Sunday, August 30, 2015

Sanctuary: Quite the Conundrum

Director - Thomas L. Phillips (Special Dead)
Starring - Sasha Ramos (Sex Drive), Erin Cline (Joe Vampire), and Emily Rogers (The Devil Incarnate)
Release Date - 2012
Genre - Horror/Thriller
Tagline - "It's one hot mess"
Format - DVD (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     Several years back I was in college.  Between drinking Hurricanes and shots of Jameson, I would go to class and then spend my evenings doing class work while I watch movies.  I could easily manage three or four movies in an evening while slowly working on my class load.  I had met several people while there and a few were avid horror fans like myself and one introduced me to the indie horror comedy Special Dead.  I fucking loved this low-brow comedy with tasteless humor and at the time it was a breath of fresh air to see a zombie flick in the sea of vampire films.  Recently, Midnight Releasing sent me the horror thriller Sanctuary: Quite the Conundrum which was directed by Thomas L. Phillips who also directed Special Dead.  I was excited to check this one out so as soon as I had a chance to check it out I tossed it in.
     The film begins as a young woman is being fucked by an older man with an eye patch.  The woman is clearly not enjoying herself and when the man finishes she tells him how bad he was and refuses to see him again.  That night her and her friend have a few friends over for a pool party.  Her little sister brings her religious boyfriend and her friend brings her boyfriend and another guy over for a little fun.  However, they have an unsuspecting guest.  The man with the eye patch arrives fully nude wielding a gun.  After pointing it around a bit he finally shoots himself in the head.  Everyone freaks out and the boyfriend packs up and leaves the group.  Soon the man's wife comes looking for him and they knock her out and tie her up until they can think of something to do.  Soon, the young woman's blind date reveals his true intentions which are not to get a piece of ass.  He then reveals blood lust and all out hell breaks loose.
     When I realized that the same director of Special Dead was behind Sanctuary I was curious. Special Dead offered up some Troma style humor that really made for a great slapstick-esque flick.  However, once I looked at the cover art for Sanctuary I quickly realized that this was not the same kind of film I had once seen when I was in college and I was right.  The acting in this one is not consistent.  The first portion of the film is unbearable.  The film's two leading lady act so stupid around each other that you almost want to put your fingers in your ears so far that you make yourself bleed.  As the film progresses they start to act like it is a film and start pulling their characters together about the film's half way point.  It is then that their pull it around and the acting turns great and we can finally sit down and enjoy the film.  The remainder of the cast does a great job as well supporting these two ladies by this point which may be the reason it picks up.  The story for this one is a little unconventional in a sense but is still fun to watch.  The film feels like a horror film that tries hard to be a thriller but has several comical points tossed in that do not get the laughs they are intended for.  These laughs go unnoticed due to the tension of the film.  The story itself is fairly original but has a hard time finding it's footing.  Finally, the film has three on screen deaths.  The first is fantastic and really come unexpectedly while the other two are very lackluster and are very much a let down.  Overall, Sanctuary: Quite the Conundrum  is a film that has a solid story that really surprises the viewer but does not feel like a real horror flick.  Check it out because it is well worth a watch.

