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Ghostbusters: Afterlife Has Some Surprisingly Scary Moments!

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Welcome to Bay of the Living Dead, a regular column about the horror genre.

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The new film Ghostbusters: Afterlife (in theaters on Friday, November 19) is a direct sequel to the first two films in the franchise. Though it offers a fair amount of comedy, as is expected in any Ghostbusters film, Afterlife also has a surprising amount of scary moments.

As the film opens, broke single mom Callie (Carrie Coon) is moving with her kids to a decrepit farmhouse outside of a small Oklahoma town. She inherited the house from the father she never knew. Her kids, Trevor (Finn Wolfhard) and Phoebe (Mckenna Grace) very quickly notice some strange goings on in the house and in the nearby mine and go ghost hunting with their new friend Podcast (Logan Kim), so named because he’s a podcaster.

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Phoebe quickly discovers that her late grandfather was Egon Spengler, played by the late Harold Ramis in the first two films, and finds the various ghost hunting equipment, and the Ecto-1 car that grandpa used in his line of work. The kids very quickly learn how to operate all the equipment, and they take on the various ghosts and demonic creatures that are haunting the mine and the town. The ghostly special effects, most likely created with CGI, are impressive.

The film’s most adorable sequence comes when Mr. Grooberson (Paul Rudd, just named the “sexiest man alive” by People Magazine), the local school teacher and mom’s main squeeze, encounters hundreds of miniature versions of the earlier films’ Marshmallow Man at the local Walmart–imagine hundreds of Pillsbury Doughboys on a rampage!

The film’s creepiest moment comes towards the end, when the three surviving original Ghostbusters (Bill Murray, Dan Ackroyd, Ernie Hudson) show up to help our heroic kids put an end to the town’s hauntings. The late Ramis also puts in an appearance in this scene, as a ghost who joins his comrades and embraces his astonished daughter. The ghostly image of Ramis was also most likely created via CGI and is unsettling.

Though not the classic that the original 1984 film was, Ghostbusters: Afterlife is nonetheless a fast paced and fun film, a worthy follow-up to a franchise that will no doubt see more chapters in the future.

Watch the film’s trailer here.

Censor

There was an uproar in the United Kingdom during the 1980s when the “video nasty” craze began. Video nasties were low budget, independently produced horror films released to the home video market. All of these films were known for their excessive violence and gore.

Censor is a new British film which recalls the video nasty era. Though it does have an occasional outburst of gore, the film is surprisingly tame.

Censor stars Niamh Algar as Enid, a young woman who works for the film censorship office in London. Enid becomes an infamous media personality when a film she approved is linked to a serial killer. She also becomes obsessed with another “nasty” film, convinced that Alice Lee, the film’s star, is her sister, who went missing when they were children. Enid tells her parents that she has found her sister. Her parents tell her to move on, and that her sister is dead.

A scene from Censor

As Enid begins to lose her grip on reality, she goes to the set of Alice Lee’s latest film and attempts to reunite with her sister. The film set becomes the site of an actual grisly murder as Enid goes completely bonkers.

Algar is quite good as Enid, effectively conveying the character’s quiet desperation to find her sister at all costs. The film also features a standout supporting performance by Michael Smiley as Doug, a sleazy albeit award winning video nasty producer who is visited by Enid in her attempts to track down Alice Lee. In the film’s goriest scene, Doug is accidentally impaled through the neck with one of his awards. The award goes through his neck and out of his mouth as he coughs up blood and dies in a scene that gore fans will love. A now completely insane Enid looks down upon the corpse and thanks Doug for the whiskey she just drank.

While certainly not a great film, Censor is a reasonably entertaining and disturbing film that’s worth a look if you’re in the mood for something a bit different. It’s a bit slow paced and a tad confusing towards the end, but it does offer an eerie mood and a couple of good scares.

Censor is now streaming at Google Play, Apple TV, Vudu and YouTube.

Watch the film’s trailer here.

Restored Classics

Warner Brothers offers two restored 1930s classics on Blu Ray, both produced in an early two-tone technicolor system. Doctor X (1932) poses the question: is there a mad doctor in the house? Lionel Atwill, a noted character actor from the period stars as Doctor Xavier, a scientist trying to catch a murderer by recreating the murders in a lab filled with all the gizmos you’d expect to find in a mad scientist’s lab. Atwill returned a year later to star in The Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933). Here he plays a mad sculptor who runs a wax museum. There’s a reason his wax figures look so lifelike: he’s killing people and covering their bodies with wax–is museum is actually a mortuary!

While neither film is particularly scary, both are great fun. Fay Wray, who would soon achieve cinema mortality when she played the girl being romanced by a giant ape in King Kong (1933), also appears in both films, establishing her early status as a “scream queen.”

For many years, only faded, poor quality prints of the two films were available, but Warners, bless their hearts, had both films digitally restored by the UCLA Film and Television Archive. The colors in each film are now sharp and vibrant. These nearly 90 year old classics now look as good as new.

Doctor X was also quite a progressive film for it’s time. Made before the advent of the Hollywood Production Code, which “cleaned up movies” beginning in 1934, Doctor includes a scene set in a brothel.

Both films were directed by auteur Michael Curtiz, and the Doctor X disc includes a short documentary which examines the horror films in which Curtiz called the shots. Mystery of the Wax Museum includes a recently shot interview with Wray’s daughter, who recalls her mom’s extensive career. Both discs also include commentary tracks by Scott MacQueen, the man responsible for bringing both films back to life.

Both films are reasonably priced and worth checking out if you’re a fan of classic horror or early Hollywood cinema. Of course, we ask that you don’t purchase the films from Amazon, a greedy company who treats their employees horribly. Instead, consider getting them from Deep Discount, which offers cheaper prices anyway.

BOO!

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David-Elijah Nahmod

David-Elijah Nahmod

I, David-Elijah Nahmod am a Queer, American/Israeli dual national of Syrian descent who has lived in New York City and Tel Aviv.
Currently in San Francisco, my eclectic writing career includes LGBT publications (news and entertainment) and monster magazines. In 2012 I was voted Film Reviewer of the Year at the Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Film Awards.
Look for me in Bay Area Reporter, Hoodline.com, South Florida Gay News, Echo Magazine, Outfront, Scary Monsters Magazine, Videoscope, and, of course, Broke Ass Stuart, (I'm so broke it's SCARY!)
Now, let's watch a horror movie!

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