Category Archives: Guide to Gore

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Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors

1987 / d. Chuck Russel
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DREAM WARRIORS is, without a doubt, a high-point in the franchise. Set in the psychiatric ward of a hospital, another group of troubled teens must band together to fight off old Fred, whose hunger for souls has become insatiable. Classic kills, good performances by the cast, and a bit more backstory on Krueger make this essential viewing for horror fans. Also, watch out for the appearance by the very young Lawrence Fishburne.

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Nightmare on Elm Street, A

1984 / d. Wes Craven
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A creative, utterly relentless, and disturbing horror film from the director of LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT. Tells the story of a child-killer turned dream-stalking boogeyman after he is murdered by a group of vigilante parents. Filled with unbelievably effective low-budget effects and a high-strung soundtrack, NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET has a unique way of getting under your skin and making you think twice before shutting those sleepy peepers late at night. Also marks the first feature film appearance by Capt. Jack himself, Johnny Depp.

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Nightmare on Elm Street, A (2010)

2010 / d. Samuel Bayer
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A decent jaunt in the realm of remakery, this one stays reasonably close to the spirit and storyline of the original. Though generally not well received by horror fans (as is usually the case with remakes), in this reviewer’s opinion the film makes for a more-than-decent watch. Plentious gore, creative new twists on classic scenes, solid filmmaking, and an excellent performance by Jackie Earle Haley (of WATCHMEN fame).

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Opera

1987 / d. Dario Argento
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Argento at his best: brilliant, edgy, sadistic, and bloody beyond belief. In OPERA he’s fully in his element, returning to the grandeur and dramatic scenary of the operahouse stage, and telling a deeply dark and twisted tale of devotion and passion, but with his usual twist toward the uber-violent. In my mind, his second best film shadowed only by the legendary SUSPIRIA. Watch for one of the greatest death scenes of all time: a beautifully orchestrated point of view shot involving a bullet travelling through a peephole. Artistic, poetic, and brutal as hell. An essential item in the collection of any true horror fan.

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Pet Sematary

1989 / d. Mary Lambert
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Who hasn’t lost a pet or a loved one and wouldn’t doanything to bring them back? Another simple life truth askewed delightfully into freaky charm and horror. The cast here is small but memorable — Dale Midkiff as the desperate father and Fred Gwynne as the wise old neighbor who meets a very bizarre end. And the baby, well, he’s just so dang cute and disturbing at the same time! This is another one that might be too disturbing and confusing for super young ones.

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Phantasm

1979 / d. Don Coscarelli
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What PHANTASM lacks in technique, it makes up for in atmosphere and overall “feel-good-ness”. Sure, it’s got its share of goofy special effects, and yes, arguably the acting is more than a wee bit hoaky, but this one is a real favourite of mine. Even with all its faults, it’s still tough not to get sucked into the elusive and fantastical story. Low budget horror with balls! Get it? Oh ho ho! Clev-ah!

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Phantasm II

1988 / d. Don Coscarelli
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Don Coscarelli’s faster, gorier follow-up to his eerie 1979 cult classic. PHANTASM II continues to follow lead character Michael — now grown up and released from a mental institution — as he reunites with Reggie, and continues the fight against the Tall Man’s sinister plot to bring about Hell on earth. The bigger budget allowed for more special effects, and the Tall Man’s balls (which, let’s be honest, is what we’re all dying to see) get far more screen-time. Plenty of creepy scenes take place in and around cemeteries, churches, and ghost-towns, thus  delivering the atmospheric goods that every horror fan craves. Lookout for the epic-as-hell chainsaw duel which by itself warrants giving PHANTASM II a watch.

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Phantasm IV: Oblivion

1998 / d. Don Coscarelli
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Angus Scrimm, Michael Baldwin, Bill Thornbury, and Reggie Bannister re-unite for this fitting final chapter to the series. A compelling storyline takes the audience on a cross-dimensional ride and shows them a glimpse into The Tall Man’s past. If you can look past the slow pace and just appreciate the fact that these films have always been about old-fashioned atmospheric horror fun, you’re bound to enjoy it. Big tall and scary is looking his best in this one: white haired, decrepit, and sinister. And without a doubt, the silver spheres look the best yet in this installment. Kudos to Coscarelli for making use of previously unseen footage from the first film, achieving an unexpected effect seemingly impossible without the aid of a time machine. Trippy, eerie, and fun.

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Piranha 3D

2010 / d. Alexandre Aja
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Ah, spring break. The time of year that calls for beach parties, tequila shots, wet t-shirt contests, and… wait for it… getting schooled by hundreds of carnivorous fishees! In PIRANHA 3D, veteran horror filmmaker Alexandre Aja (Haute Tension, The Hills Have Eyes) delves out of his usual atmospheric element, and brilliantly combines the camp and cheese of a Roger Corman film with all the voluptuous excess of a Russ Meyer picture! It’s pure comedic goodness with an ultra gory twist! See: a beach full of nearly-nudes devoured alive! Gaze in horror as able-bodied humans are ruthlessly skeletalized and turned into fish-food! It’s everything you could hope for in a creature feature, including cameo appearances by Christopher Lloyd, Eli Roth, and Richard Dreyfuss. Take a bite out of spring… the PIRANHA way!

