Monday, December 30, 2013

Gallery of Fear

Director(s) - Alan Rowe Kelly (Tales of Poe) and Anthony G. Sumner (Slices of Life)
Starring - Debbie Rochon (Exhumed, The Nightmare Box), Benzy (River of Darkness), and Raine Brown (Psycho Street)
Release Date - 2013
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "Four tales of terror and suspense"
Format - Streaming (Online Screener)

Rating (out of 5):

      Before I started writing for Horror Society my circle of friends that liked horror was extremely small.  Hell, most of the people I called my friends didn't really like horror so joining Horror Society brought about new opportunities to talk to people who share the same love.  A few months back I became Facebook friends with one of the biggest indie horror fans I have ever been lucky enough to meet.  After a few conversations I asked him if he knew of any films I needed to see and he gave me a big ass list of films to check out.  Among those films was the anthology flick Gallery of Fear directed by Alan Rowe Kelly and Anthony G. Sumner.  I did a little digging and found the Facebook page for the film where I reached out to them.  They were nice enough to send me a link for an online screener and for that I thank you guys.
     The film consists of 3 tales held together by one main story.  The first story, By Her Hand, She Draws You Down, follows a street artist who draws portraits of people on the boardwalk. However, things are not that simple.  When she completes her drawing using a special utensil she is then able to suck out their life force killing them instantly.  This brings about a moral conflict between her and her husband.  The second tale, Down the Drain, follows a socially awkward teacher who does not get the respect he deserves from the world around him.  His ex-wife is shitty to him, his students taunt and harass him, and now he has lost his job.  Thing are not as gloomy as they may seem for him when he meets a bloodthirsty creature who has taken a liking to him.  He uses his new found friend as a way to get back at those that done him wrong.  The third tale, A Far Cry from Home, follows an unconventional couple as they stop at a small shop while on a road trip where shit hits the fan.  The couple crosses paths with a small group of religious fanatics who kill in according to their twisted views of the bible.  Finally, the wrap around story, Critic's Choice, follows an art critic who has been abandoned at a gothic style mansion.  She uncovers various pieces of art to reveal the stories underneath.
     I love when I come across an anthology that really gets the true essence of what it means to be an anthology film.  It takes a lot to make a good anthology but it is possible to do.  The best anthologies have segments that have nothing to do with each other that are held together by one story serving as a bookend to hold it all together. Prime examples of this is Creepshow and the original Tales from the Crypt movie.  These films are able to create an atmosphere about themselves that make the viewer feel like they were preparing for story time instead of movie time.  If an anthology can tell me a story instead of forcing me to watch a movie then it is safe to say it did it's job and that is exactly what Gallery of Fear did.  This film really did put me in the same mindset as so many other classic anthology films of the past did.  Sure, some of the stories were not on the same level as others but that is to be expected with any anthology and this one is no exception.  The acting throughout the entire film is great.  Every cast member really brought all they had to the table and it shows throughout each tale.  My only complaint with the cast is Debbie Rochon did not get nearly enough screen time as I would have liked but that is just me showing favorites.  The stories in this one is well written just some unfolds better on film than others.  The wrap around story, Critic's Choice, was a great story to hold the entire film together but is was a bit on the boring side however the weakest point of the film belongs to By Her Hand, She Draws You Down.  This particular story could have easily been adapted into a Twilight Zone episode.  It was so unusual and creepy while still retaining that mysterious atmosphere that Twilight Zone was known for.  However, this tale moved at a snails pace and was a little painful to watch.  That being said, the next two tales were fucking amazing.  Down the Drain is a campy throwback to the monster movies of the 80s.  This one had a great deal of cheese and gore but it also reminded me a lot of other 80s classics.  The way in which this one was filmed reminded me a lot of Street Trash and The Stuff but mixed with the story line from the Creepshow segment, The Crate.  The final tale, A Far Cry From Home, is a fucking masterpiece.  This segment was slow at first but within a matter of minutes it goes off like a shotgun blast to the chest.  This segment packs a lot into it once the ball actually gets rolling.  We get suspense, spectacular kills, and loads of gore mixed with political and religious satire.  Finally, those looking for great on screen kills, visual effects, and practical effects will find all three here.  The visual effects are not the best I have seen but the practical effects and on screen kills are spectacular.  Overall, this is an above average anthology that has more blood and screams to satisfy the most hardcore horror fan.  I highly recommend it.

