About Really Awful Movies

Horror movie authors and journalists who also review exploitation, action, grindhouse, kung fu, sci fi and other genre films. We are hosts of the Really Awful Movies Podcast, a celebration of low budget cinema - smart genre film chat, predominantly horror movies.

Scream 4

Sidney Prescott is making a name for herself as the author of a series of books. Her publicist, walking through a lonely parking garage, gets a call. A call from Ghostface. When she asks if she can take a message for her famous client, Scream’s masked assailant warns, “you are the message.”

Is this some too-clever-by-half Scream 4 allusion to Marshall McLuhan (“the medium is the message)? Who needs the author of The Gutenberg Galaxy in an era where “nobody reads anymore,” as one character here puts it.

That may be so, but they sure do talk.

Kevin Williamson, the man responsible for the first two Scream flicks, returns as if he’s paid by the word. Jesus, nobody ever shuts up in this, the fourth and extraordinarily painful installment of the self-referentially-winking series.

Less is more, and this more is considerably less. If an endless word babble reference of every classic horror movie floats your boat, feel free  but it’ll capsize the rest of us.

Scream 4 is an appalling cash-in even by the seemingly bottomless well of horror sequel cash-ins.

But it’s notable for one thing.

Everything is meta. Its meta is meta, there’s even a reference to the act of being “meta” (sadly, no reference to ex-baller/LA Laker, Metta World Peace). Its meta drives an orbitoclast smack into your orbital lobe.

Scream (the original), was undoubtedly solid, sharp as Ghostface was stabby, and playful to boot. Unfortunately, its legacy is tarnished because for a while in the 90s, we suffered many films that tried to encroach on similar comedy-horror territory. So it’s odd that this installment, Scream the 4th, upped the “look at me, I’m so clever” ante, when it was meant to have been a return to form.

Featuring a bunch of ever-telegenic TV cast-offs (people from The OC/90201, etc, etc and even Anthony Anderson, pre-Blackish) the film’s saving grace is the steely determination of Neve Campbell. She’s quite excellent, even if she’s acting in a different movie entirely.

In 2013, Harvey Weinstein, while speaking at the Zurich International Film Fest, expressed interest in making a fifth and final installment of Scream. Luckily for all of us, he’s no longer in the movie biz.

*1/2 (out of 5)

[Listen to our chat about the original Scream on the Really Awful Movies Podcast]

The Kindred

Ah, another “modern Prometheus” evil experiment movie. You seldom go wrong with a lab coat and nefarious doings in a basement lab. Enter, The Kindred, a movie with dollops of backstory and erudition to spare usually the opposite in these kinds of things, especially ones filmed on the cheap.

Dr. Amanda Hollins’ life work lurks in bubbling Florence flasks and mysterious beakers in a dark subterranean lair.After all, that’s where the very best biomedical research labs are, let’s be honest.

Dr. Hollins had a falling out with evil Dr. Lloyd (Rod Steiger) over the direction of their controversial gene-splicing research. She has moral scruples, he decidedly does not.

Hollins is not long for this earth, and issues an edict to son John to destroy the fruits of her labors before they get into the wrong hands. John and a bunch of grad student buddies head to her home and basement lab to do her bidding.

But things are never cut-and-dried. There’s a young Hollins acolyte among them, Melissa, who is keen on preserving the doc’s research for posterity.

Da-da-dum.

It’s what the group eventually find in the lab that inspired the title, The Kindred, and what adds another appendage to the Hollins family tree.

The movie’s baby bottle fetus poster is undoubtedly etched in the memories of seasoned gore hounds, even if they never got around to actually watching The Kindred (it wasn’t exactly a breakout smash in 1987).

Still, with slimy creatures, savvy, smarts, infidelity, and grave-robbing, The Kindred has the makings of a 19th century novel! (turns out Dr Lloyd is in cahoots with a body snatcher who passes him near-dead bodies).

Rod Steiger chews the scenery like nicotine gum, but regardless…it’s a fun role, and Amanda Pays (above) is dynamite as grad student/temptress Melissa.

Fans of ’50s monster movies will be delighted as there are definite nods to flicks like The Brain that Wouldn’t Die and countless others.

***1/2 (out of 5)

[Check out our podcast discussion of The Kindred on the Really Awful Movies Podcast!]