Thursday, December 31, 2015

Dead Girls

Director(s) - Neal Fischer (Moment) and Del Harvey (Blood Kin)
Starring - Jessica Galang (Can You Hear Me Now), Joseph Luis Caballero (The Dark Knight), and Rebecca Mullins (Divergent)
Release Date - 2014
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "Revenge never looked so good" and "Revenge is a bitch"
Format - DVD (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     I love collecting movies.  I have collected movies since I was little when I would go out monthly to get the newest release of Goosebumps on VHS along with any other film that was released and caught my eye.  I soon moved from VHS to DVD around 1999 and never looked back.  I try to get any and every horror film I can but that is a huge task.  So many great indie horror flicks are released with little to no announcement before hand and they rarely find their ways into FYE, Best Buy, Wal-Mart, and Target.  Lucky for me, I became friends with several indie distribution companies and one of which is Brain Damage/Midnight Releasing.  Not long ago Brain Damage Films sent me the anthology film Dead Girls to check out.  Thanks guys for sending this one my way.
      The film follows a young woman running through the woods from someone looking to do her harm.  She finds a home and enters where she finds three items that brings about three stories following women suffering.  The first tells the story about a young woman at a house party with her boyfriend when he catches him flirting.  She becomes infuriated and finds a man doing tattoos and has him give her one on her back.  He agrees and designs something for her and throws it on her back.  When she is done she goes into the basement and her boyfriend soon follows.  He is extremely drunk and forces himself on her against her will.  They scuffle and she hits her head on the wall killing her instantly.  Him and a friend puts her body in an old fridge and takes her under a bridge and tosses it out.  However, this is not the end of her.  She soon returns and seeks revenge.  The second tale follows an underclassmen pledging a sorority only to perish at the hands of a hazing ritual gone bad.  Soon she returns and kills those sorority sisters that ended her life prematurely.  The third and final tale follows a former nun who has turned to sex to earn her money.  She has been hitting the streets in her old nun uniform which has pissed off another prostitute.  She hires someone to take care of her but she refuses to stay dead.
     I've said it before and I'll say it until the day I die but you have to have a solid story that ties the segments together in a good anthology.  Creepshow had the comic angle and the sequel used the Creep very well.  Tales from the Crypt had the Crypt Keeper.  Dead Girls did a great job with establishing the wrap around story with the young girl searching the old home.  This was great and set the tone for the film.  The acting in this one was surprisingly well done.  Each segment really pulled the cast together and delivered some solid performances.  The entire cast is on the same page and no star shines brighter than the other.  Now, the stories for this one is an interesting concept featuring stories that follow young women who are murdered and return to kill those that done them wrong.  I enjoyed the concept the film tried to put together but it is a one trick pony so to speak.  The stories are all the same just taking place in a different back drop and the girls dying a different way.  Each tale is still fun but the stories lack originality which does take away from the overall film.  Finally, the film has several on screen kills.  These kills are weak and offer very little in the way of entertainment.  The practical effects are very weak which is why the kills are not that spectacular.  Overall, Dead Girls is an entertaining film.  The stories are the highlight of the film.  Sadly, they keep repeating themselves like a broken record.  This film is flawed but is still worth a late night watch.  Check it out.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Vampire Hunter D

