Last Shift (2015) – movie review

Last Shift - pic 10

Last Shift (2015)

written and directed by Anthony DiBlasi

Juliana Harkavy
Joshua Mikel
J. LaRose


This starts as a slow burning creeper. It takes a good half hour to catch fire but it does and it is worth the wait. A young rookie cop, Jessica, is assigned to guard an old police station on its final night of operation. The station has a new location on the other side of town. She has to remain at the old one until a hazmat unit picks up some evidence to discard. She is supposed to be alone. Clearly shelast-shift - poster is not.

The place is haunted by one terrible event. It’s haunted by the perpetrators of a violent evil deed. It’s haunted by the victims of that same deed and the young rookie cop’s personal connection to this event is cause for disturbance. She is tormented by the dead by vile means and is driven to the edge of sanity by crazy visions, psychological attacks and disturbing mind games. She is also tormented by the living connected to the event.

Juliana Harkavy plays a convincing part as the rookie cop struggling to keep her father’s honor and not abandoning her post, while being assaulted by the cult-ish freaks that haunt the halls of the station. The ending leaves a little to be desired but the journey was worth a watch. Currently available on Netflix streaming.

last shift - pic 11

This is a fun horror flick combining both psychological and visceral terror with a super creepy climax.

I give it 3.9 horrifying haunted hails out of 5 on the crazy cult concubine from hell scale.

parlor of horror – movie review

Dark Companions (1982) by Ramsey Campbell – book review

RC Dark CompanionsDark Companions (1982)
by Ramsey Campbell

Dark Companions is a book of short stories previously published in magazine’s ranging from pulp to pro markets through the 1970’s into 1980. Many of the stories have to do with childhood experiences that we can all relate to. The Chimney entailed a terrifying urban legend and a young boy who guarded the fireplace in his room every Christmas as a black figure slithered down the chimney and into his sanctuary. It wasn’t until many years later as an adult, called by the police to his parents home, that he learned what that frightening creature was. He stared in disbelief as his childhood home burned to the ground.PunchAndJudy

Other creepy stories included fan favorites Macintosh Willie, The Invocation, and Out of Copyright. The book also includes, The Puppets, a tale of first love, it’s untimely ending and it’s maligned correspondence with an old vagabond’s stage-carriage puppet show.

Dark Companions is a collection of psychologically creepy horror, quiet horror that lingers after you’ve read it. It’s a great starting point for those not indoctrinated into the work of Ramsey Campbell. These stories represent a period in which Campbell desired to break away from his Cthulhu Mythos origins and find his own voice as a weird fiction author. You will find the stories highly successful in their intentions to get under your skin and fester as each tale progresses.

ramsey campbell pic


As Above, So Below (2014) – movie review

As Above, So Below (2014)

Directed and written by John Erick Dowdle

Perdita Weeks
Ben Feldman
Edwin Hodge

I have to admit I have some claustrophobia concerning tight closed-in spaces. I was at one time plagued by nightmares where I was crawling through a tight, dirt tunnel and the tunnel ahead kept getting smaller and tighter until I could barely move. In this film there’s a scene where the character, Ben, gets stuck in one such tunnel and the more he struggles, the more the tunnel collapses on him. You can see the desperation and panic in his face and in his actions. This scene was so well done it was as above so below - posterexcruciating for me. I squirmed in my seat and cringed. I screamed at him to remove his belt to free himself.

Let’s back up a little. As Above, So Below is a Found Footage film with a bit of a twist, there are survivors in the end, which was a nice difference. It looked pretty grim at times and I didn’t think anyone would actually survive. The film concerns an urban archaeologist, Scarlet, who is desperate to solve a riddle concerning Aramaic texts that hold some alchemist’s secret of life. Scarlet takes increasingly risky chances following a trail of clues. It seems her father had committed suicide after trying to solve the same riddle and she has vowed to solve the problem in his name.

The trail leads her and a small crew, choreographer, Ben, and love interest, George, to the catacombs of France. She hires an outlaw guide and his crew with the promise of hidden treasure in a secret room as yet undiscovered by modern archaeologists. They follow a jigsaw of ancient maps and texts deeper into the earth, eventually leading them to a pathway marked ‘the gates of hell.’ (Those who enter, abandoned all hope). A collapse behind them forces the crew forward and some strange apparitions and occurrences plague them. There are some mighty chilling scenes here, enjoyable for a horror fan like me. In fact the scares were so well paced and executed that I was smiling in between the scenes. Aside from the paranormal chills, there were also the real life horrors of being in underground caves; the confined spaces, the feeling of being lost, the paranoia of the surroundings, and underwater tunnels (gasp), all portrayed for maximum effectiveness.

While the ending was not as satisfying as I would have liked, I enjoyed the journey immensely. The characters were quite likable and empathetic. I look forward to seeing more from director, John Erick Dowdle, who has previously written and/or directed great horror flicks like, Quarantine, Devil, and The Poughkeepsie Tapes. While some may be turned off by the Found Footage style I think it serves this film well.

as above so below - pic 5

A well-paced and interesting horror found footage film that dishes out many original chills and thrills, with both psychological horror and physical horror aspects combined. 

