Nick Durham

VIDEO GAME REVIEW: LOST REAVERS

VIDEO GAME REVIEW: LOST REAVERS

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By Nick Durham

Well, this is something. Lost Reavers is a free to play multiplayer game published by Bandai Namco and is exclusive to the Wii-U (at least for now). The game is currently in beta (or at least it really feels like it is) and you won’t find many other games like this on the Wii-U at all. Is that a good thing though? Well…let’s find out.

The gameplay of Lost Reavers revolves around you choosing one of four characters to play as. Each character is equipped with a melee weapon and a firearm, and the quick tutorial shows you pretty much everything you need to know. You’re tasked with clearing various rooms, wiping out zombies and other monsters, and recovering relics and bringing them back to your extraction point. Up to four people can play at once, but it really doesn’t make a difference if you have a partner or two or go solo: the game is a breeze, and a pretty boring one at that too.




The game’s environments are bland and its character models stock and stale. There’s a few puzzle-ish elements but they don’t amount to much in terms of challenge. It can become really easy to get swarmed with enemies yet there’s never really any sense of urgency. I know that sounds pretty nonsensical, but the enemy AI is literally all over the place. This is one of the reasons I say Lost Reavers still feels like it’s in beta: the twitchy AI and overall blandness just makes it feel incomplete. The control is pretty twitchy too, and more often than not pretty delayed.

The gameplay itself is just run around, shoot/hack shit, find the relic, run back to the exit. You may occasionally have to heal someone in your party, but probably not because there isn’t much here in terms of challenge. Then again, this is a free to play game, but most of those kind of games at least usually offer something in terms of addictive gameplay to keep their audience hooked and sinking money into them. That’s why fucking Candy Crush made billions of dollars after all. I don’t think we’ll have to worry about Lost Reavers getting to any levels like that though. Even if this game was on better selling consoles than the Wii-U or even on the PC, I doubt many would give it a shot.

So yeah, the fact that Lost Reavers is free to play is pretty much the only reason anyone should even consider checking it out. You’ll definitely play worse games in your life than this, but you’ll certainly play better ones too. Check it out for yourself if need be, but otherwise, don’t even bother wasting your time.

Rating: 2/5




Posted by Alan Smithee in GAME REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
BLU-RAY REVIEW: The Stuff (1985)

BLU-RAY REVIEW: The Stuff (1985)

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By Nick Durham

Arrow Video is going to make me go fucking broke. That being said, when it comes to their quality Blu-ray releases, it's pretty much money well spent. Arrow's release of the Larry Cohen schlock classic The Stuff is no exception. A long time favorite film out of the long list of films that Cohen has been behind, The Stuff is a bona-fide guilty pleasure of ridiculousness and awesomeness; all wrapped up in a nice little package.

Most of you more than likely know the plot of The Stuff: The Stuff is a new and mysterious dessert that is taking the world by storm. Everyone seems to love it for some reason; so much so that it's putting other snack companies in tough spots. Enter professional industrial saboteur Moe (Cohen favorite and Law & Order vet Michael Moriarity), who is hired to uncover the secrets of The Stuff, and is eventually teamed up with young Jason (Scott Bloom), who has discovered that The Stuff is taking on a life of its own.

There's not much else to the story of The Stuff; other than the film is absolutely fucking bonkers. Moriarty plays it firmly tongue-in-cheek, while everyone else plays it relatively serious (for some reason), until we're introduced to Paul Sorvino's military man character, and from that point forward it's an absolute hoot. It also happens to be one of Cohen's better crafted films, and it also manages to contain enough social commentary to save it from being terrible schlock, and some of it shockingly manages to hold up today if you can believe that.

This Blu-ray release from Arrow Video is quite good, and definitely blows the old Anchor Bay DVD release from years back away. The film has been restored and looks better than ever, and the film's mono soundtrack sounds better than ever as well. There's a new documentary on the film featuring interviews from Cohen and others, the film's trailer is here as well (which features a commentary from Darren Lynn Bousman for some reason), and a collector's booklet as well.

All in all, Arrow may not have put the extreme amount of love and care into this release compared to some of their other releases, but this is still a great pick up regardless. I've always had a soft spot for The Stuff, as have many others, which is why it has managed to resonate for the past thirty plus years. So go out, pick this up, and indulge yourself aplenty.

Rating: 4/5

 

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
BLU-RAY REVIEW: Bride of Re-Animator (1989)

BLU-RAY REVIEW: Bride of Re-Animator (1989)

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By Nick Durham

Oh Arrow Video, how you spoil me. No more having to watch that crap, out-of-print (and edited) DVD version from Artisan, here we are with a wonderful Blu-ray release of the underappreciated Bride of Re-Animator. Like they did with their Society release, Arrow has gone above and beyond with the treatment they’ve given this film, and this package is quite the sight to behold. This is a film I have held in relatively high regard, even if some of it feels a little cheaper in overall quality compared to the original.




