Friday, December 30, 2016

Dead Ringers

Director - David Croneneberg (Scanners, The Fly)
Starring - Jeremy Irons (Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice), Genevieve Bujold (Tightrope), and Heidi von Palleske (Land of the Dead)
Release Date - 1988
Genre - Thriller
Tagline - "Two bodies. Two minds.  One soul"
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
       You can't just watch one David Cronenberg film.  You can't.  I've tried.  I'm not that well versed in the world of Cronenberg but what I've seen I have been blown away by.  Prior to watching Rabid and Dead Ringers I had only seen Scanners, The Fly, VideoDrome, A History of Violence, The Brood, and Eastern Promises.  All of which are great films but I am always open to check out even more carnage from a truly underappreciated king of horror.  Rabid was a unique spin on the infected films of the late 70s that spilled into the zombie apocalypse films of the 80s.  It was fun spin on those stories and had Cronenberg's body horror twist tossed in the middle of it.  After finishing Rabid I decided to go ahead and toss in Dead Ringers.  This was one that had me intrigued.  I reached out to Scream Factory and they were kind enough to send a review copy of their new blu release my way.  Thanks guys!
     The film follows identical twins Elliot and Beverly (Irons) who grow up to be renowned gynecologists.  The two have made a name for themselves due to the unique way they work with each other and their radical practices.  The two have the world by the balls until Beverly falls in love with an actress and starts using drugs.  Elliot is afraid that their reputation will be shattered if anyone finds out he is using and tries to cure his brother of his addiction but he keeps failing when Bev returns to his girlfriend.  Fearing he will lose his practice and his brother, Elliot starts using drugs so he can sync with Bev but things take a bloody turn.
     Dead Ringers is a strange film from Croneneberg in the fact that it is not a horror film.  Similar to A History of Violence and Eastern Promises.  The film was not what I was expecting at all but it turned out to be my favorite Cronenberg film to date.  It had one hell of a cast and a story that went for days.  I doubt I will ever see Cronenberg top this one.  The acting in this one is damn near perfect.  Jeremy Irons pulls out double duty as the Mantle Twins and delivers, easily, the best performances of his career.  He goes from the cocky and obnoxious Elliot to the hopeless romantic and drug addled Beverly.  These drastic changes in character is hard for any seasons actor to pull off but Irons did so flawlessly.  The remainder of the cast does a solid job but no one touches Irons.  The story for this one lacks horror but does flow like a solid drama with an ending that can somewhat be labeled as a thriller.  For the most part the film is a drama.  It follows the unusual life of two well educated twins that have everything and let it slip away.  It also shows that drug addiction is a human problem and not something that should be associated with class.  With that aside, this is a very character driven piece that holds the viewer's attention with reckless intent.  Finally, this one is not bloody, gory, and disgusting like most Cronenberg films.  Instead, he delivers an emotional story about how fragile humans can be while showing how others become attached to someone.  Overall, Dead Ringers is fucking fantastic.  The film showcases the on screen talent of Jeremy Irons in a way no other film can.  This is one must have film for any Cronenberg fan or fans of Scream Factory.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Yoga Hosers

A movie for teens from the director of Clerks & Tusk
15-year-olds Colleen Collette and Colleen McKenzie (Harley Quinn Smith and Lily-Rose Depp) are on their smartphones constantly, sing in a small band, and take yoga classes. The girls will do just about anything to receive an invitation to a senior party. But when they discover the leader of a Nazi splinter group has been raising an army of monsters beneath the store where they work, the teens team up with a legendary man-hunter (Johnny Depp) to stop the world-threatening uprising.


