Film Review

MOVIE REVIEW: Dane Granger (2016)

MOVIE REVIEW: Dane Granger (2016)

By Amy Mead 

Dane Granger emotions

Dane Granger 

A Thru the Lens Production

Directed by Stephanie Hensley and Brian Jolliffe

Starring Frankie McKay and Linda Schrader

 

Dane Granger is a 25 year old lesbian who left her small Indiana hometown after graduating high school to escape the tragedy of her adolescence, and the demons it brought with it. Unfortunately, Dane is still plagued by those demons, which manifest themselves as a silent, faceless man that silently watches over her, tormenting her. Dane is also haunted by an unhealthy desire to be with the love of her life, the all american hometown sweetheart, Grace Harper. 

After escaping her small hometown life, Dane becomes a well known actress but in spite of her fame, fortune and glory, she struggles with the memories of her past and the events that shattered her family when she was just a young girl. Dane's life was forever changed in an instant when her father not only commited suicide, but took her little brother with him. She has never been the same. 

A few years later, Dane is forced to return home to attend a the funeral of a very close friend who was not only Dane's roommate, but Grace's sister, Matty.  Dane of course runs into Grace and and is forced to face her past, and the faceless man who torments her, head on. Soon, Dane is spiraling out of control when she finds out Grace is soon to be married. Grace is, was, and always will be Dane's Kryptonite, her one and only weakness. Before long, Dane's descent into madness begins as she struggles to figure out who, and what, she really is. 

Dane has many demons. So does Grace. And their demons do not play well with each other. Dane and Grace truly are a match made in hell. Grace could very be the end of Dane, as her desire slowly drives her into a careless existence.

Dane Granger is a heartbreaking tale of madness, turmoil, and heartbreak. 

"Madness is the symptom, love is the disease"...

Shortly after reading Stephanie Hensley's book Dane Granger Reborn (which I absolutely loved) it was announced that a movie was in the works. I have been eagerly awaiting the films release since then. It's no secret that I have been a champion of this project, and as luck would have it, I was asked by Stephanie herself to give the first review of the finished product, which is truly an honor. 

In most cases where I have read the book first, I am usually not particularly fond of the screen adaptations but with Dane Granger, the screenplay was written by Stephanie herself and as such, not much gets lost in translation. I was seriously blown away and FAR from disappointed with the finished product. And just like the book, I was in tears by the films end. That doesn't happen often. 

While not an out and out horror film, Dane Granger definitely has it's horrific moments and the things that float around in Dane's head are truly frightening. Watching her wrestle her demons and fight to find some peace within herself is hard to watch at times. You want to hug and comfort her while simultaneously beating the shit out of her. Dane is a beautiful, tragic mess and that in itself is horrific.

The direction of Hensley and Jolliffe was nothing short of amazing and some of the shots are simply gorgeous. This film does not look like it's the first for either one of them. Their passion for it is clearly evident and they make a fabulous team. Their work is seriously impressive and I will definitely be looking forward to seeing more from both of them in the future. The only real issue with the film are some issues with the sound, but other than that, this film is truly a work of art. 

Frankie McKay's performance as the titular character is nothing short of mind blowing. Frankie IS Dane, without question. And this comes from someone who was extremely skeptical about the casting choice. within the first five minutes I knew my initial thoughts were way off the mark. In all honesty, I don't think a  better casting choice could have been made. 

The Dane Granger indiegogo campaign recently ended and hopefully that's a sign that the film will be unleashed upon the masses very soon. I seriously cannot recommend it enough.

If you like indie cinema, drama and psychological thrills, this is definitely one you need to check out. I am already looking forward to getting my physical copy upon the films release and watching the beautiful craziness that is Dane Granger all over again. 

 

 

 

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MOVIE REVIEW: The Black Tape (2014)

MOVIE REVIEW: The Black Tape (2014)

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By Nick Durham

Found footage flicks are all over the place these days. For every horror subgenre, there’s about thirty found footage flicks dealing with them. Whether they be about monsters, serial killers, paranormal bullshit, or whatever else you can think of that the horror genre has to offer; chances are there’s a found footage flick out there about it. And why not? They’re relatively simple to make, can have a super small micro budget, and if done and distributed right, can be a relative hit, or at the very least, be done pretty damn well. Ramone Menon’s The Black Tape is one such film, as it manages to be a found footage flick that takes a tired subgenre (voyeuristic serial killer) and manages to make it pretty damned entertaining.

The Black Tape focuses on a voyeuristic serial killer that has made the Wilson family a new target. With their eldest daughter home for the holidays, things appear to be nice and business as usual for the family, but it soon becomes apparent that this is anything but the case. I don’t want to give too much away, but very bad things happen to everyone involved here, and by the time things appear to be all wrapped up in the end, there’s a gut punch of a twist that is surprisingly well done and unanticipated.  Well, mostly that is anyway.

From a technical standpoint, The Black Tape is very well made for what it is. The film is well-shot and well-edited, and there’s a very good sense of atmosphere and dread as well. Things like jump scares are surprisingly not too frequent here, which is actually a big plus. One of the annoying things with found footage horror movies are the amount of cheap jump scares that come with them. I’m happy to say that The Black Tape barely has any if at all. Instead, the focus is on the mystery and psychological horror, which is a very nice change of pace.

So yeah, The Black Tape is a very entertaining and well-made found footage horror flick that delivers the goods. If there’s any drawbacks to the film it’s that I feel it may be a bit too long for its own good, but this is only a minor complaint; it’s still surprisingly good. Be on the lookout for director Ramone Menon as well, this guy is going places.




Rating: 4/5.

