Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Prime Evil



Director - Roberta Findlay (Blood Sisters, Banned)
Starring - William Beckwith (Tromeo and Juliette, Thrilled to Death), Christine Moore (Superboy, Lurkers), and Mavis Harris (Suffering Bastards, Video Violence 2)
Release Date - 1988
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "A terrifying force that cannot be resisted is here..."
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
 
     I absolutely love horror films centered around Satanic cults.  These films were huge in the 70s with a few random films popping up here and there in the 80s.  I've been lucky enough to review a few of these films over the years but there just isn't enough of them if you ask me.  Sometime ago the fine folks over at Vinegar Syndrome released the Roberta Findlay double feature with the two films Prime Evil and Lurkers.  The first in this set is the 1988 Satanic cult film Prime Evil.  When I discovered what this film was about I knew it was going to fucking enjoy it.  Thank you Vin Syn for sending this one my way. 
     The film follows a young woman whose wealthy grandfather plans on using her as a sacrifice in a Satanic ritual with a group of rogue catholic priests who now worship the devil.  Along for the ride is a catholic priest who suspects that there is a dark coven in his city killing women.  He enlists the help of a nun who was almost a member of the coven to help stop them before more innocent lives are lost. 

     I wasn't expecting Prime Evil to be the best Satanic cult film I had ever seen but I was expecting to have fun with it...and I did.  Sure, there was plenty of room for improvement but it was fun for what it was worth.  The acting in this one just wasn't for me.  The cast spit their dialogue out like it was a Skinemax late night special but it lacked the abundance of softcore sex scenes to make it fun.  The cast isn't bad but they did lack the conviction to make the scenes believable.  That can't be said for every scene but a majority of them were very lackluster in regards to the acting.  The story for this one is fun but not that original especially by 1988.  Satanic cults in New York is nothing new to film but this one does make it fun.  It has some sleaze and a solid amount of action to carry the viewer to the end game.  Finally, this one does have some kills but they are rather quick and done so in a way that the viewer doesn't get to see great practical effects.  In fact, the kills are just part of the story and not the enjoyment.  Overall, Prime Evil is far from perfect but it is a fun late night watch.  I recommend checking this one out.



The Soultangler



Director - Pat Bishow (It's a Haunted Happenin', We Might Be Superheroes)
Starring - Bill Bernhard, Jennifer Brown, Tom Ciorciari
Release Date - 1987
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "If you think you've seen it all, you haven't seen..."
Format - DVD (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):

      Life has been interesting the last week or so.  My home has suffered significant damage from a fire and I've been staying with my wife's mother who just happens to be extremely religious.  Everything going on has resulted in my movie viewing time being cut drastically.  After everything was settled the night after the fire I wanted to watch something fun and different.  As I looked through the box or two of movies I had packed to bring with me only one title really jumped out at me.  Sometime ago AGFA and MVD released the 1987 film The Soultangler on DVD.  I had heard great things about it and decided that it was the perfect movie to get my head straight.  Thank you MVD for sending this on my way.
     The film follows a scientist that has created a serum that can place his soul in another body.  He has to do this with corpses because his soul can't inhabit another body with a soul.  He relies on his assistant and a drug addicted man with a hammer to help him with his experiments but he is under investigation by a former colleague and a news reporter.  He must work quickly before his discovery is made public and he is arrested for his heinous crimes.
     I wasn't expecting a well made film with a lot of polish and amazing effects but I did expect a fun and crazy run through a low budget horror film from the late 80s.  The Soultangler was exactly what I was looking for and the DVD from AGFA and MVD looked great.  The acting in this one is very, very amateurish.  The cast has fun with their roles but you can easily tell that no one has on screen experience before this.  The do a decent job but some performances were better than others.  The story for this one is very similar to Re-Animator but with a lot more absurdity.  The movie has several fun scenes full of gore and weird what the fuck moments but it is just way too long.  The original cut was 60 minutes but another 30 was tacked on for distribution which created a very heavy and clunky film with too many unnecessary scenes.  The DVD release of the film comes with both cuts of the film.  Finally, this one has some surprisingly great effects.  When you wade through the boring scenes and pointless dialogue you come across some great practical effects and some solid gore.  Overall, The Soultangler is a surprisingly fun no budget film that has some great moments.  This is one of those films you have to take the good with the bad but it was well worth the time I put into it.  Check it out!
  



Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The Bliss



Director - James Bell (Dog Dick, Manuer)
Starring - James Bell, Mae Bell (Tantrum, Nutsack)
Release Date - 2018
Genre - Horror
Format - DVD (Personal Collection)

Rating (out of 5):
 
     I follow several indie filmmakers in the world of no budget horror.  Each has their own style that is unique to them and they create some very unique or weird works of art.  One such filmmaker is Michigan's James Bell and his experimental arthouse style horror films.  Over the years he has churned out some fantastic shorts like Tantrum, Manuer, and Nutsack.  All have strange names but sum up the films very well.  Recently James wrapped his newest 20 minute short The Bliss which starred himself and his lovely wife Mae.  I grabbed a copy at Cinema Wasteland in October but I completely forgot I had it until recently.  My family suffered a house fire and when I was going through out belongings I found a box of movies I needed to review I had set to the side and forgot about.  It was like a second Christmas except something devastating had to happen in order for me to get a present. 
     The film follows a mysterious man who seems to be disabled and disfigured.  He roams the streets and landscape in search of women to disfigure and mutilate until he can find the perfect one. 
     You never know what to expect from Bell and his extremely violent and twisted shorts.  I typically shy away from films centered around gore because they lack stories but Bell is able to bring narrative to the scenes so the viewer can't look away.  The Bliss is no exception.  The acting in this one is hard to determine just like the rest of Bell's previous films.  There is very little to no dialogue and most of the time the cast is wearing masks of some sort so the viewer can not see their reactions.  Instead, they mutilate or be mutilated.  The story for this one is simple but Bell takes it for everything it's worth which results in a pretty unique experience for viewers.  We get to see tons of action and the story is still able to be told through these scenes without dialogue.  Finally, the film is overflowing with amazing practical effects and gore.  Bell is an amazing effects artist and his shorts are always full of his spectacular work.  Overall, The Bliss is another gruesome short from a mind that truly understands depravity.  I highly recommend picking this one up!



Blood Fest



Director - Owen Egerton (Follow, Mercy Black)
Starring - Robbie Kay (Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Sleepy Hollow), Jacob Batalon (Spider-Man: Homecoming, Avengers: Infinity War), and Seychelle Gabriel (The Last Airbender, Falling Skies)
Release Date - 2018
Genre - Horror/Comedy
Tagline - "Love horror movies? Try surviving one"
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
 
     Well, this week didn't end like I thought it would.  Thursday night my family and I went to bed only to awake to our home on fire.  It was contained to just one room but the fire department was a little too excited with their hose and damaged most of our house with their high pressure water hose including rooms on the opposite end of the home where the fire was not.  Sadly, this included some of my movie collection.  While going through some of my films in the dark I came across a small box of movies that I had received for review and misplaced shortly after.  One of those films is the Roost Teeth horror film Blood Fest.  As I reflected on how bad this could have ended up I decided to toss this one in and check it out.  Glad I did because it was just the kind of film I needed. 
     The film follows a group of friends going to a horror and haunted house festival known as Blood Fest.  One of them, Dax (Kay), is banned from going by his overprotective father after his mother was murdered by a horror loving psychopath.  A friend of his is able to sneak him in but he doesn't know that this year Blood Fest is different.  The man behind it all, Anthony Walsh, has decided to turn his fest into a horror movie with the party goers serving as the victims.  Now they must fight their way through 700 acres of madmen, slashers, the undead, and vampires before learning who is really responsible for the carnage.
     I was a little apprehensive at first after watching Hell Fest but Blood Fest was one fun horror comedy.  In fact, I could see myself revisiting this one in a week or so because it was just so damn fun.  Sure, there was things I didn't like about it but the good far outweighed the bad.  The acting in this one is great.  The characters stand out and the cast does a fantastic job bringing them to life.  The cast is 100 percent dedicated to their role and we get some amazing performances out of it.  The story for this one is a mash up of what I just saw in Hell Fest and one of my favorite modern horror films, Cabin in the Woods.  I really enjoyed that aspect.  It brought something to the table for everyone regardless of what horror sub-genre they enjoy.  It does get a little goofy at times but the end result is very entertaining.  I could see this story making a perfect companion piece to the horror comedy Freaks of Nature.  Finally, the film has several amazing on screen kills.  Some make great use of practical effects while others rely heavily on very noticeable computer generated effects.  The practical alone looks fantastic but the CGI sticks out like a sore thumb.  Overall, Blood Fest was a surprisingly fun and gory horror film meant for horror fans.  It does have that cheese factor that some don't enjoy but I highly recommend this one. 