Director - David Cronenberg (VideomDrome, Dead Ringers)
Starring - Marilyn Chambers (Breakfast in Bed, Behind the Green Door), Frank Moore (Orphan Black, The Devil in Me), and Joe Silver (Shivers, Deathtrap)
Release Date - 1977
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "Pray it doesn't happen to you!"
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     David Cronenberg is a director that does not get the credit he truly deserves.  He is known the world over as the innovator of body horror with films like Shivers and VideoDrome but when people start naming off the kings of horror he is often left off the list.  VideoDrome and his remake of The Fly are outstanding films that have earned their own place in horror history but Cronenberg has done more that that.  Way back in 1977 he made the horror film Rabid which was quickly compared to his earlier film Shivers.  I had never seen either film so when Scream Factory announced that they would be releasing it on blu I reached out to them.  They were kind enough to send a review copy my way.  Thank you Scream Factory!
     The film begins with a horrible motorcycle accident and Rose (Chambers) is the only survivor.  A nearby cosmetic surgery clinic takes her back to their facility to do reconstructive surgery and a radical form of skin grafting.  This procedure has an unsuspecting side effect.  She develops a proboscis in her armpit and a strong desire for blood.  She uses her proboscis to feed on people turning them into rabid humans who attack and infect those around them turning Quebec into a state of emergency.  When Rose can't control her thirst any longer she attacks a friend revealing she is the cause of the outbreak.
     A lot of horror fans quickly compare Rabid to Shivers and the 1973 George A. Romero film The Crazies.  After watching Rabid for the first time I can quickly see the comparison but for me the film is definitely a stand alone piece.  The film may follow the crumbling of society and the rapid spreading of disease but it still has a very unique take on it all that only Cronenberg can tell.  The acting in this one is great which is something of a trademark of Cronenberg.  He has a very keen eye and only casts that that would bring the characters to life.  My biggest surprise is Marilyn Chambers who does an exceptionally good job in her performance.  Before her appearance in this film, Chambers was known for her pornographic films so it was shocking to see how well she can act and stay in character.  Her character never comes across as deadly, only attractive and seductive which only adds to the story.  The story for this one is not that original but Cronenberg does add his trademark style and body horror to it to make it stand out.  As I said earlier, the story is very similar to Shivers and The Crazies but neither follow a woman with a proboscis in her armpit who infect people.  This may be a minor change bu it makes the film feel miles apart.  With that being said, the story is a very slow burn.  It takes it's sweet time to get rolling and does a horrible time building up suspense and tension.  Finally, the film does have some blood but nothing that stands out.  However, the film does have some solid practical effects.  One that stands out is the armpit proboscis.  It was a fun effect that was disgusting for the most part.  Cronenberg and company handles that one very well.  Overall, Rabid is a very underrated film from a mostly underrated director.  The film does skip a few beats but the overall film is fantastic.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016


Author - MP Johnson (Neon Trash: Forgotten B-Movies of the 80's, Hybrid Moments: A Literary Tribute to The Misfits)
Release Date - 2016
Genre - Horror/Comedy
Tagline - "Warning! This is an MP Johnson toy!"
Format - Paperback (Personal Collection) (Review Copy)

Rating (out of 5):
     My time for reading has taken a nose dive the last few months.  I went from reading a book a day (usually the Vampire Hunter D series) to not reading at all.  This was not intentional but life was getting way from me.  The company I worked for was sold to an even bigger company so all the inventory in the store had to be packed up and shipped out and new inventory had to be brought in and put out.  Then the store had to be remodeled and everything done before with the inventory had to be done again.  During this time my wife had our second child, my beautiful baby boy.  After the store was completly switched over and re-branded I was offered the assistant manager position which took over even more of my time.  Luckily, I have started to get in the groove of things and was able to make some room for reading.  The first book that I wanted to tackle was the bizarro horror anthology Berzerkoids which was sent my way from author MP Johnson. Thanks for sending this one my way!
     The stories on this one range from a killer teddy bear wanting to seek revenge for the one that hurt him to a crossdresser with a deep love for dancing who is being chased by a giant scab.
     Bizarro fiction is a strange creature all together.  I'm not very inept in bizarro but what I have read so far I truly enjoy.  Most of what I know comes from the sick mind of Kevin Strange but MP Johnson looks like a person who writes stories just for me.  After reading Berzerkoids I am now a fan of Johnson and will be seeking out the rest of his work.  The stories for this one is very imaginative and really throws the reader for a loop.  Just when you think the story is going to go one way it completely switches it up and takes you somewhere else.  I really enjoyed that aspect but I was not happy with how short these stories are.  Just when the reader makes a connection with the character or is really getting into the story it ends.  The characters in this one range but we do see a few shorts that seem to have similar characters.  It seems like the imagination went into the story and not the characters.  Finally, the short stories in this one a very well written and flows very well.  The stories are not overly complicated or complex resulting in an easy to follow story that can be read by anyone regardless of their reading skills.  Overall, Berzerkoids is the bizarro anthology for fans of John Waters.  The stories are strange, weird, and delightfully fun.  They may be short but that doesn't stop anyone from having fun.  Check it out.  

