Thursday, September 10, 2015

Dismembering Christmas Review

My love of holiday themed horror is well known. I also happen to be a big fan of the work that Kevin Sommerfield and the guys over at Slasher Studios do. Earlier this week, I got a chance to check out their latest, a holiday themed slasher, Dismembering Christmas. As with earlier Slasher Studios releases, this is yet another enjoyable example of what an independent company with a passion for the genre can manage to accomplish without a huge budget.

Dismembering Christmas centers around a group of teenagers who are celebrating the holidays together, away from their families, at a lake house owned by one of their fathers. What begins as a weekend full of drinking and partying quickly takes a sinister turn as the group gets a visit, and ominous warning, from a local wandering by. When night falls, the group begins to disappear one by one as they are stalked by a masked killer out for revenge, who has a past connection with the secluded cabin.

That plot description may not sound like the reinvention of the wheel, and it isn't. That's the thing about the slasher genre, most of the plot lines are pretty paint by numbers. You get a group of kids, throw them in a secluded location, and have them killed off one at a time by some sort of masked killer who most likely has a past connection with either one of the kids and/or the location. Throw in some nudity, inventive kills, and a plot twist at the end, and you have yourself a movie. It's what slasher fans expect, and enjoy. That's why I love Slasher Studios so much. They deliver old school slasher films for fans of the genre because that's what they themselves are.

The cast all performs well, with the standouts for me being Baker Chase Powell as Mark, and Nina Kova as Sam. The both played well off each other, and delivered believable performances. Effects wise, everything is practical, so fans of the real stuff will undoubtedly enjoy the gore. The kills themselves range from tame to deliciously clever. I always love it when the holiday decorations in one of these movies come in to play, and let's just say I don't think I've ever seen a better use of a Christmas wreath. The killer looks good, the pacing is almost perfect, and all around this is just a really fun holiday horror film.

With Dismembering Christmas, Slasher Studios once again managed to capture the magic of an 80's slasher, just as they did with Don't Go to the Reunion and their other films before it. The difference this time though? Polish. For as good as Reunion, Popularity Killer, Teddy, and the others are, they are admittedly a bit rough around the edges. Dismembering Christmas adds some finesse, camera work, a tight script, and other little enhancements that makes it their best production to date.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Morbid on DVD today

Chuck Conry's directorial debut Morbid is officially available on DVD today! This fun throwback to classic 80's slashers is entertaining from start to finish, with lots of comedic elements as well as a mean streak a mile long. Highly recommended, and you can read my full review below. 

The extras on the disc include three commentary tracks, a radio interview, deleted scene, a behind the scenes video, and trailers. The film itself has also been recut and features footage not included in the review copy I got to see early.

Get yourself a copy HERE.


Morbid is the directorial debut from Chuck Conry of Zombies Don't Run fame. I'm a long time reader of his blog, and he graciously allowed me to view a screener recently. I can honestly say that I didn't have the highest of expectations for it, I simply expected to be entertained, and in the long run I think that's exactly how Morbid should be viewed.
The films official synopsis sums it up perfectly and does so better than I could, so here it is:
A small town becomes the playground to a masked killer stalking and killing the locals for no apparent reason. With the town's sheriff and locals still more worried about a high school football game than getting to the bottom of what's going on, one detective from out of town must rush to save the lives of a group of teens tossing a party in the middle of all the chaos. But, as we soon learn, these teens have some complicated issues of their own.

It's obvious from the very beginning that Conry is as much of a fan of 80's slasher flicks as most of the rest of us. Morbid is a love letter to those glorious days in horror's history. It's got all the ingredients, a bunch of partying teenagers, bumbling police officers, and a killer with a badass mask. Surprisingly, it even had a good amount of gore. The only thing holding Conry back was a budget. I can only imagine what this guy could accomplish with a little more money to work with. The characters are all fairly cliche, with the regulars all making appearances, the jocks, nerds, metal kids, etc. The dialog is purposely awful at times, filled with genre references, and made me laugh out loud several times. These movies aren't known for their convoluted plots filled with twists and huge reveals, and that's the point.

When all was said and done, I ended up having a blast watching Morbid. The location, atmosphere, and actors made me feel right at home, largely due to the fact that I believe Mr. Conry is from my neck of the woods. It was like watching something me and my friends would've done had we had some money and access to a camera to play around with. Morbid is a hilarious, gory good time. I can't wait to see Chuck's next film.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Pernicious Review

I can't remember exactly how I became familiar with James Cullen Bressack, but I do remember that the first of his work I was able to see was Hate Crime when it hit vod. I rented it, then bought it and everything else he'd done and has done since. I've said since then that his was a name that horror fans needed to be aware of. Pernicious is his latest, and most ambitious feature, and last Friday it made it's way to vod and I immediately checked it out. This feels like the first time Bressack has worked with any kind of a substantial budget, and not only does he not disappoint, he managed to exceed all of my expectations.

