Unpromising beginning with dodgy compositing and fake film distress as we’re told a long poem, then a bridge that reminds me of The Empty Man (everything reminds me of The Empty Man). Watching this after When Evil Lurks because I keep getting them confused with their similar titles, and Lurking definitively beat Roaming. This movie certainly does roam. Its three leads (family of hopeless carnie thief/murderers with a terrible musical act until they steal a better one from a devil-dealing finger-traumatist) are a real family, also the movie’s directors. They’d previously made Hellbender (metal music/witchcraft) and The Deeper You Dig (clairvoyant murder-suspense).

The devil-dealer is Mr. Tipps, who nightly cuts off his fingers for the crowd, then sews them back with cursed thread – he stole the thread originally, so it’s only fair that our trio steals it from him later. The girl of the family is said to be mute but I didn’t realize, since she sings in their act. The mom kills somebody in each town they pass through, and I can’t tell if this is supposed to be vigilante justice or if they’re just remorseless criminals. Dad gets WWI flashbacks when he sees blood (and is incidentally afraid of birds), so has to be blindfolded during the crimes, and eventually during their circus act. So it’s set in the past (1920s?) but doesn’t feel authentically past-tense, more of an antique shop present. The parents eventually get some limbs chopped off by an axe girl at a home they invaded (played by their other IRL daughter) and the dad becomes catatonic, but still performs his nightly onstage dance to the girl’s alt-rock song.

An ancient evil is going to be born into the world unless two dummy brothers can stop it (spoiler: they cannot). The movie is torn between needing to explain itself so we know the stakes, and wanting to withhold information for suspense. So we’re told there are seven rules to follow (that’s more than twice the number of rules for Gremlins so you know it’s serious) but one rule remains secret until the end. And since there are set rules for demon possession, and specialists with suitcases of equipment, and the local cops and government have procedures in place, we know this has all happened before, elsewhere, so if this particular demon gets loose it’s probably not the end of the world, just maybe of this town. But despite all this knowledge and procedure, the dummies keep losing ground, because (per Matt Lynch) “everyone in this forgets what’s happening to them every three to five minutes.”

Still it’s a good gruesome, apocalyptic time at the movies, and the actors are game for its grievous head injury theater.

Two attempts to shoot evil with a gun:

This is Argentina so of course somebody was in La Flor – that’s lead brother Ezequiel Rodríguez, a go-to demonic horror guy lately between Legions and The Witch Game. Brother Demián Salomón is right there with him, starring in Satanic Hispanics, Welcome to Hell, and Into the Abyss. Somebody needs to look into the current wave of Argentine horror. These guys discover the neighbor’s tenant’s kid has become demon-bloated so they drive it some hours away so it can become someone else’s problem. Too late: it gets to the neighbor, and to Ezequiel’s wife (who kills one of her kids) and dog (who kills another). The brothers drive off with the remaining (possessed, autistic) kid and their mom, pick up a demon hunter, and head to the Village of the Damned where they’d dumped the body. The spooky kids there defeat the exorcism plot pretty easily, barely even moving around much, a new evil is born, and the autistic kid eats his grandma.

Young animator Aisling Franciosi (The Nightingale) is completing her dying mom’s final stop-motion film, then tries to turn it into her own work. But Aisling has no ideas of her own. Where do ideas come from? She tries asking her man’s sister for psychedelic drugs, then starts listening to the girl down the hall who doesn’t actually exist. She begins animating in a trance state, believing the monster they created inside her film is after her, and it does finally eat the girl they also created. In the meantime, Aisling pushes her bf Tom down the stairs, and his character name must be a Peeping Tom reference since she kills his sister with a tripod. Unfortunately the movie we’re watching isn’t a stop-motion horror but a mediocre live-action indie movie. I’ve tried to make it sound eventful, but the twist is that it’s ponderous and tiresome, offering nothing fresh, and that’s a crushing disappointment from the creator of the brilliant Bobby Yeah.

Lotta characters in this – at least the third feature film based on joke Grindhouse trailers – but what’s important is that the survivors of a black friday riot are being hunted, captured, and posed at a private “turkey” dinner by bereft psycho cop Patrick Dempsey, who loved riot victim Gina Gershon. The killer hides behind a pilgrim mask until the climactic parade, when he swaps out for a killer klown mask. Lotta nastiness – one girl gets corncob holders in the ears then chucked into a table saw. Enough victims and false leads to get over the 100 minute mark. A gross good time, but not substantially better than the two-minute version. I’ve skipped everything by Roth for sixteen years – since Hostel 2 he’s done a couple TV things, a shark documentary, a remake, a kids movie, a cannibal horror, and a Keanu Reeves movie I watched the last ten minutes of.

