Southbound (2015)



Southbound takes a trip down a lonely desert highway where winged skeletal creatures hover in the distance, watching and waiting. The flick is a horror anthology that uses that lonely highway to tie together 5 stories where the beginning is end and the end is the beginning…that does eventually make sense. But not all the stories in the movie do. Here is brief synopsis each segment with no spoilers (at least nothing obvious).

The first segment starts with 2 men driving down the highway covered in blood and bewildered, the floating creatures seemingly tracking them. Arriving at a diner, they fall into some sort of time loop but escape is impossible.


Up next are 3 young women on their way to a gig when they get a flat tire on the highway but eventually a kind middle-aged couple shows up and suggests the women go home with them where they will be able to get help with their van in the morning. One of the women is hesitant but the others are eager to get off the road. What follows is a dinner that no one in their right mind would touch followed by some lovely black vomit. Hesitant girl doesn’t trust the couple and their creepy neighbours and with good reason. southbound

The second tale flows into the third as a man on his cell phone driving down the nighttime highway runs over a woman in the middle of the road. Seeking help from 911 is not a good idea in this instance and the situation devolves as the man enters a deserted town and an empty hospital in disarray. This segment was pretty gory and unnerving as the man tries to save the woman.

Again, there is a flow from the previous tale into the 4th one as we stay in the deserted town and head to a bar where a man is looking for his sister but in his pursuit to save her from the town she is voluntarily in (is it hell?) he takes her away against her will and pays the price for trying to be a good brother. This is the one that is somewhat muddy but that could have been from the beer.

southbound 911

And finally to wrap it up and bring the movie full circle, a couple and their college bound daughter have rented a room at a roadside inn next to the highway. They are the perfect loving family until masked men start an assault on their room, terrorizing them. But there is a reason that isn’t made quite clear. The husband has done something unforgivable to one of the men however, it’s also muddy as to whether or not the viewer is supposed to infer what he did or if they actually say it (beer bad, when watching movies). This is where the first story ties into the last one but you’ll have to watch it to understand.

southbound looming

Final Thoughts: This was an OK horror anthology. Using the highway as the connection between tales worked but there was a bit of a feeling of being lost as to what was going on with each segment. The third tale was felt the most complete and was enjoyable because of that. The creatures were interesting too and certainly got creepier by the last story. All in all, a decent flick with some weirdness and winged baddies. 3 winged demons out of 5.




The Houses October Built (2014)


Houses October

The Houses October Built follows 5 friends (this is a found footage flick filmed by the main characters Brandy, Zack, Bobby, Mikey, Jeff) on a road trip in the Southern US as they search for the most extreme haunted attractions and one in particular called Blue Skeleton which is so exclusive that it moves every year and participants must be personally invited.


The trip starts out full of drinks and fun times as the group heads to Texas and hits up the first haunt but they soon attract the attention of a group of scare performers they piss off and things start to get a little off kilter. As the trip continues the group has more unnerving encounters with clowns and performers from various haunts they visit. At one point the only woman in group Brandy is cornered in a restroom by 2 performers. It’s an uneasy scene as she pushes past the lecherous men and calls to her friends; no one wants to be in a situation that like.


So that happens followed by even more creepy and invasive clown stalking when the group finds a video posted online of them sleeping in their RV and someone walking silently among them, touching Brandy and then leaving. Again, this is a very unnerving situation and terribly violating. Eventually the group receives the invitation to the Blue Skeleton haunt and heads to the designated gathering spot, Bourbon Street in New Orléans on Halloween night. By this point two of the crew, Brandy and Mikey, are not into it anymore but reluctantly follow along ignoring their own apprehension.