Pernicious follows three college aged American girls on a summer trip to Thailand. When they arrive, they discover an ancient golden statue of a small girl in the house they're staying in. Their trip takes a turn for the worse after they uncover the statue, unleashing an evil spirit housed within. As the body count rises, the mystery deepens as they attempt to figure out why the spirit is bound to the statue and the reasons behind it's bloody desire for revenge.

This is one of those films that at times reminds you of others, and you think you know what's going to happen next based off of those, but then it flips the script on you. It's at times part Hostel, at times part The Grudge, and there's even a hint of Pumpkinhead in there, yet it still manages to be it's own thing. It's hard to explain. As the plot played out, every single time I thought I knew what was going on, it threw a twist at me. It never went off the rails, but it kept me guessing. Whenever a movie can do that, I definitely consider it a win. The cast mostly performs well, with Ciara Hanna and Jackie Moore being the standouts, as Alex and Rachel respectively. The third of the girls, Julia, was played by Emily O'Brien and she had a few brief moments where reactions were a bit extreme to situations, but she was far from the worst I've ever seen.

Effects wise there was your standard practical/cg mixture. Thankfully most of the blood and gore was of the practical type, while the cg was left mostly to animating the statue. The practical stuff was great, the cg was probably serviceable at best. The budget for this movie went into so many things, practical effects, camera shots, location, etc., that I am more than forgiving if what little cgi is in it isn't quite cutting edge. It looks fine, trust me.

Coming from a guy who shot and edited an entire movie using an iPhone once, Pernicious is a great example of what James Cullen Bressack can do when he's given a real budget and let loose. Gore hounds will appreciate the head bashing and throat slitting, fans of supernatural fare will enjoy the creepy atmosphere and overall tone of impending dread. It's brutally violent at times, moves at a good pace, and tells a story that's entertaining and intriguing from start to finish. Highly recommended for fans of ghost/revenge movies, but Pernicious has a little something for everybody.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Infected Review

I never thought I'd see the day where I would say the words "I'm tired of zombies", but here we are. Actually, let me rephrase, I'm not tired of real zombies, I'm tired of these "infected" zombie movies. They're all the same. At this point in the game, I'd like to think we are way past being able to just throw some tattered clothes and fake blood on a mob of people and have them run screaming at other people, but sadly we aren't, and there's a new one of these movies getting released every other day. The filmmakers behind stuff like this aren't even trying anymore, and I, for one, am just tired of it. Enter Infected, yet another in the long line of cookie-cutter infected zombie fare, which does nothing to set itself apart from the pack.

Stop me if you've heard this one before. There's a group of kids in a club, drinking, dancing, and having a good time until one of them suddenly feels ill. One thing leads to another, and he ends up running around biting everyone. The people who are bitten do the same. The town becomes overrun, and ultimately the military shows up. The "zombies" end up being too much for them, and a small platoon is all that survives. The soldiers hole up in a school with a few other surviving 20-somethings and before long the two respective groups turn on each other.

You name it, and Infected has got it. There is absolutely nothing in this movie that's even remotely original. Cliched characters, the same plot as hundreds of others in the genre, awful cgi blood, bad acting, horrible sound, and so on. Hell, even the name of the movie is boring and generic. It's inexcusable in a world where people are literally making far better and more entertaining movies on their iPhones. The absolute worst thing about Infected though, is that it commits the cardinal sin of a movie of it's type by having a two hour run time. Yep, I sat through TWO HOURS of this garbage.

Infected is sort of like a two hour film class student's project for finals. I can't imagine anyone who wasn't in this, or is friends of someone in this, enjoying it. About the only way I'd say give this a watch is if you 're a person who absolutely, positively HAS to watch every single piece of zombie related media in the universe, and if you're that guy then I weep for you, friend. As for the rest of us, do yourselves a favor and look elsewhere for your flesh eating fix.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Private Number Review

I was initially drawn to Private Number because of Tom Sizemore and Judd Nelson. The premise sounded interesting, but it was their involvement that really caught my eye. As it turns out, there are plenty of reasons to give this indie thriller a watch, and while Sizemore and Nelson are in fact in the movie, they both only have bit parts (despite being displayed prominently on the cover art) and don't have a lot of screen time. Still, this mystery/supernatural/thriller doesn't need to rely on star power to make a name for itself.

Plot synopsis from the Summer House Pictures website:

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.

