Sunday, September 29, 2013

Curse of Chucky Review

As a fan of franchise horror, of course I count myself among the legion of Chucky fans. I love Child's Play #'s 1-3, but I absolutely hate Bride and Seed. I'm talking like "Robocop 3" hate them. The reason is the exact same reason that I don't particularly dig the Elm Street films past 3 all that much. I will never for the life of me understand why studios take their horror icons and turn them into comedians. I do not like funny killers. Period. Curse of Chucky promised a return to the good old days of the franchise though, and while I've heard all that before, I'm happy to report that Chucky is indeed back, and back the way I like him.

The plot of Curse is one that can be enjoyed by anyone, but for long time fans has lots of winks and nudges that are fun. I don't want to spoil anything, so I'm not going to say anymore than that regarding it, but do make sure you stay through the credits. 

When the first official trailer hit, I remember a lot of my fellow horror bloggers bitching about the "horrible CGI" on Chucky's face. Well, they're either way smarter than I am, or just looking for something to nitpick. I didn't think he looked bad at all, and in fact I could hardly tell his face was CG. In fact, I hardly noticed any CG, even with the kills. There was some, sure but most of the effects at least appeared practical to me, which I always enjoy. The kills were pretty good, the gore was great, and Chucky was a mean little bastard and laughed all the way through with his signature Brad Dourif giggle. 

Performance wise, Brad Dourif of course steals the show with only his voice. He isn't the only Dourif with some acting chops though, as his daughter Fiona turns in a great performance as the lead character Nica. The other notable for me was Danielle Bisutti as Nica's older sister Barb. She's one of those "so despicable it pisses you off" characters, and Bisutti totally nails it. 

When all was said and done, and the credits were rolling, Curse of Chucky had done exactly what I wanted it to do. It brought the franchise back to it's roots and completely re-ignited my excitement for the series. Why the hell this went straight to video I won't pretend to understand, I would have gladly paid to see it on the big screen. I ended up paying about the same amount to watch it on VOD at home anyway. I can't recommend this enough for fans of the original Child's Play movies, Chucky is finally back the way he's supposed to be. Now, give me more, Mancini.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

I Spit on Your Grave 2 Review

Rape revenge is a sub-genre that at one time I had a bit of trouble with. The act of rape is one that is unsettling for just about anyone I'd imagine, and I was no exception. Sure, I could watch decapitation all day long, and laugh all the while, but you put on Last House of the Left and I was queasy by the end. These days there's not a whole lot that gets to me that way anymore, and honestly it's kind of sad. I like it when a movie has some sort of effect on me.  I had a chance to check out the sequel to 2010's "I Spit On Your Grave" remake, and while it didn't necessarily make me wish I'd never been born, returning director Steven R. Monroe definitely came out swinging.

You basically know what kind of story you're getting with these films. A young woman is attacked by a group of men, barely survives, and comes back to get her revenge. I Spit on Your Grave 2 follows that basic formula, but does do a bit to set itself apart from the original and the remake, by doing it on a larger scale. Katie is an aspiring model, struggling to find work, when she's gets an offer to do a free photo shoot to add to her portfolio. She agrees, but doesn't go through with the shoot when she's asked to do nude photos. Later, at her apartment, she gets a visit from one of the guys, claiming he's just there to give her the photos that had been taken before she left. Things take a dark turn for the worse, and Katie is bound, gagged, and raped. Eventually, the other men from the studio arrive to clean up the mess, and they drug and kidnap her. She awakens naked, on a filthy mattress, handcuffed to a post in a dark Bulgaria, where she's forced to endure even more brutality, not only by the men from the photo shoot, but anyone willing to pay for time with her. Mercifully, she manages to escape, narrowly clinging to life and eventually returns to get her revenge.

I'm always rooting for the women in these kinds of movies when it comes down to revenge time, but people, I don't think I've ever wanted to see the attackers get their as bad as I did these fuckers. I suppose it's a testament to their respective performances as actors, but I absolutely hated these guys. That being said, the most important thing for a movie like this is for the audience to form some sort of attachment to the victim. To empathize with her as she is forced to endure whatever it is the movie has in store for her. In that regard, Grave 2 fell a little flat for me. Of course it was hard to watch what happened to Katie happen to any human being, but at the same time, holy shit was this woman stupid. Sorry, but what young, beautiful woman sitting on a bus in NY who gets a text from a random number offering to take pictures of her actually responds, let alone shows up for the shoot in this day and age? And that wasn't the only thing, but it's hard to talk about any more without spoiling some things. Jemma Dallender turns in a pretty damn good performance as Katie, it's just too bad the character was so fucking stupid.

