Sunday, February 28, 2016

In the Hell of Dixie

Director - Eric F. Adams
Starring - Austin T. Adams, Eric F. Adams (Night of the Demons), and Joaquin Adams
Release Date - 2016
Genre - Gorror
Tagline - "Wild game can also be human"
Format - DVD (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     Sometimes I get films in to review and the title and artwork instantly hook me.  Titles and artwork can open your imagination and make you wonder about what the film is about, especially if you have never heard of it before.  Lately I have been getting lots of movies that I have never heard of before and the artwork and title had made my mind race about what the film could be about or what kind of film I would be watching.  Not long ago I got a package from Alternative Cinema.  There was several films in the package but the one that stood out to me was In the Hell of Dixie.  This little play on words intrigued me considering I grew up in the mountain state surrounded by southern culture.  After I got caught up on a few films sent to me for review I went ahead and tossed this one in to see if it was as fun as I had hoped.
     The film follows a hunting club who head out to their lodge for a little hunting, drinking, and some white-tail if you know what I mean.  The hunting club members, along with members of the local community, turn up dead sending the police in to investigate.  Soon a deputy is dragged into the murders as a suspect when things from his past surface.  Now the remaining members of the hunting club must fight for their lives against a killer dressed in a white dress.
     In the Hell of Dixie was not the film I thought it would be.  The film was a slow moving character piece with shitty characters and a story that needed more than an hour cut from it.  The acting in this one was not the best.  Some of the cast showed some real talent but lacked the motivation or drive to make their characters believable while others, honestly, did not need to be in front of the camera.  They made no attempt at acting and just spit their dialogue out.  The cast was not consistent or on the same level.  The story for this one is one we have seen so many times before in a slasher flick.  A group of people head out into the woods, discover an old urban legend, and then find out that the urban legend is real.  This is just like Friday the 13th, Madman, The Forrest, and so many more.  It offers up no originality and is hard to follow at times with random ass flash backs that look nothing like a flash back.  Finally, the film has several on screen kills if you are able to sit through the first hour and a half of film.  Yes, you read that correctly, an hour and a half.  The film is over 2 hours long and the kills do not start until the last 30 mins.  The kills are not that impressive but they do have some solid practical effects and full of blood.  Overall, In the Hell of Dixie is an unoriginal movie that is poorly written.  The cast is a mess to watch and the film's lack of original kills will disappoint any horror fan.  I can not recommend this one.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Bloody Burlesque

Director - Patricia Chica (Serpent's Lullaby)
Starring - Tonya Kay (The Lone Ranger), Tiffany Shepis (Bonnie and Clyde vs. Dracula), and Lily Spencer (The Disco Exorcist)
Release Date - 2016
Genre - Horror
Format - Streaming (Online Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     February is known by the masses as Black History month but to the horror community it is the Women in Horror Month which is kinda dumb to me.  Without women we would not have horror.  They are an important part of the genre and only giving them their credit one month a year is fucking stupid.  Women and men alike deserve to be acknowledged for all their hard work.  Earlier this month director Patricia Chica sent out online screeners to her new short Bloody Burlesque as part of Women in Horror Month.  To be honest, I have never seen a film from Chica but I was open to checking it out to show respect to the women that worked hard on this film...and because I have a huge crush on Tiffany Shepis.
     This short follows a bizarre burlesque act that features a very beautiful blonde (Kay) with words written upon her body.  These are horrible words like "cancer," "infection," "wound," and so on.  She dances around a bit with fire before heading to the main attraction.  She removes her shirt, and while wearing pasties she slowly covers herself in blood until those horrible words are no longer visible on her nearly perfect body.

     Shorts only work when you use what time you have wisely and deliver a story worth watching.  If the story is weak or not properly told in that short amount of time then the viewer will not enjoy themselves.  Sadly, Bloody Burlesque is a super short flick with no story at all.  The acting in this one is solid considering it's really just centered around two cast members.  There is several people in the audience but all they do is make facial expressions.  The only two cast members that do anything is the super beautiful Tiffany Shepis and Tonya Kay.  Shepis is great as the burlesque host and brought about some great atmosphere while Kay is elegant as the burlesque performer covering herself in blood.  Her role was a lot more demanding with the nearly nude dancing.  These two did great.  The story for this one is non-existent.  The film is around 2 minutes and consists of a female announcer announcing a dancer who covers herself in blood.  That is it.  The story is sexy but has nothing of value.  It has no substance but is symbolic in a way.  The blood cleanses the body.  This was a cool concept but was horrible for the center point of a short.  It has nothing to hold the viewer over.  Finally, the film has no on screen kills with amazing practical effects.  No one dies and the only blood comes out of a small bucket and poured over a beautiful blonde.  The title is fitting but makes but the viewer is expecting some gore.  Overall, Bloody Burlesque is a short with potential but fails to capture any of it.  The film is sexy but that is as far as it goes.  No carnage or story for those of us looking for a well rounded horror flick.

