(There were actually a lot of good films this year as many as bad films… Hell I literally could have done a list of “worst of 2022” but let’s stick with the best for now as there may be a surprise or two in there also as I made sure I listed the honorable mentions.)
1) Crimes of the Future (On Demand) – David Cronenberg, I love you for not giving up the fight of making something that people will have trouble ten years from now wrapping their brains around this wonderful piece of filmmaking. This filmmaker is one of a kind and he proves it again as he dives into body horror of the future where the human body is changing and of course the government wants to know why and track it. “Surgery is the new sex” and all comes back to human evolution and what is considered wrong as the film centers on two characters are performance artists who use their bodies in a unique way. But just when you think you have the film figured out it gets turned sideways… again. Try to review this without giving too much away for the mere reason I want people to see this and form their own opinion about it as I know there is a good chance this film will be in my ‘top three films of 2022’ as I give it 4 stars. Favorite quote of the film comes from Viggo as he says to Kristen Stewart, “I am not good at the old sex?” Watch it and you’ll understand…
2) Hack-in-the-Box (Dropbox) – Holy mother F’N balls kids! This perfect short film from Zane Hershberger (see me in person to listen to me destroy his name with my Yinzer accent) has four bad ass women preparing to take on an unknown demonic force from a music box. To their horror what comes for them they couldn’t have prepared enough! As this old school blend of ‘Evil Dead’ and “Empire Pictures” project would make a young Sam Raimi blush then sign Zane to a multi-picture deal to his production company! What is Hollywood’s loss is the independent community’s gain because Zane, the actresses involved, and crew behind them should be all Hollywood bound as I give this project 4 out of 4 stars and the early front runner on my “Best of 2022 list”.
3) Glorious (Shudder) – In the vein of finding horror films that have no right being this good I dare you to go watch what I believe will be in my “Top 5 films of 2022”. We are given the character Wes who is in a bad place in his life after a break up with the girlfriend. Confused, depressed, partying around a fire by himself at a rest stop off the highway, (I enjoyed the scene of him breaking his cell phone). Next morning Wes heads into the bathroom to take care of things which after he finds himself talking to an evil glory hole! Here Wes and a god try to hash things out about saving the world as we know it. The movie is so simple and fun you will be surprised how much you will enjoy this very smart horror film as I give it 4 stars all the way!
4) Deadstream (Shudder) – Shawn is an internet influencer who faces his fears and streams it. Immediately I am already annoyed this movie is gonna be dumb, lazy, and a waste of my time. But I was super wrong as Joseph Winter aka Shawn who is also a co-director and co-writer of the film plays one of the biggest douchebags in film perfectly. Shawn explains after some trouble six months back and losing all of his online sponsors he is back for one big streaming show. He is going to face his fear of ‘GHOSTS’ as he is going to explore and stay the night in a notorious haunted home called “Death Manor”. This will all stream live as Shawn goes through, set up cameras, and makes sure his fans call him out if he tries to flee the house. As Shawn sets up everything in the home he goes over the house’s paranormal history and the stories of those who died here. Shawn being the scared douchebag he is almost leaves several times from noises, etc. This is after he breaks a very important drawing in a closet and then runs into superfan Chrissy and this where this entertaining as hell horror film won me over big time as it takes another unexpected turn? Without spoiling too much the film finds a way to give you a splash of “Evil Dead”, talk cancel culture, a couple jump scares, give a wonderful hated douchebag character, and do a lot of kick ass practical effects! Not only is this one of the best horror films of 2022 this makes me look forward to what Joseph Winter and Vanessa Winter have in store next for horror fans as they rock as I give this movie 4 stars and you will hear me talking about it again at the end of the year!
5) Bergeron Brothers: Wedding Videographers (DVD) – Well kids, if have not been introduced to BPO Films here is a good place to start as these people are just brilliant with their latest project. Two brothers who are amateur wedding videographers have decided to have a documentary about their business, how they prepare for events, training, etc., all in the hope of getting their name out there so their business can thrive. The film crew documents the hardships of these brothers living in a garage and how they train for their first big wedding event. But remember when starting a business it isn’t always successful at even if it means these brothers must face off with their nemesis Chad Johnson (who has everything, including someone’s fiancée, watch the movie you’ll understand) on a regular basis. This documentary/comedy is not just hilarious; it is downright fucking wonderfully entertaining! Literally “the hidden cameras idea” and “the shitting incident” had me still laughing after the movie was over. This project isn’t just a coming out party for these talented bastards (BPO Films) they blow the door off the movie world hinges to show they are to be taken seriously. The script is great, the story is hilarious, but what makes this project perfection in motion is the surrounding cast, all actors involved fit these characters in the film like a glove. Now that takes talent my friends as this is surely one of the best films you will watch in 2022 as I give it 4 out of 4 stars.
