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MOVIE REVIEW: He Never Died (2015)

MOVIE REVIEW: He Never Died (2015)

heneverdied

By Nick Durham

Henry Rollins is one of my all time favorite people ever. The legendary punk vocalist and author is no stranger to the horror genre, having appeared in Feast and Wrong Turn 2 over the years, and now he has the starring role in He Never Died; a very unique film that definitely isn’t how it appears to be on the surface. Mixing elements of pitch black comedy and blood-curdling horror; He Never Died is something surprising and maybe even a little bit special too.

Rollins plays a guy named Jack: an antisocial misanthrope that does little other than sleep, watch TV, and frequent a local diner. The thing about Jack though is that this seemingly middle-aged man is a reclusive immortal, with an occasional taste for human flesh. Jack receives a visit from the teenage daughter (Jordan Todosey) he never knew he had, is gleefully unaware of the waitress (Kate Greenhouse) that has a crush on him, and eventually runs afoul of a crew of local gangsters. Naturally it doesn’t take long for shit to hit the fan, as you can probably imagine.

I have to say this right off the bat: Rollins is wonderful. He’s never really given much of a bad performance in anything I’ve seen him in, but here, good ‘ol Hank is something else. His deadpan delivery makes the comedic scenes laugh out loud funny. His revelations on his origins aren’t loaded with remorse or even emotion; they convey that this is a man with everlasting life that is just so damn tired of going on and on with no end in sight. If there’s no other reason to watch He Never Died, it’s Rollins’ performance.

As for the rest of the film, well, it’s definitely interesting and even somewhat original too. There’s a number of directions that writer/director Jason Krawczyk could have gone with the material, but instead of going full on tongue-in-cheek, he chooses to tell the film in a somewhat serious tone with various sprinkled moments of dark humor. I really can’t imagine the tone of this film being any different, because in all honesty, it wouldn’t have taken much for the whole thing to fly off the rails; great lead performance or not. Story wise, there’s still plenty of questions that don’t get resolved, with the rumor being that Krawczyk and Rollins will return with more adventures of Jack sometime in the future.

So yeah, you’re not going to see many films like He Never Died. It’s startlingly original and features a fantastic performance from Henry Rollins, which is reason enough to check it out. It may be an acquired taste for most however, so proceed with a little bit of caution. It’s currently streaming on Netflix, so now’s your chance to give this a look.

Rating: 3.5/5

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: The Lazarus Effect (2015)

MOVIE REVIEW: The Lazarus Effect (2015)

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By Nick Durham

Do you want to see some of the worst that mainstream horror has to offer? Look no further than The Lazarus Effect. A shit-stained retread of Flatliners that features a very talented cast all amounts to a total waste of 83 minutes of your life. Seriously, I can't shit on this movie enough, even if I tried. I could eat a full course meal from motherfucking Taco Bell and I still wouldn't have enough shit to spew towards amalgamation of awfulness.

Frank (Mark Duplass) and Zoe (Olivia Wilde) are an engaged couple that are working on a serum to bring the recently deceased back to life. Their assistants range from an annoying smoker (Evan Peters), a tech guy/shitty comic relief (Donald Glover), and camera girl (Sarah Bolger) that doesn't do much besides look hot. All five of these actors on their own are talented, but all five of them are phoning it in so hard in their performances as shitty stock characters that we literally don't give two shits about what happens to them. Ray Wise is here too in a blink and you'll miss him cameo, but in that literal minute and a half screen time he has, he gives the most memorable performance out of the whole fucking crew.

After bringing a dog back from the other side, bad things happen, and eventually Zoe finds herself among the recently deceased. Why not try this new miracle on her? She comes back, and one by one, everyone gets picked off. It's so damn predictable that you will be able to figure out who gets whacked when, and even with the attempt of giving Zoe some kind of character arc thanks to a traumatic experience in her childhood, nothing helps elevate The Lazarus Effect as anything more than being cheap, easily digestible, mainstream horror bullshit that deserves none of your time. Not to mention that even though the film is predictable, it's also flat-out boring and anything but scary. I caught this on Netflix recently out of sheer boredom, and I wish I'd spent my time doing something more constructive, like watch my cock get smaller.

