Review of Machine Baby

Machine Baby reminds us of why horror matters…

by Marissa Pona

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Horror, as a film genre, is not habitually associated with high brow filmmaking. Nor is it properly credited for its subversive attention to relevant cultural themes. In fact, the genre often goes without its due credit when it comes to creating cutting-edge art. While there are many reasons for this, the most obvious one is that so many filmmakers try, and fail, at horror. Because of this, it is even more exciting when a horror film comes along that effortlessly creates guttural horror through highly aesthetic imagery. And Machine Baby does all that and more.

This film centers around a cynical photographer who finds himself trapped by a beauty pageant manager and his newest beauty queen. It opens with a jarring opening sequence that grabs you by the throat and never lets go, not even after the credits roll. In fact, this film achieves an almost Argentoesque feel in its score and color. To describe the plot too much would only be an injustice; this film is best enjoyed without preconceptions. Especially since the story, though thought-provoking and richly developed, comes second to the beauty of the cinematography and thematic undertones.

Machine Baby is a rollercoaster of tension and terror, with an ending that leaves you reeling. The subject matter and symbolism in the film are poignant yet never moralistic, playing with everything from cultural obsessions with fame and beauty to the masculine mechanization of birthing.

All of this comes together to create a masterfully effective horror short. If Sean Richard Budde can do this much with ten minutes, I can’t wait to see what he can do with two hours.

Check out Machine Baby for yourself... click here

 

Amazon Roulette of Horror - October 31st - Cruel

Well we made it. 31 days of 31 randomly picked movies. It was a long road and I for one am proud of myself and fellow Ghouls for not going to the Amazon headquarters and raising it to the ground.

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The bad news is my final flick was not a horror movie. I'd go with psychological thriller/drama. The good news is this French language film wasn't half bad.

Pierre is a quiet man who lives a simple, mundane and routine life. If he is not working at the recycling plant or cleaning up at the airplane hanger, he is at home caring for his ailing father. He doesn't go out or socialize. He has no friends and it seems he has never been romantically involved with anyone. For the last ten or so years though, he has found that he enjoys stalking, kidnapping and murdering people. One day he decides to throw his “murder rules” out the window. While he has stalked and meticulous planned to kidnap a man at his bachelor party, he spontaneously kills a living room full of drunk bachelor party guest. Then the strangest change of all takes place, he meets a woman. The growing love between them makes him second guess everything and with a super sad plot twist, this movie lives up to its name.

Unlike so many others that I have watched this month, this was far from a low budget affair. High quality actors, beautiful cinematography, haunting music and a heartbreaking story. The main actor, while not resembling him, reminded me of Anthony Perkins in Psycho. A quiet, unimposing man with an attractive face that you would never believe is hiding a monster inside his mind.

I want to talk about the ending, but I don't want to spoil it. I want you to watch this movie. Again, I wish I was given a horror movie. I would have loved to have ended this on a scarier note, but the Amazon Roulette of Horror is a fickle bitch. If you enjoy foreign films, watch this movie. If you enjoy movies like Silence of the Lambs, give this one a try. I will admit that it is slow at times. This movie clocks in at almost 2 hours and on one hand I feel there were unnecessary scenes and montages that could have been cut. On the other hand, each of the slower scenes and montages did add to the character development of Pierre and the people around him. With one final spin of the wheel, I was given Cruel. At least I get to end on a high note. I give this movie 4 “French people eating outside” out of 5.

From all of us at Jersey Ghouls headquarters, we hope you have enjoyed our 31 reviews. Hopefully we have saved you from watching a craptastic movie with a convincing summary and box art. You never can trust those damn write ups! I can't say it was always easy enduring some of these movies but at least we had a good time making fun of them.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

- Jacki

Day 29- Marissa crosses the Amazon Horror Roulette Finish Line

Day 29- House of Good and Evil

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Well, I have made it to my final pick for the month. The Amazon Wheel of Horror Doom chose 2013’s House of Good and Evil. This film did well on the indie horror film circuit, and I can see why.  I have to admit, it wasn’t bad at all. More of a psychological thriller than a traditional horror film, this story focuses on a couple trying to rekindle their failing marriage after suffering a miscarriage. Naturally, they move to a giant old house in the woods with no electricity.

