Category Archives: MOVIE REVIEWS

SHORT REVIEW: Rainy Season (2017)

"It's not a rock."
Fair use doctrine.
As regulars to HoTS can attest, back in October of 2016, I became aware of a short film titled Rainy Season when director Vanessa Ionta Wright reached out to HoTS. A quick look at the information confirmed my suspicion: Rainy Season is an adaptation of a Stephen King story of the same name. Since Rainy Season is one of my favorite stories, I jumped at the chance to cover this. Later, I found out that Wright and fellow Rainy Season executive producer Samantha Kolesnik had organized the first annual Women in Horror Film Festival which is being held September 22 – 24, 2017 - more great news!
Then I got the best news. The short film was finished, and I was offered a chance to view and review it. So, without further ado and with many thanks to Wright and everyone involved in the production (as well as apologies for the delay), here we go.
First, it’s important to note that rarely are Stephen King works solely one tone or another. King is known for the dark comedic streaks that are seamlessly integrated into otherwise horrific and terrifying tales. Second, while King often brings monsters into his stories (“Gray Matter”, “The Raft”, Cujo, IT, The Stand), the real focus is the humans and how they react in extreme situations. It’s well known that stressful situations often result in the worst of mankind being brought to light, but they can also bring out the best in mankind. This is something that King handles quite well and which draws us back time and again to see how things work out for his next victim. Finally, one of King’s greatest gifts is his ability to tell a story in a manner that makes the reader want – need – to finish it. It’s incredibly difficult to translate the words to images in a way that’s going satisfy all fans of the written word. That’s why so few of his works have been effectively adapted into the medium of film and video. It takes a director with a deft touch to bring a King story to life on film, and Vanessa Ionta Wright has that touch.
Rainy Season_Willow General Mercantile & Hardware / Fair use doctrine.Rainy Season follows John Graham (Brian Ashton Smith), a college English professor on a book-writing sabbatical, and his wife Elise (Anne Marie Kennedy) as they arrive in Willow, Maine, for the summer. Stopping in at the Willow Mercantile and Hardware, John and Elise are greeted by elderly local Henry Eden (Kermit Rollison) and his dog. Henry spooks the couple by knowing who they are and why they are there before reminding them of the speed at which news travels in a small town. Henry is soon joined by Laura Stanton (Jan Mary Nelson), another local, as he attempts to convince the Grahams to spend the night out of town. Laura backs up Henry, stressing that they’ve arrived on the exact day of the Rainy Season, but rather than convincing them, her words solidifies the Grahams’ view of the two as not quite right. After making their way to their rental cabin, John and Elise settle in for the night, unaware that they will soon find out the two locals may not be as crazy as they first thought.
Brian Ashton Smith and Anne Marie Kennedy are believable and sympathetic as the loving yet troubled couple who don’t seem entirely at ease with one another. Their chemistry is real, and we get the sense that both want things to be better but aren’t entirely sure how to make it so. The trip to Willow is supposed to help give them both new perspective. Their love is clear, but so is the tension affecting it. At the cabin, their shared looks and shy touches reinforce this.
Rainy Season / L – R: Jan Mary Nelson, Kermit Rollison, Anne Marie Kennedy, and Brian Ashton Smith / Fair use doctrine.
Kermit Rollison and Jan Mary Nelson do a great job portraying the locals whose unwilling duty it is to greet the couple. We get the sense that doing it more than every seven years would be too much. As reluctant emissaries of Willow, Eden and Stanton try to welcome the couple without being too welcoming, ultimately suggesting they spend their first night out of town even though they know the Grahams will not.
Technically the film is excellent. Sound and visuals are top notch, adding to the overall effectiveness. With a sometimes ironic soundtrack, Rainy Season definitely captures the feel of the source material – a little bit retro, a little bit modern, and all apropos. Together with the solid acting of the players as well as the impeccable direction, Rainy Season works. Wright makes some difficult choices for the adaptation, but they pay off. The climax made me groan and grin – though the grin may properly have been more of a grimace – simultaneously. She takes us to the edge of an eldritch chasm and leaves us laughing nervously at our escape.
Do yourself a favor. Watch it if you get a chance. It shows there are still directors in the industry who know how to adapt the written word. King fans will be especially happy to spot a few Kingian Easter eggs.
Catch Rainy Season at Attack of the 50ft Film Festival at 7:00pm on June 27, 2017, at The Plaza Theater in Atlanta, GA.
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INTERVIEW: V.A. Bennett

I recently had the pleasure of previewing a horror short called I Love MacKenzie Reynolds, written by V.A. Bennett, directed by Brandon Prewitt, and produced by Studio 605. Of all the recent short films I've seen, this one is the one that got me... May your mouth be agape as you finally understand the epitome of the term "friendzone".
I chatted with up-and-coming writer and actor V.A. Bennett about the important things in life...
House of Tortured Souls: What influenced you to write I Love MacKenzie Reynolds?
V.A. Bennett: Honestly, I was late for a deadline for a one man "play" in college for a class in 2008. I had to shovel something out (haha, shovel), and it was just some things that were kinda on my mind from...forever, I guess. Not trying to make myself sound like a psychopath, but in a pinch, you write what you know.
HoTS: Do you prefer to be in front of the camera or behind the scenes?
VAB: I do stand up comedy mostly, so I guess the front of the camera is easy enough. I didn't do stand up yet when the short was written, but there's not a lot of funny stuff happening in ILMR. It was cool to step outside of my comfort realm for something that I really was sorta proud of. I'm just fortunate that Studio 605 made my shoulder shrug a visceral thing. Kinda opened up my process in an odd way.
HoTS: Do you have any pet peeves?
VAB: People chewing with their mouths open drives me insane.
HoTS: Toilet paper... Over or under?
VAB: If your toilet paper is hung under, you are a certified deviant.
HoTS: Due to the fact that there is a gun in said short, Ilo (he's 4 years old) wants to know what your favorite shooty-gun is.
VAB: As far as guns go, I think I like the ones that fire hot dogs at sporting events.
HoTS: What's next for you in film?
VAB: I'll be playing Nicholas in Cinematic Reality, the next feature length film from Studio 605. That starts filming in September. This film is short, sweet, and not-so-sweet due the perfect twist at the heart-wrenching end. Artistically done - integrity intact - perfect. Shout out to Studio 605, and the other talented cast members, Chelsea Skalski and Taylor Wilson, that made this short a complete success in my eyes.

Current Goodies:

Future Goodies:

SERIES OVERVIEW: Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return (2017)

Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return

This review might seem a bit out of nowhere for a horror site, but Mystery Science Theater 3000 is something near and dear to the hearts of many hardcore horror fans simply because we've all had to suffer through bad movies with our friends.
We've all been there, particularly if you lived through the video rental era. You'd wander the aisles for upwards of an hour, reading the backs of boxes, looking for the perfect movie to watch. You would grab a pizza and a few refreshing cold beverages, get home, pop in the movie and immediately be disappointed with your carefully selected choice of films. It happens, but you'd suffer through it anyway, because money was spent and you weren't about to let that crappy movie win.
I'm a bit shocked that some of the people I watched movies with back then are still my friends considering how many bad movies I made them watch. At this point I would like to formally apologize to my friend John for making him suffer through all those dreadful movies. Notice I said that I would LIKE to apologize; I'm not actually going to because those memories are some of the best of my formative years.
Which brings me to my point. Mystery Science Theater 3000 isn't just a movie watching experience; it's more like a bonding experience. You feel a kinship, not just with the host and his companions, but with everyone who has ever suffered through a bad movie.
I'll admit that when I first heard that Joel Hodgson was trying to reboot Mystery Science Theater 3000, I was skeptical. As much as I loved the show, I really didn't think it was still relevant in today's society of 140-character Twitter humor, Fail Army videos, and tasteless memes. That, and the fact that it's closing on 20 years since the show appeared on television.
Surprisingly, the new incarnation is every bit as good as the older version. Mind you, it's not the same show. It's the next step in the progression of the show. An evolution. Everything about it is new. It's much more polished with better visuals in some areas, and the old school, homemade feel in others.
Kinga Forrester and Max aka TV's Son of TV's Frank / Fair use doctrine.The story plays out the same way as the old one. Evil mad scientists Kinga Forrester (Felicia Day), and her assistant, TV's Son of TV's Frank, aka Max (Patton Oswalt), trap some poor, likable dope — Jonah Heston (Jonah Ray) — on the far side of the moon and force him to watch bad movies with his robot pals.
Even though Day and Oswalt do a great job as the new "Mads", I don't think their characters are fully developed at this point. They seem almost TOO competent compared to Clayton and Pearl Forrester. And while both are colorful and entertaining, they seem a bit generic. As a big fan of both, I'm hoping that both can embrace their respective roles and make them unique and interesting characters in future seasons.
Jonah and the bots / Fair use doctrine.Jonah Ray does a superb job filling the shoes of the hosts before him. No small feat. (Get it? Shoes, Feet. HaHaHaHa!) considering that Joel Hodgson and Mike Nelson had two distinctly different styles. He's not just filling the shoes in though, he's doing a great job of making the role his own. And although the voices of Crow and Tom Servo have changed slightly, Hampton Yount and Baron Vaughn pick up almost seamlessly from Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy regarding the character and delivery of their respective robots.
The riffing in the theater segments is fast and concise right out of the gate, with lots of references to current events as well as throwbacks to some of the classic episodes. Just like the old show, the diverse range of topics give the new shows a great amount of re-watchability.
The host segments are lively and fun, although it's easy to tell that Ray, Yount, and Vaughn haven't quite mastered their on-screen chemistry. That sort of thing will come together over time, though.
Also, the addition of some big-name celebrities and a few familiar old faces dropping by on occasion gives the viewers an added treat. I'd tell you a few right now, but it's more fun to be surprised by it.
Overall, it's a faithful continuation of the series if you're an old fan of the show, and it's a great introduction if you're a newbie.

BLU-RAY REVIEW: Brain Damage (1988) from Arrow

Brain Damage

Arrow Limited Edition Blu Review


Frank Henenlotter's LSD-laced mind muncher Brain Damage (1988) savagely lampoons Nancy Reagan's "Just say No" while also belonging to that rare category of seriously weird horror films from the late 80s to early 90s. They were high energy, candy colored, whacky, splattery, nudity-filled romps with pretty damn good screenplays tying the madness all together. And unlike horror movies of today it's not depressing. What makes movies like Street Trash, Body Melt, and Peter Jackson's Bad Taste gems of the genre is that they are over the top and go for the gross out but still retain light entertainment status without getting too dark and bleak. Brian (Rick Hearst) finds a mysterious creature named Elmer (voiced by the late, great Zacherle) who gives him the ultimate high. The only catch is the little parasite feeds on brains and demands his new host provide them for him...or else.
  • Picture/Sound: The picture is presented in a 1:85:1 aspect ratio and restored from a master, meaning the print is crisp and clear and even slightly better than the previous release. Like always Arrow provides a Mono track along with a new 5.1 soundtrack. And like the picture it to is a improvement over Synpases DVD release.
  • Package: Unlike Donnie Darko and the House: Two Stories, Brain Damage has a simple slipcover, but it still looks great sporting brand new artwork (and of course reversible cover featuring original artwork for those purists among you) and a booklet. Simple and effective wins the day here.
  • Special Features: The real gem of this set is the almost hour long documentary titled Listen to the Light: The Making of Brain Damage. The interviews are solid and entertaining. It's odd that Frank himself isn't interviewed for it, but it's still worth checking out. The other highlight is the feature The Effects of Brain Damage, an in-depth chat with effects genius Gabe Bartalos on making the creature Elmer. If that weren't enough, you also have a featurette Animating Elmer, Karen Ogle: A Look Back, and Elmer's Turf which documents the shooting locations. But wait, I'm not finished. Tasty Memories: A Brain Damage Obsession is a fun mini doc about super fan Adam Skinner as well a director Q&A, trailers, and, for you Zacharely fans, a short film (and final onscreen credit) entitled Bygone Behemoth. Sadly Arrow was unable to bring over Synapses' commentary with Frank and writer/legend Bob Martin. I can't fault Arrow for this, however, as I'm sure it was a rights issue. But, fear not, because a brand new commentary by Frank was recorded just for the release.
  • Overall: I was excited to hear that Arrow was tagged to re-release the film because they always take great pains to bring fans a product that is really worth their hard earned cash. Not only is the package well done with some great new art work, but there's also a wealth of new features. And, of course, you get the film itself looking better than it ever has. This makes my short list of best release of 2017 (so far). Just Say Yes to this Blu!

MOVIE REVIEW: The Belko Experiment (2016)

The Belko Experiment has been described as Office Space meets Battle Royale. To be honest I thought this was the usual inane Hollywood promotional BS, but after seeing it, it's a fair comparison. Maybe the funniest thing is after I watched The Belko Experiment, I went back to my hotel, and guess what was on cable. It's hard to be a gangsta. The fact I saw it on a mini vacation explains why this review is so late. Busy having fun, homes.
The Belko Experiment, if you haven't seen the previews, revolves around a group of office workers forced to fight in mortal combat. The film was written by James Gunn (Slither), directed by Greg McLean (Wolf Creek), and stars genre heavyweight Michael Rooker (The Walking Dead), as well as Tony Goldwyn (The Last House on the Left (2009)), and John Gallagher, Jr (10 Cloverfield Lane). Some (unneeded) humor was provided by Sean Gunn.
The story isn't much deeper than what you see in the previews. And that's not a bad thing. It is what it is – kill or be killed – and both happen, quickly and over and over again.
One of the issues facing The Belko Experiment was that people have grown accustomed to the lighter side of James Gunn, especially after Guardians of the Galaxy. I talked to several people after the film, many of them went in expecting light entertainment and were shocked at the level of violence. People seem to forget that Gunn is also the man who brought us The Descent and the gory Dawn of the Dead remake. People also apparently forgot that director McLean is the man who brought us Wolf Creek, which was just chock full of levity. Not!
Whatever your preconceptions, The Belko Experiment is not light. It doesn't take long to kick into gear, and once it starts rolling, it is bloody, violent and hard core. There is a sense that Goldwyn and Gallagher meet for a final showdown, don't try and predict anything else. The order people are killed in is unexpected. No one is safe, and some of the deaths really hit you hard.
After tons of mayhem and violence, it manages a fairly satisfying ending. The final scene, reminds me somewhat of A Serbian Film’s, “it's never over” ending.
The story is nothing deep, it's just a fun, violent thrill ride. John C McGinley (Office Space) near steals the show as creepy, stalkerish executive Wendell Dukes. Sean Gunn is funny as the dope smoking, paranoid cafeteria worker. Now I have heard some say his humor ruined the film for them. It didn't ruin it for me, and I did enjoy it, but it took away from the dread of the film.
When Corporate gives you the ax...
I know it is conventional wisdom that a horror film has to have some levity. Something to prevent it from becoming too dark. I don't agree with that theory. It was my main complaint with The Green Inferno (and most Eli Roth films). Maybe American film goers in general will be frightened off by a completely dark film, but maybe they won't. French films like Martyrs, and Frontier(s) work with little or no comic relief. I think genre fans will flock to a hard R with no jokes, or maybe I'm delusional, but damn, I would love to see more straight up no joke horror.
So while the humor didn't ruin it, I cant help but wish they hadn't added it. Still, The Belko Experiment is a very enjoyable horror film. Even with the humor it's not for the squeamish. If it's still playing near you, rush out to see it. If not, get ready to grab it on VoD or DVD.
Full on 7 out of 10.