So yeah, in case you can't tell, I didn't like The Lazarus Effect. Everyone involved in this deserves better, and goddammit, I deserve better for sitting through it. Fuck this movie. No wait, you know what? Don't fuck this movie and don't let your friends fuck this movie either; it's un-fuck-worthy.

Rating: 1/5

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 3 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Mine Games (2012)

MOVIE REVIEW: Mine Games (2012)

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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

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

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Pod (2015)

MOVIE REVIEW: Pod (2015)

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By Nick Durham

Well, this is…something.

What happens when your crazy, war-vet brother claims he’s found something in the woods that is some sort of blood-hungry, otherworldly beast? Well, you go stage an intervention of course! That’s pretty much the basis of Pod; a super brisk (about 78 minutes long) dirge of a thriller that has a quite a surprising amount of positive things going for it for about half of its running time.  After that though…well, read on and find out.

From writer/director Mickey Keating, Pod tells the story of bickering brother Ed (Dean Cates) and sister Lyla (Jug Face‘s Lauren Ashley Carter) who unite to take a road trip up north in an effort to stage a possible intervention for their seemingly mentally ill brother Martin (Brian Morvant). When they arrive at Martin’s cabin, they learn his dog has been slaughtered, the windows and doors are secured and boarded and taped up, and there’s something in the basement that Martin keeps referring to as a pod that he claims is responsible for his behavior and the death of his dog…along with much, much more.

Fairly minimalistic in its presentation, Pod has a lot going for it. From the initial trip and tour of the dilapidated cabin to the first encounter between the siblings, this film manages build a shitload of wonderful tense moments. The camerawork, editing, and acting are all wonderfully impressive given the film’s almost barebones nature. That’s all pretty much the first half of the film though, as all the good things that are built up initially are betrayed as Pod stumbles towards its conclusion.

The major flaw of this film is that from the beginning sequence onward, we pretty much know that this monster exists and that Martin isn’t totally crazy. Pod could have benefited as being more of a psychological-based thriller if this wasn’t known right away. If instead the film kept playing with the viewer, making you wonder if this thing is real or if Martin is as much off his fucking rocker as it seems. Instead it degenerates into a creature feature, with a predictable hoot of an ending.  Oh, Larry fucking Fessenden is here too in a small, yet pivotal, role as someone whose presence never gets explained. I swear, I can’t fucking escape him.

That’s the other thing about Pod: nothing is ever really explained. We don’t know if the creature is some kind of mutant or a fucking alien or what. The film’s promotional material kind of makes the film look like an alien abduction-style affair (which is what I thought this was at first glance) but in reality it’s little more than a monster-in-the-woods affair. The little to no explanation of things about the film is something I actually kind of dig. There’s no cell phones present and the cars are old models, so we know this film takes place in the past, but we’re never sure exactly what decade. Little things like this kind of elevate the whole thing, at least to me that is.

All things considered, if you’re looking for a brisk and somewhat enjoyable thriller that actually does tension (mostly) right, Pod may be for you. It doesn’t wind up being as promising as its first half makes you think it might be, but it isn’t horrible either. It was just added on Netflix, so give it a look.

Rating: 3/5

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Mockingbird (2014)

MOVIE REVIEW: Mockingbird (2014)

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By Nick Durham

What? Another micro-budgeted found footage movie from Blumhouse Productions that features actors you've actually seen once or twice before? Well, here we are. Mockingbird comes from writer/director Bryan Bertino, whom we haven't gotten anything from since his solid 2008 debut The Strangers. That film was a home invasion thriller that didn't offer much up in terms of the motivations of our assailants, where as Mockingbird...is more or less a quasi-home invasion thriller that offers no explanations of the motivations of our little-seen assailants. 

Bryan Bertino is a weird fucking guy.

Anyway, Mockingbird takes place in the magical year of 1995, where things like cell phones weren't widespread, people still had landline phones with easily cut wires, and finding a mysterious camcorder at your front door is the gift that keeps on giving (fun fact: 1995 was the year I discovered my infantile schlong was made for more than just peeing, which is why this year is so special to me). A handful of seemingly unconnected people all find mysterious camcorders at their doorsteps. This includes a husband and wife, a college student, and a mama's boy loser that ends up donning clown makeup. It doesn't take long to realize that there is some bad shit afoot, and it's more than likely that no one is coming out of this intact.