Director - Toyoo Ashida (Fist of the North Star)
Starring - Kaneto Shiozawa (Dragon Ball), Michie Tomizawa (Black Lagoon), and Seizo Kato (Bartender)
Release Date - 1985
Genre - Horror
Format - BluRay (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     I know a lot of people who get to love anime.  I love cartoons from my youth along with several cartoons aimed towards adults that can mostly be found on Adult Swim but anime is just not my thing.  I've tried to like it.  Hell, I bought a few animes on DVD before hoping I would like them but I could not find it in me to enjoy them.  There is still several more out there I want to try before I write off anime for good but for the most part I am not a fan.  With that being said, I fucking love the 1985 anime movie Vampire Hunter D.  The film is based on the stories with the same name and they are brilliantly written.  I read several of the books before giving the film a chance.  I found the movie pretty cheap several years ago when I was in high school on DVD at Wal-Mart and picked it up.  I watched it several times over the next few days and absolutely loved it.  However, while I was away at college my sister stole it, along with several other films, and sold them for I assume is drug money.  Since then that film on DVD goes up for around $70 which is something I can not bring myself to pay just for one DVD.  Lucky for me, the film was recently released on blu.  I reached out and they were kind enough to send me a review copy of this magnificent film.  Thank you!
     The year is 12,090 AD and the world is in total darkness.  The world forever changed after a nuclear war.  Now vampires, known as the Nobility, rule the world.  After the fall of man, the Nobility scientifically engineered creatures from myth and they roam the land.  Now, the small pockets of man have to fight off werewolves, mutants, dragons, and the Nobility.  A young girl is hunting a dragon far from home when one of the Nobility, Count Magnus Lee, feeds on her and begins the ritual of making her his bride.  He has to feed on her again in order to seal the deal so she searches for a vampire hunter to kill Lee before she becomes his forever.  She finds a young man riding a cyborg horse on the road one day.  She attempts to persuade him into helping her but her pleas fall on deaf ears.  She then attacks him with her whip.  She gets him right where she wants him but it doesn't last.  He is able to break free easily.  She then pleas one last time and he discovers she suffers from the vampire's kiss.  He agrees to help her and they return to her house where he meets her little brother.  That night Count Lee sends some mutants and his daughter to get his future wife.  He fights them off and they retreat.  The following day D, the vampire hunter, visits Count Lee's castle but things don't work out for D and he is left for dead. Meanwhile, the young girl is taken from her home and brought to Lee's castle for the wedding.  D heals quickly and returns to the castle to save the girl and kill Lee and reveals that he is the son of Dracula.
     Normal anime is just a little too far out there for me to really enjoy.  Too much imagination is needed for most of these animes to work and I just don't have the imagination for it to work on me.  With that being said, Vampire Hunter D works for me because the story is very direct.  The voice acting in this one is obviously not the original voice cast due to the film being Japanese in origin.  The dubbing of this film matches the movement of the animation to a decent bit but their tones are way off.  When the scene is intense and calls for the character to be agitated, angry, or excited, the voice actor does not add that to their dialogue which ruins the impact of the scene itself.  The story for this one is fantastic.  This was one of the few cases that I actually read the book before seeing the film and I have to say that the film followed the book closely.  The story literally has everything.  We have vampires, dragons, werewolves, dhampires, giants, and so many more.  The story takes these horror elements and tosses it into one hell of a fantasy adventure that is fun for adults and children alike.  Finally, the animation is very dated but the transfer looks great and that makes the animation look a little better.  You can still tell that the film was made in the 80s.  There is also some high-octane kills that follow the story.  Some are fun and very graphic while others are simple and pertaining to the story.  Overall, Vampire Hunter D is a film I wish I would have saw earlier in my life.  The film is a wet dream for horror fans and features a very rich story full of things that go bump in the night.  If you have never seen this film then I highly suggest you seek it out regardless if you like anime.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Lily Grace: A Witch Story

Director - Wes Miller (Prayer Never Fails)
Starring - Scott Seegmiller (The Ceremony), James Palmer (The Life and Death Experiences of Young Beth Byrd), and Greg Travis (Halloween II)
Release Date - 2015
Genre - Horror/Crime
Tagline - "When she knocks, don't answer"
Format - DVD (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     I have always found any film centered around witches to be fascinating.  Since a young age I was fascinated with witches and the Salem witch trials.  Something about women in league with Satan putting curses and hexes on townsfolk really caught my attention.  I guess I had the film Hocus Pocus to thank for that where it was just released around that time.  Sadly, we never get that many films involving witches.  A few weeks ago I received the film Lily Grace: A Witch Story to check out.  I was pretty excited to check this one out because it is rare for me to get a witch film to check out.  I tossed it on my shelf and as soon as I had the time to check it out I tossed it in without hesitation.  
     The film follows a young man who visits his father's home after his death.  He is going through his things when he receives a strange visit from a woman who he believes to be a witch and suspects that she is involved in his death.  He stays in his father's home to investigate her connection to his demise when he crosses paths with another young man who is looking for a purse that is buried on the property.  His presence brings about three more men looking for him which leads to a fight for survival.
     I love when a story that focuses on witches gives the viewer some portions of the witch's back story along with connections to Salem and the witch trials.  Films like the Lords of Salem, Hocus Pocus, Witch's Brew, Witchfinder General, and The Witches are just a few that do so in one way or another.  Sadly, Lily Grace: A Witch Story did none of that and the witch story we got could have easily been replaced with a ghost tale.  The acting in this one is actually decent considering the story they had before them.  Most of the cast has a hard time trying to find the correct emotions they need for the scene but that could be blames on how confusing the story actually is.  The story for this one is one of the most confusing watches I have ever seen on film.  The film would have been a pretty solid crime drama following the home invasion sub-genre but chose to add the witch elements to the film which was completely out of place.  The film needed to be edited heavily and re-wrote in order to make this one worth watching.  Finally, those of you looking for great kills and amazing gore will be disappointed.  The film virtually has no kills and those looking for deaths at the hands of a witch will surely be upset.  Overall, Lily Grace: A Witch Story is a very disappointing piece of film.  The film is mostly set up like a crime drama with a group of thugs looking for one of their own but tosses in elements of horror with the witch angle and completely ruins the flow of the film.  This is one I can not recommend.  

