Saturday, September 30, 2017

Warlock


Director - Steve Miner (Halloween H20, Friday the 13th: Part II)
Starring - Julian Sands (Biker Mice from Mars, Naked Lunch), Lori Singer (Footloose, Short Cuts), and Richard E. Grant (Logan, Game of Thrones)
Release Date - 1989
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "He's come from the past to destroy the future"
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):

     I get a lot of films to review and a good portion of them are movies I had never seen before.  Recently, Vestron Video sent over the religious horror film The Unholy which was a new watch for me.  I thoroughly enjoyed the film and decided to check out another Vestron release.  This time, it was a film I had seen before.  When I was younger, elementary age, I rented the 1989 horror film Warlock.  I absolutely loved it.  Loved it so much that I bought that exact tape when the video store closed.  I really enjoyed the film and when Vestron announced the blu release I knew this was one I had to add to my collection.  I reached out to them and they were kind enough to send over a review copy.  Thanks guys!
     The film begins in Boston in 1691 where a witch is about to be executed for his ties to the devil.  He is able to escape through a tornado but not before witch-hunter Redferne is able to follow.  The warlock and Redferne find themselves transported through time to modern day (1989).  The warlock immediately sets in motion to find the ancient pages from a book that could deliver the true name of God.  When the name is said backwards it will undo everything God has created.  Redferne, along with a woman cursed by the warlock, must stop him before he can end the world.

     I always enjoyed this film.  I remember the night I first rented this on tape.  I also rented Tobe Hooper's Invasion from Mars and Honey, I Shrunk the KidsWarlock was one of those horror films that never really scared me but I found myself fascinated by how well it ties into Christianity.  The acting in this one is fantastic.  Julian Sands performance is unrivaled.  People are quick to compare his performance to Andrew Divoff as the evil djinn in Wishmaster.  I do enjoy Divoff as the djinn but Sands performance is leagues above Divoff here.  Sands will always be remembered for his performance as the warlock.  He is ruthless and calculating with some light humor tossed in for good measure.  Also, I really enjoyed Richard E. Grant's performance as Redferne.  He is easily one of my favorite heroes from any horror film.  His performance is not that amazing but he really makes his character fun to watch.  With that being said, I did not care for Lori Singer.  She felt forced and not genuine for most of the film.  In fact, she is one of the few complaints I actually have about the film.  The story for this one is somewhat bonkers if you look at it from a realistic perspective.  We have a warlock and a witch-hunter going through time where the warlock tries to destroy the world.  Both keep their same clothes as they did in 1691 and no one bats an eye.  Its amazing how the film has so many cheesy moments but still works.  The film incorporates a lot of religious mythology and terminology into a film that can be dark at times.  It has a lot of brilliant ideas pitted against some minor things that just don't make sense like the wardrobe never being addressed.  Finally, this one does have a few fun gags and some bloody but doesn't have a lot of blood and gore.  The effects we get are fantastic in regards to the practical effects.  However, the visual effects are very dated and not that fun.  The film would have benefited from not having visual effects present in the film.  Overall, Warlock is a childhood favorite of mine and I can't express how much I love this campy 80s classic.  I have a soft spot for witch movies so I may be biased but this film is fantastic.  Check it out!




