Country: Germany, Britain Director: Christian Alvart Horror themes: Space, loneliness, mutation, creatures, survival, dark, madness, murder Verdict: 80/100… A fantastic, gripping film
Synopsis of Pandorum (Overture Films)
Two crew members are stranded on a spacecraft and quickly – and horrifically – realize they are not alone. Two astronauts awaken in a hyper-sleep chamber aboard a seemingly abandoned spacecraft. It’s pitch black, they are disoriented, and the only sound is a low rumble and creak from the belly of the ship. They can’t remember anything: Who are they? What is their mission? With Lt. Payton staying behind to guide him via radio transmitter, Cpl. Bower ventures deep into the ship and begins to uncover a terrifying reality. Slowly the spacecraft’s shocking, deadly secrets are revealed…and the astronauts find their own survival is more important than they could ever have imagined.
Observations about Pandorum
Several things about Pandorum stood out to me. First of all, Pandorum is a far better movie than some of the variables seem to indicate; for example, according to one set of figures, Pandorum took in around $20 million USD on a budget of $33 million USD – making it a loser. (According to a more recent source, the budget was $40 million USD and the horror film has taken in around $23 million USD.) Pandorum deserves to have been a blockbuster. Second, Ben Foster is even more versatile than I thought. The moment I saw him appear on the screen in Pandorum I thought of how different he appeared as the wanna-be vampire in 30 Days and 30 Nights (one of the best vampire movies, IMHO). Third, Antje Traue – the lovely girl who plays Nadia – is an incredibly attractive blue-eyed brunette: one of my favorite aesthetic combinations for the fairer sex!
What if there existed a virtually unknown wilderness trail that caused hikers to gradually become more and more insane as greater distances were traversed, and the madness wasn’t noticeable to those affected? What if weird music started coming from the trees, from the grass, the ground – or are those surreal melodies coming from the sky? What if hikers in your group started behaving more and more violently, the maps stopped making sense, and compasses, watches, phones, iPods, and other devices all ceased to function properly? What if ingesting strong hallucinogenic substances found growing in the woods along the way started to sound like a responsible move, a wise idea under the circumstances? That’s a taste of what a weekend of hiking and camping might be like along the YellowBrickRoad. Maybe the trailhead sign and visitor register were taken down for good reasons…
Horror themes: Evil wilderness, local legend, missing people, hallucination, hallucinogenic drugs, human scarecrow, murder, lost, remoteness, self-injury, madness/insanity…
Verdict: 52/100… From an overall quality perspective, YellowBrickRoad is about average; it gets 52 points on the Supernatural Horror index. Although I felt the overall quality was average, the events and plot of the film itself were anything but average; as others have mentioned, there is a strong WTF aspect to YellowBrickRoad.
Although the movie contained some decidedly disturbing visuals, I did not experience a genuine case of the creeps afterward (probably because there was no identifiable antagonist, apart from the wilderness itself), as has happened in the past with the horror movies that succeeded in scaring me the most. (I can still remember feeling uncomfortable and being jittery as I walked my dog late at night after seeing The Ring for the first time.) Unfortunately, the ending of YellowBrickRoad simply failed to deliver the goods – at least in the eyes of this nature-loving but jaded supernatural horror fan. It was a bit of a let-down.
On a more positive note, I would say that supernatural horror fans who are looking for something different, unique, and disturbing (in parts, anyway) should consider checking this movie out: It’s not bad for a low-budget indie horror flick. YellowBrickRoad scores points because of the way it lets its hair down, what with its atypical plot and some interesting horror themes I was not expecting. (Although I described it as low-budget, it did not have the feel of a B-movie or underfunded project; it seemed professionally done.)