Location isn't the only scale that Grave 2 improves upon from it's predecessor, the violence and brutality is also cranked up to 11. I remember saying after the initial rape that at least Katie didn't get it as bad as Jennifer did in the original. Then she came to in Bulgaria and I was shown just how wrong that statement was. She ends up not only physically broken, but mentally as well, and the movie doesn't shy away from any of it. Thankfully, when she finally gets her turn, she is equally as nasty, and almost every kill is oh, so satisfyingly brutal. With these two films now under his belt, I'd love to see Monroe get back to real creature features like "It Waits" and away from all the SyFy Originals crap he's been doing lately. The guy's obviously got some chops, I would love to see what he could do with a budget.

I Spit on Your Grave 2 isn't for the weak of stomach by any stretch of the imagination. It's got a mean streak, and parts of it will most likely be hard to watch for some. If you can endure Katie's torture though, the reward of watching her turn the tables is worth seeing through. An easy recommend for fan's of the 2010 remake of I Spit on Your Grave, and worth a look for anyone who will admit to being a fan of the rape revenge genre. I myself have another worthy addition to my annual Valentine's Day Rape Revenge Marathon tradition.

Porcelain Presence Trailer

Friday, September 13, 2013

Badass original art from a good friend of mine, Mr. Steve Doust. Happy Friday the 13th from Tales From the Batcave!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Portable Horror Gaming on a Budget

Gaming can be a bit of an expensive habit, especially for those of us who don't just play around in the horror or survival horror genre. While the market may not be saturated with quality horror experiences, there are still a number of solid offerings, and they aren't exactly cheap. Chin up though, horror fan, there are ways to get your blood soaked, gore filled, game on.

Below you'll find some of the Android offerings I've come across and enjoyed since purchasing my Kindle Fire HD last Xmas. Many and/or most of these are also available on Android phones as well. I won't be highlighting any IOS games, as I am not a fan of "iThings" and have no experience with them, or their marketplace.

Into the Dead - This is probably my favorite time waster at the moment. It's a pretty simple game, you automatically move continuously forward, but must avoid waves of zombies by either touching the left or right side of your device, or my personal favorite method, tilting it to the left or right. Along the way you unlock weapons by completing "stages" which are just different challenges the game gives you, things like "travel XX distance in one run" or "Shoot XX zombies with the shotgun". You can also unlock three different game modes, each of which presents it's own style of play. Good fun, and the best part is, it's free. Get it either in the marketplace on your device, or que it up on Amazon here, if your device is linked for such.

Zombie Highway - This is one of my latest purchases, as it's finally arrived for Android devices. You may already be familiar with it, as it's a fairly popular game for IOS. Zombie Highway has you driving a vehicle down zombie filled roads, attempting to avoid obstacles as the zombies leap and attach themselves to your ride. You will eventually unlock different vehicles, all with varying weight and speed, and can equip your backseat passengers with weapons to aid you in ridding your vehicle of the nasty flesh eaters. It's at times challenging, but that doesn't take away from the fun, it just makes you want to try again and again. Check it out in the Android marketplace, or on Amazon here for just 99 cents.

Dead Trigger - Unlike "Into the Dead", Dead Trigger is a fully functional Zombie FPS. It's also one of the better looking games out there for Android devices. Like any FPS, this game is filled with all manner of unlockable weaponry to dispatch the undead with, unfortunately they all end up feeling pretty similar though. At least the huge assault rifle makes you look like a badass though. The missions are all pretty simple, but there is some variety to mix things up. Some are "move from point A to point B" but others add in objectives such as protecting a door or holding an area for a specific length of time. The controls are surprisingly responsive for touch screens, and the overall production is triple A for what it is. Dead Trigger is my favorite of all the games I've discovered on my Kindle. As with the others, check it out in the Android market, or download for FREE at Amazon here.

CKZ 2 Origins - Contrack Killer Zombies 2 Origins might be the longest title in the history of Android gaming, but don't let it stop you from playing it. This one is a third person action title, with lots of different story modes, and different types of missions in the main mode. I've spent a good bit of time with it, and feel like I've barely scratched the surface. If you've played Contract Killer or the original CKZ already, you'll be right at home with the controls, which are actually a bit better in Zombies 2 than in the original. Pick it up for FREE at Amazon here, or get it in the marketplace on your Android device.

