Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Pigman Murders Review

Normally, I'm a sucker for a guy in a mask, esepcially a cool mask like a pig one. Pigs freak me out. I'm also not a found footage hater, and most of the time I dig indie cinema. Knowing that, you'd think that The Pigman Murders was going to be a fairly entertaining movie for yours truly. You'd be wrong, but I can see where you'd think that. As it turned out, Pigman was disappointing, and at times downright annoying.

Plot wise, there's not a lot to get into. A group of guys are getting together to celebrate the life of a friend of theirs who has recently passed away. They hire a camera man to film the entire weekend, filled with drinking, fighting, and tales of debauchery involving their fallen mate. The plan is to give this footage to the guy's family...because that's what every young man's parents want to see. Things take a turn for the worse when they enter the woods though, and the guys end up on the run from a ruthless killer in a Pig Mask, probably.

I said probably there because this movie commits the cardinal slasher film sin of almost no screen time for our masked hero. Movie people, we come to these things for the killer. Plain and simple. If we don't get to see the killer, we won't be very happy with your work. I really, really wanted to like this movie. The cover art is sick, and as I said, a pig mask is just an awesome visual. Aside from a lack of presence from the killer, the other thing that bugged me about this movie is the constant flicker and skipping of the "tape". I get that this is supposed to be the footage found in a camera in the woods, but it was literally every 10-20 seconds. I hoped as time went on it would lighten up a bit and just play the movie, but it never did.

The kills themselves were the one bright point in the movie. They weren't inventive, they almost all happened off camera, and they weren't particularly brutal, still there was some decent practical gore, and when the rest of the movie is as disappointing as Pigman was, you'll be surprised at what you focus in on for positives. The cast was also not terrible, for this sort of microbudgeted production.

Don't let the fantastic cover art on this one fool you too. I want to believe The Pigman Murders had it's heart in the right place. It definitely had potential. I can't imagine it was all that difficult to throw a pig mask on a guy and have him run around in the woods with a knife, hell I would've done it if they'd called me, but for some reason this movie focuses far too much on the victims, and gives the killers an almost indicated presence. If you're a die hard slasher fan who has to see every single one that's ever been made, check this out for some ok gore and not much else. Everybody else, look elsewhere for your mask wielding maniacs.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Raiders of the Lost Shark Review

Do you like a little silly with your low budget giant killer animal movie? Boy do I have one for you. Raiders of the Lost Shark is every bit as ridiculous as that title suggests, but it's the right kind of ridiculous for a select few of us who are able to just take it for what it is and have fun with it. This is the kind of flick that you put on at 1 in the morning after you've had a few drinks, preferably surrounded by friends. I laughed nearly from start to finish.

The plot is as simple as you can get, as is to be expected. Some company is drilling in a lake and accidentally comes across an underwater cave, unleashing a prehistoric Megalodon. That's right, an enormous prehistoric shark was living in a cave at the bottom of a lake. A couple of police officers getting into some extra curricular activities with some trashy looking ladies get eaten, an investigation ensues, more people get eaten. Then, from out of nowhere, the shark starts flying. Yes, flying. Through the air. Some sort of mad scientist comes into play, and a college professor (who has flashbacks to her sister dying in the same lake) has to put a stop to the Megalodon's reign of terror.

If the above paragraph didn't totally sell you on Raiders of the Lost Shark, then this movie simply isn't for you, and feel free to kindly move along. For those still with me, this movie is an absolute blast. It's awful, but in all the right ways. The acting is bad, but the script is written in a manner that the cast almost seems to be making fun of themselves before the viewer can. Case in point, the Captain that takes the professor and students out on the lake to search for the shark is obviously the "Quint" of the movie, but he also just so happens to have just a slight pirate accent to go along with his over the top performance. These movies are often of the make it or break it variety when it comes to the animal in question, and to be honest when I first put the disc in, I fully expected first person camera shots (ala Jaws) and maybe some stock nature footage from Shark Week cut into the movie. So you can imagine my surprise when a fully CGI shark leapt out of the water, growling, and snapped up another trashy young lady who was doing a photo shoot in the water. It wasn't a particularly good looking CGI shark, and they probably blew most of their budget on the two or three scenes where the CG was used, but it was there and that was something I never expected.

