9 capsule reviews for horror movies

Cube (1997)

A group of strangers awaken to find themselves in a mysterious prison: a series of identical cubes, each containing a different, deadly trap. They must work together to make their way through this surreal landscape, but why are they here in the first place? Cube’s allegorical ambitions falter in the end, but director Vincenzo Natali’s visual verve carries the day, using a single set over and over again to excellent and imaginative effect.

From Dusk Til Dawn (1996)

Bank-robbing brothers George Clooney and Quentin Tarantino and their hostages, including Harvey Keitel and Juliette Lewis, find themselves trapped in a Mexican bar full of vampires and have to survive *points to title*. A love letter to B-grade monster movies, this combo of writer QT’s dapper tough guy dialogue, director Robert Rodriguez’s visual flair, and the KNB Effects Group’s audacious artistry never fails to please. Also ground zero for the onscreen representation of Tarantino’s foot fetish; you’ll know it when you see it.

Häxan (1922)

This 1922 silent Danish examination of medieval witch hunts was an absolute scandal on initial release, and still retains the power to disturb today. Partly based on the witchfinder’s manual The Malleus Malleficarum, it’s a lurid tale of torture, madness, pagan rites, idolatry, murder and more, all done in a pseudo-documentary style. If you think you’ve seen it all, this may prove you wrong.

Overlord (2018)

Doughty American commandos, including Wyatt Russell and Jovan Adeppo, parachute into Nazi-occupied France for a little demolition work, only to find themselves at the sharp end of SS Captain Pilou Asbæk’s zombie experiments. Essentially Wolfenstein: The Movie, Overlord mixes shock and awe with schlock and gore, pitting dogged dogfaces against Nazi monsters to the delight of horror fans everywhere.

Pet Sematary (2019)

Sometimes dead is better, but sometimes remakes are too. Starry Eyes directors Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer smartly spruce up Stephen King’s resurrection potboiler, with Jason Clarke as the bereaved father who plants his dead daughter in the sour earth of the titular graveyard, only to pay a terrible, terrible price. Should have kept the Ramones theme tune, though.

Q the Winged Serpent (1982)

When the winged god Quetzalcoatl starts terrorising New York City, a small time criminal (Michael Moriarty) realises he can hold the town to ransom after he discovers its nest. It’s another high concept, low budget slice of fried gold from the late Larry Cohen, and as such is simply unmissable.

Scream (1996)

A Nightmare on Elm Street director Wes Craven revitalised the slasher subgenre with this smart entry, which sees a mixed bag of photogenic teens (Neve Campbell, Rose McGowan, Skeet Ulrich, Matthew Lillard, Drew Barrymore et al) stalked by a masked killer. The fresh wrinkle is that they’ve all seen Halloween and everything after, and so know how this whole thing is supposed to play out. Tongue in cheek but still effective, it changed the genre forever. The sequels? Not so much.

Spider Baby (1967)

When distant relatives front up to a decaying mansion to try and wrest control of the family fortune from the three disturbed siblings who dwell there, murder and madness inevitably ensues. This 1968 curio has achieved cult status thanks to its gonzo approach, switchback tonal shifts and appearances from genre legends Lon Chaney, Jr. and Sid Haig.

Stir of Echoes (1999)

A blue collar guy (Kevin Bacon) is hypnotised at a party, and afterwards finds himself having visions of a local girl who disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Adapted from the legendary Richard Matheson’s novel, Stir of Echoes smartly uses its supernatural trappings as cover for an investigation into the mundanity of human evil.

On 15 April 2021, eight titles were added and removed from his page to reflect changes to the Netflix catalogue. Reviews no longer available on this page (for Baby Driver, Birdman, BlacKkKlansman, The Breakfast Club, Escape from the ‘Liberty’ Cinema, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Sorry to Bother You ) can be found here.