Sunday, November 29, 2015

A Cry from Within

Director(s) - Zach Miller (Intention, Belief, Emotion, and Will: Consciousness and the Scientific Basis for Magick and Miracles) and Deborah Twiss (Confidence Game)
Starring - Eric Roberts (Human Centipede III: Final Sequence), Cathy Moriarty (Casper), and Deborah Twiss
Release Date - 2014
Genre - Thriller
Tagline - "A tormented soul never dies"
Format - DVD (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     Thrillers have always been a love/hate relationship with me.  Most try way to hard to pull one over on the viewer and forgetting that they need to entertain those watching and not mind fuck them.  With that being said, I have seen several great thrillers the last few years that were sent my way for review.  I just finished up watching Pig Pen and it knocked my socks off.  I was very impressed by this low budget thriller and decided it was time to check out another thriller this time sent to me from Breaking Glass Pictures.  I had this thriller for several months after it was sent to me by random.  The thriller, A Cry From Within, starred Eric Roberts so I didn't want to blow it off completely.  Instead, I waited until the mood hit me.
     The film follows a family of four; father Jonathan (Roberts), the mother Cecile (Twiss), and their two children when they discover that Cecile is with child.  The family comes together to await the baby's arrival but things turn dark when Cecile has a miscarriage.  The family falls on dark times and cross paths with Alice (Moriarty).  Alice takes care of her bed ridden mother in a big house.  They strike up a conversation and Alice agrees to leave her home with her mother and let the family rent the big home.  The family moves in with hopes that this bigger home and change of scenery will help their family over this dark spot in their lives but what they don't know is that the house is home to a dark presence that wants to tear them apart.
     Personally, I enjoy a good thriller that relies heavily on atmosphere and story over the ones that try to give the viewer an unbelievable story with a twist ending.  A Cry from Within is able to nail the atmosphere but the story lacked depth and was unable to hold the viewer's attention.  The acting in this is amazing with the exception of the only reason I wanted to watch it, Eric Roberts.  Co-director and co-star Deborah Twiss was great.  She is absolutely gorgeous and it was almost impossible to look away from her.  It was great seeing Cathy Moriarty on the screen again.  If you grew up around the time I did then you saw Casper more times than you care to count so it was great to see her in another major role.  Her character Alice was solid as well and made every scene she was in fun.  Now, for Eric Roberts.  I am a big fan of Roberts and will go out of the way to grab his films whenever I can but I just wasn't feeling him in this film.  He was always smiling and his interactions with Twiss do not feel authentic and genuine.  Twiss is a hottie so don't get me wrong, but the whole time I felt he wasn't acting with her but trying to flirt with her while spitting out his dialogue.  This was very disappointing.  The story for this one feels incomplete and could easily be two separate films.  The film could have been a more traditional thriller with the family dealing with a tragedy and could have easily went the dramatic thriller route.  Also, the film could have amped up the paranormal aspect and made one creepy supernatural thriller.  Instead, the film tries to join the two and water them down which results in a very bland story with very little entertainment.  Finally, those of you that are looking for blood and gore will not find it here.  This is a thriller in every way so no bloodshed can be found.  Overall, A Cry from Within could have been one hell of a film but failed to do so.  We get a weak performance from Roberts and a story that just does not deliver.  I do not recommend this one.