For killer animal purists, Raiders of the Lost Shark is probably a pass. It lacks the seriousness of even the typical SyFy fare, which itself is often not really serious. I wouldn't go so far as to call Raiders of the Lost Shark a spoof myself, but I can see where one could make that argument. If you have the ability to just sit back for an hour and some change, get some friends together, partake of some sort of mind altering substance, and just enjoy yourself though, there's a good time here. I dare anybody to watch the part were the shark just starts flying around for no discernible reason and not laugh. It simply is not possible.

Monday, May 18, 2015

American Poltergeist Review

Ever since Paranormal Activity came out, ghosts have been giving zombies a run for their money in the micro budget indie/direct to video market. I guess the cheapest thing to put in front of a camera is either an actor with some faint eye makeup and blood around their mouth, or an invisible ghost. Just as with their zombie brethren, some of these haunted house flicks have been ok and some have been just plain bad. Enter American Poltergeist, another small hopeful looking to make itself heard amongst the masses.

The movie centers around a group of paranormal investigators who are just getting their start in the ghost hunting business. So far, they've had no luck in capturing any evidence, and their optimism is dwindling. When a night spent in one of the reputable haunted locations in their area turns up nothing yet again, it causes one member of the group to start verbally abusing the alleged spirit inhabiting the building. While at first, even this tactic appears to bear no result, it's not long before strange things begin to happen to his wife at their house. It looks like not only did he anger the spirit, but it followed him home.

American Poltergeist is as micro budget as micro budget movies get. I get the feeling to truly get anything out of this one you either need to have been involved in the making of it, or be friends with someone who was. At one point, when the ghost attacks, he's supposed to be choking the wife against the wall, and I swear the shadow "effect" was literally someone standing off camera in front of a large light, making a choking motion with his arms so it would look like some sort of shadow figure had it's hands around her neck. The acting is not a whole lot better either. Performances basically range from " I have no idea what I'm doing" to worse. I'd be surprised to see any of the actors and actresses in this movie in anything else ever again.

Still, there were some fairly cool points. When there actually were practical effects, they were decent. There's a good burn makeup toward the end, as well as a little girl apparition with her eyes missing and lips sewn shut, and they both looked good. The other thing I can praise American Poltergeist for that I can't a lot of others is that it doesn't overstay it's welcome. At just over an hour, at least there's not a ton of down time and useless dialog between the uninteresting characters. So there's some good, the problem is the good was just few and far between, and was heavily outweighed by the bad.

It's hard to recommend American Poltergeist, even though I think it's heart is in the right place. As with a lot of indie efforts, I feel like budget constraint was the main issue. That and it didn't do a whole lot to help itself stand out in a grossly saturated sub genre. With ghost hunting being so prevalent these days, there could have been a really cool movie here. Alas, it wasn't meant to be. If you're a die hard fan of these low budget haunt affairs (those people exist, right?), maybe give this one a look, but I can't imagine anyone being anything but disappointed with it.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Zombeavers Bluray Review

I got a chance to see Zombeavers a while back, and had an absolute blast with it. It's a horror/comedy that brings both in spades. This is the kind of thing that some people will turn their noses up at immediately, and to those people I say lighten up. There's absolutely nothing wrong with turning your brain off  for an hour and just enjoying yourselves. 

The Movie

When an auto accident sends a barrel of some toxic badness crashing into a lake near a beaver dam, it turns the normally docile furry little guys into rabid, flesh eating monsters who prey on a group of college kids who are spending the weekend at a cabin near by. With a film like Zombeavers, you basically learn everything you need to know from the title. It's obviously not meant to be taken seriously, and thankfully everyone involved seemed to understand that. While there are definitely horror elements, and a good amount of gore (although mostly of the beaver variety), the comedy aspect is the main focus, and it totally hits the mark.

There appeared to be a very tiny bit of CGI used for the effects, but I'd say probably close to 90% practical. Again, the zombie beavers all look pretty cool, but watching the way they move around and listening to the sounds they make is intentionally silly. There's a bit of a twist during the final act of the film that was also both hilarious and awesome at the same time, but no spoilers here. The cast all turn in fairly decent performances, they obviously knew exactly what they were getting into and what was going to be expected of them, and there were even a couple of great cameos. 

