Wednesday, April 30, 2014

PROXY is a deranged piece of cinema

RATED- Unrated
RUN TIME- 120 Mins
WRITER(S)- Kevin Donner and Zack Parker
STARRING- Joe Swanberg, Kristina Klebe, and Alexia Rasmussen
DIRECTOR- Zack Parker

Synopsis taken from IMDb
While walking home from her latest OB appointment, a very pregnant Esther Woodhouse is brutally attacked and disfigured by a hooded assailant. This horrible event seems to be a blessing in disguise when Esther finds consolation in a support group. Her life of sadness and solitude is opened up to a friendship, understanding, and even acceptance. However, friendship and understanding can be very dangerous things when accepted by the wrong people. 

Starting almost immediately, we see a very pregnant Esther (Alexia Rasmussen) ruthlessly attacked. What follows actually made my jaw drop, and I almost had to look away. This is that kind of movie that instantly tells you what you're in for. The attack is so heinous and traumatizing to watch, and it caught me off guard. My first thought was: who would do such a thing? Pushing the boundaries within just a few minutes, I was ready to stick around to see how far it would go.

We see the impact the vicious attack has on Esther, and she's extremely lonely. She joins a support group and starts to socialize, which seems to make her feel better. As the first act of the film dragged out and was kind of slow, I was intrigued to stay tuned and see where this all was leading. Never would I expect such a sick and unforgivable twist. And we see Esther sleep around, making the viewer realize she's not who we thought she was.

Esther becomes completely unlikable instantly, and we find out things about her, like how she never wanted to be a mother. She's a nasty, heartless person. But, it isn't just Esther that is unlikable, it's almost the entire cast. Joe Swanberg shows up and puts on a good performance, but he's kind of stiff. I don't feel that he let it all out in this film. I guess his performance while good, felt held back. His character Patrick, undergoes a traumatic incident that changes him for the worse.

What follows Patrick's misfortune is a shocker. I didn't see any of it coming, but it shows you how unpredictable this flick is. It's completely unconventional. There's an unnecessary slow motion scene that irked me, and it just didn't go as I expected it to, so I was left compelled to watch, so I can see how it would end.

There's some good gore that looks realistic and painful, and there's nice dialogue that doesn't feel forced. It goes over smoothly and naturally for the most part. Some of the music is kind of quirky, which is unnecessary, and takes you out of the movie.

The masturbation-choke scene is pretty disturbing and gross, again pushing boundaries. And we see that due to recent events, Patrick is now going to a support group. When he discovers a secret about his wife and her relationship with Esther, things get crazy. There's another kill towards the end that I did not see coming, and caught me off guard. I think what this movie is best at is being completely random and unpredictable.

The film ends very deranged, but good. I feel that after viewing the film that it has a lot of good things going for it, but it's far too slow, and fails to build any true successful suspense. It turns into a movie that's only subsidence is shock value. Overall I was entertained, but I wasn't impressed. It gets too many things wrong, and it gets in its own way of being a great good movie due to some boring writing and drawn out scenes. I like it, but it's nothing worth praising.

3 stars out of 5

Tuesday, April 29, 2014


RATED- Unrated
RUN TIME- 110 Mins
WRITER(S)- Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado
STARRING- Lior Ashkenazi, Rotem Keinan, and Tzahi Grad
DIRECTOR- Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado

Synopsis taken from IMDb
A series of brutal murders puts the lives of three men on a collision course: The father of the latest victim now out for revenge, a vigilante police detective operating outside the boundaries of  law, and the main suspect in the killings- a religious studies teacher arrested and released due to a police blunder.

Quentin Tarantino is quoted as saying that this flick is the "best film of the year". That's all I really needed to hear, I knew I had to see this. Although Tarantino puts his name on films to give them a push with audiences and critics, they aren't all good. So this was a gamble. But after a few minutes of watching, I knew that I was going to like it.

It picks up pretty quickly, throwing you in amidst the chaos of a suspect being beaten and interrogated. I instantly saw some "Reservoir Dogs" in the scene, and could tell that this was going to be an unconventional experience. The suspect ends up being released, and we discover that a teenager was in the building when the violence was happening, and he recorded the incident. Shortly after leaking the video on YouTube, the lead cop on the case, Micki (Lior Ashkenazi) is dropped from the police force. But rather than quit while he's ahead, he pursues the suspect on his own time and terms.

I like that we get some alone time with the suspect, Dror (Rotem Keinan) and see how his life is effected by the accusations made about him. They make you wait a bit before finding out exactly what he's suspected of doing, but it's quite gruesome. Supposedly he kills little girls by sawing off their heads with a rusty saw, but after drugging, raping, breaking their fingers one at a time, and peeling off their toenails and keeping them as souvenirs. Dror appears to be such a wholesome guy that it's hard to say whether or not he's really guilty or just being falsely accused. He's subjected to finding students making nasty drawings about him, and he's treated to nasty comments on exams he's grading from. He's definitely weird, but the mystery of his innocence or guilt is well told, and leaves you guessing.