So there's a small sampling of the great horror gaming you can do on a budget on either your phone or Android tablet. There's still plenty of other fine games to be played for a $1 or less that I haven't talked about. I check the marketplace fairly regularly, looking for new stuff, but if you've got any suggestions for horror games, feel free to share in the comments.

Also! Big shout out to my buddy Eric from Back Online, Back On Duty for the new gaming banner image! Appreciate it homie!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

WIN Bounty Killer on DVD!

Wahey! Look at this, my first contest! How cool is this? I've got a copy of Bounty Killer on dvd to give away. This movie looks pretty badass! All you have to do to enter is leave me a comment with your name and email adress, and just for fun, the name of your favorite Bounty Hunter! Get your entry in before Tuesday, September 24th. The winner will be chosen at random on September 25th. Good luck!

This is the age of the Bounty Killer.

Bounty Killers compete for body count, fame, and a fat stack of cash. They're ending the plague of corporate greed and providing the survivors of the apocalypse with retribution.

Based on the graphic novel, Bounty Killer follows the exploits of Mary Death, the leading Bounty Killer on the scene.

It's been 20 years since the corporations took over the world's governments. Their thirst for power and profits led to the corporate wars, a fierce global war that laid waste to society as we know it. Born from the ashes, the Council of Nine rose as a new land and order for this dark age. To avenge the corporations' reckless destruction, the Council issues death warrants for all white collar criminals. Their hunters: the bounty killers!

It's Mad Max meets Grindhouse while getting slashed by Kill Bill!

Bounty Killers is in theaters and VOD on September 6th. Go see it!

Friday, September 6, 2013

You're Next Review

Being as big of an Adam Wingard fan as I am, I'm ashamed at how long it took me to get to the theater to see You're Next. I purposely avoided online reviews, write-ups, etc., as I wanted to go into it completely blind. All I knew was it was a home invasion flick, the killers wore badass animal masks, and one of my favorite directors was responsible for it. I've bitched and moaned several times already about how difficult it is for me to make it to a theater, so let's skip that part. Last night, after an agonizingly long wait, I got to experience one of the best films of the year on the big screen.

It's difficult to really talk about the plot without spoiling things a bit, and I try not to do that, especially with a film this good. The short, non-spoilery version is, a family is having a small reunion, some years after all the kids have gone off to college. It's apparently been a while since everyone has been back home at the same time. What starts off as a nice evening together quickly descends into madness as the house and it's inhabitants fall victim to a group of strangers wearing animal masks. The assailants get more than they bargain for though, from one of the would-be victims.

You're Next ended up being everything I wanted it to be. It had a bit of a mean streak to it, and when the shit hit the fan, the kills came often and at times were pretty brutal. It wasn't a gore-fest by any stretch of the imagination, but there was a good bit of the red stuff. Lots of cringe-worthy moments though, my favorite of which included a brand new use for a common kitchen appliance. Things were also fairly believable overall, of course you have to suspend belief some, it's a movie after all, but none of the violence made me roll my eyes.

The plot moved along at a good pace, with not much downtime in it's 96 minute run time. It also has one of those signature Adam Wingard twists to it, which ended up being one of my only minor complaints, as I was expecting a twist and when it was revealed I had a "that was it? I already figured out that" moment. It's by no means a deal breaker, but I kept expecting the "holy shit" one to come.

Performance wise, everybody was pretty on-point. You will really believe that these people are suffering a terrible tragedy. Before all that, you'll also believe that they're all family, as somebody is fighting with somebody else in almost every scene. AJ Bowen is a personal favorite of mine, and as per usual turns in a good performance as Crispian. Joe Swanberg is also good as his douchey older brother Drake. Barbara Crampton turned in a fantastic performance as Aubrey, the mother of the family. She was just fun to watch, at times humorous, and adorably overacting at others. There was also a brief appearance from another of my favorite current directors, Ti West. The real show stealer turned out to be Sharni Vinson as Erin. Her transformation from a sweet, gentle young woman to a complete and total beast of a badass was great, and I thoroughly enjoyed her performance.

So, good story, good acting, good camera work, and gratuitous violence. The best part though? The music. Hands down. My God I don't know if I've enjoyed the music in a movie more than this in the past 10 years. It's brilliant. It matches what's happening on screen perfectly, and brought back fond memories of horror movie soundtracks from the late 70's and 80's.

Since watching for myself, I sat last night and read some of the reviews I'd been purposely avoiding, and for the most part I either agree with everyone's points, or can at least see the person's point of view, even if I don't totally agree. The one thing that I saw people giving the film the most flack for was the "shaky cam" thing. Yes, it's got the shaky cam going on, but it's nowhere near as bad as I've seen it in other films. There have been movies that use it to the point that I have a hard time telling what exactly is going on in the scene. In You're Next though, I don't remember any instances where the shaky cam obscured the action on screen.

