Saturday, December 29, 2018

Sleep Eaters



Director - Shane Grant (Sleep Eater, Blind Date)
Starring - Bill Cassinelli (Sleep Eater, Dirty Cop No Donuts), Jason Tripp (Superboy, House Rules), and Starr Ferris (Thou Shall Kill: The Harvest, Essential Realism)
Release Date - 2017
Genre - Horror
Format - Streaming (Online Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
 
     I've had a love for independent horror flicks for as long as I remember.  Hell, I loved them years before I realized I was an avid horror fan.  This stems from staying with my grandmother while my father was out of town for work.  We would often watch the Sci-Fi Channel before it's rebranding.  This was when I saw the remake of Night of the Living Dead which sent me down the rabbit hole of horror to find the original.  Once I saw the original I was hooked.  I appreciate no budget indie horror films but not all movies were made for me and my taste in film.  I enjoy the stupid side of indie horror.  Troma and Warlock Home Video are movies made for me but there is several no budget distribution companies that cater to my cheesy side most of the time.  Not long ago director Shane Grant contacted me to review his two films Sleep Eater and the follow up film Sleep Eaters.  I enjoyed the first film but the second film just wasn't for me.  Thank you Shane for allowing Horror Society and myself the opportunity to check this out!
     The film picks up sometime after the events of the first film and Kelly, the father from the first film that thinks he has killed Quinn, is now on the run after he contracted the sleep eating disease from him.  The public knows him as Cannibal Kelly and he has been hiding out in a train car hidden deep in the woods owned by a local crime boss.  A man nearby spots Kelly and traps him but lets him free to help him fight the crime boss because the two don't see eye to eye.  While this is happening there is a local aspiring journalist who is investigating Kelly and the murders he is now accused of but she contracts the sleep eating disease and is tossed in the middle of a conspiracy with a doctor and a secret organization studying it and the doctor's brother who is the cause of all this.
     I want to like every indie flick I get for review but the honest truth is I just can't.  I know my taste in film is different than most people.  I find the first Hellraiser and Texas Chainsaw Massacre to be very boring but I would punt a baby if their mother talked shit about Thankskilling.  I'm wired backwards and I get that but I also know that just because I don't like something doesn't mean that it's not good.  Sleep Eaters was not a bad movie but it was one that I just couldn't get behind.  The cinematography is brilliant and the cast is solid but the film just did not flow well for my liking.  The acting in this one is solid.  The cast works very well with each other.  The cast is more confident in front of the camera and is able to find the right emotional range for the scene.  Direction is a lot more tight in this one and the acting shows.  The story for this one is very bold for a no budget flick.  In fact, it feels like an episode of The X-Files to an extent with the conspiracies and complexity.  With that being said, the film just does not flow that well and the characters are hard to get behind.  In fact, I only really cared for Cannibal Kelly and I had no emotional investment in any of the other characters.  They could have lived or died and it would have made no difference in the film.  It's hard to get into a film when you can't relate to the characters in one way or another.  Finally, this is another gory flick from director Shane Grant.  The film uses practical and visual effects with different results.  The practical effects in this one is a huge jump over the first short and I really enjoyed them but the visual effects we see are an eye sore and stick out like a sore thumb while trying to wipe your ass.  Overall, Sleep Eaters is not your typical horror film.  In fact, it is a blend of The X-Files and the sci-fi action films that you could find on the Sy-Fy channel in the late 90s.  The story is interesting but not enough to pull me in but that doesn't make this one a bad movie.  It's just not a movie for me.  If you are into these types of movies then check it out. 
    

