Halloween Disc-A-Day: Day 31 – Haunted From Within, Doll Graveyard, Watch Me, The Fear Chamber, Deadfall Trail, Zombie Dearest, Demonic Toys 2, Evil Bong 2: King Bong

For a third year, I’m going to be watching at least one horror DVD per day and writing a short review about them. I’ve acquired a new batch that I haven’t previously seen, so without any further delay. Let’s get to work.

Haunted From Within aka Spirit Hunter: La Llorona (31 October 2004)

A modern day re-telling of the urban legend La Llorona. A beautiful woman who before committing suicide drowned her children because of her cheating husband. Now her curse is spreading and has possessed young mothers in a small suburban community. Now it is up to an investigator with psychic abilities to exorcise the spirit.

I’m off to a bad start with this.  The elevator pitch for Spirit Hunter is the television version Dead Zone featuring Ron Howard investigating paranormal crimes.  No shit, the guy looks like Ron Howard in a Canadian tuxedo and a straw hat.  With the subject of matter being La Llorona, there are sections of the movie with dialogue in Spanish.  Honestly if all of it was in a language I don’t natively speak, I think it would seem better.  I can’t necessarily tell if actors are bad if I can’t understand them.  The main character, the titular Spirit Hunter, is a bad which puts the whole production in an uphill struggle.  All the worst scenes are the ones that revolve around him.  His introduction is him giving a completely disinterested lecture to a class.  It’s made worst by the cutaways to him composited in front of a chalkboard.  You might think that this is because of not actually having the location, but there seem to be shots where he is actually in the class room.  It comes across as extremely amateurish.  The finale is rough looking as well but is more acceptable given the abstract nature of what they’re aiming for.  My main source of entertainment was coming up with parody song lyrics for My Sharona by The Knack.

Ooh, she’s gonna drown her kids, drown her kids

Are ya’ gonna drown me sometime, Llarona

Always gotta haunt, never never stop

Say ya always gotta haunt never stop

La la la la la wooo

La la la Llarona

Doll Graveyard (2005)

It’s 1911 when 12 year old Sophia plays all by herself in her big, creepy house with only four handmade dolls as friends. When her abusive father has finally had enough, he forces her to bury them in the backyard. But, after she “slips” and breaks her neck, dad buries her right along with the dolls. 100 years later, the Fillbrook family moves into the very same house. Guy Fillbrook finds the buried dolls while playing in the backyard. Much like Sophia, Guy has no friends and is the constant source of harassment from Tom and Rich. After Sophia’s spirit possesses the dolls, they come to life, protecting Guy from further harm. One night, Guy’s sister DeeDee, has a party with her best friends Terri and Olivia. After smoking and drinking with the boys, the dolls stand up for Guy once and for all, violently showing the nasty teenage boys who’s boss! With no testosterone left to protect them, the girls fight to the death!

If I were ranking Full Moon’s various killer toy gangs, number one would be Puppet Master of course.  The Demonic Toys series is a distant second followed by this.  Doll Graveyard seems to be a evolutionary dead end, an unusual occurrence in the Full Moon library.  It does cross over slightly with a borrowed character, Ooga Booga, that has it’s own movie along with multiple cameos in the Killer Bong films.  I guess when you have certified gold like Ooga Booga you have to spread it around.  There isn’t too much to say about this.  It’s Demonic Toys Lite which itself is already Puppet Master Lite, so really there’s nothing to it.  There quality isn’t there, but it’s just the right quantity at 71 minutes including padded credit sequences on both ends.  The movie flies by making it hard to fault it too much.

Watch Me (October 2006)

Tess Hooper is a diligent and earnest cinema studies student, haunted by a shameful incident from her past. One by one Tess’s friends end up brutally murdered after opening the “Watch Me” email, a file that spreads through electronic address books to seek its next victim. All murders bear the same traits: a red-headed woman in a yellow dress, an internet connection, the victims’ eyes sewn shut. As Tess becomes the next target in line, she finds herself seeking answers from Taku, an illegal film dealer with the unsavory nickname of “freak boy” and the moral integrity of a rattlesnake. But showing up voluntarily at Taku’s lair, Tess finds herself in even more danger than when she was on her own. If the two can survive each other, they may just be able to live through this deadly email. As the clock ticks and the body count mounts, the two must untangle the puzzle to stop “Watch Me” from its poisonous rampage.

This is an Australian take on The Ring in the form of a spam video.  It’s borrowing liberally from multiple of the Asian ghost tropes that became popular in the early 2000s, like unusual locomotion with bones cracking, hair over the face, and have appearing in various sources of water.  The movie isn’t covering any new ground of its own, but it is doing these familiar ideas well enough to be effective as long as you aren’t bothered by the generally cheap look of mid-level cameras of the time period.

The Fear Chamber (19 May 2009)

A psychotic man likes to hunt down young women, then kill them and sell their organs. Detective Nick Stevens has been chasing this killer for years and has to overcome this personal demons in order to conquer this serial killer.