Pig Pen

Director - Jason Koch (Lamplight, 7th Day)
Starring - Nicolette le Faye (The Chainsaw Sally Show, Call Girl of Cthulhu), Vito Trigo (Science Team, Return to Nuke 'Em High Vol. 1), and Lucas Koch (Witch's Brew, 7th Day)
Release Date - 2015
Genre - Drama/Thriller
Tagline - "A runaway returns for revenge"
Format - BluRay (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     Dire Wit Films has come to be a staple in my home over the last few years ever since I came across Isle of the Damned and Pleasures of the Damned on Netflix several years ago.  Since then I have followed them closely and when a new film is announced I often find myself becoming anxious with anticipation.  Since then I have been lucky enough to review Mutantis and 7th Day.  Several months back director and special effects artist Jason Koch announced that he would be hitting the director's chair one more time with a new dramatic thriller titled Pig Pen.  Just like with the others, I could not wait to see this one.  Not long ago Jason let me know that he had a few copies of the film available for review and I graciously accepted it and I am damn glad I did.
     The film follows 13 year old Zach (Koch) who lives with his single mother.  She is a loving mother but she is a struggling pill addict.  Her boyfriend supplies them to her along with money for bills and groceries.  He is a hustler and will get money any way he can and is not afraid to crack a few skulls if need be.  One day he finds himself in a horrible mood and forces Zach out on the streets to make up some quick cash.  Zach quickly learns that life is hard and the only way he will ever find happiness is if her mother's boyfriend is out of the picture.  Sadly, this is something that is easier said than done.  Soon Zach finds himself playing cat and mouse with this horrible man and several people that tries to aid him in his journey pays a high price.
     When Pig Pen was first announced I was under the impression it was a horror flick in the same line as 7th Day unlike their other films.  However, I soon learned that Pig Pen would be Dire Wit's departure from the genre.  Honestly, I didn't care what genre it was.  I was truly excited to finally get a new Dire Wit film.  With that being said, Dire Wit is known for their horror comedies and now they have etched a place for themselves on top of the dramatic thriller list with this near perfect film.  The acting in this one is great.  Lucas Koch does a solid job as the teenage runaway but his age and lack of experience shows in several scenes.  He was great and I can see this youth going far in cinema but a few scenes were a little awkward to watch as he was unable to nail down the desired emotion.  We also get an amazing performance from Nicolette le Faye which is no surprise.  Le Faye has been in some of my favorite films and has always nailed her role.  She is as beautiful as she is talented.  My favorite performance comes from Vito Trigo who was so fucking intense.  He stole every scene he was in and made is so easy to hate him.  He truly needs an award for his performance here.  The story for this one is very real and emotional.  The film dives deep into the underbelly of society and shows that not all families have the cookie cutter life that is depicted on television.  This story shows the real struggles that some children do have to face in this country and draws light on the topic of drug abuse.  This story has a lot going on but almost every angle handles the struggles that most lower class families face on a daily basis.  Finally, the film does have several bloody kills on screen that really surprised me.  I figured the film would be a straight forward thriller that would be very plot driven but Koch was unable to stay away from horror elements and delivered on the gore.  The practical effects are top notch as well which really made the kills even better.  Overall, Pig Pen is one hell of a powerful film that will toy with your emotions.  I highly recommend it.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Nightmare Weekend

Director - Henri Sala (Club Porno Pour Chattes)
Starring - Debbie Laster (Bad Girls Dormitory), Dale Midkiff (Dexter, Pet Sematary), and Debra Hunter
Release Date - 1986
Genre - Horror/Sci-Fi
Tagline - "Horrifying humans, terrifying technology"
Format - BluRay (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):

     Troma has and always will be one of my favorite indie labels.  They rarely let me down and offer up a variety of horror flicks for me to check out.  I prefer their campy horror comedies with over the to top characters and impossible stories like The Toxic Avenger, Class of Nuke 'Em High, Poultrygeist, and so many more.  Troma is also a well known distribution company known for releasing The Taint, The Chainsaw Sally Show, and Rabid Grannies.  Recently, Vinegar Syndrome announced that they would be teaming up with Troma yet again to release Nightmare Weekend in a DVD/blu combo.  I had the film in the Toxie's Blood Bank metal tin box set but never had the drive to watch it but once Vin Syn released it on blu I decided it was time to give the film a shot.  
     The film follows a young girl going to stay with her father.  Her father is a brilliant scientist who created a super computer that can help people and better society.  Unbeknownst to them, his sexy assistant has partnered with an evil corporation and plans on using the computer as a weapon and has invited three beautiful teens to stay on the property to further test the computer's full capabilities.  

     Troma has given the horror community so many memorable characters with their original releases along with some amazing indie horror flicks through their distribution company but Nightmare Weekend is far from being one of their best releases.  The film is one of their more serious releases, which is fine, but the film moves at a terrible pace resulting in a rather boring film.  The acting in this one is easily one of the best acted Troma releases to date.  The entire cast is great and deliver some amazing performances.  The cast works very well together and feed off each other in every scene.  This helped the film flow a little better.  I couldn't imagine how painful this film would have been if the cast would have missed a step.  The story for this one is a valiant attempt at a sci-fi/horror hybrid with the implementation of the the technology of the time.  This would have been a great story but so many scenes creep by which really tries the viewer's patience.  The film also has this awkward love story developing that pretty much ends with nothing resulting from it.  Editing would have went a long way with this film.  Finally, the film has several amazing on screen kills.  These kills are fucking brutal and will entertain the most dedicated of the gore hounds.  The practical effects for these kills are fantastic which really makes those kills that more impressive.  Overall, Nightmare Weekend is a missed opportunity with a story that fails to hold the viewer's attention.  The film has a great cast and some amazing kills but that is about it.  It deserves at least one watch but there is no replay value.  