Camp Massacre

Director(s) - Jim O'Rear (Scream Farm, Ghosts of Tennessee) and Daniel Emery Taylor (The Hospital, The Hospital 2)
Starring - Bree Olson (The Human Centipede III: Final Sequence), Al Snow (Overtime, The Penny Dreadful Picture Show), and Megan Hunt (Don't Fuck in the Woods, Living in Sin)
Release Date - 2014
Genre - Horror/Comedy
Tagline - "Survive the night"
Format - DVD (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     Slashers love the woods just as much as they love busty teens that have pre-marital sex and smoke pot so whenever I get the chance to check out a slasher flick that takes place in the woods I refuse to let is slip by.  Also, I refuse to skip any slasher that is a comedy that stars former professional wrestler Al Snow (Got Head?) and retired porn star Bree Olson (gives head).  A few months back I was sent the DVD for the comedy slasher Camp Massacre from the fine folks over at MVD.  Sadly, my old job, my new job, and life got the best of me and the film had to ride the pine until I could make the time for it.  That time finally came after checking out The Mothman Curse.  I went ahead and tossed it in because I knew it would be fun as hell.  Thanks MVD for sending it my way!
     The film follows a a reality television show in which overweight contestants are taken into the woods to compete to see who can lose the most weight.  The contest is hosted by a scummy reality t.v. personality and along for the ride is a smoking hot nurse and doctor.  When a few chubbies fail to show up after their activities, the host brings in a security specialist (Snow) to keep the chunkies herded.  Soon, bodies begin to pile up along with corruption, hidden candy, bulimia, and even romance.
     Camp Massacre is fun and I had a blast with it but I did take it for what it was which is a very flawed slasher that has a hard time trying to figure out it's place in the world.  The acting in this one is actually pretty damn good by the entire cast.  The film's co-directors do an amazing job in their roles with both delivering some solid laughs with most there on purpose while others were unintentional.  The remainder of the cast do more of the same just a little toned down.  These two definitely deliver some funny and intense moments.  This is also my first experience with the lovely Megan Hunt and I am now a fan.  A few months back a friend of mine, Shawn Burkett, was informing me that he cast her for his upcoming creature feature Don't Fuck in the Woods.  I was unfamiliar with her and her work and was slightly unimpressed with the news.  However, after seeing Camp Massacre I can not wait to see her in that film.  This young starlet is so sexy and talented.  She will be a name everyone in the horror scene will know about.  Mark that down.  Now, as for Bree Olsen and Al Snow.  Bree is only in the film for the first three minutes and then dies a death that has nothing to do with the film.  This was a cheap ploy to pull in horny viewers...and it works.  Al has a lot more screen time and his performance is raw.  He is attempting to be a hard ass even though the film already has one such character that is able to pull it off a lot better than he does.  The story for this one has so much potential but fails to actually capitalize on it.  The film had so many possibilities for laughs but let them slip away with the story they went for but they just walked, or waddled, right by them with an attempt to keep the story true to their slasher roots.  The film does keep a good slasher vibe but the laughs went untouched.  With that being said,  the film's killer is horrendous.  They try to play some laughs with the fat gimmick by using a fried chicken bucket but it comes off as cheap and fails to gather the laughs that was intended.  Hardcore slasher fans will be disappointed with that.  Finally, the film does have several on screen kills but they are not that original or that bloody.  The practical effects in the kills are minimal so the slasher fans checking this one out will be let down.  Overall, Camp Massacre is a flawed slasher that is funny but could have been a lot funnier and bloodier.  However, if you take it for what it is you will still have a good time. It is well worth your time.


Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Mothman Curse

Director - Richard Mansfield (Wolfskin: Sister of the Wolf Spirits)
Starring - Rachel Dale (Macbeth No More), Stephen Glover (Making It), and Daniel Mansfield (The Secret Path)
Release Date - 2014
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "An ancient evil unleashed"
Format - DVD (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     When I was in elementary school I started my descent into horror when Goosebumps premiered and never looked back.  I would sometimes visit the library and would check out the same novel featuring several West Virginia ghost stories.  That novel, The Devil's Tea Tables: West Virginia Ghost Stories and Other Tales.  was and still is one of my favorite reads.  I absolutely loved that book and recently bought it while traveling to a park here in the state.  Anyway, one time I was returning the novel to the library and the janitor was near the counter when I dropped it off.  I grew up in rural West Virginia in one of the poorest counties in the nation so metal, horror, and the like was not a popular subject among the religious fanatics of the 90s.  However, the janitor, standing there with his Alice in Chains t-shirt told me to check out a book titled The Silver Bridge and then told me, in detail, about the Mothman.  His little yarn scared the total shit out of me and I did not have the guts to check the book out but this incident stayed with me forever until I was in high school and decided to dive deeper into the Mothman.  It was this time that the Mothman Prophecies was released.  When I learned that the legend was from West Virginia I was instantly hooked and been actively interested in the legend since.  Recently, Wild Eye sent me the found footage (so to speak) film The Mothman Curse.  I was intrigued and was very thankful they sent it my way.
     The film follows two young women in London who work in an old museum.  As the two work one of the young girls start to suspect her friend is hiding something from her because she is acting weird.  The girl has been acting strange and before long her friend starts to see things out the corner of her eye and black apparitions that disappear upon closer inspection.  Soon her friend reveals that she has accidentally released an ancient evil known as the Mothman and now they both are cursed.
     The Mothman Prophecies was a boring, mediocre flick released in 2002 that followed a modern retelling of the legend that surrounds the myth of the Mothman.  The beast has been said to only be seen in Point Pleasant, WV and the surrounding areas so any story about the cryptid should take place in the state.  Sadly, The Mothman Curse does not take place inside WV nor does it stay close to the original myth.  The acting in this one is a bit of a chore to watch.  The two young girls seem to have no chemistry with each other which results in what feels like two drama students rehearsing their lines with one another.  A lot more practice and experience would have went a long way with this one.  The story for this one is one we have seen before in so many other flicks and fails to add the Mothman angle in a believable angle.  Those of you that are familiar with Mothman story will know that it is speculated that the beast is actually extraterrestrial and not something that can be summoned like a demon.  Those familiar with the story will not be happy with the films outcome due to the Mothman angle.  The story would have worked better if it was an actual demon or another evil that actually has roots in demonology.  Finally, the film does not have any bloodshed and kills that drive horror fans to tales like this.  Instead, it tries to take the thriller route only to fail at delivering the chills needed for an effective thriller.  Overall, The Mothman Curse is a film I had high hopes for only to be let down.  I enjoy the editing and cinematography of the film which makes it look like an arthouse approach to the found footage sub-genre but it fails to deliver a convincing story with suspenseful atmosphere.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

