Friday, April 20, 2018

Creepy Clowns: The LUNATIC'ler

Director - Pete Jacelone (Chad's Dental Nightmare, Psycho Street)
Starring - Heather Drew (Witches Blood, Sickness), Edward X. Young (Camp Blood 666, Bite School), and Daylan Ludemann (The Pogo Film Project)
Release Date - 2016
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "They'll die laughing"
Format - DVD (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):

     There is a lot to be afraid of in this vast world of ours.  Some people are afraid of heights, giant bodies of water, driving in cars, spiders, dolls, germs, and so much more.  Hell, I'm a 300 pound man that stands over 6 feet tall and I have an irrational fear of being raped.  I know it doesn't make sense but everyone has a fear of something.  One fear that I never understood was the fear of clowns.  Sure, they can be creepy but actually fearing them is something I've never fully understood.  Most people could care less about clowns but the original mini-series adaptation of Stephen King's It changed that for everyone.  Now, people who didn't give two shits about clowns were now afraid of them.  This resulted hundreds if not thousands of horror films centered around clowns.  Recently I was sent the indie horror film Creepy Clowns: The LUNATIC'ler to check out.  I had no idea what the film was about other than clowns but that didn't stop me from diving right into it.
     The film follows a successful artist who lives alone and struggles with the traumatic childhood he endured at the hands of his step-father who worked as a clown.  Now, several decades later he finds himself enjoying the company of escorts and transforming into an evil clown and killing teenage boys.  He soon finds himself in love with the escort he frequents and learns that their lives are intertwined when she discovers that he was the one responsible for her brother's death.

     I always give a movie the benefit of the doubt but after siting through this in it's entirety I have to be honest.  This film was a difficult one to finish.  I've seen some stinkers in my short time of reviewing but this one was a tough one.  The story was all over the place and the pacing was way off.  The acting in this one isn't bad.  The cast was actually pretty great but the project they agreed to was not on the same level of quality.  I've seen countless films with similar budgets and this one is one of the better acted ones.  The cast has amazing chemistry and works very well on screen.  The film almost feels like a parody but the cast is able to knock it out of the park.  The story for this one just doesn't work.  The film tries to capture that mental illness serial killer vibe but is unable to do so because it adds in this clown angle where the killer "changes" into the clown off screen.  The film could have worked if it would have taken itself a little more seriously and abandoned the clown portion.  Also, some of the scenes are way too long with little or nothing to do with the story being told.  Heavy editing would help this out tremendously.  Finally, the film has several death that are very underwhelming.  The effects are minimal and the kills lack originality.  Overall, Creepy Clowns is an ambitious horror flick that fails to capture anything entertaining.  The amazing cast is sadly wasted against a story that fails to capture the viewer's attention. 

Guardia de Male

Director - Brian Kilby (Boner and the Neudge, Road of Darkness)
Starring - Amanda Bell (Manuer), Patrick L. Dear (The Big F, Fangboner), and Adam Lorenz (Beyond the Vally of Belief, Blood Orgy at Beaver Lake)
Release Date - 2015
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "Evil is everywhere"
Format - Screening (Cinema Wasteland)

Rating (out of 5):