The group is abducted, split up, left in a house with nothing but a camera and then each one is knocked unconscious. The ending shows 4 of the 5 (Jeff is apparently beaten, possibly killed in an alley in New Orléans) being buried alive or are they? The 3 men are in silk lined caskets while Brandy is in a wooden casket lying on top of what looks like bloodied meat. It appears that only her casket is actually being covered in dirt as the perspective shifts to show clowns burying Brandy and filming it. Finally they zoom in on one of the masked figures and it is unclear why or what is significant about that one. So a good base but not the greatest ending by leaving too much open-ended or up for interpretation unless I missed something.


Final Impressions: For the most part this was a good flick and it was quite enjoyable. One thing about haunted houses is the way they can make a person feel claustrophobic, walking through the dark with flashing lights and having no idea where you are going or how to get out and being purposely jump scared the whole time. What a horrible feeling of being trapped. You can kind of get that sense from this movie when they are going through the haunts and especially in the last scene. It was a good quality found footage flick with not too annoying shaky cam. Decent acting and a fun Halloween/spooky story line. There were a couple of things that threw it off a bit. As the flick nears the conclusion it somewhat falls into cliché as part of the group insists on continuing while the others hesitate but go along anyway and it ends badly as expected. And that is the other part that didn’t work – the end. It’s a personal preference to have the movie tie up and conclude without any questions (sometimes admittedly a cliff hanger works) but with this movie the ending was disappointing. That being said, it leaves the viewer to decide if the end is part of the haunt or really the end for these thrill seekers. The Houses October Built is a good start to the Halloween season. 3.5 clown masks out of 5.




The Girl in the Photographs (2015)



In a quiet community a young woman is stalked by an unknown assailant who leaves photographs of brutally murdered young women at her workplace and on her car. Contacting the police leads nowhere as it is unclear whether the photos are real or staged.creepers

The movie opens with a young woman returning home unaware that a half naked man in a weird mask is hiding in her living room. After being abducted she is tied up and photographed before being brutally killed. One of the photos is left for the main character Colleen (Claudia Lee) to discover. Apparently this is not the first time she has received such a picture but the police don’t react, not convinced that the photos are real despite some of the women having been reported missing. Jump to elsewhere and professional photographer Peter Hemmings (Kal Penn) is reading about the photos which is being taken/found in his hometown. This prompts him to go back there and recreate the photos with models to cash in on the stunt. Colleen eventually runs into Peter and his crew and ends up giving into his requests to go back to L.A. with him and be his muse. All the while Colleen is being stalked by the murders who are revealed right from the start.



Final Impressions: To begin or end with I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the majority of this flick was filmed in my hometown. I had to look it up after seeing a bottle gin in the store they were shopping at called Victoria Gin (local) and then seeing a familiar grocery store logo (Wellburns). Aside from that, the movie was kind of just meh. I wanted more info on the killers as there motives seemed to be steeped in something deeper that would explain the photos and I was curious about their relationship. There were a couple of cringe worthy kills but it felt like the movie had plucked bits and pieces from other movies and put them all together making it seem somewhat disjointed. Overall, great scenery, creepy killers but lacking depth of story and character. 2.5 developed photos out of 5.




The Blair Witch Project (1999)


blair witch 1999

This was the movie that brought together found footage and horror. I watched it years ago and didn’t care for it and after another viewing, can’t say it has made a better impression. The film isn’t a total bust. What it has going for it: an interesting story and a premise that would make a great haunted tour – out in the woods, isolated with only 3 people being stalked by an unseen, unknown presence. Terrifying. Add to the isolating environment an urban folk legend about a witch and people disappearing in the woods, being found dead and you have a good idea for a story. Even the found footage elements were ok as the shaky cam didn’t hinder it but while the acting was fine, it was the screaming and shrieking of Heather that put a damper on the movie. There was something so annoying about her running around and yelling. It was over the top and detracted from the atmosphere of eeriness and building tension of watching the 3 film makers wander lost, cold and hunger through the forest. Right near the end when the horror is ramping it is the endless shrieks of Heather that ruin the flow.


