Monday, October 31, 2016

Halloween Spookies

Director(s) - Dustin Mills (Puppet Monster Massacre) and Dave Parker (Slimey Little Bastards)
Starring - Joni Durian (Alone in the Ghost House), Haley Madison (CarousHELL), and Brandon Salkil (Kill That Bitch)
Release Date - 2016
Genre - Horror/Comedy
Format - Streaming

Rating (out of 5):
     This year has been a pretty shitty year.  We have lost so many amazing people that brought us joy.  Dozens of musicians, artists, philanthropists, actors, and actresses lost their lives.  In terms of loss, this has been the saddest year that I can remember.  To make this year feel even more worse, some of my favorite filmmakers have yet to release a film which is something I tend to look forward to.  Richard Griffin, Eamon Hardiman, and Dustin Mills have yet to release a new movie which is a bummer but that would change.  Just a few days ago Dustin Mills partnered with YouTuber, actor, and director Dave Parker to release the Halloween anthology Halloween Spookies for free.  This was welcomed news.  I spoke with Dave some about it when we were hanging out at Cinema Wasteland but little info was given to me then.  
     The film follows two witches who tell stories to a lost trick or treater.  The first story, The Babysitter, follows a young babysitter who is watching two small children who have a fear of clowns after they say they see one wondering around their home but their parents have yet to see it.  While she is alone she happens up on the clown and has to defend herself from the knife wielding maniac.  The second story, The Messenger, we follow a struggling writer who finds a strange man in his home.  When he confronts him he finds that the man is dead and is brought there to tell him that he is actually dead and will need to finish his novel before he can move over to the other side.  The third and final tale, The Familiars, follows a young man who wants to join a gang but is tasked with performing a ritual in order to get in.  His friend convinces him to use the book they gave him to raise a demon.  They are successful in calling a demon...which is actually three demons.  They second guess themselves and try to stop them before they kill everyone.
     When I heard that Mills partnered with Parker to create a kid friendly Halloween film I had a boner.  I real my pants.  I love Mills work, Halloween, and kid friendly horror.  Goosebumps, Hocus Pocus, Under Wraps, Halloweentown, and the Halloween Tree are some of my favorite Halloween watches so finding a Mills/Parker production ready for the holiday was damn near perfect.  The acting in this one is great.  Brandon Salkil is one of the best actors in the indie game.  He always brings his characters to life on screen.  His performance in Slimey Little Bastards will never be topped but he gave it a damn good shot in Halloween Spookies.  We also get an unforgettable performance from co-director Dave Parker who kills it as an undead messenger.  Dave was fucking fantastic and delivered one memorable performance.  I would love to see this character return in another film or short.  The film also has another great performance from DMP and Crumbleshack regulars Joni Durian and Haley Madison.  They held all the stories together and were very enjoyable.  The rest of the cast is great as well and really helped the story along.  The stories for this anthology is fun and had roots in other Halloween classics of the past.  They may not be original but by god they hit the right spots.  The first tale, The Babysitter, is similar to most paranormal horror film that are centered around a babysitter but the supernatural aspect was replaced with a clown.  The second tale, The Messenger, was great.  It was a solid mash up of The Heavenly Kid and Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey.  Dave Parker definitely modeled his character after William Sadler's character Death in Bill and Ted along with Bobby Fantana from The Heavenly Kid.  I loved it and could see this character taking center stage in another movie.  The third tale, The Familiars, is the cream of the crop.  The story brings Dustin back to what made him popular in the indie horror community and put him smack dab in the middle of puppet mayhem.  The whole demonic puppet angle was brilliant.  The wrap around story is what brings the movie together.  The witches telling stories was great and sold the film.  Finally, those of you looking for gore will not find it here.  There may be some blood, very little if any, but the film does not rely on death and gore.  Instead, it takes the viewer to a time when Halloween movies were centered around the holiday and not the gore.  Overall, Halloween Spookies is for the nostalgic horror fan.  If you grew up watching Ernest Scared Stupid and The Willies then this movie is for you.  It has some laughs and a lot of charm.  Check it out.