     There is so many indie filmmakers and production companies that I love but there is few that get me excited (hot and bothered) like Rock Bottom Video.  This small group of actors and directors has released several unforgettable films like Fangboner, Beyond the Valley of Belief, The Big F, and Gay for Pray: The Erotic Adventures of Jesus Christ.  The team behind these films has said that they made a film in 2015 and didn't release it.  Guardia de Male was their take/parody of Italian horror films and  has set in limbo until this year when they decided to take it off the shelf.  They screened the film at Cinema Wasteland earlier this month and I was able to make the screening.  I was drunk during the showing but I had a great fucking time.  Everyone in the room was laughing and having a good time.  I bought a copy to complete my Rock Bottom collection and decided to give the film a proper viewing while sober.  The film held up and I laughed just as hard as I did at the screening.
     The film follows a group of young adults who enjoy a night out camping.  What the group doesn't know is that there is an evil force in the woods that jumps from host to host once the body is destroyed.  Those possessed by the evil presence kills those around them.  When their own falls victim to the entity they seek refuge in a nearby home where they encounter a stranger who has battled the evil before.  They try to hold out until daylight but what they don't know is that daylight is never going to come and their mortality hanging by a thread.
     Rock Bottom Video has a sense of humor that translates very well in their films.  I love their delivery and how everything can be a punch line.  I've met and hung out with Nathan Rumler and Brian Papandrea and they are just as funny in real life as their films.  Both are very animated and unique which is why the films they are apart of stands out against other indie flicks.  The acting in this one is fucking fantastic.  The poor dubbing made the film as fun as it was and the fact the cast had to overact to make it work only shows how talented they are on camera.  Sadie Tate and Mae Bell were great.  The two look amazing on camera and delivered two fun performances.  Patrick Dear, Adam Lorenze, Brian Papandrea, and Michael Soave did great as well.  The best performance comes from Nathan Rumler who dolls himself up and kills it as a possessed woman.  That last part is a lie, he shouldn't wear a dress ever again.  The story for this one falls somewhere between Demon Wind and Evil Dead meets a any poorly dubbed Italian film.  Most horror dickheads would watch this and not appreciate what Rock Bottom did but fans of the cabin in the woods and Italian horror will love the mash up.  The cabin in the woods possession tale has always been a favorite of mine and seeing it tossed in an Italian style film really worked for me.  Sure, it is surrounded by heavy amounts of humor but it still works.  You more than chuckle at the film.  When you laugh it will be a belly laugh.  Finally, the film isn't that gory.  There is some blood but my favorite part (aside from the dubbing) is how the possessed look.  Rock Bottom would really have something if they would have had a more serious approach to the film if they used those effects.  Overall, Guardia de Male is a fun watch for fans of horror comedies and Italian horror.  However, if you are a horror hipster sniffing your own farts you wont enjoy it.  I can't recommend this one enough.  Please check it out.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Bride of Killer Nerd

Director(s) -Mark Steven Bosko (Pig, Girlfriend) and Wayne Alan Harold (Genuine Nerd, Townies)
Starring - Toby Radloff (American Splendor, Killer Nerd), Heidi Lohr (Killer Nerd), and Kathleen Hogan (Sleepy Hollow, Scream: The TV Series)
Release Date - 1992
Genre - Horror/Comedy
Format - DVD (Personal Collection)

Rating (out of 5):

     Another Thursday is upon us so its time for another Troma flick.  Two weeks ago I watched Killer Nerd which starts MTV's Toby Radloff.  I had watched his segments growing up on VHS and absolutely loved them.  When I heard he was going to be attending Cinema Wasteland I decided it was time to review Killer Nerd before meeting him and director Wayne Alan Harold.  I have hundreds of Troma flicks to pick from to review but after watching and review the first Killer Nerd film it only made sense to follow that up with the sequel Bride of Killer Nerd which is a double feature with the original film from Troma.

     The film picks up after the events in the first film.  Harold has moved to escape his demons but is still haunted by those he killed in the first film until he meets another tortured soul.  Thelma is a high school student who is often the butt of her classmate's jokes much like Harold was in the first film.  One day her tormentors are caught in the act and punished.  They vow revenge and invite Thelma and Harold to a party where they get Harold drunk and give Thelma a "makeover."  This sets Thelma over the edge and after hearing Harold mention the murders in his sleep she sets out to kill all those that made her life hell.
     I enjoyed the first film.  It lacked on the horror until the ending but is a fun watch overall.  Most sequels are turds and I wasn't expecting a lot from Bride of Killer Nerd but the film was actually entertaining and works great as a sequel.  The acting in this one is more of what was seen in the first film.  Radloff is just being himself while spitting out his lines.  Not much acting going on but it is still fun to watch the genuine nerd on camera.  Heie Lohr takes on duel roles returning as her character in the first film and the new Thelma character.  I liked her in both films but she is able to dial it up with Thelma and deliver a fun performance.  The supporting cast is solid as well even though most have no experience on screen.  The story for this one is more of the first film but with a romantic flare.  The first film unfolds like a quirky drama and unleashes the horror in the last portion of the film.  This film tosses in several horror elements at the very beginning which I really enjoyed.  I also liked how batshit crazy the Thelma character is.  I really enjoyed the characters and settings for this film while the story had some additional elements tossed in to make it feel different.  Finally, the film has several on screen kills.  The kills are not memorable but the effects are.  I really enjoyed how over the top the effects are.  True S.O.V. fashion.  Overall, Bride of Killer Nerd is a worthy follow up to Killer Nerd.  Fans of no budget horror and S.O.V. need to check it out.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Dawn of the Dead

