Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The Hatred


Director - Michael G. Kehoe (Dominion, The Art of the Bullet)
Starring - Sarah Davenport (Stitchers, Dusk), Andrew Divoff (Wishmaster, The Strain), and Darby Walker (Girl Meets World, The Event)
Release Date - 2017
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "Your fears are real"
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     It's difficult for bigger budget horror movies to find themselves out of current trends.  With The Walking Dead, IT, and The Conjuring all making bank you can see the repercussions of this with other films trying to quickly make some cash on their success.  The Conjuring in particular brought about a wave of haunted house films that try to look like the films about The Warrens but without the quality and originality.  Recently I was asked to review the new haunted house flick The Hatred starring Wishmasters' very own Andrew Divoff.  What made this one stick out was that it embedded some urban legends centered around Nazis and their use of the occult.  Sadly, the film was unable to capitalize on the amazing story that it could have had.
     The film begins with a fleeing Nazi officer and his family living deep in the U.S. country trying to hide from their past.  His daughter is a free spirit and wants to do the things modern teenagers of her time do but her father refuses.  She goes behind his back and is caught where his anger gets the best of him.  He kills her in the barn and we jump forward to the present day.  The house they lived in is now owned by someone else who invited a family friend and her college friends over to watch their daughter while they are away.  What should be a relaxing evening in the country turns into something far more sinister with the spirit of the young girl that was murdered starts haunting the place.
     I wasn't expecting a lot from The Hatred and that's exactly what I got.  I always try to keep an open mind because I have been surprised in the past but The Hatred just couldn't do it for me.  It was predictable and unoriginal.  The acting in this room was something to be desired.  I don't blame the cast for this.  They try their best to bring almost identical characters to life but the writing is all wrong.  You sometimes forgets which character is supposed to be who and they all share the same personalities.  They are all flat and boring with very little for the viewer to enjoy other than the fact they are pretty.  The story for this one had some potential but was squandered away when the company behind this production decided to scrap it for the cheap and cliched route with jump scares you can see coming a mile away.  Almost every scene moves at a snails pace and was extremely boring.  It was a chore to actually finish.  Finally, this one isn't as bloody as I was lead to believe.  We don't get any red stuff but we do get a mesh of practical and visual effects that makes the supernatural presence look pretty fucking cool.  I really enjoyed the look and could get behind it.  Overall, The Hatred was a big let down.  The story really had potential but was lost in mediocrity.  I can't recommend this one.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Space Clown


Director - Graham Skipper (Scratches, Sequence Break)
Starring - Graham Skipper, Josh LaCasse (Monsterland, The Beautiful Lie), and Jordann Baker 
Release Date - 2016
Genre - Horror/Comedy
Tagline - "Who's laughing now?"
Format - DVD (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     Clowns are every fucking where right now which isn't something new.  Ever since the first adaption of Stephen King's IT there has been clown films pop up here and there.  The same thing happened when Rob Zombie gave the world House of 1000 Corpses.  With the new adaption of IT just out of theaters we will see a rise of clowns films regardless if they were inspired by the films or not.  Wild Eye recently released the found footage film Space Clowns which was directed by Graham Skipper who also starred in the film.  The film, which was obviously inspired by Killer Klowns from Outer Space, looked like it was going to be a pretty fun time.  I want to thank Wild Eye for always hooking me up!
     The film follows Graham Skipper(Skipper duh) who just bought a camera and decides to film himself doing the most mundane tasks such as cooking or drinking while he plays video games with a friend.  However, that night he witnesses something falling from the sky and falls into his backyard.  When he investigates he finds himself face to face with a murderous clown not from this world.