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Poltergeist

1982 / d. Tobe Hooper
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Maybe in our rapidly changing television technologies, this one will loose some of its luster someday. For old school folks like me, however, who remember big old console sets full of static, POLTERGEIST never gets old. The warnings of technology being conduits for angry spirits, beasts in the closet, and demonic toys combined with adorable child victims and sassy little psychics remind us to respect the dead and appreciate the line between life and death. Naturally, there are sub par sequels, but behind the scenes documentaries detailing the tragedies surround this film are far more interesting. And the blu-ray is smashing!

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Psycho II

1983 / d. Richard Franklin
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Yes, this 1983 follow up isn’t as stellar as the original Hitchcock classic. Nevertheless, it is a fine sequel, continuing the story of Norman and his dearly not-departed mother in the spirit of the original. Fans who are for some reason not interested in the black and white original can appreciate Anthony Perkins here with more spice and Technicolor. PSYCHO III and PSYCHO IV: THE BEGINNING make a fine marathon for completists, but the franchise is best left here. Enjoy!

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Pulse

2006 / d. Jim Sonzero
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Kristen Bell is a-okay, but this scare about ghosts killing college kids via computers and cell phones is like every other film with static, strobing ghosts, and an unending, never escaping cycle. It’s THE RING without the videotape. Another intriguing premise wasted on plot holes, redundant effects, and teen angst. Wah!

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Pumpkinhead

1988 / d. Stan Winston
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Stan Winston works his dark-wizardry in conjuring up a gothic, heavily atmospheric, and still to this dayunderplayed horror classic. Lance Henriksen stars as a father who, after losing his son in a tragic accident, is driven into a world of unspeakable darkness when he seeks to invoke a powerful demon of vengeance — the menacing, extraordinary creature known as Pumpkinhead. Genuinely eerie from start to end, Winston spins a moving tale of grief, regret, and one man’s struggle for redemption. Like Tom Savini’s NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1990) remake, we are shown that when special effects artists take the helm of a film, a truly memorable product can often result.

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Reanimator

1985 / d. Stuart Gordon
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Jeffrey Combs stars as Dr. Herbert West, the proverbial mad scientist, in this off-the-wall, no-holds-barred classic of the horror genre. Hilariously warped, brilliantly acted, and diabolically demented, RE-ANIMATOR marks a high point for horror in the 80s. Gruesome special effects coupled with creative camera angles and director Stuart Gordon’s natural sense of timing, led to some the most outlandish and memorable scenes to be put on celluloid. Love it. Caress it. Watch it!

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Redsin Tower, The

2006 / d. Fred Vogel
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If you’ve noticed, there aren’t a lot of films that get perfect 10′s on our GORE SCORE. However, you can pretty much bet the farm that anything from Fred Vogel and Toe Tag Pictures is going to snag top marks when it comes to repulsive, bile inducing, ultra-traumatizing gore. Vogel, armed with a natural zest for dynamic filmmaking, is hacking through every good-taste boundary there is. His films are vile, despicable, often impossible to watch in one sitting, and contain more putrid violence in five minutes than the entire FRIDAY THE 13TH series combined. THE REDSIN TOWER, while far more accessible than his infamously controversial AUGUST UNDERGROUND, still delivers the goods and is guaranteed to satisfy even the most desensitized of gorehounds.

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Resident Evil

2002 / d. Paul W. S. Anderson
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It’s flawed, it’s silly, and it certainly disappointed fans who were expecting the film to better utilize the story-line and characters of the original video games; however, if you’re willing to look past all that, RESIDENT EVIL can be an extremely enjoyable viewing experience. The nefarious pharmaceutical corporation known as Umbrella secretly develops a biological threat known as the T-Virus; its regenerative effects cause the reanimation of the dead into blood-thirsty zombies. When the T-Virus is released in the underground research facility known as “The Hive”, all hell breaks loose and a team is deployed to assess and fix the situation before it becomes uncontrollable. In an effort to make a true video-game adaptation, director Paul Anderson employed shots and camera angles which resembled those from the video game — plenty of areal and point-of-view scenes. Followers of the game get teased by the mansion as well as the creatures (notably the “Lickers” and the zombie dogs) but that’s about as close as it gets to following the original story. An edgy techno-metal soundtrack by Marilyn Manson drives the film along, and adds to the overall video-game feel.