Friday, February 26, 2016

The Pigman Murders

Director - Stephen Patrick Kenny (Captive)
Starring - Gerard Fallon (Zombies are People Too), Mark Hutchinson (Curse of the Banshee), and Ollie Keogh (Undead)
Release Date - 2015
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "Seven friends.  No witnesses"
Format - DVD (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     Found footage is not my bag.  I've tried to like it, and I like a few of them, but most of them are just bad.  I do like The Blair Witch Project though it has been almost ten years since I last seen it along with a few others that has popped up here and there but most of them are a painful viewing experience.  One of my favorite indie distribution companies, Wild Eye Releasing, has been known to release found footage flicks over the years.  A few have been enjoyable with Play Hooky coming to mind.  Not long ago they released the film The Pigman Murders on DVD.  I had no idea the film was a found footage flick but the DVD artwork put me in mind of my favorite West Virginia slasher Porkchop.  I reached out to them and they were kind enough to send a review copy my way.  Once again, thanks guys!
     The film follows a group of guys who set out to go hiking and camping in an area that their late friend loved to visit.  They hire a videographer to follow them as they film their trip for their late friend's family.  Along the way they drink it up and argue among themselves resulting in one leaving the group as they travel to their destination.  They try to hold themselves together for the sake of the film but soon find themselves at the hands of a murderous man wearing a pig mask.
     Found footage is easily the rawest horror sub-genre there is and has the most potential out of all of them.  Found footage is the only sub-genre with the potential to convince the viewer that what they are seeing is real.  There is tremendous potential that sadly goes to waste when a film crew attempts to convince the viewer that what they are seeing in in fact real.  The Pigman Murders is one of those films that goes too far trying to make the film feel authentic by feeling the film full of pointless dialogue and human daily activities.  The acting in this one is pretty rough even for an indie horror flick.  The cast tries to feel natural as if they are not playing characters but themselves.  This is like almost every other found footage flick which makes the film awkward to watch. The story for this one is one we have seen countless times before rather it was a slasher flick or found footage.  In fact, this story is almost identical to three other slashers where a group of people is butchered by a sicko in a pig mask while in the woods.  The first and obvious film that comes to mind is Porkchop followed by the two imitation films, Hogmaul and Madison County.  The story is extremely slow to watch and almost impossible to follow due to the viewer falling asleep from listening to a group of former frat boys talking about themselves.  Finally, the film has a few on screen kills after waiting almost an hour.  The kills are very boring and and nothing we haven't seen before.  In fact, all the kills were done in other films and were actually better in the original films.  The practical effects are very limited.  They are decent but wasted on the boring kills we do get.  Overall, The Pigman Murders is not the film I was expecting.  The story was horrible, the kills are lackluster, and the acting is rough.  I would recommend avoiding this one and grabbing another Wild Eye release.  

Mrparka Review's "American Horror Project Vol. 1" (Malatesta's Carnival of Blood, The Witch Who Came from the Sea, and The Premonition)

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Driven to Succeed

Director - Mark Colegrove (Isle of the Damned)
Starring - Chris Kamsch (Zombinatrix), Kathy Carson (Call Girl of Cthulhu), and Rick Miller (Xavi)
Release Date - 2015
Genre - Comedy/Sci-Fi
Tagline - "In this driving school the only thing more dangerous than the learning curve are the instructors"
Format - DVD (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     Dire Wit Films is a company I have followed for several years now after finding Isle of the Damned on Netflix.  I was immediately hooked on the film and soon followed that viewing up with Pleasures of the Damned which is another Dire Wit Films release.  Since then I have watched Mutantis, 7th Day, and the recent Pig Pen release.  All are amazing films and deserve your time.  Late last year I discovered that this indie production company was working on a comedy and branching away from horror.  While most shunned them for this move I praised it.  I knew they would give us an amazing film.  I reached out to them once again and they sent a review copy my way.  Sadly, it was just a disc and I put it up to stop my toddler from finding it and destroying.  I then forgot about it until recently when I was organizing my film collection.  Sorry for dropping the ball, guys!
     The film follows a group of drug addicted driving instructors for Driven to Succeed.  The owner is running for political office and was running unopposed until a mysterious man shows up to run against him with plans on shutting his school down.  The driving instructors band together, along with a student, to stop this corrupt politician so their boss, another corrupt politician, can win the election.  However, what they discover along the way is something straight from science fiction.