When you’ve been facially mutilated and cannot call for help:

I guess rewatching Dawn of the Dead got me nostalgic over horrors watched when I was 12 that were set in malls with gun stores. Back then I wouldn’t recognize Paul Bartel and Mary Woronov camping it up in the opening scenes, but my whole life I’ve known Dick Miller, seen here being electrocuted by killer robots.

Robot knows the best stores:

The robots are smarter and more resourceful little ED-209s, slow and loud (but apparently silent to the hearing-impaired characters), meant to guard the mall but turned evil by a sinister lightning strike. The teens who work at the Sbarro and the furniture store are partying after hours when the robots go on a killing spree, until only the two nerds remain.

Watching Leslie’s head explode:

These kids: Nerd Allison was in Night of the Comet (also with Mary Woronov), Nerd Ferdy in Karate Kid, Rick in Friday the 13th Part 2, Greg in Electric Boogaloo. Early victim Mike is Deathstalker himself. Most importantly, torched Suzie was Barbara Crampton, in the midst of becoming a horror legend with Re-Animator and From Beyond.

Family on vacation, local hunters unhappy at family for hitting a deer they’d been tracking, pink hat Otis will get his revenge – my second Otis movie of the week. Though afraid of the deer hunter, the family settles into their vaca home and gets settled: Patricia Clarkson here between The Green Mile and a Carrie remake, dad would appear in Jennifer Lynch’s Chained and the Dawn of the Dead remake, and their son, Middle Malcolm’s little brother.

The kid is given a wendigo figurine by the Phantom Indian of a store intown, then there’s a gradual ramp-up of displaced-Indians imagery. Both parents intended a getaway but have work stuff come up. Some sweet stop-motion/photo-montage scene transitions keep the movie lively and mysterious, then Otis shoots dad and kills the sheriff with a hammer, glimpses of deer creatures and antler mazes as the camera rushes the doomed people.

I was wondering if you could make a whole week of Malcolm in the Middle horror movies… Malcolm’s in teen gamer flick Stay Alive, Reese starred with Dee Wallace in Invisible Mom II, Francis did a kidnapping thriller, the mom did a Manson family thing, and dad was in a haunted novelist story and sci-fi horror Dead Space… so Dewey here is the champ.

tfw malcolm in the middle isn’t on TV:

We try to keep Shocktober light and not end up watching psychosexual nazi stories, I don’t know how this keeps happening. A visually striking Spanish movie about ugly shit, the Apt Pupil of its time.

Nazi pedo (who was also in The Boys From Brazil, appropriately enough) is stuck in iron glass lung, cared for by wife Griselda (Almodóvar regular Marisa Paredes) and kid Rena. Then crazy Angelo moves in with his weird eyebrows claiming to be a nurse, actually a witness to the nazi’s final victim before the suicide attempt that landed him in the lung. I thought it a revenge plot but Angelo tells the old guy he wants to be his protege, so, no good guys in this. Nice giallo-lite as he stalks the wife through the house and hangs her, then he starts kidnapping random local boys and reenacting murders from the man’s journals in nazi cosplay. This is almost worth it for the way the music tears itself apart in the climax when Angelo is killing his idol and taking his place.

Rena is okay with Angelo wrecking the place:

Following up Curse of the Cat People, it’s clear that Wise didn’t have a firm handle on things yet. The whole aspect that this is Scotland in the 1800s is very weak, while the plot is just the Burke and Hare story but set two years later, so the characters being murdered keep redundantly mentioning the more famous murders.

Karloff is the local snatcher, bringing bodies to medical school for Dr. Henry Daniell (Kirk Douglas’s brother in Lust for Life). Lugosi plays an idiot foreigner who gets killed shortly after the singing homeless girl. The doctor gets spooked and dies in a rainy carriage crash, and that’s the end of that. I think the last Val Lewton horror I’ve got left is Bedlam, another Karloff period piece, oh boy.

Frilly doctor is standing pig-center:

Frank vs. Drac:

Ripoff: the lesbians get shot to death before credits. But lesbians never truly die, they remain undead in a fancy British house near the graveyard, luring in dudes who wake up alive minus some blood. Disagreeable couple Harriet and John (he’s one of the Zed twins) camp outside and get involved. The second half is mostly boring, watching everyone else slowly realizes what we’ve known since the opening title. Vampire Miriam was in Lisztomania, their last victim has been in 20 major films, Larraz moved back to Spain and made some movies with shabby posters which are all on Tubi.