Sunday, May 31, 2015

Ace Jackson is a Dead Man

Director(s) - Sean Weathers (They All Must Die!) and Aswad Issa (Scumbag Hustler)
Starring - Sean Weathers, David A. Bynoe (Troy From Brooklyn), and Waliek Crandall (Celebrity Ghost Stories)
Release Date - 2015
Genre - Exploitation
Tagline - "You're nobody till somebody kills you"
Format - Streaming (online screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     Ace Jackson is a Dead Man is a sleazy blaxploitation film from sleazy blaxploitation masters Sean Weathers and Aswad Issa.  Director Sean Weathers is a man I became familiar with a few years ago when MVD sent me two of his films to review and the following week they sent over two more copies of the same films which resulted in a giveaway on the site.  Since then he has kept me up to date with his projects with last year's film Scumbag Hustler being my favorite of his so far.  The film gives us a lot of the charm of late 60s and 70s blaxploitation films but it does not glamorize them like the films of the time did.  Instead, these films are raw and real putting the characters in the middle of many problems the black/African American population faces on a daily basis.  A few weeks ago Weathers reached out to me to check out his newest film Ace Jackson is a Dead Man.  I jumped at the idea and I want to thank Sean for giving me a chance to check it out!
     The film follows petty drug dealer Ace Jackson who has a style all his own and peddles drugs for the local drug king pin.  His boss entrusts a large amount of drugs to him to sell over the weekend.  Ace takes it back to his place that he shares with a prostitute that he delusionally believes is his girlfriend.  He leaves it in her care and hits the streets.  When he returns he discovers she is gone and now needs to come up with the money before he has a bullet put through his skull.  He hits the street to hustle where he meets an innocent, young girl who her cons into selling twat on the street corner to raise the money.  While this is going on, his boss calls his cousin and convinces him to kill Ace or his ass is next.
     Blaxploitation was a style of films made famous in the late 60s and early 70s featuring an all black cast put in over-dramatic situations and usually filled with martial arts action.  Blaxploitation is still around in one form or another but there is nothing like the style of blaxploitation films that comes from the mind of Sean Weathers.  His blaxploitation films are always sleazy and full of desperation which always shows the worst side of people in their most desperate time.  The acting in this one is actually a bit of an improvement over the previous films I had seen from Weathers.  At the front of the film is Weathers himself and he does a damn good job at playing a real piece of shit.  The remainder of the cast is able to pull together decent characters but Weathers is the star of the show and his character does not let you forget that.  The story for this one is one we have seen before and is almost the same as Scumbag Hustler where Weathers portrays another self-centered piece of shit that only cares for himself.  However, this one has a little bit more once you get below the surface but it is still not that detailed or deep.  One thing it is though is entertaining.  Finally, those looking for blood and gore clearly have no idea what a blaxploitation film is.  The film does not have any on screen kills or gore but it does deliver on an entertaining story and a talented cast.  Overall, Ace Jackson is a Dead Man is the perfect example of underground film making.  The film is sleazy as hell and has a superb cast with a great story to tell.  Though it may not be that original it still hits hard.  Check it out.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Zombies from Outer Space