One thing I can definitely praise Mockingbird for is its opening scene. If that doesn't grab you by the throat, nothing will. Sadly though, the rest of the film is pretty much downhill from there, which is massively disappointing because that opening scene will kick you straight in the gut. The creepy moments that unfold drag on and kill a lot of the film's momentum. The suspense never really ramps back up except towards the film's climax, but by that point things become a tad predictable...except for the end reveal of the masterminds behind this whole thing. It is pretty well-acted though, but the setting of the film seems to only make sense so Bertino wouldn't have to worry about today's technology getting in the way of the film's leaps in logic.

So yeah, Mockingbird is a fairly predictable found footage dirge that has a lot of wasted potential. It's disappointing considering this film actually has a lot going for it, but it doesn't deliver on it at all. Still though, that opening scene man...holy shit. It's currently on Netflix, so check it out for that alone.

Rating: 2.5/5

 

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Animal (2014)

MOVIE REVIEW: Animal (2014)

By Amy Mead 

Animal 2014 cover

ANIMAL

Directed by Brett Simmons 

Starring Joey Lauren Adams, Keke Palmer, Amaury Nolasco, Elizabeth Gillies, Thorsten Kaye and Jeremy Sumpter 

Animal starts off with a group of four people, two couples, running through the woods, fleeing from some unseen screaming creature. They are panicked, terrified and there is nowhere to go. A woman in the party trip and is quickly ravaged by the unseen beast.  The groundwork for something terrible has been laid.

Flash forward to a group of five close friends, Alissa, Jeff, Matt, Shawn and Mandy are head into the wilderness for a weekend of fun. Jeff and Alissa used to come here all the time as kids but it's been years since their last visit. They set out for a day hike and naturally they don't head back before sunset and quickly become lost. They stop to rest and Mandy spots the remains of something that has been slaughtered. There is blood, lots of it, and entrails and and bones strewn everywhere. Then they hear something  emit a blood curdling shriek and it's enough to make their hair stand on end and shake them to their very core.

In short order, they come face to face with the creature and are pursued by the flesh hungry beast and lose on of their party to the vicious beast.

Frantic, they gain entry to an isolated broken down cabin and discover another party already hiding there.  They are the same group from the beginning of the film, now a party of three that has been hiding for some time and have already lost one of their own.

The first group has been there long enough that they know a little bit about the creatures habits and what to expect from it, and together the two groups devise a plan to escape, which of course fails miserably. Can they make it out before they are torn limb from limb or will the creature get them all? Who will be left?

I love a good creature feature so I was eager to see this one. And although I found it more than mildly disappointing, Animal was still kind of fun to watch, strictly for the jump scares alone. It is loaded with them and you just  know they are coming, but they still get you anyway due to the sheer loudness that accompanies them. I was had more than once by the blaring sound effects. 

That being said, there isn't much else here, sadly.  The plot is painfully predictable, almost laughably so, and the ending can be seen coming a mile away if you are a seasoned horror fan such as myself. 

The characters all one dimensional, the acting leaves much to be desired and the dialogue made me want to punch most of them in the face. The mere thought of being trapped in this type of scenario with these whiny dumbasses alone made me want to kill them all and feed them to this damn thing myself. I really didn't care if any of them survived or not, even the pregnant one. 

The creature design also left a lot to be desired and overall Animal is a waste of a good creature feature. I wanted my hour and a half back. There are far more more constructive ways to waste your time such as, I don't know, sleeping perhaps?? Had it not been for the little bit of fun with the jump scares Animal would be a complete yawnfest. I have seen a few decent things come from Chiller Films, but unfortunately this isn't one of them. 

I give Animal  4/10 which might be just  a little too generous... 

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Bound to Vengeance (2015)

MOVIE REVIEW: Bound to Vengeance (2015)

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By Nick Durham

Good old fashioned revenge flicks have made a bit of a comeback over the last couple years. One of which, 2013's Blue Ruin, probably being the best of the bunch (and by all means, you need to go check that out). In this little revenge flick renaissance, I've come upon Bound to Vengeance (thanks Netflix); a relatively brisk film about a captured young girl (Tina Ivlev) who turns the tables on her captor (Richard Tyson, aka the asshole villain from the Arnold Schwarzenegger classic Kindergarten Cop).

