MOVIE REVIEWS

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MOVIE REVIEW: Mandy (2018)

MOVIE REVIEW: Mandy (2018)

You came, I saw, and I love you

In Mandy, Nic Cage takes revenge on a crazy religious cult in the woods with a homemade battle ax. STOP DRILLING YOU HIT OIL! That’s pretty much what sold me on the plot for Mandy, the second film by director Panos Cosmatos whose first film was Beyond The Black Rainbow (2010). Set in 1983, Red Miller (Nicholas Cage) goes after a religious cult that brutally murdered his wife Mandy (Andrea Riseborough). If you have seen his first film, you know what to expect in this; if not, then fair warning — watch the movie with an open mind. Although the film plays out like an 80s-themed slasher movie, it’s almost far from it. Let’s examine this movie further.

Mandy (2018) / Fair use doctrine.

Although set in the 80s, it doesn’t have an 80s soundtrack with well-known music. There is a synthesizer, though, along with a Friday the 13th reference to Crystal Lake from Mandy (Andrea Riseborough of such works as Hidden (2015), Waco (2018) (TV mini-series), and Black Mirror (2017) (TV series)). Admittedly there is a real Crystal Lake, Nic Cage himself said that he drew inspiration for his character from Jason Voorhees, so perhaps he wants to give that nod since his character evolved in the woods.

Mandy (2018) / Fair use doctrine.As may be obvious, Mandy is not like any other Nicholas Cage film. From the picture of Cage all bloody and glimpses in the trailer, one would expect a cheesy B horror movie with over the top gore and one-liners. Not at all! The film plays out like a heavy metal live action movie, and at times, it just feels like a dream as Red goes through moments of despair, guilt, and regret. Cage is complemented by a host of character actors, from Richard Brake (31, Halloween II (2009)) to Linus Roache (Batman Begins) to Bill Duke (Payback, Predator), who definitely deliver. The scenes with the cult aren’t over the top, which is good because not once do the characters trail off and leave the idea of the movie on its own. The bikers, though, don’t dress or sound like bikers. Think something out of Mad Max with a distorted voice that almost sounds animalistic. This raises some interesting questions on the cult’s story because there’s really no back story – for anyone on anything.

Mandy (2018) / Fair use doctrine.I saw the movie at night, and it stuck with me — not in a bad way but almost as if I were dreaming too. This, by the way, got me thinking about the end when Nicholas Cage is driving away, caked in blood caked and looking out of his mind. This is not Hollywood Nic Cage but a genuinely insane Nicholas Cage.

Final thoughts: Watch the movie, and watch it at night with an open mind because this is without a doubt an interesting movie, and I sincerely hope we don’t have to wait another eight years for Panos Cosmatos’ third film.




Posted by Jai Alexis in MOVIE REVIEWS, NEW RELEASES, SLASHERS AND BAD HUMANS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: The Predator (2018)

MOVIE REVIEW: The Predator (2018)

The Predator: Hit or Miss

The Predator (2018) / Fair use doctrine.When I first heard that The Predator was coming back to the big screen I thought, ‘Well how are you going to top Predators?’ For my money, Predators is the best sequel to date and has the most legendary opening sequence in a movie ever. The news of Shane Black and Fred Dekker being on board, however, convinced me this was going to be top notch fun, gory, and worth the sequel.

I eagerly attended the first showing on Sunday, 16 September, only to find I was proven wrong – which is a major let down. Black and Dekker (haha) know their stuff and should’ve put together a great movie. With comedy, horror, and even family elements, The Predator struggles to find its focus. On the surface, The Predator is about a young boy who receives a gift of Predator items (WHY?) that eventually turn on a beacon which puts the Predator on a wanted list for being hunted {Or for hunting other creatures?}. The alert causes a problem for Earth since Predators aren’t friendly with anyone. A group of ragtag soldiers who suffer from PTSD ultimately are enlisted to do what’s right, help the kid, and…save the world?

The Predator (2018) / Fair use doctrine.As the film starts, there are actually some great action sequences, nice gore, and even a bit of a character development where you find yourself invested in the main character, Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook, whom you’ll remember as Pierce, the villain, in Logan (2017)). After the spacecraft and presence of the aliens (Predators not Xenomorphs) are revealed, the government steps in and the movie takes a hard turn into Superficialville. Character development and, indeed, care of any characters steps out.

‘But,’ you may think to yourself, ‘This an action horror sci-fi movie. Does character development matter? We’re here for the blood and guts?’

The Predator (2018) / Fair use doctrine.

Well, kind of, yes. What I mean is this: When you attend a movie, you invest your time. In return, you expect to be entertained. You expect to see characters to whom you can relate or for whom you actually feel – especially when they die.

Hell, it took me a good while to realize that Thomas Jane was in the movie – not because of great method acting, but I just didn’t realize it was him. With an actor like Thomas Jane, you would expect that he would be front and center. At the very least, he should be cast in a better or more significant role. However, with this movie, you don’t get that. The deaths feel rushed, and the camera doesn’t exactly linger on the gore. It was almost blink-and-you-miss-it shots of the kills. Perhaps this was to avoid delays from the MPAA or maybe another unknown reason. We may never know.

The Predator (2018) / Fair use doctrine.Overall, The Predator doesn’t really hold up to the previous films in the franchise – gore- or action-wise. Sure, there are a few nods to the previous films but not enough to keep you entertained. From the sci-fi/horror aspect, it could have worked as any other alien movie, but as an entry in the Predator franchise, it doesn’t. Peppered with forced jokes as an attempt to engage the audience, it falls flat because they didn’t really fit the movie. At times, the movie felt overlong and drawn out – not good for film with a scant runtime of 107 minutes. My excitement swelled as the ending approached. Would there be a possible connection to the previous films? Or even something better?

I won’t spoil the movie, but it was almost a slap in the face to the fans of the franchise to see this. HINT: Think uber Jason from Jason X but with no delivery of any kind. It was just a big let down.

My advice: Wait until The Predator comes on Netflix or hits Redbox. It just barely made number one this weekend, so perhaps a sequel or another reboot will help the franchise.

The Predator (2018) / Fair use doctrine.

Posted by Jai Alexis in HORROR NEWS, MOVIE REVIEWS, NEW RELEASES, PREQUELS AND SEQUELS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
REVIEW: South Mill District (2018) (Short)

REVIEW: South Mill District (2018) (Short)

South Mill District is a short film by Joe Meredith. It’s his directorial debut and runs about 25 minutes. He does everything himself including write, film, produce, FX, act, and direct. Simply put: I loved this film. It was an amazing little shocker with tons of class and art.

In a world ravaged by an alien attack, we follow two post-apocalypse survivors Drennan (Joe Meredith) and Luci (Joe’s wife, the lovely Cidney Meredith). After the alien invasion, the EonCorp started experimenting with the havoc virus and used alien DNA in spiders to create a symbiotic relationship between the infected spiders and humans. The infected spiders consume and distort their human hosts until the regeneration process is complete. The EonCorp keeps the infected human hosts and mutant spiders contained in the South Mill District under quarantine.
South Mill District (2018) / Fair use doctrine.
For a first film and an Independent film, South Mill District is an ambitious project. The premise is a bit convoluted, and the film doesn’t have the luxury of a Hollywood budget, but it has a lot of heart. You can see and feel the amount of love that went into the making of this film. It’s beautifully shot in an excellent location that really captures the desolate post-apocalypse feel. The camera work is top-notch, and I adored the use of colored lighting.

What stands out the most is Joe’s artwork and the incredible creatures in this film. The use of stop motion to bring handmade aliens, spiders, fetuses, and other bizarre paper mâché creatures to life in this is gorgeous. Each creature is uniquely detailed, and you can see the painstaking care that went into each one. The crawly, bloody sound effects also help bring them to life, and the creatures definitely have a “Thing” vibe to them that fans will easily recognize.
South Mill District (2018) / Fair use doctrine.
Some of the highlights of South Mill District include Luci puking up her intestines, a walking brain, and many stop-motion spiders eating their hosts or emerging from the human wreckage.

I was really stoked to learn there is an upcoming sequel called Teratomorph, and I will keep everyone posted as I learn the details and watch out for my upcoming interview with Joe Meredith.

