Friday, December 29, 2017

Mayhem


Director - Joe Lynch (Knights of Badassdom, Wrong Turn 2)
Starring - Steven Yeun (The Walking Dead, Trollhunters), Samara Weaving (The Babysitter, Ash vs Evil Dead), and Steven Brand (Teen Wolf, Hellsing)
Release Date - 2017
Genre - Horror/Action
Tagline - "Hostile. Work. Environment."
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     Joe Lynch is a director that I greatly admire.  I've been a fan of his since Wrong Turn 2 hit DVD.  I was a fan of the first film and tend to view anything set in my home state. When 2 was released I grabbed it and instantly became a fan.  Over the years I've seen all his work but one thing really pisses me off when I discuss Lynch with other horror fans.  The second you mention Joe Lynch horror fans feel the need to bring up Adam Green.  I understand the need to compare the two but to me there is no comparison.  Adam Green is a great filmmaker in his own right but Lynch has turned out better films in my opinion.  When he announced Mayhem I was excited.  He kept teasing fans on social media about the film to the point I almost blocked him until release date.  With the film having an official release this week I was lucky enough to secure a review copy.  How crazy is this film going to be?
     The film follows corporate lawyer Derek Cho (Yeun) who was set up by a co-worker who lost a huge court case.  The board of directors chose to let him go but as they escort him from the building they find themselves under quarantine.  A virus that has been plaguing the country turns the eyes of those infected red and their lose control.  Their emotions get the best of them and they react without thinking.  In some cases it can drive up sexual relations and in others it can cause violence.  Now Derek is infected, among many others in the building, and wants to speak with the 9 board of directors to clear his name and get his job back.
     When people ask me why I like Lynch more than Green I immediately mention the characters.  Green is notorious for creating bloody fodder with his characters.  They rarely have back stories and the viewer doesn't grow attached to them.  They don't care if they die or not.  Lynch doesn't do that.  His characters have personalities and backstories that the viewer can enjoy.  Mayhem gave me more of that.  I really enjoyed the characters and where they went within the story.  The acting in this is fantastic.  Steven Yeun is an amazing actor which is why I'm glad he is not longer apart of the sinking Walking Dead.  He needs to spread his wings and step into bigger roles like this one.  His co-star, Samara Weaving, is just as talented in front of the camera.  She's a beautiful actress that brings a chaotic character to life like no other.  The rest of the cast is great as well and we even have a short scene with director Joe Lynch that I was not expecting but should have.  The story for this one is what I could easily describe as Quarantine meets The Belko Experiment.  It does have a bit of a slow start but once the story starts moving it kicks like a fucking mule and doesn't let up.  There is several nods to other great films from cinema's history and even one scene that reminded me a lot of the post-apocalyptic sci-fi horror films from the 80s where everyone is a member or a gang.  I really enjoyed the story and would love to see a follow up film.  Finally, the film has several on screen kills and some great gags but did lack the gore I was expecting from someone that has spent his whole career mentioning how much he loves practical effects and gore.  With that being said, the effects we do get are great and really sell the scene.  Overall, Mayhem is an action packed horror film with great characters and a story that could be told in several installments.  Check it out




Wednesday, December 27, 2017

A Dark Song


Director - Liam Gavin (Day of Reckoning, Jericho)
Starring - Steve Oram (The Living and the Dead, The World's End), Catherine Walker (Perfect Day: The Funeral, Walking the Dead), and Susan Loughnane (Poison Pen, Love/Hate)
Release Date - 2016
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "Not everything can be forgiven"
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):

     Christmas is a joyous time around my home.  I have two toddlers and watching them interact with the mall Santa and listen to stories on the holiday is heartwarming to say the least.  This reminds me of when I was younger when I lived with my father's cousin for several years and how important Christmas was for the family.  I spend a lot of time on Christmas movies regardless if they are horror or not but sometimes I overdo it and need a break.  With so many Christmas movies in my collection its only a matter of time that I find myself sick of them.  When that happened this year I went through the review stack and decided to toss in the IFC Midnight/Scream Factory release of A Dark Song.  I had no idea what the film was about but I am glad I gave it a shot.
     The film follows a struggling mother who is finding it too difficult to cope with the loss of her son.  She seeks out a man who is said to know a ritual that can get those responsible for his death.  The man agrees but warns her that this is time consuming and could leave her a broken woman.  She reluctantly agrees and set out to perform the ritual.  Through many trying rituals and occurrences she questions if she has made the right decision.  Can she stop or is it too late for this young woman with vengeance in her heart?