When all was said and done, I thoroughly enjoyed Zombeavers both times I've watched it now. Horror snobs will likely not even give it the time of day, and I hesitate to say even fans of things like Sharknado and the typical SyFy fare may not be able to really get into it, as those movies tend to at least attempt to take themselves somewhat seriously for some unknown reason. If you're looking for an excuse to have a couple of beers and watch some college kids meet their demise at the big buck teeth of zombified beavers, and you fully understand how ridiculously hilarious that concept is, Zombeavers is a complete and total riot. 

The Disc

The bluray boasts a pretty large amount of extra content. There's a cast and crew commentary, a behind the scenes featurette, a deleted scene, cast auditions, a building a beaver featurette, man becomes monster featurette, storyboards, trailers, and more. While initially that amount of stuff was exciting, sadly most of the featurettes only last one to three minutes. I love the behind the scenes, building a beaver, and man becomes monster segments, but ultimately they only act as teasers leaving you wanting more. My favorite was a mock-interview between Stephen Merchant, Bill Burr, and John Mayer which was completely hilarious. It's hard to be disappointed with such a large amount of bonus content on a disc like Zombeavers. It may not all totally satisfy, but what's there is highly enjoyable. 



Final Score

Movie - 3/5
Disc - 3/5

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Private Number coming to DVD June 2nd


Synopsis: A series of sinister phone calls haunt an ex-alcoholic writer as he struggles to finish a novel. Efforts to trace the calls result in dead ends, leaving the author with no choice but to solve the mystery himself. As he pieces together scant information he discovers the local police are hiding details about a horrific serial killer. In his obsessive search for answers, he loses his grip on reality, and spirals downward into a maelstrom of violence and terror.

Running time: 97 minutes
Rated: R
Format: DVD
Audio: English 5.1
SRP: $20.99

Monday, May 4, 2015

Jason Voorhees Trailer for Mortal Kombat X

Go ahead and assume this is where I'll be for the foreseeable future...

Friday, April 3, 2015

It Follows Review

I, like most of the indie horror loving community, actually went out to a real theater to watch a movie! It seems like you can't go five minutes these days without reading/hearing/seeing something about It Follows. With the amount of hype surrounding this one, I feared once I finally did get to see it, there was no way it would live up to it. Thankfully my fears were laid to rest, and it happened within the first few frames. If you've heard It Follows described as "Carpenter-esque", there's good reason for that. There's a shot about three minutes in that you'll swear John Carpenter was flown in just to shoot, but only after he finished writing the score for the film, which is amazing. Writer and director David Robert Mitchell is obviously a fan, and God bless him, he managed to not only recreate that early Carpenter magic, but he got it on the big screen. 

Again, this movie is all over the internet right now, and while I typically use this space to do a synopsis, I don't really think that's necessary here, as you've likely already read it a million times in other places. The short version is, Jamie (Maika Monroe) goes on a date, has sex with the guy, and for the rest of the movie is pursued by an unrelenting shapeshifting supernatural force that only she can see. Something is passed between partners that causes the demon/alien/thing to pursue the latest victim, and the only way to get it to stop is to pass it along to the next person. 

For everything It Follows does right, it's Mitchell's use of tension and the sound design that steal the show. The atmosphere in this movie is so thick you can feel it. There were times that the hair on the back of my neck was literally standing up. For a person like me who desperately wants a movie to not only entertain, but force some sort of reaction, this is huge. I felt uneasy at times, and I loved it. The score brilliantly enhanced the feeling of dread, and the theater I was in had the volume cranked to 11. Of course all the atmosphere and music in the world wouldn't help the movie if the script and performance of the cast wasn't equally as good. Once again, the movie delivers. When I sat and thought back on the movie, it hit me what a fantastic job it did of subtly developing these characters. These kids all grew up together in a suburb of Detroit, had been neighbors their whole lives, slept at each other's houses, were each other's first kiss, etc. We learn all of this about them through simple dialog that didn't feel forced, but felt like natural conversation between the characters. Maika Monroe was solid as the lead, and after this and The Guest, she's quickly becoming an actress to keep an eye on. Overall, most of the performances were solid, but Keir Gilchrist (Paul) was hands down my favorite, He played the "scrawny quiet kid who only desperately wanted to save Jamie because he'd been in love with her his entire life" perfectly. I genuinely felt bad for the kid, that's how good he was. 