Director - Zack Snyder (Watchmen, 300)
Starring - Sarah Polley (eXistenZ, Go), Ving Rhames (Pulp Fiction, The Goods), and Jake Weber (Hell on Wheels, Wendigo)
Release Date - 2004
Genre - Horror
Tagline - When there's no more room in Hell the dead will walk the Earth"
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):

     My range in horror has always been broad.  When I was younger I loved all movie genres.  I was a typical kid so I would check out movies like Space Jam, Heavy Weights, Air Bud, Prehysteria, and so on but when my mother was still around I was sometimes forced to watch movies against my will.  This happened before she was institutionalized.  As a kid I liked some horror movies but I was forced to watch Evil Dead II and God Told Me To! years before my mom was diagnosed schizophrenic.  She would tell my sister and I that we needed to watch these films to prepare but I never did find out what we were preparing for.  Once she was out of the picture my grandmother would take care of us while we were out of town.  She was obsessed with the SyFy channel way back when it was still Sci-Fi Channel.  It was here that I watched the Night of the Living Dead remake for the first time.  I loved it and I soon tracked down the original film and Dawn of the Dead.  I became obsessed with the series and when I was in high school news broke that Romero's classic Dawn was going to be remade.  While most people bitched and moaned I was excited.  I loved the NotLD remake and couldn't imagine how awesome a Dawn remake would be.  Recently, Scream Factory released the remake on blu alongside Romero's Day sequel Land of the Dead.  I was lucky enough to receive a review copy.  I want to thank Scream Factory for sending this one my way.

     The film follows a nurse that loses her husband to an outbreak that turns the living into savage flesheaters.  She flees after her community falls to the outbreak.  She crosses paths with a police officer, an interracial couple expecting a child, and a man.  They seek refuge inside a mall where they are greeted by a hostile security team that refuses to trust them.  Things change over time and learn to trust each other when a truck of survives crashes into the loading dock.  Things look up until the power goes out and the undead make their way into the mall forcing them to flee in hopes of finding an isolated island but not everyone will make the voyage.

     I went into the remake expecting a more faithful adaption to the original film much like Savini's remake of NotLD but was given something completely different.  The film may be different but it still offers up a fun zombie experience unless you are those people that can't get over the fact that zombies run.  The acting in this one is alright but it could have been better.  I was never sold on the cast.  I enjoyed Ving Rhames and Michael Kelly.  Both delivers fantastic performances but I struggled to get behind Sarah Polley and Jake Weber as the film's lead.  Their characters just didn't fit into the film like some of the others and their portrayal made them very underwhelming.  The film really needed stronger characters than what was actually delivered.  The story for this one is loosely based on the original film.  Director Zack Snyder made this movie his own and made some major changes.  The mall aspect remains but most of the story was changed.  The classic shambling zombie was replaced with a faster and meaner zombie which made for some intense scenes.  The survivors have a hard time agreeing with one another which takes the viewers back to Romero's classic Night of the Living Dead where the group was split between fortifying the house or locking themselves in the basement.  This created a great deal of tension which really drew the viewer in where the original Dawn film followed a group that was mostly unified and worked well together.  I also liked the fact that the story was remade to be a standalone film and created a new universe that was sadly never followed up with.  My biggest complaint about the story is the characters.  Some of the characters were flat and boring while others, though minor, were so enjoyable to watch.  What made the original film so fun was the abundance of memorable characters that you want to see survive and thrive during the apocalypse instead of becoming zombie shit.  Finally, the film is full of great on screen kills with some amazing practical effects.  I really enjoy the kills we get in this and the extent they went to use practical effects.  The CGI is only for filler and not that noticeable.  I was surprised to learn that A Nightmare on Elm St. star Heather Langencamp was one of the effects artists on the film.  Overall, Dawn of the Dead is not a bad remake.  In fact, I really enjoyed it.  People often bitch about remakes but this one was solid. Check it out. 

