review cheap thrills

The great pleasure of truly scary movies rests in the audience’s ability to digest and enjoy them, and then get as far away from them as possible once they leave the theater. (At least, that’s what I like best about scary movies, even if it does mean that I’ll spend large chucks of scary movie watching with my head tucked between my knees, simply as means of temporary reprieve.) Few types of films can be as invigorating and refreshing as a damn fine scary movie, so it’s fitting that the Film Society of Lincoln Center has just unveiled the lineup for their latest incarnation of the neatly-named “Scary Movies” screening series.

The seventh in their annual series, the Film Society’s “Scary Movies” series is arriving just in time to capitalize on Halloween-themed thrills and chills. The series kicks off on Halloween night (October 31st, for those you who don’t celebrate any holidays, even the ones based on candy) and runs for a full week, winding down on November 7th, when its audience should be good and terrified until next year. This year’s lineup is packed with interesting premieres (U.S. and otherwise), very recognizable talent, and even a few revival screenings to keep classics-loving audience members very happy. The films of “Scary Movies 7” are also all very scary (with such a moniker, they better be), but surely, there has to be one that is the most scary of all. (Of course there is, and stop calling me Shirley). Based purely on buzz, conjecture, reputation, and synopsis, we attempt to pick which film from “Scary Movies 7” is destined to freak out its very willing audience the most.

The Nanny
As picked by filmmaker Bobcat Goldthwait, who will screen his Willow Creek at “Scary Movies,” the 1965 Hammer Films classic stars Bette Davis in the title role (scary already). The film centers on a young boy “who returns home after being institutionalized for two years upon receiving the blame for the drowning death of his little sister. Placed under the care of his devoted nanny, he is soon accused of trying to poison his own mother. But was it the boy or his caregiver who is actually the disturbed killer?”
Scare level: High.

Willow Creek
Goldthwait turns his directorial attentions to the horror genre with his latest film, a found footage affair that also apparently (maybe? We hope?) involves Bigfoot. The film reportedly also crackles with Goldthwait’s offbeat humor, which is good for tension relief, not so good for scares.
Scare level: Mild.

Across the River
An American premiere from Italian director Lorenzo Bianchini, the film focuses on a classic terror trope – the isolated scientist. This one is a biologist completing some animal census studies on the Italy-Slovenia border, who finds something terrifying in the woods, though the film’s tempting synopsis tell us it’s not of the animal variety.
Scare level: High.

Afflicted
Found footage. A European tour. Buddies. Sounds fun, right? Well, anything is fun…until you contract a mysterious infection that may render you murderous.
Scare level: Medium.

All Cheerleaders Die
Directors Lucky McKee and Chris Sivertson roll out the American premiere of their back-from-the-dead cheerleader gorefest. After five cheerleaders die after a really, really, really bad party, they come back to life (via witchcraft!) to seek revenge on the football players who caused their death. Knowing McKee, the film will be funny, dark, and gory, but not especially scary.
Scare level: Medium.

Baby Blood
A revival of Alain Robak’s 1990 film, this one involves the impregnation of a circus performer…by way of an icky snake thing that arrives via African leopard. Ick. No, again, ick.
Scare level: Medium.

Cemetery Man
Michele Soavi’s 1994 cult classic might not have traditional scares, but it’s got gore to spare and the wonderfully deadpan Rupert Everett to drive it.
Scare level: Mild.

Cheap Thrills
Already a hit on the festival circuit, E.L. Katz’s film about broke people with broken ideas is reportedly funny, dark, and disturbing, even if it’s not entirely “scary.” Call us crazy, but the promise of Ethan Embry popping up with a moneymaking scheme of nasty “games” sounds damn scary to us, even on its own.
Scare level: Medium.

Curtains
A forgotten classic from 1983, Richard Ciupka’s film has it all – a pissed off actress, an asylum, and creepy dolls.
Scare level: Medium

Death Weekend aka The House by the Lake
Every scary movie festival needs a home invasion thriller, and William Fruet’s 1977 feature is a worthy entry for “Scary Movies 7.” It doesn’t hurt that star Brenda Vaccaro proves capable and a worthy opponent to the (inevitably) redneck locals who seek to take her down.
Scare level: High.

The Green Inferno
Eli Roth finally got to make his homage to Cannibal Holocaust, responses to the film have been mixed. At least we know it will be bloody.
Scare level: Medium.

Let’s Scare Jessica to Death
John D. Hancock’s revelatory 1971 scarer begs to be seen on the big screen (the foreboding outdoors featured in the film benefit from being seen as large as possible), and its moodiness and eeriness make it a solid pick for any terrifying film fest.
Scare level: High.

Nightbreed – The Cabal Cut
Do you like Nightbreed? Do you need more of it? You already know how you’ll feel about this one – packed with an additional 42 minute of footage. Will it make things scarier? Probably not.
Scare level: Medium.

Open Grave
Sharlto Copley stars in this U.S. premiere as an amnesiac who wakes up in a room full of corpses. Funsies! Even better, there’s an isolated house nearby, filled with people who also don’t remember anything. It’s also got guns. And it’s located nearby some woods that keep leaking out screams. This cannot be good.
Scare level: High.

Patrick
An updated remake of Richard Franklin’s 1978 film, this one features the classically comatose Patrick, the wonderful Sharni Vinson, and lots of terrible events prompted by the seemingly out of it title character.
Scare level: Medium.

Proxy
While the “oops, someone killed your unborn child, here’s a support group” plot of the film sounds good, buzz coming out of TIFF wasn’t too kind, so we’re back-burnering this one.

Rituals aka The Creeper
The 1977 Deliverance imitator has a solid reputation (and Hal Holbrook!), so we’ll give this one a go.
Scare level: High.

Twins of Evil
Stop talking right now – we’re just going by title alone here.
Scare level: High.


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