Friday, December 2, 2016

The Id


Director - Thommy Hutson
Starring - Amanda Wyss (A Nightmare on Elm St, Charmed), Patrick Peduto (Weekly Meeting, Dark Secrets), and Jamye Grant (Death Suspect a Murder, CV Nation)
Release Date - 2015
Genre - Horror/Thriller
Tagline - "The most important man in a woman's life is her father"
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     A few months back I received a press release for the upcoming horror thriller The Id.  Two things struck me by this release.  The first was that it was directorial debut from Thommy Hutson who has made a name for himself in the horror community for his involvement in some of the best horror documentaries to be released in recent years.  He wrote and produced the documentaries His Name Was Jason: 30 Years of Friday the 13th, Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy, More Brains! A Return to the Living Dead, They Wont Stay Dead: A Look at Return of the Living Dead II, and Love Beyond the Grave: A Look at Return of the Living Dead III.  His work speaks for itself so I was curious to see how his first horror film would go.  The second thing that caught my eye was that it starred Amanda Wyss.  When I was younger, way before my horror obsession, I was a fan of film.  I watched every genre so I would occasionally check out horror.  When I first watch A Nightmare on Elm St. I was floored by how beautiful and provocative Amanda Wyss' character was.  I remember thinking that she should have been cast as the film's star.  Sadly, as love moved on I forgot to search for more of her films so it was nice to see her starring in a new film.  I reached out and was lucky enough to get a review copy.  Thanks guys!
     The film follows Meredith Lane (Wyss) who is the primary caregiver for her decrepit father.  When he was younger he was a violent drug which forced his wife, Meredith's mother, to flee from the abusive relationship.  Now, his body has broken down and he can no longer take care of himself.  This does not stop him from becoming emotionally and verbally abusive to Meredith.  Meredith takes it day in and day out but one day she receives a phone call from her high school boyfriend who wants to see her.  She is overcome with emotions and reminisces about when they were together.  She tells her father who starts in with his abuse again.  When she is washing him in the tub he starts in on her one more time but she snaps this time and drowns him in the tub.  She then hides the body for her date with her old flame which turns out to not be that at all.  Her old boyfriend brought his wife to meet her and introduces her as his old friend from high school.  This deeply troubles Meredith especially after she killed her very own father to be with him.  They become uncomfortable at her behavior and leave.  Not long after their departure the police arrive and search the home where they find her father's body under the bed.
     What kind of horror film will a person tackle when you know what kind of horror films they truly love?  It is no secret that Hutson is a fan of the classic slashers Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm St, along with the everlasting Return of the Living Dead.  So what kind of horror film would he make for his first outing?  The acting in this one is great.  Wyss tackles a very unconventional character and gave one hell of a performance.  Her character is very hollow and withdrawn at first before she flips the switch and becomes homicidal.  She was great.  We also got an amazing performance from Patrick Peduto who portrayed her abusive father.  He was great and held nothing back.  He really made the viewer hate him.  The supporting cast is solid but their characters are not invested enough to the story to stand out.  The story for this one is not that original but does offer up unique moments.  The film following a daughter who kills her abusive father before getting caught has been played out in countless non-horror films but very rarely in a horror thriller type setting.  What makes this one feel different from the others is how we can see Meredith transcend into darkness.  She slowly started fantasizing about her former flame and then begins to dwell on her father's abuse before finally killing him.  Finally, those of you expecting blood and gore will be very upset.  The film lacks kills.  We get one that is not very entertaining but does pertain to the story.  The film's main focus is on atmosphere and character development.  Not blood and gore.  Overall, The Id is a very dark character driven piece.  The film relies heavily on tension and succeeds.  If you like stylish, slow paced thrillers then this one is for you.  