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Killing Brooke

Director - David Zagorski (The Devil's Nightmare, Skin Deep: The Box)
Starring - Colin Allen (Stiff Odds, Spooners), Kt Baldassaro (The Purge: Election Year, Ted 2), and Alex Fandel (Most Likely, After)
Release Date - 2012
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "The honeymoon is over!"
Format - DVD (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     December has been a damn good month for movies.  I have seen so many amazing films this month and it looks like the hits keep on coming.  After watching Don't Breathe and the first episode of Full Moon's Ravenwolf Towers I decided to follow it up with a Wild Eye Releasing flick.  I couldn't make up my mind as to which one to watch so I went with Killing Brooke just because I liked the film's artwork.  This is one of those films that was sent my way to review sometime ago and I am just now getting around to checking it out.  This is a mid-grade horror film in regards to Wild Eye and the other horror films they have released but from an indie horror stand point this one is entertaining but rough around the edges.  Thanks Wild Eye for sending this one my way.

     The film follows newlyweds Brooke and Chloe as they travel out of town for their honeymoon when they stop at a bar.  They meet Vance.  The three drink the night away and find themselves in a threesome that same night.  The next morning Vance asks them for a ride while Chloe shows discuss for her acts from the previous night.  Brooke convinces her to let Vance tag along but what they don't know is that Vance is a serial killer who murders anyone that offers him a ride.  He kills Chloe forcing Brooke to flee through the woods until she happens upon a home.  She enters the house where she meets an inbred family who enjoys killing just as much as Vance.  Not long after arriving at the home, Vance is able to track her down and a battle between the butchers soon follows with Brooke stuck in the middle.
     When I first received Killing Brooke I was under the impression it would be a revenge style horror film in the same line as I Spit on Your Grave.  If you asked my why I thought that I couldn't answer you but that was my impression of the film.  Now, after seeing the film I can quickly say just how wrong I was but the title doesn't really do the film justice either.  The acting in this one is solid with the exception of KT Baldassaro.  I want to follow that up and explain myself.  I can see that Kt has some on screen experience and can carry herself on camera but her "southern" accent is atrocious.  I've lived in southern West Virginia my entire life and never heard something that bad.  She was trying way too hard and the director should have stepped in and stopped that.  The remainder of the cast does an outstanding job and building their characters up on screen and making them entertaining.  The story for this one is one cliché after another.  There has been several horror, thrillers, and daytime drama following serial killers that kill those that pick them up while hitchhiking but there has never been one that combined it with an inbred killer family in the woods which is another cliché by itself similar to Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Wrong Turn.  This story, the killer hitchhiker was once paired with another type of killer in Larry Cohen's Pick Me Up which was part of the series Masters of Horror which explored the possibility of killers meeting face to face first but not to this extent.  With all that being said, the story does struggle to find it's footing.  The story has a hard time building credibility with the viewer once the two killers meet.  We expect more from a story when two slashers come together instead of the rather bland encounter we get.  Finally, the film does have some cheap effects and fun gags but they are restricted by their budget.  The kills are not that great, mostly consisting of slit throats, but the gags for the torture are fun when the camera works in their favor.  In one scene a finger nail is ripped off the finger but you can clearly see the manicured fingernail underneath once the effect was done.  Little things like that drag this down in one way or another.  Overall, Killing Brooke is a no budget indie film with a lot of heart but has a lot of obstacles to hurdle.  The film entertains but could have been so much more.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Ravenwolf Towers Episode 1: Bad Mary

Director - Charles Band (Trophy Heads, Evil Bong: High 5)
Release Date - 2016
Genre - Horror
Format - DVD (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     Full Moon is hit or miss with most horror fans.  Most of us grew up with Puppet Master, Subspecies, and the Trancers series but newer fans are getting films like Evil Bong, Gingerdead Man, and their crossovers.  I like them all but there is a difference in quality when you compare their recent outings with their films from the early 90s.  A few days back I received a press release regarding a new series from Full Moon called Ravenwolf Tower.  I really enjoyed their short series Trophy Heads so I was excited to see this one.  I reached out to them about the show and was told that a DVD copy would be sent my way.  I was under the impression that the DVD would be of the entire show but it was only the first episode.  I'm grateful that they sent it my way but it makes me wonder if only one episode, a pilot, was commissioned or the others are not finished yet.  Either way, thank you for sending it my way!
     Episode one follows the new assistant manager of an apartment building, Ravenwolf Tower, who is slowly becoming acquainted with the residents until he meets a beautiful young woman.  He learns, the hard way, that she is related to the family who owns the top floor of the building.