The story focuses on the wife, Maggie, as she tries to figure out what is up with a ringing phone and her creepy old people neighbors. The ending is a quality twist, although far from a shocker. It’s a decent enough watch and a good ending to this endeavor. Good luck to my other ghouls as they cross the finish line!

Amazon Roulette of Horror - October 28th - Evil Unleashed: The Seance Hour

Welcome to another hour and a half of my life that I'm not getting back.

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On the set of the television show, The Seance Hour, something spooky is happening. An unknown and presumably evil entity is making its way into the studio. On today's show, Madame Camille will host a seance with a group of people, including a professor/priest who is rumored to have murderer. The producer brought him on so he would confess to the murders during filming and boost their ratings. When the entity gets in the building (thanks to someone opening the front door and it sneaking in with them) it finds the priest and possesses him. One by one the crew dies and as it turns out, Madame Camille is a REAL psychic and only she has the power to stop him.

This movie was super boring. Please don't watch it. I watched it so you didn't have to. That's how much I love you.

The plot made no sense. If you are a demon spirit with the power to possess people, move objects telekinetically, and make a person spontaneous combust, WHY CAN'T YOU ENTER A BUILDING WITH A CLOSED DOOR. From the spirits POV, there are several shots in the beginning of the movie where the spirit is kept out because he didn't get to the door fast enough and it has already closed. Seriously? A door stopped you?

And what would a direct to video horror movie be without the large-chested slut? She also happens to be the assistant to the producer. And her and the producer are sleeping together. Because of course they are. Oh and the producer’s wife also works on the show. So there is that “obvious to everyone but the wife” love triangle. But don't get me wrong, it's not like you have a bunch of talented actors working with a bad script. 90% of the cast is as bad as the script. There was a character that screams and she literally says AAAAAHHHHHH. As in what you say in a dentist's’ chair. But she said it loud, so I guess it counts. The special effects aren't worth it and for the twist ending they used the oldest, stupidest, worn out trick in the book. Did I mention that this movie tried to be funny at times? Yeah, that didn't work either.

The worst and best line from the movie is one in the same. The possessed professor/priest begins to rape a crew member, who happens to be a lesbian, with the idea that it will “cure” her of her homosexuality. While he is trying to rip her pants off he says, “I WILL FUCK YOU WITH THE LIGHT OF TRUTH!” Is this movie over yet? Can it be over? I'm so checked out...

I will however give credit where credit is due. The guy who played the producer, Sewell Whitney, has an impressive resume. I've actually heard of a lot of shows and movies he has been in. One time guest spots on popular TV shows and even one scene characters in movies. I've probably seen him on screen before and have not even know it. He played the slimy, cheating on his wife with his younger busty secretary, do it for the money producer type really well. Even better than him was Alicia Petrides who portrayed Madame Camille. While her IMDB resume is small and unremarkable, I have the feeling that this lady tears it up on stage at the local or touring theater level. She was entertaining to watch and I was actually engaged when a scene featured her.

Even with a few talented people driving the movie, it still was not enough to save it. With the promise of this Amazon nightmare being over soon, I give this movie 2 “crystal balls and draped scarves“ out of 5. I need to cleanse my senses of this. If you need me, I'll be watching The Exorcist.

- Jacki


 

Day 26- Marissa Exercises Her Veto; Finds a Good Horror Flick

The Screaming Skull is a 1958 horror film by Alex Nicol, a director and actor who seemed to have a decent career through the late 50’s and 60’s. And I tried. I really did. But in order to hold my attention, a black and white older film has to be good. Otherwise, it just does not work for me.

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So I’m officially giving this my veto. Instead, I’m going to tell you about a horror movie I recently watched that was pretty good. Check out Tales of Halloween. It is the perfect Halloween weekend movie. It’s gory, goofy, and fun. It actually did make me jump a few times. Each story is really short, so if you do not enjoy a particular style you only have to wait a few minutes. Overall, this is one of the best anthology films I have seen in awhile. Check it out!