Final Impressions: When this movie first gained notoriety it was unclear why. Perhaps because the initial viewing I had was poor quality on a small screen could explain my disappointment. Nope. Watching it again after about 20 years on a big screen and good quality didn’t improve my opinion of it. Good premise, atmospheric setting, potentially fascinating story brought down an annoying lead character. I was hoping with the release of the new Blair Witch that the story might finally get a decent telling. From the reviews that have come out I don’t think that is going to happen. 2 stick men out of 5


Autumn Movie List




Autumn is quickly approaching (Thursday marks the Autumnal equinox) and I feel like getting in the mood for all the Fall goodness. The pumpkin goodies are starting to come out and 1 of the pumpkin beers is available so far. Part of the way to get into the season is watching horror movies. Of course Trick ‘r’ Treat and The Crow will be watched on Halloween but there are several movies I’ve been meaning to see but haven’t gotten around to, so what better time to revive the horror bug then at the start of Fall. Here is the list I have comprised thus far. Recommendations for any good horror related documentaries are welcome. Reviews to follow each one I watch. Happy (almost) Autumn.

The Conjuring 2 (2016)

Houses October-The House October Built (2014) – Reviewed on October 3

Crimson Peak (2015)

-Kill List (2011)

-Southbound (2015) – Reviewed October 17

-Baskin (2015) 


-We Are Still Here (2015)Baskin

-Blue Ruin (2013)- not really horror in the traditional sense but I’ve heard it’s good

-The Girl in the Photographs (2015) – high ratings for this one…not really but I’m try it – Reviewed on September 22

-A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014)- not too sure if I can find this one to rent anywhere

-The Neon Demon (2016)


The Neon Demon

-Friday the 13th (1980) – I have never seen the original so it’s about time

-I Saw the Devil (2010)

-Extinction (2015)

-Hellions (2015)

-The Hunger (1983)






-Rec 4: Apocalypse (2014)

-Wer (2013)

-Lights Out (2016)

-Goodnight Mommy (2014)

-The Blair Witch Project (1999) – Reviewed on September 22




Dallas Road

Well, so much for writing and posting more. The title says it all: distractions. More accurately excuses but I prefer to say distractions. Work has been a major mental and emotional drain the past 4 months to the point where I just don’t want to think as well as being stressful with so much uncertainty floating around. The other new but good distraction is the little girl below, Jinx. She was born on April 1 and I adopted her about 2 months ago. Other things keeping me blocked are the usual – TV, movies, video games and sadly only a couple of books.



TV/Netflix Series

Stranger ThingsFour pre-teen boys in the mid 1980’s are drawn into the world of monsters and alternate worlds after one dark and stormy night one of them goes missing and a strange girl with strange powers shows up. I didn’t like the first episode of this Netflix original but it grew on me after the next couple. There is a lot 1980’s nostalgia (which I think my husband appreciated more than me) and one of the characters played by actor Charlie Heaton reminded me of a young Stephen King. Overall, it was a pretty good series once it go going.

Preacher: Ugh…I had high hopes for this AMC series based off the graphic novels but it somewhat fell short. Dominic Cooper is great as Preacher Jessie Custer and Joe Gilgun makes a good Cassidy with the exception of the Irish accent he is trying to pull over his distinct British one. I’m not too crazy about the way that Tulip is being portrayed as a hard ass unflinching thief. Not how I remember her from the books. Also wasn’t crazy that Season 1 focused only on Annville, also a divergence from the books. The Saint of Killers stuff felt out of place because there was no context for it until the end. It felt like most of the time I had no idea what was happening. But the last episode leaves some promise that Season 2 will hit the mark. Maybe I just need to watch it again…

Penny Dreadful-Final Season: This final season that was only announced as the final season shortly before it ended also had a lot of promise but ended up being under-developed possibly because it seems that it was not intended to end the show. The introduction of Dr. Jekyll and Catriona Hartdegen would have added 2 interesting characters but sadly their time was too short and it almost felt pointless to bring them in, particularity Dr. Jekyll with his part in the story being ultimately useless. The show had such a divide between the characters that it didn’t work as well as when they were all together. And the Ethan/Vanessa love aspect felt off. I wish the show had continued and explored more of the Gothic Victorian monster mash that made it so good in the beginning.