Vampyres


Director - Victor Matellano (Stop Over in Hell)
Starring - Caroline Munro (Maniac), Veronica Polo (Wild Oats), and Christian Stamm (The Man with Thousand Faces)
Release Date - 2015
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "Lust for blood"
Format - DVD (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):

     Vampires has always been romanticized.  They are mysterious, magical, and most myths and folklore paint them as naturally beautiful and sexy.  When I hear vampire I think of a bloodthirsty fiend that preys on the living during the nightscape.  However, when some people hear the word vampire they think of orgies in blood and the perfect specimens of the human body covered in blood.  There has been countless vampire films depicting them in both manners. Back in 1974 director Joseph Larraz released his erotic horror film Vampyres which combined the sexual side of vampires with their bloodlust.  Fast forward to 2015 and Victor Matellano would remake the film which was recently released by Artsploitation Films.  I reached out to them and they were kind enough to send a copy my way.
     The film follows a group of twenty-somethings who are camping in the woods near a strange home that one of them finds mysterious and haunting.  The young girl in the group is a photographer and has been candidly taking pictures of the home.  One morning while everyone has left she is visited by a man who is weak with a horrible cut on his arm.  He tells her that he stayed at the home she is infatuated with.  He returns back there where there is two women living alone there.  They are lovers and they lure men into their home to feed on.  The group is now stuck in the woods with two beautiful and dangerous vampires living nearby.


     I went into this one not knowing anything about the remake or the original film.  I had heard great things about the original but I have yet to lay eyes upon it.  I was still very open minded to the film and still enjoyed it for the most part but there was some room for improvement.  The acting in this one is difficult to watch.  The entire cast acts as if they don't care.  They spit out dialogue with no attempt at acting.  The characters all fall flat.  The only saving grace in reference the cast is how sexy the two female vampires were.  They were very easy on the eyes.  The story for this one is very repetitive and leaves several dry scenes.  The film uses the same set up in several scenes which loses its desired affect.  The scene where the man leaves the home after spending the night with the vampire was somewhat effective but the second time we see this happens it loses what it had already established.  The story needed more to it than that.  Why were these vampires in that home, why were they vampires, and were they lovers before they were turned.  Answers needed provided and not just rehashing of scenes we already witnessed.  Finally, the film has several bloody kills that fit vampire lure but nothing really stands out.  We do get a similar kill to the Elizabeth Bathory kill in Hostel II but that is about the best the film can offer.  The effects are decent but due to the way the kills are shot and made we don't get to fully appreciate the craftsman ship of the effects.  Overall, Vampyres is a decent effort.  The cast misses their mark and the story could have been so much more.  The film deserves a watch but don't expect a vampire film that will stick with you like Fright Night, The Lost Boys, and Near Dark.  





Thursday, December 1, 2016

Burial Ground: The Nights of Terror


Director - Andrea Bianchi (Massacre, What the Peeper Saw)
Starring - Karin Well (Skin Em Alive, The Perfect Killer), Gianluigi Chirizzi (Terror Express, The Nun and the Devil), and Simone Matioli (Guardian of Hell, Nero Wolfe)
Release Date - 1981
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "The gates of hell have opened"
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     Horror fans all have a different picks when it comes to Italian horror.  Most people prefer Lucio Fulci's Zombi, The Beyond, or City of the Living Dead while other prefer the work of Dario Argento.  Though all of these are great examples of Italian horror but one of my favorites is and always will be the 1981 Andrea Bianchi film Burial Grounds.  A friend of mine once had the film on VHS so we would watch it a lot.  Believe it or not it made a great triple feature with Peter Jackson's Bad Taste and Cemetery Man.  A few years back my wife ordered me the film on blu from Shriek Show.  Sadly, I never watched it.  I just put it on the shelf and never touched it.  However, recently Severin released the film on blu and they were nice enough to send one my way.  This streak at not watching one of my favorite films was about to end.
     The film begins when a professor opens an old crypt and releasing the living corpses inside.  The kill the professor and leave the crypt where they make their way to a nearby villa that is preparing for a party.  One by one they fall prey to the flesh hungry dead.  The remaining few flee the villa and make their way to a local monistary where they learn that the monks living there are now dead as well and their futures look bleak.




