Pandorum, 2009 sci-fi thriller action film

Pandorum, 2009 - sci-fi horror filmCountry: 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. Pandorum, 2009 - sci-fi horror filmSlowly 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). Pandorum, 2009 - sci-fi horror film 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!

Resources: Pandorum, 2009 sci-fi horror film

Pandorum, 2009 - sci-fi horror film

Pandorum movie reviews

Pandorum, 2009 - sci-fi horror film

Pandorum, 2009 - sci-fi horror film

This post was started on Monday, June 20, 2011

The Dead Outside, 2008 low-budget Scottish zombie flick

movie poster - The Dead Outside, 2008 Scottish zombie horror movieCountry: U.K./Scotland
Director: Kerry Anne Mullaney (
Horror themes: zombie, low budget, outbreak, farm, remote, character study, virus

Synopsis of The Dead Outside
A neurological pandemic has consumed the Scottish countryside. Drug resistance has mutated the virus into a ravaging psychological plague, rendering the ‘the dying’ desperate, paranoid, and violent. Two survivors end up sharing an isolated farmhouse under desperate circumstances: April, a mysterious young girl who has survived alone for months; and Daniel, a desperate and bereaved man clinging desperately to hope. When a third person appears on the remote farm – a woman who seems to take to Daniel – they are confronted with a new enemy even deadlier than the one beyond the perimeter.

movie stills - The Dead Outside, 2008 Scottish zombie horror movieMy thoughts about The Dead Outside
Although not the most action-packed zombie movie, The Dead Outside is a well done low budget/ B affair. (Technically speaking, this is not a zombie movie, per se: the protagonists have not risen from death. It’s a viral infection.) The project really does work, but not everyone will enjoy it. The Dead Outside is definitely worth a watch for the true fan of zombie horror; I’d suggest that others learn a little more about this movie before diving in.

The Dead Outside is more of a character study than most zombie-style flicks and does not follow a standard walking dead (or in this case, walking infected) horror movie plot.

The Dead Outside is one of many movies that blurs the line – technically speaking – between zombie horror and virus/disease outbreak horror. From a technical standpoint, it is a virus outbreak and not a walking dead or resurrection situation. This is one area that adds some wrinkles to my efforts in horror movie & horror theme categorization. Other horror movies that blur the line between zombie horror and virus horror:

The Dead Outside would be more accurately described as zombie-style horror (as opposed to Zombie horror). Perhaps I should change the Zombie horror category to Zombie-style horror, which would include two sub-categories of Undead and Virus/disease.

Trying to create bullet-proof categories for supernatural horror movies has proven difficult.

Resources: The Dead Outside (Zombie-style horror movie)

Reviews of The Dead Outside (2008 U.K. horror)

Should zombie horror movies be included in the realm of supernatural horror? That is, are zombies supernatural? Are zombie movies supernatural movies? (My answer, obviously, is Yes.)

  1. Answer one: Sort of. One could argue that the undead, or the walking dead, is a supernatural phenomenon. (I sure hope it is.)
  2. Answer two: Not really – especially when the culprit is actually a viral infection as opposed to the literal undead.
  3. Answer three: Hell no – and your blog sux!

Event Horizon, 1997 sci-fi horror in deep space

movie poster - Event Horizon, 1997 sci-fi horror movieCountry: 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.

movie still - Event Horizon, 1997 sci-fi horror movie

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

The Innocents, 1961 psychological horror

Country: Britain
Director: Jack Clayton
Verdict: 85/100… Excellent, chilling horror classic
Until now, I’d found it rather unlikely that I could be creeped out by a so-called horror movie as old as 1961… Not that I think that pre-70s horror always fails to be frightful; I was scared half to death on more than one occasion by Twilight Zone episodes and the like. But now, at age 42, I am a bona-fide horror movie junkie – I have a real addiction to movies featuring those things that go bump in the night – and as such, sometimes I feel a bit jaded. Well, suffice to say that 1961’s The Innocents retains its creepiness, even today.

The Innocents, 1961 horror: Scariest scene (2:46, YouTube)

Plot summary of The Innocents

In late 19th century England, Miss Giddens (Deborah Kerr) becomes governess of Flora, a young, orphaned girl living in a lonely stately gothic mansion inhabited only by the child, the housekeeper, Ms. Grose (Megs Jenkins), along with a small contingent of servants. Her initial misgivings allayed by the child’s angelic nature, her anxieties are once more aroused when the girl’s brother, Miles – equally captivating, but oddly clever and flirtatious for such a young boy – is sent home from boarding school for serious misbehavior of an unknown sort.

Eerie apparitions and inexplicable behavior on the children’s part cause her to wonder about the house’s history, especially about the fate of the previous governess, Miss Jessel and the former valet, Peter Quint (Peter Wyngarde). She fears for the children’s souls and for her own sanity. Miss Giddens comes to believe that the spirits of Jessel and Quint are possessing the children. Convinced that there is an unnatural force at work, perverting the innocence of her charges, she sets out to secure the children’s salvation by wresting them from its power. Though her struggle reaches a resolution of sorts, the real nature and outcome the the clash ultimately remains ambiguous, as intended by the film’s director.