Then we discover that former cop; Micki, is being spied on by Gidi (Tzahi Grad), the father of the latest missing child. His introduction is when the movie gets serious. He purchases a nice new house, and makes sure that it has a sound proof basement. He makes it a vital point to get a basement that you can't hear screaming from. After a brief discussion with Micki, they decide to team up and question Dror the hardway, and off the books. This is where the movie goes from "Reservoir Dogs" to "Kill List" quickly.

There's not a lot of gore in the film, but what is used is mostly spent in Gidi's basement. And despite the extreme nature, there's some good dark humor that keeps the mood from sinking too deep into making "Big Bad Wolves" an uncomfortable film. Gidi offers a quick death to Dror if he just tells him where his daughter's head is so he can bury it with her body. Dror being persistent, refuses that he doesn't know and that he's not the guy they're after. He's so convincing that he almost sways Gidi and Micki's bond. But after not confessing, the torturing begins.

There's some painful moments to watch, including a finger breaking, and toenail removal. Needless to say, the soundproof basement comes in handy. But things get even crazier when Gidi's father, Yoram (Doval'e Glickman) stops by for a visit, sees what's going on, and joins in on the party. The dialogue between Yoram and Gidi is funny, and the entire cast flows smoothly together and interact with great screen chemistry.

There's a sudden turn of events that blindsided me, and makes for a really screwed up, non-happy ending. Although considering what happens, I don't feel that it was emotional enough. I think there was some powerful acting to be had at the end, and it never happened. So the movie could have ended on a strong note, even if it still ended in a shocking way. Overall, "Big Bad Wolves" is full of suspense, and it's not predictable. There's some good acting all around, and a strong story with disturbing content matter, and an unexpected twist.

3.5 stars out of 5

Monday, April 28, 2014

CAMP DREAD puts a bloody twist on reality TV

RATED- Unrated
RUN TIME- 95 Mins
WRITER(S)- Harrison Smith
STARRING- Kyle Patrick Brennan, Ashley Caspermeyer, and Nicole Cinaglia
DIRECTOR- Harrison Smith

Synopsis taken from IMDb
The "Summer Camp" horror trilogy was one of the most popular franchises of the 1980's. However, the decade ended and so did director/writer Julian Barrett's career. Now Barrett has a plan to resurrect "Summer Camp" in a modern reboot that entails using a reality show as its template and source of fundraising. Should it succeed Barrett would once again be at the helm. Bringing together an eclectic group of young "contestants" as well as his former stars Rachel Steele and John Hill, Barrett seems to have put together a sure fire recipe for success. Then people start dying. For real. And "elimination" takes on a whole new meaning as "" clearly shows the slasher film has grown up.

Starting off with tryouts to be on "", we meet some of the cast immediately, and can see that the so-called "contestants" are troubled, all in their own way. And, there's some definite suspicions about them. However, even though they're rehab bound, they all agree to participate on the reality show in which the winner is promised one million dollars.

We're also introduced to the man behind the madness, Julian Barrett (Eric Roberts), and his associate Sheriff Donlyn (Danielle Harris). Both Roberts and Harris are credited as the main cast, but they're hardly in it. You can tell that this was a plea to get the movie noticed by using their well-known names as the selling point.

It doesn't hurt the movie that they're not in it much, but the film is left on the shoulders of a young and fairly inexperienced cast. And, being quite frank, Roberts stands out compared to everyone else, because he's such a good actor. It's clear that he's leaps and bounds ahead of everyone else. While some acting from the main cast is questionable, it's actually not bad.

Felissa Rose who's best known as Angela Baker from 1983's "Sleepaway Camp" plays a somewhat vital role in the film. She plays the former star of the "Summer Camp" movies, Rachel Steele, and is helping Julian Barrett with all the preparations for the reality show. It's always a pleasure seeing Felissa on screen, and she has become an even better actress.

Before the show begins filming, the "contestants" are given a rundown in front of one another by Rachel Steele. It becomes apparent to the youths that somehow Rachel and Julian have some personal info about them that they shouldn't. Such as, how one of the teens killed her brother. This shows the "contestants" that this show isn't all it's cracked up to be. And that they need to watch their backs.

From the jump it's easy to spot that this is obviously a low-budget project, and some of the characters are downright unlikable. This of course, leads to letting us know who's safe and who isn't when the inevitable chaos ensues. There's some good deaths, like someone choking on a sandwich. But my favorite death has to be when one of the cast gets beaten to death with his own fake leg, classic stuff. And there's a scene involving a lip ring that I almost had to turn away from.

The storyboards from the "Summer Camp" trilogy are exact with recent deaths that are occurring, and it becomes obvious that someone's up to some foul play, and there's more than meets the eye. About midway through the film, we start to see that some of the "contestants" are straight up unstable and even psychos. This adds to the mystery of who the killer could be, and the film does a good job at making almost everyone feel like a suspect. However, overall the movie isn't very scary or suspenseful.

