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Scream of the Banshee

Year of Release: 2011
Genre: Horror
IMDB Rating: 4.3 / 10
Level of Awful: Low

WHAT IT’S ABOUT:

In the interest of uniformity this movie has been ranked as having a ‘Low’ Level of Awful but, when compared to other Syfy gems such as Flu Birds, Sharktopus and Mega Shark VS Giant Octopus, this is a true masterpiece of cinematography. It’s one of those unfortunate movies that could have been really good but, mainly owing to a lack of budget, just wasn’t pulled together as nicely as it could have been. I wouldn’t rush out to rent it but if there comes that inevitable night when you can’t sleep and you’ve scrolled through every channel to find nothing more entertaining than Scream of the Banshee and yet another rerun of Keeping up with the Kardashians, go for the former.

When gift originality crosses the line...

We begin our journey in Ireland in the 12th century in the armoury of the local monastery. A group of Templar Knights is busy constructing and blessing a complex shield with the capability of transforming into a box. The reason for making the box? Banshee hunting. Now the banshee is a little creature from Irish folklore, usually associated with specific families, that scream when a member of their particular family is about to die. While they usually appear as a revolting old hag they generally can transform into any form of their choosing. Whilst a banshee certainly isn’t something you’d want to run into in a dark alley they aren’t generally seen as being malicious creatures. Since we’ve just been thrown into a Syfy b-movie, however, the banshee here is a mistress from hell that Nemesis herself would flee from in terror. While she is riding on horseback through the Irish countryside she is intercepted by the Knights. She manages to scream two of them into submission but is defeated by the third when he uses the shield / box on her, decapitating her and rendering her scream useless through some amazing 12th century sound proofing capabilities included in the box’s construction.

What has been seen cannot be unseen, no matter how hard you try.

Flash forward to the present day where we find Prof. Isla Whelan and postgrad students Otto and Janie working in the local university’s ancient history / archaeology classrooms. With a major demonstration coming up the team is behind schedule and frantically trying to restore all the artifacts that are haphazardly lying around the floor. When Isla’s daughter Shayla shows up she is also put to work in the bowels of the building trying to find an inventory item that is listed on a map contained in the glove of a piece of armour that was sent to them. After breaking down the rotten wall and finding the room on the map the team finds only a single item: the box containing the banshee head. Since 12th century Irish legislation didn’t state that packaging should include the calorie count and ingredients in the product the group is completely unaware that they are busy handling a banshee head. The fact that the box vibrates and gives off muffled breathing and screaming sounds won’t deter them either and, with the use of the glove, manage to open the box, revealing the banshee’s rather gruesome face and teeth. Not long after the box is opened the head opens its mouth, screams, disappears, reappears with a body and begins its campus-wide reign of terror.

I had nightmares about gardens like this as a child.

Now the banshee is a tricky creature to deal with because, while she is FUCKING UGLY, she is bound by a rather irritating little law that allows her to use her scream to scare her prey but she can’t actually kill them unless they scream back at her. Finding this out, of course, is a process of trial and error and some people get it right while others just don’t. The advantage that she does have is that as soon as someone has heard her scream (either live and unplugged or in a recorded format) she is allowed to stalk them until they eventually cave in. For Isla, Otto and Janie the problem that dawns on them is the question of who the hell will believe that they are being hunted by a creature from the depths of Irish folklore that they released from a box that had been lying in storage for a decade or so? Thankfully there’s one person who might be able to help: Broderick Duncan, a self-proclaimed Templar Knight who lost his job and mind while investigating the box and trying to figure out how to open it. Unfortunately Duncan has his own agenda and wants to learn how to control the banshee and use her as a weapon against all those who called him a mad man. Now it falls to Isla to save her grad students and daughter not only from the banshee but also from the deranged Duncan dressed in his tatty pyjamas and armed with a loaded shotgun.

Not the best movie I’ve ever seen and definitely not the worst but it has given me a little hope that Syfy might yet turn out a half-decent movie in the near future. Of course, like life on earth, Scream of the Banshee might just be the lone blue marble in an ever-expanding universe of horrible CGI and ‘VS’ creature flicks.

LIFE’S LESSONS LEARNED:

  • 1954 was a good year for fossilised rats.
  • Ancient historical artifacts should be stored under a leaking pipe.
  • You can still hear perfectly well when your eardrums explode.
  • Mother-daughter issues become particularly prominent when an ancient box full of evil Irish banshee head is brought into the picture.
  • Banshees are talented illusionists.
  • Banshees are a useful tactic to use when you are trying to get a girl into your bed.
  • When hunting for a banshee a shotgun is all you need to get the information you need out of someone.