One morning in New England, 1940, the entire population of Friar, New Hampshire – 572 people – walked together up a winding mountain trail and into the wilderness. They left behind their clothes, their money, and everything else; even their dogs were tied to posts and left to starve. No one knows what caused the villagers to vacate. Much later, a search party dispatched by the U.S. Army finally discovered the remains of nearly 300 of Friar’s evacuees, many having frozen to death. Other townsfolk were cruelly and mysteriously slaughtered. The bodies of dozens and dozens or remaining citizens are still unaccounted for. Over the years, a quiet cover-up operation managed to weave the story of Friar into the stuff of legends and backwoods fairy tales. The town has slowly repopulated, but the vast wilderness remains largely unexplored; its northernmost stretches were declared off limits to hunters, loggers, and hikers. In 2008, the coordinates for the “YELLOWBRICKROAD” trailhead were declassified. The first official expedition into the very same mysterious wilderness will attempt to reach the end of the trail and solve the mystery of the lost citizens of Friar. The husband-wife pair of investigator/ researchers Teddy and Melissa Barnes (Michael Laurino and Anessa Ramsey) coordinates a team effort which includes Forestry Service representative Cy (Sam Elmore), intern Jill (Tara Giordano), behavioral psych professor Walter (Alex Draper) and brother-sister map/ topo experts Daryl (Clark Freeman) and Erin (Cassidy Freeman) to investigate the legendary Friar, New Hampshire occurrences.
Original trailer: YELLOWBRICKROAD 2010 supernatural horror movie (YouTube video)
YellowBrickRoad The Movie Promo (YouTube video)
Resources: YellowBrickRoad supernatural horror movie
Photo gallery: More images from YellowBrickRoad, 2010 horror movie
NOTE: As usual, these images are randomly pulled from themed image folders each time this web page is loaded. If you click your browser’s refresh button, you are likely to see different images from the movie than the movie stills currently shown below. Give it a try. (The image folders for this movie currently contain between two and twelve images each.)
Around the campfire, before things get too bad
Camping, hiking fun – before terrible things start to happen
Fantastic but mysterious wilderness
Cutting his hand for fun
Horrific discovery: from hiker to scarecrow in minutes
Teddy, the group leader
The only vehicle available, but not for long
The nice views and beautiful scenery is largely unappreciated by this group, perhaps due to frequent, terrifying experiences
Towards the end of YellowBrickRoad movie
Removed or unfinished content
Yeah, sometimes I trail off, even when I’m writing. YellowBrickRoad would have been rated higher if the film had not gotten off to such a slow start… not that every horror occurrence needs to be described – it’s often more appealing if no attempt is made to explain the event(s); however, this time I wanted more background information than viewers were given. I really enjoyed the natural scenery – the vistas, the skyward shots, the trees, and the fields in YellowBrickRoad. The hallucination segment was entertaining.
Horror movies tend to rank lower.
The IMDb rating of 44 is pretty average for a horror movie, as are the relatively low scores on Rotten Tomatoes. IMHO, a rating of 44 might indicate a sub-par or poor comedy or drama, but for a title in the horror genre, a 44 might indicate a movie quality closer to average.
Country: U.S. Director:Dan O’Bannon – IMDb Horror themes: Corpses, resurrection, occult, witchcraft, black magic, mad scientist, medical experiments, gore, madness/insanity
Synopsis of The Resurrected
Charles Dexter Ward’s (Chris Sarandon) wife, Claire Ward (Sibbett), hires private investigator John Marsh (Terry) to look into Charles’s increasingly bizarre scientific experiments. Charles, a chemical engineer for a cosmetics company, is coming under increasing suspicion from neighbors and local law enforcement officials because of his unusual behavior, the awful smells wafting from his property, as well as deliveries of what appear to be caskets, animal remains, and blood at odd hours. Charles has become obsessed with the occult practices of raising the dead once practiced by his ancestor Joseph Curwen (played by Chris Sarandon
in a dual role). As the investigators dig deeper, they discover that Ward is performing a series of grisly experiments in an effort to actually resurrect his long-dead relative Curwen. The Resurrected is based on the H.P. Lovecraft story The Case of Charles Dexter Ward.