This 1989 sequel to Stuart Gordon’s 1985 classic Re-Animator, Bride of Re-Animator finds Brian Yuzna (who produced the first film, as well as being the director of Society, Return of the Living Dead 3, and tons more) in the director’s chair this time around. The film picks up eight months after the massacre at Miskatonic, with Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs) and Dan Cain (Bruce Abbot) in Peru during a civil war as meatball surgeons. They’re both still testing the limits of West’s reagent serum, and eventually the two of them wind up back at Miskatonic. There’s a cop (Claude Earl Jones) scoping them out for his own personal reasons, a beautiful woman (Fabiana Udenio) that has caught Dan’s eye, and the re-animated head of Dr. Carl Hill (David Gale) has returned to wreck havoc. Oh, and the boys are trying to make their own Frankenstein-ish monster from dead body parts, including the heart of Dan’s late fiancé Megan (who was played by the great Barbara Crampton in the original film).

Yeah, things are a little convoluted to say it lightly in terms of the plot and story of Bride of Re-Animator. Some of the character’s motivations, particularly Dan Caine’s, are so all over the place it’s hard to really sympathize with him, especially when he makes puppy dog eyes to any female character with a pulse. Plus, as I had mentioned earlier, some elements of it feel kind of cheap. One thing I will say is that the grotesque gore and makeup effects from the then fledgling KNB Effects group as well as Screaming Mad George and John Carl Buechler are the bloody icing on the cake. Some of the puppet effects have definitely not aged well though, but in all honesty that isn’t too much of a surprise. Those flaws aside, I still find this film to be an underappreciated sequel that sadly doesn’t get enough of the recognition that it deserves.

What also isn’t a surprise is how much love and care that Arrow Video has put into this Blu-ray release. The film has been remastered in 2K for the unrated version, and the R-rated version is here too for shits and giggles. While the unrated version looks great, there is a noticeable degradation in the picture quality during the unrated scenes of the film (which honestly makes it easy to tell what got cut from the film during its original release). There’s a bunch of commentary tracks featuring Yuzna, Combs, Abbot, Kurtzman, and more besides; as well as a retrospective with Yuzna, a few looks at the film’s FX, deleted scenes, and more. This limited edition set from Arrow also features a booklet reprint of the awesome comic book prequel to the first film. Yes, this set is a thing of beauty.

So yeah, it goes without saying that you need to get your hands on this Bride of Re-Animator set from Arrow. It’s a beautiful sight to behold, and it’s more than worth your time and attention. Pick this up while you still can.

Rating: 5/5

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
EDITORIAL – VICTOR SALVA CAN GO STRAIGHT TO HELL

EDITORIAL – VICTOR SALVA CAN GO STRAIGHT TO HELL

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By Nick Durham

Hear that sound? Listen carefully and closely? You hear it yet? That’s the sound of the FUCK VICTOR SALVA TRAIN. Don’t worry if you don’t hear it right away, that train’s never late. Anyway, before we hop on this train, I just want to say right here and now that the opinions I’m about to express do not constitute the opinions of my colleagues in The House of Tortured Souls as a whole. These are my own personal opinions, and I’m damn sure not afraid to voice them as loudly as I can in regards to this piece of trash.

With all that out of the way, let’s get right down to it: Victor Salva is a reprehensible human being that has no right to work in the film industry. Why is that you ask? Well, in case you didn’t know, Salva is a convicted pedophile. Dixielord touched on it a little bit already in his column discussing the troubles going on with the long-gestating Jeepers Creepers 3, but back in the late 80s during the filming of his debut Clownhouse, Salva molested his 12-year old star, and recorded the act. He was subsequently arrested, and convicted for the crime, as well as for the shitload of kiddie porn that was discovered in his possession. He would only go on to serve 15 months in prison.

Now how does a convicted pedophile continue to manage to make films? Well, Salva just so happens to be one of Francis Ford Coppola’s golden children. That’s right, Francis Ford motherfucking Coppola, the legendary director of The Godfather and Apocalypse Now was a sort of mentor to Salva, and even helped finance a few of his films, as well as put the good word around about him to various studios in Hollywood. That’s how Salva managed to secure the directing job for the mid-90s sentimental shit-fest Powder. Ironically enough, it was during the marketing push for that film that Salva’s victim had come out and news of Salva’s past became more widely known. Needless to say, people started to distance themselves from Salva.

