April 2021 Review: The Best and Worst Movies I Saw Last Month
Updated: Feb 6
I apologize for the late submission of last month’s conquests in horror. My laptop died right as the month ended so I had to scramble to fix that issue. Unfortunately for me, that meant getting a new computer. Thankfully, the last month in horror had some pretty great movies to enjoy so I look forward to spending more time on the positive aspects of April while writing this list. This is the first month of the year that I watched more good films than bad ones, so I will take that as a win!
I was able to see 33 movies and here are my picks for the best and worst of the bunch. I hope you enjoy!
WORST #3) Howling II: …Your Sister Is a Werewolf (1985); Director: Phillipe Mora; Czechoslavakia/United Kingdom/United States
Immediately following the events of the first movie in The Howling series, Howling II: …Your Sister is a Werewolf follows a man who, shockingly enough, discovers that his sister is a werewolf. He teams up with an investigator to track down a group of powerful werewolves in Transylvania. There, they must confront the Stirba, the queen of all werewolves before she resolves her evil plans to regain her immense powers. While the detective and his new partner work to track down the pack, anyone who crosses paths with the pack are subjected to their efficient killing rituals. A convoluted sequel to a beloved, yet average film, in my opinion, Howling II: …Your Sister is a Werewolf fumbles its premise by veering too off course too soon with the expanded mythology of the universe. Furthermore, it’s filled with goofy scenes, poor writing, and questionable acting. And, at the end of the day, it’s just a dreadfully boring film. I appreciate some of the interesting takes on werewolf folklore that the film does expand upon, but it’s not enough to make up for the fact that it misses the best things about its predecessor: the mystery, the characters, and the amazing creature effects. Do yourself a favor and don’t listen to the call of the wolf here.
Overall Score? 3/10
BEST #3) Blood Creek (2009); Director: Joel Schumacher; United States/ United Kingdom/Romania
Years after his veteran brother disappeared into the night on a fishing trip, a paramedic is reunited with his long-lost sibling and forced into a dangerous mission. Without much knowledge of what happened, he learns that his brother was kidnapped and tortured by a cruel family and is now seeking vengeance on them while saving the man that took his place. Soon after arriving at a seemingly innocuous ranch, the brothers overtake the homestead. Unfortunately for them, and not long after they arrive, the evil force behind the twisted operations awakens, testing their grit and brotherly love. A criminally underseen and under-talked about Nazisploitation gem, Blood Creek is a wild ride full of action, horror, and suspense that titillates with top-notch supernatural mayhem. Framing a rather simple setup with clever writing and a unique approach to both slashers and demon films, Blood Creek subverts expectations by offering surprising amount of depth. Henry Cavill and Dominic Purcell give great performances and showcase solid chemistry as brothers struggling to connect after years apart and fighting an impossible evil. Blood Creek is also just a very intense and, at times, scary film with great imagery and memorable set pieces. It’s not setting the world on fire, but Blood Creek is well worth the venture into a Satanic Nazi time capsule.
Overall Score? 7.5/10
WORST #2) Legion of Fire: Killer Ants (1998); Director: Jim Charleston, George Manasse; United States
A string of mysterious deaths prompts local authorities to evacuate its residents before they fall victim to what appears to be bizarre attacks. They discover that the small Alaskan town is besieged by a swarm of killer ants from South America. After enlisting the help of an out-of-town entomologist, a ragtag group of locals including a sheriff, a teacher, and a young boy work together to save the town. Time is ticking before the ants move on to bigger and more populated areas and they’ll have to make do with what little resources they have to fight off the impending insect invasion. I’ll be honest, most killer bug movies are trash. And, that’s okay! If they are entertaining or unique in some way, I’m usually more forgiving. This film, however, is the most soulless and generic movie in the subgenre I have seen in awhile. These films typically feature poor acting, writing, directing, and effects. This film has all of that and more, featuring some of the most eye-rolling, runtime extending sequences that I’ve seen for a straight to tv movie. There’s a massive scope problem here and the more the movie tries to cover it up, the more obvious it gets. If this movie is in your streaming queue, I promise you that it is okay to tell it to buzz off.
Overall Score? 3/10
BEST #2) The Queen of Black Magic (2019); Director: Kimo Stamboel; Indonesia
A family makes the trek into the country to visit the patriarch’s caretaker who has fallen severely ill. Growing up in an orphanage was difficult, but he, along with his best friends, managed to get out of it and make quality lives for themselves and their families. Upon returning, the group finds themselves relaxing into old ways and falling for old tricks that terrorized them as children. Eventually, strange things begin to happen as the crew and their families explore the home, reunite with old friends, and meet some of the new kids. The moment they realize something sinister is manipulating their surroundings it is too late to leave and the group must fight back against an old enemy, the Queen of Black Magic. The Queen of Black Magic is another excellent addition to the growing crop of Indonesian horror films that have been dominating the international market over the past few years. This film has incredibly violent and intense scenes, masterful suspense, and a unique approach to horror. The characters, while plentiful, are still given enough attention to stand out beyond thin stereotypes and are largely likable even when making poor decisions. And, honestly, at the end of the day it’s simply an effective and scary film! When everything else is solid or good, this just elevates it further. You’ll curse your own name if you wait too long to check out The Queen of Black Magic.
Overall Score? 8/10
WORST #1) Alien Abduction (2005); Director: Eric Forsberg; United States
A group of friends camping in the woods get sucked into a world of terror when they are abducted by aliens. After an initial chase sequence that leaves them all dead, a lone survivor wakes up in a government facility healed and forced into completing psychological testing before being sent home. She however, starts to question the intentions of the organization when she spots one of her friends, alive and well though clearly traumatized beyond reason, in another part of the facility. She plots to escape with her friends so they can return home to their families. Alien Abduction is an absolute chore to finish. The story is plodding and near incomprehensible before leading into a bizarre conclusion that lacks sense or entertainment. The actors miserably recite their lines in the most agonizing ways, almost as if they are crying out for help, much like a hostage. What’s more is that writer/director Eric Forsberg insists on layering the film with illogical twists and turns that make little sense and only serve to elongate the film’s already padded runtime. Aside from a few unintentionally hilarious scenes, there are almost no redeeming qualities to this low budget sci-fi horror atrocity. Getting abducted by aliens would easily be a more interesting, entertaining, and meaningful use of your time than sitting through this film: stay away!
Overall Score? 2.5/10
BEST #1) Kill, Baby… Kill! (1966); Director: Mario Bava; Italy
A coroner is sent to assist an investigator in examining the death of a young woman in a mysterious village. The duo become quick allies against a village that wants nothing to do with their presence or professions. They do not trust police officers or doctors and would prefer if they just left everyone alone. All the while, a young woman crosses their paths as she seeks to understand the circumstances of her birth family. All of this culminates together in a giant gothic mystery as the group figures out if the village is simply caught in a rut of bad luck or is actually the victim of a powerful curse. This Mario Bava classic is an excellent example of the staying power of a good story and strong filmmaking. The strong use of colors and images, innovative camerawork, and a lively soundtrack make Kill, Baby… Kill a memorable and engaging experience in classic horror cinema. It’s always a pleasure for me to find joy in older films that set the stage for some of my favorite new releases. We owe much to Bava and this absolute gem of a haunter and regardless, it is still an exceptionally heart-pounding film in its own right. Patient viewers and horror cinephiles alike will rejoice in this classic’s whimsy, dread, and fright-filled story that is sure to leave an impression on the open-minded.
Overall Score? 8/10