     I knew this wouldn't be your typical horror film.  In fact, I thought it would be so far out there that I couldn't figure out what was going.  I guess what I'm trying to say is that I thought this one would be over my head.  Lucky for me it wasn't.  The film was dark, suspenseful and I really enjoyed the story.  The acting for this one is fantastic.  Steve Oram and Catherine Walker was fantastic together.  Oram's character is magnificent.  He perfectly pulls off the "knowing all" angle and mixes it with a hostile character that is almost toxic for those around him.  I also enjoyed Catherine Walker's performance.  She's great at playing the victim and takes control of every scene she is in.  The casting is damn near perfect.  The story for this one is simple but overly detailed and I love it.  The film is a little claustrophobic.  A majority of the film is the two sitting in one or room another in the old home.  Simple in that aspect but the story has aspects that most films would have left out making a much weaker film.  The eye for detail and these little lines of dialogue add so much more depth to this film.  Without it the film would fall a little flat.  I liked the story and what it had the offer.  The only downside to the story is that a few of the scenes was very dialogue rich which made the film move very slowly.  Finally, this isn't the gore filled flick that some of you may have wanted.  The film is very story rich and character driven with a little blood but nothing that stands out.  Overall, A Dark Song  is a different style horror film that many will not appreciate.  However, if you give it a chance you may just find yourself enjoying it.  




Silent Night, Deadly Night


Director - Charles E. Sellier Jr. (Snowballing, The Annihilators)
Starring - Lilyan Chauvin (The X-Files, Predator 2), Robert Brian Wilson (A Husband for Christmas, Jake and the Fatman), and Gilmer McCormick (Slaughterhouse-Five, Godspell)
Release Date - 1984
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "Santa's here"
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     Everyone has their must watch Christmas list.  I could spend all day going over which films I have to watch but I will spare you that amazing list.  Most are horror but there is a few non-horror tossed in just because they fucking rock.  Among the horror films I watch this joyous season most are slashers.  I love holiday slashers and the ones that take place during Christmas will always have a spot in my movie rotation.  Aside from Black Christmas, Silent Night Deadly Night is the essential Christmas viewing.  Way back when I was writing for my little blog I decided to review this slasher.  My review was horribly written and poorly put together.  Granted, my reviews are still shit but I like to think that I have grew as a writer.  Recently, Scream Factory released the film on blu.  I was lucky enough to get a review copy of the film and decided to write a new and hopefully improved review for this release.
     The film follows two brothers who live in an orphanage after their parents were brutally murdered by a maniac dressed as Santa.  The oldest brother, Billy, has a hard time adjusting to the orphanage and often felt uncomfortable during the holiday season.  When he turns 18 he finds a real job working the stock room at a toy store.  With Christmas approaching he finds himself attending the store Christmas party where his strict upbringing and memory of his parents murder forces him to snap going on a Christmas rampage killing people who are "naughty."
     When it comes to holiday slashers there will never be another Halloween or Black Christmas but Silent Night Deadly Night does a fantastic job.  It has all the slasher elements that make slashers so much fun minus the masked killer and the killer reveal.  The acting in this one is fantastic and arguably one of the better acted slashers.  I really enjoyed Robert Brian Wilson's performance as 18 year old Billy.  His career did not take off which is a shame but he was fantastic in his role.  He is innocent and socially awkward before flipping a switch and becoming a madman.  I could see him getting typecast as a slasher after this film was released.  I also enjoyed Lilyan Chauvin's performance as well.  She is a strict headmistress that really sent chills down my spine.  She was more terrifying than the homicidal Billy.  The story for this one is not the masked slasher or the "whodunit" that I usually enjoy but it still delivers a body count and holiday themed kills.  I tend to enjoy the masked slashers or the slashers that do not reveal the killer until the end of the film.  With that being said, knowing that Billy is doing the killing adds a bit of excitement to the story.  The film does have a few slow scenes but these are few and far in between.  Finally, the film has several on screen kills that makes very good use of the holiday.  Several of the kills are brutal and showcase some great practical effects.  A few were cliched by this point but that didn't take away from the fun of watching the blood squirt.  Overall, fans of this classic slasher will need the Scream Factory release for their collection.  The movie is amazing and really deserved the treatment Scream gave it.  Check it out.  