Director - Martin Faltermeier (In the Name of Gore)
Starring - Judith Gorgass (Room 67), Florian Kiml (Mountain Medic), and Siegfried Foster (The Seed of Discord)
Release Date - 2012
Genre - Horror/Sci-Fi
Tagline - "They do not come in peace"
Format - DVD (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     Since the release of the AMC show The Walking Dead we have seen an abundance of zombie flicks hit the store shelves since 2010.  At first, this was a change that I absolutely loved.  When I first noticed that horror was the genre for me I quickly started watching zombie flicks with the obvious films of choice belonging to Romero's classics.   Sadly, these films started out awesome but over time it just became the same story over and over again resulting in wasted money from the zombie fan.  With that being said, whenever I come across a zombie flick that sets itself apart from the others I have to see it no matter how sick I am of the current craze.  Recently, Olive Films announced the news that they would be releasing the 2012 German zombie film Zombies from Outer Space.  I reached out to them and they were nice enough to send me a review copy.  Thanks Olive!
     The film takes place in 1947 in a small German town with a military base nearby.  A rash of murders shock the local population and the local scientists is baffled.  The only thing he can find wrong with them is some strange marks on the deceased nipples.  The murders coincide with a string of crop circles that have been popping up in fields all over the town.  The military discover a UFO while inspecting a crop circle.  They soon discover that the deaths are from the hands of zombies from outer space.
     It is rare to come across a zombie flick released after 2010 that does not follow the same story set forth in The Walking Dead.  When a zombie film is released and they use a different story then I have to see it to get my zombie fix without being subjected to shitty horror flicks.  When I learned that Zombies from Outer Space was a throwback film to the time when sci-fi adventure flicks ruled the drive-ins, I had to see it.  However, the film was a huge let down.  The acting in this one is all over the place.  In some scenes we get goofy characters that feel like something we would find in a Troma flick.  However, in other scenes we are given characters that are serious in tone that clash horribly with the goofy characters.  The film is also in German for the most part but several scenes have English dialogue which catches the viewer off guard when they expect to see subtitles and may not notice the language change.  The story for this one is a nod to the late 50s when sci-fi invasion films ruled the drive-ins of yesteryear.  The story is solid and would have been one hell of a good time if the story didn't fall prey to unnecessary scenes that are full of some of the worst dialogue I have seen in a film.  This makes the film a fucking chore to watch and even hard to follow when you have to read most of the character's interactions.  Finally, the film is full of indie great practical effects, as well as, visual effects but they are wasted on a slow rolling story that fails to gain any momentum.  Overall, Zombies from Outer Space is a failed film that could have been a piece of modern cinema that takes us back to a cherished time in film history.  I can not recommend this one!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Darkside Witches

Director - Gerard Diefenthal
Starring - Eleonora Albrecht (The Teacher), Barbara Bouchet (Gangs of New York), and Simona Cappia
Release Date - 2015
Genre - Horror/Fantasy
Tagline - "True evil never dies"
Format - DVD (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     Witches are one of the most underrated monsters in the horror genre.  There is so much folklore around these evil creatures that is rich in history and possibilities.  Sadly, very few films involving witches has been made over the years and even fewer in the last decade or so.  Growing up I loved Halloween because ABC Family, before switching to Fox Family and then back to ABC Family, would air several films involving witches and all three were fucking fantastic.  Those films were; The Witches starring Anjelica Houston, The Worst Witch starring a young Fairuza Balk, and Teen Witch starring Robyn Lively.  I know most men don't admit their love for these films but they were all fantastic and it was great seeing witches in films even if the horror was meant for children.  Modern horror has seen a few releases focusing on witches but not enough to notice.  Recently, Brain Damage Films was kind enough to send me a review copy of Darkside Witches.  This release really excited me for obvious reasons so as soon as I had the time to check it out I tossed it in.
     In the late 1500s several women was burned at the stake during the Inquisition. The last woman to burn swears allegiance to a demon.  Now, the women are reborn as bloodthirsty witches.   The women go on a savage rampage killing every man they come in contact with.  They kill a catholic priest, the mayor, and several other men in the small, mountainous town which draws the attention of the Vatican who sends in a warrior priest to battle the witches with a small team.  However, once the conflict with the witches is engaged they discover that the witches has ties deep inside the Vatican and that is how they had got away with so much murder.
     Stories about witches have endless possibilities but they never capitalize on that.  Instead, they always go the same route involving witches burning at the stake and selling their souls for the greater evil.  Very few films involve witches take us down a different path and, sadly, Darkside Witches is not one of those films.  The film gives us more of the same with nothing new being offered.  The acting in this one is very amateurish and actually puts me in mind of the horror porn spoofs that I had seen in the past.  Funny thing is, this film actually has a softcore sex scene way more graphic than most of the sex scenes we are given in most horror flicks.  The story for this one is something we have seen countless times in the past with nothing new being offered.  The story involving burned witches and demons is nothing new and the warrior priest angle does mix it up a bit but it is something we have still seen before.  Finally, the film does have a few on screen kills with some being pretty impressive but they are ruined by unnecessary CGI and visual effects that over complicate them.  The film does, however, have several beautiful scenes full of visual effects and CGI that does improve the film's imagery but it is then ruined by SyFy quality creatures and demons.  Overall, Darkside Witches is a promising film that does not offer up any kind of quality entertainment.  I can not recommend this one.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Strange Blood