MOVIE REVIEW: Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories (2016)

Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories / Fair use doctrine.
EDITOR’S NOTE: I had a great deal of difficulty figuring out how to approach this review – especially without giving away spoilers. So I watched it again. And again. And yet again. I liked it better each time, and each viewing brought new details out that made me appreciate all the effort and genuine love of horror that was evident in every scene. -Woofer
Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories, a meta horror comedy made for horror nerds and riffers, is a smart and thoroughly entertaining sequel to the 2015 Volumes of Blood. With films inside the film as well as a house with more stories than a Stephen King short story collection, the anthology works well on its on and hearkens back to such classic house renting/purchasing movies as The House That Dripped Blood and Terror Tract. Plus, it also connects back to the first in ways the viewer will appreciate if he has seen the first film, and, if he hasn’t, it’s good motivation to find the first, watch it, and then watch Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories again. It’s definitely worth it.

"Murder Death Killer"
Writer & Director: Nathan Thomas Milliner

Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories, 'Murder Death Killer' / Fair use doctrine.
"Murder Death Killer" is roughly the first 20 minutes of the movie and stars Thomas Dunbar, Warren Ray, and Barbie Clark in excellent performances as thieves come together to raid metals from a closing warehouse. Aric Stanish, who plays the legendary killer Atticus Crow, is a serial killer as effective and efficient as Michael Myers – and he is just as indestructible. The cinematography is on point, and there are several carefully blocked, highly memorable shots. And then there’s some good gore, too.

"Haters"
Director: P.J. Starks
Writers: Nathan Thomas Milliner and P.J. Stark
s

Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories, 'Haters' / Fair use doctrine.
"Haters" follows horror nerd trolls Nate (Nathan Thomas Milliner) and Kev (Kevin Roach) as an usher (Gerrimy Keiffer) ejects them from the theater for causing a disturbance during the showing of the remake of Murder Death Killer. Returning to Nate’s place, the two continue their debate of 80s horror versus contemporary horror as Nate poses the question that many horror filmgoers often consider: why don’t they remake bad films? (Indeed, why don’t they? Seriously. And viewers: Don’t be afraid to check out the remake of a bad movie. What the hell you gotta lose?) When the usher shows up at Nate’s door, however, their plans for the evening change.

"Trick or Treat"
Director: Sean Blevins
Writers: P.J. Starks and Sean Blevins

Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories, 'Trick or Treat' / Fair use doctrine.
"Trick or Treat" focuses on a trick-or-treating killer (Chad Ray) roaming the streets on Halloween and dispensing his own version of tricks and treats. A rather short piece, it works to help tie the rest of the film together and flows into “A Killer House” segment, quite easily. Fans of the first Volumes of Blood will be glad to see Chad again. As with every segment, there is some wonderful cinematography employed. Watch for a particularly beautiful shot involving the most Halloween of all candies – candy corn.

"Feeding Time"
Director: John William Holt
Wruters P.J. Starks and Jason Turner

Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories, 'Feeding Time' / Fair use doctrine.
In "Feeding Time", Boone (Caleb Shore), an ineffectual insurance salesman, finds the solicitation table turned on him when he encounters a damsel in distress. Pressured to meet his sales quota on this day, the day before Thanksgiving, Boone nevertheless struggles with his desire to help Mallory (Shelby Taylor Mullins) and his utter disbelief regarding her problem. Caleb’s performance as the tempted salesman is one of the best in the movie and subtly but effectively underscored the horror of the situation.

"Blood Bath"
Director: Jon Maynard
Writer: P.J. Sparks

Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories, 'Blood Bath' / Fair use doctrine.
Before moving to the next room, Ash (Jacob Ewers) takes a bathroom break, revealing the next gruesome tale. "Blood Bath" takes place as a couple is moving into the house on Father’s Day. Their desire for a child is revealed when the wife invites husband to shower with her in order to become her “baby daddy” on Father’s Day. The rest of the story primarily takes place in the bathroom, and the cramped location of the events only heightens the horror. Some people just aren’t meant to be parents.

"Fear, For Sinners Here"
Writer and Director: Nathan Thomas Milliner

Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories, 'Fear, For Sinners Here' / Fair use doctrine.
It’s Christmas, and Carol (Jessica Schroeder) is spending a quiet evening drinking wine and wrapping presents until a group of carolers comes calling and changes everything. "Fear, For Sinners Here" is a very interesting piece with the entire first half having no dialogue at all. Jessica Schroeder carries it all with her quiet performance and does so quite admirably. The second half, however, lacks the deft touch of the first and changes the tone as soon as The Woman is introduced. This one will make you want to do all your shopping online.

"The Deathday Party"
Director: Justin M. Seaman
Writer: P.J. Starks

Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories, 'The Deathday Party' / Fair use doctrine.
It’s a milestone birthday for John (Jay Woolston), and neighbors Fred (Eric Huskisson) and Nancy (Anne Welsh) bring over a cake while his wife Almeda (Cindy Maples) is preparing John’s present in the cellar. This birthday John and Almeda learn firsthand that age-old age about the best laid plans going awry. “The Deathday Party” is the perfect story with which to end the tales in the tour – though the film itself doesn’t end just yet.
"A Killer House" loops back to the couple as they finish the tour and then... Well, I can’t tell you that, now can I?
Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories is a horror freak’s horror movie. There are countless nods to all things horror throughout the film, from names (Stu, Ash, Laurie) to props (Jason’s hockey mask) to posters for some great Indies horror, such as Plank Face, The Barn, Freezer Burn, and The Dooms Church Horror. Volumes of Blood: Horror Stories is also a movie that is perfect for group viewing and all the viewing games that go along with that. Check out the tailer below and see if you agree.

MOVIE REVIEW: Observance (2015)

Picking random low-budget movies is risky. For every hidden gem that you find, you have to wade through dozens of awful movies. I've grown accustomed to wading through the dreck, though, as I can usually find some merit in even the worst of films. Even if it's just for the laugh factor. With that being said, I wasn't expecting much from Observance. All I knew about it was that it was extremely low budget and that it was filmed in Australia. Other than that, it was new to me.
Observance is an Australian horror/thriller directed by Joseph Sims-Dennett and released in 2015. The story follows a private investigator (Lindsay Farris) returning to work after the loss of his young son. He is tasked by an enigmatic client to observe a woman (Stephanie King) from an empty apartment across the street. He is never told why he is watching her, or what to watch for. Only to watch, and report back. He soon begins to have dreams and visions concerning this woman and his deceased son. As things progress it becomes apparent that his task is not what it seems.
The story moves along at the exact pace you'd expect from a movie where you're watching a guy sit in an empty apartment watching a woman. Suffice to say, very slow. Not boring though. His various actions and interactions with the appliances, windows, and a corded phone (seriously, do those things even still exist?) are enough to keep you wondering what is and isn't real. Also, the director's use of a handheld camera make it feel as though you're seeing real life events unfold as opposed to watching a movie.
The storytelling is tight and concise with limited dialogue and sparse music, which adds to the tedious nature of the investigator's job. The whole story has a very subtle, Lovecraftian feel to it. Not in the crazy monsters from the depths of your worst nightmare sense, but in the very real sense that there is a flipside to everyday normalcy that is so close to the surface that we can almost catch glimpses of it. Unfortunately, that also means that it has an ending that fits this type of narrative.
My only real issue with Observance is that it is a very green movie. Not green in the sense of environmentally friendly, but green in the sense that the director went a bit overboard with color correction software. I'm not opposed to a director using colors to establish mood and atmosphere, but it gets a bit tedious at times.
If you like glossy terror with lots of monsters and jump scares, you might want to pass on this one, but if you enjoy a slow burn with a conclusion that is a bit open ended you will probably enjoy Observance.
Observance poster / Fair use doctrine.

