Sunday, January 21, 2018

The Day After Halloween


Director - Simon Wincer (The Phantom, Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man)
Starring - Sigrid Thornton (#7DaysLater, The Pact), Chantal Contouri (Thirst, Offspring), and Robert Bruning (Ned Kelly, The Outsiders)
Release Date - 1979
Genre - Drama/Thriller
Tagline - "It started with a glamour shot...and ended with murder"
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):

     I get a lot of cool movies in to check out.  Sometimes these movies are fascinating and other times they are turds on film.  I'm grateful when anyone asks me to review a film but sometimes I wonder what I did to deserve such hostilities after sitting through a smoking gun.  One company that always sends quality stuff my way is Vinegar Syndrome.  I never know what is going to show up in the mail box but I do know I will be entertained when I see that Vin Syn address on it.  Sometime back Vin Syn sent over the film Snapshot, aka The Day After Halloween.  This looked like a fun watch.  After I finished Demon Wind I decided to go ahead and toss it in and see what I was getting myself into.  Thanks once again Vin Syn for sending this one my way.
     The film follows Angela (Thornton).  Angela is a hairdresser who befriends the beautiful Madeline (Contouri) who helps her break free from living payday to payday and into the world of modeling.  She recently broke up with her boyfriend and agrees to the new venture.  Her family turns their back on her and her ex becomes obsessive.  Often following her as she meets up with business partners and potential employers.  After receiving the head of a pig as a gift she suspects that her ex may turn to murder but quickly learns she has a stalker in the modeling community.
     When I got Snapshot I had no idea what to expect from this film.  The reversible sleeve and alternative title suggested to me that it was an erotic slasher.  That was not the case.  The film was sexy but not as sleazy as I was thinking (or hoping for).  Instead, it was a cold drama that plays out until it becomes a strong thriller.  The acting in this is great.  I really enjoyed the cast.  Sigrid Thornton was fantastic as the reluctant model turned center of attention.  She is gorgeous and delivers an emotional performance.  I also enjoyed Chantal Contouri.  This is the first film I've seen of hers but god damn will I be looking for more.  Wow.  The story for this one flows more like a drama until the film's end segment until it takes on great thriller qualities.  The film gets very dark and our star's future is uncertain.  I liked the way the film flows and the story it tells.  Finally, if you are looking for blood you wont find it here.  If you want skin and a great story you came to the right place.  Overall, Snapshot is a fantastic film.  Parts drama and parts thriller that will entertain.  Check it out!




Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Deathdream


Director - Bob Clark (Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things, Black Christmas)
Starring - John Marley (Kolchak: The Night Stalker, The Godfather), Lynn Carlin (The Incredible Hulk, Superstition), and Richard Backus (The First Deadly Sin, Law & Order)
Release Date - 1974
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "Something unspeakable has come home"
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     Director Bob Clark is one of the most underrated directors in film history.  This late genius has released classic horror films and a Christmas story that has played on EVERY television at least once but not many people know his name.  Bob Clark is responsible for the coming of age sex comedy Porky's, the Christmas classic A Christmas Story, and essential horror films Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things, Black Christmas, and Deathdream.  I've seen several of his films and all of them are fantastic.  About 10 years ago a friend of mine got Deathdream on DVD and we checked it out.  I was absolutely in love with the film and tried everything I could to trade for the film and he refused.  A few years later I found a copy in FYE fairly cheap and had to have it.  I was ecstatic to add this to my collection.  Sometime ago Blue Underground announced the film would be making its blu premier and they were kind enough to send a review copy my way.  Thanks guys!
     The film follows the Brooks family whose son Andy is away in Vietnam fighting in the war.  One day they receive a letter that he has passed away and the family is filled with remorse.  One night the family hears a strange noise downstairs and goes to investigate only to find Andy alive.  However, Andy is not his old self.  Has the war really changed him that much or has something evil came home?
   

     Deathdream, just like Clark's other horror films, is shot beautifully and has great atmosphere.  The cinematography is always great even if the film's budget is not the best.  Clark has a great eye and his films show it.  If you don't believe me just toss in Black Christmas and Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things.  You can pause those films almost at anytime and have a beautiful shot.  Deathdream looks great but the story is what draws you in.  The acting in this one is great.  John Marley is fantastic in his role and really showed the world what all those years of experience can do in front of the camera.  His character is very emotional without feeling weak.  He is a father and husband who is dealing with a loved one that is committing heinous crimes.  His performance is superb.  I also enjoyed Richard Backus as Andy.  His emotionless performance and facial expressions make this film. The story for this one is a product of its time.  In 1974 we were winding down in Vietnam but it was still a hot topic for most Americans who lost friends or family in the war.  Not many horror films tackled the topic but Deathdream makes it a backdrop to the story which works very well for the type of story we do get.  The film has a steady pacing and a great tone with just the right amount of suspense.  The undead angle was a unique take on which makes it blend between the living dead and vampires.  I really liked that take on the story and really enjoyed where Clark went with it.  Finally, the film does have several deaths.  The effects we do get are solid but nothing that you will remember tomorrow.  This is one horror films where the deaths are the least entertaining aspects.  Overall, Deathdream is a classic.  If you don't have this in your collection are you really a fan of horror in the first place?