The gore is good, and in supply. The makeup however, isn't up to par with what you'd expect. But in the end, "Camp Dread" has an almost tragic feel to it, especially the end when the twist is revealed. Not what I was expecting. With the worse leg shaving scene since "Cabin Fever", this film proves to be entertaining and a good watch. If I had to sum it up, I'd say that this flick is "Cabin in the Woods" meets "Sleepaway Camp".

3 stars out of 5

Sunday, April 27, 2014


RATED- Unrated
RUN TIME- 90 Mins
WRITER(S)- William Hopkins
STARRING- Alex Golightly, Damian Ladd, and Eli Kranski
DIRECTOR- William Hopkins

Synopsis taken from IMDb
In an isolated house, a group of friends battle supernatural forces as they try to protect a young woman from an evil cult.

First of all, I want to mention how professional this screener is. Most people just send you a burned disc, and maybe a small note. Well, this one came in a full-fledged DVD case, complete with movie cover and bonus features including a making of documentary and even commentary by writer and director, William Hopkins. So I was actually looking forward to this one, because it seemed to me that the filmmakers themselves took this project seriously, and aimed a little higher than just being a "backyard epic".

The film starts pretty quickly, introducing you to a few characters at an archaeological dig site who uncover some bodies said to be dead members of an evil cult. Then follows a brief explanation and some back story, allowing you to understand the whole picture before the proverbial crap hits the fan.

Then we go to a group of friends, who are oblivious to the fact that they're so close to the recently uncovered bodies and burial. They're in town for an intervention of their friend Grace, who they think is troubled and needs help. Eventually we get some more back story, this time from some of the characters, especially Grace, played by Alex Golightly. We find out how she's been forced to join an evil cult against her will, and was branded with the cults symbol. She was then bound and raped by an evil essence, which for the sake of the movie is green fog.

This of course, results in her pregnancy. My only complaint about her unfortunate events, is that I wish it were more depraved. I appreciate that they kept it cleaned up and to a minimum, but I think going the route of being a bit more graphic for the sake of the effect it would have had would have been the way to go.

The characters stumble into a few cliches such as there being no reception for their cell phones, but for the most part, "Demon Resurrection" is its own monster and offers up some good creativity, while nodding to certain classics in the genre such as "Night of the Living Dead" and "The Evil Dead". And make no mistake, this is no typical 'I'm pregnant with Satan's baby' movie.

I think my favorite part about the movie is the zombies. They're straight Lucio Fulci style, taking you back to the feel of the late 70's and early 80's era of zombie makeup. They're constantly surrounded by a green smoke and glow, like the smoke that impregnated Grace. And these zombies are pretty vicious, they fight back, and they scratch the hell out of you. Nasty gore, but throughout the movie it isn't overused or overplayed. 

As a matter of fact, there's a throat cut scene that rivals that of "The Crate" from 1982's "Creepshow"Not to mention, there's some gruesome throwback disembowelments to add to the awesomeness. The window scene in general is painful to watch, but the guy who meets such a cruel end is worthy of it, and easily the least likable character.

The evil within Grace is birthed as a creature that looked to me like a cross between a graboid (Tremors) and a Xenomorph (Alien). It's done old school with a puppet and not cgi, another throwback to older films. And although William Hopkins was open about what an aggravation it was to use a puppet, I appreciate that much more than I would have a computer generated creature.

The movie ends in a semi-happy way, but not really. Through the entire film, there's not really any score to it. I appreciate the way that using natural sounds keeps things in a more grounded level, and it is effective. However, I think a good score that gets your blood pumping adds in suspense, and would have overall improved the effectiveness the film has.

The makeup work is decent, I've definitely seen worse, and I've absolutely seen better. But, it works for the feel that the movie achieves. With some low quality lighting throughout, and some weak acting, this movie fails to be perfect. However, the good outweighs the bad, and there's some good dialogue between the characters. I just wish it was carried out in a better way.

One of the things that I disliked was the way the zombies meet their end, and wanted them to vanish differently. I guess great minds think alike, because after watching the film with commentary, I came to find out that William Hopkins actually wanted them to ignite into flames, but was restricted in doing so. I agree that would have been a better farewell. And I think that with the style of the zombies, that it would have been better if the whole movie were shot in a grainy Grindhouse type of look.

I also learned during the commentary how difficult it was to make this movie, the setbacks they had in pulling it off, and how it took a long time. All of which just builds more appreciation from me. The commentary also pinpoints some continuity issues that I honestly probably would have never noticed otherwise, and goes into how the zombies were designed to look retro, because they didn't look right in the films "Blair Witch" style. They also didn't hire friends to play parts, they hired pros, unlike most indie directors do. And they had to shoot eight pages of the script each day, which is a lot compared to a usual production.

In the end, even with flaws, "Demon Resurrection" is an indie achievement. It was created and treated very professionally, and gives the genre a big high five. It's a low-budget B movie that doesn't let up.