BLU-RAY REVIEW: House: Two Stories from Arrow

House: Two Stories
Limited Edition Arrow Blu Review

House (1985)

House / Fair use doctrine.
Remember when horror films were fun and not bleak and gloomy and made you wanna slit your wrists? Oh the 80s… House and its sequel, House II: The Second Story, are prime examples of blending horror with screwball comedy and somehow making it actually work. What makes House brilliant is not only can it seamlessly blend the two genres (which is incredibly difficult) but it also shows the horrors of war and PTSD (a term not yet coined at the time) in a clever and harrowing way-yet still retains its goofy fun. Not an easy thing to balance but somehow it does. The film isn’t perfect with some writing that could have used more polish but, all things considered, it’s a highly creative wild horror ride from the decade that gave us a lot of scary and just plain fun outings. Holy rotten corpse, Arrow has really rolled out the blood red carpet for the first two films, and the end result is pretty amazing!

House II: The Second Story (1987)

House II / Fair use doctrine.
Wisely the filmmakers choose to not simply remake the first but go in a totally different direction, this time a western action adventure…and somehow it actually works. And like the previous outing it not only retains its goofy/cartoon charms but ups the stakes tenfold. Honestly, as much as I enjoyed House with its over the top gags a la Evil Dead 2 and social satire, I prefer the sequel. Sure, it’s flawed with needless subplots that drag the film down; it’s still a fun adventure horror film that makes a great starter for any budding horror fan. And really how can you not love the dog creature?

House / House II

  • Picture: According to the insert both this and House II are presented in an exclusive 2k scan just for this release using original 35mm material. The picture is crisp and clean with very little noise distortion and thankfully is not blown out color wise.
  • Sound: Both films feature an original uncompressed mono 2.0 and a new 5.1 track and they never sounded better. House 1 really benefits with Harry Manfredini wonderfully done score.
  • Extras: The real highlight are the feature length documentaries Ding Dong You’re Dead and It's Getting Weirder produced by Red Shirt Pictures. Both come in at over an hour long and cover every aspect of the production. Thankfully, it features the main players not only in the cast but the crew as well, and the interviews are lively and entertaining. Each film also has feature length commentaries and rounding out the extras are vintage making of’s still galleries and of course trailers.
  • Package: House and House II are housed in a great box featuring outstanding new artwork done by Justin Osbourn. Both individual films also feature new art by Osbourn and for purist out there you can reverse the cover with the original poster art. The House Companion a booklet written by Simon Barber (the cover also featuring new art) is well written, packed with trivia and a great addition to this set.
  • Overall: Yeah it’s still early in the year but I feel perfectly OK with putting this on my short list for best release of 2017. Both films have never looked/sounded better but of course Arrow goes the extra mile for fans giving a wealth of new features with some vintage ones. The new documentaries alone are worth the price not to mention everything else. So time travel to a less depressing time in horror, when filmmakers actually had a bit of fun with its carnage! Worth your money!

MOVIE REVIEW: I Am Not a Serial Killer (2016)

Quite often I get asked for movie suggestions. Often that suggestion comes with the caveat, usually along the lines of “not the usual found footage, or stupid teens”. Luckily there are a few suggestions I can give and I Am Not a Serial Killer is one of them. It's definitely not your usual horror film, and while the main character is a teen, he's not your usual clueless, horny teen.
I Am Not A Serial Killer / Fair use doctrine.
I Am Not a Serial Killer on Netflix
I am not a Serial Killer on Netflix
I Am Not a Serial Killer on Netflix
I Am Not a Serial Killer is about a young teen who is fighting sociopathic urges and tendencies. He hasn't hurt anyone yet, but he can fill the pull and is intrigued by death. It doesn't help that he works in the family's funeral home. His personal conflicts are exacerbated when dead bodies start turning up around town. He's drawn to the victims and the crime scenes, and it soon becomes apparent that the killer, might be something more than human.
The film is based on the first novel in the John Wayne Cleaver series by writer Dan Wells. It was directed by Brian O'Brien. I Am Not a Serial Killer stars Max Records (Where the Wild Things Are), as John Wayne Cleaver and Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future, Piranha 3-D) as his elderly neighbor Bill Crowley. That's about all the plot I'm going to give you. It would be a crime to spoil it any more. The film develops fairly quickly so you wont have to wait long.
As I mentioned, I Am Not a Serial Killer isn't your usual film with stupid teen protagonists and victims. Even though the lead is a teen, and the book is based on is considered Young Adult, John Wayne Cleaver is nit your typical teen. He's a troubled, complex character, a clinically diagnosed sociopath, fighting his darker urges. His conflict, trying to stay on the side of light, while investigating, and trying to prevent more murders is just as compelling as the conflict between him and the killer.
And the killer is no less complex, as we find out he is more than a cold blooded killer. Slowly we learn what drives him, as his killing drives John closer to his dark side. The film allows you to have some understanding of the killer and why he does what he does. Even the background characters are more than the usual cardboard, two dimensional set pieces. John's mom struggles to understand him, while he feels detached from her, we realize she is at least trying to stay connected.
Lloyd gives the usual superb performance, in a role that's a little more complex than bumbling scientist, or elderly crime lord. Powers is a relative newcomer but makes a believable teen antagonist in his first, adult, or young adult role. I really don't want to give away anymore and it's hard to talk about each character without doing so. Let's just say both roles stray far outside the usual hero/villain archetype and leave it at that.
The story does have a twist, fairly early in, and it might be less than shocking, but it lends to an interesting story. A story I wasn't expecting when I decided to watch it. The twist propels it out of the thriller category and squarely into the realm of horror. Don't let the Young Adult tag on the book scare you away, I Am Not a Serial Killer is great for adult viewing. It's not a gore fest by any means but there are some bloody, gut-filled scenes that might make some queasy.
The only real negative was in the final scenes, where there are some special effects that seem a bit less than horrifying. It really didn't bother me but I'm sure some horror fans may claim it ruined the film for them. Some people are just way too willing to let anything ruin a film for them.
So for a smart, well written, well acted film that isn't your average found footage, teens lost in the woods, inbred slasher fare, check out I Am Not A Serial Killer. It's currently streaming on Netflix. On a scale of 1-10, I'm giving it a stout 7 stars.

MOVIE REVIEW: THE BARN (2015)

The Barn, a 2015 Indie horror film written and directed by Justin Seaman and brought to you by the good people of Nevermore Film Productions, will definitely bring a nostalgic smile to your face!
The Barn tells the tale of three supernatural entities that are brought back to life by trick-or-treaters who knock on the doors of a small town barn that has a haunted past. The Barn opens on a town gathering where the local clergyman is kicking off the local annual Halloween hootenanny in 1959. A young boy and girl swap glances during the introduction and quickly take off for the taboo barn after the Hootenanny opening speech. They stand back from the barn door, daring each other to trick-or-treat. At last, paying no mind to the warnings of the clergyman, the young girl takes off her Halloween mask and knocks on the barn door, yelling, “Trick or treat!” only to swiftly meet her demise.
And so the story begins...30 years later.
We are quickly introduced to a group of high school seniors who loves Halloween, lead by Sam, in the group who lives and breathes for Halloween, as Halloween 1989 approaches. Sam truly believes in all of its glory, spirits, and the tradition of trick-or-treating. After reluctantly deciding this would be their final Halloween, the group elects to make their mark in an elaborate plan to collect record amounts of candy, trick all who offer no treats, and finish the night at the perfect Halloween concert. Ultimately they decide to test the local Halloween legend of the ritual that summons the spirits of Halloween. Will the Halloween spirits will be raised or will the group make the concert?
The Barn is a fun movie – a lot of fun! I've got to admit that I really didn't know what to expect at first. I love – actually, I absolutely adore – Halloween-based films so much so that I can be very hard to please with them. It’s a heavy cross that I bear to love something so much and yet be so judgmental. Pretty much from the get-go, however, I was sucked in with The Barn. It deals a lot with Halloween folklore and tradition, both of which utterly fascinate me, and the film immediately put me in the Halloween spirit. And that’s the true test of a Halloween-based film.
The movie itself is set in 1989, from the attire to the lingo used in the film. Hell, even down to the score/music for The Barn, offered up by musician, director (10/31/16) and co-producer of The Barn, Rocky Gray. Even the gratuitous topless girl during a make-out scene (the breasts got their own credit) to the special effects, blood, and gore used during the film is like taking a giant step back in time...but in a very good way! And, I must say, that adding two small roles in the film, played by Ari Lehman and Linnea Quigley, was a great enhancement to the 80s feel and a great touch overall to the film itself.
I must give props to director Justin Seaman for not only having directed The Barn but also having starred as the lead evil Halloween spirit. Justin puts you so in touch with his vision for the film, that you'll be humming the music to Miami Vice while looking for your parachute pants and “Frankie says Relax” t-shirt after the movie. I’ve seen a lot of retro films (mostly bad because they just cant seem to pull it off), and The Barn is one that succeeds on any level!
If you're looking for something that's fun, a good time, not too dark, and not too serious, but still a serious horror film, I highly suggest that you check out The Barn. Go ahead and do yourself a favor. Step on over to The Barn official website and pick up your own DVD ‘cause it is definitely worth it!
Keep it Evil…

