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LawrenceA

Recently Watched Horror

252 posts in this topic

On 10/3/2019 at 7:51 AM, cinemaspeak59 said:

It Chapter Two (2019) The omniscient, seemingly omnipotent clown from hell is back in the second installment based on the Stephen King novel.  The setting is 27 years later, 2016, which finds strange, eerily familiar happenings in Derry; this prompts Mike (Isaiah Mustafa), who has never left, to gather the Losers Club back for one last hurrah.  They have gone their separate ways, are successful if not necessarily happy.  Bill (James McAvoy) is a famous novelist.  Ben (Jay Ryan) is a prosperous architect. Richie (Bill Hader) is a standup comic whose insecurities and secrets are etched into his weathered skin. And poor Beverly (Jessica Chastain) can’t escape abusive relationships; this time it’s her brute of a husband.  Pennywise, the master manipulator and prankster that it is, inhabits their heads, causing hazy memories and mind-blowing hallucinations.

Mike has devoted his life to studying the history of Derry and thinks there’s a way to destroy Pennywise for good, which involves an ancient Indian ritual.  Will it work?  There are plenty of flashbacks to 1989, which connects the characters to the persons they are now. They’ve retained their sense of humor even in impending death.  Derry hasn’t changed much in 27 years.  Racism and homophobia are immune to social progress. What also hasn’t changed is the love the Losers Club have for each other.   It Chapter Two mixes jump scares with quiet, dread-filled scenes. And kudos to Bill Skarsgård for making Pennywise one of the great monsters in the horror genre. Andy Muschietti is back directing, a wise choice. The close to 3-hour running time doesn’t drag.  There’s no sequel jinx here. Grade A-

I did not like it as much as you did- yes the cast both old and new is excellent- but I did not find the movie as scary as the first one. 

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10 minutes ago, jaragon said:

I did not like it as much as you did- yes the cast both old and new is excellent- but I did not find the movie as scary as the first one. 

My health has taken a downturn as of late, so I was unable to go to the theater as I intended to see it. Hopefully I'll see it on video/streaming. However, a family member went to see it. She had enjoyed the first one as much as I did, but she was very disappointed with the sequel. I think she said it suffered from "CGI overkill".

I just finished watching In the Tall Grass, the new Netflix original, based on the novella by Stephen King & Joe Hill. The film was scripted and directed by Vincenzo Natali (CubeSplice). A brother and sister on a cross-country trip stop next to an overgrown field somewhere in rural Kansas. They hear a young boy calling for help from the field, so they trek into the tall grass to find him. Of course, they get lost, too, and soon learn that there's something sinister and supernatural going on. 

The film looks good, and uses sound design to its advantage. However, the characters are thin, and it gets a bit too clever for its own good in the film's second half. I don't want to get into specifics to avoid spoilers, but the movie takes a few turns, and becomes something more than expected, and then ultimately less. Still, I thought it was worth a watch for genre fans, and if you have Netflix, why not?  (6/10)

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4 minutes ago, LawrenceA said:

My health has taken a downturn as of late, so I was unable to go to the theater as I intended to see it. Hopefully I'll see it on video/streaming. However, a family member went to see it. She had enjoyed the first one as much as I did, but she was very disappointed with the sequel. I think she said it suffered from "CGI overkill".

I just finished watching In the Tall Grass, the new Netflix original, based on the novella by Stephen King & Joe Hill. The film was scripted and directed by Vincenzo Natali (CubeSplice). A brother and sister on a cross-country trip stop next to an overgrown field somewhere in rural Kansas. They hear a young boy calling for help from the field, so they trek into the tall grass to find him. Of course, they get lost, too, and soon learn that there's something sinister and supernatural going on. 

The film looks good, and uses sound design to its advantage. However, the characters are thin, and it gets a bit too clever for its own good in the film's second half. I don't want to get into specifics to avoid spoilers, but the movie takes a few turns, and becomes something more than expected, and then ultimately less. Still, I thought it was worth a watch for genre fans, and if you have Netflix, why not?  (6/10)

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I hope you feel better and the movie can wait for cable. Yes the CGI creatures were a bit too cartoony to be scary and the ripped off the spider monster from Carpenter's " The Thing"

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6 minutes ago, LawrenceA said:

My health has taken a downturn as of late, so I was unable to go to the theater as I intended to see it.