6) The Sadness (Shudder) – Honestly I don’t know if more can be said about this wonderful virus infection flick from Taiwan other than it will be on my “Best of 2022 list”. The pandemic is the backdrop and the virus has yet mutated again according to background news reports that like most of us we are not paying attention. But this mutation is different as those who are sick soon go into a fit of rage, rape, murder, and even a little cannibalism. As most of the population has lost its mind two young lovers try to navigate the city to find each other again! But what separates this “The Crazies” type of film from a lot of horror films is the violence, gore, the madness ramps up as the film goes along. When one crazy thing happens, give it ten minutes and you get to see something even more nutzoid! The film was wonderful, beautiful and played just right but funny thing and this is just me nit picking at shit but I can honestly say I wanted let’s just say a little happier ending without spoiling the fun? Anyway I still give this horror flick 4 stars and must see for horror fans this year.
7) Curse of the Queerwolf (DVD) – This 1988 no budget film is about Larry who is just a normal guy who when he hangs out with his best friend goes screwing around with random women. Then one night Larry learns the hard way things are not what it all looks like when a transvestite bites him on the ass! Now Larry is losing his mind because he is having nightmares of wearing women’s clothes and physically changing. Luckily for Larry he almost kills a gypsy with his car and she tries to help him out because there is somehow a full moon every night. And if he doesn’t take her help he could always insert a silver sex toy to end the curse? First, this was one of those films I have always wanted to check out and finally had a reason too and so glad I did because it is so ahead of its time. Second, now saying that I can easily see people’s heads exploding when watching this film and taking it out of context? It is smart, funny, and entertaining as I give it 4 stars as this film should be more celebrated.
8) Accident Man (DVD) – Scott Adkins 2018 film and possibly one his best to date that has Scott playing a hitman named Mike Fallon who makes his hits look like an accident. Things are good for Mike as he is paid well to make things look like an accident until he gets a call about his ex-girlfriend has died but things don’t add up as Mike finds out a few details. Mike quickly looks into the death and finds not only was a hit put out on her but she was pregnant with his child. Blaming himself Mike wants answers but his teacher Ray Stevenson has always said “Don’t get involved”. Mike breaks this rule immediately and after several bad ass fight scenes finds out he has been set up and her hit was ordered by his boss Milton! This not your average hitman action flick and I dare you to watch and not say this isn’t possibly one of the best Adkins starring flicks out there as I give it 4 stars.
9) A Meowy Dark Timeline (www.SteveBuster.com) – So Steve Rudzinski fans, Steve continues to make entertaining content for his streaming service outside of his wonderful features as this one is a short five part series that involves all the characters you know and love. The evil emperor is in another universe and has found a way to conquer this alternate universe as it fights its way through several of Steve’s characters from past films. This is a project full of heart for all those people who nerd out over what the talented Mr. Rudzinski has created over the years. You will laugh, you might cry, but Steve knows what to give his fans when it comes to content. So you asked for it and Steve provides as I give this short series project 4 out of 4 stars for the mere reason finding a way to include everything and available at www.stevebuster.com or on Blu-ray at www.silverspotlightfilms.com .