The Innocents, 1961 horror: Scary scenes (9:36, YouTube)

Miles’ poem from The Innocents

This was the poem recited by Miles, the young boy in the psychological horror film The Innocents. It’s beautiful and even more than that, it’s creepy as hell. . . you simply must watch The Innocents to receive the full effect of the poem. (Thanks to YouTube and embedded HTML code, you can watch it here, now – just scroll down a bit…)

At first, the governess is smiling, impressed at the cute little boy reciting this poem; however, by poem’s end, she’s no longer smiling. . .

What shall I sing to my lord from my window?
What shall I sing, for my lord will not stay?
What shall I sing, for my lord will not listen?
Where shall I go, for my lord is away?

Whom shall I love when the moon is arisen?
Gone is my lord, and the grave is his prison.
What shall I say when my lord comes a-calling?
What shall I say when he knocks on my door?

What shall I say when his feet enter softly,
Leaving the marks of his grave on my floor?
Enter my lord, come from your prison.
Come from your grave, for the moon is arisen.

[Whispers]: Welcome, my lord…

The Innocents, 1961: Miles recites creepy poem (1:13, YouTube)

Psychological horror, supernatural horror – or both?

It’s my take that The Innocents is both psychological horror and supernatural horror – that is, I believe the 1961 film does include a legitimate haunting, that the ghosts were there – not just in the mind of the governess. However, I think it is important to note that the film was designed to require the viewer to make his or her own interpretation on this.

Resources: The Innocents, 1961 gothic supernatural horror film

Originally written Monday, March 16, 2009

Ghost Game, 2004 horror movie

horror movie - ghost games - canada, 2004Director: Joe Knee
Verdict: Lame

Ghost Game is not to be confused with a different horror movie by the same name out of Thailand. Surely the Thai movie is better. This movie was directed by Joe Knee out of Canada.

Product Description, Self-Promotion: Plot of Ghost Game

horror movie - ghost games - canada, 2004At a weekend retreat in the mountains, three young couples discover much more than they bargained for when they stumble upon a mysterious game in the cellar… a Ghost Game. Once the ancient box is opened, the restless spirits of three murdered witches are released, and all hell breaks loose. After two brutal slayings, the survivors must discover the game’s hidden secrets before the bloodthirsty fiends claim their lives. Filled with suspense and shocks, this atmospheric shocker will make you think twice next time you throw the dice!

In this low-budget horror film a group of young people travel to a remote cabin and, to relieve their boredom, begin to play a haunted board game that summons the spirits of three girls who died in a pagan ritual.

Watching Ghost Game

Ghost Game failed to hook my attention the first couple of times I tried to watch it, but that isn’t always the fault of the movie. (ADHD – can anyone else out there relate?) The third time I actually watched Ghost Game all the way through. I was moderately entertained for the first third of the movie. For a low-budget horror flick, there were not too many “this is ridiculously stupid” moments for me as a viewer. Not at first, anyway. The second third of the movie, I was still on board and hopeful.horror movie - ghost games - canada, 2004

The precise point at which I realized there was literally no chance for Ghost Game to redeem itself was when the three ghost witches began to fight amongst themselves. Five minutes after that, the credits were rolling.

At one point, the dwindling group is collecting items for the supernatural scavenger hunt they are being forced to play, and they are looking for fire in particular. Walking through the dark woods with a lantern, they approach a burning wooden cross. Yet at no time did either mention how odd it is to find something burning on a deserted island. However, given my overall reaction to Ghost Game, this criticism was a waste of typing and I shan’t comment further!

(Well, I must really be in a writing mood…)

Thoughts about Ghost Game

I feel confident in saying that if you are determined to see Ghost Game, you’ll get more chills and thrills from the 2006 Thai movie of the same name than you will from this one.

For a couple of reasons, I expected very little out of this movie. Most of the movie was actually better than I’d hoped, but I still agree with Alien Redrum, a movie reviewer at Horror Talk, when he says Ghost Game is worth a weeknight rental at the very most. Until I had seen the movie in its entirety, I was going to bump that up to weekend rental if, but only if you are a dyed-in-da-wool horror movie fan; however, I am not inclined to recommend this movie to anyone. And I don’t like to say that unless I have to.

It was a challenge to locate any reviews of this movie online; virtually every review of a horror movie called Ghost Game on the web refers to the Thai movie of the same name.

Movie Reviews – Ghost Game (2004)

Resources: Ghost Game, 2004 American horror movie

Writers: James Henney (story), David W. Keffer (story) (as David Keffer)
Stars: Alexandra Barreto, Shelby Fenner, Curt Cornelius