Hopefully that is just for the short term, my friend. Take care of yourself.

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On 10/5/2019 at 8:29 PM, LawrenceA said:

My health has taken a downturn as of late, so I was unable to go to the theater as I intended to see it.

Lawrence, I hope you feel better soon.  I enjoy reading your reviews and comments very much.

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Digging Up the Marrow  (2014)  -  5/10

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Writer-director Adam Green (Hatchet) also stars as himself, filming a "documentary" about a man (Ray Wise) who contacted Green via fan mail to inform him of the existence of real monsters. The man, a 61 year old retired policeman, claims to have discovered an underground world called "the Marrow", which is populated by deformed people and other "monsters". Green and his film crew are skeptical, but soon the evidence begins to pile up. Featuring cameos by horror actor Kane Hodder and directors Tom Holland and Mick Garris as themselves.

I'm not sure what Green was going for here. Some scenes are played for laughs, while others seem to be striving for seriousness. It's also strange to construct the film to look like an actual documentary, but then cast a recognizable actor like Ray Wise as the one "real" non-celebrity person in the movie. The whole thing ends up coming across like a self-indulgent lark.

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Marrowbone  (2017)  -  6/10

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Old-fashioned mystery/horror about a British mother and her four children who travel to her family's dilapidated ancestral estate in order to escape the children's father, a brutish monster convicted of multiple murders and robberies, but who escaped incarceration. Not long after arriving, the mother falls ill and dies, leaving the children alone, and under the supervision of eldest brother Jack (George MacKay). While they try to keep up the pretense that their mother is still alive, Jack finds romance with sweet librarian Allie (Anya Taylor-Joy, from The Witch). However, things take a dark turn when a sinister force seems to be haunting the children's home. Featuring Charlie Heaton, Mia Goth, Matthew Stagg, and Kyle Soller. 

This is decent enough, though ultimately unmemorable. It also falls prey to that tiresome modern horror shtick of pitching the dialogue at very low volume so as to startle the viewer with excessively loud soundtrack jolts. 

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Nightmare Cinema  (2018)  -  5/10

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Anthology horror film with 5 short tales. In the first, from director Alejandro Brugues (Juan of the Dead), a young woman is stalked by a masked killer straight out of an 80's slasher flick until the scenario gets flipped in an unexpected direction. In the second, from director Joe Dante (Gremlins), a young woman with a facial scar from a childhood accident may get a new look from a sympathetic plastic surgeon (Richard Chamberlain). In the third, from director Ryuhei Kitamura (The Midnight Meat Train), a priest (Maurice Benard) and a nun (Mariela Garriga) battle satanic forces in their church. In the fourth, from director David Slade (30 Days of Night), a worried mother (Elizabeth Reaser) goes to extreme lengths when she has to wait too long for a meeting. And in the fifth, from director Mick Garris (Sleepwalkers), a teenage boy miraculously survives a deadly car-jacking, only to find something is amiss in the hospital where he's recuperating. There's also a brief wraparound segment with Mickey Rourke as the projectionist in the theater showing the five tales.

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 These vary in quality, and I wasn't too crazy about any of them. Slade's B&W segment looked the best, while Brugues' is played for laughs. The last segment features the grandson of Charlie Chaplin (Orson Chaplin) as the carjacker.

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Overlord (2018) - Blu-ray

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w/ Jovan Adepo, Wyatt Russell (son of Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn), Pilou Asbæk, Mathilde Ollivier, John Magaro, Bokeem Woodbine (the only name in the cast that I immediately recognized), Iain De Caestecker and Dominic Applewhite. Story by Billy Ray. Screenplay by Billy Ray and Mark L. Smith. Directed by Julius Avery. And produced by J.J. Abrams (probably the reason for watching this in the first place) and Lindsey Weber.

Here it is. Already 12 days into the month of October and I've finally gotten around to watching a horror movie.

Although sometimes one forgets exactly what one is watching. My first thought while watching this movie was "Hey, didn't the makers of this movie know that the U.S. Army wasn't officially desegregated until after World War 2?". Quickly followed by "Hey, you are watching a movie about Zombie Nazis! And you are going to start nitpicking it for historical accuracy?!?".

