Sunday, August 19, 2018

FAMILY BLOOD (2018) [Paul's Review]

In Family Blood, a recovering addict mom meets a mildly handsome vampire at a support group.  Not answered by movie: what other methods has the vampire tried to kick his habit first?

“Hi, my name is Vlad, and this is my first time.” “Hi Vlad.” “Hey, well, uh, I’m not sure where to begin.  At first I thought I could control it, you know, just kicking a couple back after dinner or at the game.  But then it was every night and I started to sleep through the days.  I guess it really hit home when I up and murdered my whole family.  There I was, just really going to town on my wife’s neck, when I looked up into the mirror and . . . you know how it goes, I didn’t recognize myself, it was like I wasn’t there. 

Pretty soon I was just wandering around at night, lost, aimless, murderous.  I’ve tried everything: cold turkey, hypnotism, V8.  But nothing helped. I don’t think I can do this on my own, and so I decided to give this a go.” 

*Murders support group.  Drinks their blood*

“Ah shit.  Back to the V8.”

But Family Blood isn’t really about the vampire at the support group.  It’s actually about the mom whom he turns into a vampire because vampires don't do drugs.  The rest of the movie is about vampire mom doing vampire things and dealing with the hijinks of her plucky kids who think she’s back on drugs.  She scarfs down a Kleenex with blood on it.  She eats the neighbor’s cat. These are the kinds of quirky things that a vampire mom does. 

Why isn’t Family Blood called Vampire Mom?  It isn’t because that name was taken.  No, you might have thought you’ve seen Vampire Mom, but you’re probably thinking of the very similar 2000 Disney Channel Movie Mom’s Got A Date With a Vampire. 

Thanks to a breezy plot synopsis on IMDB that I had way too much fun reading, I now know that Mom’s Got A Date with a Vampire is sort of like Family Blood, but with more action, fun, and sex.  The kids in that movie, eager to get out from being grounded, set their mom up with a guy from a personals ad named “Wolfsbane” who “hates turtlenecks and Italian food.”  

Family Blood also plays with tropes, but more in a "can you guess which trope is real in this made-up universe?"  In this world, vampires do not cast reflections, but they can come in without an invitation, they can be killed with a stake to a heart, but they don’t have an issue going out in sunlight or handling crucifixes.  So the kids in Family Blood have to try all the stuff.  
What about fire? I think, and garlic?  Do they shimmer?  Play baseball with tree trunks? One of the benefits of having a vampire mom is mythbusting the hell out of vampires.  “Stake works” is the actual catchphrase the kid says after staking his wanna-be vampire stepfather.  

That might all make it seem like Family Blood is fun, but even the best lines, usually given by Mr. Vampire, are delivered with intense brooding seriousness.  Family Blood aims for slow and sinister, but ends up plodding and enervated.  It’s like bleeding out slowly.  Not in a cool, tragic, lovely way, like in the arms of your vampire lover but rather in the uncomfortable awkwardness of a newbie nurse trying to take your blood but always missing the vein and perforating your arm.
Ominous airy piano chords trudge through the minor keys.  Extreme close-up after extreme close-up of faces giving serious, meaningful looks.  A waitress dies, blood-stained white sheets billow slowly, in extreme close-up.  Then extreme close-up of feet in a shower, blood swirling down the drain. 

Symbolism.  More piano chords.  More feet.  

Different shower tile, however.  You use the guest bathroom, Mr. Vampire! But at least they are both symbolically clean of all the murderin'. But then when the son goes to confront the vampire we see that the mom has gotten back in the blood-soaked bed. 

The son looks on in horror.  Who will do the laundry now that mom’s a vampire?  Who?!

Not anyone from this movie, since basically everybody who has a speaking line dies.  The most derp-worthy is the girlfriend, who is being held by vampire mom.  The son menaces his mom with an outstretched wooden stake.  “Let her go!” he says.  So the mom, in a fit of willpower, flings her would-be prey from her. . . and directly onto the stake.  Girlfriend dies anyway, the son feels guilty and mom didn’t even get to drink her blood.  It’s a lose-lose-lose!  So fitting for this movie!