Bound to Vengeance begins with Eve (Ivlev) waking to find herself in the captivity of Phil (Tyson). It doesn't take long for her to free herself and turn the tables on our villain though, and it takes even less time for Eve to embark on a journey to find and rescue all the other girls that Phil seems to have captured and scattered all over the place. Of course things don't seem to work out well for anyone involved, and naturally, things aren't quite what they seem either. What? You thought this would be by the numbers and easy to follow? You've come to the wrong place then motherfucker.

That's the main problem with Bound to Vengeance: it tries too damn hard. First it tries to be somewhat subdued in terms of the extremes this kind of thing could offer...then it tries to get all twisty and even a tad noir-ish. It doesn't work as either sadly, and comes off as a more bloody and less overacted episode of Law & Order: SVU instead. The film also has a severe lack of atmosphere and for being a 79-minute long movie, it often drags along. At least the cast is good though. Tina Ivlev has a bright future ahead of her, and Richard Tyson is a typically wonderful scumfuck.

So yeah, Bound to Vengeance isn't anything special or remotely good. Still though, you can certainly do far, far worse in terms of revenge flicks. It's short and new to Netflix, so if anything I've described sounds interesting to you, give it a look. Then again, you'd be much better off checking out Blue Ruin instead.

Rating: 2/5

 

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: I Saw the Devil (2010)

MOVIE REVIEW: I Saw the Devil (2010)

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By John Roisland

In 2010, Jee-woo Kim (A Tale of Two Sisters) wrote and directed I Saw the Devil.  This Korean film runs 141 minutes and stars Min-sik Choi (Old Boy +Lucy) and Byung -hun Lee from he G.I Joe movie series and Terminator: Genisys. And wow, what a job Kim does!!!

Kim takes us on a journey of cat and mouse between our two stars. Lee, plays a detective out for revenge to his recently murdered pregnant fiancé. Choi, as you guessed it, plays our killer; a serial killer who preys on women.

Choi enjoys beating his victims in the head with large lead pipes, then drags their near dead bodies back to his place where he proceeds to dismember the bodies…dead or not.  Choi also enjoys a good romantic romp as well. See, Choi works as a student driver,  he drives a small Toyota van taking young private school girls to and from school. Well, if the last one of the girls might happen to fall asleep, she might end up in the middle of nowhere, on the ground of a green house bound, gagged and with Choi about to have his way with her.

Lee has narrowed down who the possible suspects could be, and all signs now lead directly to Choi. The two, once they have both made their presence known to each other, start a violent game of cat and mouse. Lee has so many chances to arrest Choi, or even kill him if he liked, but Lee is now out to torment the killer, and inflict as much pain as possible, many times over, till the very end!

As I mentioned, the film runs for over two hours, but it doesn’t drag or have slow parts. As a matter of fact, it actually begins to take a life of its own, leaving the horror feel of it, and almost becoming an action crime film. Now I don’t say this in a negative way, but I will admit from all I had heard, I kind of expected a bit more of a gore fest, than a Dirty Harry movie. BUT please, don’t let my last statement deter you from watching this, it really is a great film…just not what I would really have considered a full on horror film.

Now, I must mention, who of you have seen Old Boy, can we get a raise of hands please…ok, you remember the bat shit crazy performance from the lead role, well as  you read, Choi, who stars in this film as our bad guy, stars in Old Boy  as well… this man is a sick genius! His facial expressions, his body language , his overall emotions that he puts into his character is top notch! The job he does here in I Saw the Devil, is downright scary. His cold hearted and emotionless killings often times reminded of what a Korean Hannibal Lecter might be like. He’s the quiet, shady guy you would see at a seedy bar, might not look like much…but is the one the will make you see the devil.

If you are honestly looking to sit down with a scary movie , this is not it, but if you are looking for a great film, with some awesome acting , and good action…this is it.

For those of you who haven’t seen the film yet, and if you haven’t put two and two together, it’s a foreign film…IT’S IN SUBTITLES…figured I’d better mention that, so I don’t get bitched at later!

The film is on Netflix…go watch!!

8/10

 

Keep it Evil

Posted by John Roisland in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
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

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
REVIEW: The Blood Lands (2014)

REVIEW: The Blood Lands (2014)

By Amy Mead

The Blood Lands poster

THE BLOOD LANDS

(original title WHITE SETTLERS)
"They don't belong here"
Directed by Simeon Halligan
Starring Pollyanna McIntosh, Lee Williams and Joanne Mitchell

 

Sarah and Ed are a newlywed couple looking to get away from their stressful city lives in England. They find an old vacant Scottish home at an unbelievable price and after seeing it, they decide to take on a renovation project and dive into the quiet country lifestyle head first.

