GUEST MOVIE REVIEWS by Mike Duke

Something Creepy This Way Comes:
Halloween Movie Reviews by Mike Duke

Candy Corn (2019)
Director: Josh Hasty

Synopsis: “It’s the eve of Halloween in Grove Hill, Ohio. A traveling carnival is in town for the weekend and local outcast, Jacob Atkins, has been hired as one of the freaks in the event’s main attraction, ‘Dr. Death’s Side Show Spook House Spectacular.’ When a group of bullies target Jacob for their annual hazing, things go too far, and he winds up dead. Now, Dr. Death has resurrected Jacob as an unstoppable killer to seek revenge on those who wronged him.”

This movie definitely has the Halloween/Autumn vibe and looks like its set back in the 70’s. It’s a slow burn atmospheric film that definitely pays homage to 80’s slasher movies in ways. It has a straightforward story and there’s some decent gore in places, but it just seemed to be missing that spark of life. Not sure what exactly about the story didn’t do it for me. Maybe because most of the characters just aren’t likable people so I didn’t really feel invested in them. Maybe because, unlike other similar revenge movies (for example Pumpkinhead), there’s no real penalty for meddling with dark forces. Tony Todd’s character warns Dr. Death against it but nothing comes of it. By the end, I just shrugged my shoulders and thought, “I guess Dr. Death is good buddies with the supernatural dark forces of the Underworld he used to resurrect Jacob to take vengeance against his attackers and anyone else remotely associated with them.” Ultimately, it’s a decent film. It’s enjoyable. If you’re not looking for great but will settle for good, then give it a go for sure. Or if you just want to see a bunch of folks get what’s coming to them, then you’ll certainly like this one too. Just depends. Mileage may vary.

You find Candy Corn on Amazon Streaming. Rent $3.99 / Purchase $6.99. Free with Showtime.

They Live Inside Us (2020)
Director: Michael Ballif

Synopsis: “Seeking inspiration for a new writing project, a man spends Halloween night in a notoriously haunted house. He soon realizes he is living in his own horror story.”

Can’t say a lot about this one without revealing too much. There are some definite twists. Whether you guess what’s coming by the end or not may vary on the viewer, but you won’t know for sure until nearly the end. There are some good clues hidden in the background in places. Look away and you might miss something at certain points. In some ways, this feels a little like an anthology for a while into it, but it’s not and everything works its way back into the story by the end, which I liked. I did wonder in the beginning, “What the hell kind of dad takes his daughter to stay in a haunted house on Halloween night?” It seemed odd but became more acceptable afterwards. I guess. That part was strange to me. Anyway, I did like the main character’s acting for the most part and the writing was pretty good. It may warrant a second viewing at some point to see if there were other clues I missed from the beginning. Give it a shot and see what you think.

You can find it on Amazon Streaming. Rent $4.99 / Purchase $12.99.

Hell House LLC
Director: Stephen Cognetti

Synopsis: “Five years after 15 people were killed during a haunted house tour, a documentary crew visits the scene to investigate what really happened.”

This movie has kind of turned into a cult classic it seems. Now, I know some people are turned off by Found Footage films in general, but I can see why this film has attained a very popular following from both critics and fans alike. It has 1,993 reviews on Amazon with a 4.1/5 average rating. That includes 1,112 Five Star ratings / reviews. That’s pretty impressive. And I was impressed with this movie as well. It sets a dark tone while providing just enough information to hook your interest and start reeling you in. There are some genuinely CREEPY moments in this movie and the atmosphere becomes taut and pervaded with a creeping dread by the last part of the movie when all is finally revealed and then some. The acting is pretty good overall and some of the characters reactions are spot on. No stoic bullshit from some of these people. They wig out and blame each other, wanting to think it’s a prank and not something supernatural but it gets kind of hard to deny what’s really going on the longer they are there. I really enjoyed this movie. The mixture of interview documentary with watching the tapes they are given from Hell House leading up to the night of the murders and the night itself really worked for me. Will probably watch again and definitely want to check out the other two.

You can watch it free with Prime Video or if you hop on VUDU (no membership needed) you can watch it free with ads.

Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)
Director: Tommy Lee Wallace

Synopsis: “Hospital emergency room Dr. Daniel “Dan” Challis and Ellie Grimbridge, the daughter of a murder victim, uncover a terrible plot by small-town mask maker Conal Cochran, a madman who’s planning a Halloween mass murder utilizing an ancient Celtic ritual. The ritual involves a boulder stolen from Stonehenge, the use of Silver Shamrock masks and a triggering device contained in a television commercial — all designed to kill millions of children.”

I just watched this again the night before writing this. Personally, I’ve never been a Michael Meyers fan (the blasphemy, I know) and while for years many people have slammed this movie because it had nothing to do with the other Halloween movies (amongst other things), for me, it’s the only one of them I’ve really liked, and watching it again just reinforces that feeling.

This story is creepy, strange, wild and over the top at times, and all while delivering some ideas and moments that are truly horrifying. When Mr. Cochran explains to Dan why he’s doing this and why it’s happening, and he talks about older Celtic times, that whole section is one of the best parts of this movie. Just fantastic writing. This movie won’t be for everyone, but I love their Go Big or Go Home approach to the story and the over-the-top Halloween Doomsday plot. It’s solid fun with a truly creepy evil villain in Cochran and the wicked plans for humanity he has in store for the world.

It’s on sale right now on VUDU (no membership needed) for only $4.99


Boo-graphy:
Mike was a cop for almost 12 years, but for the last 14 years, he’s been teaching Military, Law Enforcement, and Bodyguards high speed, tactical, and off-road driving as well as hand-to-hand Combatives and Blade tactics. He enjoys martial arts and has been a practitioner since 1989 of various styles. Filipino blade arts are his favorite. Since he was a teenager, he’s loved reading, writing, and watching movies, particularly in the horror and sci-fi genre. He’s also been a prolific reader of theology and has dabbled in philosophy as well. He has a beautiful, smart wife who is amazingly supportive and a son and daughter who are both graduated. His babies now are a German Shepherd named Ziva, a Daddy’s girl who loves to play… even when he’s writing, and a Border Collie mix named Joey “The Bandit” who will steal anything and everything he can, even the toys right out of Ziva’s mouth. Mike is a lover of music, as well, and it is an integral part of his writing ritual.

Ashley’s Tale
Ashley, a young college student with a horrific past, is immediately thrust into a living hell when she is kidnapped. In the lair of her captor, she will be forced to choose between submission and defiance, between folding under his punishment or finding the strength to endure and escape.

But Ashley will also have to face the horrors of her past in this twisted game. Can she prevail against the demons that made her weak, as well as the tortures the sadist set before her? If so, what could she become in the process?

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