Sunday, October 30, 2016


Director - Andreas Marshall (German Angst)
Starring - Susen Ermich (Ultimate Justice), Magdalena Ritter (Tears of Kali), and Julita Witt (The Miracle of Berlin)
Release Date - 2011
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "Fame is pain"
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     There is several distribution companies that I love.  Companies like Wild Eye, Blue Underground, Cult Epics, Arrow Video, and a few more are guaranteed to find a place on my shelves.  New companies pop up almost daily that offer up an impressive release here and there but quickly dwindle into obscurity.  That brings me to a relatively new company, Reel Gore Releasing.  The company recently released Violent Shit: The Movie which was a bit of a let down but quickly made up for it with their new release and the announcement of two new releases.  Their second release, Masks, was one hell of a film that really impressed me.  I want to thank Nico over at Reel Gore for sending the review copy my way.
     The film follows Stella (Ermich) is a struggling actress who can't find the right footing with her performance.  After failing yet another audition she is instructed to try an obscure arts school that has an usual way of teaching drama.  She agrees and visits the school where she quickly learns that something strange is going on.  When she starts investigating some of the strange occurrences she learns what the real secret of the school is and why it is so strange.

     Movies are weird to say the least.  I was so excited to watch Violent Shit: The Movie only to be very let down but when I received Masks for review I had no idea what to expect.  I had heard nothing about the film and did not have an idea what the film was about.  With that being said, it was fucking phenomenal.  Why was an amazing movie that was made in 2011 just now finding a release?  The acting in this one is fantastic.  Normally, it's hard to judge a foreign release but this film is well acted and it shows regardless of the language.  The casting director for this film truly deserves a raise.  The story for this one is follows the giallo formula perfectly and pulls the viewer into the world of Argento.  The story is a stylish murder mystery with a great ending and a lot of suspense throughout.  I typically dislike giallos but this one knew exactly how to hold the viewer's attention.  Finally, those of you looking for death will find it here.  The film has several death scenes that take it's time when it comes to the carnage.  The kills are not rushed but stylishly drawn out to give the viewer their money's worth.  No camera tricks and quick cuts where the viewer misses out here.  Instead, the kills are are done in front of us for us to enjoy.  The effects are great as well and work perfectly to make the gags work.  Overall, Masks is an outstanding horror film.  The film is stylish, well written, and perfectly executed.  Check this one out as soon as possible.

Masks Blu-Ray

By Mrparka 
“Masks” is reminiscent of the 70s and 80s Italian horror films of Argento and other maestros. The story, lighting, script, and death scenes seem to mimic, to a certain extent, the nature, atmosphere, location, and plight of our lead character. “Masks” follows a struggling actress who enrolls in a mysterious acting school. She soon finds out that there are some sinister elements taking place under her and the other students' noses. As she digs deeper and becomes more involved in an outdated and dangerous acting method she begins to lose her grip on sanity. “Masks” most interesting aspect, second to style, is the psychological. In particular, that of our two core characters. We get a glimpse into their backgrounds and understand their interactions with others, each other, and their environment. These glimpses also play into the motivations of the villains. This story line is the driving force and only deviates to include side characters. The side characters are here to be stabbed to bits; to keep the audience's blood lust satisfied and show real danger. Unfortunately most of these characters are just cannon fodder. The motivation of our villains is a doozy, the setup is decent. Our lead discovers an old documentary about the school and its wild acting practices, including drugs and out of control, high energy emotions. When the final twist is revealed it is a bit off its rocker, but the wild idea and originality is appreciated. It doesn't make for an awful film in the end. The location, an old acting school, really helps play into the structure of the script, letting wings and rooms be discovered as the mystery unfolds. Some type of a learning institute has long been a part of the Italian films “Masks” is inspired from, think "Suspiria." The school is also a perfect setup for this style, a scared and or scarred individual being thrust into a hostile environment where they aren't readily accepted. The lighting fits the bill as well with some teals and brighter colors that illuminate well. The deaths in the film are quicker than one would expect and our filmed with less finesse than its predecessors, but are fairly gory and done well enough. The score also brings the creepy atmosphere to full potential and leaves a haunting lingering feeling. By the end of the day we have a solid yet, a little long giallo style horror film made in Germany with good gore, a couple standout performances, a batshit ending, a creepy score and location, and a nice setup. This edition includes deleted scenes, a making of, and a soundtrack and is packaged deluxe.
Plot Summary:
In her quest for fame, drama student Stella gets caught in the grip of a mysterious and deadly stage school. Stella longs to be an actress. When she is accepted to a private school in Berlin, her dream seems to come true. But there is something wrong with the “Matteusz Gdula-Institute”. In the seventies, the school´s founder, Matteusz Gdula, practiced a learning style that promised to let students shine by driving them to their mental limits. In the end his method was banned, as mysterious deaths occurred during his lessons and Gdula committed suicide.

