Tag Archive: horror


Review by C.J. Bunce

The Oregon Trail.  Not many games can claim to be the first computer game of so many people.  And yet that’s exactly what the game was.  In grade school!  An early roleplay game where players took the driver’s seat–of a Conestoga wagon–trying to survive the trail West without dying of dysentery.  We’ve come along way since the game premiered in 1971.  And so have movies about humans intersecting with computers, with benchmarks like Tron, The Matrix, and Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.  (Who else is excited to see Dragon’s Lair, the movie?  The animated movie is due out this year from Don Bluth and Ryan Reynolds).  In Netflix’s latest gamer related movie Choose or Die (formerly titled CURS>R), reality is cursed as an old PC game pulls players into a Saw-like gore-filled horror reality.  Unfortunately this movie lacks the fun of Final Destination or Happy Death Day, or any subtlety, and instead arrives as a slashery, forgettable time waster.  Its multiple scenes of self-inflicted violence are unnecessary and over-the-top, making this a “free” Netflix movie you shouldn’t inflict upon yourself.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Dread.  That’s what you’ll feel in the first two episodes of Netflix’s new series, Archive 81 And it only gets worse (or better?).  It’s about a man repairing destroyed videotapes.  So immediately you’ll think it could be like the supernatural horror of The Ring.  It’s about a small community of isolated people.  So is it like Wicker Man or The Stepford Wives?  It has a freakish cult, so is it another take on Rosemary’s Baby or Devil’s Advocate or Midsommar?  You Should Have Left, Vacancy, 1408, and other recent creepily surreal voyages will come to mind, but it’s certainly suspense and definitely a thriller.  But how much horror lies ahead and how chilling will it get?  Is it a throwback to 1970s mainstream horror or trash B-movie slasher horror, or based on real-life horror, like The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel?   Is it more possession or body swapping like Fallen or Skeleton Key or Intruders or Get Out?  Science fiction like The Man in the High Castle?  Surreal supernatural fantasy like Doctor Strange?  Weird rituals like Eyes Wide Shut or The Watcher in the Woods?  Or is it The Lost Room or John Carpenter’s The Prince of Darkness?

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We’ve seen some good variants on classic board games introduced over the years by Hasbro and USAopoly, especially in their Trivial Pursuit line.  We’ve still enjoying last year’s Stranger Things Back to the 80s Trivial Pursuit, full of great trivia and a unique board that fits the theme of the Netflix television series.  For the toymakers’ next tie-in, they are going dark.  Ready for your Halloween party-at-home, the Horror Ultimate Edition Trivial Pursuit Game expands on an earlier 600-question card deck add-on (the Trivial Pursuit: Horror Movies Edition) with a creepy playing board, even creepier playing pieces, and 1,800 gore-filled and disturbing trivia question cards.  And lots of blood spatter everywhere.

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TIME AFTER TIME -

It’s Time After Time, the series, the mash-up of real life The Time Machine author H.G. Wells and the serial killer Jack the Ripper, adapted from the 1979 novel Time After Time by Karl Alexander and the 1979 modern classic film of the same name starring Malcolm McDowell, David Warner, and Mary Steenburgen.  It’s a new TV series beginning tonight on ABC that looks similar to the short-lived ABC series Forever, which followed a 400 year-old-doctor as he searched for a reason for his longevity in 21st century New York City, and starred Ioan Gruffudd, Alana de la Garza, and Judd Hirsch.

The film Time After Time was as good as any 1970s detective movie.  Steeped in classic science fiction storytelling, we met author H.G. Wells, played by McDowell, who invents the actual machine of his novel.  His colleague, played by Warner, turns out to be the actual Jack the Ripper, and he takes the time machine into the future to continue his evil ways, and threatens a new love interest of Wells, played by Steenburgen.

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The new series appears to follow the original story, with Freddie Stroma as Wells, Josh Bowman as The Ripper, and Génesis Rodríguez  as Jane.  Time After Time is helmed by director Kevin Williamson, known for his horror films and series including Scream, The Following, I know What You Did Last Summer, and The Vampire Diaries.

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Breslin Haunter

Review by Elizabeth C. Bunce

It’s no secret I’m a big fan of ghost stories, and I’ve lamented before how hard they are to find among all the slasher horror gore fest flicks that pass for scary fare these days.  So I’m always excited to stumble across a new one on film.  One such recent discovery is Vincenzo Natali’s quiet Canadian production Haunter, starring Abigail Breslin (Maggie, Ender’s Game, Signs), Peter Outerbridge (Orphan Black, Nikita), Michelle Nolden (RED, Lost Girl, Everwood, Nero Wolfe), and veteran TV fixture Stephen McHattie (Adam-12, Kojak, The Twilight Zone, The X-Files, Quantum Leap, Deep Space Nine, Enterprise, Haven, Watchmen, 300, A History of Violence).