10) Hell of the Evil Dead (Blu-ray) – Rock Bottom Video who continue to produce smart and different horror titles for the Indy world to eat up has this fun project from a few years back that stars the talents of Brian Papandrea, Sadie Tate, and Nathan Rumler. This isn’t your ordinary feature as they go with a dubbed Italian version (regular English version is on the Blu-ray) to give the feature even more of a fun “Italian filmmaking feel” and it worked. Four friends go camping and stumble upon a graveyard out in the forest that after finding it weird things begin to happen: the path disappears, weird creature like sounds, and day turns to night without changing back. The four move deeper into the woods hoping to outlast or outrun this evil presence but things only get much worse when they find a trailer/cottage with a lone survivor to tell his story of what happened. Great acting, love the whole Italian dubbed thing as it gave the film a whole different feel to it, great pacing, and some good special effects work (head exploding). Indy fan don’t let the title fool you this film needs to be seen. Plus, there is a couple extras that include a disturbing “lost scene” from the film that needs to be witnessed (Thank you Nathan Rumler and Brian Papandrea for not taking yourselves too serious, that extra is glorious) as I give this film 3 ½ out of 4 stars. (Rock Bottom Video can be found on Facebook)
Worst film of 2022
(Horrorhound and the people thinking doing another Jeepers Creepers flick should be ashamed of themselves. Also fun fact: Jeepers Creepers is the first franchise to have two entries into the Gross Movie Reviews “Worst Movie of the Year”)
Jeepers Creepers Reborn (On Demand) – AKA part 4 aka the biggest fucking turd of 2022 for horror movie fans! Yes look no further than this crap storm for “worst film of 2022”. Anyhow its 23rd day of the 23rd Spring of whatever who actually gives a flying farthole all you need to know the monster aka a horrible grainy Playstation online game has come to life! Once what could be a great monster is now a poor excuse for a reboot not once but twice with this one being propped up by lets say an “unnamed shitty convention” but lets stick with the crappy film. This time around a young couple traveling to an outdoor horror festival that celebrates killers is set near the ‘urban legend’ of the “Creeper”. Hell, for shits and giggles they claim the first three films are fake to help propped up this so-called pile of elephant shit! Anyhow winners of the “Creeperfest” win a chance at the ‘Creeper Escape room’ at that the legendary house. The only thing going for this monkey turd is the townsfolk is in on the “Creeper legend” but while all yinz whine about the newest “Halloween” flick just remember this already forgotten cartoon poo got shit out there in the viewing universe as I give it nothing and will be my pick for “Worst film of 2022!”
Honorable mentions – (A lot of cool flicks that you may have heard of but haven’t seen or a few that you never knew existed but wanted to put them out there for yinz… These are no particular order)
Amityville Christmas Vacation (www.stevebuster.com) – That famous holiday/horror/love story plot has finally come to the Amityville series (entry #39 for those who are counting) in the form of Steve Rudzinski’s (Caroushell 1 & 2 fame) latest project. A familiar character from the “Steve Universe or Meowy Universe” in the form of Wally Griswold has won a random Christmas vacation trip to Amityville! Wally arrives at a bed and breakfast in Amityville that is the “second most famous haunted house” where a ghost named Jessica kills all who stay there. But this time it’s different as it the happiest time of the year, it is Christmas! And Wally and Jessica are having the time of their lives this holiday season. But there is an evil plan behind all of this and none of it had a ghost and a clueless detective falling in love in Amityville on Christmas? Move over Mark Polonia, Dustin Ferguson, Thomas J. Churchill, and Shawn C. Phillips just to name a few as Steve gives not just an entertaining entry into the endless series but hilarious entertaining energy of a story that will make you laugh out loud a few times. Steve’s intelligence behind the camera and his extremely talented cast not just poke fun at the series but also give the never dying series a watchable entry for the first time in several years as I have to give it 3 ½ out of 4 stars.
Hell Van (DVD) – Jorge Delarosa spent almost five years and $5000 putting this passion project together. If there is anyone that is talented enough to tackle Satanic shit in independent films and not get lost a quarter of the way through, it would be the talented Jorge Delarosa. The setting is a small town called Midway, Texas where everyone knows everyone. After a suspect accused of church burnings burns a church full of kids goes on the run and commits suicide in his van bizarre events begin to happen. Anyone that approaches or is connected to this possessed van die a very horrible death and only Sheriff Redhorse can stop this madness! Mr. Delarosa doesn’t just make a typical possessed car film but tackled it to the ground with such force that the film comes off as Mr. Delarosa shows off how talented he is behind the camera in all forms. We have explosions, burning people, eyeballs being ripped out, zombies, interesting characters you care about, chaotic satanic images to help tell the story, and the music is just the icing on the cake (music is usually forgotten in Indy films not understanding it can enhance the viewing experience). If you didn’t know what I already knew you will after watching this satanic blessing of filmmaking that Mr. Delarosa is an independent filmmaking force that needs more attention. And his latest film is a wonderful blend of Satan, horror, and blood without losing its way of telling a story as I give this film 3 ½ out of 4 stars as ‘Hell Van’ will be a favorite among independent horror fans for years to come.