Basically no more and no less than a fairly enjoyable B-movie genre mashup joyride. And, although there has been a number of movies that mix Nazis with horror and/or science-fiction (even Universal's old school horror movies included Invisible Agent (1942)), this movie has a lot more to do with first-person shooter video games like Call of Duty: Zombies and Wolfenstein. So it is best to watch this one as if you're watching someone play such a game.

Which means that I am fairly confident that Martin Scorsese wouldn't classify this as "cinema" either.

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Scary Movie  (1991)  -  5/10

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Not to be confused with the later Wayans brothers comedies, this is a very low-budget regional horror flick from Austin, Texas. It's Halloween night, and frightened wimp Warren (John Hawkes) goes with his friend and two gals to a "haunted house" attraction, the kind of do-it-yourself fright show amusements that used to be ubiquitous around Halloween, often run by civic groups who donated proceeds to charity. Anyway, on this same night a notorious serial killer escapes from custody and makes his way to the spookshow, where he poses as one of the masked participants. Also featuring Butch Patrick as a bully, big Robert Jacks (who would go on to play Leatherface in Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation) as a thug, Suzanne Aldrich as Warren's oddball date, and Ev Lunning as the sheriff.

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This is very cheap, but it's evocative of the season, and I liked the spookshow attraction setting. I worked in a few in my youth, and even designed and built one with some friends one year. It was a lot of fun. Hawkes, who would later go on to a much bigger career including an Oscar nod for 2011's Winter's Bone, is described on the cover insert as "channeling a mix of Buster Keaton and Crispin Glover." I can see that, with a little Don Knotts thrown in for good measure. The movie is more light in tone than scary, although it's not a straight-up farce, either. The cover insert also states that the film never received distribution, and is only now being widely seen, thanks to the AGFA Blu-ray released just a couple of weeks ago. 

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On 10/12/2019 at 12:37 PM, LiamCasey said:

Overlord (2018) - Blu-ray

Overlord2018Poster.jpg

w/ Jovan Adepo, Wyatt Russell (son of Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn), Pilou Asbæk, Mathilde Ollivier, John Magaro, Bokeem Woodbine (the only name in the cast that I immediately recognized), Iain De Caestecker and Dominic Applewhite. Story by Billy Ray. Screenplay by Billy Ray and Mark L. Smith. Directed by Julius Avery. And produced by J.J. Abrams (probably the reason for watching this in the first place) and Lindsey Weber.

Here it is. Already 12 days into the month of October and I've finally gotten around to watching a horror movie.

Although sometimes one forgets exactly what one is watching. My first thought while watching this movie was "Hey, didn't the makers of this movie know that the U.S. Army wasn't officially desegregated until after World War 2?". Quickly followed by "Hey, you are watching a movie about Zombie Nazis! And you are going to start nitpicking it for historical accuracy?!?".

Basically no more and no less than a fairly enjoyable B-movie genre mashup joyride. And, although there has been a number of movies that mix Nazis with horror and/or science-fiction (even Universal's old school horror movies included Invisible Agent (1942)), this movie has a lot more to do with first-person shooter video games like Call of Duty: Zombies and Wolfenstein. So it is best to watch this one as if you're watching someone play such a game.

Which means that I am fairly confident that Martin Scorsese wouldn't classify this as "cinema" either.

I really liked this one

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Incident in a Ghostland  (2018)  -  6/10

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Canadian horror from director Pascal Laugier (Martyrs). A mother (Myelene Farmer) and her two young daughters Beth (Emilia Jones) and Vera (Taylor Hickson) travel to their new, secluded home out in the country. They are followed there by a pair of psychos in an ice cream truck. The sinister duo attacks them, leaving the family scarred or worse. Many years later, adult Beth (Crystal Reed) is a successful horror novelist with a loving husband and a young son. Circumstances lead her to return to the family home, where her mother cares for the psychologically damaged Vera (Anastasia Phillips), who claims that evil forces continue to torment her.

The narrative plays around with reality, so the viewer isn't sure what's real and what isn't. The acting is good, but the antagonists are nothing that you haven't seen in a hundred other psychos-on-the-loose stories. The film has a low-budget quality that's surprising given Laugier's previously polished works. Still, one could do much worse than this semi-successful thriller.

