Thursday, May 25, 2017

Crackbaby Billionaire

Director - John Miller (Make Them Die Sleaze!, $kumbagz)
Starring - Rokki James (Power Rangers Turbo, Suck to Be You), Eight The Chosen One (American Guinea Pig: Bouquet of Guts and Gore), and Joel D. Wynkoop (Chaos A.D., Slasher Weekend)
Release Date - 2017
Genre - Action/Crime
Format - DVD (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):

     John Miller is a filmmaker that people in the indie horror underground talk about without realizing they are actually talking about him.  John was one of the writers and producers of the infamous Amerikan Holokaust film.  The film has earned its place among the extreme horror films of recent years. John has worked on other projects since then but they were more focused on the sleazy, raunchy side of cinema.  Sometime has passed since Miller was behind the camera but his latest efforts has him teaming up with Florida based rapper Eight The Chosen One.  The new film, Crackbaby Billionaire, was recently wrapped up and John hit me up with a review copy.  Fuck you, John.
     The film follows ex-con Corey Brown (Eight) who is released from prison and tries to keep his nose clean so he never has to go back.  He tries to start a lawn care service but lacks the funds needed.  He meets up with an old friend who helps him get into a backyard brawl for some quick cash but his win further implants him in the criminal activity that landed him in jail in the first place.

     Miller and company definitely threw me for a loop.  I tossed this one in expecting a more serious crime drama with a lot of drug use.  The film did not play out that way.  In fact, it was pretty damn funny and kept me off guard.  Kudos to you John (fuck you).  The acting in this one is solid.  Eight The Chosen One did a fantastic job.  Most of you know how I feel about American Guinea Pig: Bouquet of Guts and Gore.  The movie was brutal and hyper-realistic but it was very boring.  Eight, the masked butcher in Bouquet, did not really get the opportunity to act.  Sawing on flesh doesn't take a lot of acting chops but he brought some great performances in Crackbaby.  He was a very commanding lead and showed a lot of intensity.  I'm surprised he's not in more films.  The supporting cast is great as well.  Joel D. Wynkoop, b-movie legend, is funny as the bare knuckle brawler.  Krystal Adams and Cayt Feinics are funny in their own way.  Both are killer babes that are smoking hot.  Adams' performance was great but Feinic's role is fucking funny.  Was not expecting her character to play out like it did and will not be easily forgotten.  We also get some outrageous performances from indie cinema wild man Bob Glazier who does some fucked up shit with a smile on his face.  This is the kind of guy you become friends with just so you can stay on his good side.  The story for this one is kinda what I expected but with a lot to it.  The film has deep roots in crime dramas like Scarface, New Jack City, and a few dozen Blaxploitation flicks but it has humor that catches the viewer off guard.  The film would hit you with an intense performance from Eight and some nice gore and then bam, laughing your ass off.  The humor was a very nice touch.  Also, the film has a very natural flow that doesn't strain the viewer's patience and does a great job at character development.  Finally, the film has several awesome on screen kills and great practical effects.  The kill scenes rivals anything that can be scene in a horror film which is saying something considering this one is not part of the genre.  Miller is a horror fan and these kill scenes clearly show that.  Overall, Crackbaby Billionaire is a solid crime drama from one of Florida's most notorious exploitation filmmakers.  The cast is great, the story is fun, and the kills are noteworthy.  If you want something bloody and raunchy then look no further.  Crackbaby Billionaire has your fix.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Black Forest

Director - David Biggs (Blood Night, Sleepwalking)
Starring - Marie-Josee Dionne (Antibirth, Slasher), France Huot, and Jayson Stewart (The Pasta Killer!, A Dark Truth)
Release Date - 2015
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "In the heart of the wild no humanity remains"
Format - DVD (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     Instagram has turned into a valuable resource for me.  I love reviewing indie films.  That's one of the reasons I started writing reviews.  I created an IG account almost two years ago and it was only recently that I started browsing hashtags.  For the most part I spend most of my time under #horror but now I spend all my time under #indiehorror where I come across some pretty fantastic stuff.  Not long ago I found posts on the Distant Fields' film Black Forest.  It looked like my type of film so I found them out on Facebook and reached out to them.  We did some talking and they were kind enough to send me a review copy along with some promo material.  Thank you for allowing Horror Society and myself to check out all your hard work!
     The film follows friends Bree (Dionne) and Jess (Huot) who plan a weekend camping trip in the wilderness of Canada.  They rent a canoe and head out but not before meeting an overly nice man who is heading to the same area as them.  They blow him off and do their own thing when they run into him again.  This time he turns hostile and leaves them for the night.  They plan to leave their site the following morning but he shows up and forces them to flee their campsite when he starts shooting arrows at them.  They flee through the woods trying to find a forest ranger and accidently stumble upon the killer's house where he is working with another guy to prepare for the end of civilization.  The two girls must first for survival or become their playthings.

