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Featured Post - Mystery Movie Marathon

I thought I'd kick the new year off with another movie marathon. I thought it was time to check out a few old school mystery flicks. Som...

Friday, August 30, 2019

Hansel and Gretel Get Baked (2013)

Well with a title like this I had to check it out. I found this one while browsing thru the Shudder catalog and had very low expectations. I mean how many stoner horror comedies have there been? I can’t think of any myself, though I’m probably missing something. Let’s see if I made a horrible mistake watching Hansel and Gretel Get Baked.

This is a simple story. You have a witch, played by the always beautiful Laura Flynn Boyle, who uses weed to tempt stoners into her house. There she does all sorts of twisted magic on them to restore her youth and grow some more to lure even more potheads to her door. One of the kids she nabs is Gretel’s boyfriend, who she comes looking for. Not only does she and her brother cross paths with the witch, but so do some rival drug suppliers, a utilities guy, some cops, and her dealer. Much mayhem ensues as eyeballs are eaten, zombies made, and bloody good time is had by some, not all.

Well damn… How did I miss this one? It was made six years ago and I’m just now watching it. While not the greatest flick that I’ve ever seen it has all the hallmarks of a good time. First up we have an actress in Boyle who is having a blast chewing up the scenery. It is fun watching someone with some acting chops do a role like this. Her character has some great lines and she does a wonderful job with them. Second the plot is straight forward which leads to a tight and quick paced bit of entertainment. They waste no time getting to the good stuff with some gore right off the bat. In face one of the best bits of gore is early on when Boyle’s character gets the munchies smoking her own product and chows down on an unfortunate victim.

Laura Flynn Boyle is clearly having a blast!
This leads me to the special effects work. We get some good gore with an eyeball appetizer followed with some skinned stoner, a leg coming off and going into the oven. We also see an odd bit of irrigation thanks to a drug dealer, heart chomping, a throat gets cut, and of course if you know the story then the witches end won’t surprise you at all. The creatures are cool as well. The makeup used to age Boyle has a couple stages as she gets younger the more stoners she kills. We also get a cool demon dog and a couple of zombies. This witch has some tricks up her sleeve! All of this is practical work, except for the dog’s eyes, and is well executed. I couldn’t believe all of the latex and old school tricks they used in the movie. It gives Hansel and Gretel Get Baked a classic vibe that I dug.

This is a great update of a classic fairy tale with a bucket of gore tossed in for fun. I had zero expectations going in and was more than satisfied with the results. Finding a movie like this is why I keep digging and never stop watching new horror. Sometimes you find some really good stuff. Hansel and Gretel Get Baked is one of those times. I recommend it.

© Copyright 2019 John Shatzer

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Hell House LLC (2016)

I know I keep saying this and keep watching them but normally I’m not a found footage kind of guy. Don’t automatically hate them, but the gimmick doesn’t play well to me. Though when I kept hearing good things about Hell House LLC I relented and checked it out. There were things that I liked and didn’t like about the movie, but more on that later.

The story here is told as a documentary with a reporter interviewing people who were around a tragic incident at a haunted house in small town Abaddon New York. On opening night something went wrong, and a lot of people died, including everyone that worked at the attraction. The local authorities did their best to cover things up, but some photos and video got on the net. Five years later the reporter and her crew are investigating the story and get lucky when they find a survivor that worked at the haunted house who has been in hiding. Her name is Sara and she has hours of footage that no one has seen.

The rest of the movie is the story being told with the footage they were shooting in the weeks leading up to opening night as well as some interviews mixed in to fill in the blanks. We get some history of the hotel where the previous owner killed himself after rumors started about guests disappearing. We also get to here second-hand accounts from the first responders who entered the house detailing what they saw. Mixed in is the footage the crew shot while working on getting the hotel ready for Halloween. We see all sorts of spooky stuff, including mysterious figures in the background, a clown that keeps moving itself around, and a piano that seems to play itself.

Unlike many found footage movies Hell House LLC has a decent narrative that kept focused from start to finish. The filmmakers manage this with the documentary hook. It allows them to pull away from the footage of what is happening to explain things which helps keep the story cohesive and interesting. This isn’t a bunch of kids running around the woods or house in the dark but is an actual movie with a plot. That is a nice change. The scares are plentiful and mixed in throughout which helped keep me interested. You have to watch this one or I guarantee you’ll miss something creepy. I appreciated that and had a lot of fun spotting all the subtle spooky stuff happening. Clowns might be a cheap scare but damn it they do them well here.

Clowns... why did it have to be clowns?
My biggest complaint is one that I have with many of these flicks. Why the hell are they staying? The events shown in the movie happen over a series of weeks and it gets really bad long before opening night. At some point why the hell are you not just leaving? They come and go so it isn’t as if they are somehow locked in the house. Dude turns up missing, clown mannequins move on their own, creepy shadow figures are caught on tape, and the best we get is “someone must be messing with us”. No person in their right mind would have stayed and without some mechanism keeping them there it bugged me.

Overall this was a fun and scary ride that is worth taking. I doubt that this will become a yearly watch for me as once the gimmick is shown and the big twist is revealed at the end the movie loses a lot of the intrigue. But not every movie has to be a classic and some can just be pretty good which is what I’d say about Hell House LLC. The movie is pretty good, and I recommend checking it out this Halloween season if you’ve not seen it yet.

© Copyright 2018 John Shatzer