Private Number kept me guessing. It takes inspiration from several different places, part The Shining, part Se7en, and while it isn't as good as those films by any means, it's impossible not to make the connections. There's definitely more of a supernatural vibe than I was expecting, which ended up being a good thing. Just when you think you have a handle on where the story is going, the film shifts in tone. In some instances this can be jarring, but writer/director LazRael Lison handles the transition well, raising questions but never so much so that you feel lost. Things continuously ramp up to what was ultimately a bit of a disappointing ending. It's not so much that it was a bad ending, just an abrupt one, and I was still ready for wherever else the story was going. 

The film mainly focuses on Michael and Kathy, played by Hal Ozsan and Nicholle Tom respectively. The two turn in solid performances, as Michael struggles with the horrific hallucinations and trying to stay sober, and Kathy has to deal with her husband slowly going crazy, as well as her own deteriorating health. There's a lot of delicate subject matter, on top of the hallucinations and murder, which keeps the movie grounded throughout. If the cast hadn't been up to the challenge, this could have been disastrous. 

Private Number is an easy recommendation for fans of thrillers with light horror elements, Stir of Echoes comes to mind. It may lack the polish of similar bigger budget affair, it does enough to entertain for it's 95 minute runtime. For those looking for a more traditional horror experience, there are definitely things to like here, but not enough to likely satisfy. 

The film is available on DVD tomorrow, June 2nd. 

Friday, May 29, 2015

Kung Fury

This is the greatest thing you'll see today, and possibly ever.

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.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Days of the Dead Atlanta 2015...The Aftermath

Well, another Days of the Dead Atlanta is in the books. When I got home last night, and had a minute to let everything sink in that I'd seen yesterday, I came to the realization that 2015 was the best Days yet. I met so many amazing people, both the stars that were in attendance, and otherwise. The guest lineup was head and shoulders above the previous years, and for as much as I got to see and do, there was still so much more that I didn't get to. In a perfect world, I'd have enough time and money to experience the full weekend. Sadly, the world is still far from perfect, and it was a Saturday only affair for me yet again this year. That doesn't mean I didn't make the most of my time there though. Warning for those of you with weak stomachs, there will actually be pictures of me in this post. You may want to avert your eyes.

We arrived early, as I knew the Hellraiser panel started at noon, and there was no way I was going to miss it. I assumed there would be a line, possibly one that had started on Friday night. I could see people laying in the hallway floor, with sleeping bags and tents all around, just waiting for the doors to open. Turns out the attendees are possibly not quite as into Hellraiser as I am, as there wasn't a single person waiting in line as close as 2 hours before the panel. Which is when I arrived, and started the line. That's right kids, first one through the door for the Hellraiser panel. Simon Bamford, Nicholas Vince, Valentina Vargas, Barbie Wilde, and Doug Bradley all took the stage, and for the next hour reminisced about what it was like to play the Cenobites, and I was hooked (hi-yo!) on their every word. I've done you the favor of flexing my photoshop skills yet again, and tagged myself in the crowd photo below.

From left to right: Simon Bamford (Butterball), Nicholas Vince (Chatterer), Doug Bradley (Pinhead), Barbie Wilde (Female Cenobite from Hellbound), and Valentina Vargas (Angelique)

Immediately following the Hellraiser panel, there was a Devil's Rejects panel. I was initially worried that we'd be asked to leave, and there was already a long line waiting outside to take my seat away from me. I never moved a muscle, I sat there waiting for somebody to tell me I had to move, but thankfully it never happened, and in just minutes after Doug Bradley and company left the stage, the cast of The Devil's Rejects were introduced. This time, I got to listen to Sid Haig, Bill Moseley, PJ Soles, William Forsythe, Leslie Easterbrook, Ginger Lynn, Dave Sheridan, and Michael Alcott talk about what it was like to work on one of my favorite movies of all time. I'd love to tell you that I wasn't geeking hard, but I'd be lying to you. Once again, I've tagged myself in the photo. Here, you can see me telling Sid Haig that I think he's #1, at the request of the person who was taking the photo.

Back from left to right: Ginger Lynn, Dave Sheridan, and Leslie Easterbrook

Front from left to right: Michael Alcott, PJ Soles, Bill Moseley, Sid Haig, William Forsythe

At this point, I'd seen the two panels I absolutely felt like I just had to. Sure, it would've been neat to see The Frog brothers, but the novelty of listening to Corey Feldman talk for an hour wasn't enough to keep me in a seat, especially since my ass was well past asleep at the time. Plus, I had a mission for the day, step one was "Watch Hellraiser panel", step two was "Meet Doug Bradley". I'd accomplished part one, and had lost another hour of my day to the Rejects panel, I felt like it was time to get step two done, and complete my misson. 