Fast forward a few years later, Coppola would put the good word in for Salva again, and we got Jeepers Creepers. What wasn’t expected though is how much of a surprise hit the film became at the box-office. All of the sudden, Salva’s past wasn’t a big deal; the film made a shitload of money, and spawned a sequel a couple of years later. That made a shitload of money too, and it seemed like this was going to be the beginning of a never-ending franchise…birthed by a pederast. That however did not happen…yet.

The point I’m trying to make here is that Victor Salva should not be making films, he should be rotting in jail. There are few things I feel truly angry about, but this is one of them. He ruined a child’s life and only served a little over a year plus in prison for it? Get the fuck out of here. Pedophiles don’t change; there’s no rehabilitation program for them and there’s not a switch that just gets turned off and all of the sudden they’re not into kids anymore. He shouldn’t be walking the streets, let alone making films.

Now I know you’re probably thinking What about Roman Polanski and Woody Allen? They’re perverts too! Well, I don’t disagree with you one bit. Hell, Polanski can’t even set foot in America, but I digress. I’m not putting one over the other here, and I don’t support the work of Polanski or Allen either: all three of these guys are different scents of the same turd as far as I’m concerned.

To wrap things up, Salva and his work shouldn’t be supported. His crimes shouldn’t be forgotten or swept under the rug either. That kid sure can’t forget what happened to him can he? Why should Salva get to continue making movies? He shouldn’t at all, whether it be another Jeepers Creepers movie or anything else. And for anyone that looks past what he is and focuses on his film work and supports it with their wallets…well, you’re not much better than he is in my eyes.

But hey, this is all just my opinion and mine alone. You can agree with me or totally disagree with me, that’s all well and good. That being said, if you’re the kind of person that thinks Salva’s past should be swept under the rug…well, take this however you may, but fuck on right off.

Posted by Alan Smithee in EDITORIALS, 1 comment
VIDEO GAME REVIEW: CHASING DEAD

VIDEO GAME REVIEW: CHASING DEAD

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By Nick Durham

As one of the apparently few owners of a Wii-U on the FUCKING PLANET, any time I see a horror title on Nintendo's downloadable e-shop, I end up downloading it. The Letter, Molly Maggot, Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water...I fall for it every fucking time. And you know what? I end up hating myself almost immediately after I play it. Some shit never changes. Chasing Dead really isn't any different either in all honesty, although it winds up being better than all those aforementioned games (except for Fatal Frame) , but it still ends up being a bit of a mess.

Chasing Dead is a first person shooter where you play as a cyborg-ish dude named Jake, and you're tasked with mowing down shitloads of zombies. Along the way you get some help from an assistant named Luna (who is filmed in live action, which kind of makes this feel like a Sega CD game from fucking 1993) and there's a super confusing plot involving multiple earths and other ridiculous shit that really has no place in a zombie FPS, but I digress.

The game itself looks like...well, it's kind of hard to describe. There's moments where Chasing Dead looks pretty good...and then it gets choppier than shit due to its piss-poor frame rate. Sometimes during gameplay things appear to be going pretty smooth, and then if anything gets frantic, forget about it. The frame rate drops and the character models glitch, and it doesn't take long for the whole thing to become a mess. The shooting mechanics aren't too bad, but the controls are slightly delayed, so it doesn't really help matters at all.

While playing through Chasing Dead, I felt as if a decent chunk of this game just comes off as unfinished, and it turns out I wasn't totally wrong on that either. In addition to being released on the Wii-U, the game was also released on Steam for the PC, with it's original price of 25 bucks dropped to 10. This was due to those behind the game admitting that the finished product isn't exactly...well, finished. Apparently they're going to be tinkering with it more down the line, but honestly I can't imagine this game becoming any better. After all, you put as much lipstick on a turd as you want to, but it doesn't change the fact that it's still a turd.

So yeah, you'll definitely play worse games than Chasing Dead, but you'll play far, far better ones too. It's an unfinished and fairly uninteresting and uninspired zombie shooter, and you're better off spending your cash elsewhere. If you're a Wii-U owner looking for a new horror game to sink your teeth into...well, I guess you're still stuck with your copy of ZombiU from 2012.

Rating: 2/5

 

Posted by Alan Smithee in GAME REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
MOVIE REVIEW: He Never Died (2015)

MOVIE REVIEW: He Never Died (2015)

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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 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.

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
BLU-RAY REVIEW: Pieces (1983)

BLU-RAY REVIEW: Pieces (1983)

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By Nick Durham

Pieces is a weird fucking movie, and that’s saying it lightly. Said weirdness usually comes from the fact that it’s really hard to figure out whether the film is supposed to be a parody of the slasher and splatter genres, or if it’s supposed to be taken seriously. You never really get a clear answer in figuring that out, but in all honesty, that’s quite okay, because it’s super mega-fucking enjoyable regardless of its absurdity and occasional downright awfulness.