 It Follows is not without it's flaws though, and in the interest of this review not being complete and total praise, I'll nitpick a little. The biggest complaint I had were some pacing issues. The run time is about an hour and forty minutes, and there's easily five minutes or so that could've been cut. The first half flies by, but there is some lag in the second half leading up to the final act. It certainly didn't ruin the movie, but it's there. The main problem I can see people having with It Follows though, is that it doesn't ever come out and explain exactly what "It" is, how it started, where it came from, etc. I didn't mind that, as I sort of liked that the only thing we ever know about it is that it doesn't stop, ever, but it's going to leave some people unsatisfied with the overall experience. 

Now for the obligatory "If you complain about the lack of horror in the theater" paragraph. If you are one of those guilty of said complaint, now is the time to put your wallet where your mouth is. It Follows is that very, very rare occasion where an independent genre movie has sparked some interest from the masses, and like the Little Engine That Could, has put itself over the hill and landed in wide release at mainstream theater chains. The only way we are going to see more of this is to go out and support it. With our money. Go see it, love it, then tell your friends to go see it so they can love it too. 

As an added bonus for this one, I'm also imbedding the soundtrack which you can listen to in it's entirety on YouTube below. I actually bought it weeks before even seeing the movie. It's that good. 

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Applecart Review

I got a chance to look at Dustin Mills' newest film, Applecart and I loved it. Check out the full review at HorrorSexy.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Digging Up the Marrow Review

In order to enjoy Digging Up the Marrow, you need to know a few things going into it. First, it's a mockumentary, second it's also part found footage, and finally, it's an Adam Green movie. In fact, it's a bit of an Adam Green movie about how in love with himself Adam Green is. If none of those things bother you, you're good to go. Personally, I don't kneel at the altar of Adam Green, but I do enjoy his work most of the time, to some degree or another. I didn't know a ton about Digging Up the Marrow going in, but I knew it was a monster movie and that's generally enough to get me interested. As it turned out, I had a good bit of fun with this one, even if the ride to the good stuff was a bit of a tedious one.

Marrow begins with Adam Green explaining that he gets a lot of fan mail, including art, letters, underwear, etc. One fan in particular, William Dekker, had been sending him photos, letters, and even a full notebook of what he says is proof that monsters really exist. After meeting with Dekker, Adam decides to begin filming his story and investigating his claims about the creatures who live underground, in what he refers to as "The Marrow".

Initially, I was a little turned off by this one. It begins with footage from a horror convention, with several familiar faces talking about monsters, and whether they believe in them or not. The focus then changes to Adam Green, and stays there for a while. He talks about himself, how many fans he has, etc. and to be honest, I kept expecting him to just blow himself on camera. Eventually the movie does pick back up though, as we meet Dekker, who was played by the brilliant Ray Wise. I'm a big fan of his, but the problem here is that he's acting off a script Adam Green wrote, and it's obvious. Essentially other than Wise, everybody else in the movie plays themselves, to varying degree of annoyance.

The real reason to watch Digging Up the Marrow is the monsters. It's a monster movie, after all. It's here that I really began to get into the movie. At first things are hinted at, you get a shadowy figure barely moving, things like that. Eventually though, the monsters do emerge from the Marrow, and while we only get semi-decent looks at a handful of them, they're some of the most original, creepy designs I've seen since Nightbreed. The movie shows just enough for you to get an idea as to what they look like, but being the monster lover that I am, I wanted more, of course. That said, I was really thankful that being that this was a found footage type of movie, we didn't just get a lot of noises and a blurry quick close-up at the very end.

While the movie does a good enough job of giving you an idea as to what the creatures look like, it wasn't until I watched the 30 minute "Making of the Marrow" documentary included on the dvd that I really got an appreciation of these monsters. It's explained that artist Alex Pardee approached Adam Green at a horror convention and handed him a pamphlet from one of his art galleries that was full of monsters. The pamphlet not only included art, but some backstory, which described The Marrow. After reading it, Adam got the idea for the movie, and from that Digging Up the Marrow was created. Alex's work is absolutely fantastic, after watching the movie and doc, I looked him up online, and have liked/subscribed/followed him on just about everything I can. His style is different from just about anything else out there, his designs are amazingly strange, and I immediately fell in love with them.

