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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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Plague Town

Year of Release: 2008
Genre: Horror / Thriller
IMDB Rating: 4.8 / 10
Level of Awful: Low

WHAT IT’S ABOUT:

Welcome to Plague Town, adult population +- 20, bat-shit crazy children 1000+. Rather than being on my usual mission to watch awful movies I decided to give this one a viewing because I felt like a little break from the normal absurdity and I’d heard some good things about the movie. For the most part those things were right, and this is by no means a bad movie. Why I’ve ranked it as ‘Low’ in terms of its Level of Awful is that there’s just that little something that’s missing from it, something I put down to the characters (or, rather, the actors portraying the characters). The problem isn’t that the acting is bad or that the characters don’t interact properly with one another, but rather that there just isn’t any power behind them and for that reason you don’t really connect with them or end up caring what happens to them. That said everything else in this movie is very decent: the kids are genuinely creepy, the kills are creative at times and the atmosphere in general is quite suspenseful. In the end it’s a very watchable but ultimately forgettable movie.

♫ Sisters are doin' it for themselves! ♫

Meet the Monohans, an American family who’ve come to Ireland to discover their ancestral roots. The family is made up of Jerry, the dad with a bad back, Annette, Jerry’s soon to be newer model wife, Jessica, Jerry’s blonde and bitchy eldest daughter, Molly, Jerry’s younger mentally disturbed daughter, and Robin, Jessica’s English boyfriend of 3 days. The purpose of this little holiday was for the girls to get to know Annette better before the wedding day, although neither girl seems to share their father’s interest in making this little family unit function properly. As they wander the beautifully scenic Irish countryside they meet up with an old man digging a grave, who takes an instant shining to Molly. Not interested in the advances of an 80-year-old the family decides to find their own way back to the road where, along the way, fights are had, tantrums are thrown and people walk off into the dewy afternoon in a bitter attempt to show that this holiday is by no means fun. This becomes a problem when everyone spends so much time looking for Jessica that they miss the last bus back to town, and things start to become very creepy when the sun goes down.

Book club was just getting weirder and weirder as the night progressed...

Something is very wrong with the children in this seemingly idyllic Irish hamlet and 14 years ago the whole town went to hell. For a while it seems the town had been suffering a series of abnormal births leading the women of the town to produce horrifically deformed children. Convinced that this is the work of the Devil the local vicar has taken to shooting the children as soon as they are born in an attempt to keep Satan at bay. It all goes wrong one night when a new father decides that enough is enough and that the children can no longer be blamed and he kills the vicar and from there it seems that the town’s women continued to give birth to their little precious monstrosities. Back in the present and all grown up the children have been raised on an odd mixture of Catholicism and being allowed to kill any out of towners they come across, something that they do very well with a delightfully creepy giggle.

"You have such a friendly face..."

Unaware of the oddities surrounding them in the woods our family decides to take shelter in an abandoned car that they find on the outskirts of town. Several more hissy fits are thrown and one by one people leave to go and find a telephone, leaving Molly and Annette in the car. Unfortunately the children aren’t the only thing that the group needs to be careful of since the older and unmutated generation of people in this town have plans of their own: wanting to keep their families safe but also wanting to rid the town of the birth defects they capture anyone they find from the outside, referring to them as ‘clean seeds’. Effectively what they have going on is a breeding program that aims to rid the town of its problems by introducing clean, fresh blood into the mixture. Understandably not everyone is keen on this idea and must be taken by force when they become unwilling sexual partners. The ultimate in creepiness here is Rosemary, a good girl with taped on eyes and a propensity to hang people from trees by their noses. As the children are summoned to the attack Molly must find a way to save her family and try and get them out of this little hamlet of hell before it’s too late.

We saw it in Wicked Little Things and we’ve seen it here as well: children are evil and best avoided 🙂

LIFE’S LESSONS LEARNED:

  • You can’t tell someone that they’re interesting after knowing them for only 3 days.
  • It’s never too cold to have sex outside.
  • Sisters get jealous when one is allowed to spontaneously hallucinate while the other isn’t.
  • Just because a man shoots your boyfriend in the face with a shotgun it doesn’t mean that he wants to hurt you.
  • You should try and sleep when creepy babies are crying in the woods.
  • Mutant children are very shy. That’s why they kill and eat people.
  • Some people are of the opinion that a cup of tea is the perfect cure for being shot in the face.

PLAGUE TOWN TRAILER


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