Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Applecart (2015)

Applecart (2015)
directed by:  Dustin Mills
starring:  Brandon Salkil, Erin Ryan, Dave Parker, Haley Jay Madison, Allison Eagan, Jodi Durian, Josh Miller
format:  Online Screener
tagline:  "We All Wear Masks"

(out of 5)

The Movie:  Wow.  One word.  Applecart just blew me away.  Much like Hornet's Sting and the Hell It Caused.  Where does Dustin Mills summon this creativity?  This movie knocked it not only out of the park but the damn ball landed in another park across state lines.  We have four short stories all verbally silent with an interesting array of sounds and music thrown about.  Often times opposite of what you think it should be.  The movie begins with a woman masturbating.  Dustin pulls erotic scenes such as this out of a hat for me.  Meaning it's kind of magic because normally I'm just bored with this stuff.  No not inappropriate, very appropriate depending on the movie but I just do not find a lot of sex and erotica interesting.  Dustin blows that out of my mind.  The shots he creates are spectacular and supersedes the average "boring" sex scenes with pure artistic talent on his behalf and those of his actors.   The four short stories after our short introduction are "The Sleepover", "The Caretaker", "Dad", and "Let Me Show You Something".  All four touch upon abuse of some kind.  Taboo subjects such as incest, abortion, child abuse, abuse of the elderly, rape, this is not a movie for your grandmother! 
The Gore:  Well we have some blood.  Bit of gore kind of.  Not super needed here.  Not really looking for it much.  Dustin does his fair share with stuff like Her Name Was Torment.  This one is just a bit different.
The Acting:  The acting...hmmmm.  My hesitation is not because I have to think about who did a good job and who was the weakest link.  It reflects the challenge these young actors had performing not only without a voice, but without a face.  Facial expression tells a story, sometimes better than words.  In this film "We All Wear Masks" so other than eye expressions...which it had there were not a lot of ways for them to act out their emotions per the norm.  All of them had to dig deep and perform in a manner none I'm sure were used to.  There was no weakest link.  The whole damn cast simply said, "Challenge Accepted" and did their finest.  Yes I'm partial to this group but see for yourself because their really is nothing like it and these actors really pulled together and made it so.
The Script:  Well in a speechless film dialogue falls but body and hand movements speaks loud here.  Each story covers a treasure chest of perverse subjects and nails them perfectly.  I will not go into spoilers here this kind of movie requires a fresh open mind.  And I'm sure a lot will bash down on it for being too weird, too this, too that and I say fuck you don't watch anymore Dustin Mills movies because this is Dustin's world.  Reflections of what is inside all of us and not ashamed.  Bravo once again Mr. Mills, and bravo to Allison, Dave, Haley, Erin, Josh, Joni, and Brandon! 

A Measure of the Sin (2013)

A Measure of the Sin (2013)
directed by:  Jeff Wedding
starring:  Katie Groshong, Starina Johnson, Stephen Jackson, Dale Rainy, Allyce Wix
format:  NTSC:  Region 1
(out of 5)

The Movie:  Arthouse.  Horror.  Dark Surreal Erotica.  An atmosphere of psychotic control and sinister mental abuse.  The Man...played by Stephen Jackson has several slaves in his home.  Women and their babies unknown to the outside world and the outside world unknown to them.  Keeping them under his control with their ignorance.  One named Meredith played by the talented Katie Groshong fights with her psyche after her mother dies and decides to chance escape  First she must face the fear of what's beyond.  This film is thought provoking on so many levels.  Telling the sad story of these women through the narration of Meredith who not only fears The Man but also a mysterious bear that attacks her at night in her bedroom.  This movie reminded me a lot of Jean Rollin's early movies...one of my all time favorite directors.  I definitely consider this a horror film.  Horror is about perspective...here you go. 

The Acting:  Perfect.  Katie Groshong nails it with her expressions, mannerisms, and sheer body movement alone.  Stephen Jackson came across as the rough mind-controlling brute he needed to be.  Every member of this cast did their job I was never once brought out of the film because of anything not on point acting wise.  Something very needed in a film like this one. 