MOVIE REVIEW: Kong: Skull Island (2017)

No Monkey Business

Kong: Skull Island promo poster
Kong: Skull Island is a movie I have looked forward to with a mix of eagerness and trepidation. I love the big guy, but he hasn't been done justice since the 1933 Merion Cooper original. Through two remakes, two sequels, and a Japanese re-imagining, nothing has come close to that magnificent romp to the top of the Empire State building. Kong: Skull Island won’t make you forget the original, but it might just reignite your love for the big monkey.
Skull Island has always held a fascination for me, ever since I watched the Cooper original. A hidden island, surrounded by perpetual fog, spoken of in whispers, and one word, Kong. What an imposing island with its huge skull shaped cliff face. Whose inhabitants hid behind a huge wall from the monstrous Kong. But the giant ape wasn't the only horror on the island, dinosaurs, giant snakes, spiders and who knows what other abominations.
John C Reilly steals Kong: Skull Island
So when I heard there were plans for a Skull Island movie, I was a little bit excited. Those hopes dimmed a good bit when I learned the movie was going to be used as a springboard into a monster mash between Big G and Kong. Then hearing it was basically a reboot of the Kong mythos, I really despaired about the film. But I was still eager to see it. The first photos and trailers showed a wonderful looking Kong. Yet that trailer also showed not so great looking CGI dinosaur-like creatures, and lots of explosions and fire, Visions of Michael Bay suckiness danced in my head.
Luckily for me, other King Kong fans, and moviegoers in general, this was far from a Michael Bay film. Kong: Skull Island is more than a filler movie, meant to shoehorn the ape into a shared monster universe. It's a good movie, the best King Kong film since the original, which admittedly isn't saying a whole lot.
Samuel L Jackson isn't interested in bringing Kong back from Skull Island
Kong: Skull Island is still at heart a movie about the struggle of man against nature. Humans again venture onto his island, but there’s no attempt to bring him back. Instead it's a battle to the death between Kong and Samuel L Jackson's Col Packard. With Packard, Kong is up against perhaps his most dangerous adversary ever. His motivation for battling Kong isn't greed, it isn't science, it's revenge, or, as he would see it, justice. Justice for the men killed by Kong in their first encounter. But it's more than just revenge that drives Jackson's character.
Packard is a warrior without a war. Skull Island is set in 1973, at the end of the Vietnam War. The men under Packard's command are eager to go home, yet Packard seems lost. He jumps at the chance for one more mission. This is a war he won’t abandon, like he feels Vietnam was. So as much as he tells his men, and us, and himself, that it's for revenge; it's really that he has nothing else. In killing Kong, he hopes to make up for losing the bigger war. The scene of Kong and Packard eying each other with unbridled anger is chilling, Packard is Jackson's best role in quite some time.
Skull Island gives us more than just a potential worthy adversary for Kong. It does something no other King Kong movie has done and that few action movies do well. It developed characters between the 1-3 lead characters. We get to know, at least a little about almost every member of Packard's command who survives the initial assault. We see that camaraderie, and we learn little things about them. They are more than just cannon fodder, so when they die, we feel it.
Tom Hiddleston and Brie are the moral counterpoint to Packard. Hiddleston is ex-British Intelligence John Conrad, hired to scout for the party, Larson is war photographer Mason Weaver, or as she likes to call herself an “anti war” photographer. It was easy to foresee Larson as the Ann Darrow character made famous by Fay Ray; however, Kong: Skull Island didn't go that route. The damsel in distress plot line is completely abandoned. Weaver is able to hold her own, as much as anyone, against the inhabitants of Skull Island. Hiddleston, while doing a fine job as the heroic savior who stands against Packard and the evil “skull crawlers”, is upstaged by John C Reilly.
Honestly, if there is one major positive surprise, it's in Reilly's performance. I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with Reilly. While I loved him in Step Brothers, his Dr. Steve Brule annoys me. In Kong, he plays a downed World War II pilot, trapped on the island for 30 years. He provides some great comedic moments in Kong, but he's more than a funny guy displaced in time. He stands tall as a heroic character later in the film, as well as the most touching moment in the film. He comes very close to completely upstaging both Hiddleston and Jackson. I never thought I would type that, really, I'm shocked.
Visually the film is impressive, with beautiful shots that pay homage to the original King Kong (the scene of him holding a wet Larson in his hand.) There are also scenes that hearken back to Vietnam war movies like Apocalypse Now and Platoon. You could almost forget you are watching a giant monster movie at times.
The story, with the visuals, and characters, becomes an anti war movie of sorts. We see Packard, a man who doesn't know how to live without war, we see Weaver, who hates war, and we see Conrad, who's tired of war. And we see all of the grunts who just want to make it home to their families. But it never lingers long enough on the anti war sentiment to bog it down or make it not fun. The subtext is there, but it's not always front and center.
But I think what I liked most is that Kong: Skull Island finally makes the monkey a full fledged hero. Come on, we all cheered when he swatted down that biplane, and we all cried, when he fell and we heard, “It was beauty that killed the beast.” Here Kong is a force of nature. He's a god for all intents and purposes. Here to protect the natural order against the monsters that lie below. It's very similar to the twist on Godzilla in his 2014 remake. And it was far from unintentional. This Kong has no natural hatred or fear of the tiny humans. He acts as their protector, at least till you piss him off, and seems curious about them at times. Maybe some of it was a bit hokey, but, fuck you, I like Kong as the good guy.
And Kong looks good. Maybe better than he ever has. He looks more like an ape in the face, although he's still more bipedal than any true ape. His fight scenes are epic, especially when he decides to show off his tool-using ability. More than anything else, this is a fun movie.
I'm trying to stay spoiler free, but it's no secret that this is a set up for Kong vs Godzilla. So it should be no secret that the big guy manages to make it though Skull Island. But that's all I'm saying. Now go see it yourself. No monkey business, just 4 stars out of five.

MOVIE REVIEW: Contracted: Phase II (2015)

CONTRACTED: PHASE II (2015)

Director: Josh Forbes
Writer: Craig Walendziak
Stars: Matt Mercer, Marianna Palka
For those of you who have seen 2013's Contracted and enjoyed the film which, I personally did, you're in luck because Contracted: Phase II starts off at the exact minute that the original ended. I like that it picked up exactly where you left off – there are no holes, there are no gaps, and no wondering whatever happened to this person and that person... It's a continuation and, in my opinion, one at its best. And considering that the films were both written and directed by completely different people from the original, I was pleasantly surprised at the outcome.
Some of the same cast for the most part are present, there are obviously some new faces thrown in there because a lot of the people from the first one are dead, but are referenced to periodically to keep the story consistent. The movie unfortunately does drag little bit here and there, but then again, the original film wasn't exactly a fast-paced action horror film either.
Contracted: Phase II, definitely continues with the same feel and emotion. It does definitely stay true to itself and isn't blown out of proportion as so many sequels sadly are. The thing that I like so much about these two movies is in my opinion its original as hell!! I mean seriously, where else have you seen zombies that are contracted from a necrophiliac!
Overall, Contracted: Phase II is a good movie. It's got a couple of decent little gory almost squirmish kind of parts in the film but doesn't feel the need to have to over do it, and I appreciated that quality. I felt for this movie because it was a perfect balance.
My only gripe with the film, and this is not a spoiler, but in the first one, the disease is originated by a perv in a morgue who is banging dead chicks. In the sequel, there was a purpose for that. I didn't really care for it. I thought that just having a corpse fucker gave it a twisted edge on its own, but that's not to say that it took away from the story either.
Contracted: Phase II is now on NETFLIX . If you’re in the mood for a horror movie that isn't over the top , and not a splatter-fest or a extreme gore but is story-driven, then I think you'll like this. I definitely think it's worth a watch.
Keep It Evil...

