• Maxwell J.

November 2020 Review: The Best and Worst Movies I Saw Last Month

A group of teens dies in mysterious ways at an old, purportedly haunted movie house. I’m going to be 100% upfront here that I saw this movie about a month ago and I cannot for the life of me remember the plot at all. It’s an already short film, clocking in at 75 minutes and I remember my brain tuning a lot of it out once I realized what sort of film I was actually getting. From memory, I remember that some teen workers are sent to this movie house to get it ready for opening day to prove their worth as managers. To increase the body count the writers have some former co-workers get transferred to the site and have some of their friends visit. There’s not much to say here. The acting is atrocious and none of the characters feel like real people. The story meanders without knowing fully what it wants to commit to in any given moment. Is it a slasher, more of a haunting, maybe a giallo-wannabe?


Honestly, after this month I’m starting to feel burnt out a bit on horror. I’ve decided that after December, I’m going to cut back on how often I watch films because I don’t want to force myself to go too far. I still, however, would like to continue making progress on the number of films I have watched.


Anyway, that’s enough talking, on to the main event!


WORST #3) Blood Theater (1984); Director: Rick Sloane; United States

A group of teens die in mysterious ways at an old, purportedly haunted movie house. I’m going to be 100% upfront here that I saw this movie about a month ago and I cannot for the life of me remember the plot at all. It’s an already short film, clocking in at 75 minutes and I remember my brain tuning a lot of it out once I realized what sort of film I was actually getting. From memory, I remember that some teen workers are sent to this movie house to get it ready for opening day to prove their worth as managers. To increase the body count the writers have some former co-workers get transferred to the site and have some of their friends visit. There’s not much to say here. The acting is atrocious and none of the characters feel like real people. The story meanders without knowing fully what it wants to commit to in any given moment. Is it a slasher, more of a haunting, maybe a giallo-wannabe? Blood Theater doesn’t know, nor does it care. It’s incredible that a movie that is so short, feels so interminable to watch! You’re better off waiting for multiplexes to open back again before resorting to this schlock.


Overall Score? 3/10



BEST #3) The Hills Have Eyes (1977); Director: Wes Craven; United States

A family on a road trip ends up having car trouble out in the middle of the desert while on their way to a family mine said to be loaded with minerals that will increase their wealth. Two of the members split up to look for help and a radio signal while the rest stay at the RV. Unbeknownst to them, they are being stalked by a clan of locals hell-bent on stealing from them and killing them. So, The Hills Have Eyes is a really interesting film for me to review because I had only seen the remake and its sequel almost ten years ago. I enjoyed the 2006 iteration most notably for its intensity and tension. Obviously, it made sense to check out the inspiration, especially since famed horror director Wes Craven is at the helm. I learned that they are pretty much the same films, with the 2006 film adding a bit more to the backstory/history of the area. I still enjoyed myself watching the original. It’s uncomfortable, tense, and a solid exercise in 70s exploitation that still unnerves to this day. Fans of the Alexandre Aja version, and younger horror fans in general, should check this one out!


Overall Score? 7/10


WORST #2) Carnivore (2000); Director: Joseph Kurtz, Kenneth Mader; United States

Government officials race against the clock to contain a murderous government experiment gone wrong in the plans of Illinois. Unfortunately for them, a group of teenagers have stumbled into its lair and are now at the mercy of the aberration. Carnivore is a by-the-numbers creature feature that fails in almost all aspects. It looks like the filmmakers knew this too because based on some internet sleuthing, I saw that it was made sometime in the late eighties or early nineties and then spent the rest of the time in between trying to get enough money to finish it. Even looking at it through that lens doesn’t conjure up any feelings of affection or understanding. Carnviore is dated even for the time of its release. The effects are laughable, the acting is hackish, the script even more so, and the overall product feels like a huge waste of time. Who was this made for exactly? It isn’t well-made enough to be scary or particularly engaging. It’s not campy enough to entertain B-horror fans. And it rarely verges into the ‘so bad it’s good’ territory either. It’s just bad.


Overall Score? 3/10


BEST #2) Run (2020); Director: Aneesh Chagantry; United States/Canada

I’ve already written a full-length review for this film. Check out why you should watch it here. Here’s a little snippet: “Run is a taut psychological horror-thriller that boasts incredibly nerve-racking suspense amidst typical genre thrills.”


Overall Score? 7.5/10


WORST #1) Amityville Island (2020); Director: Mark Polonia, Paul Alan Steele; United States

Amityville Island follows the journey of a woman possessed by the spirits inhabiting a box of haunted objects she picked up at a garage sale. By now you all have realized that I’m a pretty big believer in the bell curve for movie scores. To me, most films fall between an 8/10 and a 3/10. This film is honest-to-God one of the absolute worst things I have ever had the displeasure of sitting through in my life. That sounds dramatic, but it’s true! This is hot garbage. The plot lacks any consistency or coherence, mish-mashing about five different genres together with no regard for basic story elements, let alone entertainment or even tastefulness. The acting is horrendous, the editing is terrible, the effects are cringeworthy, and I could keep going but thinking back on this experience is seriously leaving me with a headache. I watched this film under the impression that it would be bad, but I truly did not think it was capable of such tragedy. Before this film, I had only ever rated a movie this low eight times. Now that I have seen Amityville Island there are only six films I hated more. It is truly an abomination of a film. Please do not watch unless you are a glutton for punishment.


Overall Score? 1/10


BEST #1) Freaky (2020); Director: Christopher Landon; United States

I’ve already written a full-length review for this film. Check out why you should watch it here. Here’s a little snippet: “Feel-good horror at its finest, Freaky is the exact kind of teen slasher that America needs after a particularly tumultuous year.”


Overall Score? 8/10



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