King of the Gypsies

Director - Frank Pierson (Alfred Hitchcock Presents)
Starring - Sterling Hayden (The Godfather, The Outsider), Susan Sarandon (The Rocky Horror Picture Show). and Eric Roberts (The Dark Knight, Halloween Hell)
Release Date - 1978
Genre - Drama/Crime
Format - BluRay (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     The world of film is a tricky business with very few people able to actually pull a career out in acting.  Then it is even rare to have actors who are able to act for decades due to the demand of the business and politics of the game.  If your film you are in cans or if the audience does not like you then you will not last long.  In 1978, almost 40 years ago, actor Eric Roberts appeared in his first feature film titled King of the Gypsies.   From then on the man has been busy working on films from all genres from horror, to sci-fi, and even romance.  A few weeks back my friends over at Olive Films announced that they would be releasing the 1978 film King of the Gypsies on blu.  I am a fan of Eric Roberts and the acting legacy he has built so I reached out and they were kind enough to send one my way. Thanks guys for letting me check this one out!
      The film begins with the self-appointed king of the gypsies as he kidnaps a young woman from a rival clan and takes her with him to marry his son because he had purchased her from the father.  We jump forward a few years and the prince of the gypsies and his wife have a few kids.  The prince is a drunk who beats his family and force his oldest son to commit crimes of various degrees in order to provide for their family.  As he gets older he starts to resent his father and when he is finally old enough he leaves the traveling gypsy caravan for a more normal life.  He meets a woman and the two save up to move out to California when he receives word that his grandfather, the king, is in the hospital and only has a short time before he passes.  He visits him in the hospital where he gives him his amulet and the title king of the gypsies.  His father, thinking he is to become king, finds his son carrying the amulet and becomes irate.  He then hires a pair of goons to kills his son but he is able to escape and makes it back to their home where he takes his sister away from him but his father follows.  A car chase ensues resulting in the death of his sister an a vengeful plan is soon put in place.
     I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I requested to view this film.  I knew it was not horror but the artwork and synopsis made me think that I was getting into a crime flick in the same line as the classic flick, The Godfather.  The film was similar in a since that it dives deep into familiar dynamics of a culture that many did not know about at the time like The Godfather does with the Italian families of the time period.  With that being said, that is about as close to that film as it gets.  The acting in this one is fucking fantastic.  The film's first glimpse at an amazing performance is when we first meet the king himself, Sterling Hayden.  As soon as he enters the screen he immediately pulls the viewer in and captivate them.  This man could command an audience.  We then get a role that we have never seen Susan Sarandon in and she really gives it her all.  This is Susan in a way you have never seen her before.  The film's main star, Eric Roberts, fucking shines.  Every scene he is in is so intense that the viewer has no option other than to watch him intently.  There is a reason he has been around for almost 40 years and this film is a prime example of just what this man is capable of.  The story for this one is very in depth and told in a narrative form.  The film reminds me a lot of The Godfather but is still very unique in it's own rights.  The film begins by going in depth into the gypsy culture before introducing us to a  barrage of complex characters before giving us an even more complex stories full of great detail and interesting dialogue.  Finally, this release from Olive Films features a crisp remastered transfer but it is not in full 1080p and not the best clarity I have seen on a blu.  Also, this release lacks any special features which is, once again, a big let down considering how amazing this film actually is.  I would love to see some interviews with the cast and hear what Eric had to say about filming this cinematic classic.  Overall, the Olive Films release of the King of the Gypsies is a must have.  The film looks great and it an amazing film that I never hear mention of.  It truly is a crime.  The film does lack special features but with this being the only blu release of the film makes it a must have!  Do yourself a favor and check it out.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Northmen - A Viking Saga

Director - Claudio Fah (Hollow Man II)
Starring - Ed Skrein (Piggy, Game of Thrones), Ryan Kwanten (True Blood, Knights of Badassdom), and James Norton (Doctor Who, Rush)
Release Date - 2014
Genre - Action/Adventure/Fantasy
Format - BluRay (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     People mostly know me for my love of horror, horror porn, and exploitation but I love almost all genres...almost.  I love horror but I do have favorites in all genres.  I once overheard someone say that people can be split up into two categories, Star Wars and Star Trek fans.  I believe that to an extent but now you can toss in Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings.  I call these the four fandoms of the modern world.  I really enjoy ST and SW but I absolutely love LotR and greatly admire films like it.  That was why I reached out to Anchor Bay when I discovered they were releasing the viking epic Northmen - A Viking Saga which starred Ryan Kwanten who I have mentioned before I am a fan of.  Thank you guys for sending the blu my way!
     The film follows a group of exiled vikings who are shipwrecked during a storm and find themselves in Scotland.  They are soon attacked by the guards of the king of Britain.  They are able to take on his men with few casualties and soon find his daughter in a carriage nearby.  The decide to hold her hostage for ransom to buy their way off the island.  Soon they come across a Christian monk wielding a staff and knows how to use it.  They team up and soon learn that the king has sent an army of mercenaries to kill the vikings but they change their mind and decide to kill the princess instead.  Now, they must fight their way through a hostile country and protect their hostage at the same time.
     Northmen was a film I was excited to see but I had my doubts.  Due to the lack of marketing I thought the film would have a very small budget and the action, set, and costumes would suffer because of it.  I was half right.  The film was made on a budget smaller than most of the film's I mentioned earlier but the quality of the film did not suffer what so ever.  The film was still a fucking blast to watch and action packed.  The acting in this one is top notch by the entire cast.  In fact, it was so great it is really hard to find somewhere to start among them all.  Everyone, regardless of gender, had a very demanding role and they went above and beyond to make their roles believable and enjoyable.  Each character has qualities that that the viewer will really like, or hate depending on the character.  This is a top notch cast for sure.  The story for this one is nothing new but that does not stop the viewer from watching to see the carnage.  There has been so many fantasy adventure flicks over the years that follow a small band of warriors fighting their way across the land while an evil horde follows.  The most recent film, which is another one that I enjoy, is King Arthur starring Clive Owen.  The film follows a similar story but offers us a Norse/Pagan vs Catholic spin to it which is something I find fun.  Finally, the film does have several on screen kills but the they were not as bloody as I would have liked.  The practical effects were great but the gore was lacking.  Overall, Northmen was a damn fine action adventure film that was well worth the time.  If you want a film that packs a punch then grab this one!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Hotel Kyosei Waisetsu Jiken: Okashite!

aka Sexual Assault at a Hotel
aka Rape Me! Sexual Assault at a Hotel
Director - Koretsugu Kurahara (Sex Rider)
Starring - Erina Miyai (Sex Hunter), Yuri Yamashina (Assault! Jack the Ripper), and Eimei Esumi (Dark Room)
Release Date - 1977
Genre - Erotic/Thriller
Format - DVD (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     Over the last few years I have expressed my love for Japanese horror and how I love the way they tell their stories.  I prefer the watch the splatterfest horror flicks but they do release some serious horror films that deserve a watch.  Recently I was sent the erotic thriller Sexual Assault at a Hotel along with a press release for the film from Impulse Pictures.  This is my first look at a Japanese thriller and erotic film so I was a little excited to check it out.  However, people all over the web was not.  Before I watched the film for review, I shared the press release on the site and then shared that post on Facebook and Twitter which immediately erupted with comments about how insensitive I was for sharing it and I was supporting rape culture.  This is completely untrue and so absurd that I had to laugh at the notion.  I am a 6 foot tall guy that weights just a little over 300 pounds but I have a crippling fear of getting raped and I have American History X to thank for this silly fear.  Rape is no laughing matter but watching a film does not support rape.  That is like saying watching a horror movie supports murder and watching Kids Say the Darndest Things encourages rape.  This is far from the truth but it does encourage people with no life and no friends to comment on stuff on social media so they can get the attention their mom would not give them because she was out sleeping with every trucker that passes through town.  Anyway, thank you Impulse Pictures for sending this one my way.
     The film follows an innocent and shy young woman who travels somewhere far away from her home where she runs into an old friend.  She is a very sexual person who is constantly looking for some dick action.  She also has a thing for her shy friend and is constantly trying to get a little cooter action.  Her friend often leaves her alone at awkward times to get laid while she gets harassed by horny men who want nothing more than to rip her clothes off and have their way with her until one night someone actually does.
     When I first received the film I assumed it would be an uncomfortable watch and full of rape scenes that make it hard to watch.  However, the film did not and I had seen sleazier horror flicks in the indie scene then what this film actually was.  The acting in this one is solid.  The films lead does an amazing job at staying in character and she makes it so believable that she is actually that uncultured and innocent.  The remainder of the cast was great and the other lead does a great job at playing the exact opposite of the innocent girl.  She is dirty and goes all out...even with a bottle!  The men also do a great job at playing scumbags that are sleazy with no regard for the women's welfare.  You really learn to hate them.  The story for this one is a little hard to follow.  We get the two girls who are opposite each other in the sexual sex-scape so to speak but we have no fucking idea where the story was going or was trying to establish.  This may be due to cultural differences.  Finally, the film has no on screen kills and practical effects. Instead, we get sex scenes that are soft core in nature and are not that lavish.  In fact, I have seen sexier films come from The Sleaze Box.  Overall, Sexual Assault is a film that lacks story but has a great cast.  Sadly, its not that great of an erotic thriller nor is it that great or a softcore porn.  I can not recommend this one.