Posted by Candace Stone in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, SCI-FI HORROR, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: The Rejuvenator (aka Rejuvenatrix) (1988)

MOVIE REVIEW: The Rejuvenator (aka Rejuvenatrix) (1988)

The Rejuvenator (1988) / Fair use doctrine.Oh, brother. If you love “So Bad It’s Good” movies (or ‘SoBIG’s’, as I usually refer to them), you gotta love the drive-in ‘classic’ and direct-to-video “disasterpieces” from the mid-to-late Seventies, definitely the Eighties, and even some entries from the Nineties and beyond. So, if you’ve never seen 1988’s The Rejuvenator (aka Rejuvenatrix), set your “phasers” on “to be STUNNED!” This is a SoBIG trash wallow at its very finest; a mishmash of all the best aspects of films that actually have gone on to become classics in their own right.

If Death Becomes Her, Sunset Boulevard and David Cronenberg’s remake of The Fly were involved in some kind of horrific car crash, the result, pulled from the tangled, mangled mess of wreckage, would be this little gem. A no-name cast, the community theater-level acting, and some surprisingly good practical effects (for this micro-micro budget), make this a good/bad movie lover’s glistening wet dream.

The Rejuvenator (1988) / Fair use doctrine.The Rejuvenator begins with your garden-variety, B-movie mad scientist, Dr. Gregory Ashton, (John McKay) is doing some, shall we say, unorthodox work in the field of gerontology and biology. Not that he’s actually studying elderly people, but he IS trying to find a way to retard or even reverse the aging process. And naturally, as the movie begins, he’s not having the best of luck in refining said process, as a deformed lab animal kills other test subjects before meeting its own sticky, gooey demise.

The Rejuvenator (1988) / Fair use doctrine.

Ashton’s research is being funded mostly by the vain, petulant, grandiose fading Hollywood actress Ruth Warren (Jessica Dublin), whose agenda for supporting his work is – what else? – to make herself younger again, so she can make her ‘huge big-screen comeback,’ and show the rest of the dime-a-dozen starlets and ingenues how it’s done. It’s not helping matters any that Ashton is constantly being spied upon by his sleazy, unctuous colleague, Dr. Germaine (Marcus Powell), superior sneer and upper-crusty accent included.

The Rejuvenator (1988) / Fair use doctrine.The good doctor and his benefactress aren’t without their own unrequited admirers, though. Ashton is assisted in his research by Dr. Stella Stone (Katell Pleven), a woman who is actually smart and beautiful…not the usual direction that kind of role takes in this kind of picture. Ruth’s not-so-secret admirer is her manservant, Wilhelm, (James Hogue, obviously filling the Erich von Stroheim role from Sunset Boulevard), a former ‘paramour’ from her halcyon days, who is now content to wait on her, hand-and-foot if that allows him to continue to be close to her. (Yes, I see you rolling your eyes, but it’s that kind of movie!)

The Rejuvenator (1988) / Fair use doctrine.

Threatened with losing his funding if he doesn’t come across with the goods, and soon, the harried Dr. Ashton has no choice, but to do what just about all ‘mad-doctors’ do in his situation: he complies. He injects Ruth with the serum he has “almost” perfected, and after the required flurry of surprisingly good low-budget makeup effects, (provided by Ed French, Dan Frye, and Bruce S. Fuller), Ruth magically is converted into…ANOTHER ACTRESS!

You heard me. The stunning ‘new edition’ of Ruth has renamed herself “Elizabeth” (Vivian Lanko, who pulls double-duty here as the “improved” Ruth and as The Thing She Turns Into), whose backstory is now “the young niece of Ruth Warren, who is taking care of her estate, while her aunt goes away on a very long retreat.”

If you’ve seen enough of these monstrosities, (yes, that pun IS intended), you know where this is headed. Being an Eighties film, there has to be enough satisfactory sex and violence, so the sex part comes in when Elizabeth shows Dr. Ashton her gratitude for the miracle he’s worked for her. Wait, don’t leave! There’s so much more…

All the while, in the background, Dr. Stone and Wilhelm skulk around, mooning after their respective objects of desire and imagining what it would be like to finally be with them romantically. (There’s a dream sequence involving all the principal characters that includes a ‘dance number’ you have to see to believe!)

But, back to the ‘youth’ serum. You might recall that I mentioned it was “almost perfected”? Well, it has some pretty disgusting side effects, including the desire to murder random people and remove their brains – Oh, didn’t I mention that? Ashton’s serum is synthesized from human brain tissue, and one of the problems is that the more serum is used, larger and larger doses become required as the body builds up a tolerance to it with each application.

What would an Eighties schlockfest like this be without the opportunity to mix even more sex and violence onscreen? When Elizabeth’s sexual appetites increase with her new youthfulness, she ‘graduates’ from Gregory, moving on to random strangers, and eventually going out on her own to prowl the nightlife, going into the most retro-tastic club you can imagine, where the hot, big-haired, heavy-metal all-girl band called The Poison Dolly’s are playing!

The tunes, which sound like the kind of stuff that The Runaways turned down, are sublimely terrible, and of course, the band is dressed so that not too many people are really paying much attention to the “music.” When the serum begins to wear off and Elizabeth resembles a putrid pumpkin more than Cinderella, this is where the aforementioned murder of some posh poseur happens outside the club…in a phone booth, no less! (Remember those?)

The Rejuvenator (1988) / Fair use doctrine.From here, it’s all pretty much by-the-numbers. Greg Ashton struggles, along with Stella, to try and artificially synthesize the formula in the lab successfully, so that brain tissue from cadavers will no longer be necessary. Meanwhile, the suspicious and jealous Dr. Germaine is closing in to shut down Ashton and his lab for good, snatching the research results for himself. And all the while, Elizabeth’s transformations grow more and more extreme, as does her need to hold onto her newly-found youth – at any cost.

Am I making this direct-to-video hoot sound better than it actually is? If so, my sincere apologies. But this IS entertaining enough that it wouldn’t surprise me if the MST3K/RiffTrax guys or Elvira have already worked their magic with it.

Brian Thomas Jones’ script (adapted from Simon Nuchtern’s original screenplay) and direction, rises above a first-year film school student’s initial project…but not that far above it. Just about all of the actors walk through this like it’s something to pad their resumes with, but not much else, although as the Dollar Store version of “Norma Desmond”, Lanko and Dublin seem to be having the most fun, playing the venial and selfish “Ruth/Elizabeth”. As funny as it plays when the “switch” occurs, Lanko’s not half-bad keeping the continuity going with the character.

It’s probably not even coincidental, the similarities between The Rejuvenator and another film that came out three years before it, Stuart Gordon’s celebrated Lovecraft adaptation, Re-Animator. For all we know, Re-Animator probably had the same level budget but better actors, a seasoned director at the helm, and the ridiculously gory effects of monster master John Carl Buechler.

At the end of the day, just like some of its counterparts, The Rejuvenator makes a great, fun, bad time-capsule worthy window into a crazy-ass decade, as well as a throwback to When DTV Low-Budget Movies Ruled The Earth. The makeup effects guys went on to establish some pretty impressive credentials, even if the cast and creative team did not. But for all the work that went into this, good, bad or indifferent, I feel perfectly fine in awarding it two-and-a-half out of five stars.

The Rejuvenator (1988) / Fair use doctrine.

Oh, and side note: like so many rarities that were only released originally on VHS tapes, I was “lucky” enough to stumble over The Rejuvenator, while surfing YouTube, where it’s one of their free movies. There are other places where you might be able to get it, but I strongly suggest that if you find yourself really jonesing to see this, get to YouTube now while it’s still available.

Posted by Samuel Glass in GORE OR EXTREME HORROR, MONSTERS AND CREATURES, MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, SCI-FI HORROR, VIDEOS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Terrifier (2017)

MOVIE REVIEW: Terrifier (2017)

Terrifier has hit Redbox recently and is now streaming — and trending — on Netflix, and wow what waves it is making! Terrifier is an 80s style horror film directed by Damien Leone, who brought us such title as All Hallows Eve (2013), Frankenstein vs. The Mummy (2015), and The 9th Circle (2008). The Indie horror film has a small cast that is lead by a brilliant performance from newcomer David Howard Thornton as Art the Clown, a rather sadistic homicidal clown.

The basis of the story is that two young ladies (Jenna Kanell and Catherine Corcoran) who are out partying on Halloween night get stranded in an old building due to a flat tire. One girl calls her older sister (Samantha Scaffidi) to come to the rescue and pick them up. Waiting for them inside is Art the Clown, who they had a small run in with at a local pizza joint earlier.