3 stars out of 5

Saturday, April 26, 2014

A HAUNTED HOUSE 2 falls short on the laughs

RUN TIME- 86 Mins
WRITER(S)- Marlon Wayans and Rick Alvarez
STARRING- Marlon Wayans, Jaime Pressly, and Cedric the Entertainer
DIRECTOR- Michael Tiddes

Synopsis taken from IMDb
Having exorcised the demons of his ex, Malcolm is starting fresh with his new girlfriend and her two children. After moving into their dream home, however, Malcolm is once again plagued by bizarre paranormal events.

This second installment in the "A Haunted House" series starts immediately where the first film left off, and packs in the laughs. Within the first five minutes I laughed several times, it opens strong and goofy. I've always been a sucker for stupid humor, and I've liked the Wayans brothers for a long time. Their movies are usually right up my alley.

Once Malcolm (Marlon Wayans) and his new girlfriend move into their home, it's simple things like ad libbed dialogue that gets the giggles out of you. Such things as referring to his new dog as Shiloh the sequel (since his first dog, Shiloh, died in the first film) got laughs from me. It's intentionally dumb, and that stuff usually gets reactions out of me.

Once Malcolm and his girlfriend Meg (Jaime Pressly) discover a weird doll's in their house by the name of Abigail, things get really out of hand, leading to an elaborate but funny sex scene between Malcolm and the doll. Once again, Marlon Wayans pushes the ratings barrier with raunchy and downright explicit humor.

Then if that isn't enough, the doll becomes obsessed with Malcolm, and sends him a friend request on Facebook. Again, the stupid things like this are what I find to be ridiculously funny. There's another scene that takes a page from "The Conjuring" where the infamous wardrobe scene is imitated. This also resulted in my laughter.

Malcolm's ex, Kisha shows up and disrupts the new life he's build since splitting on her in the beginning of the film. Once Malcolm has to explain his relationship with Kisha to his new girl Meg, we see some more raunchy humor and a hilarious head spin referring to "The Exorcist". And this is where things go from bad to worse for Malcolm, and leads to an exorcism scene.

Basically, although the first and second act are amusing and downright funny at parts, it's really just more of the same. It's just a lot of parodying cliches along with other films such as "The Conjuring", "The Possession""Sinister", "Paranormal Activity", and the "Evil Dead" reboot. There's also an abundance of racist jokes that are stereotypical, and just aren't that funny. The movie almost becomes a mockery of itself for the third act.

At about 50 minutes into the film, I knew that I liked the previous movie more. Although I was laughing here and there, I wasn't laughing as hard as I had in the first film. And I wasn't enjoying myself as much. I even found myself getting bored and checking my cell phone, increasingly losing interest in the film as it neared its end.

This movie just seems so recklessly put together and sloppy. A lot of scenes drag on far too long and rely on ad libbed babbling to be funny, and it's just senseless and a waste of time. There's usually a lot of deleted and altered scenes in spoof films like this, so I'm sure there's a lot of stuff that didn't make it into the movie. But it makes me wonder if they really couldn't have used some of that footage instead of relying on so much randomness. What a waste.

Not even bringing back Cedric the Entertainer and adding Gabriel Iglesias is enough to save this flick, which is a shame. I was one of the few people who backed the previous film up, and argued its humor. But there's nothing to defend on this one. I am completely let down. I can only hope that if there's a third film, that it rebounds with a big win. Otherwise, this series is about as useless as the "Paranormal Activity" films. I've seen a lot worse, but I expected a lot better.

2.5 stars out of 5

Friday, April 25, 2014


RUN TIME- 84 Mins
WRITER(S)- Christopher Landon
STARRING- Andrew Jacobs, Jorge Diaz, and Gabrielle Walsh
DIRECTOR- Christopher Landon

Synopsis taken from IMDb
Jesse begins experiencing a number of disturbing and unexplainable things after the death of his neighbor. As he investigates, it isn't long before Jesse finds he's been marked for possession by a malevolent demonic entity, and it's only a matter of time before he is completely under its control.

Oh boy, where do I begin. This spin-off and fifth installment in the "Paranormal Activity" series is directed by Christopher Landon. Landon only has one other film to his credit directorial wise, and that's "Burning Palms" from back in 2010, which didn't get favorable reviews. This mark in the paranormal franchise is just plain weak. I was really hoping that they'd pick it up a bit after the mess that was "Paranormal Activity 4", but they dropped the ball again, and this time it's even worse.

"The Marked Ones" isn't scary at all. There isn't a single scene where I was the slightest bit scared or even amused. It's not suspenseful, and it relies on quick and cheap jump-scares even more than the previous films. It's the same recycled stuff over and over again. It really makes me wonder if they're honestly even trying anymore. I mean, it's totally amateur looking.

I know that these films aren't made in a lot of time, and I know that they aren't too costly. But, you can really start to see it now. This movie looks like it cost $100 to make. The whole concept is dead, and if they're going to try and keep this thing going, they're gonna have to reinvent the entire concept and get real creative. In my honest opinion, this installment in the series pulled the plug on a series that was surviving off life support. It really begs the question of how are they not straight to video movies by now?