Friday, November 27, 2015

Realm of Souls

Director - Chase Smith (Creature Feature)
Starring - Lance Paul (Geek Haven), Ella Bardine (The Beer Burglar), and Chase Smith
Release Date - 2013
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "Who's hunting who?
Format - DVD (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     I often find trends when I review a film and sometimes those trends don't work in my favor.  I often find myself reviewing films in what I call a rut.  I typically will review movies that are part of a certain sub-genres.  When I review a zombie flick I find myself reviewing three or four zombie flicks in a row unintentionally.  I find myself doing that a lot with zombies and slashers.  Today I posted a review for the found footage flick The Last Horror Movie and now I find myself writing one for yet another found footage film.  By now most of you know that I am not a fan of found footage flicks but have been surprised by a few the last few years.  Recently, Brain Damage Films sent me the found footage flick Realm of Souls to check out.  Found it only fitting to watch it after The Last Horror Movie.  
     The film begins with two couples sitting around the campfire in the woods drinking it up before calling it a night where they will return to their tents to screw around.  However, they are not alone in the woods and find themselves on the business of a machete.  Fast forward a bit and another group of twenty-somethings are going into the woods looking for their friends.  They find their camera and start piecing things together when they learn that they share the same fate as their friends.
     When you review indie horror productions you have to keep in mind that they will never be perfect as much as the cast and crew want you to believe.  The films are usually plagued with budget restraints, cast dropping out of production halfway through, and editing problems.  Now, I don't know anything about this film but it felt like something happened halfway through the film and the team had to piece some stuff together to make the film feel complete which it fails to do.  The acting in this can be split up into segments.  The first portion of the film the cast is pretty smooth and the film flows pretty well but the the second half it all to shit.  The cast does not act at all.  Instead they carry on half-assed conversations that have little to nothing to do with the actual film.  This made the film almost impossible to watch and destroys the story.  The story for this one has so much potential but is unable to fully tie the film together.  The film starts off as a nod to the classic slasher in the woods flicks with two beautiful women getting naked and then dying.  The film then tries to add a paranormal found footage spin to it where it could have still worked but the middle ground with the team partying it up results in a broken story and filler that is pretty much unwatchable.  Most scenes feel like they were filmed with no idea of where they would end up in the finished film.  Editing and many cuts from the film would have went a long way.  With all that being said, the film's last 30 minutes or so was well worth the time.  The film loops a pretty heavy track while people are getting butchered.  This was fun and definitely saved the film.  Finally, the film is full of on screen kills that are not that original but they are gruesome and fantastic.  The practical effects are great considering the film's budget.  This was surprisingly well done and these kills and practical effects are the film's high point.  Overall, Realm of Souls is a film that had a solid story but poor execution.  The film does end on a high note but the film's faults are still notable.  Flaws aside, this was still a fun film once it hit the last 30 minutes or so.  I recommend it.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Zombie Resurrection

