brendan halpin


Everybody else in my house is sick, which means horror movies on the big TV for me! This week’s selections go from the sublime to the ridiculous, and if you think you can tell which is which just by the title, you’re absolutely right!

When Evil Lurks is an Argentinian horror movie about a sort of epidemic of demonic posession? Maybe? Of which the rules are totally unclear. Don’t kill anyone who’s possessed because then the demon will get out and go elsewhere, but also it sometimes does that anyway.

The movie follows two hapless brothers who inadvertently unleash a new outbreak of possession and then spend the rest of the movie trying to fix it. It’s a scenario that could be played for laughs, but it’s not—it’s played totally straight, and you get some shocking deaths, some great suspense where you don’t know who’s possessed and who’s not, and a final scene that continues to haunt me.

It’s an excellent movie, and if you like horror movies at all, you should see it.

Wish I could say the same for Frankenhooker. Don’t get me wrong—this one definitely has its moments, particularly at the end when it kind of flirts with feminism. (No, really!) And the entire sequence of the title character running amok in Manhattan is great.

But man, does it take a long time to get there. The first half of the movie is pretty excruciating—not really funny, not really scary. I feel like, even in the horror community, horror comedies don’t get as much respect as “serious” horror movies, but bad horror comedies like this show just how hard it is to do a horror comedy well.

Anyway, I feel like this is one of those movies that everybody has seen, and now so have I, so if you’ve got a lil’ obsessive streak in terms of keeping up with the horror canon, it’s an okay way to spend 90 minutes. Otherwise, avoid.

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Decided to check out Messiah of Evil on Shudder, even though it was made by Gloria Katz and Willard Huyck, the duo who brought you the most racist Indiana Jones movie (no, not that one—Temple of Doom) and the execrable Howard the Duck movie that I, as a huge fan of Steve Gerber and the original HTD comics, am still angry about 37 years later. (Oh yeah, they were also involved in Best Defense, a horrible movie with Dudley Moore and “strategic guest star” Eddie Murphy in a glorified cameo. Saw it with my mom, and I’m pretty sure we’re the only people ever to see that movie.)

Anyway, the blurb called this a “forgotten classic” or something, and while that may be stretching it a little, it’s definitely worth watching despite its flaws. So let me start with the flaws. It just doesn’t really hang together as a story, and we never really get to know the protagonist (played by Marianna Hill) that well and anyway Michael Greer as Thom steals every scene he’s in. ( Apparently he did a couple of gay porn movies and basically ruined his non-porn acting career, which is a shame because he’s got a great screen presence, and the question of whether and how much we should trust him is the most engaging through line in the movie.)

The setting seems very creepy because we only see brightly-lit, mostly-deserted spaces at night. The island of fluorescent light in a sea of darkness turns out to be a creepy rather than reassuring image here.

And there are two sequences that are among the best I’ve seen in a horror movie. I’m not going to go into detail, but the supermarket scene and the movie theater scene are both absolutely top-notch. The movie theater especially is a masterpiece of slow burning dread.

The movie is surprisingly squeamish about gore for a movie about cannibals, but those two scenes alone make it worth your ninety minutes.

#review #movie #horror #shudder