Monday, October 26, 2015


Cheapskate Horrorshow
So here we are again on The MonsterGrrls' Thir13en For Halloween.

The poster
I admit to not being much of a video game fan.  When I was younger I had an Atari, and that was pretty cool, but video games were something I just sort of outgrew quickly, as I was more interested in making things with a computer rather than playing things on it.  With so many horror video games being released now, it makes sense that the Hollywood horror contingent would eventually turn to making a horror film about video games, which brings us rather neatly to our Cheapskate Horrorshow review of Stay Alive, a not-well-received but nonetheless interesting little film.  (Note: I viewed the Director's Cut for this review, and it is suggested that you view this one also.  I'll get to why in a minute.)

Stay Alive opens with the murder of Loomis Crowley (Milo Ventimiglia) and his roommate and roommate's girlfriend by an unseen killer, shortly after playing an unreleased video game called "Stay Alive."  This game is passed on at Loomis's funeral to his best friend and fellow gamer Hutch (Jon Foster) who plays the game in
From gamer's glory to lamely gory
a session with Abigail (Samaire Armstrong), a photographer he meets at the funeral, and his other gamer friends: the brother-sister team of foul-mouthed Phineas (Jimmi Simpson) and goth-wanna-blessed-be October (Sophia Bush), overcommitted and undersocialized gaming freak Swink (Frankie Muniz) and his boss Miller, who joins them online from his office.  They discover that the game will not start until all who are playing have recited an incantation called "The Prayer Of Elizabeth" which leads them into a mad revenant-killing spree on an old plantation.  Miller is killed in the game, and calls it a night, but shortly afterward is murdered in the exact same manner that his game character was, and cue the mayhem.  In a series of events that is purest Scooby-Doo, the gang discovers that the game is based on the exploits of the real-life murderess Countess Elizabeth Bathory, who somehow survived the centuries and turned up in Louisiana (like you do) continuing her exploits by running a girls' school/virgin-blood-donor farm.  Also, the spirit of Bathory is quite active... and coming after all of them.

Bathory, in all her bathos
Now, the reason I say watch the Director's Cut is this:  though the movie is pleasantly entertaining by-the-numbers supernatural-stalker horror (nothing you've not seen before, but nothing new under the sun either), the Director's Cut has a very crucial character and subplot that was apparently cut out of the theatrical release, which unfortunately ends up destroying any sense this movie might make if you don't see those parts.  It's entirely possible that this is why Stay Alive received rather negative reviews upon its release.  Still, if you view this cut (available from Netflix and most of the usual online sources), the movie itself turns out to be fairly decent, though a few of the subplots appear to be tacked on and the brother-sister relationship between Phin and October doesn't feel fully developed.  Stay Alive falls into the same category as more recent horror films like The Cabin In The Woods and Valentine: that of "young adult" or "college-age" horror rather than the "teenage" horror of films such as the Nightmare On Elm Street and Friday The 13th oeuvres.  Mostly this means that you can expect less mad partying and more recreational drug use between violent kills.  The killer-video-game idea, while not necessarily innovative, is serviceable, and the use of the Elizabeth Bathory legend is one that's not been seen much in horror.  Another good movie to watch with friends and popcorn.

So keep tuned to The MonsterGrrls' Thir13en For Halloween.  We'll be back soon...

Stay Alive is available from, Netflix, and other  video rental/online  streaming services.  The Monster Shop strictly advises viewing the Director's Cut of the film.  Check it out.

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