It was nice to see some higher quality film quality than I’ve seen in a while.  Most of the acting was descent.  I particularly enjoyed the police captain played by Steven Williams.  He’s a very recognizable character actor and has what I think is the line of the movie, “Are you pullin’ my dick?”  He also has a keyboard on his desk.  I don’t mean a QWERTY keyboard.  It’s the Do Re Mi kind.  It’s never addressed, just a little something for the viewer to enjoy.  For me the only dark mark against the movie is the villain.  It’s like he’s in a different movie entirely.  I’m glad he’s used sparingly until the end.  By that point, there’s so much of his bullshit that I couldn’t wait for it to end.  I can’t take a doctor who’s harvesting organs seriously when he suddenly shows up in clown make-up.  It’s like the actor just went into business for himself and decided to put over his character rather than the rest of the film that they had put together until that point.

Deadfall Trail (2009)

The tough, no-nonsense Julian and his more laid-back friend John are a couple of veteran campers who decide to embark on a no-frills expedition into the deep Arizona wilderness. Obnoxious troublemaker and blundering tenderfoot Paul tags along. However, things go horribly awry after John gets seriously wounded and the subsequent pressure causes Julian to degenerate into a ferocious primal state.

I couldn’t wait for this to end.  Julian is a piece of shit two minutes into their hike.  They were seriously on location and hadn’t left their parking spot before he’s a straight up cocksucker.  It felt like an eternity before the plot kicks off even though it was only thirty minutes.  Half an hour is way too long to watch grown men that I don’t like camp.  I don’t say this often, but fuck this movie.

Zombie Dearest (4 August 2009)

When failed comic Gus Lawton pushes his wife too far, he finds himself chasing her across the country to the abandoned farmhouse of her childhood. Given the choice between losing Deborah or living by her plan, Gus gets busy fixing up the old place. Starting with the septic tank. In a moment of desperation, he digs up the very thing he needs, a zombie who’ll do anything he wants… for now, anyway. As the zombie’s own desires threaten their plans, Gus and Deborah come together in a desperate struggle to get what they want, regardless of the cost. Zombie Dearest is a genre-bender that speaks to the “living dead” – the hunger and the horror – in all of us. It’s a wild ride that’s both smartly comic and deeply quirky.

It wise to be a little cautious going into a horror comedy.  Most are written in a way that the movie thinks it’s much funnier than it is.  That’s what this movie does right.  It has it’s moments where it got a chuckle out of me, but the premise is based around a failed comedy writer.  They’ve set the bar instantly at the appropriate level.  The actual humor comes from the ways that they’ve made the situation their own.  The director who is also the male lead doesn’t have many credits outside of this movie which is unfortunate because of how different this is.  At this point, it would be hard for anything else in this collection to pass it as the best movie included.

Demonic Toys 2 (26 January 2010)

A group of people on a world wide search for oddities find themselves trapped in a nine hundred year old Italian castle when they accidently unleash the Demonic Toys.

Demonic Toys is low rent.  The gang has the shallowest roster, only two toys form the core group that’s resurrected from the original.  This installment has a guest spot from a demon doll, but that doesn’t even get them up to Doll Graveyard numbers.  Word on the street says Demonic Toys ain’t shit.  It’s not all negative though.  I enjoyed the effeminate southern character that somehow ended up in this legitimate Italian castle.  Yes, Charles Band used to own a castle.  As a result, tons of Full Moon stuff was set in a castle whether it needed to be or not.  There’s also some homage to The Beyond with the gate to hell and the solid white eye effect.  I appreciate the attempt to make this something with a little more than just killer dolls regardless of it not totally succeeding.

Evil Bong 2: King Bong (7 July 2009)

Stoners Larnell, Brett, and Bachman all suffer from severe delayed side effects from smoking grass from evil bong Ebee. The trio embark on a journey to the jungle in South America along with their nerdy straight-laced buddy Allistair and delivery guy Rabbit to find a cure for their various ailments. During their expedition the group encounters a bunch of beautiful women known as the Poontang tribe as well as a wicked and powerful bong called King Bong.

For the second year in a row, I’m ending my Halloween viewing with an Evil Bong movie.  This is not the result of any premeditation, just a coincidence fueled by Full Moon’s tendency to end up on these collections.  After a previously on Evil Bong intro, we join our heroes most of whom have weed related problems.  Ebee was destroyed in the climax of the original so they backtrack from its delivery back to its point of origin in the Amazon joined by the delivery man.  For the majority of the movie, there is not Evil Bong.  There are tons of these things so I knew it would be back, but it takes a good long time.  In the meantime, the movie is about hanging out with these high dudes.  Overall it has the feel of some bizarro world sitcom.  The character are in line with what you’d expect from broad TV comedy, but they’re overtly high, there’s cursing, and prolonged (topless) nudity once the Poontang tribe enters the picture.  I appreciate this as how different this is from typical movies on this level.  It’s not intended for me, but I would watch more of these.  I find it interesting as an oddity rather than a comedy if that makes any sense.

Well, that’s it for this year.  Thank you to anyone who may have read any of these.  If you want to hear some movie talk, listen to Motion Picture Meltdown.  Find it where ever you listen to podcasts or directly from this site.  The same goes for Unitedcypher Presents.  Our current project on that feed is Music Video Countdown.  See the right sidebar.  Also check out Speedfreak: A Five Minute Anthology on Amazon Prime.

I’m going to being doing DVD reviews of all genres regularly after the first of the year.  I have too many unwatched movies not to.

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