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Lizzie  (2018)  -  6/10

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It's the old Lizzie Borden story again. Lizzie (Chloe Sevigny) is a headstrong, independent young woman in 1890's Massachusetts. She's frequently at odds with her conservative father (Jamey Sheridan) and stepmother (Fiona Shaw), but Lizzie makes a quick bond with new Irish-immigrant housemaid Bridget Sullivan (Kristen Stewart). Also featuring Kim Dickens and Denis O'Hare.

The film's heavily-fictionalized story leaves no question as to the culprit of the infamous double murder. Sevigny, for whom this was a long-gestating passion project, is good in the lead, if a bit too old at 42. Stewart is passable, although she's not given a lot to work with. The film is very low key, and avoids shock until the final act. I wouldn't really consider this horror, either, even if the murders are gruesome, but I watched this on the Shudder horror channel, so here it is.

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Summer of 84  (2018)  -  6/10

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Canadian coming-of-age drama/thriller about a quartet of teen boys during the title season who come to believe that a series of murders may be the work of their friendly neighborhood policeman Wayne Mackey (Rich Sommer). As the boys investigate the cop's every move, they may find themselves in more danger than they realize.

This plays like a mash-up of other, better things. There's the mid-80's nostalgia and kids-on-a-mission of Stranger Things, the teen bro-bonding of Stand By Me, and the killer watched by neighbor of Disturbia, which of course was just a teen version of Rear Window, etc. etc. I really didn't care for the uninspired, overly-derivative first half of this, but it gets better, and the ending was surprising and memorable.

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Monster Party  (2018)  -  4/10

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A trio of young thieves (Sam Strike, Virginia Gardner and Brandon Michael Hall) plot to rob a wealthy family's residence. They pose as temporary waitstaff for a dinner party the family is holding. The surprise comes when the would-be thieves discover that the family and their guests are all serial murderers who are part of support group to keep them on the straight and narrow. But wouldn't you know it, one of them falls off the wagon, so to speak, and it becomes a nightmare struggle for the survivors to escape. With Robin Tunney, Julian McMahon, Erin Moriarty, and Lance Reddick.

Once again, the concept is a combination of other, better films. There's the young thieves encountering more than they bargained for from Don't Breathe and The Collector; the posh-setting and fractured family dynamic of the first Purge movie or You're Next; and even a bit of People Under the Stairs thrown in. The cast is good, but the script is weak, and the filmmaking is atrocious, with bad editing, terrible music, and very cheap make-up effects (the blood looks like watered-down Kool Aid). 

 

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You Might Be the Killer  (2018)  -  6/10

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Horror comedy/slasher film send-up, with Fran Kranz (DollhouseThe Cabin in the Woods) as Sam, the bumbling head of a kids summer camp. As the film opens, Sam is covered in blood and one of the few survivors of a massacre committed by a mysterious masked killer. He calls his best friend Chuck (Alyson Hannigan, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and How I Met Your Mother), a pop-culture expert, for tips on how to survive. However, Sam and Chuck soon come to the conclusion that Sam himself may be the murderer, which makes things complicated.

I'm getting a bit bored with slasher-movie parodies and homages; Scream covered most of the bases 20 years ago, and other recent comedies like The Final Girls (2015) or this season's iteration of American Horror Story have sufficiently mined the sub-genre for all it's worth. However, Kranz makes for a humorous lead, and the story adds one or two unique details.

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The Furies (2019)  -  4/10

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Australian horror with Airlie Dodds as Kayla, one of a several young women who are kidnapped from the city and deposited in the middle of the barren wilderness where they are hunted by speechless masked killers. Kayla soon begins to suspect that something else is happening beyond the obvious killing spree.

This has a muddled feminist message buried under a lot of gore and poor writing. The characters are barely sketched out, and the eventual "twist" reveal is dumb and goes nowhere. 

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Mayhem (2017)  -  6/10

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The people inside of the high-rise offices of a mega legal firm become infected with a virus that causes emotional instability and violent outbursts, resulting in the building being quarantined with everyone inside. Mid-level associate Derek (Steven Yeun from The Walking Dead), who has just been fired due to inter-office backstabbing, and disgruntled former client Melanie (Samara Weaving), team-up to seek revenge on the upper-level management. With Caroline Chikezie, Steven Brand, Dallas Roberts, and Kerry Fox.

This is played as a black comedy, and it's only marginally successful, mainly due to the appeal of Yeun and Weaving. 