     I was under the impression that this one was going to be a slasher but the film did not play out like that at all.  Doesn't make it a bad film because it was not a slasher.  In fact, it wasn't a bad movie just had a lot going against it making it not as entertaining as it should have been.  The acting in this one is pretty rough.  The leading ladies are absolutely gorgeous but the struggle to find their footing.  They come off as a little forced and the chemistry between doesn't feel natural.  They needed to rehearse before each scene with some direction from the director.  The remainder of the cast shows a lot of heart and dedication as well but they clearly did not show that much experience in front of the camera.  The story for this one tricked me.  I thought I was going to be watching a slasher in the woods, one of my favorite styles of slasher, but it flipped the switch on me.  Instead, we get a game of cat and mouse with a little inspiration from the Leonard Lake and Charles Ng murders.  This was fun and very similar to Amerikan Holokaust without the extremities but the film had horrible pacing issues.  Some of the scenes were painfully slow.  I'm talking so slow and boring that I almost turned the film off several times.  The overall film was entertaining but it was a trial by fire type of experience.  Finally, the film does have some blood and solid no budget effects.  I was a little impressed by how they used classic camera tricks to pull the kills off.  The deaths themselves were not that original but they still fit the film.  Overall, Black Forest is far from perfect.  The acting is off and the story has issues but the overall presentation was worth the watch.  Check it out. 

Wishmaster 4: The Prophecy Fulfilled

Director - Chris Angel (The Fear: Resurrection, Halloween in New Orleans)
Starring - Tara Spencer-Nairn (The Strain, The Wonderful World of Disney), Michael Trucco (How I Met Your Mother, Eyes of Terror), and Jason Thompson (Undressed, Circle)
Release Date - 2002
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "Leave no soul unturned"
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     Finally, winding down my trip through the Wishmaster series.  After the dud that was Wishmaster 3 I could only imagine how bad Wishmaster 4 would be.  With the same director and same actor portraying the djinn I only imagined this film would put me to sleep...but I was wrong.  Wishmaster 4 had the same director but they had quickly learned what was wrong with the last film and fixed it the best they could. The movie was nowhere near the drowsfest the previous film was.  In fact, it was actually somewhat entertaining.
     The film follows Lisa (Spencer-Nairn) who is working with a lawyer to help reach a settlement for her boyfriend who was in a horrible accident and lost the use of his legs.  She gets close to the lawyer and he buys her a gift from online.  What they did not expect was that the gift to be the home of an evil djinn that Lisa accidentally awakens.  He kills the lawyer and takes his image before taking the souls of everyone close to Lisa before she accidentally makes two wishes.  She creates a paradox when she wishes that she could love him.  Love is something that only she can do so the djinn must win her over before he can release the other djinn from their dimension.
     I went into this one with a few beers ready and an energy drink on hand incase the movie started to put me to sleep.  However, this one really surprised me.  It does not surpass the first two films but it is a hell of a lot better than part three...which doesn't take much.  The acting in this one is about the same as the last film.  The cast feels like they put very little effort into their performance and the character look and feel like they were originally written for a day time soap.  Once again the djinn is a flat character that does not deliver on the charisma that Divoff started the franchise off with.  The story for this one is 90% of the same as the other films but the paradox at the end really made this one interesting.  Doesn't make it that original but does make it stand out from the third film.  Finally, the film once again hits the viewer with forgettable kills which is crazy considering that the film series was created by one of the greatest practical effects artists of our time.  The practical effects we get are great but the kills do not stand out at all.  Overall, Wishmaster 4: The Prophecy Fulfilled is a step above part three but the series has definitely ran it's course by this point.  The series finishes on a positive note but the series should have truly ended with part 2.  