Monday, December 28, 2015

The Lurking

Director - Rob Michels (Hole in the Wall)
Starring - Jason Phelps, Shayne White, and Samantha Haag
Release Date - 2015
Genre - Horror
Format - Streaming (Online Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     There was a time in the early 90s that horror fans believed that the slasher sub-genre had died.  The slashers then re-emerged in the mid 90s as a mockery of itself with a more self-aware story line that poked fun at the slashers of the golden age.  What the main stream horror fans didn't know was that slashers never left.  Studios no longer wanted to back theatrical releases and filmmakers turned to video to release their slashers resulting in the S.O.V. movement that is cherished to this very day with several films still being released that try to capture what made these films so enjoyable.  A few nights back director Rob Michels reached out to me to check out his new slasher The Lurking.  I knew of Michels but had never seen his work before which is sad considering how much praise his segment in Hole in the Wall gets from fans and critics.  I jumped at the chance to check out this no budget slasher.
     The film follows two stoners who head out into the woods for a little drugging and drinking.  While in the woods they encounter several people.  Some fishing, others jogging, some are looking to show off their dick and get high.  However, the people they encounter soon meet their demise at the hands of an unseen evil that is stalking the foliage.  The two stoners are unaware at all the carnage unfolding around them and continue to party it up until that evil set their sights on the two.

     Shot on video, or S.O.V. horror, was known for being low budget but nothing was off limits.  Anything could go and it usually did.  The Lurking is another low budget slasher that tries very hard to capture that look and feel of a S.O.V. horror flick and for the most part it it succeeds.  The acting in this one is surprisingly well down considering how the film was shot.  Most of the film is two men sitting around getting fucked up and these two gentleman pull that off flawlessly.  With that being said, when it came to interact with one another and other cast members these two did a great job as well.  The remainder of the cast did a decent job moving the story along but these two leads were great and I can see why they were cast.  The story for this one is nothing we haven't seen before.  The film follows people in the woods doing things that are morally corrupt and are then murdered.  However, most of these slashers that followed people getting murdered in the woods never offered up a pair of stoners as entertaining as these two.  The story is easily Fubar meets Friday the 13th and I love that.  Finally, the film has several on screen kills.  The kills use gags that were common among 80s slashers.  The kills were fun because of this but they were nothing we haven't seen before.  The practical effects we get for these kills are very minimal and are just enough to pull the kill off.  Sadly, this was a bit of a disappointment for me.  I would have loved to see some kills in line with a Tim Ritter flicker.  Overall, The Lurking is a great slasher for the fans of Cheech and Chong.  Fans of stoner comedies and S.O.V. will love this one.  Check it out just don't expect a bloodbath.

Campground: The Requel (2015)

Campground:  The Requel (2015)
directed by:  Roman Jossart
starring:  Roman Jossart, Jack Norman, Brandon Prewitt, Anna Love, Casey Weber, Marla Van Lanen, Ayse Howard, Cliff Scantland, V.A. Bennett, Ty Binegar, Andrew Berman, Rachel Woods, Korey Dawson, Laura Wahler, Clay Orem, Kayla Stone, Kelly Shroder, Danielle Driscoll, Brady Crank, Paul Arnone, Bryce Slabinski, Ken Morgan, Heather Lynn Coulson,
format:  online screener