The makeup effects and cgi are honestly laughable. I receive screeners for some independent films with almost no budget that have better makeup effects than the work done in this. Overwhelmingly underwhelming FX to say the least...

 And the characters aren't even likable. The lead characters are total morons and annoying. Stupid characters doing stupid things. What do you do when a demonic entity is catching you when you fall backwards? Apparently, according to the idiots in this movie, you make a great time of it and have jolly good laughs.

When briefly discussing time travel, Hector, the lead character Jesse's best friend, says "I'd time travel to the Bahamas." What the hell? I'm pretty sure genius Hector was thinking of teleporting. This whole ad libbing mess has got to stop if this is what the actors are saying. Again, were they even trying?

The Ouija board is out, and Simon Says is in, didn't you hear? Yeah in this flick the source of contacting the demon is through a Simon Says. Stupidity at its finest. Lame. I'd be ashamed to have my name on this movie.

The ending makes sense, and ties in with the ending of the very first "Paranormal Activity" film. However, it leaves a lot of questions unanswered. So I predict we'll be getting some answers in the next film, but I honestly don't care enough anymore at this point to find out the answers. They say you've jumped the shark once you cross a line, well this film just takes you to the ghetto and possesses one dimensional characters.

I'm gonna steal a line from Elvira here and say that this flick is "about an hour and a half too long".

.5 stars out of 5

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Throwback Thursday Review: RE-ANIMATOR (1985)

RATED- Unrated
RUN TIME- 104 Mins
WRITER(S)- H.P. Lovecraft, Dennis Paoli, William Norris, and Stuart Gordon
STARRING- Jeffrey Combs, Bruce Abbott, and Barbara Crampton
DIRECTOR- Stuart Gordon

Synopsis taken from IMDb
A dedicated student at a medical college and his girlfriend become involved in bizarre experiments centering around the re-animation of dead tissue when an odd new student arrives on campus.

I honestly never see the point in reviewing films past a certain age. I mean, who wants to read a review about a film from 30 years ago that we've all already seen dozens of times over by now? Not a lot of people, including myself. I usually only post reviews on old movies if I've just watched them for the first time, otherwise I've got no interest. However, with this Throwback Thursday going on, I figured it would be a cool chance for me to get the opportunity to review older films that I hold dear to me, and that I've had no point in reviewing up until now. So, from here on out (at least until this Throwback Thursday thing dies) I'll be posting a review to a throwback movie.

I first found 'Re-Animator' six or seven years ago while talking to a movie buff at a flea market. He told me how I was "missing out" and how I need to see it sooner than later. After hearing all of his hype for the film, I went to the mall and bought the nicest copy of the DVD that I could find, in hopes that I wouldn't hate it and it'd be as good as he (and many others) have said. My DVD came with a cool needle accessory that kinda sold me on the whole thing. When I got home that evening, I watched it and was blown away. I really had been missing out!

Raise your hand if you have this cool edition. I do.
I watched the film twice in a row, followed by all the bonus stuff. I even went looking online for action figures, in which there's none and that still bothers me. Do you know how many people would want to own a Herbert West figure? I know I would! That being said, I became an instant fan of the film, and I saw it's appeal. And I truly believe that if you're a true fan of the genre, the appeal of this movie is obvious. It takes you back to a time when horror was fun, and not just about how cruel, extreme, brutal, and daring it can be.

"I gave him life!" The gore fest that is 'Re-Animator' starts with one of the best horror film openings ever. Instantly, you know what your in for after only watching about three or four minutes. You know from the jump what kind of movie it is, and if you'll like it within that short span of time. Then not to mention the 'Psycho' rip-off theme for the opening credits. Funny thing is, I never really placed that the opening theme was a total knockoff until I listened to the commentary and heard director Stuart Gordon mention it jokingly.

"It's very much like peeling a large orange."
Just about all of the characters are likable, even Dr. Hill played by the late David Gale. When Herbert West (Jeffrey Combs) constantly challenges Dr. Hill, you know things aren't going to end well for one of them, and as it turned out, it didn't go well for either of them. In the end their egos get the better of them and it costs them both dearly. While other cast members weren't as charismatic on screen as Combs' and Gale's characters, everyone offered something great that added to the movies brilliance. Bruce Abbott did a great job at playing the grounded and relatable Dan Cain.
And his girlfriend Meg, played by the lovely Barbara Crampton is the only one in the film who seems to be thinking with a clear head. I mean, she warns Dan about letting Herbert move in, and compels him to think before he acts, but to no avail. And of course there's some Crampton nudity that made every horror fanboy (including myself) find a second love for the movie.

You'd take your chances re-animating her too, right?
But more about Herbert now. He's the weirdo you want to be. He's the rebel in a sense, and the cool kid, even though he's a total creep. It's amazing how even the weirdos can be the heroes if you give them good character story and find a good actor to play the part. Although Jeffrey Combs is a phenomenal actor and has done many different kind of roles, he'll always be Herbert West. He put a face on a character loved by many, there's no going back from that. And what a lovely way to be remembered.