Monday, December 25, 2017

The Dead Next Door


Director - J.R. Bookwalter (Zombie Cop, Robot Ninja)
Starring - Pete Ferry (Money for Nothing, Take Shelter), Bogdan Pecic (Chickboxer, Maximum Impact), and Michael Grossi
Release Date - 1989
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "The neighbors are dropping in for dinner...are you on the menu?"
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):


     When I was in high school the horror addiction was in full effect.  I was already upset with the works of Romero and Raimi's Evil Dead trilogy.  These movies are still among my favorites to this day.  High school was a strange time for me just like with most people.  I found myself looking for fun and obscure 80s horror flicks and a few friends of mine were as well.  One night while searching the outer reaches of Ebay we came across a VHS lot consisting of Midnight Skater, The Dead Next Door, and Skinned Alive.  My friends didn't really care for these three films but I absolutely loved them.  All three were far from perfect but god damn if they wasn't awesome.  Not long ago Tempe Video and director JR Bookwalter released The Dead Next Door on blu.  I reached out to MVD and they were kind enough to send over a review copy.  Thanks guys.

     The film follows a group of government agents who are part of the Zombie Squad.  This team is sent out to rid areas of the undead and bring back specimens so the scientists can work to find a cure. They hear of a doctor that is now deceased that was close to finding a cure.  When they travel to his lab they encounter more undead than they expected, as well as, a religious group that believe the zombies are part of God's plan.  It's race against the clock to find a cure before one of their own turns.

     I like fun movies.  I don't care if they have the best gore and an amazing cast.  What I like is when a director takes what he has to work with and makes something fun.  A movie can have a cast with no experience and no budget but still offer up some entertainment.  The Dead Next Door is far from perfect but its impossible not to love it.  The acting in this one is great.  The cast doesn't have an extensive cinema career but they still deliver great performances.  Their characters are bold and fun to watch.  They all have their own personality and stand out.  No confusing who with who.  I really like that especially when you consider the film's budget and cast experience.  The story for this one is nothing new.  A government agency working to find a cure during the zombie apocalypse has been done before especially by 1989 with Romero's Day of the Dead already released to the masses in 1985.  In fact, this film has several nods to Romero's work scattered throughout.  With that being said, it does toss in a fun religious angle that I loved.  Religion scares the shit out of me so anytime organized religion is tossed into a film I get excited.  The film does have a little issue with pacing but the blood and acting more than makes up for it.  Finally, the film has several gory deaths and amazing effects.  We have some awesome puppetry tossed in with some amazing practical effects that really makes the film look bigger than the budget.  Overall, The Dead Next Door is a must for any b-movie horror fan and a great substitute for new horror fans looking to fill that void that The Walking Dead can't anymore.  Check it out.




Sunday, December 24, 2017

3's a Shroud


Director - Dan Brownlie (Something Under the Bed is Drooling), David V.G. Davies (The Blood Beach), and Andy Edwards (Zombie Spring Breakers)
Starring - Morrigan Hel (Lesbian Fetish Party), Brad Moore (Houseparty of the Dead V), and Eleanor James (Karl the Butcher vs. Axe)
Release Date - 2012
Genre - Horror
Format - DVD (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):