The Gore:  None.  Little blood.  Not necessary here.  While I am a gorehound and love nothing better than throwing a good amount of blood and guts around it is not and should not be necessary for every film. 

The Script:  Great dialogue in this film.  The narration was superb.  Jeff Wedding deserves every bit of respect he's received on this film.  The Man literally breaks the spirits of these women and uses their children against them.  "You don't eat you don't live, you don't eat the baby doesn't live."  Katie Groshong's narration as Meredith throws out a mixture of desperation, sorrow, and chaos.  "Survival has become my mantra." 

The Rating:  Yeah 5 Bloody Hand Prints.  The movie stuck with me for days.  Nothing more to be said there.  When a film takes days to get out of your head it's done it's job.  A film like this is not so easy to forget.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Don't Go in the Woods...Alone

Director - James Bryan (Sex Aliens, Lady Street Fighter)
Starring - Jack McClelland, Mary Gail Artz, and James P. Hayden
Release Date - 1981
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "Everyone has nightmares about the ugliest ways to die"
Format - Blu-Ray (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     Horror fans the world over love slashers and it is for this reason that horror icons Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees is the face of the genre.  Everyone in and out of the genre know who these two are and they helped catapult the sub-genre to new heights.  Slashers ruled the late 70s and 80s and 1981 was a very fruitful year for the sub-genre.  The year 1981 saw the release of so many slasher classics like Final Exam, Funhouse, The Burning, Graduation Day, Halloween II, Happy Birthday to Me, and the iconic Friday the 13th Part II.  Among all the slashers released that year, one often goes unmentioned.  That film is Don't Go in the Woods...Alone.  The film was recently released on a blu/DVD combo by the folks over at Vinegar Syndrome who were nice enough to hook me up with a review copy.
     The film follows a group of campers as they adventure through the woods on an outdoor adventure.  However, things do not go according to plan when they run into a homicidal recluse with bloodlust in his eyes.  He kills everyone but two people and they are able to escape his clutches.  The local authorities are notified and send out a search party but the one survivor has a grudge with the killer and goes out on his own.  His is able to track the killer recluse down and soon his girlfriend finds him and the two get a little country justice on his ass.
     Slashers come in different flavors ranging from high school slumber parties, sorority house mayhem, to my favorite of the all, camping/in the woods.  Most of these films followed a pretty simple story line that I have mentioned time and time again.  These films follow a killer, usually masked, as they stalk and kill.  The film usually ends with the reveal of the killer and we learn that those that have died had wronged them in some horrible way.  Don't Go in the Wood...Alone does not go that conventional route and gives the viewer a slasher film that does not follow the standard formula.  The acting in this film is your typical slasher fair.  They over act the situation and make is almost impossible to sympathize for them.  As bad as it is, it is still the same brand of acting that was seen in almost every other slasher in the early 80s and I fucking love it.  The story for this one is a different take on what we have come to expect from a slasher of that time.  Instead of it following a masked killer killing for revenge, we are given an uncivilized man murdering because he does not know better.  This is a more brutal slasher in a sense of story where the killer kills not because he was wronged but because he just wants to.  I really liked the thought of that but it just makes the story feel week and half-assed.  The back story made the film come full circle and without it the film just feels flat.  The film also has several kill scenes that are a bit of a let down.  Slashers are fun to watch because they have a simple story and fun kills.  Sadly, this film has very weak kills with little to none special effects.  Finally, this release some solid special features that make it a solid collector's piece.  We get commentary with the director, commentary with the director, Mary Gail Arts, and others, commentary with The Hysteria Continues, cast and crew featurette, autograph signing party, TV promo compilation, theatrical trailer, production still gallery, press and art gallery, and script gallery.  With all that we are also given a great 2k film transfer that looks phenomenal and the cover of the release is the film's original poster.  Overall, the Vin Syn release of Don't Go in the Woods...Alone is a great addition to any slasher fan's collection.  It has great picture quality, some great special features, and great artwork to accompany a solid slasher.  Check it out and add it to your collection now!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Not Well