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MOVIE REVIEW: Deathgasm (2015)

MOVIE REVIEW: Deathgasm (2015)

By Nick Durham

Deathgasm

Heavy metal up your fucking ass. That’s what Deathgasm promises, and holy mother of fucking shit, that’s what Deathgasm delivers on. A delirious, New Zealand-birthed film revolving around metal, demons, and hysterical gross out moments, this film is a total fucking treat, and that’s saying it lightly. Fifteen minutes into this movie, I knew I stumbled upon something special.

Deathgasm revolves around Brodie (Milo Cawthorne): an abandoned teenage metal head that is stuck living with some fairly conservative family members that don’t approve of his dress style, taste in music, or penchant for playing some blistering licks on his guitar (it should go without saying that I totally relate to this kid, but I digress). Anyway, Brodie meets local troublemaker and fellow metal head Zakk (James Blake), and of course they decide to start their own band. Before you know it, they inadvertently summon up an ancient evil that begins taking demonic possession of the local townfolk.  What results is some of the most hilariously amazing scenes you’ll see in a horror flick around today.

Nearly everything about Deathgasm is wondrous. The film’s screenplay and scenes are peppered throughout with various metal-flavored in-jokes and nods to the metal genre. Combined with the pitch-black comedic moments and even more nods to 80s horror flicks (this film owes a lot to The Evil Dead (1981) and Demons(1985)), you won’t be able to do much else other than love this fucking film. The film’s makeup and gore effects, and especially the soundtrack, are totally fucking killer.

Now for as much as I love Deathgasm, it isn’t perfect. In fact, it falls just short of being an all-time classic, albeit just barely. The bro relationship between Brodie and Zakk, and the love triangle with the super fine Medina (Kimberly Crossman), doesn’t get as much depth served to it as I would’ve liked. That and sometimes the film’s pacing is sometimes all over the place. All of that aside, this is a fucking great time.

All in all, if you’re a longtime fan of metal music, you owe it to yourself to see Deathgasm. Even if you’re not into metal music, you’ll find a lot to admire here regardless if anything like The Evil Dead or Demons (1985) is up your alley. If you don’t get even a smidge of enjoyment out of this, I think something may be wrong with you, and we just can’t be friends.

Rating: 4/5

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MOVIE REVIEW: The Inhabitants (2015)

MOVIE REVIEW: The Inhabitants (2015)

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By Nick Durham

We’ve had a bit of a renaissance lately in terms of some small-budgeted spooky movies that deliver the goods without buckets of blood and gore and rely more on old school tricks to give the viewer goose bumps. A lot of these films tend to be of the slow burn variety as well…which has its own share of likeable qualities (and some serious hate-worthy qualities as well). The Rasmussen Brothers (writers of John Carpenter’s The Ward and helmers of Dark Feed) throw their hat into the ring with The Inhabitants, which actually manages to make a fairly good impression despite its shortcomings.




The Inhabitants revolves around married couple Jess (Elise Couture) and Dan (Michael Reed), who have just purchased a New England-based bed and breakfast. Of course, as these things tend to go, the house itself holds some terrible secrets thanks to its past inhabitants. These come to light when Dan has to take an emergency business trip and leaves Jess all alone in the big, spooky house. All the creepy house hallmarks are here: scary shadows and figures, creaking sounds, and some creepy camera angles.  The film offers plenty of atmosphere that really gives the film an ominous tone and it works really well.

While The Inhabitants offers good atmosphere, there’s some other elements where the film sadly lacks. It begins with our leads in all honesty, neither characterization really reaches out to the viewer at all in any way. Not to mention the fact that there are some serious plot holes and flat out leaps in logic that pop up as the film crawls towards its conclusion. Granted the film’s story is a little inventive compared to other films of its ilk, so it does have that going for it at least.

All things considered, I could think of worse ways to kill an hour and a half. The Inhabitants isn’t half bad, but it doesn’t offer much either in all honesty. Still though, it does show that Michael and Shawn Rasmussen have talent and promise as filmmakers. Here’s hoping that they only go onward and upward.

Rating: 3/5

 

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MOVIE REVIEW: Mine Games (2012)

MOVIE REVIEW: Mine Games (2012)

minegames2

By Nick Durham

We’ll get to the badness of this movie in a bit, but there’s one thing I feel I need to address right off the bat, and it’s the confusion over the actual title of this piece of shit. First and foremost, I discovered Mine Games on Netflix, and noticed that it stars Briana Evigan (Sorority Row, The Devil’s Carnival, Paranormal Island).  Anyone who knows me well enough knows that one of the things I love more than horror is ogling Briana Evigan, so I was sold right away into pressing play. As soon as I did, the film’s title card appears, but doesn’t say Mine Games, and is instead titled The Evil Within. Imagine my confused state, for not only am I now watching something I didn’t select, but I may also not get to ogle Briana like I had intended.

As I feared that my penis would soon begin to weep along with my eyes for fear of seeing no Briana, I soon realized that I would be weeping internally as well, because no matter what this movie is called, it’s a piece of dogshit either way. Upon further examination, it turns out that this film was titled and re-titled a couple different times throughout a turbulent production period, and an even more turbulent post-production period as well. The story of all that itself is infinitely more entertaining than the actual film itself, but that’s a whole other story.

Anyway, the plot of Mine Games revolves around a group of friends that consist of stock type toolbags and airheads going on a nice, relaxing trip outdoors, and all eventually getting slaughtered. This involves a claustrophobic mine and looping timelines and multiple versions of the characters that doesn’t amount to a lick of fucking sense. This is made all the funnier because the film actually believes that it is being clever, and it isn’t at all; it’s just confusing and boring.  The characters are all stock types: jocks, annoying partyhounds (but one here has a British accent, so that makes him charming!), a hippie, a maybe psychic chick (with no explanation how), and the previously mentioned Briana Evigan plus Julianna Guill (who had a legendary sex scene in the 2009 Friday the 13th remake) absolutely both refuse to show much skin, which in turn helps make my penis sad in addition to the horror nut inside me.

