Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Mothman of Point Pleasant

Director - Seth Breedlove (Beast of Whitehall, Minerva Monster)
Release Date - 2017
Genre - Documentary
Tagline - "13 months that changed history"
Format - Screening

Rating (out of 5):

     The mountain state has a rich history with no short supply of lore and legends.  I grew up in McDowell County which is considered the poorest county in the United States.  What it lacked in money it more than made up for in strange tales and unusual encounters.  In the area where I lived there was constant tales of a black panther that roamed the hillside in my hollow and loved to hunt near a giant mining fan that has since been demolished.  A few hollows over was tale of the devil dog, a creature that looked like no known dog or wolf that would mysteriously vanish into thin air.  In that same county there was a tale known as The Sandy Huff Werewolf.  Many people, including several teachers in my elementary school, claimed that there was a werewolf that would hunt the camping grounds in Sandy Huff Hollow prompting the owners to close it every full moon.  The state is known worldwide for the Braxton County Monster and more famously the Mothman.  Both of these stories are mesmerizing and has captivated thousands.  Recently Seth Breedlove and his Small Town Monsters crew visited Point Pleasant to make a new documentary on the Mothman.  The film, The Mothman of Point Pleasant recently screened in Point Pleasant and I was invited along.  I want to thank Seth and the Mothman Museum for having me at the premier. 
     The documentary begins with a brief history of Point Pleasant of some of the landmarks in the area before moving on to the death of Chief Cornstalk and the curse he supposedly placed on the land.  Soon after the area befell flooding and other natural disasters making the locals believe that he did indeed place a curse on the land only to be disproven by a manuscript found belonging to a play about Cornstalk.  We then move forward to the first sighting of the Mothman and several UFO sitings in the area making many believe that the creature was not from this world.  These sighting coincided with one another for 13 months in which time mysterious men wearing all black arrived questions the locals and coercing them to stay quiet.  Then one day the Silver Bridge in Point Pleasant collapsed making many suspect that the Mothman was involved or knew it was going to happen and was trying to warn people of their impeding doom. 

     I've seen several documentaries and a few movies based around the Mothman and most have several things in common.  They all rely heavily on the creature itself and the connection it has with the Silver Bridge.  Very few of these documentaries took the route that The Mothman of Point Pleasant did.  The interviews we got were very widespread.  We have some interviews pertaining to Cornstalk and his curse before we made our way to the Mothman interviews.  Some were by townsfolk that lived in the area during the time all the excitement was taking place before we get a few a few pre-recorded interviews from actual witnesses.  These interviews helps put everything into perspective for those that are new to the legend of the Mothman.  On the other side of the coin, I would have loved to hear from some of the locals that are skeptical of the Mothman, men in black, and UFOs.  I am a huge fan of cryptozoology but I do not believe in the subject matter.  The flow of the film is damn near perfect.  The documentary takes a chronological approach which really takes the viewer back to the beginning.  It doesn't jump from topic to topic like most documentaries do.  It is very well put together and very detailed.  The film is very thorough in how it approaches the events that lead to the Silver Bridge collapse.  Very few documentaries hit on every single encounter like this one does which makes it very unique and engaging.  Finally, the film does have a few flaws but these should be taken with a grain of salt due to how I viewed the film.  I did not watch the film on DVD at home or in a typical theater.  Instead, I watched it on a projector so my biggest complaint may not have been the film's fault but there was several times where the film's score was louder than those speaking.  This was painfully obvious when we are listening to the pre-recorded audio.  It was truly a pain to hear them talking over the score.  Overall, The Mothman of Point Pleasant is a must have for any cryptozoology fan.  The documentary sheds light on several moments of the Mothman encounters that most may have not been familiar with.  Check it out!

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Pool Party Massacre

Director - Drew Marvick (Scared to Death)
Starring - Kristin Noel McKusick, Margaux Neme, and Destiny Faith Nelson (From the Inside Looking Out)
Release Date - 2017
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "Worst pool party ever"
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (Screener)

 Rating (out of 5):