Digging Up the Marrow takes a while to get to the good stuff, but when it gets there, there's plenty to take away from it. The monsters all look great, there's a few good jump scares, some fun cameos, and if you're a documentary fan like me, the mockumentary style makes it fun to watch. If you're not a fan, or are one of those people who find Adam Green to be untolerable, you definitely won't be changing your mind with this one. If you can get past him though, Marrow is an entertaining monster movie, with original creatures, great practical effects, and a premise that has tons of potential. After watching the documentary on the making of the creatures, I'm really hoping to see the residents of the Marrow explored even further, be it in another film or some other form.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Headless Review

Before we get into Headless, let's talk a bit about Found, a movie that hit dvd last year, and I immediately fell in love with. Found was a movie about a kid named Marty who, via snooping through his bedroom, discovered his older brother was a serial killer. It was an original, well made horror movie and also had one of the most disturbing endings you'll ever see. Marty is a bit of a horror geek, and at one point during the movie his mom takes him to the video store to rent some tapes. One of the movies he chooses is called Headless, which he's unable to rent because the tape had apparently been stolen. Turns out, his brother is the one who did the deed, and Marty finds the movie in his room, sneaks it and watches with a friend of his who's sleeping over.

The tape shows a man wearing a skull mask brutally murdering a woman, eventually decapitating her and then raping her severed head. It's a particularly nasty scene, and the goriest in the entire film. A short time after the release of Found, a kickstarter campaign began to turn Headless into an actual feature. The goal was to raise $15k, and they went above that easily, earning a total of over $20k. Apparently the gorehounds really wanted to see this thing happen. Me? I'm not much of a gorehound myself. I like some blood and whatnot in my horror flick, but I'm a monster guy. With that in mind, I understandably went into Headless not expecting to get much out of it. I find there's just not much appeal to watching bad actors hack and saw away at a dummy or two for 80 minutes.

When Headless begins, the credits describe it as a lost slasher from 1978. I've got a bit of a rant about this type of thing as well, but I won't go into it here. The short version is, there's nothing wrong with a throwback flick every now and then, but when almost every single thing coming out claims to be one, not only does it get tedious, but what are the people of 2035 going to have to throwback to? "Our new movie is a throwback to horror movies of 2015, all of which were a throwback to the 1980's!" It just doesn't work.

On to the movie itself though, Headless starts off with the scene from Found, The guy in the skull mask, murdering the woman, and then having his way with her severed head. I saw this and feared the worst, I had no interest in 80 minutes of this, over and over again. To my surprise, and delight, the movie began to actually flesh out quite a bit. The main character is the killer, and instead of just rampant depravity for no reason, the film does quite a bit to show us just why this guy is as fucked up as he is. Via flashbacks, we meet his family, a mother who despises him, forcing him to live in a dog cage, rarely feeding him or giving him water, and an older sister who does nothing but taunt and tease him. We also get to see a young boy with a skull for a face that seems to be the influence, or personification of the killer's desire to murder. If you've seen Found, never in a million years would you think that eventually you'd see a movie that would make you actually feel for the guy doing these horrible things. Headless is that movie.

Fear not though, gorehounds. there's still plenty of cannibalism, dismemberment, and head fucking. Director Arthur Culliper and writers Nathan Erdel and Todd Rigney seem to have captured the all too uncommon lightning in a bottle of a nice balance between story and gory. As stated, the main focus is the killer and his backstory, but there was also a bit of a plot involving one of his victims and her boyfriend, an abusive asshole. There's not a lot there, but at least we aren't just given random victim after victim, without being told anything about them, which very easily could have been the case. The effort to produce an actual movie, and not just a practical effects gorefest is what impresses the most in Headless. The ending was my absolute favorite part of the movie, it's unsettling, much in the same way that Found's ending was unsettling. The meta aspect of knowing the killer from Found was a fan of this one made me appreciate it even more. They don't mirror each other, but there's some family dynamics on display that you can definitely make a connection with, which is a nice touch.

Headless is a worthy spinoff of an already fantastic movie. While at first it may seem unnecessary, it doesn't take long to assert itself, showing that it's more than capable of standing on it's own. There's gore, nudity, cannibalism, and depravity in spades, but it also has a story to tell. I highly recommend fans of Found tracking this one down, as it adds a bit to that experience in my opinion. I'm looking forward to picking this up on dvd and popping in Found, then watching Headless in it's entirety when Marty puts the tape in, then finishing Found after. Gorehounds will eat this one up, but Headless is a special treat for those who want a little more from their splatter movie. It's a hard recommend due to the absolute sickness of it, but if you've read this far, and what I described doesn't bother scare you away, there's a lot to like here.