Hell Fest



Director - Gregory Plotkin (Black Mass, Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension)
Starring - Amy Forsyth (Robot Chicken, A Christmas Horror Story), Reign Edwards (Snowfall, MacGyver), and Stephen Conroy (Stranger Things, The Host)
Release Date - 2018
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "Fun going in.  Hell getting out"
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
 

    Horror is a popular genre nowadays.  Once The Walking Dead hit television several production companies were scattering to grab up the next big horror hit like Bates' Motel, American Horror Story, and so on.  Horror started getting some hits at the theater within this time as well.  We have The Conjuring, Insidious, and several more that were not only fan favorites but received well among critics.  This opened the door for more horror with the likes of slashers, paranormal, and even more zombie flicks.  One film that received the theatrical treatment that I was actually excited for was the slasher Hell Fest.  I was not able to catch the theatrical release but I was lucky enough to get a copy for review when it his a physical release.
     The film follows a group of friends who visit an amusement park known as Hell Fest where each attraction is more extreme than the other.  While there they encounter a masked man who they think works for the park but they will soon discover that he is not employed there and his intentions for them will turn deadly.



     I went into this one very excited but I quickly realized that this film was not what I had hoped for.  In fact, I was extremely disappointed with it and how the team behind it approached it.  The acting in this one wasn't bad.  The cast worked with what they had but the characters were so unlikable.  They are so clich├ęd that they almost felt like a parody of horror characters but lacked the humor to make them fun.  This resulted in what most would consider stale performances when it was actually forgettable characters.  The story for this one is slow moving but borrows heavily from the indie Halloween hit The House That October Built which is set against haunted house attractions and the recent obsession with extreme haunts.  I was not a fan of that film and Hell Fest was just mind numbingly boring.  You can see the scares coming a mile away and the story is nothing we haven't seen before.  Finally, there is a few on screen kills.  One or two were extremely fun to watch with great practical effects but the writing got lazy as the film progressed and we get extremely lackluster kills with minimal effects.  Overall, Hell Fest is the biggest disappointment of 2019.  It took me almost 2 days to finish the film and I can't recommend this to anyone else.  Skip it.      


    

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Zombie



Director - Lucio Fulci (City of the Living Dead, House by the Cemetery)
Starring - Tisa Farrow (The Last Hunter, Antropophagus), Ian McCulloch (Contamination, Zombie Holocaust), and Richard Johnson (The Raven, The Monster Club)
Release Date - 1979
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "The dead are among us"
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
 
     Horror is a genre that has many classics.  We can trace horror history back to Thomas Edison's production company and the first adaptation of Frankenstein before moving forward to Nosferatu and moving into the beloved Universal horror age.  From then we have several trends started by classic films such as Halloween and Black Christmas are credited for creating the slasher movement.  In 1968 George A. Romero loosely adapted Richard Matheson's I Am Legend with his masterpiece Night of the Living Dead.  This film forever changed the way we saw zombies taking them from their voodoo origins and turned them into the flesh eating undead.  a decade later he released his follow up Dawn of the Dead which was released in Italy as Zombi.  the following year Italian director Lucio Fulci released his sequel to Zombi, Zombi 2, and it became a huge hit.  Gorehounds have loved the film ever since and many profess it to be the best Italian horror film to date.  I love Fulci and Zombi 2, aka Zombie in the U.S., is a fantastic film.  When Blue Underground announced that the film was restored to 4K and released on blu I had to see it.  I reached out to them and they were kind enough to send a review copy my way.  Thanks guys!.
     The film begins when a boat is found floating in a New York harbor and onboard a member of the undead.  The boat owner is missing and her daughter partners up with a journalist and another scientist where they visit a secluded tropical island in search of her father.  However, once on the island they discover that hell is now walking the Earth with the undead now rising from their graves and eating the living. 
     Zombi 2 is one of the most beloved horror films of our time.  I honestly don't know anyone that dislikes the film.  Every horror fan that I have crossed paths with absolutely loves the film but there is some that is more passionate about it than others.  I had seen the film countless times before now but I was very excited to see how Blue Underground has restored this amazing zombie masterpiece.  It's far from my favorite Fulci movie but that doesn't make it a bad film at all.  The acting in this one is great even when the cast hams it up.  In fact, the scenes where the cast is overreacting and the dubbing is off in some of my favorite scenes.  It doesn't mean they are bad actors just went overboard with their reactions.  I also love the fact that most Italian horror films are film mostly in English with other speaking some Italian but then dubbed in Italian and then redubbed in English.  This adds some charm to the film when you see them speaking English but the audio is just a fraction of a second off.  The story for this one is so much fun.  It really doesn't feel like a sequel to Dawn of the Dead which is fine because it is an amazing standalone film.  Hell, if you didn't know it was released in Italy as Zombi 2 you wouldn't know it was a sequel.  The story is interesting and very eventful but is played out in the years to follow not only by Fulci but by several other Italian directors.  Before I reviewed this one for Blue Underground I had reviewed three other films following the same storyline just last year and two more before that.  This one did start the trend though and it offers up a very interesting story with lots of action.  Finally, there is several on screen deaths that use some amazing practical effects.  They do lose their effectiveness with the bright red 3M blood but they are still fascinating to look at.  They are kills you would associate with zombies so they fit the film very well and considering that its 1979 they are rather gruesome.  Overall, Zombie is required viewing for any horror fan regardless of what style of horror you enjoy.  The movie is almost perfect and the new release from Blue Underground is phenomenal.  Grab a copy now!