So yeah, in case you can’t tell by now, Mine Games is a total stinker. Like I said before, it’s on Netflix right now, and if you’re a masochist, I’d say give it a look and hate yourself later. For the rest of us though, this piece of crud is better left not being seen…by anyone.

Rating: 1/5

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MOVIE REVIEW: Djinn (2013)

MOVIE REVIEW: Djinn (2013)

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By Nick Durham

What the fuck happened to Tobe Hooper? That was my first thought when watching Djinn; the long delayed Arab/English horror film that has been sitting on the shelf since being originally filmed in 2011. But then throughout the course of watching the film, I remembered something: Tobe Hooper hasn’t been the same director that he was in decades.  Here’s the thing: Hooper will forever be a horror icon for crafting the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, along with Poltergeist and Salem’s Lot. He’s helmed some super enjoyable films as well, including The Funhouse, Lifeforce, and Spontaneous Combustion; but over the past couple decades, he’s been a shell of his former self with his work. Djinn is not excluded from that sad, sad fact.

Djinn revolves around an Emirati couple who return home from America after the death of their infant child. Their glorious new high-rise apartment building though appears to be built upon a part of land that also houses some very, very malevolent spirits that have ties to the local culture. Soon enough our couple realizes that things aren’t all what they seem with their home, or with their new neighbors either. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that some very bad things are going to happen, and no one is coming out of this one hundred percent intact either.

Djinn actually features a ton of promise from its first shot onward. There are some genuinely creepy images and moments peppered throughout the film, but sweet fucking Christ does it ever plod along. Seriously, the pacing of this film is all over the fucking place. One minute things are moving at a brisk pace, the next minute they slow to a crawl. It feels like a decent amount of footage was left on the cutting room floor, which would explain the erratic pacing. Considering this film sat on the shelf for a few years (released in some parts of the world in 2013, and the rest over the following two years), this wouldn’t be much of a surprise.

The acting isn’t too bad (mostly), but despite the creepy moments that Djinn does offer, it doesn’t pack nearly enough scares, tension, or suspense. Back in the day, no one could do scares, tension, and suspense like Tobe fucking Hooper. Until you’d see his name in the credits, you would never know that he helmed this, that’s why it’s so hard to believe that this is the same guy that graced us with a handful of classic films decades prior.

So yeah, Djinn is a stinker, but in all honesty, I didn’t really expect it to be much else given Hooper’s previous few works. It’s available on Netflix right now, though I can’t say I really recommend it, no matter how bored you may be. What happened Tobe? Seriously, what the hell happened?

Rating: 2/5

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MOVIE REVIEW: Extreme Jukebox (2013)

MOVIE REVIEW: Extreme Jukebox (2013)

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By Nick Durham

Well here’s something you don’t see everyday. An Italian-imported, heavy metal-themed slasher movie that proudly bears the Troma logo? You know what I have to say to that?

Sign me right the fuck up right fucking now thank you very fucking much.

Well, I’m sad to report that Extreme Jukebox isn’t the wonderful amalgamation of all things Italian, bloody, and metal. In fact, it really isn’t much of anything other than quite a few laughs and some heavy metal in-jokes, which is fine by the way, but it never lives up to the promise that you think it will end up doing.

The story of Extreme Jukebox revolves around rising star metal frontman Jessie Cake, who finds himself in the middle of a metal massacre involving a masked serial killer and a vengeful spirit. That is pretty much the gist of the film, along with a bevy of jokes, pretty funny dialogue, and some surprisingly good music as well; of which are sung in English while the rest of the film’s dialogue is in its native Italian.

The one thing that I am severely disappointed by with Extreme Jukebox is its lack of blood and gore. I mean it has a little here and there, but nowhere near what one would expect from a movie like this, and a fucking Troma movie at that. It just feels too restrained, and far too much for its own good to boot. Despite that, the film does manage to pack a shitload of really funny moments and sometimes it can be downright fucking hysterical. Throw that in with some decent performances and some pretty good music, and you get a worthwhile diversion while it lasts.

All in all, Extreme Jukebox is a brisk, mildly entertaining, Italian metal-injected flick that doesn’t deliver in terms of the visceral thrills that Troma fans would expect from it. Still, it’s not awful, which in itself is something notable on its own. If you do end up checking it out, don’t go into it expecting anything too special, and chances are you’ll find something about it that you’ll dig.

Rating: 3/5

 

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MOVIE REVIEW: Stung (2015)

MOVIE REVIEW: Stung (2015)

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By Nick Durham

Horror comedies are a tricky thing to get the ball rolling with: sometimes they work really well and offer a good mix of scares and humor, but on the flipside, sometimes they don't offer enough of either, or one will end up dominating the other, and the whole affair will feel uneven. Stung is a horror comedy that doesn't necessarily do anything wrong or even badly, but it doesn't do enough to be too memorable either in the realm of the horror/comedy film. That being said, while it isn't perfect, it does end up being very serviceable and even mostly enjoyable regardless.

The story revolves around a pair of caterers (Matt O'Leary and Jessica Cook) working at an upscale garden party in a rural area, and wind up becoming targets for mutated killer wasps. Said mutated killer wasps lay their eggs in their prey, so as you can imagine, there is lots and lots of slaughter on the menu. Clifton Collins Jr. (Star Trek, Boondock Saints II) is on board as a hilariously creepy momma's boy, and genre stalwart Lance Henriksen is here as well, doing what he does best...which is be Lance Henriksen.