(out of 5)
The Movie:  As a fan of Studio 605 and the original Campground film I have to say I'm very impressed with the growth these guys have undergone since I began following them.  Campground had it's problems and there were a few but overall the energy and hard work done won me over and continues to do so being that it has become a staple movie for me.  Each flick 605 puts out has taken another step in what will hopefully be a long independent movie career for these guys.  So far tackling the slasher sub-genre with Campground and The Woods Within I as a fan cannot wait to see what else these guys have in their heads for the future of 605 cinema.  The Requel fixed most of the issues with the original although the first still holds a special spot for me I very much enjoyed more Varsin mayhem.   This one is much darker than the original and that for me is always better. 
The Script:  Minus a few oddly placed attempts at racial humor I loved this script.  Kind of goes over the events of the first film as a sort of campfire story and then more back story as well as the "sequel" portion towards the end.  Not sure if I can really say this has ever been done before.  I mean Evil Dead 2 is a remake of the first, no matter what anyone says ha ha, but it wasn't really a part 2 so it really cannot count in being a "requel".  Some of the dialogue was a bit hokey but overall much better in this one.  Something lacking in the last Campground that in my opinion was corrected for the most part.  What impressed me the most was the smooth transition of the story-line being that it covered the past and the present.  This is something I was a little apprehensive about when Roman told me about his idea for a new Campground movie.  But he came through with flying colors.
The Acting:  The actors seemed more prepared in this one.  If memory serves me correctly the last movie had problems with actors quitting at the last moment.  Of course if I recall Roman wasn't supposed to be in the original.  His presence in the first one was essential as far as I'm concerned, he makes me laugh out loud every time I watch it so I'm kind of glad some of it happened.  I can't say every actor in the film was good but I will say it was a vast improvement over the last.   Marla Van Lanen was the shining star in this one.  Love the way this woman acts, she played Varsin's evil and crazy mother very well.  At moments it seemed as if she was lost in her own head and not sure if that was intential or not but it served the insanity of the character well.  Very creepy.  And have to mention Jack Norman here.  While playing a giant in a mask slicing up young people doesn't always require a lot of personality I think Jack came through with fire for the part of Charlie Varsin.  Menacing and just plain scary Jack put me in close mind to Kane Hodder and really I can't emphasize that enough he was absolutely perfect.
The Shots:  And here we have the largest improvement of the Requel, the cinematography.  I don't know if Kirk Novit who is listed as the cinematographer is responsible or Roman himself but the shooting was vastly different and improved this time.  Charlie sits in his room, a broken mirror shot to cover his face, then Charlie stalks his prey outside a tent and we get a horrific view of his shadow from inside.  Bravo to the both of you. 
The Gore/Fx:  All practical fx here.  While some don't appreciate that or try and pretend it shouldn't matter it most certainly does to those of us who remember what fx were like before computers.  I don't hate cgi but I very much appreciate and enjoy seeing movies nowadays without it.  Rubber dummies always look better to me than what usually looks like a video game effect.  Blood most especially and the blood in this one flowed freely.  Love Charlie's mask.  Perfect design for this kind of film and quite unique unlike the white mask fad that seems to run rampant in the indie slasher genre.  Excellent job there.
The Music:  There is beginning scene as sort of an introduction where the score is very dark and haunting.  Loved the musical choices here.  Not everyone pays attention to scores or soundtracks while watching but I do and a good musical score really sets the tone for the film.
The Rating:  4 out of 5 Bloody Handprints and Roman deserves it.  Well done.  Really set the bar higher for Studio 605's next feature. 


Saturday, December 26, 2015


Director - Luke Ramer (The White Faced Man, Under the Rainbow)
Starring - Chris Piatt, Breanna Principato, and Wendy Ramer
Release Date - 2015
Genre - Horror/Thriller
Format - Streaming (Online Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     It is so easy for the horror scene to become stale.  A filmmaker sees a horror flick that does well and wants to duplicate that film's success.  People tend to be lazy and the same can be said about directors.  They want to make a quick buck and follow fads.  I know this is something shitty to say about someone who works hard at something that can be labeled as art but it is the hard truth.  With that being said, not all filmmakers are lazy or try to rehash a popular story to make a profit.  However, that is not all directors.  Some filmmakers offer up some rather unique films that make you think.  One such director is Luke Ramer who brought us The White Faced Man and Under the Rainbow.  He recently reached out to me about a a new short titled deadbeat.  I jumped at the chance to check out another Ramer film.  Thanks Luke for reaching out to me.
     The film begins with a young man sitting with a beautiful young woman playing guitar.  He sings her a song and before you know it her panties hit the floor.  He has his way with her and the two fall asleep.  Sometime later she awakes to him arguing with someone outside of the bedroom.  She leaves the room to find him having words with a woman who reveals that she had a child with him and he refuses to do the right thing by her and the baby.  The girl becomes disgusted with the man and leaves.  Several months go by and she pays him a visit to inform him that she is pregnant with his child.  He refuses to accept responsibility for his actions. She gently rubs his belly and leaves.  He soon falls ill and emotional.  His baby's mother is moving out of the state soon and taking his daughter with her and this puts him in a deep depression.  His health starts to deteriorate and soon finds himself in his bed as he becomes overwhelmed with pain.  Soon he brings life into this world in an unexpected way.
     Director Luke Ramer is a unique filmmaker.  Ramer's films are always unconventional movies with horror elements scattered throughout.  The films are never straight forward horror but bold stories that are surprisingly fun.  deadbeat is no different.  The acting in this one is typical of most indie films.  The cast tries their best and their hearts are in the right place but the experience is just not there.  The story for this one is wild and one of the strangest I have seen in a short.  We have seen so many films that follow an asshole who gets what he deserves.  This film is no different.  It is slow to the buildup but once the viewer realizes what is going on it becomes a very interesting film that is impossible to look away from.  Finally, those of you looking for blood and guts will be very disappointed.  However, if you want to see a fucked up death that is unlike any other horror film before it then look no further.  The film only has the one death but it is fucking amazing and so is the practical effects for it.  Overall, deadbeat is a breath of fresh air and originality in a world full of Walking Dead rip offs.  The film is intriguing and worth every minute.  Check it out.