Thoughts on The Resurrected
Dan O’Bannon also directed The Return of the Living Dead. The Resurrected is a highly sought-after item for DVD collectors, with recent prices topping $50 for a DVD or even $90 for a VHS copy! Chris Sarandon is perhaps most celebrated in the horror universe for his portrayal of a vampire in Fright Night, the classic 1985 vampire flick. [ Fright Night reviews, DVD, downloads, & more at Amazon ]
In some spots the special effects used in The Resurrected are similar to the special effects in The Return of the Living Dead; The Resurrected utilized a limited amount of stop motion animation. The quality of the special effects is rather mixed; some of the still-living resurrection mistakes are truly grotesque. Other effects are just plain bad, particularly the depiction of the large amounts of electrical energy occurring during the reanimation process.
The Resurrected is definitely worth a look for fans of the horror genre; one quality its relative uniqueness, as so many horror movies suffer from a complete lack of originality. The experiences in the dark catacombs under the country house are definitely memorable.
For a lot more information about The Resurrected, check out BadMovies.com. It was a pleasant surprise to find so much detail about a relatively obscure horror movie, including photos, video, trivia, viewer comments, and much more.
Resources: The Resurrected (1992), aka Shatterbrain
The Innocents is generally regarded as the strongest film based on The Turn of the Screw.
Synopsis of The Haunting of Helen Walker
Helen Walker, a young American woman, is hired as a governess for two English children, a boy and a girl, whose parents are dead. The children live with their many servants in an old English mansion. Gradually Helen notices the weird behavior of the children and finds out that some strange events from the past seem to be haunting the present and concentrating on the children…
Country: U.K. Horror themes: possession, madness, hallucinations, darkness, remote, unseen, space, hell Director: Paul W. S. Anderson
Event Horizon is a 1997 British science fiction horror film starring Laurence Fishbourne and Sam Neill. The screenplay was written by Philip Eisner and directed by Paul W. S. Anderson (Resident Evil, The Sight, Pandorum, Alien vs. Predator, others).
Synopsis of Event Horizon
In this sci-fi/horror scarefest, Dr. William Weir (Sam Neill) is a scientist and designer of a groundbreaking spacecraft called Event Horizon – built to venture far deeper into space than ever before. To accomplish such astonishingly distant space travel, the ship employs a special transport mechanism that effectively creates a black hole through which the ship can pass, allowing it to travel tremendous distances almost instantaneously. After mysteriously disappearing mid-mission seven years ago, the Event Horizon has suddenly reappeared in Neptune’s orbit, sending out a distress signal. The spaceship Lewis and Clark is sent to investigate, with Dr. Weir in tow. The crew, led by Captain Miller (Laurence Fishburne), is tired and unenthusiastic about this assignment, having been taken off holiday leave for this risky and dangerous recovery mission. Furthermore, the crew finds Dr. Weir’s reports quite confusing, even unbelievable; some are convinced that he is omitting important details. When they discover the Event Horizon, they quickly discover that things are not as they seem: some kind of indeterminate life form or presence seems to have taken over the ship.
Thoughts on Event Horizon
I found Event Horizon to be a sci-fi horror movie that’s entertaining enough for multiple viewings – spread out over a few years, of course.
Now that I am in the habit of watching all of my DVDs with the captions turned on (whenever this feature is available), I routinely notice things I did not manage to catch during previous viewings; Event Horizon was no exception. For example, when Sam Neill first exits the gravity tub during the ship’s approach to Neptune, he hears a faint, creepy voice. Thanks to the captions I caught this and knew what the soft whispers were saying.
It’s interesting to see how various comments and actions can date older movies; in Event Horizon, a couple of examples come to mind. First, smoking is allowed on the spaceship. Second, a male makes comments to a member of the fairer sex which would today be considered obvious, overt sexual harassment.
Resources: Event Horizon, 1997 sci-fi horror movie