You're Next takes the home invasion formula and injects it with a bit of a twist, though not quite the twist I was hoping for. It's beautifully violent, but still manages to evoke a laugh or two despite the carnage. While every aspect of the film was working for me, it was the music that ended up blowing me away, can't say enough good things about it. Recommended for fans of films like The Strangers, Them, or I Spit on Your Grave. Adam Wingard serves up another winner here.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Bad Milo Review

Oh, Bad Milo, how the 13 year old Mister Bones would've loved you. So much potty humor, so much blood, you are everything 13 year old me was looking for in a movie. The much older me, though? Ok, he was still pretty damn entertained too.

Bad Milo is a movie about a guy named Ken who has been having some pretty sever stomach problems. He eventually discovers that these problems are due to a demon living inside his colon. Whenever Ken gets angry, or someone wrongs him in some way, the small but completely ferocious demon exits Ken from exactly where you're thinking he would and wreaks havoc.

It sounds incredibly ridiculous, but that's because it is. Bad Milo is to in no way whatsoever be taken seriously. The story is the kind of thing that you'd almost expect to see from Troma or Full Moon Entertainment, and while those movies have their cult followings, things like "Monsturd" don't do a whole lot for me. Milo follows a cookie cutter plot pattern that we've seen a million times before, with only the whole "demon living in his colon" thing to set it apart. I do give it props for pulling a "Teen Wolf" on me though, didn't see that one coming. Still, there's really nothing here you haven't seen plenty of other places.

That's not to say it's bad though, the production value is surprisingly high, and the puppeteering department that handles Milo himself does a fine job of bringing the little guy to life. There are some notable comedic actors, including Ken Marino and a hilarious Patrick Warburton (who ended up being my favorite part of the movie). In fact, most of the cast performs adequately, with only a bit of an over the top showing from Peter Stormare that was a mild annoyance. Even the films score, from composer Ted Masur was a pleasant surprise.

So, at the end of the day, how you feel about Bad Milo will most likely depend on your willingness to sit down and giggle at the silliness on screen. It isn't scary, it isn't gory, it's just a silly little exercise in comedy/horror that directs it's focus mainly on the comedy part. If you can look past the lack of plot, and all the toilet humor, there's fun to be had here.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Cockneys vs Zombies Review

Whenever Shout! Factory hits us with a new release, I'm almost certain I'm going to dig it. At the very least I know I'm going to be entertained, their track record has been that good to me. Cockneys vs Zombies is one of their latest, and while I'll admit to being a bit tired of the whole zombie thing at this point, I still gave it a shot. Shout! Factory does indeed keep their streak alive, as this is one of the best examples of horror/comedy since Shaun of the Dead.

Cockneys vs Zombies centers around a group of bank robbers looking to pull off a heist in London. Two of the gang members plan to use their share of the money to keep their grandfather's nursing home from being condemned. Meanwhile, across town at a construction site, a crew unearths a sealed tomb. Believing there my be treasure inside, they break it open and unwittingly unleash the walking dead. The robbers must fight their way out of the bank, and across town to save the inhabitants of the retirement community from the flesh eating zombies.

This movie is not perfect. It's got just about every zombie movie cliche you've ever seen in it. The gore is almost exclusively CGI, and not even good CGI at that. The characters almost all fit squarely into one stereotype or another, with hardly a noteworthy performance among them. Still, despite all of that, this movie just works. It's at times hilarious, at times brilliant, and is entertaining from start to finish. For a sub-genre as saturated as the zombie one, movies like this are one in a million.

For horror/comedies, it's almost always the "comedy" part that makes or breaks the movie. In the case of Cockneys vs Zombies, most of the comedy surrounds the elderly at the nursing home, and it works so well. For example, imagine an old man with a walker attempting to "outrun" a group of shambling zombies. Hilarious! This movie is full of moments like this whenever the nursing home is on screen. In fact, it's when the movie switches focus to the bank robbers that things tend to drag a bit. I would've loved to have seen more with the old folks, and a little less with the others.

Cockneys vs Zombies is another fine release from the folks over at Shout! Factory. Their track record speaks for itself, and you know you're getting quality when you see their logo on the package. Fans of horror/comedies should definitely give this one a watch. Just keep an eye out for the baby...

Sunday, September 1, 2013

I Am a Street Fighter

If you love Street Fighter and documentaries like I do, check this out...