Come to think of it, this whole movie seems to be about super passive aggressive parenting techniques.  The son steps on a nail.  He tracks blood all over the floor.  The mom sighs and then cleans it up . . . with her tongue!  

Son: “Uh, mom, I can get that with a rag or something.” 

Mom: *stops licking floor* “Well you didn’t, did you? and now I have to clean this whole place.   With my tongue.  By all means, don’t let your mother’s sense of basic hygiene get in the way of your bleeding out.”

Questions for Joe:
1.  There is a non-comedic stake-making montage in this movie.  The son goes to a hardware store, gets materials, and then takes them to the high school shop room to use some heavy equipment.  What’s harder, 3D-printing a gun or making a wooden stake?

JD: This seems like an easy question. You just go to the stake section at Home Depot, but what if they're out of the right size? So you either have to take on Vampire Step-Dad with tiny stakes, or a great big awkward one? 3D printing a gun is super hard. Everything with printers is hard. But maybe that's not what you're getting at. Is this an SEO thing? Are we trying to get that coveted FBI readership?? Because I gotta tell ya, it's a great idea! That would double us up!

I AM QANON! Vampire mothers are killing democracy! 3D printed steaks are the only things that can save us! Filet Mignon has now been invented by America! YEEEE HAWWWW. Pageviews, pageviews, pageviews!

2.  You think this movie is going to be about the mom fighting addiction and becoming a vampire, but halfway through it becomes a movie about the son fighting his mom’s vampire boyfriend.  Which is the better movie?

JD: I think addiction is the most interesting thing ever if you've been through it, and the least interesting thing ever if you haven't. It's like fantasy football.

Step parents are pretty common and they're also pretty drama-worthy, ask Hamlet! I think there are a lot of interesting directions a vampire step-dad movie could take, but I'm only currently aware of the ones it shouldn't, thanks to Family Blood.

3.  The neighbor says that someone has been leaving screws and nails and sharp edges around the neighborhood, apparently in an attempt to get her to sell her house.  What?

JD: Too bad she didn't tell the son, that would have saved him like half his stake-building montage. Also, if it were just screws or just nails that'd be a nightmare. But if they're leaving both, well now you can just walk around and cover your wood-securing bases. If they'd leave some nuts and washers every bookshelf in the neighborhood would practically install itself. And just think of the towel racks.

4.  That house looks nice to me.  Why does the mom keep talking about how bad her situation is and how rough the neighborhood is?  Is it because of the screws?

JD: It's because she has kids.

5.  How do you think that vampire tried to kick his habit before going to the support group?

JD: He was probably all like "I'm going to rip my habit of ripping throats out's throat out!" It's tough, you know. When you're a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. Speaking of which, if the step-dad had BEEN a hammer, he could have really done a lot of good in that neighborhood.

Now, check out Joe's review of Family Blood here!  (link inbound, write that review, Joe!)

Saturday, June 16, 2018


My favorite thing about I Am the Pretty Thing That Lives in the House is the opening line:

I have heard myself say that a house with a death in it can never again be bought or sold by the living. It can only be borrowed from the ghosts that have stayed behind.

Why is she attributing a quote to herself? Does this mean this is something she’s said before? When the fuck did she say that? At a dinner party?

Monday, June 4, 2018


I first watched IATPTTLITH in December 2017.  It is now halfway through 2018 and no review.  Joe and I went strong for two years, reviewing direct-to-streaming horror movies with gusto and verve and esprit.  And then IATPTTLITH happened.  Would this be the way the experiment of Rock, Paper, Hatchet ends?    

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

SATANIC (2016) [Joe's Review]

In Satanic, a hapless group of Millennial friends inadvertently enters a contract with the devil to go to Hell. And Hell, it turns out, is made of white plastic tarps and spray paint.

My approach with Satanic was to watch it in pieces (I have two young children, so my "me" time generally comes in 15 minute chunks, which is about 10 minutes more than what my wife gets). So, the beginning and middle of this review reflect that approach. And then like a month passes and I just bang out the rest because Paul realizes that today is the blog's two year anniversary and we have to get something up! Anyway, enough about us.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

SATANIC (2016) [Paul's Review]

Hey fucktards!  Yes, I mean you, fucking goth troll dick.  Don’t be such an asshole, megabitch.  God, you’re such a prick, cumball.  Bro, I mean goth snobs.  Blow cock.  No, blow devil cock.