SCREAM OF THE BANSHEE TRAILER

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From Within

Year of Release: 2008
Genre: Horror / Mystery
IMDB Rating: 5.7 / 10
Level of Awful: Low

WHAT IT’S ABOUT:

Again! Like the recent Vanishing on 7th Street and Plague Town, this movie was just SO close to being amazing! It has all the right elements: fundamentalist Christians, the dark arts, people who can act and Grudge-esque ghosts, but sadly these things are not used to their best effect. I think that the message it conveys is very topical: when taken to fanatical extremes religion, no matter which one it is, will result in people doing stupid, crazy shit. In that way I feel like the movie was more focussed on the aspects of the various religious nuts than on the actual horror aspect, which left me very disappointed. Never the less From Within is a very watchable movie and, given its IMDB rating, some people out there must like it. I’m not sure if I wanted the religious nuts to be even more crazy or if I wanted more horror / terror so that I would be genuinely frightened but, when all is said and done, the movie just left me wanting a little bit more.

"Your ability to think outside of my fanatical religious box disgusts me..."

Welcome to Grovetown, your standard little Anywhere USA. The skies are blue, the lawns meticulously mowed, the shops are quaint and the folk genuinely care for one another. It’s the kind of place you would want to raise your kids. If you wanted your kids to be white-supremacists with radical Christian beliefs that believe burning the witch is still your best possible option, that is, and that really is the bulk of the town’s population. The only one with her head screwed on right is Lindsay, a follower of the church but who believes that people should live and let live. She lives with her alcoholic and mouse of a stepmother Trish who has frequent visits from her somewhat-pervy truck driver boyfriend Roy. Lindsay also happens to be dating Dylan, the son of the town’s resident pastor who is about as extreme a religious nut as you can get. Her world becomes a little more complicated when she picks up Aidan (literally – Dylan beat him to the floor), the town’s local pagan. Understandably an outcast from the rest of Grovetown’s cliques Aidan has lived with his brother ever since the townsfolk burned their mother alive for being a witch. Burning the witch is about to come back to bite Grovetown in the ass.

"I'm finished! This is my 18th exorcism on an unwilling girl today."

Something very strange is starting to happen in Grovetown. While sitting on a hill overlooking the town one night a young emo couple reads to one another and tenderly embrace. 2 minutes later the guy blows his brain out. The girl, presumably a little shaken by this, runs back into town to her father’s dress shop (hip and happening designs in Grovetown, Amish paradise anywhere else) screaming that some woman is after her. Lindsay and Trish are also in the store and when Lindsay walks away from the girl the doors slam shut. When the group manages to open them they find the girl with scissors rammed in her neck. This is the beginning of the suicides that will stalk the town for the rest of the week. Gossip will be exchanged, accusations will be cast, witch burning brunches will be planned.

Ever been so tired you just started bleeding from your eyes?

As the suicide rate in Grovetown begins to climb and frequent church meetings do little to solve the problem people are starting to get a little anxious and are looking for a solution. What they are unaware of is that their beautiful little town has been cursed. While they do know about the deaths they don’t know that they aren’t actually suicides. You see just before various young teenagers and assorted older people are killed they see something that truly horrifies them: themselves. Now this isn’t the ‘wake up, look in mirror and realise you look like crap’ kind of terrified; this is ‘I’ve just seen my evil doppelgänger and it’s coming to get me’ variety of terrified. Since the entire town’s stock answer to any problem they face is ‘burn the witch! cleanse the earth with fire!’, it falls to Lindsay and Aidan to figure out what’s happening and how best to go about sorting it out. They will face fierce opposition, attempted exorcisms, angry mobs and a deranged son of a preacher man, but the fate of Grovetown and the rest of the world now rests on both their delicately feminine shoulders.

My only question, and this crops up in more movies that you’d think: if you are ‘different’ and know you are going to be an outcast and piss dumb people off, why live in a town full of them?

LIFE’S LESSONS LEARNED:

  • You can either be Christian or a witch. There is nothing in between.
  • A preacher should never be allowed near a troubled man. It will only end in confusion and heartache.
  • Christian men should only ever wear plaid shirts.
  • Christian women should only ever dress in a way that would make the Amish feel like they are showing too much skin.
  • Pagans should always be sarcastic, dark and twisty.
  • Saying the voices spoke to you one day makes you clinically insane. Saying that God spoke to you one day makes you a devout Christian.

FROM WITHIN TRAILER


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