COMING SOON (BLU-RAY): Drive-In Massacre

Drive-In Massacre (1977)
Coming to Blu-Ray

Heads Will Roll

Distributor: Severin
Release Date: 3/14/2017

About the Film:

I have to admit I feel extremely lucky that I have an actual fully functional drive-in that I can go to in the summer time. But I’m sure it couldn’t compare to the wild and seamy drive-ins of yesteryear. So those looking for a slice of nostalgia and gore filled romp should defiantly seek out Drive-In Massacre. The plot is pretty straightforward: A savage killer armed with a sword is slicing and dicing his way through a rural California drive-in. Now it’s up to two bumbling cops to solve the crime before more bodies pile up. The film suffers from horrible over padding and a tepid plot, but fans of Grindhouse sleaze, lots of ultra carnage, and some unintentional hilarity will be able to look past its flaws and enjoy it for its other merits. What saves this for me is it wears its heart on its bloody sleeve, and it doesn’t try to be something more than a fun, by the numbers slasher with some nice quirky moments thrown in for good measure. For example, the one gentleman cop going in undercover drag (and not passable) is an unexpected treat for the audience and something that makes it stick out. Again, it’s not brilliant, but it’s a perfectly serviceable nasty little gem to crawl out of the 70s. One can even forgive the obvious and sadly outdated marketing gimmick.

Picture/Sound:

Fans are treated to a brand new transfer using a recently discovered original 35mm print. The end result is a near flawless looking picture which is a huge improvement to previous releases. Colors are balanced nicely and skin tones look natural. Thankfully it doesn’t suffer from being washed out. Night scenes are practically good looking. Sound fares pretty Well with a nice 2.0 audio track. Sounds are crisp with little noise distortion — again a much needed improvement from previous editions.

Extras:

Severin has proved they can hang with the big boys of cult/horror blu ray releases and they are kicking off 2017 with some stellar releases. Drive in Massacre features brand new interviews with co-writer/actor John F.Goff, Norm Sheridan and director Stu Segall. The interviews are both fun and informative and are a must for fans of this sleazy 70’s slice’em up. Perhaps my favorite new feature is the feature length commentary with Stu Segall. And rounding out the extras is the infamous trailer with the misspelled title. Put it all together it’s a great collection of new features giving it a complete picture of this sorely over looked, entertaining Grindhouse classic. Also look for a hidden Easter egg on the main menu.

Overall:

While not one of the best slashers of the decade it is a lot of fun and those looking to add this to your slice and dice collection will not feel cheated. Not only is the sound/picture great but a lot of love was put into the brand new extras making this a must own blu release. For a limited time anyone who buys off their site will receive an autographed copy at no extra cost.

MOVIE REVIEW (RETRO): The Pit (1981)

Please allow me the new guy at Tortured Souls to get a bit misty eyed about a film that is near and dear to my black heart. Back before everything under the sun got the star treatment on Blu only a handful of companies truly were catering to the rabid cinemaphile. One such company believe it or not was MGM who released scores of great films under their label MGM Midnight Movies. Like Anchor Bay the label introduced me to many movies that would go on to be lifelong favorites. But the one I’m going to talk about is a grimy little gem called The Pit, a movie I adore so much I included it in my upcoming film guide.
The Pit follows the story of a disturbed boy named Jamie (Sam Snyder) who ranges from innocent weirdo to sadist sociopath and worse. His bizarre behavior is all guided by his teddy bear aptly named Teddy (voiced by Snyder) who, of course, only Jamie can hear. His parents have to take a business trip and they hire a college student named Sandy (Jeannie Elias) who works with troubled youths. Jamie happens to take an intense liking to her. But things go from weird to downright nutso when he discovers a pit full of hairy creatures. Everyone in the town that’s been mean to him will soon pay.
You will most likely rub your eyes in disbelief after witnessing this out of its mind shocker from the early 80s. Even though I like this film a great deal it does have its share of problems. The Pit suffers from a wildly uneven story which feels like a strange mixture of creature feature, childhood revenge fantasy, and sleazy exploitation. At times it feels like a haphazardly put together jigsaw puzzle. It is also is all over the place tone wise, swaying from dark to playfully comedic. For example a scene depicting Jamie shoving an crusty old bitty into the pit is obviously played for laughs. Even with its technical flaws the film still manages to pull it all together and remain incredibly watchable. Wisely director Lew Lehman balances the dark subject matter (and it does get dark, even strongly hinting at an incestuous relationship between Jamie and his mother yikes!). As I said it does make for wonky tones but it also serves the film by helping to keep things light and even invites us the audience to have a laugh at itself.
The other element that helps hold this manic production together is its top notch cast. Considering this movie largely centers on Jamie, it’s important to get just the right person. Luckily they did just that. Child actor Sam Snyder really nails the role and brings a level of maturity that is rare in performers his age. He ranges from sweet but strange to downright skin crawling, all without going ultra hammy. The lovely Jeannie Elias is also great and the two actors play off each other brilliantly. The Pitvisn’t big bold and splashy like some films of the decade but when everyone was cashing in on the slasher craze it dared to be different for better or worse. It currently holds a respectable 6.0 rating on IMDb. Being a fan you could only imagine how excited I was when the label Kino put out a wonderful blu, featuring a brand new transfer and extras. Anyone looking for truly off beat 80s horror should consider this a must see.
Gorehound Mike signing off.

MOVIE REVIEW: Tales of Halloween (2015)

Tales From Halloween ... I have so many mixed feelings on this film. Tales From Halloween is a compilation of ten short stories all woven into one Halloween night.
The film, at first watch, I must admit, was a huge disappointment. I have been wanting to see Tales From Halloween since I first heard of it, so my expectations were really hopeful. For some reason, it first felt like I was watching a made for TV movie. I thought the special effects were extremely low grade and the music was even quirky. I am the biggest fan of the Halloween season and always make it a point to watch any movie based around it. So, sorry to say, I wasn't a happy trick-or-treater!
As the movie went on, I tried to put my disappointment aside and give it more of a shot. As I did, my frown became more of a smirk. I started to see the campy and almost comedic side to Tales From Halloween. In my opinion, the movie isn’t a horror/comedy, but it does have you a campy B movie horror feel.
The film opens with the narration of a local radio disk jockey as the camera pans over a small town. The DJ, who is talking about Halloween and the witching hour, is none other than the sultry voice of movie legend ADRIENNE BARBEAU, and it set the mood for the film. The short stories range from legends of sweet tooth killers, aliens, neighbors fighting over the best yard decorating, children's revenge, and what would Halloween be without a killer jack-o-lantern.
The film does host a very impressive list of names to the cast, Barbeau, being one, obviously, the lovely Caroline Williams (Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, Contracted), Greg Grunberg (Heroes, Star Wars: The Force Awakens), Barry Bostwick (The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Spin City (TV series)), Tiffany Shepis (12 Monkeys (TV series), The Night Watchmen), Lin Shaye (Insidious 1+2, Theres Something About Mary), Barbara Crampton (Re-Animator, We Are Still Here, You’re Next), Pollyanna McIntosh (The Woman, Filth) Pat Healy (Compliance, Cheap Thrills, Carnage Park) and a small appearance by legendary director John Landis ( The Blues Brothers, An American Werewolf In London) Now with a list like this, you would be expecting one of the best horror films ever, but sadly it isn't. To be honest, most of the names on this list have relatively small parts.
In keeping up with recent director compilation films (The ABCs of Death 1 and 2) and other Halloween films (Trick Or Treat), Tales From Halloween falls a bit short. Enjoyable for a non-serious horror film night - or a fun watch with friends.
Sorry, guys, but this is one where I loved the cover art for more than the film.
Keep It Evil...