It’s 1984, and Lisa Johnson (Breslin) feels stuck in a rut:  Every day is just like the next.  Just like the next, and she’s the only one in her family of four who’s noticed.  The same Walkie-Talkie wakeup call from little brother Robbie (Peter DaCunha), the same pancake breakfast, the same friendly quarrel with Mom (Nolden) over the same load of laundry.  (“I did the laundry yesterday.  You just don’t remember that I did.”)  Wearily she trudges though clarinet practice, Dad fixing the car in the garage, a conversation about a birthday celebration that never comes, and the same episode of Murder She Wrote.  Until one morning, she’s startled Awake by a creepy noise in the laundry room, and discovers that her house, and her family, are at the heart of a long history of dark secrets.  And another girl—another family—needs Lisa’s help, if she’s ever to escape the time loop.

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Many parts of Haunter will feel familiar, maybe even derivative—but that’s OK.  In some parts it feels like a remake of The Others, and there are echoes of The Ring and every knockoff of Groundhog Day you’ve ever seen.  (See one of our early takes on time loops at borg.com here).  But it works, and it works well.  Lisa’s world is tightly focused and claustrophobic, and her navigation of several parallel timestreams is seamless and gripping.  Director Natali, known for his work on projects including Orphan Black, The Returned, Hannibal, and The Strain, has richly layered the film with finely wrought symbolism, from the leitmotifs of Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf” playing throughout, to Lisa’s Souxie and the Banshees concert T, to the dark fairytale iconography Lisa must wade through to learn the truth.

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The Witch screencap

WELCOME TO EARTH-4

A Column by J. Torrey McClain

I saw The Witch last week and I got a few true scares.  I also felt a little sleepy at a few points due to a big meal beforehand, poor sleep hygiene at the moment and possibly, possibly, due to the movie and its time period.  It has made me wonder, when in the history, present and future of the universe is the best setting for horror?

I’ve written before on horror in the future when I looked at A Walk in the Dark by Arthur C. Clarke.  (I won’t make myself shudder by mentioning spooky little girls again.)  As I wrote about in that essay, the compelling element of that story came from its application to any time period.  The dark scares us.  The dark scared us.  The dark will continue to scare us.

The future can be scary in its own period as any watching or re-watching of Alien can stir up the tension and fear of meeting with the unknown on the fringes of space.  If not a xenomorph, maybe it’s the weeping angels of “Blink” or the Vashta Nerada of “Silence in the Library” from Doctor Who that get you.  The future combines the unknown of our nightmares with the familiarity of the present (video stores, libraries, kitchens) set in just enough of a different place to make it believable.  When won’t we have libraries?  (In the presence of eBooks, after Netflix all but eliminated video stores, I maybe should have kept that question to myself.)  When won’t we gather with others to eat?  When won’t we watch video entertainment?

video store x

The present scares me because I can insert myself into the world of self-documentation like in The Blair Witch Project or the world of the omnipresence of cameras in the various Paranormal Activity movies.  As I type, someone could be scoping me as I scrutinize my screen, attired in a Kingdom Come Superman shirt.  Properly spooked, I may throw in the towel on this essay, go to my bed, open my Spanish language-learning app and get watched through the camera on my phone.  I could put the phone face down and still not solve the possibility of someone watching me through the rear-facing camera as I crack open one of those library books that pedants might argue as far-fetched.

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iZombie season 2 poster

To quote Major Lilywhite: “Zombies?  C’mon.”

Spoiler alert:  iZombie is a big contender for multiple top honors at this year’s borg.com Best of the Year awards.  Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas did the unthinkable this year by putting together a big hit for Warner Bros. on par with both his own tale of a butt-kicking young woman but also the ultimate series of the genre, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  The writing, the characters, and the actors make for a surprising hit show.  The other unthinkable bit?  After much kicking and screaming, Thomas finally sucked us into the zombie genre and even The Walking Dead was unable to do that.