     The first time I watched Burial Grounds, or as the tape said The Nights of Terror, I fell in love.  I know it is far from perfect and there is better examples of Italian horror out there but this film was the most fun I had with Italian horror.  Everything from the cast, the location, the effects, and the story had me hooked even though they are very flawed.  The acting in this one is very, very rough.  The cast has a hard time finding their "volume" to speak.  Their emotions is dialed up to 11 which makes most of the scenes almost laughable.  When they should be scared they are hysterical and completely unhinged.  They have a hard time finding the right way to handle the situation and overact to each.  If the cast had a little more direction it would have went a long way.  The story for this one is mindless entertainment.  Nothing more and nothing else.  The film is just one scenario to another resulting in the group finding their way to the zombies.  The story is nothing new, clever, or thought provoking.  It is a mindless zombie film with zombies, blood, gore, and a little incest.  How the zombies came to be is never fully explained.  All we get is the professor opening the crypt and they scuttle out like roaches.  I would have loved to see why the zombies are there.  Finally, the film is full of gore and blood.  We several imaginative kills from the maid and her unusual zombie death to the mother losing a nipple to her son.  The kills are fun and the effects are solid as well.  The blood is the bright red 3M blood that we see in the original Dawn of the Dead but it works for the most part.  The gore looks great but the zombies are questionable.  Burial Ground tries hard to capture that Zombi look which it does on some of the zombie but on the other zombies are ridiculous which only adds to the film's charm.  Overall, Burial Ground is not a perfect film but by god it entertains.  The film leaves a bloody smear on Italian cinema and claws at your heart.  Check it the fuck out!




Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Rotgut


Director - Billy Gaberina (Necroville, I Heart U)
Starring - Jeremy Owen (Feeding the Masses, The Stink of Flesh), Paul Alsing (Defective Man, Black), and Megan Pribyl (The Lone Ranger, Killer Women)
Release Date - 2012
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "Happy hour is over"
Format - DVD (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
    Writing reviews is something I absolutely love.  I love watching and reviewing horror films and you never know what you are going to get next.  A few weeks ago my friends over at Alternative Cinema sent over two of their newest releases to check out.  The first was an Ivan Cardoso collection which was a let down.  I reviewed all four films and was severely let down by what I saw.  The second film was Rotgut from director Billy Gaberina.  Gaberina is one of my favorite actors in the indie game but his directorial efforts are always funny.  Necroville made college for me so when I saw he starred and directed Rotgut I knew there was fun to be had.  Thanks Alternative Cinema for sending it my way.
     The film begins with two junkies stealing a bottle of alcohol from a dumpster.  The bottle has a worm in the bottom and the two decide to drink it up and chase the worm.  One of them actually drinks the worm and becomes ill.  After a few minutes his eye popped out of his head sending the other into a panic.  He goes to the local bar and tries to warn them but no one listens.  The manager of the bar buys some alcohol from a back door vendor and just happens to buy several bottles like the guy just tried to warn them about.  Several people buys shots from the cheap booze and before they know it they are fighting for their lives when those that drink it have their heads exploding and killer worms come out.
     I was looking forward to Rotgut when I first discovered it was directed by Gaberina.  I knew it would have a solid mix of horror and humor.  Which it did, but there was several missed opportunities.  The film was still fun and better than most indie horror comedies but there was several flaws.  The acting in this one is solid but I was expecting a little more considering.  The films lead, Jeremy Owen, is great in his role.  This is my first film of his but I can see why Gaberina cast him.  He is strong, wise cracking, and could be the film's bad ass when it called for it.  We also get a solid performance from Paul Alsing as the professor.  He was very well spoken, intelligent, and made every scene he was in feel bigger than it was.  Sadly, that was it in regards for cast.  The rest of the performances fell flat and did not offer up anything for the viewer to latch on to.  The story for this one is fun and reminded me a lot of Zombie Town meets Night of the Creeps.  Both of which are great films.  In both films, just like this one, we follow zombie like creatures who have worms/slugs busting from their heads to infect someone else.  I absolutely loved that angle.  The story makes good use of the location to help with the film's budget and cast.  Sadly, the film does move painfully slow at times but more than makes up for it with the ending and action sequences.  Finally, the film does have some kills and lots of blood but there is several missed opportunities that were skipped either by effect's limitations or budget.  The effects we do get are decent which makes me wonder why we didn't get better kills.  The effects and skill are there.  Overall, Rotgut is a hit from Alternative Cinema and once again shows why I mention Gaberina as much as I do when I talk about indie horror.  It has a fun story and some decent effects but the cast misses their mark.  Check it out.