     I'm a sucker for a slasher film.  I'm an even bigger sucker for movie posters and artwork.  One of the best poster artists in the game right now is Marc Schoenbach and his Sadist Art label.  His posters are absolutely stunning and I mean that with every fiber in my being.  I'm friends with Marc through Facebook and frequent his Sadist Art Facebook page to check out the art and learn about new and upcoming films.  One such film that Marc did the artwork for that really got me excited to see was Drew Marvick's Pool Party Massacre.  The artwork is one of the best posters I have seen from Marc and easily one of the best for an indie production I've seen in recent years.  I reached out to Drew about the film and got to know him a little.  When the film was finally wrapped up and polished he was kind enough to send a review copy my way.  Thanks Drew!
     The film follows a young girl who invites some friends over for a pool party while her family is out of town for a few days.  She is a very privileged girl and invites over her well-to-do friends along with a childhood friend who is more grounded.  They start bickering and cat fighting among themselves one one of the girls invites her boyfriend and his brother over even though she was instructed not to.  The group slowly starts to separate one by one and in true slasher fashion they are picked off by a power tools wielding maniac.  Which one of these spoiled brats will become the final girl and who is killing them?
     Pool Party Massacre is one I've been very excited for ever since I first saw the poster by Sadist Art.  It was fantastic and really stirred my imagination.  After finally seeing the film I can say that it is a must have for any slasher fan but this is typically not the type of film I watch.  I love movies that are gritty, grainy, and had no budget to work with.  PPM was not one of those films.  The film was very well polished and you can quickly tell that Marvick and company had their shit together.  The acting in this one is better than most of the no budget flicks I watch but there was a few scenes that felt a little off.  Most of the ladies cast in this film are meant to be spoiled, bratty, and bitchy.  They mostly pull this off but some of the scenes where the female characters are being harsh to one is awkward.  You can tell that these actresses are having a hard time at making this feel natural while other scenes are more natural.  I was surprised by Drew's big reveal.  He was very natural in front of the camera and one quick look at his imdb page made it evident that he knows what he is doing in front of the camera.  The story for this one is pretty straight forward and reminded me a lot of the classic 1982 slasher The Slumber Party Massacre  where the killer stalks a bunch of teenage girls with an industrial drill while they are home alone.  PPM uses a very similar story before setting itself apart from this film with the ending and the killer reveal.  This was fun and wrapped the film up in a nice little bow.  Sadly, there was a few scenes that just dragged on a bit too long but this did not really change my overall opinion of the film.  Finally, the film has several on screen kills that were nothing new or original but they still satisfied that desire that slasher fans have for blood.  These kills use solid practical effects, as well as, classic camera tricks and techniques to pull them off.  The effects are solid for the most part but some of the gags were lacking.  Overall, Pool Party Massacre is a fantastic tribute to the golden age of slashers.  If you like your women beautiful and your blood red then this film was made for you.  Check it out.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Crackbaby Billionaire

Director - John Miller (Make Them Die Sleaze!, $kumbagz)
Starring - Rokki James (Power Rangers Turbo, Suck to Be You), Eight The Chosen One (American Guinea Pig: Bouquet of Guts and Gore), and Joel D. Wynkoop (Chaos A.D., Slasher Weekend)
Release Date - 2017
Genre - Action/Crime
Format - DVD (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):

     John Miller is a filmmaker that people in the indie horror underground talk about without realizing they are actually talking about him.  John was one of the writers and producers of the infamous Amerikan Holokaust film.  The film has earned its place among the extreme horror films of recent years. John has worked on other projects since then but they were more focused on the sleazy, raunchy side of cinema.  Sometime has passed since Miller was behind the camera but his latest efforts has him teaming up with Florida based rapper Eight The Chosen One.  The new film, Crackbaby Billionaire, was recently wrapped up and John hit me up with a review copy.  Fuck you, John.
     The film follows ex-con Corey Brown (Eight) who is released from prison and tries to keep his nose clean so he never has to go back.  He tries to start a lawn care service but lacks the funds needed.  He meets up with an old friend who helps him get into a backyard brawl for some quick cash but his win further implants him in the criminal activity that landed him in jail in the first place.