Friday, December 28, 2018

Sleep Eater



Director - Shane Grant (House Rules, Blind Date)
Starring - Bill Cassinelli (Dirty Cop No Donut, Deadly Dares: Truth or Dare Part IV), Shannon Denbow (House Rules), and Dave Isaac (Sleep Eaters)
Release Date - 2016
Genre - Horror
Format - Streaming

Rating (out of 5):


     The holidays were steadily approaching and I wanted to completed a small list of reviews I had pending so I could spend time with my family.  Sadly, a family emergency reared it's ugly head and I had to say goodbye to the family dog.  My wife rescued him from a shelter in 2011 a month before we were married.  He was a big part of the family and will be missed.  This was a rough week for my wife, the kids, and myself so my reviews were put on the backburner until after Christmas.  One of the films that had to wait was Shane Grant's 2016 horror short Sleep Eater.  This film is currently free on YouTube.  Thank you Shane for reaching out to me. 
      The film follows asshole Quinn (Cassinelli) who refuses to share his food with a sick homeless man who accidentally coughs on his food.  He eats the contaminated burger and that night he falls asleep only to awaken covered in blood.  He attempts to stay awake and tries to score some drugs but the woman he tries to procure them from drugs him so she can rob him but she is unaware that this is a deadly mistake.  He eats her and soon her father starts searching for him so he can get even for killing his baby girl.
     Sleep Eater and the follow up Sleep Eaters were two new films to me.  I knew nothing about them before Shane Grant reached out to me.  The title made me think about the horror comedy Eddie: The Sleep Walking Cannibal.  Though the two have similar plots they are two different films.  The acting in this one is solid.  The cast has some on screen experience and they work very well together but there was several scenes that struggled to find the right emotions.  Some of the characters are a little more enjoyable than the others and we can thank the cast for that.  The story for this one is simple.  I liked how it was approached and I really enjoyed that it was a short.  The fact that the story is so simple it would have made for a very boring feature length film.  The 30 minute running time fits it very well.  There is a few scenes that drag on here and there but the overall pacing of the film is solid.  Finally, there is plenty of gore in this one but there is a few times where it was funny.  I love a gory flick if it fits the film but there was an instance or two where the meat chunks sitting on the actor or actress just made me laugh.  The practical effects are solid aside from those instances.  Overall, Sleep Eaters is a fun short with some gore and an interesting story.  This one is well worth the 30 minutes. 
 



Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Le Blizzard

 

Director - Alvaro Rodriquez Areny (Wolves, Nami: Bless of Faintless)
Starring - Aida Folch (I Know Who You Are, Hidden Devil), Isak Ferriz (Black Sails, Knightfall), and Alex Moreu Garriga (The Next Sin, Holy Motors)
Release Date - 2018
Genre - Horror
Format - Streaming (Online Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
 
     I absolutely love horror shorts.  If they are done correctly they can deliver big time chills and gore in just a fraction of the time.  I get a lot of films in to review.  Most of them are feature length films but I would be lying if I didn't admit that some are just too god damn long.  The stories are drawn out longer than they have to be making for a rather lackluster movie experience.  Several weeks ago director Alvaro Rodriguez Areny contacted me about reviewing his new short Le Blizzard.  I couldn't pass up the chance to see a new short from the man that brought us the short Wolves
     This short follows a young woman who awakens during a blizzard to discover her daughter is missing.  While searching for her she comes across another group of survivors trying to escape the cold when she finds her daughter but their terrifying ordeal is far from over.
     Horror can come in many different shapes and forms.  Some are terrified of the dark while others have a fear of serial killers.  Monsters can scare some while others are terrified of losing a loved one.  There is so many ways to invoke fear on the audience.  Le Blizzard took the route not often traveled by horror films to offer up a realistic horror tale.  The acting in this one is solid.  It is difficult to judge a cast on their acting skills when you have to take the time to read the subtitles instead of focus on their dialogue.  The cast is very invested in their roles but I did have to pay more attention to the subtitles than their actual performances.  The story for this one is short, simple, and straight to the point.  The type of story we get is a little different than most modern horror tales.  It is a more grounded story that focuses on real life scenarios over supernatural tales which does have a bigger impact on the viewer especially if the have children.  Finally, This film does have a little blood but that is the extent of it.  With that being said, this is a visually stunning film with amazing wardrobe and scenery.  Overall, Le Blizzard is an enjoyable short with a simple story and amazing imagery.  Check this one out!



