Hello to all those faithfully reading and hopefully enjoying this effort to make even the worst horror movie more watcha... aw, screw that - I'm not that good. If a movie makes you cringe because yet another batch of unlikable teens that are pushing 30 are inching toward their deaths, having a party no one does anywhere ever, a paranormal movie is boring you to tears with unending pans of empty rooms, or thanks to CGI technology when people finally bite it, their blood squirts everywhere except on the victim, the ground, the people next to them... you're in good company and this is the right place for you.

Thursday, December 5, 2013


Back From Hell aka Ex Inferis or From Hell (2011) Italian

Disclaimer: Nothing on the movie poster actually happens in the movie. Maybe they screwed up and made this poster for another movie and got confused, I dunno. For Americans who insist on making possession movies by the dozen, here's how it usually goes. You gotta be Catholic (sorry - not being discriminatory, the movie makers are), you gotta play around with spirits because it's 'fun', you gotta get possessed, you gotta get a priest for an exorcism, and of course, it's gotta fail. The end.

I guess Italians wanted to mix several types of paranormal movies together because they've been getting a bit behind so here we have our six unlikable people together on holiday going to an abandoned house in the country. What, no insane asylum? Close - it was a monastery (rim shot). A church with a priest living in it by his lonesome is next door. Raise your hands if this sounds really contrived to you. Now put them down 'cause y'all look silly raising your hands at a computer screen (rim shot).

We get the 'found footage' element by the first screen declaring 'Ecclesiastic-Military Commission For Investigation On M Phenomena Original Tape "Zero Manifestation"'. That means... absolutely nothing as far as I'm concerned. If you know, tell me 'cause I got nothing.

The camera footage starts (as it always does) with the car ride. YAWN. The guy usually has a new camera or is such a pest that everyone is constantly swatting at him. Yup, got that here too. We notice that one seems to be an unhappy couple, she being pregnant, he being (according to her) distant and not affectionate. Oh. brother. Is this an obvious set up or what? (Don't answer that, I won't hear you besides I'm finishing up my horror movie worksheet (patent pending).

One guy who apparently asked no questions UNTIL they got there is upset that it was a monastery because it 'blasphemes his religion'. It, uh, what? Pffft, never mind. The house was recommended to the pregnant woman because she was an architect and the Church wants to do a bit of restoration on the place.

It's their first night in this monastery so of course they all do the logical thing in the mashup of every duh movie you've seen in the past couple of years. Out comes the homemade Ouija board - but we also get the duh explanation that Oui is yes in French and Ja is yes in German. Good thing DUH pretty much is covered in all languages. The REAL scoop (since this movie is boring me to tears) is that the board was mass developed when two businessmen decided to make a 'standard' type board and patent it. One named Kennard decided that the name was ancient Egyptian meaning 'good luck'. 

When the production was taken over by a man named William Fuld, he decided to claim HE created the board and that's when the yes-yes name was popularized. He was so sure of himself that if anyone else even tried to make their own he would sue them - right up until his death (you thought I was going to say even after his death, right?). The board became a game for most, and is even mass distributed by Hasbro, which now holds all patents and trademarks (for 3 and up!) although it is sold by different companies under other names. Wow, this movie must be REALLY boring me, I can't even keep to it...

They play around with the thing and we get the obligatory table thumping, are-you-doing-that arguing, and answers they don't want to questions they shouldn't have asked. One always says "I knew we shouldn't have done this." while another says "I'm frightened." Every. Time. In other words, leave the damned thing in the box in the toy section of the store.

One of the guys (the names are different in the Italian and American versions) is the first to go buggy. He disappears and when they finally find him, he's drooling and being stupid. Movie-possessed stupid I mean. So we get an endless amount of dark and heavy breathing, until you want to scream (or just play video games on the side, I mean, really). For an obvious plot point (and a way to know when to watch 'cause something might happen) just listen for the noise distortion from the video camera - in this movie that means the spirits are interfering with it. Since you probably won't be watching this, it's a valueless clue but just in case...

Oh, and of course, the priest living all by his lonesome next to the place indicates that the Church is covering up something and now we have a Scooby team to break the mystery of the forgotten monastery. Grab your scooby snacks 'cause this just keeps getting dumber and dumber... The possessed guy goes nuts and gee whiz, there happens to be the priest, right there, with a rosary and a prayer on the ready... hmm, that's not suspicious or anything... and then the car goes plbbbt. Geez, that was a shock. In other words, my worksheet, I think, needs to become an automated computerized worksheet. That way I can fill in a word or a name here and there and tada! A review! (Patent pending of course.)

The priest attempts an exorcism on the part-time possessed person (apparently this demon takes holidays too) which of course doesn't work and the priest realizes they're in deep shi--- stuff (although it WAS funny to hear the priest say, 'Give us this day our daily breath'... pffft). The next to crack is the pregnant woman and the only flinchworthy scene of the movie, albeit a very brief one. She has gone out into the dark and self-aborted her baby. They find her covered in blood but alive.

Having drugged her and the father-no-more-to-be, the rest of the Scooby gang decide to give the ole' spirit board one more try since it's done them sooo much good up 'til now. And the duh factor rises and I'm really REALLY tired of movies made in the dark. But their little game gets broken up by the priest who tries to play Jesus and condemns them for blaspheming and knocks their little table and board over - only to have something shake the whole building. Uh huh.

Now we get a convoluted story about an angel and the knowledge of the world in a nutshell, as the saying goes. In other words, the movie makers had no freaking idea how to end this movie and it's just going to get longer. The remaining three decide to check exactly what's underneath because, umm, because... I have no idea, 'cause they need to fill up 97 minutes and we've had enough of the building in the dark so now we're going underground in the dark?

So after basically going past all the 'do not pass' stuff and getting into all the 'do not get into' stuff they find Clive Barker's Hellraiser puzzle box. I'm serious. The damned thing (although a bit bigger) is a rip off of his puzzle box. WTH?  The skeptic fudges with it, it glows, he disappears. Good, we're down to two (not counting the injured-but-dammit-they're-still-alive people in beds upstairs. 

The two find themselves outside again somehow and when they get to the building they hear a thump - it's one of the men (don't ask me I can't tell anybody apart in this dumb thing) and he's now dead. Okay NOW there's three left. Oops, sorry, I forgot about the part-time 'possessed' one - he shows up and the chase begins. They find the no-longer-pregnant woman dead of blood loss. How many does that make left that are alive? I've lost count and I don't care.

The half-possessed dude kills the priest with a waaaay too loud crack of his neck. The girl kills the half-possessed dude with a pipe. We've got WWE action going on now folks, now if they'd just turned the damned lights on we could see this but to save money it's happening in the dark which means she's probably whacking a big bag of nuts for all we know.

NOW WE ARE DEFINITELY DOWN TO TWO... I SWEAR THE MOVIE'S ALMOST OVER. We've got the camera man (natch) and the woman, whoever she is. It's the next morning. The car now runs. The two get in and go into town. It's empty, messed up, and a quarantine notice is running on all stations. Why? THEY DON'T FREAKING TELL US. There's stuff in the road like a bathtub and other junk. So they abandon the car and walk down the road. The man abandons his camera but leaves it running so we have our found footage. We hear a squeal and sloooooowly a man with a machete starts to follow them. Aaaaaand scene.

The movie tells us that Claudia and Mark (who?) are still in the quarantine area. Alessandro is still missing (who?). The area undergoing the M Phenomena (the what?) reached an extension of 27 km (where?) and that's it. That's all you get. Geez, I'd have rather had one of them wake up and have the whole thing be a dream than this convoluted story of NOTHING that tells us NOTHING, explains NOTHING and ends with NOTHING. You're welcome.

Oh, just for a laugh here's the summary written by someone for whom English is either a second or third language: Six ex-classmates decide to spend some holidays together. To enjoy a short rest period and some amusement, they rent a manor house in the countryside, upon where to forget the raving madness of the city life. After they get to know the priest living in the adjoining church, the group moves into the house. Very soon, the convivial mood progressively deteriorates, while in the house strange phenomena start to happen, apparently paranormal. The journey turns into a nightmare when Giorgio, one of the mates, starts to have aberrant behaviors, until he shows evident signs of what properly seems a diabolic possession. 

While Alessandro, his best friend, tries to find a scientific and rational explanation to the happenings, the other friends trust in Father Elia, the priest. He feels Giorgio is surely possessed by the devil, and tries to exorcise him. But in the end, all the people will figure out that what is happening goes over their ability to understand, and moreover, their possibility to control.

That didn't make sense to me either, don't worry about it. But it did make me giggle. A little. Wasn't worth the 97 minutes of watching though.