One particular scene that I've got to mention is when Meg's cat is found in Herbert's refrigerator and is later re-animated in the basement. It's one of the cruelest scenes I've seen in horror films, and while I am a cat lover, I can't help but laugh hysterically when it gets spiked on the wall after attacking Dan and Herbert. It's one of the best scenes in the film both because you get to see that Herbert's serum does work, and because you get to see the aftermath of his madness, much like in the opening scene of the film. But more importantly, it's when Herbert really gets a grasp on Dan, and things go downhill quickly.

Scenes like this are why I consider "Re-Animator" to be "Pet Sematary" on drugs.
I really like how although it's labeled a zombie film, that they're not typical shoot-'em-in-the-head-zombies. The dead do come back to life, but they have senses and memory even. That's just one of the many things different about this film than most, and why it still stands as a juggernaut today in the genre. Creativity goes a long way.

After the crude beheading by Herbert, Professor Hill reclaims his head in a hilarious scene and steal Herbert's work to make an army of the undead of his own. This of course, leads to one of the most memorable scenes in horror film history, and easily the best scene to come from 'Re-Animator': the "head" scene with Meg and Professor Hill. It's so creepy and gross, yet comedic and entertaining. It's so gross you have to watch! I actually learned on one of the commentaries that Barbara Crampton found out someone at a convention she was at was selling photos from that particular scene, and she went over to the guy and took his pile of photos of her he was selling. I guess if the shoe was on the other foot, I wouldn't want to be known mostly for a scene like that, and I wouldn't want people flaunting it around. But you can't deny what a great scene it is, and what a legend Crampton has become because of the overall quality of her performance in the movie.

If ever a poster summed up the awesomeness of the movie, it's this one.
I also learned that at the end, when Hill's army of re-animated start raising hell on Herbert, Dan, and Meg, that there was a lot of re shooting and/or editing (can't remember which) done because of the fact that there was such an abundance of male genitalia. Small things like that get a laugh out of me. I can only imagine how hard it was to have so many naked men in front the camera and not get too many gratuitous shots. But they rocked it, and the end result works just fine. Just the simple things you run into while filming a movie that you wouldn't think of. Pretty hilarious.

Nothing like a little finger food...
The ending is expected, but it wouldn't have been such a great film without it. There are so many iconic and memorable scenes from this movie that if I were to mention them, I'd have to describe the full movie from beginning to end and basically write the screenplay (laugh). Truth is, 'Re-Animator' is an ageless film that will be talked about forever. It was a groundbreaking film when it came out, and it still lives up to its name and reputation in present time. It has a fantastic sense of humor, and regardless of how old or outdated the FX are, it's an endearing film. There was no cgi of any sort.
I appreciate movies back then more than ones today because they didn't have the option of cheapening out and taking the short cut of computer effects. No, what you see is what you get 100%, and no cgi can ever change the authenticity older films have, and that newer films will never have. It's one of the greatest horror comedies of all-time, and genius film making in an unappreciated genre.

4 stars out of 5

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

LUCKY (2014) Short Film

"Lucky" is a nice little demented piece of cinema that runs about only eight minutes long. Like most short films, it's quick and to the point. This particular short story was made in only eight hours for Unscripted: An Indie Film Xperience. When I saw it, I was intrigued. And I didn't predict the outcome, which is always a good thing. With a great twist and some good makeup FX and gore, this is definitely worth a watch.

While it's nothing profound, it shows vast potential. Had this been a full-length feature and had a bigger budget, I think it could have really been something special. The idea is there, it's just limited with resources. Good job, none the less. Directed by Jakob Bilisnki (Three Tears on Bloodstained Flesh) and written by Todd Martin (Nightmare Tales), "Lucky" shows some prominent promise from these filmmakers. But don't just take my word for it, give it a watch yourself!

3 stars out of 5

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

TUESDAY TOY REVIEW: Hot Toys' "The Dark Knight Rises" Bane

Easily one of the most realistic action figures to date that Hot Toys has done, Bane makes an incredible eye piece. And in my opinion, is a landmark figure. I mean, there's people who didn't even like the movie or the character of Bane and yet they bought this figure. That tells ya a little something about the quality produced on this piece. It's one of the few action figures that to the naked eye, looks like a real person. If you have a proper background or setting that doesn't showcase that it's a collectible, and not a real person, it's hard to tell the difference.

Tell me that this doesn't look completely life-like.

He's a very simple and basic figure. He comes on a muscle body, to beef him up compared to other figures. While the overall build and frame of the figure looks nice, the muscle bodies limit articulation/movement. So while he may look fantastic, there's certain key poses (like his boss pose) that just aren't gonna happen. But, there's plenty of other things that you can do for a pose that would set this figure off right. He also comes with five sets of interchangeable hands, a broken Batman cowl, a really sweet base/stand, and a movie accurate coat.