Wishmaster 3: Beyond the Gates of Hell

Director - Chris Angel (The Fear: Resurrection, Dexter: Season One - Witnessed in Blood)
Starring - Jason Connery (Brotherhood of Blood, Alone in the Dark II), A. J. Cook (Dead Like Me, Final Destination 2), and Tobias Mehler (Disturbing Behavior, Carrie)
Release Date - 2001
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "Evil feeds off your wishes"
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):

     Now we are getting into trilogy territory.  There are a lot of great trilogies out there.  You have the Maniac Cop trilogy, Basket Case trilogy, Slumber Party Massacre trilogy, and so many more.  So many great films find themselves becoming a trilogy but the third film in a serious tends to be the worst.  Hell, even the classic Day of the Dead was panned upon release before finding a cult following.  I had never seen the third Wishmaster film nor did I really have interest in it.  The first two films are decent at best and when I saw Andrew Divoff was not involved I knew I would not be a fan.  Divoff is what made the first two films enjoyable.  I still tried to be open-minded but the film still very much let me down.
     The film follows college student Diana (Cook) who has been working closely with her college professor Dr. Joel Barash (Connery).  She accidentally awakens the evil djinn who wants her to make her three wishes so he can free all the other djinns from their hellish dimension.  He starts a bloody campaign across campus to get to Diana.  She partners with Greg Janson and the pair try to stop the djinn at all costs and even summon the archangel Michael to inhabit Greg's body to do so.
     I'm going to be completely honest and say I had very low expectations for this film.  I'm usually open to most sequels but not having Divoff really turned me off to the film.  He was great as the djinn and brought a lot of charisma and character to the film.  Without it, the story alone was enough to sink the ship.  The acting in this one is not the best.  The cast has a lot of on screen talent but they have a hard time not overreacting.  They, once again, feel like stage actors on Broadway which makes for a very awkward film experience.  The biggest disappointment is Jason Connery.  He's not a bad actor, not at all, but he is a very flat customer that is one dimensional.  He doesn't come across as a threat and he doesn't steal the show like Divoff.  This was very poor casting.  The story for this one is exactly the same as the first two films.  We once again follow a young woman who accidentally awakens the djinn who starts killing family and friends to get to her to make her third wish.  The only difference is that this one is set on a college campus.  This film lacks originality from the characters down to the kills.  The story is the same and after watching all three films back to back you will find yourself not interested at all.  Finally, the film has several kills scenes that are not as clever or as entertaining as the first two films.  The kills use great practical effects but are just as boring as the film itself.  Overall, Wishmaster 3: Beyond the Gates of Hell is very lackluster.  The film uses the same formula as the first two in the series and makes very minor changes.  The kills are just as boring making one film that is very forgettable.  

Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Die

Director - Jack Sholder (A Nightmare on Elm St. 2: Freddy's Revenge, Alone in the Dark)
Starring - Holly Fields (Arrow, Celebrity Deathmatch), Chris Weber (Watchmen, Dangerous Minds), and Andrew Divoff (The Strain, The Dead Matter)
Release Date - 1999
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "Evil has been summoned"
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):

     Sequels are such a touchy subject among horror fans.  Horror fans want original content but refuse to actually pay for it.  Indie filmmakers have been turning out original films for years but fans refuse to pay for it.  They would rather flock by the hundreds to theaters to watch the latest sequel, remake, reboot, or trend before returning home and bitch about it online.  Personally, I love indie films but I also enjoy sequels, remakes, and reboots of some of my favorite films.  If you are open to the idea they can offer up some quality entertainment.  With that being said, sequels have a lot to live up to and have a lot resting on their shoulders.  The first Wishmaster film had a lot of horror fans excited but ended slipping into mediocrity.  How would the film's sequel hold up especially after the original director and special effects master Robert Kutzman was no longer attached?  Let's find out.
     This film follows professional thief Morgana (Fields) who is robbing a museum when the security opens fire on them killing everyone in her crew, including her boyfriend, and leaving only her alive to escape.  She accidentally breaks one of the statues during the gunfight revealing a gemstone.  When she grabs it she mistakenly releases the evil djinn (Divoff).  Morgana has to partner with a priest that was once her love interest in order to stop the evil djinn before she loses everyone she loves and her own soul.
     I may be in the minority with this series but out of the first two films I have to say that I like the second film just a little bit more than the first.  The film still has its own problems but the CGI was not as noticeable as the first film and the kills were a lot more punny which is something I truly enjoy.  The acting in this one is not that great with the exception of Andrew Divoff.  Holly Fields and the remainder of the cast is very over-dramatic and reminded me a lot of the leads in a high school play.  They come off as full of themselves and the scenes lose impact because of it.  However, Divoff was great and brought out even more character than we saw in the first film.  He did a great job and made me fall even more in love with his djinn character.  The story for this one is almost identical to the first film.  We follow a young girl who accidentally releases the evil djinn who watches their family and friends die before coming up with a quick and brilliant way to stop him from killing more and ensnaring their soul.  Nothing new and almost makes this film feel stale when comparing it to the first film.  Finally, this film is full of on screen kills that are just as imaginative as the first film.  What makes this one a little better in my eyes is that the use of CGI is not as abundant as the first film.  The kills we get are brutal and work perfectly with the story.  They demonstrate some amazing practical effects that should make any horror fiend happy.  Overall, Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies is a solid follow up to Wishmaster.  The story is virtually the same but the kills do stand out.  Fans of blood and gore should really check it out!