     I didn't know what to expect from a film that was clearly inspired by one of my favorite 80s horror comedies.  The fact that it was a half inspired found footage film made it very unappealing.  However, in the end the film was surprisingly fun.  The acting in this one is so so. Some of you may remember Graham Skipper from the wildly popular Beyond the Gates that was released on blu by Scream Factory.  At the beginning of the film I was not a fan of his but as the film progressed I really enjoyed his performance.   However, his performance here feels a little forced at times and not all that natural.  As writer and director I can only imagine he had a lot racing through his mind that could sway his performance but several of the scenes were awkward to watch.  The rest of the cast is very similar.  They try to bring underdeveloped characters to life but are unable to find the right traction.  With that being said, Josh LaCasse did a great job making the extraterrestrial clown fun.  He had some pretty funny one liners and some solid puns.  The story for this one is very simple and straight to the point.  In fact, I think it would have been more effective as a short.  The story does tend to drag on at times with some clever puns and jokes scattered throughout to make it worth while.  Finally, the films isn't a bloodbath like some of you would like but it does have some simple effects mixed in with beautiful shots, lighting, and sets.  I really enjoyed the look and atmosphere the film provided.  Overall, Space Clown is not a perfect film but it is something to watch late at night with a few beers and some cheap nachos.  It had its moments and delivered a few good laughs.  Check it out.




Sunday, November 19, 2017

Effects

Director - Dusty Nelson (Tales from the Darkside, White Phantom)
Starring - Joseph Pilato (Knightriders, Days of the Dead), Susan Chapek (No Place Like Home, Houseguest), and John Harrison (Tales from the Crypt, Tales from the Darkside: The Movie)
Release Date - 1980
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "Making movies can be murder"
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (Screener)
Rating (out of 5):
     When people think of horror several names movie to the forefront.  For me the name George A. Romero defines the horror genre and his Night of the Living Dead completely change the zombie sub-genre.  I remember the first time watching the classic, along with the remake, when I was a kid staying at my grandmother's while my dad was out of town.  I loved it and it forever changed me.  Romero has partnered with dozens of people of the years to bring his films to the screen and in 1980 several of those people got together to make a no budget horror film.  That movie, Effects, was recently released on blu by MVD and American Genre Film Archives.  MVD was kind enough to send a review copy my way.  Thanks.  
     The film follows a low budget film crew who is staying in the Pennsylvania wilderness to film a horror film.  The director is not agreeing with the special effects team because they try to make the kills look realistic while he wants more blood.  Things take a murderous turn when the director and a few crew members decide to kill the cast and record it instead of using actual practical effects.
     This is a film I had heard about for some time but never got around to seeing.  What caught my eye was the fact that Tom Savini and Joe Pilato were both part of the film.  Fans of Romero's work knows exactly who these two names are.  Honestly, after watching it, I wish I would have waited even longer to check it out.  The acting in this one was great.  Fans of the original Day of the Dead know the powerhouse performance Pilato delivered in the film.  His is one most will never forget and his presence in the film stands out.  His performance in Effects isn't so grandiose but he still delivers one hell of a performance.  His character is polar opposite of DotD.  The rest of the cast is there to have fun with friends and get through their scenes.  Honestly, it feels like they don't take the film that seriously.  The story for this one is best described as "cobbled" together as the back of the blu states.  The story is very inconsistent and at times will test your patience with choppy scenes and a story that has no idea where it is going.  I'm curious as to what they originally envisioned and what we actually got.  Finally, the film has several on screen deaths but the way the film is shot you don't really get to enjoy them due to the "making a movie" angle.  Overall, Effects is a tossed together mess of a film.  Fans of Savini and Pilato will want to check it out but that is about the only reason I can think of to sit through this mess.  I would recommend checking out The Zodiac Killer released by AGFA instead.  