To say Terrifier is an amazing film would be inaccurate, but it is definitely a fun horror film. At times it has almost a slow burn feel, but it’s not a boring film by any means. There is a great deal of blood and gore in the film and a few scenes which I was rather surprised by. Sadly in the mix of the kill scenes, some were beyond expected and fairly gruesome, while others made you wonder just what kind of film you’re in for because of the cheese factor with certain special FX. The cheese factor, however, adds to its 80s feel and is actually charming.

The film does such a good job of creating the feel of an 80s slasher film that if the film had been released at that time, Art the Clown would easily be an iconic horror character today. I really don’t know if it’s the character or the performance because Thornton really brings Art the Clown to life!

In light of the recent trend of clown-based films, from Stephen King’s IT and a new Pennywise to Billy Pons’ Circus of the Dead (awesome fucking film, by the way), Art the Clown finds a way to make your skin crawl like no other. From a look that he gives to the way a clown would walk, he’s comical in his own sense while downright brutal as hell!

Terrifier, overall, is a fun bloodbath of an Indie horror with a great new killer character. So get out and rent, steam, whatever you gotta do, but check out Terrifier. Support the Indie horror scene, and be on the lookout for David Howard Thornton on the convention circuit.

Keep it Evil…

Posted by John Roisland in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, SLASHERS AND BAD HUMANS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: The Nun (2018)

MOVIE REVIEW: The Nun (2018)

Over the weekend I had the opportunity to get out and visit my local AMC theater and treated myself to see the latest installment in The Conjuring Universe, The Nun. Directed by Corin Hardy, The Nun is a spin-off of The Conjuring 2 (2016). I will start off by saying that I have pretty high expectations of horror films now these days, and this installment to the Conjuring Universe was definitely not a letdown. It did start off quite slow but kept the suspense with wondering the whole time when you will see “the shadowy figure” aka The Nun with our leading lady (Bonnie Aarons).

The Nun takes place in Romania, in the year 1952. Two nuns who live at the monastery are attacked by a presence that is unseen in the beginning. The surviving nun, known as Sister Victoria, flees the attacker by jumping out of a window. Her body is discovered the following morning by a man called Frenchie (Jonas Bloquet), who lives in the village nearby.

The news of Sister Victoria committing the ultimate sin — suicide — makes its way to the Vatican and piques the interest of Father Burke (Demiàn Bichir) and Sister Irene (Taissa Farmiga, American Horror Story seasons 1, 3, 6 & 8). The two then go to the monastery with the help of Frenchie to understand and investigate the history that is plaguing the village. Once they get settled in, dark things begin to happen, and they start to piece together Sister Irene’s visions along with Father Burke’s experience in dark forces and exorcisms along with the dark history in the monastery.

The ending of The Nun was definitely an “A-ha!” moment, and you definitely need to rewatch The Conjuring 2 as there are two scenes that feature the Warrens and tie up the whole film. I did jump at a few scenes which is definitely what I look for a horror movie to do for me. The fear and suspense were palpable, and hearing the audience’s nervous laughs and screams enhanced it. My only complaint would be how slow it started out, but it definitely redeemed itself once Sister Irene and Father Burke were introduced. I was very impressed with Bonnie Aarons’ portrayal of the nun and with this installment of the series and it definitely redeemed itself from Annabelle and Annabelle: Creation.

Overall Grade: B

Posted by Sarah Gregory in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, SATANIC/DEMONIC, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: American Guinea Pig: Sacrifice (2017)

MOVIE REVIEW: American Guinea Pig: Sacrifice (2017)

American Guinea Pig: Sacrifice is the debut film by Italian director Poison Rouge and the fourth installment in the series. It was produced by Domiziano Cristopharo (Red Krokodil) and released by Unearthed Films.

You would have trouble discerning that this was Rouge’s first film because it’s artfully shot, well researched and beautifully made. Take a look at the trailer before we continue.

American Guinea Pig: Sacrifice follows a young man named Daniel (Roberto Scorza) who returns to his childhood home where a trauma took place. We are not given the details of the incident that happened, but we can guess by Daniels’s emotional and physical scars that it was tragic and took its toll on his psyche. Daniel’s body is covered with self-harm scars and he hears voices. Throughout the film, he speaks in his mind to the Goddess Ishtar (Flora Giannattasio) of personal sacrifices and an end to the pain.

At the beginning of the film, Daniel goes into the bathroom with a backpack, he lights thre white candles unpacks some tools and goes to town on himself.

This is where the film earns it’s Guinea Pig status; it has all the violence and brutality that you would expect and hope for. He starts by cutting a huge vagina-like gash in his hand, and while he’s licking it, you see flashes of cunnilingus being performed. He moves on to trepanning or boring holes into his skull. I was reminded of Andrey Iskanov’s Nails at this part (I wonder if Rogue is also a fan?) He then violently removes a toenail, and I confess I suffered through this part. Nails and compound fractures get me every time! He moves on to extreme penis mutilation by inserting a screwdriver into his urethra. I commend the FX team on the most realistic looking penis prosthetic ever used in both the mutilation and castration scene. In the end, he finally eviscerates himself in the bathtub and bleeds out. After he recedes under the surface of the bloody water, Ishtar emerges.

On the surface, American Guinea Pig: Sacrifice may just seem like a tight little torture/body horror, but I believe it’s much more than that. I feel that the Goddess Ishtar was well researched and even the casting was done intentionally to line up with her mythos. Scorza has a very androgynous quality to him and ends up transforming into a woman. Ishtar is said to have transformed men into women and is associated with androgynous people and hermaphrodites, and Daniel carves an eight-pointed star — a symbol of Ishtar — into his forehead. Both the flashbacks and his death are in water also associated with Ishtar. I love a film that knows its shit and hides Easter eggs throughout.

For this excellent film and incredible debut 5/5 shocks

Pre-order your copy of American Guinea Pig: Sacrifice at Unearthed Films today!
Posted by Candace Stone in GORE OR EXTREME HORROR, MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
COMING SOON: Anna and the Apocalypse (2017)

COMING SOON: Anna and the Apocalypse (2017)

Anna and the Apocalypse a Christmas zombie musical. Yup, you read that right.

When you think of Christmas horror movies, you can probably name a good dozen of the ones people should watch. The same goes for zombies and musicals. It’s a given that we will choose the classics or ones we feel hold a place in our hearts, but it’s still always a debate on which to watch because there’s just so many out there. Oh, and for the record, the great debate about The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) being either a Halloween or Christmas movie? It’s a holiday movie. Enjoy it anytime you like.

Then came a movie that from the title I thought, “Okay, not bad”. Then the description sealed the deal: Christmas horror zombie musical comedy. Well, of course, I had to stop whatever I’m doing to view this trailer. The film is called; Anna and the Apocalypse and follows Anna, a girl who wakes up one December morning to find her town Little Haven has been taken over by zombies.

Anna and the Apocalypse (2017) / Fair use doctrine.

Anna and the Apocalypse consists of a background of Indie and some horror stars and director. Don’t let this fool you in thinking it’s going to be a teen angst film with goofy zombies, no gore,  and overused songs. There is a great amount of gore in the film, and small tidbits from the trailer promise that we will get some goofy gore as well as some creative kills. The songs are original and sung by the cast, which works, so be on the lookout for the soundtrack. Christmas does play a part as shopping carts full of presents are used as weapons. Zombie carolers, zombie Santa (guy in a Santa suit), plus one zombie Snowman (again guy in a costume) = fun.

Anna and the Apocalypse (2017) / Fair use doctrine.

Anna and the Apocalypse is compared to Shaun Of the Dead meets La La Land which, judging by the trailer, does give off more of a feel-good vibe. I’ll be enjoying this movie. The movie comes out 30 Nov 2018. When you need a break from the Christmas shopping and still eating leftovers from Thanksgiving, check out this movie. Like always, House of Tortured Souls will be checking out this holiday movie.

Posted by Jai Alexis in HORROR COMEDIES, MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, ZOMBIES, 0 comments
EDITORIAL: How The ‘Burbs (1989) Became a Holiday Movie

EDITORIAL: How The ‘Burbs (1989) Became a Holiday Movie

Tom Hanks in The 'Burbs (1989) / Fair use doctrine.There’s almost a horror movie for most holidays. Some holidays have been done countless times, a few new ones. Hell, even Critters 2 (1988) was the first Easter horror movie, and Uncle Sam (1996) was the first Independence Day/Fourth of July horror movie.