Night of Something Strange

https://www.facebook.com/nightofsomethingstrange/

Five teenage friends set out for the beach on their Spring Break vacation. Good times are cut short when one of the group, Carrie, contracts a deadly sexual transmitted disease during a bathroom stop. When they stop for the night at an isolated motel, the real terror begins when the STD virus starts running rampant, turning those infected into the living dead. However, there's more going on at the motel than meets the eye.



Monday, November 28, 2016

Carnage Park


Director - Mickey Keating (Ritual, Darling)
Starring - Ashley Ball (The Last Exorcism, The Walking Dead: Webisodes), Pat Healy (Tales of Halloween, Captain America: The Winter Soldier), James Landry Hebert (Super 8, Dylan Dog: Dead of Night)
Release Date - 2016
Genre - Horror/Exploitation
Tagline - "Out here, god don't pick no favorites"
Format - BluRay (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):

     I sometimes refer to myself as the horror skeptic.  Not that I'm skeptical of horror but I'm skeptical of what a mass majority of horror fans like.  When I see a large number of people praising a film I get a little excited.  I love watching movies that are entertaining so when a large number of people claim a movie is good it means I have another opportunity to watch an entertaining film.  Sadly. most of the time these movies are let downs or just down right shitty.  That brings me to one of Scream Factory's newest releases.  I saw several horror minded friends on Facebook share their love for Carnage Park.  It looked interesting so I reached out to my friends over at Scream Factory and they were kind enough to hook me up with a review copy.  Thanks guys.
     The film follows two small time bank robbers who botch a job and one of them is shot.  They kidnap a young woman from the bank and flee into the desert with their hostage.  They drive through a chain blocking the road and hide in the desert where the one that was shot dies.  What they don't know is that they are now trespassing on the property of a deranged survivalist who tortures and kills everyone that finds their way onto his land.  They must now fight an expert sniper in a land that he knows in and out.
     Carnage Park looked interesting enough but I was skeptical.  Like I said earlier, when most of the crowd goes one way I often find myself going the opposite direction.  However, Carnage Park hit like it should.  No, it wont be in my top five or even top ten for the year but it was entertaining.  The acting in this one is absolutely fantastic.  The entire cast was at the top of their game.  Ashley Ball is great as the victim.  I know this is clich├ęd and slightly sexist but she plays one of the best victims/final girls I have ever seen.  She pulls in raw emotion and really makes the viewer feel for her.  Opposite of her we have Pat Healy who is very testing.  He pushes the boundaries of what we think a homicidal maniac should look like.  His ex-militant survivalist character is very well spoken and mild mannered which is opposite of what most movies would portray such a character as.  He is deadly, calculating, and straight up chilling.  Supporting these two is James Landry Hebert who tricks the viewer into thinking he is the films true villain.  His character is simple but has that southern style that makes Devil's Rejects so much fun.  The film has an outstanding cast.  The story for this one is a little uneven.  The film starts out like a love letter to Tarantino with the witty dialogue and sharp start to the story but by the halfway point this has faded and we get a game of cat and mouse.  The film has a strong start but the middle drags before the story is able to gain more momentum and finish on a high note.  A little something added to the middle of the film to make it engaging would have went a long way with this one.  Finally, the film has some solid kills and great practical effects.  We get a head explosion and the aftermath along with some more kills.  The film, believe it or not, is not a blood bath.  Instead, it milks the few kills we get but offers up a lot of character.  Overall, Carnage Park is a solid entry for indie horror.  It has some tension, great kills, and a story with heart.  It is well worth the watch so check it out.