Monday, June 29, 2015

Snuff: A Documentary About Killing on Camera

Director - Paul von Stoetzel (Pet Peeve)
Starring - Larry C. Brubaker, Todd Cobery, Linda Flanders
Release Date - 2008
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "Ever seen a snuff film?"
Format - DVD (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     Snuff films can go two different ways for horror fans.  Some seek them out and get a boner at the thought of actually getting to catch a real death on camera.  Others are terrified at the thought of this and any film that could possibly be real is avoided at all costs.  I fall in the second category.  I don't want to see real death on camera because it brings about my mortality.  I imagine myself in that same situation and it freaks me the fuck out.  When I was in middle school a friend of mine found a video online of an African man who is shot by a gang of white men.  This video bothered me and I did not sleep for days.  When I know I am watching a movie with practical effects the gore and death does not bother me at all.  However, I am a pussy and when the death is real it bothers me tremendously.  Not long ago Wild Eye released the documentary Snuff: a Documentary About Killing on Camera.  I love a good documentary so I reached out to them for a review copy and they hooked me up.  Thanks again!
     This documentary begins with several accounts of what is classified as a snuff film.  Is it death being filmed or is it death being filmed for the purpose of being sold for a profit?  This documentary tries to say that snuff is a film that is sold for profit but I entirely disagree.  I feel a snuff film is death being filmed in general.  The F.B.I. states there is no snuff films out there right now but on several accounts there has been evidence of people being murdered on camera for profit. One instance follows a scumbag Russian that films child pornography and in several instances the kids are raped to the point they die.  Another account followed an Asian man trying to sell a porn in which the man and woman are leather clad and doing the deed when the man suddenly slits the woman's throat.  The film then splits up all the different types of films that could be classified as snuff such as war videos, footage serial killers take of their victims, or films in which the person takes their own life.  
     Documentaries are powerful films that take the viewer on an educational journey through a topic they know nothing or very little about.  That is what makes them so powerful.  Snuff: A Documentary About Killing on Camera is a documentary that is riveting and chilling all while being educational.  This documentary is able to pull together two arguments on the same topic, as well as, show info to support both sides.  This is crucial for any documentary that is trying to sway the viewer to make a firm decision about something.  This documentary is trying to make the viewer pick if they believe snuff films are real or jut a myth.  Sadly, this is a one sided argument with very little facts provided for the myth side which is almost impossible to do since they are real in one sense of the word.  This documentary is also able to provide interviews from people from various background and experience on the subject.  This is another strong point for any documentary.  We have interviews from film historians, F.B.I. agents and even first hand accounts from witnesses that had viewed snuff films being sold for profit.  Finally, this documentary is put together very well and is able to draw emotions out of the viewer just from recounting situations.  The film goes in a consistent manner that slowly builds upon points and leaves no room for error.  This documentary has it's shit together!  Overall, Snuff: A Documentary About Killing on Camera is easily one of the hardest films to watch.  This documentary holds nothing back and throws it all at the viewer which, at times, could be very overwhelming.  This documentary is not for everyone but is well worth your time!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

A Haunting at Preston Castle

aka Preston Castle

Director - Martin Rosenberg
Starring - Mackenzie Firgens (The Hamiltons, The Thompsons), Heather Tocquigny (Insidious, Frankenstein Rising), and Jake White (Children of the Corn '09, Captured)
Release Date - 2012
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "Evil is forever"
Format - DVD (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     Ghost stories are starting to get on my fucking nerves just like all these fucking Walking Dead clones.  I love a good ghost story so don't take that the wrong way.  When I was a kid I would watch Unsolved Mysteries and my favorite episodes involved the supernatural.  My grandmother had a movie on VHS called Ghost Story which is an amazing supernatural horror flick.  This is one of the few ghost flicks that sends chills down my spine.  Sadly, the supernatural sub-genre is in a state of shit right now thanks to Paranormal Activity and A Haunting in Connecticut.  These films are modern classics that went on to drive an interest in the paranormal even years after television had been tossing reality shows on the subject at us in full force.  Now, every time I'm at Wal-Mart and FYE I see a new movie titled Paranormal something and A Haunting somewhere different.  Late last year I was sent the paranormal horror flick A Haunting at Preston Castle to review from the fine folks over at Inception Media Group.  Thanks for letting me check this one out!
     The film follows two young girls who are looking for a little fun until they run into a young man who convinces them to go check out Preston Castle.  The place is known for being haunted and tale has it that a man went inside the building a few decades ago and never returned.  They decide to go and check it out where strange things start to happen to them. They see strange things at first and then begin to hear them.  They, for some fucked up reason, decide to split up and that is when shit hits the fan.
     Atmosphere and story are two things needed to make a ghost story worth a damn.  Without either then all you have is jump scares and no idea what the fuck is going on.  Someone did not tell A Haunting at Preston Castle this because they lacked both those things creating one of the worst movie experiences I have seen in a long ass time.  The acting in this one is decent at times while at others it is a chore to watch.  The cast is not consistent in their roles and when things go bleak they toss the acting out the window and act like they don't have any fucking sense.  This ruined several pivotal scenes.  What the cast really needed was direction and they clearly did not get it.  The story for this one is one told so many times before with nothing new added and told in the blandest of ways.  The film puts three youths in a castle where things pop up here and there and translucent figures walk down corridors and door ways.  In the middle of all this is the same youths screaming like they have never acted before resulting in a real chore of a film to finish.  Originality is key.  Finally, the film does not have any real practical effects nor goes it have blood and gore that horror fans are looking for.  Instead, we are given pretty great looking CGI but that does not add to the film whatsoever.  Overall, A Haunting at Preston Castle is a complete fail at making a film.  The director has some amazing credits on his IMDB for over 30 years but sitting in the director's chair should not be one of them.  Skip this one.  