WiHM: She Who Must Burn (2016)

It's always a bit of a risk making a movie that deals with a hot button political issue. While traditionally horror films have a legacy of delving into social issues, they aren’t always as front and center as in She Who Must Burn. When they social issue is abortion, well, it doesn't come much more controversial and risky.
She Who Must Burn, directed by Larry Kent stars Sarah Smyth, Shane Twerdun (who co-wrote the script) and Jewel Staite (Firefly). Smith is Angela, a worker at a local abortion clinic that has shut down after a doctor is murdered by a local religious leader. Angela stays behind in order to help local women and runs afoul of the leader's cult-like followers.
There's no escape for She Who Must Burn
Right off the bat I know a lot of people will complain that this treats right to life Christians in a bad light. Maybe it does, in the same way that The Hills Have Eyes presents children of incest in a bad light. You might even say that Hills is much more unfair to its subject, since abortion providers have been murdered in recent history, whereas stories of cannibalism by inbred families are pretty much unheard of.
So toss out any complaints about the film being unfair and lets just watch the movie. First, it's beautifully filmed, scenes of the rural landscape look bleak but all too real. They remind you this is a film set in a different America, an America of rural, low income people struggling to survive and hold on to their way of life. It’s a film set among the forgotten people, those overlooked in our rush for social justice and progressive values. Growing up in rural Mississippi, that landscape is all to familiar. The visuals are what make this film work so well. It anchors some of the more exaggerated (hopefully) acts in a firm reality.
The acting is top notch, from Smyth, Twerdun, and especially Missy Cross, as the bat shit crazy sister of Twerdun's character. Somehow she is able to go completely off the rails and still remain very real, very believable. The cast and director do a great job of making all the characters seem real people and not caricatures, or one dimensional representations of a belief. While Angela may be diametrically opposed to the local belief system, she never looks down on them and seems to actually care for them. She knowingly stays around in spite of the danger to her own life.
All the characters seem real, which adds a complexity that is important for a film like She Who Must Burn. It elevates it to a true film and not just a propaganda piece. That and it never makes a moral judgment on the actual act of abortion, nor on those who oppose abortion, just the ones who use violence to oppose it.
In fact, its social statement reaches much deeper than the abortion issue. It subtly but clearly points to how the powerful use belief and tradition to control people. We see the coal workers, sick, dirty, unable to afford health care. We are told the water is poisoned and the children are dying. But we don't blame the corporations, we don't blame pollution, we blame sin. We fight those trying to help us and follow those telling us what we want to hear, be they politicians or religious leaders.
She Who Must Burn
And the last 15-20 minutes of She Who Must Burn is absolutely brutal. It's intense, violent, and bloody. It's shocking, and that's coming from a guy who loves shocking movies, and it's utterly unrepentant. Even the villains of the movie seemed shocked at their actions. You know when the climatic final segment begins that it isn't going to end well. It can't end well, as a storm hits both literally and figuratively, a storm taken as a judgment from God, but really just a storm born of nature, alongside a storm born of human nature. The rain falls on the just and unjust, so does violence and death.
There's no doubt She Who Must Burn is a good movie, hell it's a great movie. But will you like it? That's a different issue. If you are a firm believer in the right to life movement, you might think it's painting your belief in an unfair light. Personally, I think it's more an attack on those who use the movement for their own devices, and maybe how we let our belief systems blind us to actual human compassion. I'd like to think that if both sides of this film just sat down and talked, Angela and Jonathon they would have actually understood each other. Which is kind of like real life isn't it? We had rather curse at each other, than talk to each other. Or maybe not. Maybe we are just as doomed as the people in She Who Must Burn.
Other than that, it's a real dark, depressing, nihilistic film which may turn off a lot of people. It's not your gory slasher film, with one liners and stupid teens. It's a real dark, hopeless, horror movie with some extremely dark and gory scenes. This is a movie that will stay with you. It will bother you. I'm sure a lot of people might not agree, but it gets a five out of five stars from me.

MOVIE REVIEW: Incarnate (2016)

Incarnate is a movie. I saw it. I'm tempted to end it here, but that wouldn’t be fair to anyone. Except maybe the people responsible for making Incarnate. Well, I should probably start with what I liked about the film. That's fair, right? Well, then, for the good parts: It was dark, slick, with a compelling and visually pleasing female lead front and center. Wait, that's not Incarnate! That's my mother fucking diet Coke-filled Rogue One cup I got at the concession stand! And that's the best thing about Incarnate.
Hello? Is this my agent? You're fired!
Oh shit, bra, you being hard on that movie. Yes, I am. I would say I hated it but that's such a small unassuming word. If Incarnate were a puppy, I would have it put down. I would record the process and post it to the Internet as a warning for other puppies. By now, you are probably wondering what brought on this attack of obvious hyperbole. There were many things. Many things which all amount to one base thing. The film was lazy, and it insults its audience.
Well, shit. I guess winter did come.
The plot as it were, a person (Aaron Eckhart) is able to enter the mind of possessed people. He does this to force the demon out. He heard about a kid possessed. The church comes knocking.
“U exorcise dat kid”
“No I not gonna exorcise dat kid”
“Y U no Exorcise dat kid?”
“Cause I haz sads for my dead family”
“Demon in dat kid killz your family”
“Ok I exorcise dat kid”
It's all cliché. It's all formula. Paint by numbers and to hell with Bob Ross.
Aaron Eckhart is trying his hardest to look and sound like Sean Bean. Seriously, the first time I saw him, after the opening they stole from Inception, I said, “Damn he looks just like Sean Bean. Shit that means hes gonna die”. Guess what happens ***spoiler alert*** he dies deader than Ned Stark. Seriously if the Sean Bean foreshadowing wasn't enough, Incarnate goes out of its way, over and over and over to let you know he's going to die. So all suspense about your main character is gone.
Incarnate sucks. Here's a kitten.
But I decided to give it a chance. Knowing the ending of a movie doesn't necessarily ruin it for me. I mean I knew Liberty Valance was gonna die, but I still loved that film. It's in the damn title. So, onward.
I pride myself in not being an overly picky viewer. Hell, look at my reviews. But here is a little thing that bugged the shit out of me. Mostly because there was no reason for it. The little kid possessed by a demon is asked its name. It goes though this evil sounding litany, some of which - names and timeline - struck me odd, but oh well - until... “After the deluge, when the angels took human women, my name was Passion”.
Now, I am paraphrasing a little, maybe, but the key part, “after the deluge”... No. Seriously, no. What the fuck - no. Did you actually research this or just hear somewhere “Hey, dude, the bible says angels raped women”. Fucking lame ass shit; read a goddammed bible. The deluge, aka the flood, happened after the angels came upon human women and children were born to them. In the Apocrypha, Book of Jubilees, I think, it’s even stated that the deluge was caused specifically to cleanse the earth of this ungodly offspring.
Now you are possibly saying “That’s such a small thing. Is it really important?” It's important because it works just as well if you say it right. “Before the deluge”. But the writers are either to lazy to research at all, to dumb to understand, or just don’t give a shit because they think fans wont notice. Well, I noticed and as much as I tried to ignore it, I was bothered during the entire film. Did I mishear it? Maybe they meant this. It bothered me. On its own, that would have been a small itch, an annoyance, but it's part of a whole.
Nit pick number two. The hero has to go into a dimension inside the child’s mind to evict the demon. He wont use the word exorcise because he hates the church. GRRRR church. Sean Bean, Aaron Eckhart hates you. Well, in this dimension, we are told over and over that time stands still. Yet you have to get out in eight minutes or you die, or something. But......if time stands still it doesn’t matter how long you are inside. Time stopped, remember? Yet we have the faux suspense of seeing clocks and counters, and people rushing and, chill out, he got forever, time be standing still, y'all.
The film ends with what seems like fifteen solid minutes of fake out after fake out, and each false ending you know is a fake out, you know it's a “twist”, and you know what's coming next. Every fucking twist is telegraphed or just so obvious that you feel like you must have stolen a copy of the script.
So what do we have? Predictable and utterly preposterous plot (lifted from Inception), lazy writers, over dramatic acting, CGI eyes on the demons, and no scares at all. Not a single fucking jump or even twitch in the whole film. Incarnate is boring, and manages to be both confusing and predictable at the same time. The characters do completely illogical, irresponsible, and ignorant things for no reason.