Director - Luke Jaden (King Ripple)
Starring - Erin Cummings (Spartacus: War of the Damned), Dan John Miller (Leatherheads), and Rob Zabrecky (CSI: NY)
Release Date - 2015
Genre - Horror
Format - Streaming (Online Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     Horror Society has opened a lot of doors for me over the last two years and one of the biggest perks for writing for the site is checking out movies before they are released.  I get emails and messages daily by filmmakers, actors, actresses, producers, and distributors asking me to check out their work.  This is something truly amazing and an honor for any horror fan.  Sadly, not all these films I am asked to review are different or unique.  Most are similar to other films or follow the same story.  It is rare for me to read the press release and wonder how they pulled that off on camera.  Several weeks back director Luke Jaden sent me news about his short film Not Well.  The film was sad to be a haunted house tale that actually follows what a house does when no one is in it.  This had me thinking and I had to check it out!
     The film follows a real estate agent who is trying to clean up a dilapidated house before the owner and her two kids show up.  As he is cleaning the home he visits the upstairs bathroom where he is attacked by a beast and tossed in a bathtub full of muck where he drowns.  Not long after that the family arrives to check out their new home unaware that the home is housing something dark and sinister.  

     What can I say about shorts that I haven't already said in almost all my other short reviews?  I love how shorts have the power to tell a story in a short period of time eliminating the need to bore the viewer with unnecessary dialogue and boring scenes.  However, that only works if the filmmakers make good use of their time.  Not Well does just that but delivers more than just story.  The acting in this film is solid even though it consists of a small cast totally just 5 if you include the bathroom beast.  The entire cast is only on screen a short period of time and they waste none of it establishing their characters.  The story for this one is simple and almost non-existent.  The film is about a haunted house and what goes on when no one is in it followed by the arrival of the new owners.  This is a great story and definitely goes outside the box.  The story is mostly told through beautifully shot gothic images before following it up with some seriously macabre scenes of gore.  Finally, the film does not have any real on screen kills but it has some great fucking gore and amazing practical effects.  The beast also looks amazing even though it is only in the film for a few seconds.  Overall, Not Well is a powerful short that deserves the feature length treatment.  Check it out when it becomes available!  


Director - Jeremy Stanford (Watchers III)
Starring - Alan Thicke (Sperm Donor), Molly Cheek (Spider-Man 2), and Billy Corben (Cocaine Cowboys)
Release Date - 1993
Genre - Horror/Children's
Tagline - "She's Mean, She's green.  She's your new mom!"
Format - DVD (Personal Collection)

Rating (out of 5):
     Horror is really an amazing genre when you sit back and think about all the possibilities that the viewer has to watch.  We have so many films that offer up buckets of blood and gore with little story and substance.  We also have tons and tons of horror flicks that rely on comedy to entertain.  However, one small niche of horror that often goes unnoticed is the children's horror.  These are the horror films that are meant for children and those young at heart.  Some classic children's horror films are Monster Squad, Ernest Scared Stupid, The Gate, and so many others.  I am always on the lookout for other films that take me back to a time where I was curious about horror but I was just a little too yellow to actually watch the ones aimed towards adults.  Last year I was browsing Amazon.com when I came across the film StepMonster starring Alan Thicke.  The film looked cheesy as hell and that convinced me to check it out.  I went ahead and ordered it and soon forgot about it until recently found it while organizing my collection.    
     The film begins with a family that are enjoying a bit of a working vacation out in the woods when Todd's mother goes missing.  We jump forward and Todd's father is about to remarry and his new bride is the woman he was working for in the woods when his mother went missing.  They are now living with Todd's grandparents and once his father's soon-to-be-wife moves in weird things start happening around the neighborhood.  Not long after her arrival dogs go missing followed by late night joggers and other neighbors.  It doesn't take long for the comic obsessed boy to figure out that his stepmother is actually a tropopkin,  He enlists his babysitter, her boyfriend, and his grandfather to kill the beast before she shacks up with his dad for good and the two conceive and ancient beast on their wedding night.
     There is just something so innocent and charming about a horror film made for children.  I have always had a fondness for these kind of films because these were the kind of flicks I grew up on and they hold a sense of nostalgia for me.  However, they can often be appreciated by horror fans for so many other reasons.  The acting in this one is spot on for a children's flick.  The characters are all innocent and easily believable with Alan Thicke once again throwing down that perfect father persona that he is know for during his Growing Pains years.  The remainder of the cast is spot on as well but one thing bothered me.  I am a huge fan of Corey Feldman and this film gave him very little screen time.  This was a big let down.  The story for this one is one we have seen before especially in a children's tale.  The story of a mother being abducted by a monster so the beast could win the love of dad is a story going all the way back to ancient time.  Nothing new about it but it has never been adapted into a children's horror film and it works so well.  I also like how it gives us an unusual creature instead of going the coventional route.  Finally, the film skips on the on screen kills for obvious reasons but we are still given some great practical effects and the occasional cheesy, early 90s visual effect.  The beast looks amazing and we even get the trademark Corman puppet that looks decent as well.  Overall, StepMonster is a overlooked classic that should be placed in any horror fan's collection.  If you love cheesy monster movies then this one is for you!