The Weirdsies (Blu-ray) – One of the last films from Indy filmmaker Chris Seaver in 2015 who now has turned to doing episodic TV for his You Tube channel did a disturbing parody of ‘Stand by Me’. A funny but yet disturbing adventure of four friends who want to lose their “V-card” during the summer. Their adventure is because they know about a dead body and the plan is to go to it and fuck the shit out of it because supposedly after death the male boner stays erect for 48 hours? (I wasn’t going to look this shit up but you gotta admit, real or not, that’s funny.) If that wasn’t enough there is a group of bullies that want to beat these four virgins to the punch by finding the body first to ruin a good time. And for just for extra spice there is about 40 second-rant about running into cannibal hipsters that I am still laughing about many days after watching. Chris Seaver: intelligent, dumb, or indifferent I was never a huge fan of his work but throughout his independent film career he does seem to surprise me with a project where I believe he shows off a talent that separates himself from just being average. As he proves one more time with this timeless funny adventure I give 3 out of 4 stars.
The Black Phone (On Demand) – I enjoy being late to films and social media unless its “V.F.W.” remember who told you that film was bad ass but anyway I finally found myself watching this new Ethan Hawke (aka maybe the new Rutger Hauer?) film. The film is set in 1978 Denver, where a serial killer or kidnapper nicknamed the “Grabber” is grabbing kids under 18 years old over a several month period. Finney and his sister Gwen talk about it but don’t think about it too much until Finney’s best friend gets snatched and Gwen has a dream about where the kid might be? From there it isn’t too long before Finney is grabbed by the “Grabber” who wears several faces and keeps him in a soundproof basement. The “Grabber” is fascinated by Finney as he doesn’t play the games with him the other victims did as Finney begins to talk into a disconnected black phone where it is the past victims trying to help? I honestly wasn’t expecting much from this flick after watching the trailer and seeing what others have said but I got to say I was pleasantly surprised with this horror/thriller and definitely give it my approval to all of yinz to give it a watch as I give it 3 stars.
Helsinki Mansplaining Massacre (On Demand) – An interesting 15 minute short film concerning a couple who is in a car accident and rescued by a group of men. But rescued is used loosely here. These men’s egos bruise easily as they all believe men are superior and women are only good for housework and breeding. Now Essi is just trying to survive these morons and trying to escape a bad relationship. It’s hilarious, it’s fun, and relevant as I give it 3 stars.
Trash Removal (DVD) – Rising star Indy filmmaker Maddie Deering has had her latest released onto an anthology “Natasha Nighty’s Boudoir of Blood 2”. This fun short film has a group of individuals picking up trash in the woods near by an old chemical spill for community service. It doesn’t take too long for this boring day of community service to be interrupted by a killer trash monster! Hilarious characters get destroyed quickly by the cheeseball monster which this short film easily feels like a lost SOV title you would find on the dusty shelves of your favorite independent video store ‘insert name here’ in 1992 next to a “Cannibal Campout” or “The Slayer” where alphabetical order didn’t matter like in the one I went at that time! Fun times with Maddie as I give 3 out of 4 stars for this project that can be found on “Natasha Nighty’s Boudoir of Blood 2” at www.sovhorror.com .
Hellraiser (Hulu) – The new entry of the series has the puzzlebox, the chains, the music, the pain, the pleasure… okay horror kids I am in as this entry of the Cenobites went out there on a limb and gave fans what they wanted… “A one-off that made actual fucking sense, wasn’t non-sense, a piece of shit only done for movie rights issues, or had FAT PINHEAD!” Anyhow a woman named Ry still fighting her addiction to drugs accidentially begins to solve the puzzlebox and opens a doorway that scares her but also intrigues her of how this thing exists why people would be interested? After losing her brother to the box she become consumed with solving the box to bring him back as if you are able to go through all the phases you are able to “get an audience with GOD”. But while deep into this takes her and friends down a dark path of pain and pleasure they are not ready to experience… This is the best entry since Part 3 and it was nice it felt like it tried giving what fans have wanted for over two decades now as I give this entry 3 stars and hope there is more?