Monday, September 25, 2017

The Unholy


Director - Camilo Vila (The Worms, 18 Wheels of Justice)
Starring - Ben Cross (Star Trek, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), William Russ (Boy Meets World, Deadwood), and Hal Holbrook (Creepshow, The Fog)
Release Date - 1988
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "Seduction.  Submission.  Murder.  Tonight...evil goes over the edge"
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     People fear different things.  Some find rodents and snakes scary while others have a fear of dolls or heights.  Some have a real fear of being stalked by a serial killer or being raped while others are afraid of the dark.  Everyone has that one thing they are afraid of and that is what makes horror movies so much fun.  Personally, I find organized religion to be scary.  Religion, of any faith, spawns radicals that are unpredictable and extreme.  I don't find religion to be a scary topic but I do find those that practice religion to be potentially scary.  This is why I normally don't watch religious based films.  Not long ago Vestron Video released the 1988 religious horror film The Unholy on blu.  I enjoy most of the Vestron Video releases so I reached out to them and they were kind enough to send a review copy my way.  Thanks guys!
     The film follows a priest, Father Michael (Cross) who survives a horrendous fall.  The church offers him his own perish with a dark history.  The previous two priests was killed at the altar while praying.  Father Michael jumps at the opportunity but quickly finds himself stuck in the middle of a drug addicted waitress and her ties to a satanic club that has used the church before as part of their gimmick.  Soon Father Michael finds himself under fire from a beautiful woman that is actually a demon.
     The Unholy is one of the many horror films that I had heard about over the years but never had the time to actually watch it.  I've had the film for several years on DVD.  It was included in an 8 pack DVD set with the likes of Waxwork and a few others.  I always enjoyed the dark and foreboding imagery the artwork for the film has but I never had the time to check it out.  I'm glad I did.  I really enjoyed the cast.  Ben Cross, as most of you may recognize as Spock's father in the new Star Trek films, was fantastic.  He is great as Father Michael who is the "chosen one."  He is a strong lead and takes control of every scene.  I was also shocked by William Russ and his character.  I grew up on Boy Meets World and it was weird seeing him owning a satanic club.  He was fantastic and easily my character in the film.  He did an amazing job and created a character that I won't be forgetting soon.  The story for this one is slow moving but it does deliver tons of character development and dark imagery.  The film does a great job at delivering dark atmosphere while slowly bringing the story to a boil.  Finally, this film doesn't have a ton of on screen kills but the few we do get are fucking gruesome.  The film doesn't shy away from the blood and the practical effects are fantastic.  Overall, The Unholy is a very underrated 80s horror film.  I loved the character development and darkly atmospheric story.  I highly recommend this overlooked gem.  Check it out!




Sunday, September 24, 2017

Amityville: No Escape



Director - Henrique Couto (Nothing Good Ever Happens, Scarewaves)
Starring - Allison Egan (Halloween Spookies, Her Name Was Torment 2), Julia Gomez (Calamity Jane's Revenge), and Josh Miller (CarousHELL, Applecart)
Release Date - 2016
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "No one leaves"
Format - DVD (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     Most people see a movie's title or artwork and instantly bashes it.  I tend to be more open minded to film.  With that being said, I typically don't like found footage flicks.  There has been a few that has popped up over the years that I did.  I did enjoy the classic The Blair Witch Project and Henrique Couto's Alone in the Ghost House.  Sadly, most of the other's I've seen were not that great and left me extremely bored.  Just because I tend to dislike found footage flicks doesn't mean I go into them full of hate.  I'm always open minded.  Recently, Couto released a new found footage film that taps into a classic paranormal phenomenon, Amityville.  His new film, Amityville: No Escape once again takes fans down the found footage rabbit hole.  I was able to pick up a copy at Cinema Wasteland from Couto and couldn't wait to check it out.
     The film follows a group of college students working on a documentary as they head to Amityville to hopefully capture some supernatural presence on camera.  One of the crew members was able to get their hands on a VHS tape that belonged to someone who bought the famous Amityville house in 1997.  The group spends a few nights in the woods and are terrorized by a young girl wearing a dress.  When they try to leave they quickly discover that the woods are alive and it doesn't want them to leave.
     A lot of the pop horror fans love the Amityville Horror films.  I have to admit that I enjoy the first one as well but this story has been run into the ground with all the sequels, remakes, and unofficial sequels.  Henrique is a very versatile filmmaker that has surprised me with his horror and comedies.  I can only think of one time that I was not a fan of Couto's work and that was his film Bleeding ThroughAmityville: No Escape is another flick of his that I just did not enjoy.  The acting in this one is hit or miss with me.  I really enjoyed Josh Miller, Julia Gomez, and Allison Egan's performance.  They all work very well with each other and their dialogue just feels natural.  The supporting cast alright but they do come across as forced.  The story for this one feels like two different films came together to create what we are given.  The segment following the lonely woman in the house feels like a great found footage angle that was never full capitalized on.  There is so much that could have been done with this.  The second portion, the film crew camping, doesn't really feel like it was meant to be an Amityville film.  When most people think of Amityville they think of the unique looking house where the couple was murdered.  They typically don't think of people camping.  It feels like these two things were filmed separately and put together to make a longer film.  Pulled apart they would be better films but together you run into an inconsistent film.  Finally, there is a few deaths but they take place off camera and are nothing that bloody or gruesome.  The effects we get are very minimal considering what we get.  Overall, Amityville: No Escape was not for me.  The story felt like it was pulling apart and borrowed some from The Blair Witch Project.  Fans of found footage will enjoy it but it just wasn't my cup of tea.  