Banshee-Final Season: Another good show ended this year and another disappointing season and ending as well. And the most annoying part is they never said what Hood’s real name was.

Outcast: Another Robert Kirkman based series. This one deals with demonic possession and one might say, mental illness. I have 3 episodes to watch still but it feels like there is something missing from the show to make it really good. I like it but it has that drag that The Walking Dead suffers from where it’s on the cusp of ramping up then has nothing but filler. I like the premise and will continue with it for now. As for as The Walking Dead, I think I still have the last 2 episodes to watch and I’m in no rush at all. Disappointing. Fear the Walking Dead has potential but again, too long to get on with it.

The Strain (Season 1 & 2 again): Season 3 premieres at the end of the month and I am looking forward to seeing how much of the 3rd book is in the show. Watching Season 1 again I recall now that the first couple of episodes were kind of meh but once it gets past the introduction and gets to the vampires and the hunters it improves.


Green Room: There have been a lot of really good reviews of this flick that takes place at an isolated white supremacist club in the pacific northwest. A low rank punk band gets a gig at the clubhouse, not aware of what they are getting into and becomes embroiled in murder and a desperate fight for survival simply by being in the wrong place, at the wrong time. Starring the late Anton Yelchin, I enjoyed this movie and it kind of makes you wonder how extreme these white supremacists really are.

10 Cloverfield Lane: I guess there are ties between this movie and Cloverfield which I started watching and promptly stopped. A woman is leaving home late one night (not sure why) and ends up in an accident. She awakens chained to a wall in what appears to be a basement. When her captor appears he informs her that the earth is under attack and the air outside the bunker is toxic. John Goodman is great as the captor Howard and the story makes you wondering if he is being truthful or if he is merely a psycho who kidnapped this woman for reasons unknown.

Hidden: Another bunker movie, this one stars Alexander Skarsgard and is written/director by the Duffer Brothers who are also behind Stranger Things. The primary location is in bunker as a family of 3 hide from an unknown and terrifying threat on the surface. They are eventually forced to flee the hideout and the truth of what has happened is revealed and is not what is expected but I rather enjoyed the twist and the general claustrophobic feeling of the flick.

Cell: I swear the only good Stephen King adaptation was The Mist. Cell was a good book, not great by any means but definatly better than this movie version of the story where cell phones drive people into a homicidal rage and then into a zombie like state. This reminded me of 1408 probably because it also starred John Cusack and Samuel L Jackson and the acting felt like the characters were trying to portray King’s vision of written stereotypes in the flesh. This was just not enjoyable.

Batman V. Superman: I didn’t hate it but it certainly wasn’t great. It was too long and hollow in story and I really disliked Lex Luthor. Wonder Woman was kind of cool but after the first 2 hours it needed to end.

Sinister 2: The follow-up to the creepy Sinister movie comes in as, meh. It’s sometime after the horror of the original and Deputy So-and -So is determined to end the nightmare of Bughuul. He comes across Shannyn Sossamon and her twin sons living in a house haunted by Bughuul and his ghost children. Much like other horror movies that impress with their mostly unique stories and then follow-up with a sequel trying to live up to that original splendor, Sinister 2 was OK but doesn’t really capture the thrill of the first and is unnecessary. 

Green Inferno: No, just no. I don’t mind gore, obviously, but there was nothing remotely interesting about this cannibal story.


The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins: Speaking of disappointment. This tale of librarians with special powers trying to find their “Father” failed for me. I didn’t finish it. I didn’t like it. The opening couple of pages were good but then it’s just magicians who are out of touch with humanity trying to be human. It felt childish even as the darker elements were played with on the surface.

Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes: I quite enjoyed The Shining Girls by Beukes but Broken Monsters is taking a bit to get into. A detective is on the case of  a dead boy who is murdered and mutilated by having his lower half meddled with the body of a deer. I think it’s the detective’s daughter’s story that is kind of interfering with the twisted and interesting story.


Uncharted 4: I never played the first 3 but I really enjoyed this game that reminded in some ways of Assassin’s Creed.

Dragon Age: Inquisition: Finally, I have gotten into this game after 2 years. So far, so good.

Pokémon Go: Yes, I admit it, I’m playing this. I’ve caught 69 so far.


The Last Podcast on the Left: Still listening to it, still loving it – Megustalations!


Sedge Warbler


Brother by Ania Alhborn/The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes



Double header book review. Both of these books involve serial killers but in very different ways.


Brother by Ania Alhborn

Michael is an awkward young man living in the West Virginian Appalachian mountains with Momma, Wade (father) older sister Misty Dawn and older brother Ray who has dubbed himself Rebel. The family keeps to themselves housing a dark family secret that tears at Michael’s soul and sanity as he tries to stay loyal to his family while wanting to break free and pursue a life far away. His desire to leave is intensified when he meets a pretty young woman, Alice, at a record shop in the nearby town of Dahlia.

From the beginning Michael is surrounded by the torture and death of Momma’s girls, young women he and Rebel abduct. Michael is powerless to help the young women he hears screaming in the night having been conditioned from a young age to obey and be loyal to his family. His forced obedience is not excusable after their deaths when he takes on the duties of  flaying, dismembering, and getting in a some touchy feely time with the corpses once Momma is done with them. Yeah, I think he’s got some wires crossed and it’s worse when the final victim is revealed to be his birth Mother. That’s right, the psycho bitch who he calls Momma is not his mother and Wade, Misty Dawn and Rebel aren’t his family. When Rebel is 7 or 8 he asked Wade to take him out and look for a new dog after he killed his and instead he found young Michael on the side of the road selling rocks. They kidnapped and raised him to be a cannibal killer. Rebel became jealous quickly and spent a lot of time working up an elaborate plan to get revenge by finding Michael’s family then killing his mother, eating her and then abducting his sister who turns out to be Alice, the young woman Michael has gone out on a couple of dates with.

I rated this 5 stars on Goodreads. When I read the description I wasn’t sure about it but I really enjoyed this book. Ania Alhborn’s writing is fantastic. She creates an engrossing tale that makes you feel uncomfortable given the content (it is not as gory as I had anticipated but might be for some others) but I couldn’t put it down. Obviously this isn’t a book for everyone given the graphic nature of killer cannibals but I highly recommend it.

The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes

Harper Curtis is a rough living loser in 1929 Chicago when his world changes forever after he stumbles into a house unlike any other. Somehow he is able to travel through time through the doors and his purpose for this extraordinary phenomenon – to kill his Shining Girls. On the bedroom wall are names and keepsakes for each of these girls that he is destined to kill and he will by travelling to each of their time periods. Harper is trying to close the circle but he made a mistake in not realizing that one of the victims, Kirby, survived and she is on the hunt to find the man who killed her dog (who ultimately ended up saving Kirby) and left her scarred physically and emotionally. With the reluctant help of her mentor at the Sun Times newspaper, Dan, Kirby sets on a path to find Harper while Harper continues killing his girls and making his way back to finish Kirby.

I read this after finishing ‘Brother’ so I guess I kind of have a serial killer thing happening now and this book was just as good. Lauren Beukes does a great job at the weaving through time and making Harper a despicable predator. The worst description of one of Harper’s attacks was Kirby’s as there was something so raw and brutal in the way the scene of the attack is laid out. This is another one I highly recommend and must note that it is not for everyone due to the fact that it is a serial killer who gets off on the kill.

Stylized D