Stung is the directorial debut of visual effects artist Benni Diez, who shows loads of promise behind the camera, does pretty well in terms of the technical aspects the film has to offer. Not to mention the fact that the creature and makeup effects are surprisingly good as well. The gore effects are occasionally nasty, and there's some moments of crap CGI effects as well, although that's to be expected with a low budget creature I guess. The cast is good; playing their parts fairly straight given the subject matter...except for Lance Henriksen. He hams it up and chews more scenery than a cow chews grass. But it's Lance, and I can't stay mad at him even if I wanted to.

So yeah, Stung isn't anything special, but for what it is, it's plenty enjoyable. It's currently on Netflix, and is a good time killer if you have an hour and a half to spare. I mean hey, there's worse ways to kill time...like actually getting stung by a wasp. Fuck that noise.

Rating: 3/5

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MOVIE REVIEW: Gravy (2015)

MOVIE REVIEW: Gravy (2015)

By Nick Durham

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Well this kind of came out of nowhere. Co-written and directed by Psych star (and die hard horror fan) James Roday, Gravy is a nasty and super funny little dirge about what happens when you mix Halloween night, a trio of cannibals, and a Mexican restaurant. Yes, this film is every bit as enjoyable as all that sounds.

A handful of employees at a local Mexican cantina find themselves on the menu as they are invaded by a few costumed cannibals played by Michael Weston (who seems to be doing his best Charlie Day impersonation throughout the whole film), Jimmi Simpson, and Lily Cole. What results is an often very darkly funny and super bloody affair, and like I said above, it's super enjoyable to boot.

There's really not that much more to Gravy other than the brief synopsis above. We are introduced to quirky characters that don't want to become chow for our funny cannibal friends, and there's an assortment of funny dialogue from everyone involved. Our three cannibals know what they're doing is wrong...and they accept it. Weston, Simpson, and Cole are hilarious and deadpan in their roles as the self-aware cannibal killers, while the cast of victims (which includes Sutton Foster and Precious star Gabourey Sidibe) are great as well.

If there's any downside to Gravy, it's that maybe it prods on a little too long for its own good. This is really only a minor complaint though, as the rest of it is surprisingly unpredictable, plus it features some great blood and gore effects work, and a really well-selected soundtrack of songs to boot...but maybe that's just me. Anytime I hear a Tears for Fears song in a movie I find myself singing along to it, and I end up hating myself for a brief period of time, but that's another story. There's also a really funny cameo from Roday along with his Psych co-star Dule Hill, and a small role from Sarah Silverman that I wish would have had more to it.

All in all, Gravy may not be for everyone, but this film is a surprisingly good labor of love from James Roday, and it is immensely enjoyable. The fine folks at Scream Factory have given it a pretty good Blu-ray release as well, with a couple features that show how much Roday and his crew put into making this film. Do yourself a favor and check it out.

Rating: 4/5

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MOVIE REVIEW: Harbinger Down (2015)

MOVIE REVIEW: Harbinger Down (2015)

By Nick Durham

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Want to see something that looks promising at first glance but doesn't take long to go spiraling down the shitter? Look no further than Harbinger Down: a creature feature that would otherwise be ignored by one and all were it not for the pedigree that it manages to boast in terms of just how the film is made up. Directed by Alec Gillis and produced by Tom Woodruff (aka the guys who have worked on previous films in the Alien franchise) and proudly boasting that it features all practical effects work, Harbinger Down is a glorious failure indeed.

The story revolves around some asshole grad students that take a trip on a commercial fish trawler piloted by the grandfather (Lance Henriksen) of one of them, in an effort to study the effects of global warming on whales or some shit. They discover a crashed Soviet spacecraft in the ocean, which still contains the dead pilot as well as the experiment contained wherein that soon grows, infects, and kills off the crew. Yes, it sounds like a much less imaginative take on The Thing, and that's because it really is. The acting is lame, the characters are lame, the whole affair is super predictable, and it really is for the most part just a plain old bore.

Now, let's talk about the effects of Harbinger Down, which as I said before, proudly boasts about the fact that they are practical. Well, I really can't confirm if EVERY part of the creature effects are practical, but what I can say is that it is refreshing to see practical effects take center stage for the first time in a long time...or that is what I would say if said effects actually looked as great as I wished they did. I don't want to shit on the work done here, because I know how hard it is to do this kind of thing, but the creature looks just aren't convincing one bit. There is good use made of stop-motion effects, miniatures, and animatronics in addition to some of the prosthetic effects, but the full-on body shots of the film's monsters are laughable at first glance. The effects were done by ADI, who also did the practical effects for the 2011 take on The Thing, which chances are you never saw because their work was discarded in favor of the shitty CGI that was seen in the final cut of the movie. ADI ended up funding this film on Kickstarter, out of the desire to bring practical effects back to the forefront. While I may not have enjoyed this film, I will gladly say that those guys have my respect for that alone. Practical effects work is a dying thing, and the film world is a worse place without it.

All in all, Harbinger Down is a brisk but sadly disappointing creature feature that ends up coming off as a just plain stupid version of The Thing. The practical effects that it boasts about having are a mixed bag, but at the same time, it's just so good and refreshing to see them take the forefront in a horror film again. It's not god-awful and you can certainly do worse with this kind of thing to kill an afternoon, so give it a shot at your own risk.