Friday, September 22, 2017

Amsterdamned


Director - Dick Maas (Saint, The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones: Masks of Evil)
Starring - Huub Stapel (The Dark House, The Lift), Monique van de Ven (Daylight, Paint it Black), and Serge-Henri Valcke (Slaughter Night, No Man's Land)
Release Date - 1988
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "The danger lies just below the surface"
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):

     After checking out the relatively unknown slasher Victims! I wanted to keep the slasher films going.  After going through my stack of flicks I need to review I came across several slashers waiting to be put on the chopping block.  One film that really caught my eye and stood out was the Blue Underground release of Amsterdamned.  This was a new one on me and the title alone was enough to sell me on it.  I love clever titles and that was part of the charm of renting slashers back in the day on tape.  I also really enjoyed the film's artwork.  Knowing Blue Underground and their track record I knew I was going to enjoy myself.  I want to take a moment and thank Blue Underground for sending Amsterdamned by way for review.

     The film follows a police detective who is investigating a series of grisly murders that occurred in the murky canal of Amsterdam.  His investigation leads him to a diving club in Amsterdam where he falls in love with a beautiful scuba instructors.  Their heated affair causes a stir between the instructor and her therapist who secretly likes her.  The investigator suspects the therapists is behind the attacks but quickly learns that it is someone else committing the crimes.

     I knew I was going to enjoy Amsterdamned.  I mean, who wouldn't like a movie called Amsterdamned?  The slasher was well put together and looks fantastic which is weird to say considering it is a slasher from the 80s.  Typically, the slashers from this time period that I watch are gritty and dark.  The acting in this one is great.  The entire cast is perfect and does a fantastic job in their roles.  I really enjoyed the characters that they brought the life.  The cast is what makes the film so much fun.  The story for this one is solid.  It does stray away from the typical slasher formula that we all know and love but it still delivers on the body count.  The film does have a bit of a slow start but eventually picks up and delivers that Scooby-Doo ending with the reveal of the killer.  I really enjoyed that.  Finally, the film does have a body count.  Most of the kills are slashings done with clever camera tricks and practical effects.  The kills are not that gruesome but they do fit the style of the film.  It may not have Friday the 13th type kills but the kills fit the film and entertain.  Overall, Amsterdamned is a fun film.  It is a well polished slasher that doesn't have the gore but it does satisfy.  Horror fans will want to check this one out.  




Thursday, September 21, 2017

Victims!


Director - Jeff Hathcock (Fertilize the Blaspheming Bombshell, Night Ripper)
Starring - Ava Kauffman, Robert Axelrod (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Check It Out! With Steve Brule), and Lonny Withers (Streets of Death)
Release Date - 1985
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "Four girls alone in the desert.  They all became his...victims"
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):