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4 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

Summer of 84  (2018)  -  6/10

Summer_of_84.png

Canadian coming-of-age drama/thriller about a quartet of teen boys during the title season who come to believe that a series of murders may be the work of their friendly neighborhood policeman Wayne Mackey (Rich Sommer). As the boys investigate the cop's every move, they may find themselves in more danger than they realize.

This plays like a mash-up of other, better things. There's the mid-80's nostalgia and kids-on-a-mission of Stranger Things, the teen bro-bonding of Stand By Me, and the killer watched by neighbor of Disturbia, which of course was just a teen version of Rear Window, etc. etc. I really didn't care for the uninspired, overly-derivative first half of this, but it gets better, and the ending was surprising and memorable.

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This one is really worth a look

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Better Watch Out (2016)  -  6/10

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It's the Christmas season, and the parents of 12-year-old Luke (Levi Miller) are headed to a party, so they hire regular babysitter Ashley (Olivia DeJonge) to watch him for the night. Luke's had a crush on Ashley for a long time, and as she's set to move away soon, he's determined to make their last together memorable. However, everyone's plans are upended when mysterious intruders begin to menace Luke and Ashley. Also featuring Ed Oxenbould, Aleks Mikic, Virginia Madsen, Patrick Warburton, and Dacre Montgomery. 

This starts out as any of a number of home-invasion thrillers, with the Christmas setting adding the only flavor. Then there's a big twist that changes the movie completely, which I won't go into to avoid spoilers. I thought it was reasonably well executed, and the cast is mostly up to the challenge. DeJonge and Oxenbould had previously played siblings in The Visit (2015).

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Jeruzalem (2015)  -  4/10

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Found-footage horror features two American friends, Sarah (Danielle Jadelyn) and Rachel (Yael Grobglas), who travel to Israel on vacation. They meet charming archaeologist Kevin (Yon Tumarkin) on the plane, and he convinces the pair to travel with him to Jerusalem instead of their intended destination, Tel Aviv. What starts out as an adventure in an exotic land turns diabolical when demons begin to emerge all over the old city, slaughtering hundreds, and trapping the survivors within the quarantined walls.

This Israeli feature could have been something with a larger budget and a few more passes at the script. The visual conceit, that everything shown is viewed through Sarah's Google Glass headgear, works well enough within the found-footage convention. Unfortunately things get tedious and frequently incoherent towards the end. 

 

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Discarnate  (2018)  -  4/10

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A group of researchers travel to a secluded house that's supposedly haunted. They take an experimental drug that will hopefully allow them to perceive things in the spirit world. It works, but it also brings them to the attention of something more malevolent. Featuring Thomas Kretschmann, Nadine Velazquez, Bex Taylor-Klaus, Chris Coy, Matt Munroe, and Josh Stewart. The decent cast and promising set-up are completely squandered by poor direction and an even weaker script. 

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Nightmare Weekend  (1986)  -  2/10

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Incomprehensible sci-fi horror about a mad scientist (Debbie Laster) manipulating the minds of 3 women (Debra Hunter, Lori Lewis, Andrea Thompson), causing them to become drooling psychopaths. With Dale Midkiff and Robert John Burke. This is very stupid, incoherently edited, with an unfathomable script and terrible acting. There's also a lot of nudity and a puppet, so it's not all bad. Just 98.5% of it. There's a copy up on Amazon Prime. The end credits are unreadable.

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Dead Trigger (2017)  -  3/10

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In the year 2025, a virus has decimated civilization, reducing the healthy population to a few scattered cities. Those afflicted with the virus become zombie-like killers. When a general's daughter goes missing in the infected zone, a team of fighters is assembled for a rescue operation. Featuring Dolph Lundgren, Isaiah Washington, Autumn Reeser, Romeo Miller, Brandon Beemer, Tamara Braun, Oleg Taktarov, James Chalke, and Joel Gretsch.

This is cheap and dumb, and comes across like a bunch of bored actors found a box of military props and decided to make a zombie movie over the weekend. The oddball cast almost makes this worth sitting through. Almost. This was based on a videogame, and there's a go-nowhere subplot early in the film where the military recruits players of a zombie-survival game to become real fighters.

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"The Gorgon" (1964) this is one of those stand alone Hammer horror films in which Terrence Fisher seems to want to make his own Val Lewton movie.  The story is in some ways similar to "Cat People" but it lack that films erotic subtext.  Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee give their usual good performances. 

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