So you see, it's not an action figure that comes with a surplus of accessories. It's nothing fancy, but it looks incredible! The Tom Hardy likeness is ever present in the eyes and what you see of the face. But, it's the small details that make this figure pop. Such as the scaring on the sides of his head and the intricate detail in the mask. There's even some scarring on the eyebrow if you look close enough. Right out of the box this bad mofo is good to go. It's the rare case of that perfect figure that just sets some people in disbelief.

I've said this before about some of Hot Toys' other products, but I think that he's so well made due to the lack of accessories. When you have a $200 price tag on something that doesn't come with a lot of extras, they gotta make the money worth it. So the realism and overall quality of this piece beats tons of figures that I can think of that came with an abundance of accessories.

There's also scaring down his back, but most of all, what I like best is how his body is painted along with his head. Most companies stick a head on a default body and that's that. Well Hot Toys painted the entire body and head with the same skin coloring and texture to make the overall appearance seem seamless, and it's a wonderful job. One of my complaints about the figure are that I wish he came with the microphone headset from the football scene. Posing him talking into that would have been an amazing idea. I've seen some people make custom headsets, but it doesn't fit my level of quality, so I'll stick to no headset than a crappy forged one.

Aside from that, the figure looks best with the coat on because without it you can see joints and that prevents it from looking as realistic as possible. So I don't think I'll be taking his coat off again outside of taking these pics. Without the coat, the figure doesn't look as good.

Everything from the vest down to his military pants looks amazing. He even has two wrist cuffs, so all five sets of hands that he comes with are compatible to fit the cuffs. One's meant for a closed fist and the other wrist band is for open hands, allowing you to make any pose you want to work and not look forced.

"The Dark Knight Rises" may just be my favorite installment in the franchise, but even if you hate the movie, you just simply can't deny the quality Hot Toys brings when they're on their game. I'm a proud owner of this figure. It's one of the ones I'll never part with.

He's been long sold out, but if you can find one for a lucky price I suggest you grab it. This is one for the ages. I got mine off of Sideshow Collectibles, like I usually do. As far as I've heard he was a limited edition figure with a limited production run. I can easily see this action figure going for a fortune in years to come.

4 stars out of 5

Monday, April 21, 2014

SCREAM PARK takes you on your final ride

RATED- Unrated
RUN TIME- 85 Mins
WRITER(S)- Cary Hill
STARRING- Nicole Beattie, Doug Bradley, and Kailey Marie Harris

Synopsis taken from IMDb
A failed amusement park owner devises a plan to commit gruesome murders in the park as a publicity stunt to sell tickets.

From the jump, I liked the opening music. It told me all I needed to know about the movie. The music has an eerie undertone to it, and a little dash of camp. This lets the viewer know that they aren't just in for a scary movie, they're in for a fun time being scared.

After watching just the first few minutes, I knew that due to it's "fun" vibe that it could go either way in terms of being a good movie and a bad movie. Gladly I can say that it wasn't the latter. It takes you into the non-glamorous life of working at an amusement park, and lets you see the real side of things- how miserable the young adults who work there are, and what they're lives consist of. To my surprise, there's some genuine dialogue between the characters that feels neither forced, nor acted. It comes off like your really watching the characters hanging out in real life. The characters themselves seem like real, everyday people that you'd bump into down the street. They seem completely real, and aren't exaggerated for the screen.

One of the things that caught my eye instantly is that the amusement park in which the film takes place is called Fright Land. Now, being a boy from Delaware, I can't help but nod because one of the only things there is to do in Delaware is go to Frightland every year around the Halloween season. So the fact that I know of an actual fun park that goes by the same name is cool to me.

After their shifts, the staff is told that the park will be closing due to lack of sales. After expected moaning and groaning, the cast decides to do a little partying and drinking after hours at their work place. This obviously goes unadvised by the viewer, because by now any horror fan knows that partying in a horror movie results terribly for the ones getting their freak on.

About a half hour into the film nothing happens but character development. So I was really eager to see where this was all leading to. Especially with weird prowlers appearing here and there and going unnoticed by the cast. Wearing strange masks that are reminiscent of "Beetlejuice" and "The Town That Dreaded Sundown", it's all a matter of patience to see how and when the murder spree begins.

Once the hillbilly psychos come out to play, the cast gets picked off one by one in some brutal and mean ways. Not to mention, there's some gnarly gore. Though the kills aren't anything that we haven't seen before, they're done very well. There's even a jump scare that got a reaction out of me, and that I didn't feel was overdone like most movies have the habit of doing.

Doug Bradley, mostly know for his role as Pinhead in the "Hellraiser" series, makes a very brief cameo as the park owner who devises the devious plan leading up to all the chaos that ensues. It's really a shame that this film has to get by using Bradley's name to get noticed. Because honestly, he's hardly in it and the movie is a really good watch on it's own. I wish "Scream Park" could get by on its own reputation.