Friday, March 27, 2015


release: 2015
written, directed, filmed, and edited by: Dustin Wayde Mills
starring: Allison Egan, Haley Jay Madison, Dave Parker, Joni Durian, Brandon Salkil, Erin R Ryan, Josh Miller
format: online screener

trailer: https://vimeo.com/111583631


Applecart is a dark and beautiful journey into the grim side of humanity and sexuality.  This film is done completely in black and white, and while there is no dialog, there are sound effects and music. All actors wear blank masks which have been decorated to suit their characters.  The actors must rely on their body language, gestures, and eyes to tell their tales.  They all do an excellent job with this material.

There are 4 tasty apples to sample.  I'll give a quick breakdown of these without too many spoilers.

SLEEPOVER:  Dad seems to have an unhealthy interest in his Daughter, and Mom doesn't approve. Daughter gets a visit from her Special Friend who's going to have a sleepover.  Dad seems preoccupied with Daughter and Special Friend.  All turn in for the night.  Mother is in the mood for some lovin' but Dad has other ideas.

CARETAKER:  Pops Sr and Pops Jr just chilling.  Pops Sr is in a wheelchair.  Nurse shows up and Pops Jr goes leaves him in what he believes are good hands.  We soon find out that Nurse isn't quite the loving Caretaker she's believed to be.

DAD: Bible-thumping Dad abuses his Daughter.  He tries to control her and punishes her cruelly for enjoying herself.  The Beau shows up when Dad is gone and gives Daughter intimacy.  Things get difficult because Daughter becomes pregnant.

LET ME SHOW YOU SOMETHING: Two worker dudes have an obsession for their female co-worker.  One gets the guts to ask her out but she's not interested.  Later in the week the two workers get together for some beer and cards.  It turns out that one worker has a special surprise for the other.

Dustin Mills shows here that he is a true artist.  He paints his canvas only in shades of gray, and he's certainly not limited to just fifty of them.  Mr. Mills wrote, directed, filmed, and edited his masterpiece. I've said previously that his film THE HORNET'S STING AND THE HELL ITS CAUSED was artistic sleaze.  While APPLECART is full of nudity and sexual situations, and highly artistic, I can't say that it felt sleazy at all.  The sexual content stirs your emotions in different ways, as I'm sure Dustin intended. He knows exactly what he's doing, and really shines with this film.
APPLECART is absolutely brilliant in that the stories unfold right before you so effectively.  Static, music, and "audience participation" keep the tone alive.  I would go so far as to say that in my opinion, this is Dustin's best work.  I have watched all of his films and this is the most unique.  Its very sexual and story driven, unconventional, artistic, stylish, and thoroughly enjoyable.  I watched it twice before writing this.

In some less serious commentary, this could be called Fapplecart.  There is masturbation in every story.  Even the intro features a voluptuous masked female masturbating.  While this isn't a porno, some of the content is arousing and provocative, even though its not explicit.  Well, there's explicit dick-jerking, but sadly we are not treated to any labia.  The glimpses of mound and plentiful bush are certainly appreciated, though.

All said and done, if you are the least bit curious, I have to highly recommend you check APPLECART out.  You can purchase at the link below: