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  • Writer's pictureMaxwell J.

September 2021 Review: The Best and Worst Movies I Saw Last Month

This past month has been the best month for horror movies (for me) since I began tracking my first-time watches. Out of 39 horror films watched, 22 registered as films that I consider to be great versus only 6 were considered bad. I credit this to my decision to attend Fantastic Fest 2021, which marks my first in-person film festival. I had a blast and watched a ton of great films there. Evidence of this comes in the form of all three of my “Best” entries coming from the fest. This month has been great and has offered up great competition to October, which I hope can compete against it. Anyway, here are the best and worst films that I watched this last month.

WORST #3) Howling V: The Rebirth (1989); Director: Neal Sundstrom; United States, Hungary

Long ago in medieval times, a couple murders every person in a castle for fear that they are a bloodthirsty werewolf. After committing such an act of atrocity, they decide the honorable thing to do is commit suicide. As they take their dying breaths the cries of an infant reverberate throughout the castle implying that the terror is long from finished. In the present day, a group of strangers are invited to this very castle for a tour. Unfortunately, the castle’s bloody history repeats itself as the group is stalked and killed by an unknown person, or thing. In a classic murder mystery, the group must figure out who the killer, or werewolf, is among them before it is too late. Remarkably enough this is the most tolerable of the Howling sequels I have watched thus far. Unfortunately for it, I did not watch many bad movies this month. The creature design and story clearly have more effort in this iteration. Its characters are more lifelike, and the setting offers some interesting set pieces and chase scenes. Certainly not the worst werewolf film created, it still doesn’t offer much in terms of thrills or frights. Points are taken off here mostly because of how boring the film gets. I’ve accepted that the Howling series isn’t my cup of tea, but if you know this about yourself too there’s no use checking out this sequel.

Overall Score? 4/10

BEST #3) V/H/S/94 (2021); Director: Jennifer Reeder, Chloe Okuno, Simon Barrett, Timo Tjahjanto, Ryan Prows; United States, Indonesia

Please check out the full review here.

Overall Score? 8/10

WORST #2) Curtains (1983); Director: Richard Ciupka; Canada

A group of actresses is invited out to a mansion in the middle of the woods to audition for the part in an exciting new film by the director himself. One woman is so dedicated to her craft that she willingly checked herself into a mental asylum to study for the part, only to be forgotten by the director. One by one the women start disappearing through the night and are killed in brutal ways. Everyone is a suspect as they all have motive. It’s a part to die for after all. Is the masked murderer after the part of a lifetime or are their intentions even darker than that? I’m confused where all the praise for this film is coming from. It’s repetitive, poorly lit, and full of annoying characters that have no depth or personality. While it does have a cool setup, nothing really works here. The motive is flat, the kills are uninspired, and it fails to capture the suspense or feeling of isolation that should be present in a film that is set deep in the woods. Curtains is all concept and no execution, a film that I would draw the curtains on much earlier than its runtime allows for.

Overall Score? 3.5/10

BEST #2) The Sadness (2021); Director: Rob Jabbaz; Taiwan

Please check out the full review here.

Overall Score? 8.5/10

WORST #1) Zombie Tidal Wave (2019); Director: Anthony C. Ferrante; United States

An island paradise is the scene of a grisly invasion of zombies after a military medical experiment gone wrong causes hundreds of undead to sink to the bottom of the ocean right off the coast. A fisherman discovers the problem and attempts to warn the town but is quickly swept up in a freak tsunami that ends up sending the undead right their way. After surviving the initial wave, a group of townsfolk will have to work together to fight against the ravenous horde and find a way off the island before it is too late. I knew that this was going to be an awful movie going into it, however, it did surprise me by being pretty funny. The concept is ridiculous, and its plot can be deconstructed through some light application of logic. No one walks into a movie title Zombie Tidal Wave expecting it to be high art. It does fall into the repetitive Syfy routine that we have seen before. From stock characters acting artificially to blue zombie blood so it can get passed the censors, this film doesn’t have too much of anything to do that hasn’t been done many times before and done better. In the end, disaster is averted only because it’s impossible to mess up a movie that had no chances of being great in the first place.

Overall Score? 3.5/10

BEST #1) The Black Phone (UNRELEASED); Director: Scott Derrickson; United States

Please check out the full review here.

Overall Score? 8.5/10

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