Monday, January 7, 2019

Kaleidoscope




Director - Rupert Jones (Beehive, Sir Gadabout)
Starring - Toby Jones (Doctor Who, Captain America: The Winter Soldier), Anne Reid (Hot Fuzz, Doctor Who), and Sinead Matthews (Pirate Radio, Black Mirror)
Release Date - 2016
Genre - Horror/Thriller
Tagline - "Murder is a matter of perspective"
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
 
     IFC Midnight is known for releasing some pretty solid horror and thriller flicks over the years and their partnership with Scream Factory has seen some unforgettable releases.  Sadly, There has been a few releases from this team up that just missed their mark.  I recently reviewed their release The Midnight Man and it was a very lackluster film that underutilized two screen legends Robert Englund and Lin Shaye.  The next film in my crosshairs from IFC Midnight and Scream Factory is the 2016 British horror thriller Kaleidoscope starring Toby Jones who has made appearances in Doctor Who and several summer blockbusters like Captain America: The Winter Soldier but he is commonly known for playing the house elf Dobby in the Harry Potter series.  I was weary about tossing this one in but I'm glad I did and I want to thank the fine folks over at Scream Factory for sending this one my way.
      The film follows Carl (Jones) who awakens to start his day but finds a lipstick smear on one of his glasses.  This sends him on a search to discover what happened the night before when he met a woman online and they met for the first time.  After he discovers her dead boy in the bathroom a dark decent into a strange relationship between Carl and his mother unravels revealing something dark inside of him.
      I went into Kaleidoscope with hesitation but I'm glad I gave it a chance.  It was not the most original film but it did feature a great cast and the story was just intriguing enough to hold my attention.  The acting in this one is superb.  Toby Jones is the whole fucking show in this one.  He goes through a wide range of emotions in this film and the viewer can't help but feel them through the screen.  He does a fantastic job and turns a would be stale character into the highlight of the film.  His character is very Norman Bates like but he is able to pass it off as an enjoyable character.  The supporting cast does a fantastic job as well which is the real saving grace for this film.  The story for this one is Psycho but with more of a psychological spin which didn't make the film any more enjoyable.  The story for this one is very bland for the most part but character driven which is why the film is so enjoyable.  The cast does a great job at keeping the viewer involved.  Finally, if you are looking for a bloody horror film you wont find it here.  Instead, the film pulls in the horror from the story and the tense atmosphere.  Overall, Kaleidoscope would be a lackluster horror thriller but is saved from the dollar bin at Wal-Mart by superb performances from Toby Jones and the supporting cast.  It may not be that original but it is enjoyable so check it out. 



Saturday, January 5, 2019

Venom



Director - Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland, Gangster Squad)
Starring - Tom Hardy (Mad Max: Fury Road, The Dark Knight Rises), Michelle Williams (Halloween H20, But I'm A Cheerleader), and Riz Ahmed (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Dead Set)
Release Date - 2018
Genre - Action/Sci-Fi
Tagline - "Embrace your inner anti-hero"
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
 