     Dire Wit Films started out making hilarious horror flicks that made fun of the cliches that made older horror films so much fun.  They then mixed it up a bit and offered up one hell of a serious horror film and then a drama/thriller about wasted teenage youth.  Now they have set their sights on the standard comedy and succeeded.  You can even say they were Driven to Succeed!  No?  Sorry, I couldn't resist.  The acting in this one is surprising well done.  When I first found Dire Wit they had released Isle and Pleasures which was full of goofy characters and cast members just acting crazy on camera.  These were fun roles but did not require a lot of talent.  However, 7th Day and Pig Pen was a huge jump from that and Driven to Succeed follows in their footsteps delivering amazing performances from the entire cast.  The story for this one is straight from the 80s and has been the basis for dozens of comedies from that time frame.  You know the story, the teenagers have to do something before an evil person/corporation/government agency take their jobs from them and end up unemployed.  I even think this was a Saved by the Bell episode when the show turned stupid and they were sky instructors or some shit like that.  I loved it.  This is a story line that we no longer see and it was cool to see it adapted into modern times and filled with drugs.  It was funny and pulled the viewer in.  This particular story was also layered and every character had their own side stories that were funny and entertaining.  Finally, those of you looking for blood and guts will be very disappointed and clearly did not pick up on the fact that this is a comedy and not a horror flick.  Overall, Driven to Succeed is fucking fantastic.  The film is funny, well written, has a brilliant cast, and shows that the indie scene is alive and well.  This is why I love Dire Wit and will continue to support them and their work.  Keep up the good work guys!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016


aka The Horror Star 

Director - Norman Thaddeus Vane (You're So Dead)
Starring - Ferdy Mayne (Conan the Destroyer), Luca Bercovici (The Granny), and Nita Talbot (Puppet Master II)
Release Date - 1983
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "The ultimate nightmare"
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     When I was in high school I would visit my brother and his family in Tennessee anytime my Dad would let me.  My brother was 12 years older than me so while I was growing up he was out raising a family of his own.  During my visits his wife would take me to Blockbuster where I could rent movies that my local ma and pop shop didn't have.  One movie that I was able to rent that I had never seen was Re-Animator.  This was one of the few VHS tapes left at Blockbuster at the time and it looked insanely fun.  This spawned a love for all things Lovecraft, Gordon, and Jeffrey Combs.  Since then I have tried to collect everything of theirs that I could.  Recently, my friends over at Vinegar Syndrome released the film Frightmare on blu.  The film is known for starring a young Combs before Re-Animator.  I had the film on DVD but never opened it but I thank Vin Syn for sending me the updated blu to check out.
     The film follows a group of kids who break into a cemetery to find their favorite horror actor who recently passed.  They find his tomb and steal the body in the dead of night.  They take his body and coffin to an old mansion that may have been the location for several horror films that Conrad, the horror star, was in.  They spend the night drinking it up and propping up Conrad's body in silly poses until they pass out.  During the night the police find out the body has been stolen and Conrad's widow sees a psychic to find her husband's body.  Her power brings Conrad back from the dead and he starts killing those that took his body one by one.
     Frightmare is a film that actually confused me a bit before I actually bought the Troma released DVD.  I was under the impression that Frightmare was a 1974 horror film but when I was buying up Jeffrey Combs flicks I came across this one.  When I learned it was originally titled The Horror Star I could not figure out why the film's title was changed.  The original was so much better and this blu release has the reverse cover to show that original title and artwork.  The acting in this one is fantastic.  Ferdy Mayne is brilliant as horror star Conrad.  He was amazing and channeled his inner Vincent Price and John Carradine.  This is a name I am shocked was not more known considering how great he was in this role.  The remainder of the cast , including Jeffrey Combs, offers up some great performances but their characters are very flat and not very memorable.  This was a fault in the writing and not the cast's fault.  They can only do so much with their roles when their is a character as flamboyant as Conrad.  The story for this one is pretty fucking fun.  The dead horror star killing fans in a slasher manner was pretty damn clever.  It did leave room for some dry scenes but it pretty much cruised along as a steady pace.  Finally, the film has several on screen kills.  Most are are funny and clever while others were lacking imagination. Horror from the 80s was known for their kills but this one dropped the ball somewhat.  Overall, Frightmare is a solid early 80s horror film that oddly pays tribute to horror stars of yesteryear that were sadly out the door by this time.  The film has a fun story and a great cast.  The kills are nothing special but they do offer up some entertainment value.  I recommend this one.