Saturday, December 22, 2018

The Happytime Murders



Director - Brian Henson (The Muppet Christmas Carol, Farscape)
Starring - Melissa McCarthy (The Heat, Bridesmaids), Bill Barretta (Muppet Treasure Island, Nightmares and Dreamscapes), and Elizabeth Banks (Slither, Power Rangers)
Release Date - 2018
Genre - Comedy/Action
Tagline - "No Sesame.  All Street"
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
 
     In middle school I got the horror bug and started collecting movies.  Mostly VHS at this point but I was still trying to collect any and all horror I could get my hands on.  When I hit high school I started collecting VHS and DVD and one of my favorite memories is watching Peter Jackson's Meet the Feebles on DVD.  My friend had paid a ridiculous amount for the film on DVD and after a few weeks I convinced him to give it to me.  I loved it and I wished that horror and exploitation fans had more films with puppets to check out.  That changed around the time I started writing reviews.  I crossed paths with indie filmmaker Dustin Mills and his first feature The Puppet Monster Massacre.  I fucking loved that film and a year or so later he released another puppet flick titled Snuffet which was another phenomenal film.  Around this same time I received the no budget horror musical Misfit Heights.  Not long ago the Melissa McCarthy lead The Happytime Murders was released in theaters from director Brian Henson.  This was one I couldn't wait to check out.  When the news of the blu release broke out I reached out and was lucky enough to get a review copy.  I'm so glad I was able to check this one out. 
     The film follows former disgraced police detective turned private eye Phil (Barretta) who is working a case for a very attractive client when his brother is murdered.  The murderer is targeting puppets that once worked on the hit television series Happytime Gang.  His investigation forces him to cross paths with his former partner Detective Connie Edwards (McCarthy).  The two no longer get along but they are forced to work together to catch the killer who is someone that has been hiding in plain site the whole time.
     I went into this one expecting some laughs but nothing more but I was really surprised by how much I liked it.  I'm aware that the masses didn't care for it but I like what I like.  I do have to admit that I am not a fan of Melissa McCarthy but I did love her in this film.  The acting in this one is top notch.  I loved the cast and I loved the voice acting.  I'm a big fan of Elizabeth Banks and I really loved the sleazy role she took on here.  This is a side we rarely see of her in her films.  McCarthy as I stated earlier did a fantastic job in this one.  I'm not really a fan of hers but this one did make me open to checking out some of her other films.  Her comedic timing is spot on.  I also enjoyed the voice acting from long time voice actor Bill Barretta.  His character is very enjoyable and he really brought him to life.  The story for this one reminded me a lot of Mills' Snuffet which was also set in a world where puppets are considered second class citizens and someone is targeting them.  That is the only similarities.  This one has a ton of laughs but the who done it angle quickly falls apart when the viewer can quickly predict who is behind the elaborate murders.  Finally, there is no carnage in this one.  If you want bloodshed you are looking at the wrong film.  With that being said, the effects are decent but the puppets are great.  Some were built merely for laughs and it works.  Overall, The Happytime Murders is a funny movie that catches unfair hate.  People hate on the cast instead of the film itself which is a true crime.  I recommend checking this one out as soon as possible!


Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Down a Dark Hall



Director - Rodrigo Cortes (Red Lights, Buried)
Starring - AnnaSophia Robb (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Soul Surfer), Uma Thurman (Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill), and Isabelle Fuhrman (Orphan, The Hunger Games)
Release Date - 2018
Genre - Horror/Thriller
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
 