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Return of the Living Dead

1985 / d. Dan O’Bannon
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A quintessential American horror classic, this vigorously paced horror/comedy is ridiculous fun to watch. A well chosen punk-rock soundtrack drives the film steadily along, while solid performances and some typically eighties special effects blend together to create one of the best zombie films in the history of the genre. “More BRAAAAAINS!

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Scream

1996 / d. Wes Craven
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SCREAM often gets a bad rap, accused of being the forerunner in the wave of “teen horror” films which dominated the scene from the late 90s on. Nothing could be further from the truth, however. A clever script by Kevin Williamson offers us a deconstruction of the horror genre, while presenting us with a murder-mystery that keeps us guessing until the very end. Often immitated, more often parodied, but an unquestionably important horror film nonetheless, SCREAM made the question “do you like scary movies?” a household phrase.

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Scream 2

1997 / d. Wes Craven
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The first SCREAM paved the way for 90’s teen horror and with its deconstruction of the genre it also followed suit by producing 3 sequels. The first sequel SCREAM 2 follows the first films survivors, Sydney and Randy, to Windsor College. When a killing pattern develops, Gail shows up to report and Dewey is not far behind. It takes itself seriously like the first, aiming mostly to scare or get an emotional response from the audience. It’s a pretty solid film and highly recommended if you liked the first one.

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Scream 3

2000 / d. Wes Craven
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Ah, trilogies. If you don’t know much about them you will after watching the second sequel of the SCREAM series. We follow the gang to Hollywood where Sunrise Studios is forced to put their production of STAB 3 on hold when the cast members start to turn up dead. This is the turning point where the films begin to balance out the scares with humour and start aiming for overall entertainment. It is a fun ride with a huge cast and some great cameos.

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Scream 4

2011 / d. Wes Craven
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We thought it would never happen, but it did, and we’re damn happy about it. This one features some familiar faces but also stars the current generation of all that is hot in TV and Film. It bridges the gap left by the years the series laid dormant, giving teens and pre-teens a reason to go back and watch the others. With the added element of new media such as iphones, webcams and live streaming, the new Ghost Face Killer takes his slayings to the next level. With the same humour as the 3rd and a bit more gore, this one is a definite win! It’s fun and is highly recommended in a group setting.

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Sick Nurses

2007 / d. Piraphan Laoyont, Thodsapol Siriwiwat
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Oh, Asian horror… you so crazy at times. And without a doubt, one of “those times” is right here in SICK NURSES; a film so over-the-top, gratuitous, and downright outrageous that it’s guaranteed to leave your head spinning and your stomach churning! Unless you’re already a fan of Asian splatter films, this is a movie that’s definitely better geared toward a group viewing experience, so you and your friends can share in the absurdity and balls-to-walls gore that this flick dishes up every few minutes. The overall plot (not surprisingly) is focused around an angry spirit exacting her revenge on the medical team who killed her. One by one, a gaggle of sexy Asian nurses meet cruel and tortuous demises, which teeter between hilarious and sickening by merit of just how graphic  and excessive they are. I mean, without spoiling anything, when was the last time you saw someone choke to death on a fetus? Oh… what’s that? You’ve never seen that? I was like you, once… before watching SICK NURSES.

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Slaughtered Vomit Dolls

2006 / d. Lucifer Valentine
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Seriously, ugh. Love him or hate him, Lucifer Valentine has crafted a seriously nasty piece of spurting, dripping, puking horror mayhem. The “film” drags in spots and tries desperately to be “artsy” (and if actual on screen vomiting is too much for you, avoid this one at all costs). But lying in between the boobs and the aforementioned puking are some excellent gore gags, including a particularly cringe-worthy eye-gouging scene. Yeah, it’s a vomit fetish video with a horror “plot” but still worth a look for hard core gore-ophiles. Part one of Valentine’s VOMIT GORE TRILOGY, the second installment, ReGOREGITATED SACRIFICE was released in 2008.

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Sleepaway Camp

1983 / d. Robert Hiltzik
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A slow paced and deceivingly normal film, this is the flick that kickstarted the second most popular camp-slasher series. Despite some creative kill scenes (including death by bee stings, and a repulsive moment involving a heated hair curler) it’s not enough to save you from glancing down at your watch on more than one occassion. That is, until the goddam plot-twist ending hits so hard, it actually salvages the entire movie. A ballsy movie, for sure.

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Slumber Party Massacre, The

1982 / d. Amy Holden Jones
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Remember when horror films belonged to a simpler time? Where a multi-million dollar budget was just unheard of, and all a slasher flick needed to deliver ample thrills was a few shirtless girls, a paper-thin plot, a solid soundtrack, and a psychotic killer with a goddam 3-foot-long electric drill? If the era of the modern horror film has caused you to lose track of what made 80′s slasher films so much fun to watch, it’s time to revisit THE SLUMBER PARTY MASSACRE. Chocked full of memorable scenes, quotable dialogue, and that beautiful retro atmosphere, this film is sure to entertain.