Pieces begins in the 1940s when a young boy hacks his mother to death with an axe after she threatens to destroy his jigsaw puzzle of a naked lady (yes, you read that right). Forty some years later, there’s a string of super grisly murders on a college campus; featuring female victims being butchered by a chainsaw, and discovered with various body parts missing. Our killer appears to be making his own woman out of these various pieces (nooch), and it’s up to a cop (genre stalwart Christopher George), a former tennis player and occasional cop (George’s real life wife Lynda Day George), and an annoying student (Ian Sera, who if he looks familiar, he was a featured player in Pod People, i.e., the greatest episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 ever) to save the day. Along the way there’s plenty of nudity and gore effects, and one of the most ludicrous conclusions and final shots you will EVER see in any horror film in existence.

I’ve praised Grindhouse Releasing a lot in the past for their wonderful Blu-ray releases, and their release treatment for Pieces is top notch. The film is presented here in both its uncut U.S. release, as well as its slightly longer, uncensored Spanish release with full audio. Each has wonderful new 4K transfers. There’s a new commentary from actor Jack Taylor, older interviews with director Juan Piquer Simon and genre great Paul L. Smith (who plays the most red herring-esque character you’re likely to ever see), a very worthwhile documentary called 42nd Street Memories, and a bonus CD featuring the film’s soundtrack. Some of these features carry over from Grindhouse’s DVD release of Pieces from a few years back, but that doesn’t stop this from being a wonderful package.

So yeah, if you’ve ever seen Pieces before, you know it’s a ridiculous and absurd trip that must be seen to be believed. For those of you that haven’t seen Pieces before, what the fuck are you waiting for? Pick up this fantastic Blu-ray release from Grindhouse Releasing while you can. You’ll be damn glad that you did.

Raing: 4/5

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
BLU-RAY REVIEW: The Mutilator (1985)

BLU-RAY REVIEW: The Mutilator (1985)

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By Nick Durham

The Mutilator is one of those slasher flicks from the 80s that you may kind of remember, but if you do, you don’t remember it too well. Chances are you know the title at least, and yes, that is a great title for a piece of slasher trash. Funny enough, the original title for the film was Fall Break, which actually makes more sense considering the story revolves around a group of college douche bags on their fall break, and the film even has a fucking theme song entitled Fall Break. Oh well, a lot of films of this type in the 80s had at least two different titles at some point, so this actually isn’t that much of a surprise.

The Mutilator, as I said already, revolves around the typical brand of 80s college douche bags (and we know they’re douche bags because a couple of them wear sweaters tied around their necks or draped over their shoulders) who decide to take a trip to the beach house of owned by the father of our lead Ed Jr. (Matt Mitler). Thing is though, Ed’s father went a little off the deep end some years back when young Ed accidentally killed his mother with daddy’s rifle. Throughout the years, Big Ed has hunted a lot and made trophies of his kills, and now he has his sights set on his son and his friends.

The film’s flimsy plot isn’t done any favors by the laughably bad acting peppered throughout The Mutilator. In fact, the film as a whole seems really fucking amateurish in terms of its direction and technical aspects. This isn’t really that much of a big deal, because in the mid-80s, everyone and their mother was making slasher flicks in their back yards with camcorders they rented from the local video store. Where The Mutilator shines though is with its gore effects. For its time, they are really fucking good, and even though it takes us a while to get there, the gore shots and kills are worth the trip.

Arrow Video has done another fine job crafting a great Blu-ray set here. They’ve remastered the film in 2K, and somehow actually managed to piece together this rarely seen unrated version of the film as well. Somehow, someway, Arrow has managed to not make this movie look like shit. There’s a few different commentary tracks featuring writer/producer/director Buddy Cooper, as well as star Matt Mitler and female lead Ruth Martinez, and a new documentary featuring interviews with them and more besides. There’s a look back at the splatter effects of the film, screen tests, trailers, original and instrumental version of the film’s funky ass theme song, and a retrospective about the film’s super weird musical score (seriously, it’s weird). As usual, Arrow really packed in the goods special feature-wise.

So yeah, The Mutilator is an often forgotten 80s slasher trash fest that is gloriously awful, yet somehow endearing. It’s enjoyable in its badness though, and the film’s ending is a total hoot to say it lightly. Go check it out if you’ve never seen it before, and if you have seen the film before and have fond memories of it, pick up Arrow’s Blu-ray while you can.