Director - Chad Michael Ward
Starring - Robert Brettenaugh (Dead of Night), Alexandra Bard (Red Ice), and James Adam Lim (The Evil Inside)
Release Date - 2015
Genre - Horror/Sci-Fi
Tagline - "Fear the cure"
Format - DVD (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     When I was younger I loved a good vampire film.  Being born in 86 was the perfect time to roll into the vampire films of the time.  When I was 7 or so the VHS boom was in full force and I was consistently renting vampire films when I wasn't in the mood for other films.  The movies Fright Night, The Lost Boys, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Children of the Night were some of my favorite films to rent.  Vampires was still a sub-genre I loved until today but that has changed with the change of pace vampire films has went through with the release of the Twilight Saga turning them into another romantic staple.  Recently, I was sent info on the upcoming vampire film titled Strange Blood.  This one really intrigued me so I reached out for a review copy and they were kind enough to send me a review copy.
     The film begins with Detective Song (Lim) as he interrogates the beautiful Gemma (Bard).  He is showing her photos of dismembered bodies  when he starts to ask her some questions.  We then learn that she was an assistant to Henry.  Henry was a scientist who was searching for a cure to end all sickness.  He has created a small creature and injected it with every known disease and ailment as a way to come up with a cure.  What he did not count on was the creature developing a defense mechanism and shooting spikes into his hand when he tried to draw blood from it.  He is fine as first but over time he starts to become sick and craves blood.  He starts killing other people but finally sets his sights on Gemma where he infects her before setting himself on fire.
     I miss the days when vampire films were story rich and depicted the vampires as real monsters and not just blood-thirsty pretty boys.  The best vampire films relied on story and not the vampires themselves.  For most, the vampires were just the icing on the cake.  Strange Blood takes us to a time when the story was the focal point of the film with the vampire/vampires coming in second.  The acting in this one is perfect.  The chemistry between Brettenaugh and Bard is perfect and the film hinged on that.  The two are together almost 90% of the time so any unnatural interactions would have ruined the film.  These two feed well off each other and it would be a damn shame if they do not work together soon.  The story for this one is a rather unique spin on the vampire sub-genre.  The idea of a man creating life only to be portrayed by the creature and turned into a child of the night is pretty fucking poetic.  Sadly, there is several scenes that are not crucial to the plot that just seem to drag on and on.  Originality somewhat took the backseat while dialogue rich scenes stole the show resulting in a film that is slow to watch at times.  This somewhat ruins what could have been an amazing film that is extremely dark and story rich.  Finally, the film does have a few on screen kills but they are nothing that impressive.  With a story like this I would expect some very unique vampire kills but those were not given to us.  Overall, Strange Blood is a very unique film that has the story and cast but lost something during the execution.  This one deserves a watch!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Lord of the Flies

Director - Harry Hook (Sins of the Fathers)
Starring - Balthazar Getty (Feast, The Tripper), Chris Furrh (Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color), and Danuel Pipoly (3 Ninjas Knuckle Up)
Release Date - 1990
Genre - Drama
Tagline - "We did everything the way grown-ups would have...what went wrong?"
Format - BluRay (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
      When I was little, I'm talking 5 or under, I was a movie hound.  I loved watching movies and anything on t.v.  I would often rent videos on the weekend when my brother was in from Virginia or watch movies when I had to stay with my grandmother and uncle while my Dad was out of state for work.  Me and my grandmother had the same taste in films while my uncle (who was just 5 years older than me) had similar taste in films as my baby sister.  Me and my grandmother would often watch sci-fi, horror, and whatever was popular for kids at the time.  One summer my grandmother picked up a VHS copy of the 1990 film adaption Lord of the Flies from the novel written by William Golding.  I thought the movie was a horror flick and so did she since neither of use had seen the film before.  However, once she tossed it in we quickly knew it was not and that resulted in the film absolutely scaring the shit out me to the point I could not sleep that night.  I watched it a few more times over the years and each viewing resulted in the same anxiety.  Recently, the folks over at Olive Films released the film on blu and I figured it was the perfect time to revisit the film that had a huge impact on my childhood.  
     The film follows a group of military students who find themselves stranded on an uncharted island where they are forced to stick together in order to survive with little to no supplies.  They elect the oldest, Ralph (Getty), to be their leader and he believes that the only way to get rescued is to keep a fire going at the highest point of the island so it can be seen by those that pass by.  Things go smoothly at first but soon tensions come to a boil when another boy starts to convince some of the others that they will never be rescued so they will need to start hunting in order to survive.  At first he is able to convince just a few survivors but over time he is able to convince them all except Ralph's best friend Piggy.  However, during an altercation between the two, the hunters accidentally kill Piggy leaving Ralph all alone.  They then start hunting him down but he is rescued by the military right in the nick of time.
     By the time I was 5 I had seen Evil Dead, Evil Dead II, Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, and Day of the Dead numerous times and none of these films scared me the way Lord of the Flies did and the fact that it was not a horror film made it even worse.  The thought of kids fighting like this on an island all alone and then turning on each other like they did just really unnerved me.  It took me years to actually get over this film and I am not ashamed to admit that.  Now, after watching this one again after all these years, I have to say that is still holds up well after all these years.  The acting in this one is superb especially if you consider the age of most of these cast members.  Most of the cast is 12 or so and younger which is impressive when you consider how demanding their roles were.  What makes their performances even more impressive is how very few cast members had other roles before this one.  The story for this one is based on the novel as I mentioned before.  To this day I have never read and this review will not mention the similarities and differences.  Instead, the review will talk about just how powerful and primitive it really is.  From a modern standpoint, the story may seem jumbled and poorly constructed.  However, if you take it for what it is then it is truly one piece of power cinema.  Also, those of you looking for blood and gore will not find it here.  This film was meant to tell a story and it is not one filled with blood.  Instead, the film tells a story about how deep down we are all savages.  Finally, this release from Olive Films is great for fans looking for this film on blu but collectors will not be satisfied with this release.  The film is boasting a 1080p transfer that looks great but nowhere near as great as some of the other Olive Films releases that I have previously encountered.  This release, also, does not have any special features which will piss most collectors off.  Overall, the Olive Films release of Lord of the Flies is another solid release from Olive.  Sadly, this film lacks the special features to appeal to collectors but the film transfer is decent.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Tales Till The End