     With Christmas quickly approaching I decided to pull out all the Christmas oriented movies I needed to review and knock them out.  While doing so I found the supernatural horror film Down a Dark Hall stuck in the wrong spot in my collection.  This was a new one sent my way not long ago from the fine folks over at Lionsgate.  I was intrigued when I saw that it starred Uma Thurman but I had my doubts when I saw that it was produced by the folks that brought the world the Twilight Saga.  I'm glad I gave it a shot because it was actually a pretty fun supernatural thriller.
     The film follows Kit (Robb) who is a troubled youth.  She is suspected of arson and is repeatedly kicked out of school.  Her mother and step-father can no longer handle her so they sign her up for a boarding school designed to handle teens like her.  The headmistress Madame Duret (Thurman) is a strange woman hiding a dark secret from the young girls but Kit is hell bent on uncovering the truth of the boarding school and the supernatural presence that she seems to feel but no one else notices.
     I went into this one expecting a mediocre horror thriller with absolutely no redeeming qualities. I will say that this film does tow the line of mediocrity but it does offer up a rather intriguing story.  The acting in this one is alright but nothing amazing.  In fact, I would say that it is a little underwhelming when you consider the cast.  We have screen legend Uma Thurman in what I would consider her most lackluster performance.  She is one of the greatest actresses to ever grace the television screen and this is what she brought us?  Bit of a let down.  We also get a bland performance from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory star AnnaSophia Robb.  Her character is very layered and in depth but her portrayal of her is almost boring to watch.  The story for this one really pulled me in.  This supernatural thriller uses the perfect gothic setting to spin its ghostly tale with a pretty solid story.  It works for the most part but its full potential is never released on the screen.  Once the film hit the final act we are left with more questions than answers. Finally, this is not a bloody film but it does have some visual effects.  In a few scenes the effects are decent but in others they were horrible.  Direct to video visual effects are usually are on the shotty side and this one is no exception.  Overall, Down a Dark Hall is a film that could be easily forgotten  but the story does stick with you.  This could have been an unforgettable film and something worth noting but just falls a little flat.  Nonetheless, it still deserves a watch so check it out. 

 


Friday, December 14, 2018

Happy Helladays


Director - Josh Suire
Starring - Josh Suire (Stoinky Beach, Evil Night), Roxanne Roxanna, Anne Marie Nouvo (Death O'Lantern)
Release Date - 2011
Genre - Horror/Comedy
Format - DVD (Personal Collection)

Rating (out of 5):
 
     
     Several years ago I crossed paths with the Warlock Home Video page.  I ordered a few movies then but didn't have time to watch them until sometime later.  Some were not my cup of tea but several others were extremely fun.  Since then I have been on the hunt collecting anything Chris Seaver has worked on.  He has went through several production company changes starting in Low Budget Pictures before forming Warlock Home Video and then settling on Midnight Kids Productions.  Several months back Seaver announced that he had several of his films up for sale.  I needed a few to finish out my Warlock Home Video collection so I went ahead and grabbed what I could.  One of those films is the 2011 holiday slasher Happy Helladays.  With Christmas just around the corner I decided this was the perfect time to finally check it out.
     The film begins in 1974 when an infant is tossed against the door of a sorority house.  We jump forward 13 years and the den mother has taken the young boy in and raised him as her own.  The sorority sisters often pick on him which makes his life a living hell.  However, one Christmas this changes when he is pushed too far and snaps when he doesn't get the present he had hoped for.  Now they all will die for the way they treated him.
     People often forget that movies are meant to entertain.  I love a movie that is fun.  It can be childish and immature but it needs to deliver on the fun.  Too many films are directed by someone who is sniffing their own farts instead of trying to give their viewer's something entertaining.  Warlock Home Video always makes a fun movie.  Sure, they are bad and have zero budget but they still satisfy.  This addition to the Warlock Home Video library directed by Josh Suire is no different.  The acting in this one is funny.  The characters are extremely clich├ęd which was the intent.  The has fun with the roles and it shows on screen.  Their comedic takes on their roles only fits the tone of the film and they do a great job bringing the laughs.  The story for this one is a an entertaining tribute to holiday slashers of the 70s and 80s especially the classic Black Christmas.  It is predictable but god damn is it funny.  Finally, this one has several death scenes but they are a product of not having a budget.  The blood and gore is nonexistent which is a little disappointing.  Overall, Happy Helladays is far from perfect but it does deliver some solid laughs.  If you want some no budget fun I can't recommend this film enough.  Check it out.  