Rating: 3/5 (film), 4.5/5 (special features)

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
COMIC REVIEW: The Wake

COMIC REVIEW: The Wake

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By Nick Durham

It's not every day you read something like The Wake. I'm dead fucking serious: this comic is fucking nuts. Published by DC Comics' mature-readers imprint Vertigo (home of classic horror comic titles like Sandman, Preacher, and Hellblazer) over the course of ten issues, The Wake is written by Scott Snyder (known for his current prolific run on Batman) and drawn by Sean Murphy (Punk Rock Jesus). If you're familiar with either Snyder or Murphy's work, you already know you're going to be in for something special.

The story of The Wake fuses science fiction and horror through the course of three time periods. The main element of the story involves a team being assembled and sent to investigate something very mysterious (and monstrous) and strange that has ben discovered at the bottom of the ocean. In terms of the comic's story, that's all I really want to spill. Believe me when I say that you have to read this to believe it. All I will say is that by the time you get halfway through this series, it catapults into an unforeseen direction of manic madness that you will not see coming...and yet somehow, it still manages to work as a glorious amalgamation of the best elements of sci-fi and horror.

Scott Snyder's twist script is only accentuated by the artwork of industry vet Sean Murphy. Murphy's line-work ranges from quiet and stark to wonderfully over the top and nigh-cinematic. When the The Wake presents big action set-pieces, it's Murphy who brings them to life, and they are a sight to behold. Throughout his work over the years, Murphy's work has usually always been dynamic, and here he goes above and beyond.

If there's any drawbacks to The Wake, it's that it feels too short. Snyder tells an epic horror story and turns it into something else entirely, but it often feels like there's bits missing that shouldn't be. It's nothing major in the least though, and it doesn't detract from the overall product thankfully.

So yeah, if you're into horror/sci-fi comics, you have to read The Wake. It's unlikely you'll read anything like it in modern, mainstream comics today, and this is without a doubt the best thing I've read from Vertigo in the past few years. There's a reason this book won an Eisner Award (basically the Oscar's of comic books) and has become revered within the comic community. Do yourself a favor and go pick up the trade paperback. You'll be glad that you did.

Rating: 5/5

 

Posted by Alan Smithee in BOOKS, COMICS, AND PUBLICATION REVIEWS, REVIEWS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
COMIC REVIEW: The Other Dead

COMIC REVIEW: The Other Dead

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By Nick Durham

Zombies are fucking everywhere. Movies, books, comics, video games, TV...they are literally everyfuckingwhere that you can think of. Saying that the zombie genre is super oversaturated is saying it lightly, but every now and then, we get a little something special within the genre that breathes just a little bit of life back into it. The Other Dead does just that. Published by IDW Publishing (responsible for numerous comic adaptations of Clive Barker works among others), The Other Dead is a unique and interesting take on the zombie apocalypse.

Based on an unused film treatment by Digger T. Mesch and scripted by Joshua Ortega (along with crediting Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles co-creator Kevin Eastman as a consultant for some reason); The Other Dead revolves around a zombie outbreak...except these zombies are of the animal variety. That's right, dead animals are returning from the dead and wrecking havoc on the human race. In the midst of all this, a Katrina-sized hurricane is about to hit (the story takes place in Louisiana), just as President Obama is getting ready to make a visit (yes, you read that right).

It should be noted that among the many characters featured in The Other Dead, Barack Obama plays a prominent role alongside a dickhead redneck and some annoying teenagers. Hell, even Dick Cheney makes in appearance in the book's hilarious opening pages. Make of all that whatever you will.

Anyway, there's a lot going on within the pages of The Other Dead. Interesting premise aside, it's really easy to lose track of what's going on in terms of plot points, etc. In fact, most of the characters are so blankly-written that we care little about them. Add to that some inane dialogue, and we get what should be a relative snoozefest...yet somehow it isn't necessarily. This is mainly due to the fact that the artwork from Qing Ping Mui is simply amazing. The linework and detail are beautiful and wonderfully flowing and worth the price of admission here alone. No seriously, check this out just for the artwork if nothing else.

So yeah, while The Other Dead has an intriguing premise, it isn't anything too special in the least. That aside, the artwork provided by Qing Ping Mui is so damn good that it's worth tracking this down for alone. As for the rest of what this book has to offer...well, it isn't much, but for die hard zombie fans looking for something a little different, this might be worth a look.

Rating: 3/5

 

Posted by Alan Smithee in BOOKS, COMICS, AND PUBLICATION REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
BLU-RAY REVIEW: The Tenderness of the Wolves (1973)

BLU-RAY REVIEW: The Tenderness of the Wolves (1973)

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By Nick Durham

Does the name Ulli Lommel ring a bell? If you’re a horror nerd (and chances are that you are since you’re here reading this) then you’ve no doubt heard of him, or at least been subjected to some of his more recent exercises in depravity. He really made a name for himself in the 80s with Boogeyman, which in itself was a pile of shit, but nowhere near as bad as his more recent, direct-to-DVD pieces of shit that he’s churned out at an alarming rate for Lions Gate. What you may not know however is that back in the day, Lommel was an up and coming director, and even an understudy of Andy fucking Warhol. His 1973 film, The Tenderness of the Wolves, is a surprisingly thoughtful and totally disturbing character study of infamous German serial killer Fritz Haarmann. It goes without saying that this is undoubtedly the best film that Lommel has ever made.