Director - Robert Kurtzman (The Rage, Buried Alive)
Starring - Tammy Lauren (The Drew Carey Show, Home Improvement), Andrew Divoff (Night of the Living Dead 3D: Re-Animation, The Dead Matter), and Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm St., Strippers vs. Werewolves)
Release Date - 1997
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "Be careful what you wish for"
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):

     The 90s are often panned by horror fans.  Most believe that horror films from the 80s are far superior to films from the 90s.  This is something I agree and disagree with.  In general I typically like more movies from the 80s than any other decade but completely writing off the 90s as a shit decade is stupid and something I was once guilty of myself.  The 90s should not be pushed to the side because it was the decade to release some great films.  We have Savini's remake of Night of the Living Dead, From Dusk Till Dawn, The Frighteners, Dead Alive, Army of Darkness, The Blair Witch Project, The People Under the Stairs and so many more.  One film that I remember was popular in horror forums back in the days before Facebook was the 1997 Robert Kurtzman film Wishmaster starring Andrew Divoff.  I watched this film and the sequel when I was in college and remember liking it somewhat.  Not long ago Vestron Video release all four Wishmaster films in one set and they were kind enough to send one my way.  Thanks guys!
     The film follows Alexandra (Lauren) who works as an appraiser for a jeweler when someone brings in a rare gem.  When she starts appraising it she accidentally unleashes an evil djinn who must grant her three wishes to obtain her soul.  He tricks her into making three wishes but when she refuses to make the third he starts attacking family and friends forcing her to take action and stop him before everyone she knows and loves is destroyed.

     Wishmaster is one of those films that has a lot going for it and delivers on the gore but the overall film is rather boring and lackluster.  The film is directed by Robert Kurtzman who is the K in KNB Effects so he knows his away around horror but the film still suffers from several stale scenes that tries the viewer's patience.  The acting in those has always disappointed me.  Tammy Lauren is a great actress but her character is very weak for the most and she seems like she doesn't know how to deal it.  She feels awkward and out of place for most of film which makes several scenes lose it's impact.  Andrew Divoff is great as the sophisticated and intelligent djinn.  He was perfectly cast in this role but I feel as if his character was not given room to shine or his personality to flourish.  His character could have been so much bigger than what it was.  The supporting cast is decent but they feel forced and several scenes sound as if they were dubbed later on and the voice actor makes no attempt at capturing the emotions portrayed on screen.  The story for this one is one we had seen several times throughout the 80s and 90s before Wishmaster.  I can't count how many films follows an ancient creature being awakened by something breaking, being excavated, or unleashed by accident forcing someone to stop it before it kills everyone they love.  The creature being a djinn does make it stand out and the mythology around it is very fun to follow and has endless possibilities.  The story does suffer from horrible pacing as well.  Some of the scene drags on for far too long.  The overall appearance of the film is not put in jeopardy by this but there will be times where you catch yourself distracted.  Finally, this wouldn't have been a Kurtzman film if it didn't bring the amazing special effects.  The film has several amazing on screen kills that use top notch effects.  Kurtzman is a well known name among horror fans for his genius practical effects so fans expected a lot from him in this film in which he delivers.  The kills are very imaginative and the effects are fantastic.  Sadly, some of the kills are visual effects and CGI which are very dated by this point and just horrible to look at.  These should have been skipped completely.  Overall, Wishmaster is a decent movie especially for a first time watch but this is one I can't watch more than once every decade.  It has it's flaws but is still a solid watch.