Director(s) - Jake Hawkins and Andy Phelps
Starring - Eric Colvin (Broken), Jim Sweeney (Outlander), and Danny Brown (Boston Kickout)
Release Date - 2014
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "The dead won't stay undead"
Format - DVD (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     Well, it was a good run the last few weeks but it was just a matter of time before another zombie flick found it's way to my door step and into my Xbox One.  Lately, I have been reviewing several different films ranging from slashers to creature features.  Zombie flicks are everywhere regardless if you like them or not.  Personally, I love a good zombie flick but there is so many out there now that the bad far out weigh the good.  Recently, Midnight Releasing sent over a copy of the zombie flick Zombie Resurrection to check out.  I was not in the mood for another zombie flick but I refuse to not review a film that was sent to me for review so I went ahead and tossed it in where I was very surprised by the story it presented before me.
     The film follows a group of survivors who are trying to take a prisoner to an army outpost to be executed.  He is believed to be the man who brought about the zombie infection ending the world the way we know it.  However, along the way they encounter several zombies and are forced to seek shelter in a nearby building.  What they don't know is that there is a zombie that can turn any zombie he comes in contact with into a human again.  They attempt to capture the zombie to study only to suffer heavy casualties.  
     The zombie films of recent years tend to follow the same story that fans tend to eat up.  This is the formula we had seen so many times before but was made popular by The Walking Dead.  These films tend to be more dramatic than they are horror which results in a rather boring zombie flick.  Very few are able to spin that type of story like Romero can and still offer up the horror.  Zombie Resurrection tries to offer up a similar story only to pull the rug out from under you with the addition of one huge plot point.  The acting in this one is actually pretty solid by the entire cast.  No one character stands out over the others but all of them are very consistent in their performances.  This helps the story flow very well and easy to understand.  The story for this one has a lot of problems with it but does offer up something that I have never seen before in a zombie flick.  The film starts out with zombies over taking the world and a group of survivors, of which only two are military, taking a prisoner to an army base for execution.  This person is supposedly the one that started the epidemic unintentionally.  I have several problems with this.  One, if the world if over why would they still try to hang this man instead of feeding him to the creatures he created?  Two, why kill the man who made the virus when he may be able to make a cure?   Three, why would a group of civilians who are looking for safety be escorting a prisoner to his death.  It just didn't make sense to me.  With all that being said, I really enjoyed the zombie Jesus angle.  It was very surprising and actually made me wonder about all the possibilities that could come out of a film with a character like this.  Sadly, the film does not properly use this character but it was still cool to see something like this in a low budget zombie flick.  Finally, the film has some gnarly kills that truly caught me off guard.  The kills come with some great practical effects.  The practical effects work very well with the kills we get.  Overall, Zombie Resurrection is a film that has so much potential but the story just falls apart even though there is several moments where it thinks outside of the box.  I recommend this one for the zombie Jesus angle but that's it.  

The Last Horror Movie

Director - Julian Richards (Shiver)
Starring - Kevin Howarth (Gallowwalkers), Mark Stevenson (Frankenstein's Army), and Antonia Beamish (Dead Creatures)
Release Date - 2003
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "Wait until you see the final cut..."
Format - DVD (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     When I was growing up the go to horror magazine was Fangoria.  Fangoria offered up some amazing content for horror fans and helped me find some great horror films and music.  Sadly, as I got older their content seemed to switch from all types of horror to more mainstream horror and I have since turned my back on the once popular publication.  During the early 2000s Fangoria dabbled in the film distribution business and attached their name to several releases.  One popular release was The Last Horror Movie which was originally released in 2003 and was later re-released on DVD just last year.  I was sent the movie to review at that time and forgot about it until now.  Sadly, I feel I didn't miss much.  
     The film follows Max (Howarth) who is being followed by his assistant and recorded.  He uses a video store rental to record over so someone will unwillingly see his atrocities.  Max is a serial killer and has been killing for some time.  He is cool and calculating as to avoid capture from the police.  He then maliciously stalks his victims and then has his way with them in different ways that way the police can not piece the murders together.

      The Last Horror Movie was a film that I never really had an interest in checking out and once I found out it was a found footage flick I wanted to avoid it.  I thought the movie would be a one trick pony so to speak with the film dragging out just one instance and turning it into a feature length movie.  For the most part I was right.  The acting in this one is amazing.  Kevin Howarth is brilliant as Max. His character is always collected and charming.  He has a more realistic approach to his character and puts Patrick Bateman to shame.  He is a great character and the only thing stopping him from becoming iconic is the fact he is not attached to an actual story.  The remainder of the cast is rather bland and boring.  They have no depth to their characters which results in boring scenes.  The story for this one is very simple and very boring.  The film follows Max around as he spends time with family and friends, working at his day job recording weddings, and then killing people in pretty boring ways.  The film offers up nothing new or something to hold the viewer's attention.  Finally, the film does have a few on screen deaths but they, too, are like the story.  They are boring and lackluster with no redeeming quality.  The practical effects are very minimal an do just enough to make the gag work.  Overall, The Last Horror Movie is a film that could be something more especially considering the charismatic killer the film delivers.  Instead, it is boring offering up the same situation over and over again.  I recommend the film just to watch Max but that is all I can recommend.