Director - Henrique Couto (Awkward Thanksgiving, A Bulldog for Christmas)
Starring - Erin R. Ryan (Easter Casket, Watch This!), JoAnna Lloyd (I Found You, Before the Dark), and Iabou Windimere (Haunted House on Sorority Row, Stuffed Evil)
Release Date - 2014
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "Amos Satan has four horrifying tales to tell"
Format - DVD (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     Director Henrique Couto and I have a rocky relationship.  When I was first started writing for Horror Society I came across his page and asked for news and films to review. He sent me over Bleeding Through and I was not a fan.  It was just not my kind of horror flick.  Since then I have come to really respect him as a filmmaker with his films Haunted House on Sorority Row and Babysitter Massacre.  Last year Couto announced he would be working on a new film titled Scarewaves.  I love a good horror pun in the title and with the style his newer films were going made me pretty fucking pumped to check it out.  A few days ago Alternative Cinema sent me the film to review and I received it totally by surprise.  Thanks Alternative Cinema!
     The film follows late night radio host Amos Satan as he celebrates his last night on the air by telling four stories.  The first story follows a beautiful young girl (Erin R. Ryan) who moves into an apartment.  Her roommate is an artist and is a bit strange. He had a young girl over one day and the next he refuses to talk about her.  She then notices these strange drawing all over the house before discovering his girlfriend's phone after he said they broke up.  This sets off a red flag but it is too late.  He grabs her and ties her up.  He starts painting her while spilling the beans about how he made a deal with a beast to provide it with beautiful girls.  She is able to untie herself and the tied turns in her favor.  The second story follows two cousins that rob an armored car.  They take the haul back to their house where the wife of one of the men is waiting.  She is verbally abusive to her husband and try to make a pass at his cousin so they can take his cut and run.  He shoots her down and informs him that she is not loyal.  Her husband returns with a baseball bat and kills her.  The two dump her body in the river.  Sadly, the other cousin gets shot by accident and dies.  Not wanting to live without his cousin and wife. he attempts to kill himself but changes his mind at the last moment only to have a ghoulish finger pull the trigger.  The third story follows a security guard on his first night on the job.  He starts to see things out the corner of his eye and hear sounds.  At first he thinks the other guards are fucking with him but he soon learns that his past has come back to haunt him.  The fourth and final story follows a young woman who is the other woman in a man's life.  The man has not been able to leave his clingy girlfriend for her and the two set in motion a plan to kill her with a hammer.  The man is unable to do it which is pissing of his other woman.  She's at home by herself cursing him for not killing her when she starts to see visions of the woman dead.  She keeps popping up when she least expects it resulting in her falling and cracking her skull.  We then go back to Amos and learn that he lost the radio station due to unpaid bills.  A debt collector shows up with a gun to collect but Amos is not just a mere mortal.
     I love when an anthology has a good wrap around story to tie them all together.  I don't know how many anthology flicks I am sent to review and they are just short segments tossed together with nothing to connect them.  That immediately turns me off when I see an anthology like that.  The best part of an anthology is the wrap around story.  That is why Tales from the Crypt, Creepshow, and The Offspring are so enjoyable.  Henrique knew this and crafted a film that immediately joins the rankings as one of the best anthology films I have seen.  The acting in this one is spot on and one of the best I have seen these three years of reviewing indie films.  This is exciting for me because I have reviewed dozens of films starring Erin R. Ryan and Haley Madison and I have seen them all grow on screen.   Both females have amazing talent and with each film they take the experience from the last project to make themselves better actresses.  We also have a brief appearance from Ohio based actress Christy Faulkner and the same can be said for her.  I have reviewed every horror project she has been apart of and she has grown so much as an actress over the last few years.   The film also has a solid, but short, performance from an actor I have only recently discovered but he has really impressed me.  That actor is Josh Miller and I recommend everyone keep an eye out for him.  Last, but not least, the film's best performance belongs to John Bradley Hambrick who portrays Amos Satan.  Hambrick plays a cocky radio host who spits out dialogue flawlessly and creates a personality on screen all his own.  This is a character I would love to see make another appearance in a film, possibly another anthology. Amos Satan is another horror host in the making and fans will be cheated if we don't get another flick featuring him.  The stories for this one are fun but some are not that original.  I don't think originality was what Henrique was going for.  Instead, he way paying tribute to anthologies of yesteryear that have slowly faded from memory.  All four tales, and the wrap around story, all have that twist that puts the viewer in mind of Tales from the Crypt where asshole usually gets what they deserve.  Finally, the film does not have that many on screen kills and the ones we do get are lack luster.  With that being said. the film makes up for the lack of gory kills with fun stories and great practical effects.  Not all horror films have to be bloodbaths.  Overall, Scarewaves is an absolute blast.  This is one film I truly enjoy and can not praise enough.  If you love good indie horror films, films with a great story and amazing cast, then you need to own Scarewaves!