However, there’s always been one movie that I grew up loving even to this day. It’s not officially a designated holiday movie, but to me, The ‘Burbs has always held this place in my heart as a Spring Break/Fourth Of July/Labor Day kind of movie.

Let’s explore The ‘Burbs further.

Bruce Dern, Tom Hanks, and Rick Ducommun in The 'Burbs (1989) / Fair use doctrine.The movie stars a list of amazing character actors who have gone to work with A-list directors along with getting Oscar nominations and Oscars. Not for this movie but later in life. Tom Hanks stars as Ray Peterson who is just trying to enjoy a simple vacation, but he gets dragged along into a mystery by his neighbors — Rumsfeld played by Bruce Dern, Art played by Rick Ducommun, (let’s not forget everyone’s favorite 80s star) Corey Feldman as Ricky Butler — and his wife Carol (the late great Carrie Fisher). They decide that their other neighbors, The Klopeks, are a family of serial killers when Ray hears weird noises late at night and the disappearance of a local neighbor. We’ve seen this movie time and time again and it still holds up. Joe Dante’s vision of suburbia is creepy, funny, and a cult classic. Where else are you going to see Henry Gibson play a serial killer? Or Brother Theodore who’s actually funny just being himself? Interesting tidbit Brother Theodore was the voice of Gollum in the Rankin-Bass animated TV adaptations of The Hobbit (1977) and The Lord of the Rings (1980), while nephew Hans is none other than Courtney Gains, whose debut film was in Children of the Corn (1994) as Malachi.

Carrie Fisher and Tom Hanks in The 'Burbs (1989) / Fair use doctrine.The ‘Burbs doesn’t rely on blood, guts, gore, or even monsters to be a horror comedy. Hell, there’s a part where we realize that maybe Ray was right. Maybe they’re just quiet neighbors who are harmless. Except we find out the truth buried deep in The Klopek’s basement.

Joe Dante’s The ‘Burbs holds up as a classic film of a guy who wants to relax, have a beer, enjoy a ball game, and not worry about life, but it’s also a movie that was inspired by such films as The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Rear Window, and The Three Stooges. You can watch this movie any time any day, but this film will always hold a place in my heart as a holiday movie meant for a day of relaxation, good friends, and a nice beer.

(NOTE: There’s not a single unfunny Carrie Fisher story. Fact.)

Tom Hanks, Corey Feldman, Bruce Dern, Rick Ducommun, Wendy Schaal, and Darla in The 'Burbs (1989) / Fair use doctrine.

Posted by Jai Alexis in EDITORIALS, HORROR COMEDIES, MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, SLASHERS AND BAD HUMANS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: The Green Inferno (2013)

MOVIE REVIEW: The Green Inferno (2013)

If the animal torture sequences in Cannibal Ferox were an absolute deal-breaker for you, fear not, fauna-sensitive horror fan. We’re now venturing into Eli Roth-land, where the animals get a break, and the people are the ones who get turned into ‘ground round.’ And if you’re more than a bit familiar with films in his canon like the Hostel and Cabin Fever sequels, then you probably already know what to expect from his ‘upgraded’ Italian cannibal horror homage, The Green Inferno.

Young, pretty and more than a bit well-off, college student Justine (Lorenza Izzo) sees a demonstration taking place one day on the grounds of the commons and decides that she wants to get involved. Especially when she sees the charismatic, hot-as-sriracha group leader Alejandro (Ariel Levy).

The Green Inferno (2013) / Fair use doctrine.

Having lunch with her dad, Charles (The Sentinel’s Richard Burgi), who as it happens is also an ambassador at the U.N., she mentions her desire to “make a difference”. Knowing how the world actually works, he lets her know that he admires her good intentions but warns (with foreshadowing as subtle as a jackhammer) that there are other, better and saner ways to do what she can to support a cause.

The Green Inferno (2013) / Fair use doctrine.

But as the “cause” goes, so goes Alejandro, and Justine isn’t about to be swayed, even when she is initially rejected by him and the group, for saying exactly the wrong thing. Even her BFF, Kaycee (Sky Ferreira), smells something wrong with the whole deal, and not just because she knows that her buddy has it bad for Alejandro. Like the good best friend she is, she supports Justine, but she sure as hell isn’t going with her (smart girl!)

The Green Inferno (2013) / Fair use doctrine.

You have to hand it to Justine: even when it’s revealed to the group what their real agenda is as far as protesting goes, she doesn’t back down. They’re going to chain themselves to the equipment being used by an unscrupulous company, to tear out a huge part of the Amazonian rainforest, displacing and even killing the members of a rarely-seen indigenous tribe that lives there. Against the armed mercenaries employed by that company to “protect its interests”, the “ecological Scooby Gang” has only one defense: their cell phones. They plan to live-stream the protest simultaneously to news feeds all over the planet, in case the thugs are thinking about going Rambo on them. So public exposure is their only weapon. Yep, sounds like a plan, right?

If you think that this is a recipe for utter disaster, wait until you hear about the other ingredients that are going into this potential shit stew.

The Green Inferno (2013) / Fair use doctrine.

Alejandro flies the group down to the location, they implement the plan, and things go perfectly…well, almost. When Justine screws up the chaining-herself-to-a-bulldozer-part and almost gets herself killed, Alejandro warns them away with the one thing he knows they know not to fuck with: he tells them that she’s the daughter of a U.N. ambassador. Case closed, everyone stands down.

The Green Inferno (2013) / Fair use doctrine.

Only later, does Justine realize that she’s been set up. Getting her involved was Alejandro’s devious plan all along. And if that wasn’t bad enough, the entire group finds out that they’re all pawns in a sick game of greed and “one-upmanship” that never had anything to do with saving rainforests or Indio tribes in the first place.

The Green Inferno (2013) / Fair use doctrine.

Ah, but you know what they say about spilled milk…and plane crashes. Because a crash is exactly what happens to the prop plane that’s supposed to be winging them back to civilization after “mission accomplished.” You can tell that director Roth was taking notes, whenever he was watching films like Survive!, or the initial episode of LOST. Because the staged crash is one of the most realistic, nauseating and terrifying I’ve seen commended to film. So anyone who might be triggered by something of that nature, consider yourself well-warned.

The Green Inferno (2013) / Fair use doctrine.

One of the few survivors of the crash, when Justine comes to, she finds that if she thought things couldn’t get any worse for her or her ‘friends’, surprise! That tribe that Alejandro went on and on about “saving”? They now have her and all those who made it through the disaster in their canoes, paddling down the Amazon River to their remote, very well-secluded village. You ever see Cannibal Holocaust or Cannibal Ferox? Well, then, horror honeys, you know exactly where this is going. Everyone’s headed for a lunch break…and we know who’s on the menu.

The Green Inferno (2013) / Fair use doctrine.

And this is where Roth’s penchant for brutally mean-spirited jollies comes in with gusto. Well, it’s only partly his responsibility. When you remember seeing the names of master effects gods Greg Nicotero and Howard Berger in the credits, you know for damn sure there’s going to be some gnarly shit ahead. And that’s an understatement, to say the least.

The Green Inferno (2013) / Fair use doctrine.

The remainder of The Green Inferno is nothing less than watching Justine and her captive friends go stark-raving insane, while either waiting to become native cuisine, watching their friends being butchered and “prepared” for consumption, or their mostly failed efforts trying to escape that horrific fate. And the most revolting and simultaneously fascinating thing about seeing people turned into ‘people food?’ It’s the almost lackadaisical way in which they go about the killing and the “kitchen prep work.” These people think of slaughtering and eating folks the same way that we think of doing it to animal livestock. Now we get a glimpse of how they must feel!

The Green Inferno (2013) / Fair use doctrine.

And don’t worry: the gallows humor that Roth is known for injecting into his scripts is most definitely present, all through the dialogue, and in several scenes, especially two funny and nauseating parts: one involving the duplicitous Alejandro, dealing with the maddening stress of the situation the only way he knows how; the other with one of the few likable characters, Lars (Robert Rodriguez favorite Daryl Sabara).

The Green Inferno (2013) / Fair use doctrine.

First of all, if more than a few of the actors here look familiar to you, they should. While Roth was prepping for this movie, he found time to make another, the terrific disaster/horror film Aftershock, in which many of The Green Inferno’s cast members appeared, including Roth himself, and it was directed by Nicolas Lopez, (who co-produced The Green Inferno, from the script Roth wrote with Guillermo Amoedeo).