Werewolf by Night (Disney Plus) – First I believe this caught some horror fans by surprise this was made and taken seriously. Based on some comics this film takes a stylish approach of making it look old school which worked out well in my opinion from the actors to the werewolf itself. But the center of the film is the “Master of the Bloodstone” has died and there is a gathering of monster hunters to have a chance to lay claim to this stone which pretty much means royalty. Out of this group of death dealers if they survive and slay the creature that is in the maze they can lay claim to the stone but not all are who or what they seem as there is a werewolf among them. Who is the hero, who is the villain? It’s a fun quick 50 something minute movie that was a lot of fun for me to watch as I give it 3 stars.
Grand Samurai: A Warrior’s End (Extended Cut – Blu-ray) – So I felt it was time to sit down and watch Dan Komarek’s epic five hour film. Yes folks, “The Ninja Master” weren’t enough abuse knowing I would watch this bullshit this talented jagoff Mr. Komarek released this fucking shit! Anyhow I thought like most reviews I would try to give you the basics but not this epic film I thought I needed to share my notes as written when watching this thing last Sunday morning that led into my afternoon. Dan decided there needed to be a movie with more walking than ‘Lord of the Rings’ ever could film so eat your heart out Peter Jackson. Back to the film as it opens up very promising with this huge ‘Conan-esque’ beginning talking about a thousand years ago and now… then immediately let down with two dudes showing up on screen whatever their parents allowed them to wear that autumn weekend to shoot? You expect costumes, swords, huge swords… Nope, Dan laughs in the face of being reasonable. We get a little backstory between Paul and Lee which Paul has to train to become a samurai. Which first question that will hit your mind “Yinz know yinz are white more out of shape than I am?” But hey kids let’s not a bad idea get in the way of making a bad film as they begin to walk, then walk a little more, then walk a little more only to decide they will go on journeys for a sword and a tournament that isn’t really clarified but then walk some more. This is where Paul (yes there will be a samurai named… Paul) goes on his four or so hour journey movie time of training. If there isn’t endless narration be the Lee character aka Dan Komarek where he clearly had a tummy tuck at some point between filming there is more walking and what I feel was an hour of “In Memoriam” segment for someone I don’t know? But then it got real interesting when ‘real time filming’ by Dan Komarek happens as he films himself basically taking a spill into a raging river when misjudging some rocks to cross it just to do a random sword fight scene oh excuse me a stick fight! At one point during the first hour or two of walking it seems like the camera isn’t filming as much as stalking the Paul character who by the way is still training and looking for his friend Lee. Then when Paul cannot go any further he drops to the forest ground to start humping the ground which I read into the subtext of ‘humans raping the world’ but that can be debated another time. But hey did I mention there is a book on how to be a samurai that is introduced into the film an hour in as when approaching the 75 minute mark we get the ‘final fight’. Why do I know this? The characters only announced this several times as they try and I mean try to somersault their way off of picnic benches. But just shortly after if not paying attention we do gets bootleg Richard Moll from “Sword and the Sorcerer” sending Paul yet on another quest for a sword. So about 88 minutes they are informed this sword they are on a journey for is a sword for a tournament to end all tournaments and we haven’t even gotten to the first one. If you need a laugh the scene ends with the neighbor’s dog attacking someone off screen in the background. So as they keep walking again the two find a village where they sleep for a month (don’t ask) again this leaves the Paul character alone as he mourns for his heterosexual life mate Lee. Then there is more walking… inner monologue… more walking… Paul walks through all four seasons through the same patch of woods. Then 129 minutes in Paul gets fucked up on a snowy tree stump and instead of Dan putting down the camera he still films Paul now limping instead of walking, clearly injured… (but, it’s for the art man!) Literally that was the point I waiting for the Benny Hill music to start as it followed a limping Paul through the snow. After more walking about the 145 minute mark we get to hear Dan Komarek directing the movie while doing a couple lines of dialogue in the mouth of a cave or I like to think a sewer pipe? With more walking comes more training and at the 165 minute mark I begin to wonder if the journey isn’t for a sword but for the two come to grips with their love for each other? I come to this conclusion as the two come to a beach in their long journey and gazing at each other while plotting on them doing more walking through the woods. Which shortly