All of the words in the previous paragraph are spoken at some point by the terrific cast of characters in Satanic.  Being some percentage Irish, I appreciate a strong and habitual exercise of swearing: in jest, in argument, and sometimes just in exasperation at the universe.  However, I gotta admit, even I was starting to feel a bit Annie Wilkes halfway through this one.   It would not be out of character for any of these angelic youth to go to the store and demand F-ing pig feed and ten pounds of that bitchly cow corn.

Monday, October 16, 2017


The Axe Murders of Villisca is a very high-school horror movie. Nothing makes sense, everyone is upset, people are themselves one minute and someone else the next, and the sex is all wrong.

Monday, August 28, 2017

THE AXE MURDERS OF VILLISCA (2016) [Paul's Review]

I watched “The Axe Murders of Villisca” with my Gay Friend.  Many of my friends are gay, but only one specifically requested, nay, demanded that he go by “Gay Friend”—“capitalized, ok?” he insisted—for this review.  I just wanted to get that out of the way at the beginning, since I need you all to know that I don’t go around referring to my friends as “here’s my Gay Friend,” and “this one is my Straight Friend, and over here we’ve got my Millennial Friend, my Vegan Friend, my Republican Friend, my Imaginary Friend, my Feline Friend, etc. etc.  Most of my friends are just friends, except for my cats, which are just cats (calling an 8 pound thing that regularly draws blood from you a “friend” doesn’t seem right, unless it’s an infant vampire who always remembers your birthday).

ANYWAYS.  When Gay Friend thought it might be fun to watch the next Rock, Paper, Hatchet movie with me, I said something like “sure, but it’s probably going to suck.”  And I was worried, because the next movie was called “The Axe Murders of Villisca” and an unpronounceable title does not a shining first impression make.  And if it sucked, then Gay Friend would become the Gay Friend Who Won’t Watch Another Horror Movie With Me Again.  But those fears were unfounded!  Because I’m here to tell you that “The Axe Murders of Villisca” is way easier to pronounce than it looks, and that it’s way better to watch than to pronounce!

Monday, July 17, 2017

HAVENHURST (2016) [Joe's Review]

Havenhurst seems like the nicest halfway house ever. But ***SPOILER ALERT*** it’s really one of the meanest!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

HAVENHURST (2016) [Paul's Review]

Here’s the offer.  You can live, rent-free, in a pristine, old-money, New York apartment with tall ceilings, wainscoting up to here, immaculate furnishings and updated appliances.  But, in return, you have to give up one of your most beloved vices, let’s say drinking.  We all like the occasional tipple, right?  But in this rent-free, fantastic apartment in the Havenhurst building, if you have one drink, you DIE!  So, what do you do?
Right, ok, so it would seem an easy decision, sitting there in your reasonably-priced house somewhere west of Manhattan.  Nope, you think, I’ll pay for my rent and my FREEDOM, prop my feet up on my  worn craigslist coffee table (wow, that thing’s still here?  I meant to replace it years ago, but it still holds drinks up, I suppose) and watch Havenhurst, which you heard from this blog was actually pretty ok, while sipping on a scotch and soda.  That’s what you drink right?  Thought so. 

But those of you that have looked for housing in Manhattan lately might pause.  I’d like some more information, you say.  What’s the square footage?  What’s the policy on pot?  I’m not saying I’d take it, but it’s worth poking around a little bit, reading the fine print, you know?  Here, on page 634, line 15, the lease says “or you will DIE!”   Can you tell me, is it a quick death? 

So Havenhurst.  It's actually pretty OK!  After a pre-title sequence in which a guy and a girl doing blow in their apartment get dead, the plot opens with the alcoholic Jackie (Julie Benz) leaving rehab.  Through the philanthropy of Eleanor Mudgett (played with flair by Fionnula Flangan, and attired with, uh, ambition by suits made entirely of lapels), recent rehab patients can live, for AS LONG AS THEY LIKE WITHOUT RENT, in her tudor-style Havenhurst building on the upper east side.