At night, Stella hears eerie sounds in the corridors of the school. A fellow student disappears. Stella suspects that behind the closed door to the abandoned, forbidden wing of the school lurks a bloody secret. A secret that kills the students... First 3000 copies include: CD - Original Soundtrack, Collectible Blu-ray/DVD Slipcase and Sleeve, 24 Page Booklet.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Cannibal Claus

Director - Sean Donohue (Death-Scort Service)
Starring - Bob Glazier (Slasher Weekend), Alberto Giovannelli (The Carnage Collection), and Mady Giovannelli
Release Date - 2016
Genre - Horror
Tagline  "You're only as good as you taste"
Format - DVD (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     I absolutely love Halloween and anything associated with it.  The candy, the costumes, the decorations, and of course all the horror movies. I would be lying if I said Halloween is my favorite holiday because it isn't.  Christmas is by far my favorite holiday.  As soon as it hits December I turn into Clark Griswold.  I string up lights, blow molds, inflatables, and so on to the point it looks like Target's holiday section exploded in my yard.  I just love Christmas.  Well, I love Xmas since I'm not religious.  Anyway, I love Christmas and I love Christmas horror.  Sadly, we don't get a lot of new Christmas themed horror films.   A few years back saw the release of Caesar and Otto's Deadly Xmas and last year saw Dismembering Christmas.  With the exception of the unwatchable Krampus films we hardly get Christmas horror.  Cue in Sean Donohue and his new film Cannibal Claus.  This Bob Glazier led flick was one we were surprised with when Sean announced its completion with little to no announcement that he was actually making the film.  When the film was completed Sean reached out to me with a review copy.  Once again, thank you Sean for allowing Horror Society and myself the opportunity to see your new film.
     The film follows mall Santa Nick Cringle (Glazier) who is let go from his job after five years of service.  He does not take the news very well and breaks down on his former employer before leaving.  Nick is now a changed man.  His dark past has come back to haunt him and the torment of his youth gets the best of him which sends him on a killing spree.  He starts breaking into homes where he kills and rapes, usually in that order, before cutting up the bodies into small pieces to place in his fridge or to cook while making his way through his own naughty list.

     I really enjoy these Gatorblade Films and Sleaze Box collaborations.  When these two come together you know you are about to watch a movie full of sex, debauchery, and bloodshed.  Death-Scort Service set the pace and Chaos A.D. raised the bar.  Where would Cannibal Claus land in the middle of all the carnage?  The acting for this one is solid.  Bob Glazier is one hell of an actor.  He looks like your stereotypical grandfather.  You can tell deep down he is a loving man who holds his friends and family in high regards but when the camera starts rolling he is a different beast altogether.  In almost every film I have seen him in where he plays a killer or a maniac he winds up making my skin crawl.  He is a true psycho when the camera is rolling.  Another performance that I really enjoyed was from Alberto Giovannelli.  I am unfamiliar with this young man but his character was funny in a sense but creepy as hell.  His laugh scene made me belly laugh but it was still creepy to watch.  His scenes, which are done in flashback segments, also included Mady and Lucio Giovannelli who I assume is his family.  They all did great and made the scenes even more creepier.  Now, on to the ladies of Cannibal Claus.  I don't know what they put in the water in Florida but they know how to make beautiful women.  We see several familiar faces like Krystal Adams, Cayt Feinics, Ashley Caputo, Paula Tsurara, and one of my new favorites Racheal Shaw.   They are all sexy, provocative, and know how to steal a scene. The story for this one is one we have seen before but not that many times.  Killer Santa flicks are what we usually get for Halloween horror but we never get cannibal Santa flicks.  This was fun but some of the scenes were just a little too long or tried the viewer's patience.  A little trimming would have went a long way.  Finally, the film has tons of blood and gore.  In fact, the film is just as gory as Death-Scort Service which was fucking fantastic.  The effects in this one is great which is something to expect coming from Gatorblade and Sleaze Box.  When it comes to indie horror they have been raising the bar when it comes to gore.  The kills are weak for the most part but, big but, the enjoyment comes from the dismemberment.  The effects are great and work well with these scenes.  Overall, Cannibal Claus is another fucking disgusting piece of raunchy cinema...I fucking love it.  The women are dangerous and Bob Glazier is a beast on camera.  The story does need the fat trimmed but no movie is perfect.  If you want a movie to build the muscles in your right arm then look no further.  Check it out.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Raising the Stakes

Director - Justin Channell (Die and Let Live)
Starring - Josh Lively (Winners Tape All: The Henderson Brothers Story), Zane Crosby (Basic Slaughter), and Ryan Stocking (Faces of Schlock)
Release Date - 2005
Genre - Horror/Comedy
Tagline - "There's a sucker born every minute"
Format - DVD (Personal Collection)