The late Kurt Raab plays Haarmann: a known homosexual in 1920s Germany (which was a crime by itself back then) that picks up and murders young men in horrific ways, and even moonlights into the fine delicacies of cannibalism to boot. As a known black-market criminal and homosexual, Haarmann becomes a police informant due to the poverty of the nation as a whole, which ends up finding him helping himself keeping the cops off his back so he can freely pick up and slaughter his victims. These scenes of Haarmann meeting and seducing his victims are where the real meat (no pun intended) of The Tenderness of the Wolves lies. They’re not super graphic or even really suspenseful honestly; but they really invoke how evil a son of a bitch this man is. This is both thanks to Lommel’s careful pacing, and Raab’s wonderful performance.

If there’s any drawbacks or flaws to The Tenderness of the Wolves, it’s that it doesn’t deal with the aftermath of when Haarmann is finally caught, or even deal with his origins either. The whole film is dedicated to this one particular fraction of time where he was at his most monstrous, which while incredibly effective, doesn’t do much to develop the character as a whole. Then again, this sick fuck was a real-life person after all, so maybe all we really need to know about Haarmann is what’s presented here.

Arrow Films has done another wonderful job with this Blu-ray release, but that shouldn’t be much of a surprise. The film itself has been remastered and looks glorious, and there’s even a new translation of the film’s English subtitles (which are way, way more accurate than any other American release of this film has ever been). There’s a commentary by Lommel, interviews with the film’s cinematographer Jurgen Jurges and actor Rainer Will (who plays one of Haarmann’s victims), an appreciation retrospective of the film, plus the film’s trailer and a fascinating booklet is included as well. Yeah, this is really good stuff here, which is the norm from Arrow.

Now in case you didn’t realize it by now, The Tenderness of the Wolves definitely isn’t for everyone. If you’re looking for a serial killer/thriller type flick, you’ll be disappointed here. This is a deliberate character study of a true monster, and Lommel doesn’t fuck around with expressing that to the audience. Still, with its brisk 82-minute running time, you don’t have much to lose by checking this out at the very least.

Rating: 4/5

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
BLU-RAY REVIEW: The Guardian (1990)

BLU-RAY REVIEW: The Guardian (1990)

the guardian

By Nick Durham

William Friedkin is a very interesting dude to say it lightly. The man has directed a classic of the horror genre with The Exorcist, and even a classic of the action/crime-drama genre with The French Connection. Since that time, he's helmed some pretty good films (To Live and Die in L.A., Bug, Killer Joe) and some fairly awful ones (Jade). The Guardian falls somewhere in between those two camps as being a very engaging horror film (Friedkin's first foray into horror since The Exorcist) and being fairly overblown and flat out ridiculous trash.

The Guardian revolves around a married couple (Dwier Brown and Carey Lowell) and their newborn child. They hire a seemingly-perfect nanny named Camilla (Jenny Seagrove) who seems to have an instant connection to their child. Camilla however isn't quite human, and plans on sacrificing the baby to the living and super scary looking trees in what is apparently the only forest in Los Angeles. Eventually our clueless heroes start to realize something's not right with this dingy English broad who knows way more about breastfeeding than the mother does, and frequently likes to hang around naked.

We're never really given a clear idea as to what Camilla is, other than she's linked to Druids and is a physical, humanoid manifestation of these freaky-ass trees. That's all well and good I guess, but we're never really given a clear reason as to why she likes sacrificing babies to this fucking thing either. In case you can't tell already by reading all this, The Guardian tends to be a confusing mess more often than not. That aside though, it's an entertaining mess throughout its runtime regardless. Friedkin's direction is what makes this whole ridiculous affair worthwhile; believe me when I say that were it not for him, this would just be one big nonsensical pile of shit that would have been long forgotten and faded into obscurity. Wait, this did fade into obscurity? Well of course it did, but thankfully, we have Scream Factory.

Those fine-ass fuckers at Scream Factory have managed to throw in a surprising amount of extras here, including an assortment of interviews with cast members and Friedkin himself. One interesting piece of knowledge: Sam Raimi was originally going to direct this. Could you imagine how wonderfully over the top (well, more over the top I guess) The Guardian could have been if Raimi had stuck around? Sweet fucking baby Jesus.