Director(s) - Philip Herman, Barry Gaines, and Ben Stanski
Starring - Barry Gains, Philip Herman, and Ben Stanski
Release Date - 1996
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "Phil Herman's S.O.V. cult classic returns"
Format - DVD (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     The Sleaze Box is a company that I have came to respect.  Right up front you know these guys are going to give you some of the raunchiest films to ever come out of the underground scene. I first came across these guys when I found their Facebook page for Amerikan Holokaust.  They sent me a copy of the film and it was bat shit insane and is still one of the most fucked up films I have seen to date.  Since then I have seen every film TSB has released.  A few weeks ago TSB announced that they would be releasing the S.O.V. anthology from 1996 titled Tales Till The End.  I love a great deal of S.O.V. horror flicks so I had to check this one out.  The Sleaze Box reached out to me and was kind enough to send me a review copy.  Thanks guys!
     This film follows three men who go out for a little camping trip when word comes across the radio that an unknown chemical has been released and everyone exposed to it is now dead.  They panic and seek refuge in a building.  To pass the time they each tell a story.  The first tells a story about the time he found an old knife on the beach and once he picked it up it possessed him forcing him to kill his family and loved ones.  The second tells the story about the time he was promised a large sum of money if he directed a movie.  He directed Burglar from Hell and when he delivers the finished product the man refuses to pay him.  This pisses the guy off and he kills him.  The third person then tells hist story about the time he fell in love with his best friend's wife.  She was a known whore and slept with a lot of people except him.  Her husband finds out and ties her to chair to torture her.  The main intervenes and rescues her while killing her husband in the act.  He thinks she will now throw herself at him but he is wrong.  She then runs off with her inheritance.
     Most S.O.V. are known for being sleazy flicks full of gore with horrible acting and cheap stories.  Tales Till the End delivered on all that.  However, what makes this one different from the other S.O.V. flicks is the year in which this one was released.  The golden age of S.O.V. was the late 80s so having one released in 1996 was a rare treat.  The acting in this one is far from perfect.  The cast in this one tries their hardest but the experience is just not there.  The stories for this one are all ones we have seen before in many, many other films.  The wrap around story is one we have seen so many times before, but it had never been a wrap around story before which was actually a great way to tie them all together.  The first story featuring the knife is the worst of the film.  The story is weak and the hardest to watch.  The second story featuring Phil Herman and his segment tying the film to Burglar From Hell is my favorite of the film and the turning point for the flick.  The last story following the cheating wife was another story we have seen before but it was fucking fantastic in S.O.V. fashion.  Finally, the film does have a few on screen kills but they were cheap and lacked the gore most would come to expect from S.O.V. horror flicks.  This was a huge let down.  Overall, Tales Till the End is another solid release from Sleaze Box.  The film tells some fun stories and is a fine addition to any collector's S.O.V. collection.  Check it out!