Most Disgusting, Repulsive, “POUR TOXIC ACID INTO MY EYES BECAUSE THEY ARE FOREVER UNCLEAN” Death – Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich

A large fraction of you will absolutely despise Fangoria’s Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich. It’s less a Full Moon reimagining and more a highlight reel of increasingly repugnant Nazi-puppet kill sequences. Gross, offensive, lock-the-kids-in-their-room type nasties. That said, this award was created for a reason. Congratulations you sick, heathen bastards.

(The following description is particularly disgusting and upsetting, so please feel free to skim past it.)

As Toulon’s evil toys rise, they go room-by-room slaughtering hotel guests. In the particular instance that caused me to squeal so, so uncomfortably, a puppet with claw hands spies a pregnant woman lying in bed. Her baby bump visible between covers. The puppet crawls up the foot of her mattress undetected, and, uh, enters the mother. That’s when we see the bump begin to rumble Alien-style. Cue a bloody gut explosion as mister puppet bursts out – HOLDING A FETUS. Then, BECAUSE THERE’S MORE, the puppet makes its way out of the bloody, fleshy mess and runs away still holding the fetus. Stealing it, probably to consume or desecrate in some way offscreen because, you know, gotta show a little class.

Next-level upsetting and absolutely, downright scrub-your-brain-with-Brillo abhorrent. Good job, everyone!

Best Anthology Host – Nightmare Cinema

While Nightmare Cinema itself is a mixed horror anthology bag, Mickey Rourke’s “Projectionist” wrap-around host delights me to no end. He manages a cinema of the damned, playing attendees, AKA victims, one final film starring themselves before fate catches up. He’s some kind of devil or demon, walkin’ around in his leather coat introducing showings with the slimiest smile plastered on. His presence adds another level to the lonesome, abandoned theater, and as Mick Garris’ final camera pull-away revealed The Projectionist’s massive collection of canisters (AKA souls), excitement shot over my body. I would happily watch more Nightmare Cinema sequels as long as The Projectionist was in charge, checking ticket stubs and filling seats the no-good way.

Most Unconventional – Luz

Fantasia audiences can always expect a whole lotta’ weird, but Tilman Singer’s Luz stands out because demonic possessions are so easy to generalize. Inhabited children, distorted voices, exorcisms – nothing that Singer cares to utilize. Instead we get floating luminescent orbs, hypnotism, mental imprisonment and mimed taxi driving. A psychiatrist who wears dresses or walks around naked. The sound technician/translator watching it all. The manipulated cop with black pools for eyes. What the bloody hell?!

Luz is one of those films you try and search for meaning in but are better suited just enjoying the (imaginary?) ride. Get lost in Singer’s world (inside a single room). Reality collides with dreamscape blends with demonic intervention in this 16mm mindmelter. Religion mocked, faces bloodied, fizzy cocktails chugged. All this leading to thematic interpretations I’m not even positive Singer can answer for. But who cares when the most transfixing, deceptively vile ritual is playing out on screen? 

the witch in the window review

Scariest Moment – The Witch In The Window

Right. Back to The Witch In The Window because remember how I said it’s definitely a horror movie? Andy Mitton executes one of the more effective, obvious, and forever unsettling horror movie scares in recent memory. Skip this entry until you’ve seen the film, in fact. Don’t ruin the moment for yourself. Spoiler warning and all that jazz – unless you like knowing when to shield your eyes.

For those of you who did catch The Witch In The Window, how about that phone call scene? Simon (Alex Draper) thinks he’s sitting next to his disobedient son Finn (Charlie Tacker). Wife Beverly (Arija Bareikis) on the phone line, Simon thinking he’s about to explain how their son ditched his bus ride home. “What do you mean? He’s with me.” Simon, shaken and aware, continues the conversation as “Finn” sits Indian style next to him looking downward. The kind of moment that renders an audience dead-silent to the point where you can hear heartbeats increasing, orifices puckering. How old is too old for a nightlight?

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