So yeah, The Guardian is a clusterfuck of insanity brought to us by a legendary director who was probably on autopilot (and hallucinogens and/or cocaine) during filming. That being said, for what it is, it was shockingly entertaining in 1990, and still is today as well. Go check it out, make some popcorn, grab some beer, and enjoy the barrage of madness.

Rating: 3/5

 

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: 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

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
BLU-RAY REVIEW: What Have You Done to Solange? (1972)

BLU-RAY REVIEW: What Have You Done to Solange? (1972)

solange

By Nick Durham

Italian horror and giallos...these are two of my favorite things ever. So why the fuck did it take me this long to discover and watch this? What Have You Done to Solange? is a 1972 giallo that features all the hallmarks of the genre, yet somehow manages to have a bit of class about it (well, a small bit) that a majority of these films certainly do not. Sleaze and giallos go hand in hand, yet this film is something else entirely, and now thanks to Arrow Films, a whole new generation of viewers can discover it.

What Have You Done to Solange? revolves around an Italian teacher named Enrico (Fabio Testi) whom is trying to get in the pants of one of his students. After a nasty murder occurs literally a few yards away from them, things begin to unravel for everyone involved. Enrico becomes a suspect, his affair gets exposed to his wife (Karin Baal), and the bodies just keep piling up with no end in sight. What's their connection? And just who the hell is Solange (Camille Keaton from the original I Spit on Your Grave in her debut role) and what does she have to do with everything?

Like I said earlier, What Have You Done to Solange? features a lot of the hallmarks of the giallo genre: eroticism, rampant nudity, vile murders, a confused detective, and a black-gloved killer. One thing that is notable about the film though is its craftsmanship. The camerawork and cinematography are wonderful to say the least. This shouldn't be surprising, considering it is directed by Massimo Dallamano, who served as the cinematographer for some classic Sergio Leone spaghetti westerns. Speaking of spaghetti westerns, legendary composer Ennio Morricone provides the lush score here as well. Nearly everything about this film is wonderful. If there's any flaws, it's that its conclusion is a little too anticlimactic.

This Blu-ray release from Arrow Films is a wonderful sight to behold. We get a new 2K restoration of the film, as well as a commentary track from critics Alan Jones and Kim Newman. There's interviews with Testi and Baal, as well as a visual essay that explores the themes of the film as well the sort of official, sort of unofficial sequels that would follow in its wake.

All in all, What Have You Done to Solange? is a masterwork of the giallo genre to say it lightly. This film is one of the landmarks of the genre, at least to me, and it deserves your time and attention. If you've never seen it and you dig giallos in the least, do yourself a favor and pick up this Blu-ray from Arrow Films. You'll be damn glad that you did.

Rating: 4.5/5

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
GAME REVIEW: Molly Maggot

GAME REVIEW: Molly Maggot

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By Nick Durham

I have come to the conclusion that I am indeed a masochist…or at least I think I am. Why else would I keep subjecting myself to shitty games that I find on Nintendo’s E-shop on the Wii-U? My latest find is called Molly Maggot…and good fucking grief, I don’t even know where to begin.

First and foremost, Molly Maggot is a platform game…sort of. You play as our titular heroine (the fucking thing is named Moly, so I’m assuming it’s a she), an adorable little maggot trying to find your way throughout the rotting flesh of a duck…or a bird…I don’t know what the fuck it is because the animated intro is so shitty that all I can say for sure is that the animal has wings. Anyway, your mission is to munch on blocks of flesh and navigate your way to the end of each zone. The blocks of flesh themselves consist of regular blocks and super rotten blocks that can hurt you if you touch them. After you first start munching on the blocks, you realize that each zone is actually like a maze, and due to the ungodly stage designs, you will get stuck and fuck yourself a lot. Not literally fuck yourself of course though, maggots don’t have sexual organs. I think. Wait, do they? Comment below and let me know, I’m too lazy to go look it up right now.

Now in addition to royally fucking yourself by munching the wrong direction (not a euphemism), you also have the ability to jump. This should help you on your quest, but it doesn’t, because the jumping and platforming mechanics of Molly Maggot are so goddamned terrible that I literally can’t put them into words. I was a fucking English major in college, and I CANNOT FIND THE FUCKING WORDS to describe how bad the mechanics are. Add to that the seemingly randomly generated enemies that pop up, piss-poor hit direction, shoddy animation, and the lack of game music, and you have one of the most hilariously awful games you’ll ever play.

So yeah, can you tell I didn’t care for Molly Maggot? It’s bad…like The Letter bad. That game was two bucks too, and I demanded my money back for that…Molly Maggot is so bad that not only do I want my two bucks back, I want my dignity back. This game is an abortion…and that’s me being nice.