I give it 4.1 creepy quagmires out of 5 on the crawling through claustrophobic catacombs capers.

Fun facts

The term ‘as above so below’ is part of Hermatic theory and philosophy. It states that, As in heaven, so on earth – meaning if you think good thoughts, good will follow, if you think bad thoughts, evil will follow. Whatever we think or accept will be the circumstances of our lives.

The hexagram symbol in the movie is used by Satanists and black witches to both, call a demon forward or to keep it at bay. In other instances it is symbolic to create balance in life.

The Catacombs of Paris is an underground grave site which contains the remains of approximately Six Million people, many of which were relocated from existing Parisian cemeteries at the time it was conceived (1782). Underground mines which were no longer used for their original purpose became the housing for the overcrowded Paris cemeteries. The head of the Paris Mine inspection service in 1810 took it upon himself to make the mere housing of the bones into a mausoleum of sorts, stacking skulls and bones in a way that was artistic in some senses. He also used old artifacts and fountains from the original cemeteries to make it a visitable burial place.

as above so below - pic 6 as above so below hexagram


The Skull (1965) – Amicus Films – movie review

the skull pic 4

The Skull (1965)

Amicus Films

Whenever you get Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing in the same film it is a treat. Add to that, a screenplay based on a story by Robert Bloch and director Freddie Francis, you have the trifecta of old-school British horror goodness.

The film concerns the accursed skull of the Marquis de Sade. Christopher Maitland (Cushing) and Sir Matthew Phillips (Lee), are The Skull 1965collectors of occult artifacts. Maitland is offered the skull by a shady dealer and recognizes it as part of Lee’s collection. Knowing it must have been stolen he turns down the offer to purchase the skull. He contacts his fellow collector about the stolen item and Phillips tells him, he is happy to be rid of the accursed skull. He warns Maitland to stay away from it however, Maitland soon develops an obsession with the skull. When he re-visits the shady dealer, he finds the man dead and steals the skull. Once in his home the artifact haunts and torments Maitland, driving him to insanity and provoking him to kill.

The film is subtle, relying on atmosphere and mood to relay the psychological conflict between Maitland and the skull. The silent battle is brought to the screen superbly by Cushing. The visuals are dated and may be considered hokey by today’s standards, but none-the-less effective as the skull floats through the the skull pic 1rooms of Maitland’s abode, taunting him to evil deeds. The gothic atmosphere provides a visual appeal that I find interesting. The Skull is quite different than most horror of the time, relying on the psychological horror rather than blood and gore, and the battle of wills rather than the usual perversions associated with the Marquis de Sade. It is a fantastic film for those who like old-style horror.

This review is part of a series I am doing to review all the Amicus horror films.
You can check out all the reviews from links at this page:
Amicus Films – overview



Cold Fish (2010) – Movie Review

cold fish pic 9

Cold Fish (2010)

directed by Sion Sono

This is one fantastic psychological horror film. Nobyuki, owner of a tropical fish store in Tokyo, is a humble man trying to do the best he can for his family. His first wife had passed away and he has remarried, to the ire of his teenage daughter, Mitsuko. She is rebellious and has no interest in making peace with her stepmother.Cold-Fish-poster

One evening, after dinner, Nobyuki gets a phone call from the manager of a local market. His daughter has been caught shoplifting. Upon arrival, he begs the manager not to involve the police. Luckily, the store owner, Yukio Murata, arrives and decides not to press charges. He is a successful businessman and also the owner of a giant Tropical Fish Super-store called, Amazon Gold. He takes a liking to the family. He is very friendly, always smiling, and understanding. He welcomes Nobyuki and his family into his home, store and life. He offers Mitsuko a job at his store, promising to provide structure and skills she will need for a good future. He offers Nobyuki to be in on a tropical fish business deal that will make them both a good sum of money. It seems too good to be true. It is. Behind that big smile and jovial façade lies a dark secret. Murata is a psychotic.

Soon, Nobyuki is tangled in Murata’s web of lies, an accomplice to murder, and manipulated by the overbearing man. He is plunged into a life of horrors. You can sense a real struggle ensue in Nobyuki. He tries to retain the honest family man he was, as he is influenced by Murata into a dark place in life. There is so much more to this film, but I’ll refrain so as not to be a complete spoiler. It is a gripping story, of sex, blood and horror on an insane level

I’m sure not everyone would give this such a high rating. Something about the movie really spoke to me. Perhaps it’s being a jaded New Yorker and not trusting people that are too nice or smiles that are too big. Whatever the reason, I found this to be one of the best J-horror films I’ve seen in a long time. Despite its insanity, it feels so real. It is loosely based on a true story of husband and wife pet shop owners in Tokyo. Don’t miss it!


cold fish pic 3

An excellent horror tale of manipulation and terror validating the uneasiness towards people who are too friendly.

I give it 5.0 dead guppies on the scale of upside-down floating and bloated fish.