Rating: 2/5/5

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MOVIE REVIEW: We Are Still Here (2015)

MOVIE REVIEW: We Are Still Here (2015)

By Nick Durham

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It's really not every day that you hear about a movie coming out that claims itself to be a tribute to the films of Lucio Fulci, but that is something We Are Still Here claims itself to be, and it's easy to see why. Written and directed by Ted Geoghegan, this is a surprisingly pretty damn good little horror dirge that not only pays a nice tribute to the films of Fulci, but manages to stand on its own as a very worthwhile haunted house trip.

The film takes place in 1979 as an older couple (Re-Animator and From Beyond babe Barbara Crampton and Andrew Sensenig) moves to their newly purchased New England home following the death of their son. The grieving mother believes their new home to be inhabited by the spirit of their deceased son, but it doesn't take too long to realize that isn't the case, and it isn't just the haunted house that winds up causing the most trouble for our couple either. While all of that may sound a tad predictable, what unfolds ends up being kind of surprising, in a good way that is.

As I said before, We Are Still Here fashions itself on being a Fulci tribute, and in that regard it works pretty good. There is heavy atmosphere and inventive camerawork and scene boxing, along with a surprising amount of blood-letting as we hit the film's climax when shit starts hitting the proverbial fan. All of this happens in a brisk 83-minute run time, which I have to admit ends up being a perfect run time. If We Are Still Here was any longer, it would end up losing its luster and appeal; something which some Fulci films ended up doing in spite of themselves (I'm looking at you A Lizard in a Woman's Skin). The acting is pretty great (our good friend Larry Fessenden is here as the hippie husband to Lisa Marie's psychic friend of the couple) and the effects work is fucking wonderful as well.

All in all, We Are Still Here offers enough in terms of spookiness, atmosphere, and bloodshed to rightfully claim its place as being a Lucio Fulci tribute. It isn't anything too special, but it manages to be massively enjoyable for what it is, and you shouldn't have any problems eating this up. Check it out if you're looking for a well-crafted and brisk thrill.

Rating: 4/5

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MOVIE REVIEW: Spring (2014)

MOVIE REVIEW: Spring (2014)

By Nick Durham

Spring

Here’s something that came out of nowhere. No seriously,Spring seriously came out of nowhere, at least for me personally. I don’t remember seeing any promotional materials or anything in regards to this film, and totally went into it not knowing a damn thing at all. With all that in mind, I came out of this film very satisfied and overall surprised at just how this film is, and just exactly what this film is.

The film revolves around a Californian dude named Evan (Lou Taylor Pucci from Evil Dead (2013) remake) whose life is spiraling downward. Seeking a major change in his life, he leaves the States behind and ventures to Italy. There he comes across the sexy Louise (Nadia Hilker) and a love affair begins to blossom…and then we find out that Louise isn’t exactly normal. There’s some bloodshed along the way as Evan comes to grips with what exactly he’s gotten himself into, and just how far he is willing to go to make things work.

Billed as a mixture of a romance and monster movie, Spring is certainly all that and more. I can’t honestly remember the last time I saw a film like this, if I ever have really. It would have been incredibly easy for the film to descend itself into self-parody given the subject matter, but somehow, someway, it manages to be an earnest and surprisingly emotional amalgamation of creature feature and love story. No seriously, what the fuck am I watching here…and how is it so good?

The performances from everyone involved are more than solid. The chemistry between Pucci and Hilker is believable, and the creature effects and assorted minimalist visual effects are shockingly well done given the film’s low budget. Not to mention the fact that Spring boasts some gorgeous cinematography and camerawork. Directed by the pair of Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead (who also served as cinematographers, writers, and editors, and were also behind 2012’s excellent Resolution ), Spring is truly something unique. These two are going to be big names in the horror film world very, very soon.

If there’s any drawbacks to Spring , it’s that perhaps the film runs too long. Clocking in at 110 minutes, it definitely could have been trimmed down here and there to feel a bit overall tighter. That aside, it doesn’t hurt how unique the film ends up being. We really get to know our leads and actually get a surprising amount of emotion invested in their relationship, and how it turns out when things get revealed and blood starts to flow.

It goes without saying that Spring isn’t quite for everyone. That being said, go into this film with a clear state of mind, and you may come out surprised at just how good this damn thing ends up being. You won’t see many other films quite like Spring at all these days, and that in itself is a crying shame. Seriously, go check it out as soon as you can. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Rating: 4/5

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BLU-RAY REVIEW: Cannibal Ferox (1981)

BLU-RAY REVIEW: Cannibal Ferox (1981)

By Nick Durham

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Here we go again...

Cannibal Ferox is the not as well-known little brother to Cannibal Holocaust, though it does have quite the following regardless. Directed by Umberto Lenzi (who like Ruggero Deodato, has a lot of experience with this type of filth), Cannibal Ferox, also known as Make Them Die Slowly, is somehow a tad more ferocious in tone than its more well-known brethren. Yes, I'm serious. Also like Cannibal Holocaust, Grindhouse Releasing has blessed us with a beautiful Blu-ray release of the film, which I'll be talking all about shortly.

Anyway, Cannibal Ferox revolves around a handful of anthropologists that take a trip to the Colombian jungle in hopes of proving that cannibalistic tribes are just a myth. Of course things don't work out that way, because then we wouldn't have a fucking movie here would we? They run into a guy named Mike; who is a drug dealer on the run from the New York City mob. He's also a total sick fuck, and has done some extremely terrible things to the local natives...and even if you've never seen this film before (or any cannibal film honestly), you already know where all this is going.