Saint Nick (2010)

(out of 5)

Saint Nick (2010)
directed:  Dick Maas
starring:  Egbert Jan Weeber, Bert LuppesCaro Lenssen, Huub Stapel, Escha Tanihatu, Jim Deddes
Format:  NTSC Region 1 Personal Collection

     Wow what a gem!  Had it not been for the so-so cliche' ending and a silly effect I could have thrown a rating of 4 out of five but all in all I loved this movie and am ashamed it took me this long to watch it.  Especially since I've owned it for over a year now.    Good ol' Saint Nick many moons ago came to Amsterdam with his minions and murdered some the town folk in a gory spree of mayhem.  But soon the murdering bishop is captured and burned alive by the townspeople who remain.  Of course he rises from the grave years later to take his revenge and we have a perfect set up for our Christmas time creature feature. 
     The fx in this movie were mostly pretty outstanding in my opinion.  The right amount of cgi mixed with the latex and prosthetics I very much enjoy.  Nothing ruins a horror film for me faster than bad cgi and in this we had only one crappy effect that was just too much for me to accept.  It's the ending effect using a speed boat full of explosives to blow up Saint Nick's pirate ship looking sea vessel.  When you see it you'll know exactly what I mean.  It didn't ruin the film for me but I can't believe they just went ahead and used that despicable scene after all the great fx I saw up until that point.  I mean you have Saint Nick on horseback jumping from roof top to roof top, slicing up victims left and right, his black peter zombies hacking everyone up and some pretty neat looking car chase scenes.  Saint Nick himself (Huub Stapel) was terrifying, loved the fx there.
   The movie follows a young group of kids and a rogue police officer named Goert Hoekstra from Amsterdam as they both hunt and are hunted by the elusive Saint Nick as he slays his way through town.  Goert (Bert Luppes) is totally obsessed with the idea that Saint Nicholas is out to kill everyone on the date of December the fifth under a full moon and of course none of his fellow police officers believe him or the kids whom are attacked by both Saint Nick and his black peter minions.  Goert is finally suspended and goes off on his own to destroy the murdering santa.  Goert teams up with Frank (Weeber) who is being chased by the police for murders he did not commit and the two head off together to put an end to the Saint once and for all.

    This movie was a lot of fun for me I love cheesy monster thrill rides and this was no bad experience.   The gore, the monsters, most of the fx were outstanding for a film of it's caliber.  I found the dialogue very believable and again for a film of this caliber that's a good thing.  I have owned the movie for almost two years and I'm really kicking myself for not watching it sooner.  The scenes of St. Nick riding his horse over the roof tops were truly spectacular and I can't wait to see it next year.   

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Dead of the Nite

Director - S.J. Evans (Tattoos: A Scarred History)
Starring - Tony Todd (Night of the Living Dead '90, Candyman), Joseph Millson (The Dead 2: India), and Cicely Tennant (Rebound)
Release Date - 2013
Genre - Horror
Tagline(s) - "It's not just ghosts that go bump in the night!" "If you think it's another 'Blair Witch'...think again!" "Death Follows Those Who Seek It" and "Paranormal Activity meets Halloween"
Format - Streaming (Online Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     Lately I have started to see horror legends from the 80s and 90s joining the cast of many new indie productions where they are getting top billing.  I am an avid fan of most of these horror legends and look forward to seeing these films.  However, once I spend my cash on them I quickly learn that, for the most part, the horror legend is only in the film for a limited time.  That brings me to the newest release from Midnight Releasing.  The film, Dead of the Nite, is a found footage/slasher film that "stars" the Candyman himself, Tony Todd.  I was never a fan of the Candyman films but I really do enjoy almost every other film I have seen him in.  So with that in mind I went ahead and gave this one a go with an open mind. 
     The film follows an online based paranormal investigative team as they prepare to investigate the allegedly haunted Jericho Manor.  The caretaker, Ruber (Todd), allowed them to do so but warned them of the consequences.  Due to the popularity of the property, Ruber has to lock them in to prevent vandals and thrill seekers from going in. The following morning the group is found brutally murdered and the police try to piece together the heinous incident by using the camera footage from the paranormal investigation.  The police suspect the caretaker and question him but the caretaker is convinced it is the ghost of Jeffery Heath.  However, when the police investigate further they uncover the truth and a web of lies!
     When I see films now-a-days with horror legends like Kane Hodder, Jeffery Combs, Linnea Quigley, Michael Berryman, and so forth I immediately think that they are only in the film as a cameo appearance and then drift off screen like a fart in the wind.  I still buy these films but I know I will be let down with their limited screen time.  This has also caused me to create a half-assed theory that horror legends of yesteryear have lost their touch.  Due to them getting limited screen time has led to them losing or forgetting their amazing talent in front of the screen.  I have seen so many films in the last few years featuring many of my favorite actors and actresses (many of which I have tattooed) where the acting was almost embarrassing to watch.  Tony Todd's role in this film was almost laughable.  His role just seems forced making him just feel out of his element and that is something I see often in these newer films.  The rest of the cast showed promise in their acting skills but did lack the experience.  The story is actually fun but it was just poorly executed.  I feel as if slashers and found footage should come together which is strange to say due to my hatred of found footage flicks.  If the film is done right it could be one hell of a flick if it follows the true slasher formula and not the self-aware post-Scream slasher formula.  Finally, those looking for amazing on screen kills and special effects will not find them here.  The film tries to use atmosphere and genuine scares to get to the audience but the film is unable to pull it off.  Overall, this is a film that does not put to good use the amazing talents of a real horror legend and falls short on almost every angle.  I can not recommend this one.