Land of the Dead

Director - George A. Romero (Night of the Living Dead, The Crazies)
Starring - Simon Baker (The Mentalist, Sex and Death 101), John Leguizamo (Spawn, Kick-Ass 2), and Dennis Hopper (Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, Waterworld)
Release Date - 2005
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "The dead shall inherit the Earth"
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):

     When I was in high school I was already a dedicated horror nerd.  Middle school was when I scored the Evil Dead trilogy on DVD and was hooked on horror.  I had collected several movies by that point and was an avid member of the Upcoming Horror Movies (UHM) forum posting a couple hundred times a day even when in school.  I was addicted and couldn't get enough.  When I was a senior George A. Romero announced that he was making a new zombie flick which would serve as a follow up to his 1985 classic Day of the Dead.  His Dead series is easily my favorite film series and still is.  The film was announced as Dead Reckoning but was soon changed to Land of the Dead which is more fitting for the series.  When it was released I was able to check it out and when it hit store shelves I ran out at midnight to grab a copy.  Not long ago my friends at Scream Factory released the film on blu.  Being the fan of the film and the series I had to review the blu.  Thank you Scream Factory for sending this one my way!
     The film pick up sometime during the zombie apocalypse with a walled off city being the hub for human civilization with the rich and power living in a secure building known as Fiddler's Green and everyone else living in the slums around the building.  There is a team of scavengers that go out and loot the surrounding communities for supplies but the undead are no longer mindless mounds of flesh.  They are adapting and starting to communicate with each other.  When their supervisor tries to leave town the kingpin of Fiddler's Green has his car taken from him and forces him to hunt down a former colleague who has stolen a million dollar zombie killing machine known as Dead Reckoning.  Things take a dark turn when the undead force their way into the city forcing mass panic and mayhem while they search for the rig that could be their salvation.
     When Land of the Dead was released it was greeted with mostly negative feedback.  At least from what I could see.  Most of the people I've seen in horror groups really hated the film but I really enjoyed it.  It wasn't Night of the Living Dead or Dawn of the Dead but it was fun.  The acting in this one is great...for the most part.  Simon Baker has never been a name I've respected in the world of cinema and this film is no exception.  He has a hard time conveying emotions and this role is no exception.  His character is flat and is hard to get behind.  With that being said, John Leguizamo, Dennis Harper, Asia Argento, and Robert Joy fucking killed it.  My favorite performances belongs to Leguizamo and Argento who brought some memorable characters to life.  In fact, both characters they portray are some of my favorite in all the Dead films.  The story for this one has more to do than just survival which is common among all the Dead films.  The social commentary stands out in this one more than any other Dead film with the war between the upper and lower class.  This is the main point throughout the entire film with the working to poor class the front line of defense against the zombie horde while the rich and powerful live locked away in their tower.  Most of the scenes are dedicated to character development and story delivery but there was several moments that felt out of place for a Romero flick.  The preacher zombie with the retractable head and the introduction of the Samoan soldier was comic like which the series is not known for.  Several silly moments makes this one feel as if it doesn't fit in the series.  Finally, the film has some amazing, and not so amazing effects.  The on screen kills are fantastic with amazing practical effects but there is several instances where they opted to use CGI which does not look that well.  Several scenes are almost ruined due to this and poorly constructed they are.  Overall, Land of the Dead is a great movie especially when you compare it to the new wave of zombie film trying to clone The Walking Dead.  As fun as it is to watch it just doesn't feel like another entry in Romero's Dead series.   I recommend it but don't expect to catch that amazing feeling Night, Dawn, and Day gives you.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Night of the Living Dead

Director - George A. Romero (Creepshow, The Crazies)
Starring - Duane Jones (Vampires, Fright House), Judith O'Dea (Hole in the Wall, Night of the Living Dead: Genesis), and Karl Hardman (Santa Claws)
Release Date - 1968
Genre - Horror
Tagline - "They wont stay dead"
Format - Bluray (Personal Collection) (Screener)

Rating (out of 5):