Cannibal Ferox is a truly deplorable film in every sense of the word, and I'm not afraid to say that either. Whereas Cannibal Holocaust is a nasty film that's hard to watch, it has that little bit of subtext and social commentary that set it apart from others of its ilk that made it memorable. Cannibal Ferox has none of that...and you know what? That's actually okay. This is a grindhouse/exploitation movie after all, and we're all here to see people get tortured and eaten, and that's what we fucking get. Body parts are severed, flesh is eaten, there's animal death, and all the other elements that you'd expect from a cannibal film are here, and on full fucking display. It is absolutely perverse how enjoyable it all is...to a degree. It also features Cannibal Holocaust and Debbie Does Dallas star Robert Kerman as well...I'm not saying that as a negative point, I'm only mentioning it because this is the one film he's in where he doesn't show his cock, so I didn't recognize him right away.

I won't lie, I have a harder time watching this than I do Cannibal Holocaust. Where I had said that Cannibal Holocaust has subtext, etc. and Cannibal Ferox does not, that's saying it lightly. Cannibal Ferox is just plain fucking cruel. It's vicious to its core and unapologetic about it too. Not to mention the film as a whole feels uneven. The tone between the jungle scenes and the scenes in New York contrast each other so much it's like you're watching two different films. Maybe that's an effect that Lenzi was going for? The civilized world versus the jungle?

Nah, I'm giving him too much credit with that one.

Grindhouse Releasing has outdone themselves again with this Blu-ray release. The picture and sound are absolutely brilliant as one would expect, and there's a bonus remastered CD soundtrack as well. There's also some rarely seen deleted footage, a commentary by Lenzi, new interviews, a horde of trailers, and a very interesting documentary that features interviews with Lenzi, Ruggero Deodato, Robert Kerman, and more. It's an awesome set, even better than what Grindhouse provided us with the Cannibal Holocaust Blu-ray release believe it or not. My only gripe, and this is totally personal, is that there's no feature to skip the animal deaths like the Cannibal Holocaust Blu-ray had. I just can't watch that shit, and I've seen some really nasty stuff over the years. Maybe I'm soft. If I am, fuck it, I don't care.

All in all, Cannibal Ferox isn't nearly as impactful a film as Cannibal Holocaust, but if this is your kind of thing, you should check it out regardless. If you are a fan and you don't own this, you're missing out. Pick this up while you can, you'll be happy that you did.

Also, I just want to say that if it's one thing watching all these cannibal movies has taught me, it's that if I end up in the jungle I will seriously blow my brains out before anyone tries to eat my dick.

Rating: 4/5

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Morituris: Legions of the Dead (2011)

MOVIE REVIEW: Morituris: Legions of the Dead (2011)

By Nick Durham

morituris

A modern movie that claims to be a throwback to old school 80s Italian horror? A movie featuring undead gladiators that slaughter all those that wind up in their path? Where the fuck do I sign up?!?!?!? That's what Morituris: Legions of the Dead claims itself to be. Does it deliver the goods that it promises though? Well...it does. Kind of, I guess, but it does.

Before you read any further, I am going to warn you all that spoilers are ahead. Normally I don't delve into spoilers because I fucking hate them, but to understand why I feel the way I do towards this film, I think giving away the details is necessary. So if you haven't seen Morituris and you want to, don't read any further than this paragraph. For those that have seen it, please continue onward.

Anyway, Morituris starts off with a random family meeting off-camera deaths, and then jumps to a trio of Italian guys and the two Romanian chicks they've picked up driving to a rave and having a grand old time drinking and doing drugs. Well, guess what? There is no rave. They're going to the woods for these guys to beat these chicks up, rape them, and eventually murder them...all of which is shown in extraordinarily graphic detail. In between all this is a friend of theirs at another location who is doing some atrocious things to another female, involving a scene with a mouse straight of Bret Easton Ellis' American Psycho. Eventually the undead gladiators arise, and not only dispatch the rapists, but the girls as well in truly grisly fashions.

Now here's the thing: Morituris believes itself to be a modern day exploitation movie, and I guess it kind of is. That being said, this film is so blatantly fucking misogynistic that it's a shock to the system. Not to mention the fact that there is literally no rhyme or reason as to why these undead gladiators do what they do, other than hinting at the fact they kill all those that infringe on their territory. That in itself is all well and good, but come on, give us something more than that. Not to mention the fact that with any good exploitation movie, the female victims usually get some sort of comeuppance in the end. Here, both die after having horrible things happen to them. Even though the rapist fuckheads die terribly, there's no retribution for the ladies. That makes this whole ordeal empty and shocking just for the sake of being shocking. That's not what makes a film an exploitation film, that just makes it a load of horseshit that cries out "pay attention to me".

So, yeah, I really don't have much else to say about Morituris. The acting isn't bad and the gore effects are pretty good, so there's that at least. Everything else about this film can go dive into a hellhole for all I care. If you've never seen the film and read all of the above and any of this sounds up your alley, then by all means check it out I guess. If not, well...trust me when I say you're not missing out on anything at all.

Rating: 1.5/5

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments

BLU-RAY REVIEW: Society (1989)

By Nick Durham

society2

Arrow Films, you treat me so good.

Long out of print on DVD, Brian Yuzna's delirious and insanely underrated Society is finally available on Blu-ray on this side of the pond, and holy sweet fucking Jesus, it's totally fucking amazing. This is quite possibly the definitive Blu-ray horror movie release not just of this year, but perhaps any year. Yes, even more so than Scream Factory's Nightbreed set. That's right, I said it.

Anyway, for the uninitiated, Society is about a teenage boy (Billy Warlock, which is probably the greatest name for an actor in a horror movie in the history of ever) who often feels out of his place with his wealthy family and contemporaries. Turns out it's because almost everyone he knows in high society is a humanoid creature that feasts upon the nutrients of the humans. Yes, the rich literally feed on the poor. The social commentary is far from subtle, but that is quite okay, because even to this very day, this 1989 (though not released until 1992) film remains shockingly and frighteningly relevant.