Saturday, November 18, 2017

The Zodiac Killer

Director - Tom Hanson (A Ton of Grass Goes to Pot)
Starring - Hal Reed (The Doberman Gang, 43: The Richard Petty Story), Bob Jones (Enter the Ninja, American Playhouse), and Ray Lynch (M*A*S*H*)
Release Date - 1971
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "Who is he...  What is he... When is he going to strike again?"
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (Screener)
Rating (out of 5):
     Most horror fans have interests that most find too sinister or macabre.  With horror and metal aside, most of my other hobbies are fairly normal in comparison.  I enjoy comics, reading, board games (especially monopoly), video games, and watching YouTube internetainers like Rhett & Link and Vanoss.  With that being said, I've had an interest in serial killers for as long as I could remember.  I became fascinated with them around the same time I discovered cryptozoology.  There was a few that I found realy fascinating like John Wayne Gacy, Albert Fish, and Ed Gein.  Then there was others that I found no interest in like The Zodiac Killer.  That all changed last year with the Ted Cruz meme.  I somewhat became fascinated with the meme which lead to me researching him some.  Recently, American Genre Film Archive and MVD partnered for a blu release of the 1971 film The Zodiac Killer.  I had heard of this film but never seen it so this was the perfect time to check it out. I want to thank MVD for sending this one my way.  
     The film follows the San Francisco police department as they frantically search for the one responsible for a series of murders around the city.  After some time the killer taunts the police with puzzles about when he will strike next.  Unbeknownst to them, the killer is actually a mail man who believes that those he kills will come back as his slave in the next life.  While the police think they finally found the killer (the real killers friend) the actual murderer is killing at will to fulfill his master plan.  
     I had no idea what to expect from this film.  I had heard about it for sometime but never had the drive to see it which was mostly due to the fact that I didn't care about the killer.  Now I do have an interest and went into the film with a very open mind.  Honestly, I really enjoyed it and the story it brought forth.  However, I am not blind and could tell that the film was far from perfect.  The acting in this one is pretty one sided.  A majority of the cast delivers a flat performance with little to no dedication to their role.  They spit out dialogue with no emotion or conviction creating characters that could easily be made out of cardboard.  With that being said, I really enjoyed Hal Reed's performance as the mild mannered mailman who greenlights as the zodiac.  His demeanor changes so much from the mailman to the killer which was great to watch unfold.  He was easily my favorite part.  The story for this one is oddly set up like a slow moving biopic with moments of death tossed throughout.  I actually really enjoyed the story and background they created for the zodiac.  His slave army may be something he actually believed in and communicated to the police but I don't know.  As I stated I don't really know anything about the Zodiac Killer or their murders.  I like how it followed a potential killer and the real killer before revealing who it was.  It gave the viewer moments of uncertainty.  Finally, the film does have a few on screen kills with some laughable effects.  The kills are very basic and straight forward with minimal practical effects.  Each and every kill was not handled with care resulting in something you would expect in an Ed Wood film which I actually liked.  Overall, The Zodiac Killer has so many problems but god damn I can't help but love it.  Fans of early 70s exploitation flicks and serial killers should really check this one out.  I recommend it.  