Rating (out of 5):

     When I was younger I absolutely loved vampire movies.  I grew up loving Fright Night, The Lost Boys, Children of the Night, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Once Bitten, and so many more.  I absolutely loved them.  When it comes to horror the vampire was my first love.  Sadly, vampire films fell into a slump in the 2000s with films like Queen of the Damned and the Twilight Saga but not all of them are bad.  Sometime ago I picked up a Justin Channell double feature with Die and Let Live and Raising the Stakes.  At the time I had no idea that Justin and crew were from West Virginia which is something that came to light after picking up his newest film Winners Tape All: The Henderson Brothers Story.  After seeing how awesome WTA was I had to make time to check out his other work.
     The film follows best friends Steve (Lively) and Bob (Crosby) who want to be much so that they pretend to be them at night.  This often leads to humiliation for them both before they are confronted by an unusual man who offers to make them both vampires.  They reluctantly agree but soon find themselves the victims of their own curiosity and take the stranger up on his offer.  They soon find themselves actual vampires but are forced to feed within a certain time before they die.  This turns out to be harder than they imagined as they are still weak and nerdy. Its a race against the clock to find them some blood before they die.
      It is a difficult task to make a movie for most indie filmmakers.  They lack equipment, knowledge, budget, and so much more that most film sets have.  What they have that these big budget sets don't is heart and dedication.  Raising the Stakes is a vampire film that lacks a lot of things but it still is able to find its way and entertain the viewer.  The acting in this one is decent for the most part but nowhere near the quality of acting we got in Channell's follow up, Die and Let Live.  The cast is clearly having fun in each scene but their lack if experience is very noticeable.  We once again get a fun performance from stars Josh Lively and Zane Crosby.  They work so well together and I can see why Channell keeps casting them opposite of each other.  The story for this one has its moments.  It would have worked better as a short but is still works for the most part.  I really enjoyed the premise following two nerds who want to be vampires.  Sadly, this runs its course fairly quickly and the film repeats itself.  The film begins with them packing an ass whooping because they pretended to be vampires.  After several scenes full of boring dialogue we then follow the two, now vampires, as they pack ass whoopins from the same people.  The film would have worked so much better if it was a short.  Finally, those of you looking or blood and gore will not find it with this no budget outing.  The film relies heavily on story instead of kills and death.  Overall, Raising the Stakes is a fun no budget vampire flick.  It has a fun story that I would love to see Channell, Josh Lively, and Zane Crosby visit again with the knowledge they now have.  Check it out.  I hear its free on YouTube now.


Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Die and Let Live

Director - Justin Channell (Raising the Stakes, Winners Tape All: The Henderson Brothers Story)
Starring - Josh Lively (Bleeding Through, Faces of Schlock), Zane Crosby (Knight of the Living Dead, Raising the Stakes), and Sarah Bauer (Basic Slaughter)
Release Date - 2006
Genre - Horror/Comedy
Tagline - "A zombie movie in the tradition of Return of the Living Dead, Superbad, and The Sandlot"
Format - DVD (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     I absolutely love nothing more than coming across a movie that was shot in West Virginia.  I grew up just a few miles from War, West Virginia which is known as the southern most town in the state.  I was born in West Virginia, lived here my whole life, and I will probably be buried here.  Been in this state for 30 years and a fan of horror for well over 15 years but it still blows my mind when I discover an indie filmmaker in the state.  When I first started writing reviews for my little blog I was introduced to Eamon Hardiman and his Porkchop trilogy who was based out of Charleston, WV.  I met him at Shockacon and we became friends.  Not long after that I came across Brad Twigg and his Ghoulish Tales and Milfs vs Zombies films.  Twigg was based out of the northern portion of the state.  A few months back several friends shared news on a new mockumentary called Winners Tape All: The Henderson Brothers Story.  The film looked fun and after doing some digging I learned that the director and two of the film's stars were from the mountain state.  This really excited me so I pulled the trigger and ordered a copy for myself.  I creeped the director Justin Channell and learned that he directed two films that I had owned for sometime but never watched - Die and Let Live and Raising the StakesWinners Tape All is a modern masterpiece in every sense of the word so it was only a matter of time before I ventured into his other films.
     The film follows pals Benny (Lively) and Scotty (Crosby) who are inseparable.  The two have been friends for years and plan on having a party, inviting some friends over, having a little booze, and Benny plans on asking out his crush, Stephanie (Bauer).  Sadly, she has a new boyfriend who is a big douche and very territorial.  To make matter worse, the undead have escaped a local testing facility and make their way to the party.  Now Benny, Scotty, Stephanie, and the other party goers must fight to stay alive or become zombie shit.
     I love a good, no budget zombie movie especially if they were released before The Walking Dead.  Now zombie films try to mimic the drama of the zombie apocalypse and not the zombies themselves.  Zombie films before 2010 had a decent amount of humor, memorable characters with charm, and zombies.  Die and Let Live is a fun film that has it flaws but delivers on the entertainment.  The acting in this one is fun but has plenty of room for improvement.  The film's stars, Josh Lively and Zane Crosby, work extremely well together which makes me believe they were actually friends before the film.  They feed off each other and their casting is perfect.  The remainder of the cast is great as well but they showed their inexperience.  They had the charisma and on screen talent but still needed the experience that so many great actors have used to their benefit over the years.  The story for this one is nothing new.  We have seen so many other zombie flicks following escaped zombies from a scientific testing facility who escape and raise chaos.  We have also seen several zombie flicks that pit zombies against partying teenagers.  There is very few films that follow a story line that combines the two but it still happens.  What makes this story so fun is the characters.  We get the film's main characters, Benny and Scotty, who are very relatable.  Viewers, for the most part, will easily associate with these two.  We then get a Bluto like party character in Todd who brings in some laughs.  We also get a small role from director Henrique Couto as Adam who ends the film with a good laugh.  The character's are this film's crowning achievement.  Finally, the film has plenty of blood but it does show the film's budget.  We get some really graphic bite scenes that are once again restricted by the film's budget and the zombies are not the best to look at.  Overall, Die and Let Live is a fun pre-Walking Dead zombie flick that has some laughs.  The film is far from perfect but we don't watch indie horror for perfection.  We watch it for dedication and heart.  Check it out.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Evils of the Nights