In the House of Flies

Director - Gabriel Carrer (Tales from Hell)
Starring - Lindsay Smith (The Ghost is a Lie), Ryan Kotack (The Muted), and Henry Rollins (Sons of Anarchy, Wrong Turn 2: Dead End)
Release Date - 2012
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "June 1988...Summer Was Never The Same"
Format - DVD (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     I love how tight knit the horror community is.  Whenever a new movie is announced or someone crosses paths with a film they have never heard about they often share it with other like-minded people. The same can be said about indie directors and producers.  When I come across a film that is new to me I will often reach out to them to see how I can get myself a copy to review.  Sometimes these people are open to sending me a copy to review.  However, sometimes I meet people that just don't trust me.  I don't know what happened to cause this but it does create unnecessary tension between the two of us.  Anyway, several months back (mid-summer perhaps) I found a Facebook page for the film The Legend of the Psychotic Forest Ranger and had to see it.  I reached out to the page and the director was nice enough to forward me over to Black Fawn who was releasing the film.  I emailed them and waited several months before receiving word.  They then asked for my address and that was the last I heard from them until earlier this month when In the House of Flies arrived after never receiving TLotPFR.  The DVD artwork looked fucking amazing so I had to throw it in to see what the film was all about.
     The film takes place in the summer of 1988 and follows a young couple.  The couple, Heather (Smith) and Steven (Kotack), are enjoying the perfect, carefree summer.  However, their perfect summer turns deadly when a twisted mastermind abducts the two and takes them back to his underground cellar.  The two are locked inside with limited nourishment for several days.  Their unknown abductor leaves them there for several days "playing games" with them resulting in Heather miscarrying their unborn child which pushes their sanity to the breaking point.  The two accept their fate after several days of only eating a rat and no water when they are able to break free and kill their captor.
     Normally I will start this portion of my reviews with some sort of small talk that has to do with the film and others like it but I am going to skip that portion and get straight to the film.  I was really disappointed with it.   The DVD artwork, the title, and all the quotes from other reviewers made me think I was accidentally sent an amazing flick.  However, I was far from right after just seeing 5 minutes of the film.  The film suffered from lack of originality and pacing.  The film is slow to give us something most of us have already seen before.  The acting in this one is the only thing that stopped this from being any worse than it already is.  Both cast members do a decent job at convincing the viewer that they are two teens in love but they do have a difficult time convincing the viewer that their lives are in peril.  More experience would have went a long way.  The story is just a low-budget version of Saw without spectacular traps and moral consequences.  The story could have been one really depraved film but the budget and pacing really prevented it from going the distance.  Finally, those looking for great on screen kills and amazing special effects will not find them here.  This film uses claustrophobic atmosphere and story to get to the viewers.  Overall, this film does not live up to the viewer expectations and fails to deliver what could have been one hell of a flick.


Monday, December 23, 2013


Director(s) - Vincent Gallagher and Luke Adey
Starring -  Tom Grimley and Imogen Stubbs
Release Date - 2013
Genre - Horror
Format - Streaming (Online Screener)

Rating (out of 5):