after this the filmmaker has the balls of putting an intermission in, DUDE, how about ending this fucking movie already! After regretting that there was an intermission our heroes at the 170 minute mark are back from their love fest at the beach and most likely smoking weed only to walk more. They keep saying they must finish the journey so of course there is more walking this when I notice and have come up with a drinking game those three people like me who crazy enough to watch this film to completion. Now for yinz three paying attention: every time Paul has his ninja suit on or putting it back on, drink a beer for every different shirt you see the Paul character wearing underneath? You will be drunk and that is better than watching this film again, again anyway, nine minutes I am completely convinced the film has nothing to do with samurais but two young dudes taking the long way around of just saying they love each other but just cannot find the courage to say it. At the 191 minute mark after walking more Paul lays on the ground and looks to the night sky accepting he will only be complete with his life partner Lee who has disappeared again. Finally about the 215 minute mark we finally are getting to the climax of the film as a horrible unfinished fight scene happens as minutes later Paul loses Lee as he was killed by a Chevy Corsica fender they randomly found in the creek they ran across. More walking happens and at the 248 minute mark is when Paul and Lee (who has died twice, I think) are reunited and receives the sword which the fuckers never get to be in a tournament! And what is this fucking Dan Komarek ends this fucking “EPIC” with a ‘to be continued’… WTF dude! Dan I love you brother, I think you are a fine editor and cinematographer but stop digging this absurd bullshit up and make something new. You have the talent to do it so give me a break as this epic is epic I cannot even give it a rating as much dare someone to watch it all the way through like I did so I am not the only psycho.
Terrifier 2 (Theater) – Art the Clown is back and brutal as ever but after doing some laundry and mysteriously reappearing after the end of the first film Art is back on the street stalking victims. The filmmaker absolutely keeping Art a mystery is able to expand the clown’s universe but never really explaining it. Meanwhile, Jonathon and Sienna have lost their father recently and Jonathon has recently become obsessed with Art the Clown while Sienna is just trying to get out being normal. This sets up a wonderful family interaction but also a weird connection between Art, the murders, and (spoiler alert) Art being some kind of supernatural cannibal! I loved the first film and this one did not disappoint in its brutality and gore but what I think holds it back just a tiny bit is its 2 hour and 18 minute running time as I can only give it 3 ½ stars. Honestly wasn’t thrilled with the film minutes after watching it but I let set in and I love it just didn’t need the “Avengers cut”?
Blood, Guts, and Sunshine: The History of Horror Made in Florida (Blu-ray) – A documentary that tackles the rich history of independent filmmaking in the state of Florida and how it has produced several Indy gems over the years from several talented individuals. Sean Donohue puts together the usual great doc that talk: Creature from the Black Lagoon to Bob Clark to Tim Ritter to Stanley to H.G. Lewis to Joel D. Wynkoop. Donohue is able to give the world a lot of inside stuff most fans may not know about and like most documentaries they can start to repeat conversations if left long enough but just when you think it’s over? It isn’t and it is actually kind of a shock about 80 or so minutes in at what one person’s opinion of the Florida filmmaking scene is… I give Mr. Donohue credit for leaving this in and getting others comments about this after it is said. As usual to some Sean and company might be an acquired taste among horror fans but to me they are some talented people down there in that sunshine state as I give this documentary 3 ½ out of 4 stars.
Christmas Bloody Christmas (Shudder) – Oh “VFW” dude (Joe Begos) is back! And this time horror fans get a horror holiday treat where Tori and her employee/longtime friend Robbie have had one hell of a day at the record store on Christmas Eve. Now it’s time to party and hang with their two friends down the street at the toy store to party a little but that is where the happy holiday celebration ends… The realistic robotic Santa Claus that greets you at the store doorway is being recalled for malfunctioning. See these robotic Santa’s were used as military weapons for the government and they are going back to their original missions which why the recall. When it comes to life it is complete chaos for Tori and the sleepy little town as it becomes a combo of “Terminator” and “Class of 1999” meets Santa Claus! It starts a little slow but I get it as Begos and crew like actually telling a story where you care about the characters but it eventually becomes a gory holiday mess of a film! I might not be as good as “VFW” for me at least but I still give this holiday horror 3 ½ stars.