Occupation



Director - Luke Sparke (Red Billabong, Yesterday is History)
Starring - Dan Ewing (Power Rangers R.P.M., Superman Returns), Temuera Morrison (Green Lanter, Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones), and Stephany Jacobsen (The Devil's Tomb, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles)
Release Date - 2018
Genre - Sci-Fi/Action
Tagline - "The conquest begins"
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     I get a lot in to review.  In fact, I probably get more in to review than I actually have time available.  I'm not complaining.  I love writing and watching movies so it only makes sense that I write reviews.  Lately I've received several films that I had never heard of before had.  These films always peak my curiosity and I typically move them up the review stack just so I can check them out.  Not long ago I received a press release for the sci-fi action flick Occupation.  It looks fun so I requested a review copy.  Thank you Lionsgate for sending this one my way.  I really enjoyed it. 
     The film follows a group of people in an Australian town when an army of aliens descend up on their countryside.  The aliens start killing and capturing people forcing a small group of survivors to go into the wilderness to hide.  They hide at first but soon realize that the aliens are not leaving anytime soon.  They want to free their captured friends and family so they start attacking their small out posts and other smaller convoys until they get the attention of the Australian military who joins forces with them to bring save mankind and Earth from the alien invasion.
     I went into this one know very little about it but I do have to admit that I really enjoyed myself.  The film does have several areas that it could be improved but for the most part I thoroughly enjoyed myself and look forward to the sequel that I hear is already in the works.  The acting in this one is solid.  The entire cast does a great job but there is several scenes where the cast hams it up.  In fact, they over do it some much that I almost thought this was a parody of Independence Day.  With that aside, we do get some outstanding performances when they are not over doing it.  It was also cool seeing Jango Fett fighting aliens.  The story for this one is War of the Worlds meets Red Dawn with a few instances of Independence Day tossed in.  I actually enjoyed the story but there was several scenes where it struggled to keep the serious tone going.  These scenes are just too serious resulting in a parody like atmosphere that ruins the tension the film is trying to build.  Finally, if you want blood and gore you wont find any here.  However, you will find some great visual and practical effects centered around the aliens.  I loved their armor, look, and the use of visuals for their spacecrafts.  Overall, Occupation is one of the better films that you will find buried deep in the discount bin.  It is and will be underappreciated but deserves so much more.  Check it out. 
 

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

My Friend Dahmer



Director - Marc Meyers (Harvest, How We Fall in Love)
Starring - Ross Lynch (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Girl Meets World), Vincent Kartheiser (Mad Men, Masterminds), Alex Wolff (Hereditary, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle)
Release Date - 2017
Genre - Drama/Crime
Tagline - "Based on the acclaimed graphic novel"
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):