Samurai Avenger: The Blind Wolf

Director - Kurando Mitsutake (Gun Woman)
Starring - Kurando Mitsutake, Jeffrey James Lippold (General Hospital), and Domiziano Arcangeli (Alien Babes in Heat)
Release Date - 2009
Genre - Action/Horror/Western
Tagline - "No honor. No mercy. Revenge is Blind!"
Format - BluRay (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     I was raised on westerns and the SyFy channel back with it was just the Sci-Fi channel.  My dad fucking loved westerns regardless of when they were made or the language they spoke.  If it was a western or was loosely labeled a western then my dad watched it.  He was also a Chuck Norris fan and sometimes he dabbled in the old martial arts/kung-fu flicks of the late 60s and 70s.  I grew up appreciating this type of kung-fu flicks that crossed boundaries with films like Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires and Bruce Lee Fights Back from the Grave.  Sometime ago I was sent a press release for the film Samurai Avenger: The Blind Wolf.  This was the first time I had heard of the film but I assumed it was some long lost martial arts flick that was just now finding a proper release.  I requested a review copy from Synapse and they were kind enough to send me one.  When it was time for me to review it I was very, and I mean very surprised.
     The film follows samurai Blind Wolf (director Kurando Mitsutake) as he makes his way across a desert land.  Blind Wolf was once a family man with a beautiful wife and adorable daughter.  One day they head out to a secluded area for a little family picnic when they are visited by the evil gangster Nathan Flesher (Arcangeli) and his goons.  He rapes and then kills his wife forcing him and his daughter to watch and then strikes up a deal for his daughter's life.  He promises not to kill her if he pokes out both his eyes with a stick.  The loving father does so and as he pops out the second eye, Flesher kills his daughter and then shoots Blind Wolf.  He survives and trains in the way of the samurai.  When he is ready he sets out to kill Flesher and the perfect times presents itself.  Flesher was arrested and is about to be released from jail so Blind Wolf makes his way to the jail he was kept in.  However, his journey is not an easy one.  He has 7 assassins sent to kill him and he must face everyone one of them in order to seek revenge for his family.
     Like I said earlier, when I first learned of this film I was under the impression it was an older title finally getting a release.  I had no idea it was created in 2009 and it would be this fucking awesome.  The film honestly knocked me on my ass and I had to follow the first viewing up with two more just to watch it again.  The acting in this one is great.  Some of the roles are serious while others are dated and cliched.  All of which is done on purpose.  The roles of Blind Wolf and Nathan Flesher are serious in tone.  Blind Wolf has pain in his heart and Kurando Mitsutake does a great job at showing that.  He also does a great job performing all the fight scenes. Some are better than others but they are still fun to watch.  Flesher, portrayed by Arcangeli, does a great job portraying the cliched villain.  His character was pulled straight out of a 90s action flick.  This was awesome to see in a samurai western.  The remainder of the characters are cheesy and plucked straight out of the 70s kung-fu flicks.  They are campy and overact each situation and I fucking love it.  The story for this one is all over the place and leaves no room for a dull moment.  A man that was wrong seeks revenge.  This is not something new to film.  However, the film tosses so much more into the story that it becomes something that has to be seen to believed.  We have tits that mesmerize men, a pregnant necromancer, zombie samurais, old men who can jump around like a monkey with ADHD, and a lot of boobs all wrapped inside of a grindhouse inspired western.  Also, the film has tons, and I mean tons, of amazing on screen kills that rival any Japanese splatter flick.  The kills are brutal and bloody but they are nothing new.  With that being said, they fit the film perfectly and definitely heighten the experience.  Finally, the film has several great special features including commentary with Kurando Mitsutake, Chiaki Yanagimoto, and John Migdal, sword fight choreography, behind-the-scenes featurette, blooper real, and trailer.  The film looks great in 1080p and the audio is crystal clear.  This release really is beautiful.  Overall, the Synapse release of Samurai Avenger: The Blind Wolf is a must have for any fan of grindhouse flicks.  Rodriguez and Tarantino would be proud of this film and I am proud to own a copy.  This is essential for any collector so check it out!