     Full Moon goes through phases with their films.  In the 90s we saw the rise of the puppets that slowly phased into the gothic films like Subspecies, Meridian, and the like.  These ran their course for several years before Full Moon set out to shock fans with Evil Bong, Gingerdead Man, and Ooga Booga.  Trophy Heads was a more serious approach to an absurd story but it worked very well.  Ravenwolf Tower, though was only 30 minutes, was a solid start but there was some flaws.  The acting in this one is decent but there was room for improvement.  The cast are all charismatic but it feels as if they don't know where to take their character.  Direction is vital for their characters and each scene shows it was lacking that.  The story for this one is standard Full Moon carnage but there was a lot of missed opportunities.  The show could have been a semi-anthology setting where each room/tenant had a different story that connected through the tower but it didn't.  Instead it follows an evil family raising hell in the tower.  This is a solid story but one episode isn't enough to truly get the impact from that.  Finally, the film does have a little blood but nothing memorable or worthwhile.  We get a man without a shirt covered in blood with his arm missing but that is about the extent of it.  The practical effects are lacking as well.  In fact, it is pretty low considering other Full Moon films.  At one point you can see through the prosthetic due to the lighting.  We do get some decent visual effects but they are short lived.  Overall,  Ravenwolf Towers is a solid effort from Full Moon.  It's really difficult to judge a series from just one 30 minute episode but so far, so good.  When you can, check it out.  

Don't Breathe

Director - Fede Alvarez (Evil Dead, From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series)
Starring - Stephen Lang (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Avatar), Jane Levy (Evil Dead, Monster Trucks), and Dylan Minnette (Goosebumps, Let Me In)
Release Date - 2016
Genre - Horror/Crime
Tagline - "This house looked like an easy target.  Until they found what was inside"
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     This year (2016) may have been a shitty year in terms of celebrity deaths, politics, and the like but it has been one hell of a year for movies.  Not only with the new releases but the release of classic films on bluray and DVD.  This year has seen the release of Green Room, 10 Cloverfield Lane, VVitch, Night of Something Strange, She Kills, and Don't Fuck in the Woods.  All of which were great films.  Sometime ago the Fede Alvarez film Don't Breathe was released in theaters where it was a hit.  It was able to be certified fresh at Rotten Tomatoes and several horror critics exclaimed how great it was.  This made me turn a blind eye to the film.  When most horror fans like something I usually discover that it is shit so I assumed this one was.  When I saw the movie hit store shelves a friend of mine told me he watched it in theaters and loved it.  So much so that it was in the running to be best horror film of 2016 right behind Green Room.  This really peaked my interested so I requested a review copy of the film.  Thank you guys for sending one this way.
     The film follows three thieves; Rocky(Levy), Alex (Minnette), and Money (Daniel Zovatto), who receive a tip about a man who won a six figure settlement when his daughter was ran over with a car belonging to a daughter of a wealthy family.  He lives alone and has been hoarding the money in his home.  They decide to break into his home and steal the money and quickly learn that even though he is blind he is the wrong person to knock over.  
     This film was getting a lot of hype upon it's theatrical release and that continued up until the film was released on home video.  As I said earlier, I usually skip films that catch that much praise because they tend to suck, in my opinion.  I don't know how many times a film was hyped up only to be a complete let down.  Don't Breathe was not that let down.  The film was suspenseful and kept the viewer on their toes.  The acting in this one is phenomenal.  This is not a shocker considering the film's three focal points are amazing at what they do.  Stephen Lang, everyone's favorite asshole in Avatar, is unrecognizable in his role as the sadistic blind man sitting on a pile of cash.  He starts out as portraying the sweet, innocent old man that lives down the street from everyone before switching it up.  He pulls a 180 and becomes a purely twisted piece of shit that is not on deranged but deadly.  Jane Levy is also great in her role.  Levy is know for her portrayal of Mia in the 2013 remake of Evil Dead which was also directed by Alvarez.  She is a very strong female lead and it only makes sense that Alvarez would want to work with her again.  Also, Dylan Minnette is great.  This young actor has yet to let me down.  I thought he was phenomenal opposite Jack Black in Goosebumps and he is very memorable for his small role in the remake Let the Right One In simply titled Let Me In.  All three are great and work very well with each other.  The story for this one is just as clever as it is simple.  The story simply combines elements of urban crime films with elements of modern thrillers.  The two work very well together.  Sadly, the simplicity does not prevent this one from becoming predictable.  You can see the twists and turns coming a mile away like a country road.  With that being said, the moments of suspense is truly chilling.  The film has a very slow build up which perfectly crafts the tension giving the viewer some claustrophobic atmosphere.  Finally, if you are looking for gore then this one is not for you.  This one is very story driven but that doesn't stop it from dishing out a little blood here and there but nothing you gorehounds would find appealing.  Overall, Don't Breathe is one of the better big budgeted horror films of the year.  It has some ups and downs but overall delivers a very terrifying experience.  This one is worth checking out.