     How do you review the greatest horror film that forever changed an entire sub-genre?  It's easy really but what I have to say about it literally means nothing considering EVERY horror fan has seen it.  In 1968 Romero and a handful of friend and acquaintances went into the Pennsylvania country side and forever changed horror history by combining social commentary with a loose interpretation of Matheson's I am Legend and a misunderstanding of the folklore around ghouls.  Night of Anubis, later retitled Night of the Living Dead, was born taking zombies from voodoo origins to shambling corpses that devours the flesh of the living.  The film is a staple of every horror fans collection and is personally my favorite horror film.  Sadly, Romero was young and inexperienced and the film has fell into public domain territory which has stopped the film from receiving a proper released until now.  Recently Mill Creek Entertainment and Criterion has released the film on blu.  Today I will be taking a look at the Mill Creek release which they sent over for review.  Thanks guys!
     The film begins with siblings Johnny (Streiner) and Barbara (O'Dea) who leave the city to visit the cemetery to lay flowers on a grave.  While walking through the cemetery the two are attacked by a man acting strange (Hinzman) and Johnny hits his head on a grave marker.  Barbara flees through the cemetery and the woods nearby before coming to a lone farmhouse.  She enters to find it abandoned but soon a car drives up.  Ben (Jones) approaches her and helps her fortify the house before searching for keys to a gas pump located on the property.  They are unable to find them but the noise of the things outside and noise of them barricading the windows and doors draws the attention of survivors hiding in the basement.  They resurface but tension comes to a boil when Ben and Harry Cooper (Hardman) can't agree on a plan leading to several altercations forcing the group to split.  Harry takes his family, including his daughter Karen (Kyra Schon) who was bitten to the basement while a young couple, Tom and Judy leaves the safety of the basement to help fortify the house and search for the pump key.  Tom and Judy tries to unlock the pump without a key but is unable to do so forcing Tom to shoot the pump which results disastrous for the two.  Harry then locks Ben out of the house forcing Ben to fight in while the zombies are distracted with the warm meal Tom and Judy's body presents.  Once inside another fight breaks out between Ben and Harry followed by the undead forcing themselves inside.  The basement seems like the only logical choice now for refuge but Karen Cooper has now changed into the undead and killed Harry before setting her sights on the mother forcing Ben to put her down while Barbara is pulled through a crowd of the undead by her brother and several more.  Ben is now alone in the basement and when he emerges after hearing gunshots he is mistaken for the undead and shot.
     I didn't know how to approach this review.  What can I say about Night of the Living Dead that hasn't been said before?  Honestly, there isn't much I can say about the film but everything I have to say is positive.  The acting in this one is phenomenal.  Duane Jones is perfect as the film's lead.  He takes control of each and every scene.  His character is now iconic and almost every zombie film I've seen to date has a character that is heavily influenced in one way or another from his performance.  The most iconic performance comes from Judith O'Dea who portrayed Barbara.  Aside from Kyra Schon holding the trowel, Barbara is the face of the film.  Her performance is underwhelming when you watch the film but once you finish the film and consider everything that has happened you realize why she is acting the way she is.  Her performance is brilliant.  Karl Hardman was another heavy hitter in the film.  His performance is intense and he draws hate out of the viewer.  You want to hate him even during the film's final scene and you realize he was right the whole time.  The story for this one is simple but completely changed the game.  We see zombie films like this a dime a dozen now but at the time this was groundbreaking.  Zombies were traditionally know as mindless servants of voodoo priests and priestesses.  However, Romero changed the game by trying to make a film about ghouls.  In most mythology the ghoul is a living creature that robs graves and eats dead flesh.  By making the dead eat the flesh of the living he created a pop culture phenomenon that has taken the world by storm.   The story has great characters with clashing personalities and various background put against a dreary situation with amazing suspense and tension.  The soundtrack rounds out the experience.  Finally, the film has several on screen kills.  It isn't the goriest flick to ever be filmed but the few deaths we get work on a psychological level which only builds the atmosphere.  The effects for these are minimal but the skeleton on the steps has forever been ingrained in my skull.  I love the way it looks.  Overall, Night of the Living Deadis one of the few films I can give a 5 out of 5 to.  The movie is fucking perfect which is difficult for me to say considering I have a hard time saying a film is perfect.  This is a classic and a must for any fan.