What is ‘Horror’ to You?


What is ‘Horror’ to You?

The other day on Facebook someone said, Stir of Echoes wouldn’t be considered a horror film. Really? It has a vena stir of echoes - bookgeful spirit/ghost, it has some nasty deaths, it has creepy atmosphere… it certainly ain’t a drama. It is written smarter and with more complexity than your average horror genre flick, thanks to the pen of Richard Matheson, but I would still consider it horror.

I would tend to think that paranormal films are more horror than slasher films, but some people disagree. stir of echoesJust because someone doesn’t find a particular film scary, doesn’t mean it’s not horror.

You’re Next is more of a suspense/thriller film than horror, but I feel if someone dies in a nasty way and didn‘t deserve it, it is pretty horrible and therefore considered horror. So my definition of horror is in the broad sense. Of course, even though Ghost had a supernatural element to it, I wouldn’t consider that film horror. Nor would I consider all of the ‘romance with ghosts’ novels and stories that have inundated lately, to be horror. But that’s just me. If you want to consider them horror be my guest, I won’t argue.


My definition of horror is:
‘a book, film, or story that raises your defense mechanism, makes you nervous, edgy, frightened, or scared with the threat of danger, death, and even damnation, at the hands of an individual or thing, above and beyond the conventions of normalcy.’ 


To further explain, being attacked by a serial killer is not a normal event. Attacked by a poltergiest or angry spirit isn’t either. I would consider both horror.Seven film

I wouldn’t consider a Tom Clancy novel horror, even though it raises your defense mechanism, and includes the threat of danger/death. If you are in the mob, or if you cross the mob and get shot for it – that is normal for that lifestyle and not considered horror. Likewise, if we are following a detective who is investigating/hunting a serial killer, that is somewhat normal for what they do and would most likely be considered a thriller or crime drama.

In certain instances a thriller can cross over into the horror genre, like in Se7en and Silence of the Lambs. Serial killer films can be considered horror if we are up close and intimate with the killer’s actions – if we can actually experience the horror felt by their victims. They create a psychological horror atmosphere – an atmosphere of horror within your mind. The Human Centipede and Maniac are definitely horror under this aspect. Jaws can also be considered horror under this parameter.


I would consider most stories with a ghost, spirit or a supernatural entity to be horror. I would also consider films with a psychological terror aspect to be horror. Of course, Horror has many sub-genres. I will have a post about sub-genres in the near future.

But until then, What is horror to you?

What are your feelings on what makes a good horror story?

What films are considered horror that you wouldn’t consider horror?

– and visa-versa –

What films are not considered horror that you would classify as horror?


My Top ‘Introduction to Horror’ Films – What’s Yours?

Jaws_pic 2
My Top ‘Introduction to Horror’ Films

The goal is to pick out films to show someone who has never watched horror films. Choose the movies you think would be best suited for them to understand the genre.

Started by Horrific Healing, several other bloggers have jumped in and offered their Top Introduction to Horror Films lists. We want you to post your list, too!


My Top ‘Introduction to Horror’ Films
I went with 15 , Here’s My List:

1 – Frankensteinearly horror

2 – House of Wax (Vincent Price) – How can anyone know horror without VP
House of Wax 1953 poster

3 – Night of the Living Deadthe ultimate zombie film
night of the living dead poster

4 – Dracula has Risen form the GraveMore modern than Lugosi and represents the 1960’s and Gothic
Dracula-Has-Risen-From-The-Grave poster

5 – Psychopsychological horror and Hitchcock represented

Psycho poster

6 – Texas Chainsaw Massacregotta’ have the chainsaw

texas_chainsaw_massacre74 poster

7 – Jawsnature horror and Spielberg


8 – Halloween got to have a Carpenter film and slasher film represented


9 – Nightmare on Elm StreetWes Craven’s best


10 – AlienSci-fi horror


11 – The Evil Deadpossession film and black comedy

Evil Dead 1981

12 – HellraiserClive barker represented


13 – The RingRepresenting J-Horror style

Ring poster

14 – The Mist S.King represented, not to mention Greg Nicoterra from The Walking Dead

the mist cover

15 – Quarantine or REC representing the found footage/handheld style

Quarantine cover

So, I have represented here: gothic, slasher, ghost story, revenge horror, monster movie, found footage, J-Horror, black & white films, psychological horror, animal/nature horror, demonic possession, black humor and sci-fi horror. That just about covers it.

As you can see I’m partial to American films. After this introduction, I would have another list for foriegn horror films and cover Italian, Spanish and true Asian cinema for my unsuspecting friend to watch.

I know a lot of these are the usual suspects but, they are the best in their categories, why give a new viewer something sub par? Besides, these are all films I really love and wouldn’t mind watching again with somebody.

I say that if you do a list, you should link the other posts that have come before yours. So here are the links to the other posts:

Horrific Healing – – Top 10 introductory Horror Films

Fringevoid – – Introduction To Horror films

Inforthekills – – 11 Horror films for Newbies  

Vics’ Movie Den – Intro to Horror 101