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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Five Horror Film Treats
by Betty Jo Tucker

Because Halloween is almost here, Iíve been thinking about scary horror movies -- and below are five from 2000 to 2005 that came to mind. Fortunately, they are all available on DVD now.     

HALLOWEEN: RESURRECTION (2002). "Let the dangertainment begin," exclaims Busta Rhymes in one of the most creative thrillers in this highly popular horror-flick series. Playing a TV reality show producer, Rhymesí character arranges for a group of teens to spend Halloween night in the place where Michael Myersí murderous rampage began. Giving these college students tiny cameras as they explore Michaelís dilapidated old childhood home, Rhymes  expects BIG ratings for his daring program. How could he foresee that more than ratings would be at stake? For, during the show, Michael unexpectedly returns -- and wants to make sure none of the interlopers leave alive.  

AMERICAN PSYCHO (2000). Stylish, satirical, and soulless, American Psycho goes inside the mind of a serial killer who looks more like a matinee idol than a murderer. It also questions if Patrick Bateman, the filmís title character, is any more demented than the society in which he lives. Symbolizing the materialism and self-centeredness of the 1980s, Bateman (Christian Bale) cares about things, not people and spends his leisure time in torturing and killing numerous victims. Although playing an unbalanced character, Bale has no problem balancing horror with dark humor in this remarkable performance. His monologues about pop music, delivered so authoritatively in the midst of terrifying and raunchy activities, both shock and amuse. The popular Welsh-born actor even manages a comic flair while wielding a chain saw! Based on Bret Easton Ellisí controversial novel, the film version of American Psycho emphasizes black comedy over gore, but itís still a very frightening movie. American Psycho is the first movie since Natural Born Killers to give me nightmares. 

THE CELL (2000).  In The Cellís spectacular opening scene, a woman in a flowing white garment gallops her sleek black horse over gigantic dunes of dark pink sand. She is Catherine Deane, a psychologist inside the mind of a young coma patient. But this dreamlike landscape pales in significance to the nightmarish world of serial killer Carl Stargher, the man she agrees to treat next.Deane (Jennifer Lopez) has mastered a new therapy technique which enables her to experience what is happening in another personís unconscious mind. When Stargher (Vincent DíOnofrio) loses consciousness after a seizure, the innovative therapist must help FBI Agent Peter Novak (Vince Vaughn) find out where his latest victim is hidden before itís too late. The only way to do so is by taking a dangerous trip inside the madmanís head. And what a creepy, disturbing trip it is!

DEAD & BREAKFAST (2005). "Bed & Breakfast" is the first thing we see flashed on screen, but immediately after that, the word ďDead,Ē written in a blood-red color, splashes over Bed. Clearly, the title is really Dead & Breakfast instead. A clever way to get started, isnít it? Fortunately, this little independent horror movie also serves up similar creativity and campiness almost from beginning to end. Itís a hoot! The story seems traditional enough. Six friends are traveling together to a wedding when they stop to stay for the night at a sinister inn in a creepy Texas town. After opening a mysterious object, one member of the group (Oz Perkins) turns into a violent ghoul. Before long, the ghoulish creatures outnumber the townís living inhabitants. If this sounds a bit like zombie/ghoul movies youíve seen before, youíre on the right track. But this one also features surprising musical numbers. (Think Rocky Horror Picture Show meets Shaun of the Dead.

THE SKELETON KEY (2005). Creepy, atmospheric and lushly filmed in Louisiana Bayou country, The Skeleton Key takes us into the changing world of a young woman who starts a new job not believing in ghosts or black magic. Fortunately for fans of the horror/thriller genre, she soon faces a series of frightening events that challenge her deepest convictions. Caroline (Kate Hudson) signs on as a live-in caregiver for Ben, an elderly stroke victim (John Hurt). When his wife Violet (Gena Rowlands) gives her a skeleton key thatís supposed to open all the rooms in the rickety old plantation-like mansion, Caroline canít understand why it wonít open one in the back of the attic. Sheís also curious about the lack of mirrors in the house. Naturally, an intelligent, curious woman like Caroline canít resist trying to find out whatís inside the mystery room and why so many strange things are happening around her. The Skeleton Key is an eerie supernatural thriller complete with ghosts, black magic, a haunted house and things that go bump in the night. But it also boasts a highly complicated plot unusual for movies of this nature -- which I think makes this horror offering something special.   

Youíre welcome, horror flick fans!

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