     I'm known mostly for my love of no budget horror and cult films.  People often hit me up to review their backyard flicks with no budget or experience and I typically enjoy them all.  However, it wasn't always that way.  My childhood movie experience was just like every other child for the most part.  My first theatrical visit was the Robin William's film Jack, I used to rent Space Jam and The Big Green almost every weekend before I became a horror addict and my first ever VHS purchase was Howard the Duck.  Hell, my first DVD purchases, which were after my horror addiction, was Spider-Man and Little Nicky.  I love no budget horror but I still have a soft spot for big budget popcorn flicks.  When it was announced that Venom would have a stand alone film I was apprehensive to say the least.  When Tom Hardy was attached I was a little excited but deep down I knew it would be a train wreck.  When the film hit theaters I was unable to check it out.  Not long ago I was sent the press release for the blu release of the film.  I reached out to them and they were kind enough to hook me up with a review copy.  Thanks guys!
     The film follows guerilla journalist Eddie Brock (Hardy) who is tasked with interviewing a billionaire with a history of taking advantage of the poor and homeless.  Eddie calls him out for his history and loses his job after he uses information he obtained from his girlfriend.  He soon finds himself without a job and single and a story he starts following leads him into the labs of the billionaire that got him fired where he becomes a host to a parasite symbiote known as Venom.  Venom was one of several collected and brought to Earth to be studied but they have broke free and plan on using a spacecraft to bring others like them back to Earth and turn it into a feeding ground.  Now Eddie and Venom must stop them from leaving before humanity is wiped out completely. 
     I didn't know what to expect from Venom.  Always found it strange that there was a movie set around a super villain without a hero to fight him.  After seeing the film I can say that it works for a popcorn flick but it was almost like watching a train wreck in some aspects. A popular character was changed massively in order for it to fit like it does but it was still entertaining.  The acting in this one is decent but nothing phenomenal stands out honestly.  I've watched several films where Tom Hardy was amazing.  Sadly, this film pulls a mediocre performance from him.  His action scenes are fun at first but even those become boring and mundane.  The same can be said about the rest of the cast.  The characters are extremely boring and one dimensional with very little redeeming qualities.  The carnage cameo was very underwhelming as well.  The cast needed better direction.  The story for this one would have worked in tow with an actual superhero film.  Venom as an anti-hero just doesn't work.  Maybe if it was a brief team up with the likes of Spider-Man it would have worked as long as he kept his evil edge but by making him a hero of sorts takes away the trademark that made him so enjoyable in the comics and cartoons.  Aside from that the story is pretty cut and paste from other comic adaptation which created a pretty bland experience with some fun moments scattered throughout.  Finally, the film is full of visual and practical effects.  Most of the practical effects are used minimally but the visual effects are hit and miss.  The full shot of Venom is cool but when they use the half Hardy and half Venom shot it looks like shit.  Some of the minor shots of the symbiote moving looks cheap as well but we do get some shots where it looks fantastic.  Overall, Venom is a shit film but god damn was it fun.  With all the faults aside I did enjoy myself.  If you want something to toss on, eat some popcorn, and drink a beer to I would highly recommend this one.  If you want something to open your mind or redefine a genre then look elsewhere. 
 



Friday, January 4, 2019

Monster Party



Director - Chris von Hoffmann (Drifter, White Trash)
Starring - Sam Strike (Leatherface, Stitches), Virginia Gardner (Halloween, Little Bitches), and Brandon Michael Hall (The Mayor, Lez City)
Release Date - 2018
Genre - Horror
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
 
     This month marks 8 years that I've been writing reviews and 6 of those have been for Horror Society.  Horror Society has opened the door to so many opportunities over the years and I'm grateful for each and every one of them.  What I really enjoy the most about writing for Horror Society is learning about all the horror movies before they are released.  One such film is last years Monster Party that was released on DVD and blu the week of Christmas.  The artwork for this release was rather bland but the synopsis intrigued me so I reached out for a review copy.  I'm glad I did because I really enjoyed this one. 
     The film follows three career thieves who infiltrate a rich estate as caterers during a get together in order to score some quick cash to help the father of one of the thieves.  What they didn't expect was that the event is actually being attended by former serial killers who are trying to break their addiction.  Things then turn deadly when one of the serial killers relapses and the carnage sends the others into a frenzy.
        
I honestly didn't know what to expect from this film.  The title is a little misleading and the artwork was boring but the film was anything but that.  I absolutely enjoyed it and this will be one I revisit periodically.  The acting in this one is fantastic.  My favorite performance came from Julian McMahon who I grew up watching in Charmed, Nip/Tuck, and the two Fantastic Four films.  He's a very strong character actor and his character in this one is no exception.  I loved his performance and there was a few scenes where his emotionless stare really got under my skin so to speak.  I also enjoyed Sam Strike's performance.  His character starts out as timid but ends on an aggressive level that I was not expecting which is more in tune to his character from Leatherface.  The remainder of the cast is solid as well.  We get so many unforgettable characters and amazing performances.  The story for this one starts out a little slow but once the ball gets moving it turns into something very fun.  It is rather predictable but that didn't take away from the enjoyment.  Finally, this one does have some blood and gore which is something I was not expecting.  There was a few deaths that stuck out but most of them took place off camera.  With that being said, the ones we do get to witness are fantastic.  The effects are great as well.  Overall, Monster Party is the sleeper hit of 2018.  The film will be overlooked due to the artwork and name but I cannot recommend this one enough.