Their first day on the property and in the home is an idyllic one. The stuff newlywed dreams are made of. But the boxes aren't even unpacked before Sarah begins to feel that maybe they are not alone and things begin to get decidedly creepy and unsettling. It doesn't take long before there are unwelcome masked visitors who come calling. And they are not friendly.

Perhaps the incredible price they got on this old homestead wasn't such a steal after all...

 

I am really fond of home invasion type films so when I saw The Blood Lands while surfing through netflix selections,  I had to check it out. Home invasion films really get to me as far as fear levels go, so I was all in. 

For the most part The Blood Lands is your typical home invasion film but from time to time, there were a couple of nail biting scenes that were filled with tension and I found myself unable to sit still. 

The film does start off a little slowly but once things start happening and the cheap false scares end, the creepiness really begins to assert itself as the film begins to pick up speed and it manages to pull you in. Sort of. 

The acting is decent and the picture lighting and sound quality were excellent and because of that, the scenes were loaded with plenty of extra tension and adrenaline. There really wasn't much to be had in the way of gore but we do get a few glimpses of it now and again. 

I quickly became a little annoyed at the poor decisions exhibited by Sarah after she and Ed become separated and I spent over half of the movie waiting for Sarah to grow a spine and start defending herself instead of just trying to elude her attackers. Reduce the numbers of those trying to kill you, I always say. But maybe that's just me.

Although she does have some considerable skill at eluding the attackers, Sarah just sort of aimlessly drifts from place to place with no real intent on her part becoming clear. It doesn't even appear that she is actively looking for her husband, which for a newlywed couple seemed very strange to me but I digress. When she finally discovers him tied up in the barn with one of the pig mask wearing attackers it's more like she just happened upon it but it is then that she finally starts to show some initiative and strikes back, attacking the man and wounding another.

Their characters become a lot less likable as they continue to make one stupid decision after another and the further into the film I got I kinda just want to assist the masked assailants that are terrorizing them. It was almost as if they had no instinct to fight back or even attempt to protect themselves. It seemed to take an unusually long time for them to go into survival mode. Because of their lack of action, it was hard to get emotionally invested with them and care much either way if they survived the night or not. 

As far as home invasion films go this one was a bit on the weak side and a bit predictable at times. I was a bit surprised the ending but had it not been for one key scene in particular (which I won't spoil for you) I would have enjoyed the film much less. All in all it wasn't a terrible film but it was nothing groundbreaking either. 

I give The Blood Lands  7/10 territorial douchebags

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: The Den (2013)

MOVIE REVIEW: The Den (2013)

By John Roisland

The Den poster

Back in 2013,  director Zachary Donohue brought us his major debut with The Den.  Released by IFC, Cliffbrook Films and Onset Films.  The story of Elizabeth ( Melanie Papalia ; Extraterrestrial /Smiley), who has been given a grant to study peoples behavior while online, in a  web chat group called...you guessed it, The Den. While online she runs into all sorts of people as you would expect, from all walks of life; friendly, rude, funny, perverted and yes, even scary. Things are seeming to be  fine as our girl chats it up with whom ever is online and will chat. As she  chats it up with lonely guys asking to see her boobs, woman screaming at the webcam,  guys jerking off, and oh yeah, a murder.

So, Elizabeth contacts the police, shows them her computer, and replays the video of the murder for the cops. The cops aren't into big of a hurry to draw their guns as they tell her,"it looks real". Problem is , there are tons of these violent acts that are actually staged and sent over the internet to frighten people.

 

 

 

 

Going home things start to happen. Such as her laptop being controlled from an outside source and and sending people false emails and basically controlling her every move, and   her boyfriend, played by David Schlachtenhufen disappears.

This mystery killer, has now made Elizabeth the lab rat in her own study. Violent acts happen by this killer and our girl gets to see it all first handed as she is sent the live videos feeds thru the chat room.