Where the films of Ruggero Deodato and Umberto Lenziexpressed the very “hippy-dippy Seventies” ethos that evil and cruelty are contagious, and that “civilized” man is far more capable of acting out on their most inhumane instincts than any natives ever were, Roth’s darkly nihilistic bent pretty much says ‘get the fuck outta here with all that crap.’ The Green Inferno makes it crystal clear that this point is where it and the films that inspired it part company.

The Green Inferno (2013) / Fair use doctrine.

The unapologetic savagery of man devouring man, both literally and figuratively is inherent on both sides, and the consequences that come due because of that savagery are also richly rewarded all round.

The Green Inferno (2013) / Fair use doctrine.

Gone also are the layers of sleaze and grime that seemed to permeate the Italian cannibal movies. Antonio Quercia’sphotography is razor sharp, and unlike its predecessors, for the most part, there’s no attempt to “cheat” certain angles, pull away from the carnage or allow most of it to happen off-screen. The camera casts an almost casual eye upon the horrors, allowing the audience to see and experience exactly what they would, if they, too, were trapped in a waterlogged, mud-bound bamboo cage, witnessing their friends being butchered and cooked, awaiting their turn.

The Green Inferno (2013) / Fair use doctrine.The Green Inferno (2013) / Fair use doctrine.

Performance-wise, Izzo, Levy, and Nicolas Martinez, who plays Daniel, hail from the Aftershock cast as well, and all give performances as strong as the ones they did in that flick. Though most of the characters here are barely developed enough to even register with viewers, let alone get them to care at all about them, one of the bigger standouts, (sorry, it was there) is Aaron Burns, who plays Jonah. He’s one of the ones who goes through what you might think is unimaginable…until you see this movie, of course.

The Green Inferno (2013) / Fair use doctrine.The Green Inferno (2013) / Fair use doctrine.

And the others are Ramon Llao, unforgettable in Aftershock as ‘Ramon’ and equally terrifying here, credited as “The Bald Headhunter,” and Antonieta Pari in the darkly androgynous role of “The Village Elder.” You want the real Faces Of Death? Here ya go, sunshine. Together or separately, they represent oblivion, ruthless and implacable, and for not being dream-delving child killers, machete-wielding undead murderers in hockey or altered William Shatner masks, or seemingly innocent dollies come to arcane, murderous life, these two characters should haunt your dreams for a very long while to come, thanks to their authentic, enthusiastic performances.

For taut direction that keeps things moving and for those stunning KNB-based effects, I give The Green Inferno three-out-of-five gut-munching stars.

The Green Inferno (2013) / Fair use doctrine.

Posted by Samuel Glass in GORE OR EXTREME HORROR, HORROR HEROES, MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, SLASHERS AND BAD HUMANS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Rampo Noir (2005)

MOVIE REVIEW: Rampo Noir (2005)

Rampo Noir (2005) is a Japanese arthouse, horror film, based on the works Kagami-jigoku (The Hell of Mirrors) (1926), Mushi (Insect) (1929), Imomushi (The Caterpillar) (1929), and Kasei no Unga (The Martian Canals) (1926) by Edogawa Rampo. It’s sort of like a modern-day Kwaidan. Although it does deal with some extreme themes and has horror elements, I wouldn’t classify it as either. It’s a bizarre, slow-moving arthouse through and through. The film is an anthology and features four segments by four different directors.

Rampo Noir (2005) / Fair use doctrine.

The first segment is entitled “Mars Canal” by Takeuchi Suguru. This segment has no dialogue and actually almost no audio at all other than one brief period of loud shrieking sound. The entire segment is only about 7 minutes long in total making it the shortest of the four. It’s a lot of violent, silent, nudity. The silence somehow heightens the beauty of the imagery and although it was short, I really enjoyed this one.

Rampo Noir (2005) / Fair use doctrine.

The next segment is called ”Mirror Hell” by Akio Jissoji. This one was probably my least favorite out of the four. It combines the stories of a bunch of women attending a tea ceremony school a traditional Japanese mirror maker and a group of detectives. Many of the women in the school fall in love with the mirror maker and they are killed one by one in a bizarre manner. The story is about jealousy, betrayal and becoming our own god. Lots of beautiful imagery and a great idea for a story but it ended up being painfully slow and fell flat for me.

Rampo Noir (2005) / Fair use doctrine.

The third segment is called ”Caterpillar” by Hisayu Sato and is probably the most extreme of the three. It’s about a soldier who comes back from war a hero but horribly disfigured. He’s missing his limbs and can really only wiggle and drool. His wife still loves and cares for him calling him her “caterpillar”. It watches like Japanese fetish porn and has some unconventional sex scenes… that’s all I’ll say about that.

Rampo Noir (2005) / Fair use doctrine.

The final segment is called ”Crawling Bugs” by Atsushi Kaneko was my favorite of the bunch. After the dull lighting of the first three, the color enthusiast in me rejoiced at the vivid pallet in this one. However, while the color and style in this one pop it’s quite boring to watch beyond that. Basically, we follow a fashion model and her relationship with an artist who is obsessed with germs. He ends up killing her and dismembering her corps and turning her into a human corpse doll. It sounds far more interesting than it actually was.

I recommend this to arthouse film buffs and the seekers of the strange/obscure, but if like me you’re seeking out extreme or fast-paced art this won’t be for you.

2.5/5 shocks for this film Rampo Noir

Rampo Noir (2005) / Fair use doctrine.

Posted by Candace Stone in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (2018)

MOVIE REVIEW: Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (2018)

I had the opportunity to watch Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich and jumped at it. Those puppets hold a special place in my heart, much like the Cenobites do, and thus I will always watch the next installment in the franchise. After 2017’s dismal Puppet Master: Axis Termination, I didn’t hold much hope for the latest entry – especially after I saw the redesign of Blade and heard that Six Shooter would be entirely absent. But then I learned that Fangoria, Thomas Lennon, Barbara Crampton, and Udo Kier were involved, and my interest was once again piqued. Could this be a return to the kind of Puppet Master awesomeness that was the best parts of the previous entries?

Udo Kier as Andre Toulon in Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (2018) / Fair use doctrine.

Udo Kier as Andre Toulon

If you’re unfamiliar with the timeline of the Puppet Master movies, that will not be a problem. Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich is a complete reboot of the series set in an alternate universe. Fans of the franchise need not fret either as the reboot retains several of our favorite puppets – Blade, Tunneler, Pinhead, and Torch (aka Kaiser) – while introducing some interesting new ones.

Nelson Franklin, Jenny Pellicer, and Thomas Lennon in Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (2018) / Fair use doctrine.

Markowitz (Nelson Franklin), Ashley (Jenny Pellicer), and Edgar (Thomas Lennon)

The movie begins with a brief glimpse 30 years into the past when an evil Toulon (Udo Kier from Mark of the Devil) was found and killed by local police. From there it moves to the present and primarily follows Edgar (Thomas Lennon of Santa Clarita Diet), a recently divorced and struggling comic book artist who becomes mixed up in Toulon’s return on the 30th anniversary of the Toulon murders. Edgar, having moved into his parents’ house, also works as a comic store clerk and decides to auction off his dead brother’s Blade puppet at a Toulon convention. He invites Ashley (Jenny Pellicer of The Bridge TV series) along, his boss Markowitz (Nelson Franklin of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) invites himself along, and the trio set out for what they hope will be a fun and somewhat profitable weekend.

Barbara Crampton as retired officer Carol Doreski in Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (2018) / Fair use doctrine.

Barbara Crampton as retired officer Carol Doreski

Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich uses the convention to reveal Toulon’s past in this universe, primarily via the tour of Toulon Mansion as led by one of the officers from the original case 30 years earlier, retired officer Carol Doreski (Barbara Crampton), who outlines the details of the events surrounding the Toulon Massacre. Here’s what we learn of Toulon’s past on the tour: He was born in France in 1907 and eventually entered the family business of manufacturing, selling, and performing with puppets. At this point, Doreski points out that three of the museum’s puppets are missing – Kaiser aka Torch, Pinhead, and a new puppet called Amphibian. In this universe, Toulon fled to Germany after arrests in Paris, Norway, and Luxemborg and likewise fled to the US after the Third Reich surrendered. Toulon’s Nazi roots are underscored by his choice of victims as well as the paraphernalia and the remains of his library, a library that includes three books from Adolf Eichmann, author of the Reich’s “Final Solution”. After a pass through Toulon’s workshop, the tour concludes with an exterior shot of Toulon’s tomb, complete with spikes on top that do not go with the rest of the architecture.

