threatening, and with a heavier psychological aspect. And I feel that works in the film’s favor. It’s very creepy and definitely a psychological mind-bendy, with plenty of mystery to keep you interested in the slower parts of the movie. The effects are done with minimal CGI (which I love), and a lot of time is spent on getting to know these characters so that they’re a bit more than just cut-out characters there to fulfill a role. Plus the actors manage to make you forget that they’re acting and believe in them in their roles, which is definitely a plus.

What I didn’t like about the film was that there’s more blood and gore than I feel there need be, as well as way too much sexual stuff and swearing, which I feel take away from the film and almost give it a comedic feel at times. For example, there’s one moment where Adam realizes something he did that he shouldn’t have done with one of his friends, and that could’ve been a very powerful moment…if not for the fact that it’s ruined by Adam freaking out about something he experienced in that flashback. Talk about a mood killer! And what was with that shower shot? What did that add, exactly?

But overall, it’s a pretty good psychological-horror apocalypse film. It keeps your attention, the mystery of the film is very well set up, and you want to root for the characters while you watch it. And it even has pretty good commentary on our social media addictions, which I enjoyed seeing. Overall, I’d give The Hive a 3.5 out of 5. It’s not my favorite kind of horror film, but it’s definitely worth a watch if you’re looking for something to creep you out and screw with your mind a bit. And I’d definitely like to see more from the production company behind the movie, Midnight Road Entertainment, which is still relatively new and has plenty of room to expand their repertoire. Heck, if they ever wanted to adapt one of my stories for the screen, I’d definitely be interested if they could bring the same passion and quality to an adaptation as they did to The Hive.*

Oh, before I forget, currently The Hive is only available from iTunes as far as I know. Might be available from other places, I’m not sure, but it’s definitely available from iTunes. And if you want to check it out, I think it’d be a good investment of your time and cash, and maybe a great start to your Halloween season.

*Oh, wouldn’t that be nice if it were to actually happen!