The story kind of drifts for a small while, and for a second you might think you were watching a screening of Unfriended 2 ( ! if there was one). See the entire film is shot on webcams or phone cams. Although I must give them credit, they did  a pretty decent job at it, and seemed  to have coverer all angles. With technology what it is today, sometimes its hard to determine what's real, and what's not.  And they did a good job of presenting that to you as a viewer. The film does carry a decent suspense level,.. and even a scene that I knew was coming, but still jumped!

While I'm not going to give the ending a way, NO SPOILERS,  I will just say that the ending was good. Hell, the ending actually surprised me! Lets just say it proved a lot about humanity and the  all mighty dollar!

This IS currently showing on Netflix, give it a shot!

6/10

 

Stay Evil

Posted by John Roisland in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Harbinger Down (2015)

MOVIE REVIEW: Harbinger Down (2015)

By Nick Durham

harbinger_down_feat

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

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
TRIBUTE: Lucio Fulci: The Godfather of Gore

TRIBUTE: Lucio Fulci: The Godfather of Gore

By Amy Lynes

Master of the Macabre
There aren't many people that I idolize but Lucio Fulci is definitely one of them, and he's number one on my list.

I was seventeen and home alone when I watched my first Lucio Fulci film. It was The House By The Cemetery, and watching it alone was a big mistake. HUGE! I sat there for the next hour and a half mesmerized by what was unfolding on the screen in front of me, even though my heart was racing, I was scared out of my mind, and all alone in an old, creepy ass (haunted) house.

Never before had I seen so much blood and gore! I was excited, terrified and repulsed all at the same time. As soon as it ended, I instantly rewound it (yes, it was on VHS) and watched it again. I would watch this wonderfully intense and graphic film three more time before eventually returning it to the video store.

I wanted to see more of this man's work and soon began renting all the films I could get my eager hands on. Zombie (aka Zombi 2) came next and, once again, I was blown away. There were scenes where I actually found myself holding my breath, squirming in my seat and clenching my hands so tightly that my muscles hurt. The famous eyeball puncturing scene was incredibly hard to watch but at the same time I couldn't make myself look away (and found that I didn't really want to anyway). I absolutely loved the way the zombies looked, how it seemed as though they were crumbling right before my eyes, squirming with maggots and missing eyes and appendages. It was fantastic! Still to this day, I prefer the slow gait, movement and organic look of Fulci's zombies, as opposed to the fast movers of today's modern zombie films. There was (and still is) something inherently creepy about the way they shamble so goddamn slowly and cannot be deterred nor distracted. They just keep on coming for you. And the infamous 'Shark vs. Zombie' scene? Once again, I was blown away. I sat there, completely mystified by the skill and imagination that must have gone into the making of that awe inspiring scene. Hell, even all these years later, I still am.

House by the cemetery

I was now completely hooked on this man's amazing talent and there was no going back for me; I just couldn't get enough and I simply HAD to see more. I had to find out everything I could about this director who could bring such vision to the screen while simultaneously scaring the living shit out of me so effectively and see as many of his films as possible.

Next up was The Beyond (aka Seven Doors of Death) which was strong in vivid imagery and unbelievably creepy. I couldn't get it out of my head for days and to this very day, it is still one of my all time favorite horror films. My copy gets watched often, several times a year, and I still get creeped out. Every time.

Then there was The Gates of Hell (aka City of the Living Dead) with the famous drill through the head scene, and the vomiting up of one's intestines and I delighted in the grossness of it, even though it made me retch.

Next up was Demonia, in which a man was quartered. I was horrified but I was also really beginning to like all the gore. It was all so shocking to me, but I seriously just could not get enough. I was addicted to how these movies made me feel, and what they sparked in me.

City drill scene

I soon fell in love with Fulci's ability to use gore to the fullest extent, without it being the primary focus of his films. He had the ability to scare the hell out of me without overwhelming me with the gore, and I was all about it. The excitement became a sort of drug for me, and I became addicted to the adrenaline rush I invariably got from his films.

My parents, however, were less than thrilled with my choice in movies and the only one I could ever get Dad to watch with me was The Psychic. He just couldn't handle the gore Fulci was famous for. I, however, was growing to love it more and more with each film. Years later, I would pass that love on to my brother Clayton, and he eventually ended up just as addicted as I was.