     Miller and company definitely threw me for a loop.  I tossed this one in expecting a more serious crime drama with a lot of drug use.  The film did not play out that way.  In fact, it was pretty damn funny and kept me off guard.  Kudos to you John (fuck you).  The acting in this one is solid.  Eight The Chosen One did a fantastic job.  Most of you know how I feel about American Guinea Pig: Bouquet of Guts and Gore.  The movie was brutal and hyper-realistic but it was very boring.  Eight, the masked butcher in Bouquet, did not really get the opportunity to act.  Sawing on flesh doesn't take a lot of acting chops but he brought some great performances in Crackbaby.  He was a very commanding lead and showed a lot of intensity.  I'm surprised he's not in more films.  The supporting cast is great as well.  Joel D. Wynkoop, b-movie legend, is funny as the bare knuckle brawler.  Krystal Adams and Cayt Feinics are funny in their own way.  Both are killer babes that are smoking hot.  Adams' performance was great but Feinic's role is fucking funny.  Was not expecting her character to play out like it did and will not be easily forgotten.  We also get some outrageous performances from indie cinema wild man Bob Glazier who does some fucked up shit with a smile on his face.  This is the kind of guy you become friends with just so you can stay on his good side.  The story for this one is kinda what I expected but with a lot to it.  The film has deep roots in crime dramas like Scarface, New Jack City, and a few dozen Blaxploitation flicks but it has humor that catches the viewer off guard.  The film would hit you with an intense performance from Eight and some nice gore and then bam, laughing your ass off.  The humor was a very nice touch.  Also, the film has a very natural flow that doesn't strain the viewer's patience and does a great job at character development.  Finally, the film has several awesome on screen kills and great practical effects.  The kill scenes rivals anything that can be scene in a horror film which is saying something considering this one is not part of the genre.  Miller is a horror fan and these kill scenes clearly show that.  Overall, Crackbaby Billionaire is a solid crime drama from one of Florida's most notorious exploitation filmmakers.  The cast is great, the story is fun, and the kills are noteworthy.  If you want something bloody and raunchy then look no further.  Crackbaby Billionaire has your fix.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Black Forest

Director - David Biggs (Blood Night, Sleepwalking)
Starring - Marie-Josee Dionne (Antibirth, Slasher), France Huot, and Jayson Stewart (The Pasta Killer!, A Dark Truth)
Release Date - 2015
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "In the heart of the wild no humanity remains"
Format - DVD (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     Instagram has turned into a valuable resource for me.  I love reviewing indie films.  That's one of the reasons I started writing reviews.  I created an IG account almost two years ago and it was only recently that I started browsing hashtags.  For the most part I spend most of my time under #horror but now I spend all my time under #indiehorror where I come across some pretty fantastic stuff.  Not long ago I found posts on the Distant Fields' film Black Forest.  It looked like my type of film so I found them out on Facebook and reached out to them.  We did some talking and they were kind enough to send me a review copy along with some promo material.  Thank you for allowing Horror Society and myself to check out all your hard work!
     The film follows friends Bree (Dionne) and Jess (Huot) who plan a weekend camping trip in the wilderness of Canada.  They rent a canoe and head out but not before meeting an overly nice man who is heading to the same area as them.  They blow him off and do their own thing when they run into him again.  This time he turns hostile and leaves them for the night.  They plan to leave their site the following morning but he shows up and forces them to flee their campsite when he starts shooting arrows at them.  They flee through the woods trying to find a forest ranger and accidently stumble upon the killer's house where he is working with another guy to prepare for the end of civilization.  The two girls must first for survival or become their playthings.

     I was under the impression that this one was going to be a slasher but the film did not play out like that at all.  Doesn't make it a bad film because it was not a slasher.  In fact, it wasn't a bad movie just had a lot going against it making it not as entertaining as it should have been.  The acting in this one is pretty rough.  The leading ladies are absolutely gorgeous but the struggle to find their footing.  They come off as a little forced and the chemistry between doesn't feel natural.  They needed to rehearse before each scene with some direction from the director.  The remainder of the cast shows a lot of heart and dedication as well but they clearly did not show that much experience in front of the camera.  The story for this one tricked me.  I thought I was going to be watching a slasher in the woods, one of my favorite styles of slasher, but it flipped the switch on me.  Instead, we get a game of cat and mouse with a little inspiration from the Leonard Lake and Charles Ng murders.  This was fun and very similar to Amerikan Holokaust without the extremities but the film had horrible pacing issues.  Some of the scenes were painfully slow.  I'm talking so slow and boring that I almost turned the film off several times.  The overall film was entertaining but it was a trial by fire type of experience.  Finally, the film does have some blood and solid no budget effects.  I was a little impressed by how they used classic camera tricks to pull the kills off.  The deaths themselves were not that original but they still fit the film.  Overall, Black Forest is far from perfect.  The acting is off and the story has issues but the overall presentation was worth the watch.  Check it out. 