The real main attraction of Society is the makeup effects, which you probably already know about. Designed by Screaming Mad George, the effects here are shockingly imaginative, inventive, and totally fucking disgusting. The concluding "shunting" scene is something that you have to see to believe. Even if you've never seen the film nor have any desire to, look it up on YouTube, right now. You'll never forget what you're about to see, trust me.

I had mentioned in the beginning that Arrow Films really went out of their way with this Blu-ray set, and I wasn't kidding. Packaged in a deluxe case/box and featuring a reprint of the comic book only sequel Society: Party Animal, as well as the typical Arrow collectible booklet. There's a new commentary from Brian Yuzna, as well as new interviews with Yuzna, George, Warlock, and others involved in the film. There's a featurette on the effects work, a Q&A with Yuzna, and tons more as well. This set is fucking brilliant to put it bluntly.

I could gush over Arrow's Society Blu-ray forever, but I won't. I know I've said to pick up every other Arrow Films Blu-ray release before, and I still mean that, but you should pick up Society first and foremost. This is an absolute must own. I'm not kidding, stop what you're doing right now and go pick this up. Thank me later.

Rating: 5/5

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments

BLU-RAY REVIEW: Corruption (1968)

By Nick Durham

Corruption

Did you know Peter Cushing was once in a film where he played a semi-crazed plastic surgeon who goes on a spree murdering young women in an effort to harvest their glands to preserve his younger fiancé's damaged face? If I told you any of that, would you even believe me? Well guess what guys, it's true. Peter Cushing, known as one of the classiest thespians ever in the horror genre, starred in this little known flick that provided ample amounts of blood and boobs. Thanks to the good folks at Grindhouse Releasing, now we can call see Corruption in its wonderful, depraved, swingin' 60s glory.

As said already, Cushing plays a jealous plastic surgeon named John Rowan, whose hot model fiancé (Sue Lloyd) suffers a nasty facial injury. Feeling responsible, Rowan believes he knows a way to fix the damage, a method which involves harvesting the skin glands of voluptuous young ladies of course. What follows is lots of blood and boobs, and just the right amount of enjoyable schlock gets packed in without the film itself ever feeling like absolute filth, if that makes any sense at all.

Never before seen uncut in the U.S., Grindhouse has happily given us Corruption in all its nasty glory. Hell, I do believe that this is actually the first home video release of Corruption here in the States at all. It's funny watching it now, because even when it gets to its nastiest moments, the film isn't as graphic as one may think it is. Granted that the time this came out I'm sure it ruffled enough feathers, but even in its silliest and nastiest moments, Corruption manages to have a small touch of class attached to it. This is mostly because of having Cushing in the lead villainous role. I couldn't imagine that he was super comfortable in the role, but the man was a total pro, and he's wonderful here as the main attraction. In fact, the cast as a whole is pretty damn good, which also includes Vampire Lovers hottie Kate O'Mara as well.

Grindhouse Releasing, which has managed to supply us with wonderful releases and re-releases of little-known or lost films with tons of extras and care, has really delivered with this Blu-ray release of Corruption as well. There're two versions of the film as well as vintage and new interviews, an audio commentary that features Cushing's biographer David Miller, awesome reversible case cover artwork, and tons more. Needless to say, this deserves to be in your collection, especially if you're a Cushing fan.

All in all, Corruption is a surprisingly little known film that deserves your time and attention. It's also another wonderful example of what makes Grindhouse Releasing so awesome in terms of releasing little-known vintage films on modern physical media. Like I said before, Corruption deserves your time, and you need to pick it up. You won't regret it.

Rating: 5/5

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments

MOVIE REVIEW: Dracula 3-D (2012)

By Nick Durham

dracula3d

What the hell happened to Dario Argento?

I know this topic has been covered so many times before that it's grown redundant as fuck, but seriously, what happened? So many of his films have resonated with me over the years since I'd first seen them, from Suspiria to Phenomena to Inferno to Tenebrae; his body of work has meant a lot to me personally. That's why it kills me to see Dracula 3-D, because watching this cinematic abortion is the equivalent of seeing Argento's career die a slow and agonizing death. I thought Giallo and Do You Like Hitchcock? were bad...but Dracula 3D is something else entirely.

From its opening titles onward, you know you're in for a smorgasbord of supreme shitiness. You know that brilliant cinematography and film framing that Argento films have always been known for despite their varying overall quality? There's none here...like at all. Everything in this film just looks so cheaply put together. I've seen shot-on-video trash that looks better than a majority of this film's production. Maybe I'm just being too picky, but none of it is made any better thanks to the schlocky 3D. Watching the film in 2D kind of reduces how cheap everything looks surprisingly, so maybe that's the way to go if you feel like punishing yourself by watching this piece of shit.

The film's storyline doesn't adheres to the source material off and on, which is fine honestly, because not every film adaptation of Dracula needs to be one hundred percent faithful, I mean look at the Universal Dracula and Hammer's Horror of Dracula; those films are perfect. Now comparing either of them to Dracula 3-D is like comparing a juicy t-bone steak to a piece of kangaroo meat posing as a McDonald's hamburger patty, but I digress. We get the usual characters with the Count (Thomas Kretschmann), Van Helsing (Rutger Hauer), Harker (Unax Ugalde), Mina (Marta Gastini), and Lucy (Asia Argento); all of whom range from atrociously bad to hilariously bad in their performances. Hauer in particular looks like he wants to wink at the camera whenever he's on screen like hey guys, I know I'm in this piece of shit...I need to pay the rent. Now maybe this isn't all necessarily the fault of the actors, considering I'm sure they all know the absurdity of what they're involved in. Asia has no excuse though, she's used to this by now. I hope when Father's day rolls around in the years to come since the film's release she gives dear old Dad a punch in the groin for this.