Because I could find so few of his movies and having become utterly obsessed with his work, I tried doing some investigative work to find out all I could about this genius director that I was quickly coming to love. Sadly, this was before the Internet and the libraries had very little to offer, so there wasn't much I could find. It wasn't until many years later that I discovered Netflix and began using the Internet that I was able to get my hands on a number of films that I had only heard about – and even some that I had no clue existed. My first few months on Netflix were exciting ones; I had found hidden horror treasure. The Mother Lode.

Because I was so enamored with Fulci's films, I also then began seeking out films by people who had either inspired Fulci, or had been inspired by him - Mario and Lamberto Bava and Dario Argento. This would also eventually lead to some other obsessions of mine, Argento films and Italian horror in general. But Fulci would always be my favorite.

Fulci has done everything from horror to musicals and even some Spaghetti Westerns and comedies. He was responsible for sixty films and one hundred and twenty scripts. In addition to film making, Fulci also wrote two books Fulci Breaks The Looking Glass and My Lovely Monsters which, sadly, will probably never be translated into English.

Fulci's career hit a high point in 1971-72 with his two Giallos, A Lizard in a Woman's Skin and Don't Torture a Duckling which were both extremely controversial. However, he was briefly blacklisted after Don't Torture a Duckling because it painted an extremely vivid picture of perversity in Catholicism. He was also hauled into court and charged with cruelty to animals due to the very graphic depiction of dogs being mutilated in A Lizard in a Woman's Skin and actually had to show the judge the puppets they used and how they worked before being cleared of the charge.

Fulci Gore

It has been said that the films he made from 1979-83 were some of the most violent ever made. It is really no coincidence that the eighties were his most popular time in America. Sadly, in spite of that, he was never fully given the recognition he deserved. The horror world truly suffered a major loss with his untimely death in 1996.

It saddens me that there will never be another new Fulci film, but for this girl, this master of the macabre will always live on, both in his work, and in the work of many others.

For a complete list of Lucio Fulci's work, check out his IMDB page.

Posted by Alan Smithee in EDITORIALS, HORROR HEROES, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: Ejecta (2014)

MOVIE REVIEW: Ejecta (2014)

By Nick Durham

ejecta2

I'm a sucker for anything alien-related. I've always had an intense love for science fiction, and any science fiction that gets blended with any kind of horror elements pretty much makes me cream my jeans at the thought. That's why whenever there's any kind of sci-fi/horror flick hitting the scene, I'll usually end up checking it out, even if it's against my better judgment. I should also mention now that if said film involves any kind of alien abduction-type stuff, I'm usually there front and center. That's why when I took one look at the synopsis for Ejecta, I decided to check it out.

A Canadian film from directors Chad Archibald (The Drownsman) and Matt Wiele, Ejecta stars Julian Richings (better known to most as Death from Supernatural) as an alien abductee named Cassidy who gets tracked down by a conspiracy blogger named Sullivan (Adam Seybold). What happens next unfolds out of order, mixing elements of found footage style and traditional narrative styled jump scares and suspense (i.e., you can easily tell that this film had two directors). Somehow, even though this makes Ejecta feel pretty uneven as a whole, it still works...for the most part anyway.

As the film's overarching plot begins to further reveal itself, we get the usual tropes of government conspiracies and alien creature jump scares that end up being fairly predictable, but there are some really surprisingly well-crafted ideas buried within the film's script. Some of these ideas are rarely seen in films of this type, and while they're nothing revolutionary, they make for a welcome change of pace. That, and some really nice twists towards the end, separate Ejecta from other films of its ilk.

The one department where Ejecta deserves a ton of praise is in its acting. Everyone in this film performs really well in their roles, which in all honesty I was a bit surprised at. Films of this type usually feature the standard character tropes of "dude who's been abducted before and knows shit", "dude who believes in aliens and doesn't know shit", and "government operative who knows aliens are real and knows all the shit". While Ejecta does feature all those tropes (in fact, those are our three leads), it uses them all to wonderful effect, and each one is extremely well acted from Richings, Seybold, and Pontypool actress Lisa Houle as the interrogator/doctor who gets way, way more than she bargained for.

Ejecta isn't anything bad, it isn't anything all that special either, and it definitely isn't for everybody. It has its slow burn elements, but when it gets good, it's pretty good. Plus, it runs at a fairly brisk running time, so you could do much, much worse than what this film has to offer. If alien abduction-type scares or anything I've described sounds up your alley at all, check this out.

Rating: 3/5

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