Rating: 0/5

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

 

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

MOVIE REVIEW: Maggie (2015)

MAGGIE_web_1

By Nick Durham

I really want to see that horror/drama film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger…file that under things I’d never, ever think I’d ever hear myself say.

Maggie had received a lot of press since its inception, mainly because it features Arnold fucking Schwarzenegger as the lead in a zombie that doesn’t feature him taking down hordes of the undead. Instead, it’s a subdued drama about a mid-western (yet Austrian accented) farmer trying to take care of his bitten daughter (Abigail Breslin) as the whole world begins a descent into hell. By all rights and purposes, such a film should not exist, but here we are.

Maggie isn’t quite a horror film for the most part. It’s actually kind of hard to really classify this flick. The zombie element of course is rooted in horror, but the film is actually more of a drama…and holy shit is it a fucking depressing one at that. From the stark landscapes and haunting imagery, to the overall tone of the world this film is set in teetering on the verge of an apocalypse (yet the humans are still in control), this is where Maggie manages to succeed the most.

Now, let’s talk about the acting. Everyone’s made a big deal out of Ah-nold here, and with good reason. Believe it or not, he does fairly well here, and I can’t believe I’m actually typing those fucking words. If there’s one major flaw with having Arnold in the lead of a movie like this…well, it’s that he’s ARNOLD FUCKING SCHWARZENEGGER! No matter how old he is, no matter how much he manages to emote and actually put on a decent acting performance, I just can’t get away from the fact that he’s ARNOLD FUCKING SCHWARZENEGGER. This is The Terminator, this is Conan the motherfucking Barbarian, this is the ultimate action hero from the 80s and 90s and one of the most recognizable stars in the history of celluloid. Seeing him in a role like this, it’s just hard to separate him from his other screen personas and still take him seriously here, but that’s just me. Aside from Arnold, the rest of the cast does well, particularly Breslin as the doomed teenage daughter who is literally seeing herself rot away.

In closing, Maggie is an interesting dirge of zombie horror/drama, made all the more interesting because of its star. Arnold aside, this movie is worth watching if you want to see a zombie flick doing something different, which in itself is a nice change of pace. Still though, it’s nothing really special in the least, but I can think of way worse zombie movies, and Arnold movies, that could waste your time more.

Rating: 3/5

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
BLU-RAY REVIEW: Blood Rage (1983)

BLU-RAY REVIEW: Blood Rage (1983)

bloodrage

By Nick Durham

You guys want to see an 80s slasher that features an assload of gory moments, murderous twins, and a young Ted Raimi in a cameo as a dude selling condoms in a bathroom?

If your first question is what's a condom?, well...we're in the same boat. I don't know what they are either, but I do know what a Ted Raimi is. My preferred choice of birth control is what I call the Ted Raimi, where right before I'm about to blow a load I start chanting I'LL SWALLOW YOUR SOUL and that's when my partner runs away screaming. No babies for me.

Anyway, Blood Rage is a cheap slasher flick that was filmed in 1983, but not officially released until 1987 in a heavily edited version that was even re-titled Nightmare at Shadow Woods for some reason. The story revolves around twins named Todd and Terry (both played by Mark Soper), of which Terry is a crazed killer that has blamed Todd for a gruesome murder when they were young. In the years that followed, Todd has been institutionalized while Terry has led a pretty nice life while being smothered by his mother (Louise Lasser). Things come to a head though when Todd escapes, and Terry goes on a blood-thirsty rampage for shits and giggles.

As I had said before, Blood Rage was heavily edited upon its eventual release, and it's easy to see why. This film is a flat out fucking bloodbath literally from its beginning to the end. Some of the effects are pretty good for their time, and some of them...well, they weren't then, and definitely aren't now. Still, there are some inventive kills, and the film walks a fine line between being tongue in cheek and ridiculously mean-spirited. The film's story is fairly predictable, but it's surprisingly well-acted for what it is.

The wonderful folks at Arrow Films have unleashed another shockingly spectacular Blu-ray release. A three disc limited edition set, the Blood Rage Blu-ray set features three (!) versions of the film that encompass its uncensored version and edited cuts, along with a shitload of commentaries and interviews as well. The film itself has been restored in 2K HD, and it looks wonderful to say the least. Arrow seriously literally overdid themselves bringing Blood Rage home.

To wrap things up, Blood Rage is a fairly entertaining and somewhat forgotten slasher that has received a brilliant Blu-ray set release from Arrow Films. The features and overall presentation of this set make Blood Rage worth picking up by itself alone. This is by and far worth your time and money, and you should probably act soon and pick it up while you can, because when Arrow calls something a limited edition, they're not fucking around. Grab this while you can.

Rating: 4/5

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