Friday, June 26, 2015


Director - Brian Yuzna (The Dentist)
Starring - Billy Warlock (Baywatch), Devin DeVasquez (Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger IV), and Evan Richards (Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure)
Release Date - 1989
Genre - Horror/Comedy
Tagline - "The rich have always fed off the poor.  This time its for real"
Format - BluRay (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     When I was younger, pre-teen age, I visited the video store every weekend and sometimes a few times during the week to grab some flicks to watch.  At first I rented children oriented flicks and then Goosebumps came along and it opened up my mind to horror.  I watched horror when the mood hit me before but this pushed me in and I could not get out.  When I would visit the video there was several tapes on the shelf that I would always notice but never had the urge to check them out.  Now, years later I have watched several of those films and realized I missed out when I was younger.  One such film I skipped on viewing was the 1989 flick Society directed by Brian Yuzna.  Recently, Arrow Films launched their North American releases through MVD and among those films was Society.  I reached out to them and they were kind enough to send me a review copy.  Thanks guys!
     The film follows Bill (Warlock) who grew up in a well-to-do part of town and his family is very privileged.  Though his family is loaded, Bill feels out of place.  His parents hardly treat him as their child and his sister has something strange going on under her skin.  He also suspects them of being incest.  One of his friends has uncovered a deep, dark family secret and when he reveals it to Bill he soon dies in a car accident.  Bill then gets an invite to another rich kids party and attends it and learns that his sister is a bit of a slut and has engaged in an orgy a time or two.  He rushes home and finds his family, sister included, in the master bedroom in their undies.  Through a series of events, he is drugged and taken to the hospital where he awakens to find his jeep waiting on him.  He jumps in it and races home to find a party of sorts going on with everyone with money there.  When he arrives he is told that he is not actually their son and the rich, or society, are a different species that "shunt" and feed on the bodies of the poor.  They took Bill in to raise to become the perfect feast.  Bill's friend is not really dead either and they bring him in and shunt him.  They mold into one creature and feed on his body.  They plan on doing it to Bill but he fights back pulling one of them inside out.  They refuse to fight back and he is able to escape. 
     Brian Yuzna is a man known the world over for his amazing horror flicks.  He produced Re-Animator, From Beyond, Dolls, The Guyver, and so many more.  He also directed several classics like Brie of Re-Animator, Return of the Living Dead III, The Dentist, and The Dentist 2. I wish I wasn't so stupid and checked this one out before now because it is one perfect 80s horror flicks.  The acting in this one is great.  Bill Warlock does a great job at playing a confused teenager.  He does over do it at times and comes off as way too intense that results in a few ruined scenes but he still delivers an amazing performance.  The remainder of the cast does a great job at portraying serious characters at first and then switches it up to comical monsters at the end.  This took a great deal of talent to mix up the character's personalities like that and it should go commended.  The story for this one is fucking fantastic and unlike anything before it's time.  The film is a bit of a slow burning mystery until the last 20 minutes or so and then the film kicks it into high gear with some major body-horror.  These scenes are among the best I have seen in a horror flick and it deserves to be watched just for that.  Also, the film does not really have any on screen kills unless you count a throat slashing after it had happened and the shunting but the film has some of the most impressive practical effects I have ever seen and that is for a good reason.  We have Screaming Mad George to thank for all that.  The scenes featuring the shunting is fucking phenomenal and the high point of the flick.  You need to watch it to see how fucking bad ass they are.   Finally,  the Arrow release of Society has the following special features; Governor of Society: An Interview with Brian Yuzna, Masters of the Hunt featurette, Champion of the Shunt, Brian Yuzna Q & A, Brian Yuzna - Society Premier, trailer, Screaming Mad George Music Video, and commentary.  The special features are great and the film has been remastered to 1080p which looks amazing and crisp.  Overall, the Arrow release of Society is a must have for any kind of horror fan.  The film looks fantastic in this new remastered version and has tons of amazing special features with another special edition of the film out there for the hardcore fans of the film.  If you love weird horror then this film and release is for you.  Do yourself a favor and buy a copy now!