Happily audiences and the CW agreed with us and quickly renewed iZombie for Season 2.  It’s “in the can” and ready to air next month.

iZombie season 2

Where we last left Rose McIver’s medical-resident-turned-morgue-dwelling zombie-police aide Liv Moore, Liv had made her life into a complete mess in classic TV cliffhanger style.  What’s to become of boyfriend Major (Robert Buckley) now that he knows she’s a zombie?  It’s not really the end for fan-favorite evil zombie Blaine (David Anders), right?  What about the fate of Liv’s poor brother, and will her roommate ever talk to her again after she witnessed Liv in full-on zombie mode?  Will Liv finally get a taste for brains and throw out the hot sauce?

We can hardly wait to find out.  Meanwhile, check out this preview of the premier episode of iZombie Season Two, followed by a San Diego Comic-Con panel from this summer, and if you’ve missed Season One, a great 3-minute catch-up reel:

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Sabrina_02-0
After a long wait, Archie Comics releases the second issue of the exciting horror series Chilling Adventures of Sabrina tomorrow.  It’s the eve of Sabrina’s sixteenth birthday.  An unspeakable terror arrives in Greendale.  No one is safe, especially those close to Sabrina.  And the streets of the quaint home world of Archie’s gang will run red with blood.

Harvey Award-winning writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa returns with artist Robert Hack to bring us a dark re-imagining of Sabrina the Teenage Witch in the vein of the successful Afterlife With Archie series.  Look for a variant cover by Francesco Francavilla.

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Hack’s artwork conjures that classic spooky imagery from Charlton era pulp horror comics.  The new Archie Horror imprint is really turning the world of Archie on its end.  Look at all the coming covers for Sabrina, above and below.

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After the break, check out a preview of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Issue #2, courtesy of Archie Comics:

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The Fog banner

It’s our favorite month of the year.  Glorious October.  And the leaves are already blanketing the yard.  The month of Halloween.  And with Halloween comes a month crammed full of some of the great–and not so great–horror flicks.

We all have our favorites.  We at borg.com offered up our recommendations back in 2011 here, with an update last year hereJaws got our joint highest ranking, making three of our lists, and The Shining, The Exorcist, The Exorcist 3, Watcher in the Woods, The Ring, and Paranormal Activity rose above the rest.  Seaside locales were among our favorite locations for scares, with Jaws, Rebecca, The Birds, The Ring, The Fog (both the original and remake) all taking place there, and creepy little girls are the favorite subject of nine of our favorite haunts (The Ring, The Exorcist, Let Me In, Paranormal Activity 3, Watcher in the Woods, The Sixth Sense, The Shining, Turn of the Screw, and The Others).

Birds kids running away

Some of the staples of Halloween horror did not make our lists, like Friday the 13th, Halloween, Saw, Scream, The Omen, Rosemary’s Baby, Poltergeist, Nightmare on Elm Street, or Amityville Horror,  but that doesn’t mean we don’t love watching them each year.   So we’ve put together an exhaustive list for you so you can set your DVRs and not miss out (or make your list for Netflix).  These cable networks: the Syfy Channel, AMC, Sundance, TCM, IFC, and ABC Family, are leading the way, piling on the goods to promote our annual October Halloween movie fest.  After the break, check out the ginormous schedule we put together of Halloween movies for this month.  If you’re looking for something special, use the borg.com search box or “find” to go right to your favorite spooky flick.  Keep in mind many of these older films haven’t made it to Netflix and they often only are shown once a year.  So watch ’em while you can!

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TOSHIRO TPB CVR 4x6

A new borg is coming in a mash-up of steampunk and horror.  Steam-powered tanks will clash with katanas in a new graphic novel, Toshiro, from Dark Horse Comics coming in June.  Writer Jai Nitz (Dream Thief, Tron: Betrayal, Kato) and artist Janusz Pawlak have created a “mechano-samurai” named Toshiro whose adventure story will take readers across a Victorian clockwork world, “battling horrors too dark for mankind.”

According to Dark Horse:

With his mysterious partner, the world-famous adventurer Quicksilver Bob, Toshiro must face Earth’s greatest foe yet: the soul-stealing, zombie-creating jellyfish from beyond.  Janusz Pawlak’s jagged inks and moody watercolors create a world of dread and mystery.

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Toshiro bends and blends genres to make something altogether new.  Janusz and I wanted to play with Victorian steampunk, alternate history, Lovecraftian monsters, and the magic of Tezuka’s Astro Boy to tell a story,” said writer Jai Nitz.  “We wanted to wear our influences on our sleeves, but do the hard work of creating something new.  I think this book will appeal to any fans of adventure.”

Keep checking back as borg.com will preview Toshiro in June 2014.  Toshiro arrives in comic book stores June 4, 2014, but you can pre-order it now at Amazon.com.

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

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