The other thing about Dracula 3-D is its running time. Clocking in at close to two full hours, the film drags and drags and drags. Maybe if it were packed with more ridiculous moments like Dracula turning into a praying mantis (yes, you read that right), things might be a little more enjoyable, but alas, that's not the case. The film just plods onward, always threatening to bore you to tears, and once something occurs that gives you a slight sense of hope that things might not be so bad, you get fucked in the head back to reality of how un-engaging, poorly put together, and overall just plain lame this film truly is. I really can't believe this is from the same guy that gave us Suspiria and all the other films of his that we've raved about for years and hold near and dear to our hearts. Seriously, what the fuck happened?

No matter how much shit I talk on Dracula 3-D, it doesn't do the shitiness of the film justice. I can't believe I'm going to say this, but I really recommend you watch it just to see what I'm talking about here. I'm dead fucking serious. I can't guarantee you'll make it through the whole way, but I can recommend you'll find something funnier than Mel Brooks' Dracula: Dead and Loving It could ever hope to be. In fact, I think we should all start a drinking game just for this movie. Every time you hate yourself for watching it, take a shot. You'll be so smashed you may be declared legally dead within the first twenty minutes or less.

 

Rating: 1/5

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments

MOVIE REVIEW: Creep (2014)

By Nick Durham

creep3

Every now and then when I have nothing to watch, I scour Netflix in the hopes of finding something I've never seen before, and/or isn't a steaming pile of horse shit. More often than not, anything I find I hasn't seen winds up being horse shit, but every now and then, I find a hidden gem buried within the countless turds. In the case of Creep, I didn't exactly find a gem, but I did find something that wasn't a steaming turd either, so in this case I'll take what I can get.

A found-footage-ish flick, Creep stars Patrick Brice as Aaron, a videographer who answers a Craigslist ad posted by Josef (Mark Duplass of The League). Josef is looking for someone to record footage of him for a whole day, claiming to Aaron that he is terminally ill and wants a video chronicle for his unborn child. Aaron happily accepts the wad of cash he's offered, and he gets to work. However, it isn't long before both Aaron and the audience realize that something is a little off about Josef, and before we know it, things take a really strange turn.

Without spoiling anything, Creep manages to work for what it is thanks to the performances of Duplass and Brice. Duplass, known more for his comedic side on FX's "The League", really manages to flex some dramatic and creepy (no pun intended) muscles here, and Brice is more than believable as the bewildered cameraman that goes from curious to frightened to combative. Both actors also co-wrote the film, with Brice also serving as director. Considering all the different hats both men are wearing for the production of Creep, combined with the fact that they are really the only people appearing on screen, really speaks volumes about each of them as filmmakers and performers.

Though Creep does have some eerie atmosphere and a sense of not knowing what the fuck is going to happen next, there are some long stretches that are just plain boring. Considering this is only an 82-minute long film, that's not a good thing. By the time all the pieces come together in terms of who Josef really is, the audience is left saying "duh" for the most part, but the journey to get there is a mixed bag. This is one of those cases where the sum of the parts isn't quite as good as the sum elements themselves.

In closing, you could do a lot worse than Creep. Found footage films seem to be dying out (mostly), but Creep manages to prove that the end result of these types of horror films don't have to rely on cheap scares or gimmicks to hold a majority of your interest. Like I said before, it isn't anything special, but there are way, way worse ways to spend an hour and a half. Check it out while you can, you'll probably get a bit of enjoyment out of it.

 

Rating: 3/5

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments

DOC REVIEW: Doc of the Dead (2014)

Doc of the Dead

The Definitive Zombie Culture Documentary

By Machete Von Kill

Doc of the Dead Poster

Writers: Chad Herschberger and Alexandre O. Philippe

Director: Alexandre O. Philippe

Cast: Bruce Campbell, George A. Romero, Max Brooks, Robert Kirkman, Simon Pegg, Greg Nicotero, Tom Savini, Sid Haig, Howard Sherman, Matt Mogk and more.

Genre: Documentary Runtime: 1 hr 20 min

Rating: NR Release Date: 2014

Zombies are everywhere these days. Television, movies, books, video games, toys and even pornography. You name it and there is a zombie take on it. No matter which way you turn, zombies ARE everywhere. You can't escape. But do you really want to?

Doc of the Dead presents the history of the zombie in film. From it's earliest inception in 1932's White Zombie and the Haitian Voodoo lore, to 1968's Night of the Living Dead and George A. Romero's rewriting of zombie lore, to the modern zombie in films like Shaun of the Dead, World War Z and the highly successful television series The Walking Dead, Philippe covers them all.

Philippe uses film clips, zombie themed music (seriously, the soundtrack alone makes my zombie lovin' soul happy), hilariously cheesy segment introduction scenes and an impressive interview list to give us the history of the flesh eating undead. He also sets out to explain why they have become such a huge part of popular culture and answer some of the biggest questions about the zombie apocalypse: What is a zombie? What causes people to turn into zombies? Slow zombies versus fast zombies, can one survive the zombie apocalypse, and would you even want to survive?

Doc of the Dead is a MUST for anyone who loves the zombie genre. By no means is this the be all, end all Zombie Documentary, but rather a smart, funny, entertaining primer on all things Zombie.

Final Score: 4.5 out of 5 stars. It wasn't perfect, but it was pretty rad!

Posted by Alan Smithee in DOCUMENTARY REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments