Saturday, October 31, 2015

Road Hell

Director(s) - Draven Gonzalez, Pete Jacelone (Psycho Street), and Alex Pucci (Frat House Massacre)
Starring - Jaclyn Marfuggi (Greek), Jim Hazelton (Zombie Wars), and John Link (Witches Blood)
Release Date - 2011
Genre - Horror/Comedy
Tagline - "Life's a journey...Hell's a destination"
Format - DVD (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     A few weeks ago I went deep into Facebook looking for indie horror films to review so I could break away from some of the major distributed films.  I found several indie horror films that I had never heard about and one such flick was Road Hell.  The film's title and poster was not that impressive but I was hooked after I read the film's synopsis on the film's Facebook page.  I reached out to them about a review copy of the film and they were kind enough to send one my way.  Sadly, I couldn't have received the film at a worse time.  I got the film going into the Halloween season after making several promises to have certain films reviewed before the holiday.  I had to squeeze the time in for this one but I am glad I did.  I laughed harder today than I have in years.
     The film follows an adulterous husband and his high maintenance wife as they go out of town for a few days.  They are traveling at night and forced to stay at a seedy motel.  They enter the lounge and find an older man (John Link) dressed as a school girl fucking an inflatable sheep.  He then sets them up with a room.  The couple is not far from splitsville and asks for separate rooms.  Inside their rooms they turn on their televisions and both watch a movie.  The first film follows a man who is hunting a vampire.  He finds the vampire he is searching for but she is able to kill his brother before he puts a stake in her heart.  The second tale follows a group of kids who discover something sinister in the woods that has devoured several pets in the area before turning it's sights on the kids in the area.  They learn that it is living in the a hole in the woods and set out to stop it before more kids in the area die.  After watching these two stories they return to the office and are given a room together where they watch the third and final tale.  This one follows a self-made man that has turned the zombie uprising into a profitable venture.  After watching this tale the two return to the counter to get their money back and leave where the clerk kills them both.
     I love a good anthology but it has to deliver the total package in order for me to fall in love with it.  The anthology has to have a solid wrap around story and the tales have to be consistent throughout the film with no weak links in the chain.  Road  Hell is one flawed anthology but still delivered on the laughs rather they were intentional or not.  It was unable to provide a wrap around that tied the stories together well and the stories were very inconsistent.  The acting in this one varies from segment to segment.  The wrap around segment is the highlight of the film.  The cast in this segment work very well with each other.  You can honestly feel the hatred the couple have for each other while the creepy hotel clerk delivers on the uncanny humor and creepy dialogue.  The third segment featuring Edward Young was very well acted.  The cast deliver solid performances in this segment but you can see that several cast members lack experience needed to make their characters better and more entertaining.  The remaining two segments were scraping the bottom of the barrel in terms of performance.  The cast fail at delivering memorable characters and providing raw emotions when they delivered their lines.  In one segment we can blame age and experience but the other we can not.  The stories for these segments range in quality.  Once again, the wrap around segment was my favorite.  It started out hilarious and as the film progressed it turned creepy before it turned bloody.  This was my favorite of the film and was able to turn the Psycho vibe into a comedy.  However, it was a horrible wrap around segment in terms of tying the other tales together.  The first tale following the vampire hunter was a bit of a bore that tried to switch the story up with the way the beginning of the story started and how it ended.  This was very weak and offered up very little originality and entertainment.  The second tale with the kids fighting the the beast in the woods is the film's low point and it get worse when we discover what the beast really is.  If it was a werewolf or some other mythological creature it would have been decent.  The third tale is fun and really deserves the feature length film treatment.  It was not that original but it was damn entertaining.  Finally, the film has several on screen kills and several that take place off screen.  The kills are, sadly, not that impressive but some, not many, deliver some decent gore and a few laughs.  The film has several decent practical effects gags and some of the worst CGI I have seen in my entire life.  Overall, Road Hell is a bad movie that entertains.  No, it's not a "so bad it's good film" but it is a bad movie that I just had to watch a second time because I had such a good time.  I enjoyed this one but it is one I am hesitant on recommending.  If you like Troma flicks then this one is one you will want to check out!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Blood Riders: The Devil Rides With Us

Director - Lari Teras (Neighborhood Heroes)
Starring - Corey Lof (Bitten), A.J. Morabito (Snow Hard), and Caitlynne Medrek (Dragon Ball)
Release Date - 2013
Genre - Horror/Comedy
Format - DVD (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     What brought me to reviews was my obsession with collecting horror flicks.  Horror became a mainstay in my life ever since the early 90s when Goosebumps hit the school library.  This opened the door to other books on hauntings and cryptozoology.  My horror obsession was pretty much confined to literature at the time.  I loved films of all genres so horror was never my top tier genre until I got a little older, middle school age, when I became reacquainted with Sam Raimi's classic Evil Dead trilogy.  Since then I couldn't help myself.  I had to own every horror film I could find which is a chore when there is many indie horror films that get brushed under the rug for more pop horror releases that are mediocre at best.  Case in point, Blood Riders: The Devil Rides With Us.  This is a film that I had no idea existed until I received a review copy of Sonno Profondo and it accompanied it.  I'm very grateful they sent this bonus film because it was well worth the time to watch it.
     The film follows two friends who decide one night to steal a car just for the hell of it.  However, they are busted by a young girl and her secretly gay best friend.  They try to avoid them but they refuse to leave them alone and convince the two boys to steal a car with them.  They find one and take it only to find a dead girl in the trunk.  They panic and call a fellow friend who they think can help them hide the body.  When he arrives they accidentally kill him.  They try to hide the body the best they can and return to their home to sleep the night away.  The following day a cop shows up asking questions about the young man who is now missing.  The girl panics and kills the cop.  They decide to visit a girl outside of town who is known for her run ins with the cops.  She agrees to help them but they have to retrieve something from a house nearby who turns out to be a Neo-Nazi.  They inadvertently kill everyone in the house and retrieve the box.  They take it back to her where they learn she is in a cult who want to resurrect Hitler.  There must now stop this cult from unleashing this evil upon the world again all while trying to save their asses.
     Blood Rider: The Devil Rides With Us is a flick that completely caught me off guard.  I knew nothing of the film beforehand but even if I did it would not have prepared me for the insane story that I saw unfold in front of me.  The acting in this one is hard to get used to but once you warm up to the cast you really appreciate the dedication everyone has for the film and the commitment to their role.  Some of the characters are more straight forward which required a little more acting to make it believable but others were a little unconventional and you can tell the cast members had fun with those roles.  The story for this one is all over the place but several elements just felt out of place which ruined a perfectly insane story.  The story following the group of youths accidentally and purposely killing people was pretty fun.  It offered up some blood along with some laughs.  The adding of Neo-Nazis and cults added even more humor and several what the fuck moments but the after laugh with the man judging each one that dies was pointless and really ruined the flow of the film.  Finally, the film has several on screen kills ranging from bloody and intense to quick and edited almost to the point you can miss them.  Most of the kills have some great practical effects that really surprised me while others had just enough to pass them off as a kill.  The practical effects and death are not very consistent which was a very big let down.  Overall, Blood Riders: The Devil Rides With Us is a surprisingly fun horror film that does not get the recognition that it truly deserves.  If you are looking for a well rounded horror flick then look no further.  Check it out!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Satan's Little Helper

Director - Jeff Lieberman (Squirm, Just Before Dawn)
Starring - Alexander Brickel (Palindromes), Katheryn Winnick (Student Bodies), and Stephen Graham (December's Dream)
Release Date - 2004
Genre - Horror/Comedy
Tagline - "You'll laugh 'til you die"
Format - DVD (Personal Collection)

Rating (out of 5):
     Halloween has so many films that deserve to be watched during the holiday season.  Here at my house, I prefer to watch the Halloween series, Ernest Scared Stupid, The Worst Witch, The Midnight Hour, and any film that I have not seen that could become a permanent stay.  Halloween is a popular season for horror and there is constantly film's being released that take place on the pagan holiday.  One film that I had always heard of but never had the drive to watch was Satan's Little Helper.  This 2004 release was directed by Jeff Lieberman who is known for directing the slasher Just Before Dawn.  A friend of mine, Jason Limberg, loves the film and talks highly of it so I decided it was time to finally check it out.  I have owned the film for years now but never opened it.  Guess that was about to change.  
     The film follows a young boy who is obsessed with Satan thanks to the game Satan's Little Helper.  Halloween is approaching and the young boy refuses to take his Satan costume off.  His older sister is returning from college and he loves her even more than he loves Satan.  While she was away at college she falls in love with a drama major and brings him home to meet her family.  This really upsets the little boy so he sets out to find Satan so he can have him send his sister's boyfriend to Hell.  He meets a man wearing a mask that has just murdered someone and is placing their body on the porch to display.  He asks the masked murderer if he is Satan and he shakes his head in comply.  The two then go around town where Satan kills several people while the boy watches before returning home to kill his sister's boyfriend.  The boy tricks him into going costume shopping and when they are out Satan knocks him out but does not kill him.  Satan then turns his sights onto the little boy's family where he realizes this is no longer just a game.
     A lot of Halloween horror flicks often lose focus on the Halloween portion of the story and focus mainly on the horror.  I'm all for horror films as most of you know but Halloween is about Halloween and this portion of the story should not take the back seat to rape and bloodshed.  Satan's Little Helper did a great job at keeping the Halloween spirit going until the very end.  That is one of the film's saving graces.    The acting in this one is a bit on the bad side.  I really enjoyed Satan's mannerisms.  He really pulled off the typical slasher actions and made it fun.  Satan was portrayed by Joshua Annex who did a great job.  I checked out his page and was slightly disappointed when I saw his other major performance was playing a gay guy in Sex in the City and that was it.  He deserved more horror roles.  The remainder of the cast is pretty much one dimensional.  Not one cast member stands out and are pretty much just reading lines as a way to pay the bills.  I know acting is a job for most but there was no passion.  No one is clearly trying to win awards and that drags this film down a great deal.  The story for this one is a more detailed attempt at a holiday slasher.  The film's use of the video game Satan's Little Helper was pretty clever but it did date the movie in the same aspect that Brainscan is stuck in the early 90s.  I did enjoy that aspect of the film but 10 or so years from now the film will feel even campier than it already does.  The story does get a little more complex as it moves on but this somewhat ruins the atmosphere the film builds when it changes up at the end.  I also did not like that the killer is never revealed.  Slashers are known for their killer reveals and this one let us down in a big way.  Finally, the film has several kill scenes that are bloody and funny.  The kills are nothing brutal but they are still fun to watch and really help move the film along.  The practical effects are great for some while others use just the bare minimum.  Overall, Satan's Little Helper is a decent film to watch once you get over the bad.  I enjoyed it for the most part but it will be a few years before I toss it back in.  Check it out but don't expect much.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Death O'Lantern II

Director - Chris Seaver (Geek Wars, Filthy McNasty)
Release Date - 2013
Genre - Horror/Comedy
Tagline - "He's back for a second helping of human pie"
Format - BluRay (Personal Collection)

Rating (out of 5):
     Lately I started seriously collecting the films of Chris Seaver.  Seaver is a man that has been making movies since the early 90s.  His career has spawned three different production companies.  His first, Low Budget Productions, saw the release of Filthy McNasty, Mulva: Zombie Ass Kicker, and Quest for the Egg Salad.  The second, Warlock Home Video, was a departure from LBP.  These films tried to capture that S.O.V. feel and played on the lost S.O.V. angle with each segment being hosted by the Warlock. Warlock is known for Death O'Lantern, The Dingleberries, and my personal favorite, Die-B-Q.  His newest production company, Midnight Kids Productions, is currently working hard on their first release, The Weirdsies.  For Halloween 2013 I reviewed Warlock's Death O'Lantern.  The film was worth a view but it was cheesy as hell and extremely campy.  Right around the time I reviewed the film. Seaver released a sequel that I forgot about.  After some time had passed I decided it was time to check it out.  I reached out to Seaver and he told me that he was releasing both Death O'Lanterns on a double feature blu. I grabbed a copy and the rest is history.  
     The film picks up now, where the original was set in the 80s, where the survivor of the Stingy Jack murders is running a school for those that are haunted by Halloween.  A journalist joins the home pretending to be troubled by Halloween and befriends the lone survivor and several other wacky characters.  Unbeknownst to them, a witch has resurrected Stingy Jack and plans on using him to bring about bloodshed all over town.  Now, the school for troubled youths, along with someone for their past, must team together to stop the pumpkinheaded freak.
     You can say a lot about director Chris Seaver and his films but one thing that can always be said is that they are fun regardless if you like the film or not.  A Seaver film is a guaranteed laugh.  The acting in this one is like most of the other films from Seaver.  The cast does not try to deliver amazing performances.  Instead, they get into wacky characters that do not exist in the real world and they have fun.  Some are able to craft fun characters that deserve all their screen time while others can not die fast enough.  The story for this one is one we have seen so many times before.  In fact, it reminds me a lot of the last film that I just reviewed, Jack-O.  The film follows a group of survivors that deal with a witch who awakens a masked evil.  Jack-O followed a family fighting an evil masked evil who just happens to be a wizard.  What this film lacks in originality, it makes up for with humor and cheese (not cheesy) dialogue.  Humor is this film's strength.  Finally, the film does have a few on screen kills but they are not as fun as the first film.  The kills are funny and fit with the film but we don't get many kills that are throwbacks to the S.O.V. era like the candle in the eye gag.  The practical effects for the kills we do get are cheap and do very little to make it convincing.  Overall, Death O'Lantern is a no budget trip through years long gone.  The film embodies what it means to make movies in your back yard.  If you like no budget S.O.V. flicks then this one will be a fun watch for you.  Check it out.

Monday, October 26, 2015


Director - Steve Latshaw (Vampire Trailer Park)
Starring - Linnea Quigley (The Return of the Living Dead), Maddisen K. Krown (Biohazard: The Alien Force), and Gary Doles
Release Date - 1995
Genre - Horror/Comedy
Tagline - "He's baaack"
Format - DVD (Personal Collection)

Rating (out of 5):
     We are just 5 days away from one of my favorite holidays of the year, Halloween.  This is the day that horror fans look forward to so they can indulge in the spooky.  For some, they visit local cemeteries, tell ghost stories with the lights off, or watch horror films.  For me, Halloween is a way to get away from the normal horror flicks and check out Halloween films.  Most of which are horror but we do get a few family oriented Halloween films that serve up the same purpose.  In my opinion, Halloween should be about Halloween and not just horror.  A few years ago I was at a pawn shop and came across a copy of Jack-O.  It was the Deluxe 10th Anniversary Edition and the pawn shop was just asking a dollar or so for it.  This is a movie I had heard a lot about over the years with many horror fans giving it the "so bad its good" title.  With Fred Olen Ray producing I knew it would be good so I grabbed the DVD and tossed it on my shelf until it was Halloween and I had time to check it out.
     The film follows the Kelly family who is said to be descendants of Arthur Kelly.  Legend has it that Arthur sent an evil Warlock to the grave.  The warlock swore vengeance on Arthur and his family before he died.  We jump to present day (keep in mind this was shot in 1995) and the Kelly family is preparing for Halloween.  A couple teens head out looking for the grave of the warlock, now known as Mr. Jack the Pumpkin Man.  They find it and mistakenly awaken Mr. Jack.  Mr. Jack then goes on a murdering rampage all across town killing anyone, and everyone that gets in his way until he can get to the Kelly family.
         I love a good, campy horror film especially when they throw caution into the wind and give us something we can unwind with and laugh at.  Fred Olen Ray is a name known the world over for giving us goofy films full of sleaze and humor.  Jack-O was no exception.  The film did not have as much sleaze as I expected from a Ray produced flick but it did come with plenty of cheese which did more than make up for it.  The acting for this one is pretty bad.  When I say bad I mean day time soap bad.  The cast just go through their lines with little to no attempt at creating a character.  Sadly, this is 90 percent of the cast.  Linnea Quigley is the only one that stands out and offers up watchable scenes but these are all one sided when the other cast members speak.  The story for this one is one we have seen so many times before and the opening scene automatically made me think of Blood Wings: Pumpkinhead II.  The film begins well over a hundred years ago when someone bad is stopped by a local hero and a curse is placed on his family (Ernest Scared Stupid?) only to have his ancestors tortured by an evil spirit.  The story is not that original but that is not the point of a film that Ray is attached to.  The point of these films is mind numbing entertainment with campy moments that either make you scream at the t.v. or laugh at the absurdity.  Finally, the film has several on screen kills that will either make you laugh or make you feel like you wasted your time.  Some kills are fun while others are cut aways where we get nothing.  The practical effects are hit or miss with the kills.  Some boast some decent practical effects while others are full of the most dated visual effects I have seen in awhile.  Overall, Jack-O is a pretty campy film for those of you that enjoy a little cheese on your horror.  The film is bad but it is fun.  That is what people tend to forget.  Movies are meant to be fun not game changers.  Check this one out but keep that in mind.


Sunday, October 25, 2015

Last Supper

Director - Brandon Prewitt (The Woods Within)
Starring - Tori Ahr (What are Your Intentions with my Daughter) and Jack Norman (Halloween: The Babysitter Murders)
Release Date - 2015
Genre - Horror
Format - Streaming (Online Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     Studio 605 has been hard at it the last few years turning out several features and a few shorts along the way.  Studio 605 consists of directors Roman Jossart, Jack Norman, and Brandon Prewitt.  Sometime ago I reviewed the 80s slasher throwback The Woods Within directed by Brandon Prewitt.  The film was a solid throwback that was able to somewhat capture that look and feel that so many slasher fans love.  A few days ago Prewitt reached out to me to check out his new short Last Supper starring fellow Studio 605 director Jack Norman and Tori Ahr.  Knowing that Studio 605 never lets me down I agreed to check it out.  Thanks Brandon for sending it my way.  
     The film follows a young girl (Ahr) who returns to her home and prepares to cook herself some dinner.  She steps out of the kitchen for a moment when a masked man (Norman) enters.  He puts a camera in the corner of the room and then exits.  After a few moments the young girl returns and continues preparing her food when he sneaks up behind her and stabs her in the gut. He then proceeds to lay her on a table surrounded by candles while her intestines lay across her and the table top.
      I have seen so many full length feature films that try so hard to tell a story only to rush near the end and leave portions of the story out so they can make a certain running time.  I have also seen so many feature length films that are full of so much bullshit because they want their film to be more than a short.  Shorts are a great way to deliver a story in film format if the story just does not have enough substance to hold the viewer's patience for long.  Last Supper is one of those films that knew it's limitations and delivered one solid short that uses it's time wisely.  The acting in this one is hard to judge due to the way the film was shot.  We get a lone girl doing normal, everyday activities unaware that she is being watched.  There is little to no character interaction between the two until the end of the film.  Norman does a solid job with his body movement to built suspense but his performance is the same.  The story for this one is short, sweet, and something we have seen before.  We have seen several found footage style films following a man stalking a young woman in a home invasion setting.  One that quickly comes to mind is The Way of the Buffalo.   What sets this one apart from the others is that it is able to build up a tremendous amount of tension.  Very few home invasion films are able to do this.  Finally, the film has one kill that is gruesome in nature but is a bit of a let down.  The way the kill was shot we actually miss it and only get the end result.  The practical effects for this are decent but due to the editing we do not get to fully appreciate the kill.  Overall, Last Supper is a solid short that has some amazing atmosphere.  The film has some real potential to be bloody but does not capitalize on it.  Check it out.