     Shorts are one of the most powerful outlets when it comes to expressing emotions or sharing ideas.  Sure, a director can make a full length film but if he has a specific message to convey it may get lost somewhere along the way.  That is one of the many benefits of making a short.  Shorts are simple and always get straight to the point regardless what the topic is.  That brings me to the short Sicko by directors Vincent Gallagher and Luke Adey.  They reached out to me via the Horror Society Facebook page and I jumped at the chance to review to it.  I also want to take a second to thank Vincent for sending me the link to the film.
     The film begins with a man wearing plastic underwear walking into a shed with a nudie mag. He rubs one out and then rubs his nut nectar into his already grimy hair.  He then proceeds to place an "X" over the young model in the magazine before taping it to his wall.  We then meet a lady of the night (prostitute) as she works the street trying to make some cash to pay for her everyday expenses.  Sadly, she crosses paths with this sex crazed maniac and he kills her.  He then proceeds to drag her body off to an area where it is presumed he will have his way with it.
     I normally try not to review shorts that run less than 15 to 20 minutes typically because they lack any real depth and story.  However, I do come across some that do have the depth and story.  Sicko has both those things and a hell of a lot more which is impressive considering how short it is.  Sicko is able to take the viewer into an extremely sick and perverse tale where morals are thrown out the window to make room for the disgusting and depraved.  It is hard to really determine the acting in this one due to the film's running time and the way the film is made.  Both cast members looked good in their roles but due to the lack of character interactions I will skip this portion of my review.  The story is so dark and taboo that I can see many viewers turning away with disgust.  Who ever wrote this story is a real horror genius or one sick bastard and I respected them either way.  Finally, those looking for great on screen kills and special effects will not find them here.  However, the viewers will find one disturbing film that goes against the mainstream to deliver one horrifying film experience.  Overall,  this film is vile and disgusting...and I fucking loved it.


All The Devil's Aliens: All The Devils Are Here

aka Devils in the Darkness
Director - Daniel Falicki (Aeon: The Last Vampyre on Earth)
Starring - David Gries (Demon Trek), Lisa Mueller (Slash Fiction), and Joseph Scott Anthony (Zombie Apocalypse: Redemption)
Release Date - 2013
Genre - Horror/Sci-Fi
Tagline - "Pray for Michael Hill...pray hard"
Format - DVD (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     The indie production companies Chemical Burn and Reality Entertainment are sister companies that send me more movies to review than I have time to actually do so.  Do not get me wrong, I appreciate every film they send me regardless if I like the film of not.  Sadly, a great deal of the films they send me end up receiving negative reviews.  As much as I appreciate all the films they send me I still have a moral obligation to my readers to be brutally honest.  With all the negative reviews their films receive I sometimes cross paths with a film that was surprisingly good but the name made me think otherwise. The film, Devils in the Darkness, is currently awaiting distribution by Chemical Burn under the alternate title All the Devil's Aliens: All the Devils are Here which is one of the worst fucking titles I have crossed paths with.  The original title is far superior and actually has something to do with the film when compared to the new title. 
     The film follows med student Michael Hill (Gries) as he takes on a job as a home health nurse to an elderly man who lives in a secluded home. He plans on using his time there to study for his big exam but this is no routine situation.  The homeowner is a bit of a recluse that is very senile.  He is often hostile and abusive to his care givers which is why they hired Michael for the position in which he is not qualified.  As the night progresses the other female nurse with him goes missing.  As time passes Michael starts to panic and searches the house from top to bottom to find her but meets the homeowner instead.  He finds him setting on a bed covered in blood which sends Michael into a frenzy.  Michael and the homeowner then take a trip into madness resulting in alien abductions, dancing cadavers, and maniacs in the basement.
     I love so many horror films but some of my favorite flicks are far from perfect.  Either they suffer from mediocre acting, a horrible score, choppy editing, poor camerawork, or slow pacing.  Out of all those problems that plague films the worst has to be pacing.  A flick could be filmed beautifully, the acting could be spectacular, and the score could be phenomenal but if the pacing is too slow then the audience will lose focus and stop watching the film.  A film relies heavily on editing and writing to help give the film a good pace that will keep the audience watching.  Pacing, other than moving to a shitty title, is my biggest complaint I have for this film.  The films first hour or so is painfully boring.  As I sat in my chair and watched this with my little notepad I was writing notes to prepare myself to give this one a negative review.  I hate to give negative reviews but I have to be honest with my write ups.  However, sometime after the one hour mark (the film is just over 2 hours) the film completely changes style and was able to save this sinking ship.  The last portion of the film is completely amazing.  This film really needed it's running time cut down and most of the first half of the film removed to make the film easier to swallow.  The acting in this one is actually pretty bad by most of the cast but Joseph Scott Anthony did an amazing job in his role.  His character's portrayal is nothing less than phenomenal and I loved every minute he was on screen.  The story is great and one of the most detailed sci-fi/horror hybrids I have seen in recent years.  However, it was just too damn long.  At least 45 minutes from the first half of the film needs removed in order to save the viewer from being bored to death.  Finally, those looking for amazing on screen kills will not find them here.  However, the film uses amazing camera work, lighting, and decent special effects to give this film a great, brooding atmosphere that many modern horror flicks tend to forget.  Overall, this slow burning sci-fi/horror medley is painful to watch at first but will really impress you if you stick with it.  I recommend this one.