Monday, January 15, 2018

Demon Wind


Director - Charles Philip Moore (Dance with Death, Angel of Destruction)
Starring - Eric Larson (Angel, Once and Again), Francine Lapensee (Death Chase, 2002: The Rape of Eden), and Rufus Norris (CBS Schoolbreak Special, Return Fire)
Release Date - 1990
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "It'll blow you away"
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):

     When I was younger I was a movie fan.  I wasn't obsessed with horror yet but I saw all genres equally.  I spent most of my time watching kids movies like Space Jam, Heavyweights, Air Bud, and so on.  I was a product of the 90s and grew up visiting the video store almost every night.  I would sometimes mix it up with a little action, horror, sci-fi, and so on just to spice it up a bit.  It was on one of these many visits that I rented the some of my favorite films growing up for the first time; The Midnight Hour and Demon Wind.  I rented them once and absolutely loved them but could never find them again after that initial viewing.  A few years ago I was attending a horror con and found a boot of the Midnight Hours (I know, boo - hiss).  I never could find Demon Wind and honestly I forgot the name of it.  When I would ask horror fans if they knew the name of it they often met me with skepticism or thought I made it up.  However, I was able to track it down one night on the UHM forums and was heartbroken to learn that there was never a proper release of the film.  That changed recently when the fine folks at Vinegar Syndrome released the film on blu and was nice enough to send a copy my way.  Thanks guys!
     The film follows a young man and who had his estranged family tracked down by his loving girlfriend only to find that his father recently killed himself leaving his family's cabin to him.  They invite along some friends for moral support.  The locals tell them to leave but they refuse and continue on their journey until they arrive at an unusual cabin.  One side of the cabin is destroyed yet when they go in through the front door the cabin is unharmed.  Once inside they learn of his tragic past and the demonic presence that haunts his family.
     This film is far from perfect but god damn it is so much fun. I absolutely love the story and how much it reminds me of the Evil Dead films.  In fact, when I was describing this film a lot of people told me it was Evil Dead II like I wouldn't know what that was.  I do see similarities between the two but they are not the same film.  The acting in this one is so so.  The cast all has a decent listing on imdb but the cast has several scenes where they completely forget to act.  They just spit out their dialogue with no emotional attachment.  I would like to note that as the film progresses they find themselves losing their close friends but rarely show any emotional attachment to them.  This is a cold group of friends.  The story for this one has a lot going on which could explain why it was difficult to get the film completed.  The demonic possession and witchcraft angle is fucking fantastic.  The house, the spells, the angel and demon fight scene, all of it is fantastic.  It's 80s cheese that is still in date.  It could easily be set in the Evil Dead universe or paired with it for hell of a double feature.  Finally, the film doesn't have that much gore.  There is some pretty bloody kills but the icing on the cake is the oozing effects on the demons.  The effects in this are some of my favorite which is the only real reason you need to watch this film.  The rest is just a bonus.  Overall, Demon Wind is not the most polished horror film but god damn is it fun.  This is easily my favorite Vin Syn release to date and a must have for any horror fan.  Check it out.  




Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Lights Camera Blood





Director - Kevin Doherty (Black Bridge, Wild Turkeys)
Starring - Alan MacKenzie (Black Bridge, I Come in Pieces), Dan Baker-Moor (The Jogger, The Trainman), and Heather Russell
Release Date - 2015
Genre - Horror/Comedy
Tagline - "Prepare to shutter in terror"

Rating (out of 5):