Toulon's tomb in Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (2018) / Fair use doctrine.

Andre Toulon’s tomb

And that’s the basic set up for the puppet mayhem.

Nelson Franklin and Charlyne Yi in Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (2018) / Fair use doctrine.

Markowitz (Nelson Franklin) and Nerissa (Charlyne Yi )

Once the puppets are in town, they’re let loose on everyone. Primarily targeting people the Nazis did, the puppets do what they do best. I’ll not go into details about the kills, but I will say that they are a lot of fun. There are some creative kills with both the old puppets and the new additions, and the effects are a delight. Fear not, gorehounds, you will be satisfied. While I miss the older puppets that have been omitted, I’m pleased with the results of the new ones as well as the differences in how the traditional puppets are portrayed – something I honestly did not think I would like.

Alex Beh and Michael Pare in Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (2018) / Fair use doctrine.

Hotel manager Howie (Alex Beh) and Det. Brown (Michael Paré)

The performances were top notch, and Udo Kier’s Toulon oozed skeeze and evil. Lennon, Pellicer, and Franklin are all excellent in their roles. Lennon’s performance is understated, but that works well for this story. Pellicer as the tough but sexy girl next door is both believable and likable, making the blossoming romance subplot less annoying than they usually are. Franklin holds his own with both and, to both Franklin’s and the movie’s credit, he’s not a caricature. Barbara Crampton (We Are Still Here ) is, as always, awesome and crushes every scene. Michael Paré (Village of the Damned (1995)) plays Detective Brown, the unlucky officer investigating the disappearance of multiple puppets brought to town for auction, and nails the role. In a delightful twist to the usual fare, when faced with puppets acting on their own, Paré’s detective goes with it. Rounding out the main cast are Alex Beh (Sugar) as hotel manager Howie, Charlyne Yi (House – TV series) as comic fan and waitress Nerissa, and Skeeta Jenkins (Summer of ’67) as bartender Cuddly Bear. All work well with this script and as an ensemble.

Skeeta Jenkins as Cuddly Bear in Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (2018) / Fair use doctrine.

Skeeta Jenkins as Cuddly Bear

Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich was filmed at the same time as Puppet Master: Axis Termination, but the two could not be further apart in tone and execution. While Puppet Master: Axis Termination follows Toulon’s story as an opponent of the Nazis, Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich places Toulon in the Third Reich for this alternate universe. Written by S. Craig Zahler and directed by Sonny Laguna and Tommy Wiklund from characters created by Charles Band and Kenneth J. Hall, Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich is a worthy entry in the franchise. Indeed, given the last few movies in the original universe, this was a wise move and offers an entirely new storyline to explore. I’m looking forward to seeing what’s next.

Blade, Happy Amphibian, and Tunneler in Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (2018) / Fair use doctrine.

Blade, Happy Amphibian, and Tunneler

8/10 claw scratches for this alternate universe Puppet Master reboot

BONUS: Puppet Gallery

Posted by Woofer McWooferson in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, SCI-FI HORROR, SLASHERS AND BAD HUMANS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Hereditary (2018)

MOVIE REVIEW: Hereditary (2018)

Gabriel Byrne, Toni Collette, Alex Wolff, and Milly Shapiro in Hereditary (2018) / Fair use doctrine.Recently, the horror genre has been doing its very best by pushing its limits and finally scaring us again. As a die-hard and devoted fan to the genre, I can honestly say that it’s been a fun two years to watch horror films. Everything from Get Out to A Quiet Place has been up to higher standards, and it’s about time. It’s almost as if the industry stopped allowing repetitive ideas get greenlit, and it’s about time for that, too. Which brings me to the release of a new drama/horror film known as Hereditary.

Hereditary (2018) / Fair use doctrine.Hereditary tells a story of a grieving mother, Annie, played by Toni Collette (Krampus), who just lost her dear mother and is trying to get on with her life with her husband Steve, played by Gabriel Byrne (End of Days), her son, Peter played by Alex Wolff (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle), and daughter Charlie, played by Milli Shapiro, who comes off as a weird, quiet child. Annie can’t seem to cope with the tragic loss of her dear mother. She attends meetings with others who also lost someone very close to them and meets Joan, played by Ann Dowd (Garden State), and forms a little friendship. Everything takes a devastating turn when another close family member dies, leaving Annie even more distraught than ever before. Joan, who also lost someone very close, invites her over for a visit to perform as a medium, showing her that she can very well talk to the dead. This is when the film really takes off and the tension builds higher and higher, leaving the audience pondering what will come of all of this.

Toni Collette in Hereditary (2018) / Fair use doctrine.First off, let me just say that Toni Collette really stole the show here. Her acting is nothing short of superb and surreal. The life she is now dealing with, the expressions, and the constant upbeat really pack a punch. She made this film more enjoyable to watch, and when we get to the last 20 minutes, all bets are off.

Milly Shapiro in Hereditary (2018) / Fair use doctrine.Some scenes may seem like they are never-ending, but I think that was done on purpose to build dread in the audience. Instead of jumping from cut to cut, the scenes are much longer and drawn out. It makes sense as the director really wants the audience to feel what Annie and her family are feeling throughout the film. Kudos to both the actors and director for pulling that off. Hereditary is a slow burn thriller, but when the film gets going after about an hour, it really starts to mess with your mind and constantly makes you consider where it is going and how is it going to end.

I absolutely loved Hereditary, I think it’s one of the best films to come out in 2018, it definitely leaves a mark and will stay with you long after the credits are finished rolling. Like I said before, Toni Collette really sells in this film, and she deserves to be nominated for best actress. Job well done!!!

Posted by Jonathan Hughes in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Room Laundering (2018)

MOVIE REVIEW: Room Laundering (2018)

Room Laundering (2018) / Fair use doctrine.If you were told you were about to watch a film that is one-part Beetlejuice and one-part The Frighteners but produced by a Japanese filmmaker, would it leave you wondering how something like that could possibly work and what kind of hot mess you’d be left with unspooling before your very cynical eyeballs? The answer, in this case, is co-writer/director Kenji Katagiri’s Room Laundering, a quirky, geeky, unexpectedly charming ‘dramedy’ about grief, loss, coming of age, and finally coming into your own against all of the obstacles that life happens to throw your way…oh, and yeah, it has a few ghosts in it.

Co-written with Tatsuya Umemoto, Room Laundering is the usual story about a very unusual twenty-year-old girl named Mitsuko, “Miko” for short (the winsome Elaiza Ikeda, who could be the Japanese version of Winona Ryder’s Lydia Deetz.) Seemingly dogged by bad luck, after her father died and her mother disappeared when she was a kid, she grew up with her grandmother, who also promptly kicked the bucket when Miko was eighteen. Being the only family she has left, her uncle, Goro (Joe Odagiri) takes her in, and also puts her to work for him in a rather…strange enterprise.

You see, there’s a regulation that says if any untimely deaths take place inside a residence, any potential tenants who intend to move in must be informed of the event. Nobody said WHEN they have to be told, so in order to avoid the money-losing possibility of having people not move into your place at all, you talk to Goro, who then has Miko move in, live there for a time and then leave, giving the place a new lease on life as a rental (no pun intended.) The process is nicknamed “room laundering,” similar to money laundering, but it’s dealing with properties instead.

Oh, and one other wrinkle, by the way – the tenants can’t see or communicate with the restless spirits of the late tenants in these places…but Miko can. (A silly duck lamp, a gift from Miko’s childhood, serves as the indicator of when spirits are present.) Which has resulted in her having very little communication or relationships with living people – not that she minds all that much. The life of being a nomadic medium of sorts seems to suit her, thank you very much.

Things seem to change radically for Miko, however, with the latest two “hauntings” she’s had to deal with. The first is the spirit of a goofy dead punk-rocker named Kimihiko (Kiyohiko Shibukawa), who slit his wrists in the bathtub of one of the places that Miko is ‘laundering’ (and his injuries make for a gross if hysterically funny Tim Burtonesque sight gag).

The second and more serious case is the next apartment, which finds Miko dealing with something she hasn’t before: a murder victim. The ghost in question here is that of Yuki Chikamoto (Kaoru Mitsumune), an office worker who threw herself into cosplay and social media in her off-hours. It’s her gruesome murder (shown mostly offscreen) that opens the movie and her style of haunting that’s closest to what we’ve come to expect in J-horror films like The Grudge and The Ring. But even that is handled with a lighter-than-expected touch by Katagiri.