     Most horror fans have a fascination with true crime.  What is more horrifying than real life horror stories?  When it comes to true crime and serial killers there is very few that need no introduction.  Killers like Gacy, Gein, Bundy, and Dahmer are known the world over for their heinous crimes.  Sometime ago there was a graphic novel going around titled My Friend Dahmer.  I never checked it out but from looking at the previews of it I could tell it wasn't for me.  Last year that novel was adapted by Marc Meyers and stared Disney actor Ross Lynch.  MVD released the film on blu was kind enough to send a review copy my way.
     The film follows Jeffrey Dahmer (Lynch) who is struggling with coming to terms with who he is.  His home life is troubled.  His mother is mentally unstable and hell bent on keeping her independence even though she should be under supervision.  At school he is a social outcast but has found a few friends after an outburst that turns him into a laughing stock.  He only solace is collecting roadkill.  That changes when his father realizes his obsession with dead things is unnatural and forces him to become a typical teen.  Jeffrey is anything but a typical teen and his irrational love for dead creatures starts to take root turning into a much bigger obsession.
      I was excited to check this one out.  I know nothing about the cast or director but a film about Dahmer in high school sounded very entertaining.  I was very, very wrong.  The film was extremely boring and the story was such a stretch considering the running time.  The acting in this one is solid.  Ross Lynch does a decent job at portraying an awkward teenage future serial killer.  The more darker scenes, which were not that dark, was well acted but the more lighter scenes were very underwhelming.  Hereditary star Alex Wolff delivers a decent performance as well.  He does a great job but his character is not written very well.  The supporting cast suffers the same fate.  The characters are extremely flat with nothing interesting or entertaining about them.  The story for this one is not True Crime or horror related.  In fact, it unfolds like a very bland drama or biopic.  The film dabbles a little into his obsession with collecting roadkill but only suggests his murderous side when the film is ending.  The major focus of the film is his high school interaction with his friends who would often use him to get laughs out of the school.  This results in one slow moving piece of cinema that took me almost three different attempts to finish.  I've had a few movies put me to sleep but I've never had a movie that I almost couldn't finish.  Finally, if you want a bloody movie centered around a legendary serial killer then you are out of luck.  This one shies away from the red stuff and focuses more on his teenage year.  Overall, My Friend Dahmer is a huge let down.  Honestly, you could change the name to any one and the film would still have the desire affect.  I cannot recommend this one. 




Saturday, December 8, 2018

24 x 36: A Movie About Movie Posters



Director - Kevin Burke
Starring - Paul Ainsworth, Dave Alexander (Fury of the Demon, Untold Horror), and Andrea Alvin (John Alvin Neon Tribute, Amsel: Illustrator of the Lost Art)
Release Date - 2016
Genre - Documentary
Format - DVD (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
 
     I'm a movie collector and have been for well over 20 years.  I started with VHS but when I was in college my drug addled sister stole my collection and sold it so I was forced to start over.  It was mid-2000s so VHS was already obsolete and DVDs took their place.  I didn't mind.  I just wanted the movies.  Over time I started collecting some novelty items like board games, toys, posters, and props.  Sadly, my collection of movies has grew to the point to where I can no longer collect other items because I've ran out of room for my movies.  I get collecting and I completely understand why someone feels the need to.  I've always respected collectors but there is a group of people that often leaves me baffled and that's the movie poster collectors.  Most of these collectors are obsessed with poster manufacturers and artist.  They collect anything they print regardless if they have seen the film or not.  This obsession is featured in the 2016 documentary 24 x 36: A Movie About Movie Posters.  I was recently send the film to review on DVD and did not know what to expect. 
     The documentary starts with the beginning of movie marketing at the turn of the century with the amazing works of arts with the artist virtually going unnoticed.  This changed several decades later when the artist began getting more and more recognition for their amazing work.  We then jump to the size of the poster and how marketing changed with the times before we get to the modern reimagined posters that are commonly 24 x 36.
      Documentaries are always fun.  I often find myself spending hours on my days off watching some of the most random documentaries on Netflix and Hulu.  I love when I get one in for review because horror is such a broad genre with so many fringe topics to cover.  I honestly was not expecting a documentary about posters and the collectors but someone made one...and it was pretty damn entertaining.  The interviews in this offers up a great range of perspective surrounding the subject.  We have directors, actor, and collectors giving insight on the subject along with friends and relatives discussing several different artists from the heyday of poster art.  I really like how the topics were spaced out and in chronological order.  This made the film move along very well and was very informative.  I would have liked to see a negative side explained in the documentary like how the unofficial posters affect the market for collectors and so on but that does not take anything away from it.  Finally, I liked how the editing was and how each topic transitioned from the next.  You can tell the team behind this is truly passionate about movie posters and they approached this with great care.  Overall, 24 x 36 is a solid documentary for fans of movie collectibles and documentaries alike.  Check it out.