     I've watched too many big budgets flicks in a short amount of time and needed to change that up.  I love all horror but sometimes I need the humor and absurdity that only no budget horror flicks can offer.  Recently, I've watched Mayhem, Brawl in Cell Block 99, and The Lawnmower Man.  All are great films in their own right but they just don't have the off the wall comedy and offensive humor that I like so much.  After looking through my review stack I came across the SRS release of Lights Camera Blood.  This indie endeavor immediately put me in mind of the early works of Herschell Gordon Lewis.  I tossed it in and I'm glad I did.  I want to thank MVD and SRS for sending this one my way to check out.
     The film follows low budget director Mandalor (MacKenzie) and his assistant Rodney (Baker-Moor) as they try to pitch their short to a film executive who rips it apart for its shitty effects and horrible acting.  Mandalor refuses to quit and attempts another film when his lead actress gets the best of him.  He kills her while Rodney records and then edits the murder in order to sell the film.  The film exec loves it and commissions a feature length film and Mandalor knows what he has to do.  He casts homeless people to slay on film in order to achieve that look the film exec is looking for.  Things take a bleak turn when Rodney falls in love with a young woman and casts her fiancĂ© in the film to get rid of him.  Mandalor has him murdered on film but his disappearance sparks a police investigation by his fiancĂ©e.  Mandalor has to stay off the police's radar all while dealing with his unexpected fame.
     Lights Camera Blood is one of those films where you just know you are going to enjoy yourself.  I just knew the film would have the quirky characters and puns that I love in no budget horror.  The film did not let me down in the slightest and I am confident when I would recommend watching this as a double feature with any of HGL's classic gore flicks.  The acting in this one is over the top and brilliant.  The cast will won't be winning any rewards but they breathed some air into some larger than life characters that really made the film worth watching.  The entire cast made the film fun and I applied their efforts.  The story for this one is simple and one we've seen before.  There has been countless horror films, especially slashers, that follows a movie crew that butchered the cast in order to make the film feel authentic.  Hell, not long ago I reviewed the Joe Pilato lead horror film Special Effects that follows this same story.   What makes this one so much fun is the fact that the characters stand out and the film doesn't take itself too seriously.  Finally, the film is full of gore.  The effects are not that realistic but they fit the style of the film and adds another dimension to the overall enjoyment.  Overall, Lights Camera Blood is a no budget gore-filled horror comedy that needs to be seen.  Check this one out!




Friend Request


Director - Simon Verhoeven (Welcome to Germany, Men in the City)
Starring - Alycia Debnam-Carey (Fear the Walking Dead, The Devil's Hand), Connor Paolo (Stake Land, Camp Hell), and Liesl Ahlers (The Challenger Disaster, Inside Job)
Release Date - 2016
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "Evil is trending"
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):
     Horror can find its way into every facet of life ranging from dreams, prepping food to cook, summer camp, making love, and even social media.  Any and everything you do can be turned into a horror movie when enough thought is applied.  The internet and social media has been the center for several horror films in recent years with movies like Smiley and Unfriended.  For the record, Smiley is a turd on toast but I can't speak for Unfriended.  It could be a turd but I wouldn't know.  These films usually lack story and are just tossed together with a modest budget to make a quick buck.  Last year the movie Friend Request was released in theaters and I skipped it.  Honestly, I wanted to check it out but work and family life got the best of me.  I figured I'd eventually check it out.  Hell, maybe even have a double feature with Unfriended.  Not long ago I was sent the press release on the physical release of the film and I was able to score a review copy of it.
     The film follows Laura (Carey) who is a popular girl in college and on social media.  She befriends a new student named Marina (Ahlers).  Marina has no friends and Laura opens up to her.  They become friends on Facebook but Laura quickly discovers that Marina is odd.  One night Laura brushes her off to celebrate her birthday with her friends when Marina finds out and kills herself.  Soon she finds her Facebook profile sharing videos of her friends dying and the only thing connecting their deaths to Marina is that they became friends just hours before they die.  Now she must stop Marina's spirit from killing her friends before the police arrests her.

     I assumed this film was going to take the same route as Pulse where social media would be doing the killing.  In a sense that is right but the film offers up a little more than that.  I really liked the story and where it took me even though there was several questionable scenes scattered throughout.  The acting in this one is fun and the cast does a solid job but the problem is the characters are very one dimensional with the exception of Mirana.  Her backstory and her reign of cyber terror made the character stand out which, honestly, has nothing to really do with the cast but more of the writing.  The characters are easily forgettable and the viewer doesn't care if they die or not.  The story for this one has several things that I really enjoyed and a few that I just didn't care for.  I really enjoyed the popular girl falling prey to a supernatural presence that turns people against her.  I really liked that and I loved it even more when the witch storyline was added.  I love witches and anytime I see them in a film I get excited.  Sadly, adding this to social media did more than make the film feel cheesy.  It took it into the land of tacky which did knock it down a notch.  Finally, the film has plenty of practical and visual effects.  The practical looks good for what it is and most of the visual does but there is several scenes where the visual effects stands out and looks horrendous.  Overall, Friend Request won't be a movie people will be talking about in 5 years.  Hell, by summer the movie will easily be forgotten but it does have some entertainment value that I would recommend checking out.  Its not perfect but fun.