     I love crossing paths with rare slashers.  Most horror fans look for lost and unknown S.O.V. horror flicks but I find more joy out of washing slashers.  I love their simple premises and clich├ęd deaths.  I've found several while movie hunting over the years in different pawn shops, thrift stores, and flea markets.  Some of the ones I found were bootlegs with no proper release of them to date.  Not long ago Olive Films announced their collaboration with Slasher//Video on the release of their film Victims! on blu.   This was a slasher I was not familiar with but with Slasher//Video's track record I was excited to check it out.  I reached out to Olive Films and they were kind enough to send a review copy my way.  Thanks guys!
     The film follows four young women who want to get away from life, and their men, who head out to the desert for a weekend getaway.  Things start out perfectly with the four enjoying themselves and relaxing but things turn deadly when they find themselves being stalked by two serial killers with a taste for women.  They abduct the women and force them to do crude things to each other before they start fighting back in order to survive.
     I love slashers.  They are easily my favorite sub-genre next to zombie pre-The Walking Dead.  I really enjoy those gritty slashers where you have to adjust the setting on your television to just be able to see the people.  Those were some of my favorite film to rent growing up so its nice to see labels like Olive Films releasing these films on blu.  Sadly, Victims is not one of the best slashers I've seen but I'm glad I was able to watch it.  The acting in this one is solid in some of the scenes and horrible in others.  In a few of the scenes we get some genuine dialogue and solid acting.  Sadly, in other scenes we get some of the worst dialogue I have ever heard spewed from an actor's mouth.  This, and some horrible fight scenes, result in a almost laughable performance from the cast.  The story for this one could have worked and been a better slasher than The Forest but the film failed to actually to feel dangerous.   As the film unfolds the viewer never fears for the girls' life.  The film just doesn't feel scary...at all.  The killers are weak and not menacing at all.  Finally, the film does have a few kills that look fun but as the film progresses they are nowhere to be found.  The practical effects are simple but fun for a slasher.  Overall, Victims! has a lot of problems.  There is several things working against the film but I still enjoyed myself mostly just the nostalgic feeling of watching an relatively unknown slasher that I had never seen before.  Slasher fans will want this release to add to their collection.  




Come Get Some!


Director - Jason Griscom
Starring - Steven A. Grainger (Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead, Super Tromette Action Movie Go!), Colleen Galeazzi, and Jennifer Strickland
Release Date - 2003
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "Zombie problems?  Not anymore!  Just...Come Get Some!"
Format - DVD (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     After watching a little more well known horror films with bigger budgets, I decided to venture back to the no budget indie flicks that I absolutely adore.  With Tank 432, Willard, and Ben I was able to see some rather unique stories that I often don't get to check out but with indie horror there is several sub-genres and trends I enjoy depending on when they were made.  Zombie films seem to be everywhere right now thanks to the popularity of The Walking Dead but just 10 short years ago the horror community rarely got zombie flicks with the exception of a few no budget flicks here and there.  One of those films is the 2003 horror comedy Come Get Some!  This was a new one to me after seeing a few images shared on Facebook.  I was able to track down actor Steven A. Grainger and he was kind enough to send a review copy my way.  Thanks Steven!
     The film follows a small town facing a zombie outbreak.  A group of kick ass girls fight back but find themselves overpowered and that is when a special agent of a zombie task force steps in to help where they learn that the outbreak was planned by a secret agency trying to use the situation as a way gain funding.  Now, the group must stop the organization and their undead army before the place is level by a bomb designed to prevent wide spread infection.
    



     I've always had a love for no budget horror films.  This can quickly be traced back to when I first saw films like Night of the Living Dead and Evil Dead.  Granted, both these films had bigger budgets than most of the films I watch but they still don't have the polish of most of the theatrical flicks we can find everywhere.  What they lack in money they more than make up for in heart.  Come Get Some! was made on a shoestring budget but was still able to deliver a fun watch.  The acting in this one is fucking entertaining but you can easily notice the amateur cast that, at the time, lacked on screen experience.  They had fun and gave it their all which really shows.  The story for this one is pretty bold considering the film's budget.  We have government conspiracy, zombie slaying, and redneck wrestling.  The film has a lot going on which will be very enticing for b-movie fans.  The pacing is great, the story is just so out there it works for a horror comedy, and it is able to deliver some funny moments and memorable characters.  Finally, there is plenty of on screen kills in this one.  The kills do show the film's budget but incorporate a lot of classic movie magic and camera tricks.  These kills are gruesome and bloody but the effects could be a lot better.  Overall, Come Get Some! is a classic no budget zombie flick that is perfect for some late night viewing with some beer.  Check it out.