Thursday, November 16, 2017

Torso


Director - Sergio Martino (Blade of the Ripper, All the Colors of the Dark)
Starring - Suzy Kendall (In the Devil's Garden, fear is the Key), Tina Aumont (Two Orphan Vampires, Your Turn to Die), and Luc Merenda (Hostel: Part II, Hotel Fear)
Release Date - 1973
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "Enter...if you dare the bizarre world of the psychosexual mind"
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     Italian horror is a fascinating sub-genre.  There has been several phenomenal classics produced in Italy over the years that fans are absolutely rabid over.  Zombie fans love the unofficial Dawn of the Dead sequel Zombi.  Others are mesmerized by the gorgeous color pallets and crisp imagery in Dario Argento's definitive giallo Susperia.  One film I've heard fans confess their love for, Torso, is another Italian horror film that I never had the opportunity to see.  Torso looked like a bloody good time but I was always skeptical of which version of the film to buy.  Most fans and collectors told me to stay away from certain editions because they were horrible transfers or was missing scenes.  My frustration got the best of me and I stopped pursuing it.  Recently my friends over at Shameless released the film on blu and they were kind enough to hook me up with a review copy.  Thanks!
     The film follows a group of college students who attend a university where several have been found strangled by a red and black scarf.  Anyone of their fellow students and faculty could be the killer which leads to paranoia among the young women.  They decide for a weekend getaway and leave town to stay at a friends but what they don't know is the killer has followed them and their attractive bodies will force him to kill again...and again.
     Torso was not the film I was expecting.  I knew the film would be a great giallo but I was expecting something a little more gruesome.  I was expecting something with some gory kills considering the film's title is Torso and it brandished a saw on all the promotional material.  The film is rather bland when it comes to the death scenes but it still delivers that giallo style.  The acting in this one is solid by the entire cast but no one really stands out from the others.  The cast moves the story along and does a great job at keeping the killer's identity a mystery.  The story for this one is a very well paced and tight mystery that keeps the viewer guessing with every passing scene.  The film does an amazing job at tossing in red herrings to throw the viewer off.  This was one of the few giallos that was not predictable.  Finally, the film has several on screen kills.  We get some bright red blood and minimal practical effects making for some very lackluster kills.  Like most giallos the focus is on the story and the payoff instead of the kills.  Overall, Torso is a damn fine Italian horror film and a textbook example of what it means to be a giallo.  Fans of Italian horror and giallo must see this one!




Monday, November 13, 2017

Acid Bath


Director(s) - Lou Garcia (Cannibal Maniac) and Annette Martinez (Rhine Maidens)
Starring - Linda Amistad, Mike Bilodeau, and Eric Campos
Release Date - 2006
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "Only the insane will survive"
Format - DVD (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):

     I haven't had much time to myself between work, preparing my home for winter (living in West Virginia can be rough this time of year), and my family life.  Store hours have fluctuated causing me to spend even more time away from home which sucks considering the amount of movies I have to review and the fact the wife got me Ark: Survival Evolved and Call of Duty: WWII to play.  In between everything going on the last few days I was able to work in a first time watch for me.  A long time ago, longer than I would care to acknowledge, Wild Eye sent over the no budget splatter flick Acid Bath to review.  Wild Eye and me have an understanding that I may not be quick to review but I will eventually review it.  Once again I want to thank Wild Eye for hooking me up with another messing indie flick!
     The film follows a group of working girls who find their numbers dwindling as of late as a serial killer stalks the streets at night killing anyone offer up joys of the flesh.  Any hooker he kills her dissolves their body in an acid bath.  Now the hookers are joining together in hopes of bringing this madman's bloody rampage to an end.

   


     You have to understand what you are getting yourself into when you toss in a Wild Eye: Raw film.  Wild Eye's Raw label is their no budget indie releases.  No budget does not equal bad.  In most cases it just means they are good films but the quality isn't there.  Acid Bath is the perfect example of this.  The crew had a lot of obstacles to overcome due to not having a budget but they were still able to piece together a solid flick.  The acting in this one is rough.  I've seen my fair share of indie films over the years ranging from budgets of $10 to several thousand and this one isn't the worst but there is so much room for improvement.  The story for this one is simple and reminds me of a few S.O.V. I can recall several S.O.V. slashers that followed prostitutes being murdered.  That makes for a rather bloody but simple story.  Acid Bath is no exception except it was bloodier than the others.  The film does quickly get to the red stuff but the story is somewhat weak between each death scene.  It almost feels like the film was written around the death scenes which is fine.  The film still works.  Finally, the film is full of gory goodness.  The film has several splatter scenes for you gorehounds out there.  The effects are fun but you can quickly see the film's budget in them.  I really enjoyed what I saw and I'm a little distraught by the cast and crews lack of imdb credits.  Their imagination and creativity would have went a long way with the experience they took away from this film.  Would love to see them tackle another flick.  Overall, Acid Bath is not a perfect movie.  In fact, it is far from perfect as you can get but it does what many big budget flicks cant do and that's entertain.  The effects are fun and the story is sleazy so what more can you ask for?  Check it out.