Director - Mohammed Rustam (Evil Town)
Starring - Neville Brand (Eaten Alive), Aldo Ray (Shock 'Em Dead), and Tina Louise (Monsters)
Release Date - 1985
Genre - Horror/Sci-Fi
Tagline - "They thought they were alone"
Format - BluRay (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of ):

     Vinegar Syndrome is a company I greatly admire.  Their partnership with Troma has brought about some obscure titles to blu along with some forgotten horror, exploitation, sexploitation, and vintage porn.  They have released some amazing films over the years along with a few that I did not care for.  For the most part, however, they have churned out some great stuff.  Last month they announced that they would be releasing the 1985 horror sci-fi flick Evils of the Night.  I was very interested in this release.  Mostly because I am a fan of anything 80s and it has a small appearance from horror legend John Carradine.  I really wanted to check it out so I reached out to Vin Syn and they were kind enough to send a review copy my way.  Thanks guys!
     The film follows a group of twenty-somethings who visit a small town with several other teens to party and have sex when they slowly abducted one by one by elderly mechanics.  The mechanics take them to a hidden hospital ran by human like aliens who pay them in gold for them.  The aliens, in turn, use the blood of the abducted teens and twenty-somethings as a regeneration serum that keeps them young for years longer than their human counterparts.  
     Evils of the Night is one of those hidden 80s gems that I had never heard of before Vin Syn announced the release.  Which is surprising considering how fucking awesome it was.  It was sleazy, campy, and had a fun story that we don't see a lot in the "in the woods" horror films of the 80s.  The acting in this one is fair.  I have seen worse but I have definitely seen better.  The cast looks like they had a lot of fun on set.  Every scene shows that but some of the cast clearly had more experience than others which resulted in one sided performances.  The casting was not consistent with this one and it shows.  However, it is not bad in a Bloodbath in the House of Knives bad.  The story for this one is a fun horror sci-fi hybrid that keeps horror in the woods where is flourished in the early 80s.  The film, at it's base, is a horror film that follows young adults in the woods who are stalked and nabbed in similar fashion to most slashers with one big exception - they don't die there.  They are then taken to a secret base/hospital where their blood is drained from their bodies.  This was fun and made mid-80s horror feel like the sci-fi craze of the late 50s and early 60s.  The only downside was that some of the scenes felt tossed together and out of place which makes me think that some of the film was tossed together on the fly.  Finally, those looking for fun kills and tons of blood will be a little disappointed.  There is blood but it is done in such a way that it loses the effects they are trying to achieve.  The kills we get are pretty lame in comparison to other films of the time.  That was a let down in that regard.  Overall, Evils of the Night is truly a product of its time.  It is a weird combination of teenage sex comedy, horror, and sci-fi all wrapped in a cliched story that keeps the film's characters in the woods.  I highly recommend this underrated horror hit.