Miko’s encounters with the murdered ghost of Yuki also brings Yuki’s next-door neighbor Akito (Kentaro) into her orbit. Guilt-ridden by his lack of concern for his former neighbor, grocery store manager Akito has no plans to make the same mistake twice, and in spite of his awkwardness around her, remains determined to get to know Miko a bit better, even though she herself is sworn not to break the number one commandment of her ‘job’, which is “no fraternization with the neighbors.”

To say that Akito changes everything for Miko is a complete understatement. As he begins to gradually break down her barriers, she starts to emerge from the shell of her ‘weird’ existence, discovering that dealing with the living really isn’t as bad as all that…until, of course, the subplot kicks in, where she finally decides to go above and beyond the call of her usual duties to help out both Kimihiko and Yuki, which brings the movie to a tense-yet-funny, and finally satisfying conclusion.

Neither quite as ‘out-there’ as Beetlejuice nor as intense as Peter Jackson’s The Frighteners, Room Laundering takes a more sentimental approach to the like-minded material. Katagiri’s empathy for his characters really shows here, revealing a bit at a time, the layered personalities of each one. Even the supposedly nihilistic Kimihiko and the allegedly self-absorbed Yuki are shown to be a lot more sympathetic than one would think from first impressions.

Especially funny and touching are the interactions that Miko has with the ghost of a dead former classmate and friend, who has the sensibilities of a horny twenty-something man, trapped forever in the form of the grade-schooler he was when he was hit by a car and killed.

The most surprising aspect of the film is how it expresses a belief in the humanity of the living, and yes, even the dead, just when you think that the world is little more than a revolving, never-ending ball of ‘suck.’

The performances are engaging, and the story, though familiar, does a good job of keeping you guessing about characters’ intentions and just exactly how and where Yuki will end up. Katagiri’s direction is sure-footed, as he manages to walk that thin line between pathos and having things become way too maudlin to enjoy.

Room Laundering gets a very solid three-and-a-half out of five stars from me, with a strong recommendation to those who usually avoid J-horror as being too “gross” or “creepy”.

Posted by Samuel Glass in COMING SOON, FAMILY HORROR, HORROR COMEDIES, MOVIE REVIEWS, PARANORMAL, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Leaf Blower Massacre 2 (2017)

MOVIE REVIEW: Leaf Blower Massacre 2 (2017)

So I was asked to review a film called Leaf Blower Massacre 2. Being a fan of all types of horror, I eagerly accepted. I received two DVDs and have yet to watch the second film, Dirty Sanchez, but the title intrigues me. On the other hand, I was intrigued by Leaf Blower Massacre 2, and my expectations were not fulfilled.

Let me say to start that I expected the movie could execute the title premise in a couple of ways and make it work. It could be a great cheese horror film based on the leaf blower weapon premise alone. While it touched on comedic kills a couple of times, there was something lacking to tip the kills completely into the comedic or horrific arenas. I’m not entirely certain the director was aiming for one or the other but rather whatever works. Unfortunately, having worked on and literally written manuals on several breathing air compressors, I couldn’t help but think about the air pressure level of a leaf blower during a critical scene.

Leaf Blower Massacre 2 (2017)Leaf Blower Massacre 2, written by Michael Wade Johnson and director Anthony Cooney, follows two parallel stories involving the deaths of coeds; the first story revolves around two detectives (Michael Schmid and Tommy Nowicki) who are investigating the murders, and the second story involves a college professor (Shavar D. Clark) who had taught all of the victims. As the stories merge, the reveal is not as surprising as it could be.

The Pros:

  • Works as a standalone film (The movie itself was a sequel to a film I hadn’t seen, but that wasn’t much of a detriment to the enjoyment.)
  • Practical effects
  • Interesting choice of weapon
  • Cinematography
  • Ari Lehman as Phil the Security Guard

The Cons:

  • Acting seemed forced, alternately flat and exaggerated
  • Bad screen presence/chemistry between the leads
  • Audio was muffled at times and vaguely echoed at others

Leaf Blower Massacre 2 (2017)Overall, Leaf Blower Massacre 2 comes off as a decent student film, and the actors will improve with experience. The biggest problem that I saw was that it took a serious approach with a weapon begs to be satirized. Taking a more comedic approach would have helped to smooth over some of the awkwardness and enhance rather than detract from the film.

Final Score: 5 of 10 claw scratches

Posted by Woofer McWooferson in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, SLASHERS AND BAD HUMANS, 0 comments
REVIEW: Safe 2018 (Short)

REVIEW: Safe 2018 (Short)

Safe (2018)

Directed By: Tim Earnheart

Written By: Tim Earnheart

Starring: Nadine Nagamatsu, S Joe Downing, Ayuba Audu, Reeve Barceloux, Corrie Fleming

I had the pleasure of reviewing the short film Conduit at last year’s Shreikfest. It was a nice mash-up of action and horror and on a limited time and budget managed to tell a cool little story. This year I was extremely lucky to get an early preview of Mr. Earnheart’s latest short film entitled Safe. A woman’s (Nadine Nagamatsu) home is broken into by three masked men. They promptly demand the contents of a safe but not without some deadly consequences. Similar to Conduit, Earnheart masterfully subverts genre expectations and fuses the horror/home invasion genre with action and sci-fi. That seems like a recipe for disaster however with some clever writing and less is more approach it works surprisingly well. Further elevating the material is some on-point editing that creates a nice action-packed pace that keeps you glued from start to finish. Also, Earnheart shows off a nice crisp visual flare and employs some interesting camera work giving everything a polished look on a budget. Shout out to a great cast headed up by Nadine Nagamatsu who was in Tim’s previous films including Conduit. She brings a nice range to the part and thankfully doesn’t ham things up. On the surface, Safe seems like a typical slice`em up home invasion but thankfully it’s not. Once again I was very pleased that Tim can take a well-worn horror sub-genre and totally flip it on its head while injecting some great visual effects and action. I would love to see Safe turned into a feature film because it has such a great story that could easily be expanded on. Once again I was totally impressed by this young and up-and-coming writer, director.

Check out his other works — Conduit (Short) (2017), Working with Damian (Short) (2016), and Chapter 2 (Short) (2016).

Posted by Mike Vaughn in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: The Lure (2015)

MOVIE REVIEW: The Lure (2015)

The Lure (2015)The Lure (2015) by Polish director Agnieszka Smoczynska is a retelling of The Little Mermaid and should be sought out by every and all obscure, foreign, horror and arthouse film lovers. It’s a dazzling, glitzy punch to the eyeballs. It’s one movie that is every bit as good as the trailer and then some. I should point out that I have a mermaid fetish and this film has become my new favorite thing in life.

Full Disclosure: The Lure is a musical. If that’s a deal breaker, please exit the review now.

It is, in fact, a musical but it’s a sexy, disco, mermaid horror with tons of erotic and emotional appeal.

Spoilers!!!

The Lure (2015)Two mermaid sisters, Silver and Golden, lure men from the beach for food. One night they get adopted by their would be meal: a sleazy nightclub band. Through a bizarre set of circumstances, they end up joining the act. Just like in Splash, once they’re out of water, they form legs… but have no genitalia or ass crack “smooth as a Barbie”. Silver and Golden perform nightly at the club and become popular fast. Everyone wants them. Silver falls in love with one of the band members, Mietek, while Golden yearns to be back in the sea.

Ultimately, they are still animals and Golden resorts to old animal instincts and kills a club patron. Golden meets Triton, another creature of the sea, who warns her of a terrible fate: if a mermaid falls in love with a man and he marries someone else, she must eat him before dawn or she will turn to sea foam.

As Silver’s love for Mietek grows, she decides to get a tail-ectomy/leg transplant in order to satisfy him sexually. After the comical operation — she’s kept on ice like a fish in the market during surgery — there are complications, and Silver and Mietek are still unable to copulate. He falls in love with someone else and marries her. On the night of the wedding, Silver is unable to kill him and decides to turn to foam in his arms instead. Stricken with grief, Golden tears out his throat and returns to the sea.
The Lure (2015)
A beautiful love story, and a tragic tale of humans exploiting animals.
Some of the highlights include:

  • hot mermaid on girl sex scene
  • fish hole fingering
  • killer mermaids
  • Rad Polish disco music
  • glitter

The Lure (2015)

5/5 glamourous shocks for The Lure

Posted by Candace Stone in MONSTERS AND CREATURES, MOVIE REVIEWS, MYTHS AND LEGENDS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
HoTS Review: Party Night (2017)

HoTS Review: Party Night (2017)

Party Night / Troy EscamillaThis week I sat down to watch Party Night, the debut film of filmmaker Troy Escamilla. Party Night tells the tale of a group of six high school students on prom night. The film runs just over an hour, so it is a feature but not a long one. Let’s jump into this one with a brief description.

As mentioned six high school students decide to have their own post-prom party, rather than attend the school’s. There have been reports of five girls that have gone missing, but this does not prevent the teens from going off to do their own thing. They head to a house owned by the uncle of Nelson, one of the six. While changing into more comfortable clothing, Amy sees someone looking in the window. Molly checks but sees nothing. The kids gather back in the living room and discuss watching one of the 80s slashers Nelson’s uncle has. Molly and Travis step outside and after an argument, Molly goes off by herself. One by one the killer picks off these unsuspecting teens until there is one final battle. The question is who survives and how do they escape, if at all?

Party Night / Troy EscamillaThat is the very brief plot with no spoilers. Let’s talk now about the film itself. First, let me begin with my critiques of the film. I will qualify this by saying that we are dealing with a low budget debut film. The camera work in the very beginning was slightly shaky. That does stop early in the film, however. The biggest nitpick for me was the killer and motivation for his/her deeds was not clearly identified. You will have to pay very close attention to get it.

Party Night / Troy EscamillaHaving said that, let me highlight some things that worked. This film had a very small cast, so there are not a lot of background people you have to pay attention to. Every character has a purpose. This also is a tribute to the lost art of the “80s slasher”. There are no CG effects, the blood looks like corn syrup, the dialogue has its cheesy moments and people die horrific deaths. That is a simple formula that has worked for over 40 years and will always have my attention. There are several 80s movie references. One character says, “this isn’t Camp Crystal Lake” and Slaughter High is mentioned. One character, Andrew, suggests they play “Strip Monopoly”. That works for me in a tribute film.

Troy Escamilla debuted this film last year, and it hits DVD/VOD platforms September 11, 2018. This movie won’t be a blockbuster, nor is it intended to be one. Party Night a fun slasher film that will make you realize these are dumb (but not stupid) teenagers. They will be in compromising situations. When you see Andrew and Olivia have sex, you try to figure out how they will die. That is not a spoiler, by the way. Having sex in a slasher, it becomes not an if, but when you get killed moment. Overall, this movie works for the audience intended. The film creates nostalgia. As mentioned, this film is the debut film for Escamilla. He follows this with Stirring. Party Night is fun and despite its small flaws, does make an entertaining movie to watch.

Overall Grade: B

Posted by Crypt Keeper Clint in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
HoTS Review: Livescream (2018)

HoTS Review: Livescream (2018)

So this week I watched a different kind of film called Livescream. Imagine if you will, a movie that has 1 speaking actor and looks more like a live stream video than a movie. It may not sound exciting. Enter the exception to the rule, with Michelle Iannantuono’s 1-hour film, Livescream.

Livescream / Michelle Iaanantuono

Livescream opens with Scott, played by Gunner Willis. Scott is a popular online gamer, who plays new games on his live stream while his followers watch. He has, at the beginning of the film, 225 users online who comment in the chat box while he answers. Scott announces his upcoming gaming plans and introduces a new game suggested to him called Livescream. It is a horror game that supposedly interacts with his audience. Scott chooses the hardest level of the game called “Nightmare” and is warned he only has 5 lives. The game also refers to him by his name and Scott finds this weird.

Livescream / Michelle Iaanantuono

The game begins and looks like most first-person games. I got an old school vibe of Doom (the game, not the movie), while watching. Scott encounters a monster who kills his player for the first time. This is where the movie begins to twist. One of Scott’s viewers tells the room he hears the same monster in his house and then exits the chat room. Many of the viewers feel this is a prank, and Scott continues but is concerned.

Livescream (2018) / Michelle Iaanantuono

The next round has a feature where if Scott hits a button, he can see nine of his followers. Scott faces a clown and his character dies. The nine “players” appear again, and one is killed in front of the group.

Livescream / Michelle Iaanantuono

This has now taken a serious turn and Scott wants to quit. He receives a warning that quitting will make all of his viewers and him die in real life. All but 11 viewers exit the chat/stream. The game tells Scott to choose two people and let the rest leave. JumpingWolf (his moderator) and JohhnyDope (a viewer who logs on to troll everyone) volunteer.

Livescream / Michelle Iaanantuono

Everyone else leaves the chat. As expected, Scott dies 2 times in the game, which leads his followers to do so in real life. Scott does, in fact, beat the game, but must answer the fateful question, “Would you kill someone else to save your own life?” We get that question answered as the movie ends.

Livescream (2018) / Michelle Iaanantuono

There is the plot. Here are my thoughts. This movie is original and takes a huge risk, but has the potential for high reward. We have 1 person speaking for an hour, and we see one kill. This type of movie should not work according to every movie we have ever seen. However, it not only works, but it makes you watch in a different way. You do not feel like you are watching a movie. You feel like you are one of the viewers. This will make you care about Scott.

My only criticism of Livescream is I would have liked to see the viewers get killed to make it more emotional for Scott. Trust me, he does get emotional in this, but to give it a visual of losing his viewers would put it over the top. Do not let that fool you though. This still has a lot of things that may make you jump and does provide some scare because it feels like you are there.

Overall Grade: Solid A.

Posted by Crypt Keeper Clint in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Slender Man (2018) [SPOILERS]

MOVIE REVIEW: Slender Man (2018) [SPOILERS]

Slender Man - Real Story / Image: Chicago TribuneI had the pleasure of seeing Slender Man over the weekend, and I was very impressed with the outcome of the movie. As a horror movie lover, I have very high standards for how the movie should turn out. Slender Man, in this case, intrigues me. For those who may not be familiar, Slender Man (also known as a creepypasta Internet meme) is a tall, very unnaturally thin man with a featureless face who wears a black suit. He is known for stalking, traumatizing, and abducting children. There was even a panic in Wisconsin back in 2014 when two 12-year-old girls took their best friend into the woods and nearly stabbed her to death in order to summon Slender Man. Out of respect for the families, some theaters in nearby counties are not showing this movie.

Spoiler Alert Nosferatu

Slender Man (2018) / Image: IMDbThe start of Slender Man was pretty fast-paced, one which I enjoyed instead of waiting the 1-1/2 hours for the story to pick up. It shows the chemistry between four best friends Wren (Joey King), Hallie (Julia Goldani Telles), Chloe (Jaz Sinclair), and Katie (Annalise Basso). One night, the girls went to hang out at Katie’s house. They had overheard the boys in school talking about summoning up Slender Man , so they searched online and found the video and various images — including Slender Man (Javier Botet) himself. They eventually laugh it off even though he was lingering on their minds. A week after they summoned Slender Man, Katie goes missing on a class field trip. Eventually, her three friends realize that she was participating in online occult practices hoping to be taken away by Slender Man in order to escape her reality of living with an alcoholic father.

Slender Man (2018) / Image: IMDbThe girls do some investigating and find out that they can get Katie back in exchange for something that means the most to them. They decide to venture out into the woods hoping to see Slender Man, but cannot make eye contact at the same time. Eventually, each girl makes contact with him while Wren becomes obsessed with research in order to put an end to this once and for all. The result is that the only way to end this once and for all is to surrender to Slender Man, which ends up being the only choice they have in order to save Hallie’s younger sister Lizzie (Taylor Richardson) who summoned Slender Man. In the end, the camera zoomed in to a picture of the four girls with Lizzie narrating about her sister’s experience, thus showing how the myth of Slender Man creates a vicious circle among teenagers who summon him up out of curiosity.

All in all, the acting was a little unbearable but I do give credit to director Sylvain White for staying on track with the storyline and to Javier Botet who made the movie as the titular Slender Man. The beginning started off strong and the graphics alone were believable and well done. Midway it felt like the movie should have ended a few times, and it dragged a little until the end. Overall, I grade Slender Man a C.

Posted by Sarah Gregory in MOVIE REVIEWS, MYTHS AND LEGENDS, REVIEWS, 0 comments