M.L. Miller here! As I go into the tenth year of reviewing horror films, I wanted to go back to the beginning and repost some of the films I loved. Moving on to Year Four of my year-long Retro-Best in Horror I’m recapping the Countdown beginning officially on October 1, 2013 and going through September 30, 2014. I have posted compilation lists in the past, but a lot of those old reviews haven’t seen the light of day since they were first posted many moons ago. Being the OCD person that I am, I have also worked and reworked the list, looking back at my own choices and shifting them around, and even adding a few that I might have missed or looked over from the year in question. So, if you think you know how these lists are going to turn out, you don’t!

How did I compile this list? I simply looked through films released between October 1st, 2013 and September 30, 2014 and worked and reworked the list until I had the magic number—31. Again, I never call myself any kind of expert in horror. I simply watch a lot of horror films and love writing about them. Don’t forget to like and share my picks with your pals across the web on your own personal social media. Chime in after the review and let me know what you think of the film, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, or most importantly, come up with your own darn list…let’s go!

Released on January 24, 2014. Available on digital download, On Demand, and DVD/Blu-ray!

SATURDAY MORNING MYSTERY (2012)

aka SATURDAY MORNING MASSACRE
Directed by Spencer Parsons
Written by Spencer Parsons, Jonny Mars, Jory Balsimo, Aaron Leggett, Jason Wehling
Starring Ashley Rae Spillers, Jonny Mars, Josephine Decker, Adam Tate, Paul Gordon, Sean Ryan, Heather Kafka, Hamlet as himself
Find out more about this film here!

Stemming from all sorts of horror conventions and current trends, this film by Spencer Parsons is fresh, funny, and most importantly scary. Just as CABIN IN THE WOODS played with pastiches of the horror genre, SATURDAY MORNING MASSACRE aka SATURDAY MORNING MYSTERY takes all that we love about horror and turns it on its ear, proving that there is a reason these trends became what they are in horror and proof positive that given a fresh set of eyes and a talented set of folks, even the most tried and true stories can still work.

What I love most about this story is that it unapologetically is a SCOOBY DOO cartoon come to life. No, it’s not Matthew Lillard and a CGI Scoob aping across the screen in sanitized and boring action. SATURDAY MORNING MYSTERY is the Rated-R version of SCOOBY DOO cartoon I, as an adult who loves horror, have longed to see. Following ghost hunters through a haunted house is a path well worn, but this one zigs and zags all over the place, making your expectations its bitch in the process.

The performances by the four cast members–Ashley Rae Spillers (Nancy who is this film’s version of Velma), Jonny Mars (Floyd, our Shaggy), Josephine Decker (Gwen, who’s more or less Daphne),and Adam Tate (Chad or Fred, as it applies here), are what makes this film a standout. Each of the team embodies the Scooby Doo cartoon yet makes them more personable and realistic. The attraction between Chad and Gwen is there, but there’s also some complications as we find out Gwen cheated on Chad once and Chad resents it. It’s the fact that these characters really seem to have lived a life off screen and that we are just privy to a snippet of it here that makes them all the more fun to watch.

Like Scooby and the crew, Nancy, Gwen, Floyd, Chad, and their faithful dog Hamlet set out to find ghosts, but soon found that ghosts don’t exist. Their detective work has uncovered a lot of Old Man Jenkinses who try to scare folks away in order to set up moonshine stills, child porn rings, and drug cartels. And they would have gotten away with it, too, if not for those meddling kids. When the team’s funding goes dry, they take a job at an abandoned school house with a horrible history of violence and soon they begin to question that they might have actually found a real life haunted house. SATURDAY MORNING MYSTERY plays on everything we know and love about those old SCOOBY DOO cartoons and makes them real and horrific.

The humor in this film is so, so good. It’s not gut busting humor nor is it grossout humor. It’s not particularly goofy either, but more of a subtle sense of wry wit that one might find in THE OFFICE or A WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER. No one in the film is trying to be funny. The humor comes from the situations that arise and the matter of fact way it’s processed and approached by this talented cast. There are some fantastic moments of comic timing that I won’t ruin in this review but will definitely cause you to laugh out loud. There are also subtle performances that are sure to stand out, particularly by the monotone police officer (played by Paul Gordon) as he takes the team on a tour of the abandoned house, pointing out “We found a leg over here.” as if he were reading instructions on how to program his television.

Most horror comedies are either heavy on horror and light on humor or vice versa. This one has heaping helpings of both as the tone of the film shifts and shifts again as soon as the real terror is revealed. Though some might find this shift in tone rattling, I loved how things get dire with a quickness and the level of intensity slowly builds from movement or shadows in the background and then comes smashing to the forefront by the end of the film. There is a level of energy to this film that I have seen in few other films this year, and though CABIN IN THE WOODS dealt with a lot of SCOOBY DOO themes, that film falls more under parody while SATURDAY MORNING MYSTERY is undeniably a full-fledged homage. There were moments that made me genuinely jump and other instances of gore that will cause stomachs to churn.

Do what you can to see SATURDAY MORNING MYSTERY. You’ll laugh. You’ll jump. You’ll whisper “Cool” under your breath. It is original in its comedic voice, talented performances by the cast, and sheer ballsiness to be an unabashed hard R episode of SCOOBY DOO, and like a cat plopping a mangled rat into your lap, is damn proud to gross you out and cause you a start. Don’t miss this one.


THE 2013-2014 COUNTDOWN!


#31 – SATURDAY MORNING MYSTERY


M. L. Miller is a wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of MLMILLERWRITES.COM. Follow @Mark_L_Miller.

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