Incarnate Works on the Theory That Horror Fans Are Dumb and Will Watch Anything

I felt insulted as a viewer and as a fan of horror films. I feel dirty for paying money to see this. Please give me my money back. I feel like I gave my PayPal password to a Russian porn bot, and she laughed at me online. I knew this movie wouldn't be good. Knew that going in. It had the look of suck. But I convinced myself it go. And I did want to get one of those sweet Rogue One cups. But I didn't expect to hate it this much. At least I got my cup, and it is sweet.
Incarnate stars Aaron Eckhart (Batman: The Dark Knight), David Mazouz (Gotham), Clarice van Houten, and some other people. Brad Peyton (San Andreas) directed. See it at your own risk.
1 dimly burning Christmas star out of 10

MOVIE REVIEW: Split (2016)

Director and Writer: M. Night Shyamalan
Runtime: 117 min
Split is listed as a horror/ thriller produced by Blumhouse and given a PG 13 rating. Personally, I felt like this movie could be listed as a suspenseful psychological thriller. I did not find it scary at any time but did feel the tension in the final 30 minutes of the film. There are a few incidents of mild gore and content that could be found disturbing to some viewers.
This movie wastes no time leading the viewer into the abduction of three teen girls following a birthday party. The audience and the girls quickly come to realize that the abductor suffers from Dissociative Identity Disorder, otherwise known as multiple personalities. In fact, the lead character Kevin (James McAvoy), has 23 distinct alter egos. McAvoy does a great job making each of these personalities very unique and recognizable characters. It is difficult at times to remember you are watching the same actor.
While the girls are kept in a claustrophobic environment, the audience is able to follow Kevin and "the horde" that lives inside him to visits with his therapist, Dr. Fletcher (Betty Buckley). The girls and the audience meet alter egos, such as obsessive clean freak Dennis, strong and authoritative Patricia, 9 year old Hedwig, and fashionista Barry.
James McAvoy in Split
Shyamalan uses flashbacks throughout the story to give us more insight to the lead female character, Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy). She is the outsider of the three abducted girls and seems to know how to relate to some of the alter egos. These flashbacks work well to give us important pieces of information along the way.
Anya Taylor-Joy as Casey in Split
The last third of Split really leads the viewer in to suspense and tension. It has a good build-up and left me feeling anxious. I really appreciate the originality of the story and the believability of McAvoy's character personalities. Of course, with M. Night Shyamalan we've come to expect a twist ending. I don't want to give anything away, so I'll just say I wasn't let down and fans of his previous films are given a nice surprise at the conclusion.
I enjoyed the film and recommend it to anyone who likes a good thriller. Some may feel let down due to the lack of scares, but there is a good bit of tension. Don't expect jump scare tactics or an over abundance of blood and gore.

TV MOVIE REVIEW (RETRO): Spook (1988)

When A Spook Isn't Spooky

Director: David Anthony Hall; Stars: Tim Elston, Joanne Samuel, Daniel Hill, Amanda Hill; Rating: NR; Run Time: 87 min; Genre: Horror, Made for TV; Country: Australia; Language: English; Year: 1988
Spook is one of those films that just doesn't work, but part of the problem lies with the fact that it was made in 1988 as a made-for-TV movie. Thus, right out of the gate, we know that there will be very little gore or monster shown, taking this movie from horror into family drama with a hint of thriller. Another problem is realism. In Spook, a well-to-do architect (Tim Elston), his wife (Joanne Samuel), and their two kids (Daniel Hill, Amanda Hill) rent a dilapidated shack for a vacation retreat.
The cabin - just like home
It seems unlikely that a wealthy family would be satisfied with a location more at home in Mother's Day, but Dad convinces them it'll be fine with some wood and nails. Here is another problem. Although Dad is a prestigious architect, he acts as if he is thoroughly used to the manual labor aspect.
A hammer and a few nails will fix up this place.
Okay, we will give him the benefit of the doubt, but we wonder why he insists on wearing khaki pants and button downs. Why is Mom in a skirt in the wilderness? Why are the kids in their jumpers? They're roughing it!
Who doesn't play golf in the Australian bush?
Back to the story. Apparently there is an Australian version of Sasquatch known as Yowie (in itself a hilariously funny name), that haunts the area of the Blue Mountains where they're staying. Naturally this means they will come in contact with said monster – though viewers are tossed a red herring in the form of a degenerate local who likes to watch.
The red herring - pervert in overalls
Though both Elston (Neighbors) and Samuel (Mad Max) are accomplished actors, their talents seem misplaced and strangely out of sync with the story of the family terrorized by a Yowie. (Honestly, it's hard taking the monster name seriously.) With a clunky story, subpar production, silly monster, corny music, and illogical choices, Spook makes for less of horror film and more of an irritant.
4/10 claws – Yowie!

MOVIE REVIEW: Carnage Park (2016)

CARNAGE PARK (2016)
Ashley Bell, Pat Healy, Alan Ruck
So it's getting to be a late Saturday night and being the party animal that I am I flop on the couch, grab the remote, turn on Netflix, and start to waste time looking hopefully for a good movie. As always, I go straight to our beloved horror section, and I actually happen to stumble across Carnage Park. I knew was a relatively new release and figured why not, I don't have much else to do.
The story is of young Vivian (Bell, The Day, The Last Exorcism) who is kidnapped by two bank robbers in a small town outside the California desert. The two outrun the cops by driving off into the desert hills on an old dirt road that they come across. Thinking that they have made the easy escape, the two criminals are shot and killed by a skilled marksman who's watching them out in the hills. It is from this point on that Vivian is forced into a deadly game of cat-and-mouse.
So, hearing that, Carnage Park doesn't sound that bad... well, it's not great either.
Mickey Keating, director of Carnage Park, is trying for a late sixties feel. The beginning of the film was almost obnoxious the way it was done, then tried slipping into a near Tarantino hip feel, finally ending up trying to mock Rob Zombie in so many different ways.
And it must be pointed out that just because you're able to find an old model Nova to use as a cop car, an old Chevy Impala for the getaway car, and put a tinted lens over your camera, it really doesn't give a retro feel. The point that it was supposed to be dated is there, but, honestly, anyone could have picked up on it. It really had nothing to do with how it was shot.
Carnage Park is a borderline disappointment as the film had decent potential, and the star acting was pretty good and actually the one thing that held it together. Pat Healy (Compliance, Cheap Thrills) as the shooter was really good,...just wish there was actually more of him, and Alan Ruck as the sheriff looks the same as he did in Ferris Bueller's Day Off.
Now I'm not saying that the movie is Godawful because it's not although I did catch myself watching the clock and kind of wondering when is this ever going to be over.
It did have the potential to be a much grittier and bloodier film, and I really wanted to like this a lot more than I did. As many of you know, my love for Netflix is not a strong one anymore. Still, if you're a crazy, wild, Saturday night party person like I am and you can't find anything else worth watching either, sure go ahead and give Carnage Park a view... Hopefully you'll like it more than I did.
Keep It Evil...