     Christmas is just mere days away and I'm feeling the Christmas spirit but I've ran out of Christmas flicks to pick.  After watching Red Christmas, Secret Santa, and Scream Factories new blu release of Silent Night Deadly Night I had to venture back to normal horror.  I have several horror films I need to check out so I made my way to my review stack and discovered a Wild Eye film that I've been sitting on for far too long.  Wild Eye, as I've said many times before, is one of my favorite indie distribution companies.  They've released some of my favorite indie films like Sodomaniac and The Neon Dead along with my new holiday favorite Secret Santa.  The film, 3's a Shroud, just doesn't look that appealing to me.  No offense to Wild Eye but the artwork doesn't make me excited to see it.  However, I've had this for far too long and need to pull the trigger on it.
     This anthology series follows a babysitter who tells a little boy several scary stories about the house he lives in.  The first story follows a couple living together.  The young lady doesn't trust her husband's secretary and assumes she is cheating on him which creates tension before he leaves for work.  When he gets home he decides to make her dinner but she fails to show.  She calls him and warns him about answering the door.  Over time he disregards her warnings and quickly learns who was really warning him not to answer the door.  The second story follows a photographer that has an obsession with one of his models and that obsession creates a monster that he cannot tame.  The third story follows a bartender at a pub on Halloween who is surprised by her friends after closing.  They throw her a party but soon the body count rises.
     I judge a book by its cover way often than not.  I know its a horrible thing to do but its damn near impossible for me not to.  3's a Shroud had some pretty plain and boring artwork so I immediately assumed the movie was the same.  Lucky for me, and any one that purchased the film, it was not bad at all.  It may be easily forgettable but it was fun while it lasted.  The acting in this one is surprisingly well done.  Each segment had its high points and lows.  It was would be very time consuming to pick each segment apart and a lot easier to just say that its not consistent.  I liked the stories we were given but some are riddled with clich├ęs.  The wrap around story was fun but you can see the ending coming a mile away.   The same can be said about the first story but it was still effective.  I could see how it was going to end and I still enjoyed it.  The second story did throw me for a little loop and offered up that little creature camp that I grew up on with Full Moon.  It was fun but way too short.  The third tale was my favorite.  It is a slasher at heart but with a huge spin on it that makes it pretty fun.  Finally, the film has a few kills but they aren't anything that stands out.  The effects are limited but there is a fair bit of the red stuff to make it interesting.  Overall, 3's a Shroud was a surprise.  The film is flawed but it was time well spent.  Do yourself a favor and check it out.  




Saturday, December 23, 2017

Secret Santa


Director - Mike McMurran (Demon Bitch, Beneath)
Starring - Annette Wozniak (Bite, Paranormal Witness), Geoff Almond (Demon Bitch), and Keegan Chambers (Human Cattle, Art of Obsession)
Release Date - 2015
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "These presents are going to be killer"
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):

     With Christmas just a mere 5 days away the Christmas spirit is high in my home.  My kids are dancing around the tree begging to open presents, the lights are shining bright inside and out, and holiday themed slashers are playing on the t.v.  Black Christmas, Silent Night Deadly Night, and Don't Open Till Christmas are staples in my house during the holiday season but I am always open to add more.  I recently watched Artsploitation's release of Red Christmas and absolutely loved it.  That only fueled my fire to watch more Christmas slashers.   I went to my review stack and immediately pulled Wild Eye's Secret Santa.  I've loved the artwork ever since I first laid eyes on it.  Would the movie live up to the bad ass artwork or would it be a failed slasher?

     The film follows a group of college friends who decide to do a secret Santa this year to exchange gifts.  With the gifts changing hands they begin to see an eerie pattern when each of them opens their gift to the surprise that they are deadly tools and household items.  They don't know how to handle their new gifts and chalk it up to one of them playing a sick prank.  What they don't know is that someone is stalking them with murderous intent and will use their new gifts against them.
     I honestly didn't know what to expect from Secret Santa but I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised.  I thoroughly enjoyed this little slasher that added some fun elements to the tried and true slasher formula.  I really enjoyed the acting.  The film is full of unusual and unforgettable characters.  The cast is able to bring out some great personalities and really sell the film.  Kudos to them.  The story for this one isn't something that will break the slasher mold but it did offer up some fun aspects that I had never considered before.  The first thing I have to commend the film on is the killer reveal.  I was not expecting the killer to be who it was.  It caught me off guard which is one of my favorite things about a slasher.  I love the "whodunit" slashers of the late 70s and early 80s and I think this film captures that very well.  I also liked how the killer showed the victims how they would die with their Christmas gifts.  This was a very unique touch that still gave the film that campy vibe that I like so much.  The film does a great job at creating that slasher look and feel.  With that being said, the film does have several scenes on the slower side that drags the pacing down but doesn't affect the overall film.  Finally, the film has several amazing on screen kills.  The kills are great and really put the viewer in mind of some of the kills brought to life by Tom Savini during his time on the production of Friday the 13th and Friday the 13: The Final Chapter.  The effects do show the film's budget but they still look great.  Overall, Secret Santa is a fantastic slasher and does a great job channeling the 80s vibe.  The kills are bloody and the killer's twist will catch you off guard.  Check it out this holiday season.