Wishmaster 4: The Prophecy Fulfilled

Director - Chris Angel (The Fear: Resurrection, Halloween in New Orleans)
Starring - Tara Spencer-Nairn (The Strain, The Wonderful World of Disney), Michael Trucco (How I Met Your Mother, Eyes of Terror), and Jason Thompson (Undressed, Circle)
Release Date - 2002
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "Leave no soul unturned"
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     Finally, winding down my trip through the Wishmaster series.  After the dud that was Wishmaster 3 I could only imagine how bad Wishmaster 4 would be.  With the same director and same actor portraying the djinn I only imagined this film would put me to sleep...but I was wrong.  Wishmaster 4 had the same director but they had quickly learned what was wrong with the last film and fixed it the best they could. The movie was nowhere near the drowsfest the previous film was.  In fact, it was actually somewhat entertaining.
     The film follows Lisa (Spencer-Nairn) who is working with a lawyer to help reach a settlement for her boyfriend who was in a horrible accident and lost the use of his legs.  She gets close to the lawyer and he buys her a gift from online.  What they did not expect was that the gift to be the home of an evil djinn that Lisa accidentally awakens.  He kills the lawyer and takes his image before taking the souls of everyone close to Lisa before she accidentally makes two wishes.  She creates a paradox when she wishes that she could love him.  Love is something that only she can do so the djinn must win her over before he can release the other djinn from their dimension.
     I went into this one with a few beers ready and an energy drink on hand incase the movie started to put me to sleep.  However, this one really surprised me.  It does not surpass the first two films but it is a hell of a lot better than part three...which doesn't take much.  The acting in this one is about the same as the last film.  The cast feels like they put very little effort into their performance and the character look and feel like they were originally written for a day time soap.  Once again the djinn is a flat character that does not deliver on the charisma that Divoff started the franchise off with.  The story for this one is 90% of the same as the other films but the paradox at the end really made this one interesting.  Doesn't make it that original but does make it stand out from the third film.  Finally, the film once again hits the viewer with forgettable kills which is crazy considering that the film series was created by one of the greatest practical effects artists of our time.  The practical effects we get are great but the kills do not stand out at all.  Overall, Wishmaster 4: The Prophecy Fulfilled is a step above part three but the series has definitely ran it's course by this point.  The series finishes on a positive note but the series should have truly ended with part 2.  

Wishmaster 3: Beyond the Gates of Hell

Director - Chris Angel (The Fear: Resurrection, Dexter: Season One - Witnessed in Blood)
Starring - Jason Connery (Brotherhood of Blood, Alone in the Dark II), A. J. Cook (Dead Like Me, Final Destination 2), and Tobias Mehler (Disturbing Behavior, Carrie)
Release Date - 2001
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "Evil feeds off your wishes"
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):

     Now we are getting into trilogy territory.  There are a lot of great trilogies out there.  You have the Maniac Cop trilogy, Basket Case trilogy, Slumber Party Massacre trilogy, and so many more.  So many great films find themselves becoming a trilogy but the third film in a serious tends to be the worst.  Hell, even the classic Day of the Dead was panned upon release before finding a cult following.  I had never seen the third Wishmaster film nor did I really have interest in it.  The first two films are decent at best and when I saw Andrew Divoff was not involved I knew I would not be a fan.  Divoff is what made the first two films enjoyable.  I still tried to be open-minded but the film still very much let me down.
     The film follows college student Diana (Cook) who has been working closely with her college professor Dr. Joel Barash (Connery).  She accidentally awakens the evil djinn who wants her to make her three wishes so he can free all the other djinns from their hellish dimension.  He starts a bloody campaign across campus to get to Diana.  She partners with Greg Janson and the pair try to stop the djinn at all costs and even summon the archangel Michael to inhabit Greg's body to do so.
     I'm going to be completely honest and say I had very low expectations for this film.  I'm usually open to most sequels but not having Divoff really turned me off to the film.  He was great as the djinn and brought a lot of charisma and character to the film.  Without it, the story alone was enough to sink the ship.  The acting in this one is not the best.  The cast has a lot of on screen talent but they have a hard time not overreacting.  They, once again, feel like stage actors on Broadway which makes for a very awkward film experience.  The biggest disappointment is Jason Connery.  He's not a bad actor, not at all, but he is a very flat customer that is one dimensional.  He doesn't come across as a threat and he doesn't steal the show like Divoff.  This was very poor casting.  The story for this one is exactly the same as the first two films.  We once again follow a young woman who accidentally awakens the djinn who starts killing family and friends to get to her to make her third wish.  The only difference is that this one is set on a college campus.  This film lacks originality from the characters down to the kills.  The story is the same and after watching all three films back to back you will find yourself not interested at all.  Finally, the film has several kills scenes that are not as clever or as entertaining as the first two films.  The kills use great practical effects but are just as boring as the film itself.  Overall, Wishmaster 3: Beyond the Gates of Hell is very lackluster.  The film uses the same formula as the first two in the series and makes very minor changes.  The kills are just as boring making one film that is very forgettable.