Towards the end of the picture, some of the acting does suffer. And while the overall plot isn't creative or original, it's solid. And, it fits for the kind of movie it is. It's an obvious nod to throwback horror films, and when done right, copycat films can be pretty good. Such is the case with "Scream Park". I appreciate the ending, and love it's campy twist. It's a pretty cut and dry film, very easy to comprehend and overall a good, entertaining watch for fans of the slasher genre.

Don't miss "Scream Park" on VOD and DVD tomorrow! I dare you to take a ride...

3 out of 5 stars

Monday, April 14, 2014

STAGE FRIGHT will make your ears bleed

RUN TIME- 89 Mins
WRITER(S)- Jerome Sable, and Eli Batalion
STARRING- Minnie Driver, Meat Loaf, and Allie MacDonald
DIRECTOR- Jerome Sable

Synopsis taken from IMDb
A snobby musical theater camp is terrorized by a blood-thirsty killer who hates musical theater.

Having never seen Alfred Hitchcock's 1950 original film of the same title, I had little to go on and had almost no expectations going into this version of "Stage Fright". I watched a trailer for it when I saw it was on VOD, and that was enough to get me to pay to see it.

From the start, there's a brutal kill right at the beginning before the opening credits. The nature of the kill is sheer brutality, the sound effects, the blood, and the ruthlessness shown in the kill told me all I needed to know about this film: that it has an edge.

I'm not opposed to musicals, I actually like a lot of musical plays and films. So, all the singing didn't disturb me. I've heard this film described as "Sleepaway Camp" meets "Glee", which is an appropriate comparisson since it's a musical at a camp. But, I'd say it's more "Scream" meets "Glee", because rather than try to be scary, it comes off more cool than anything. One thing that is positively established in this film, is the feeling of an 80's slasher flick. Coming off like a modernized 80's era stabathon film, I still wasn't convinced that it was going to be a movie I'd enjoy due to how quirky it is. And we all know that the term '80's slasher' can be a good or bad thing.

Camilla Swanson (Allie MacDonald) is a cook at a musical theater camp, with her brother, Buddy (Douglas Smith). The camp itself is sinking, on the verge of bankruptcy. The stage producer, Roger McCall (Meatloaf) decides that in order to save the camp, he's going to bring back "The Haunting of the Opera", the same play that Camilla and Buddy's mother was murdered after debuting, 10 years ago. When Camilla hears that they're going to be bringing the musical back for a revival (this time a kabuki version), she auditions and gets the role after some despute with the director. Although Camilla thinks she's doing a good deed and honoring her mother, Buddy disagrees and doesn't think she should do it.

The director of the musical, Artie (Brandon Uranowitz) basically sexually harasses the females and blackmails them in order to pick which lady he wants to be the face of the musical. What aggravates me about this scenario is that no one ever says anything to him about it. They all just deal with it and act like they have to do as he says or else. Somehow the characters forgot they're only doing a small-time gig, and act like Artie's a big shot. When really he's the director of a camp musical. This got a "wtf" reaction out of me because these girls let this crude guy walk all over them and use them for the sake of a damn summer musical at a camp full of nobodys. So I find it unrealistic that their reactions are anything but cussing Artie out. These girls must have really been desperate otherwise...

While it's intentional, characters like Artie are all around the cast, making most of the cast instantly unlikable. And it kept me hoping that the lot of them would meet the blade of the killer (laugh). Without hardly any characters to back or support aside from Camilla and Buddy, I was taken out of the movie, and it lessened my experience watching it. And, my fiance pointed out a very funny element that somehow slipped my vision: most of the cast wears the same clothes the entire film! Guess everyone forgot their changes of clothes due to all the excitement of going to summer camp. Either way, small details like that irk me. But, I think that I was trying too hard to stay interested in the film to notice that detail on my own.

Now, let me talk about the killer. Whenever he shows up, the movie turns into a heavy metal horror musical! The lyrics are silly, but the music is enjoyable. He's twisted, violent, vicious, brutal, and relentless. However, the more I saw of the killer, the more ridiculous I thought he was. At one point he even gets out a guitar and solos in front of a victim before murdering them. Such goofy things don't really do anything for me but annoy me. He's very choreographed and stylized in his movements, making him an unrealistic character. As I said before, this movie tries to come off as cool more than anything. And I noticed that two saw-like weapons he uses are actually the tops of cans, which I actually laughed at. Had the killer been not as over-the-top as he was I probably could have appreciated that aspect.

Although several people are killed off, the play must go on, right? Right. With the impending doom of the killer showing up and killing Camilla like her mother, she still goes on stage and performs. The plot twist/killer reveal is easily predictible and nothing unconventional, but again you can smell the 80's slasher element this movie has. There's a secondary plot twist that I didn't find so predictible, but it's pretty flat. Once it's out in the open it doesn't do anything but make this movie mediocre at best.

There's some good, creative kills and gore. But I expected the quality of the movie to overall be higher. The movie climax is good, but nothing memorable. Ultimately the only thing that I can say is that I'm not impressed, but it's worth a watch.

Catch it now on VOD or get to the theater May 9th to check it out.

2.5 stars out of 5

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