Review Roundup #1

Here is a summary of all the reviews written thus far for Terror Spective. I admit that this has been a bit more work than I anticipated when I impulsively threw this site together on a whim, but it’s been enjoyable. I have what has virtually been a lifelong love of horror, so it’s been fun to immerse myself in it these last couple weeks, but I realize my reviews may not always reflect that. I can be rough on some of these movies that I actually enjoyed watching, but I’m grading them relative to the horror genre and not necessarily on their worthiness to exist or their overall amusement factor. Even a C or C- grade isn’t meant as a warning to stay away, but to not expect anything great from the film. REVIEW RUBRIC So, I’ve made this nifty little metric to better explain my grading process. As you can see, I’ll even watch ‘D’ grade movies on my own free will. I might scrutinize these films when considering whether to recommend them to others, but really, I’m not that picky. I’ve also gone back and added this graphic to all previous reviews and, as a result, I’ve modified three of the grades. Being able to show that I don’t hate a movie just because I gave it a ‘C’ or a ‘D’ gives more leeway in the grading process.

Anyway, moving forward with Terror Spective, I plan to incorporate more news on upcoming movies, maybe branch out more into television, books, & games, post articles about horror in general (including some pieces on horrific history), and perhaps feature some work from other writers. With no ads, the pay is exactly $0, so I’m not anticipating much response in that last regard, but that’s the plan as I get this barrel of puppies rolling down the hill. Also, I recall promising a summary of reviews, so here those are.

Mandy – 2018 – Grade: A-


This full-blown headtrip of a blood-soaked revenge epic stars Nicolas Cage doing the things he does best, but in a movie that makes very good use of those things. Amended from an original grade of ‘A’, it was brought down a notch by the fact that, to really appreciate the trippy fictional universe of Mandy, you needed to have seen the director’s previous and lesser effort, Beyond the Black Rainbow, to get a better if still not solid grip on the menacing landscape that these characters inhabit. That doesn’t mean Black Rainbow is related to Mandy by anything other than a shared world, so, for that reason, an ‘A-‘ seemed more accurate. Full review here.

Hereditary – 2018 – Grade: B+

When Annie’s mentally ill mother passes away, she struggles to cope with the conflicting emotions left in the wake of her loss. There’s little comfort to be found from her emotionally distant husband Steve, apathetic teenage son and pothead Peter, or her troubled and socially awkward young daughter Charlie, so when she’s not sneaking out of the house to attend grief counseling sessions, she immerses herself in her art – the construction of miniature dioramas. A series of bad decisions and disturbing revelations will devastate this family, pushing them all to the brink, and then some. Full review here.

As Above/So Below – 2014 – Grade: B

In this stand-out found footage flick, intrepid archeologist Scarlet Marlowe assembles a crew to find a forgotten passage of the Paris Catacombs in search of the Holy Grail of medieval alchemy – The Philosopher Stone. They are not prepared for the secrets and dangers that await them inside. Full review here.

Splinter – 2008 – Grade: B

In this over-looked gory & goopy creature feature, a young couple on a camping holiday are taken hostage by an escaped convict and his junkie girlfriend. When a collision with a malformed animal punctures their truck’s radiator, they’re forced to a nearby gas station, where something sinister and bizarre is on the hunt for food and new flesh. Full review here.

The Blackcoat’s Daughter – 2017 – Grade: B-

It’s winter break at a stuffy Catholic girls school and two girls, Kat and Rose, are left behind to wait for the parents who did not arrive to pick them up. As the hours stretch into the following day, Kat’s increasingly odd behavior begins to trouble Rose. Meanwhile, Joan, an escaped mental patient, is determined to reach the school for unknown reasons. This atmospheric chiller is directed by Osgood Perkins, son of Anthony Perkins, best known for his role as Norman Bates from the Psycho films. Full review here.

Dave Made a Maze – 2017 – Grade: B-

When Annie returns home from a business trip, she finds that her shiftless boyfriend Dave has built a massive cardboard for in the middle of their living room. Worse yet, he’s lost inside and claims that it is incredibly dangerous to enter. Skeptically, she assembles a gathering of his oddball hipster friends and ventures inside, only to find a labyrinth of impossible dimensions and lethal threats. Amended from an original grade of ‘B’, I shaved off a bit because, despite its fantastic handicraft visuals that alone make the movie worth watching, the balance between the story, the characters, and the tone just didn’t do it for me. The plot really hinges on being invested in Annie and Dave, at the least, and ultimately, I thought she’d be better off leaving him inside there. Full review here.

Don’t Hang Up – 2016 – Grade: C+

When a pair of irrepressible internet pranksters have the tables turned on them by a digital intruder, dark secrets will be revealed and impossible choices will be made. Amended from a ‘B-‘, this is the third and final altered grade of the bunch. After determining that a ‘C’ grade is a totally run-of-the-mill effort, I decided that Don’t Hang Up is pretty damn run-of-the-mill; a few nifty visuals just aren’t enough to warrant the higher grade. I still stand behind what I said about the directing duo though – they’re the best thing about this flick. Full review here.

Hell House LLC – 2016 – Grade: C

A small company sets up a haunted house attraction in a new location every Halloween season. This year, they have selected a dilapidated hotel in sleepy Abaddon, NY – a place with a history of suicides and disappearances that might just have bigger plans for them than they do for it. That grade deserves a boost provided you’re looking for something specifically set during the Halloween season, because the setting really captures the October mood. Full review here.

Terrifier – 2018 – Grade: D+

On Halloween night, a psychotic clown stalks and murders pretty much anyone he encounters. That’s about it. I realize that’s a shit grade for such a hyped-up movie, but I stand by it. For what it is and what it’s got, it overlong by at least double. Full review here.