I'm not going to bore you with individual details for every bit of the following portion of the post. You all undoubtedly know who all of these brilliant, beautiful performers are, and every single one of them was not only extremely approachable, but seemed genuinely appreciative of my incessant ego stroking. There were a couple of things worth mentioning though, and I'll get into them with their accompanying photos. 

Doug Bradley

Obviously, Doug Bradley was my first autograph of the day. I would've been fine with not meeting anybody else there, as long as I got to meet him. I was well beyond star struck, and to be honest didn't know if he'd be easy for me to walk up and talk to. If anybody there had the right to act like he was above a little horror con, it's this man. He was the complete and total opposite of that though, an extremely nice guy, and he made it very easy to chat with him. The autograph was a meager $30, I was expecting to pay at least double that for him. I handed him $40, and refused to take any change. He tried a couple of times, but there's no way I was going to take money back from Pinhead. His autograph is worth way more than what I paid to me. I also envisioned getting the opportunity to meet again, and using this as a conversation piece. Here's how I envision the conversation going:

Me: Hello, Mr. Bradley. 
DB: Hi there, how are you?
Me: I'm doing great. It's such a pleasure to meet you again, and get another autograph. You're a God. 
DB: Wait....wait a minute. I REMEMBER you. You're the awkward looking fellow with the big stupid grin who refused to take change from me that one time in Atlanta. 
Me: Yes sir, that was me. 
DB: Mitch, wasn't it? Mitch, I want you to sit here at my table with me and hang out until this thing is over. Then we're going to party, watch some horror flicks. maybe kill some hookers. I'll even let you wear my Pinhead costume if you like. 
Me: Ok. 

Kane Hodder

I'll be perfectly honest, I'll pay for a Kane Hodder autograph every single time he's at a convention I'm attending. He was hands down the nicest person I met at the first Days of the Dead I went to. Not to mention the fact that he played Jason. This time though, the kids asked me if I could get them Jason's autograph, so I asked him to sign the photo to them. They were extremely excited when I got home and showed it to them. He was also gracious enough to choke me yet again, as you can see.

Tony Todd

William Forsythe 

Nicholas Vince

I'm being completely honest with you here, Nicholas Vince is the nicest, most down to Earth, easy to talk to celebrity I've ever had the pleasure of meeting. We talked for a good 15 minutes or so, holding up his line. The conversation started with me mentioning I'd overheard him talking to the people in front of me about the Soska sisters. I told him what a big fan of theirs I was, and had been since they'd sent me a screener of Dead Hooker in a Trunk to review. He asked what my website was, and I embarrassingly explained this little blog you're looking at to him. I was completely floored at how interested he seemed to be in it, even though I'm not naive enough to think he hadn't done the same for every single person he saw yesterday. He encouraged me to get into vlogging if I had any interest in it at all, we talked about blogging, he invited me to a Google hangout he's planning with the Soska's, and when he stood up to take a photo with me, he even complimented by nice, clean shoes. Meeting the Chatterer from Hellraiser isn't something I ever envisioned getting the chance to do, and not only did I get to, but it's an experience I'll never forget. If you ever get the opportunity to meet Mr. Nicholas Vince, make sure you do. 

Felissa Rose

David Naughton

Just a quick note about David Naughton, he was an extremely nice guy as well. But his table was next to Tony Todd's, and while I was standing in line for Tony, I turned back around and noticed David was eating a sandwich. I said "that's not a meatloaf sandwich, is it?" and it took him a second but he finally got there. So I managed to get a bit of a laugh out of him, which was cool. 

With those, I was officially out of autograph money unfortunately. I wanted to get Simon Bamford, Angus Scrimm, and so many more. I already had several of the big guys from previous cons, Sid Haig, Bill Moseley, etc. I feel really good about the ones I did manage to add to my wall this year though. I did get a chance to speak to Sid, and got a couple of photos of Angus, as he stopped to talk to Sid while I was waiting in line for my girl to get his autograph. 

I didn't do a lot of merch this year, and that was on purpose. I've got too much stuff as it is, and my house isn't getting any bigger. I did stop by the booth for the movie Pieces of Talent, which I reviewed a screener of for The Liberal Dead a while back. I decided to pick up a copy for myself, and I got to meet the director, Joe Stauffer, and the film's lead, Kristi Ray. I had no idea they were going to be there, so it was a nice surprise. Both were super nice people. 

Not the greatest pic, but there was a guy in a booth across from us trying to make everybody laugh. 

The only other booths I knew I was going to spend money at were the Cavity Colors booth, because Aaron is a super cool guy and I'm a big fan of his work, and the Bonesart booth so I could get some more magnets from my homie Andrew Bones, who you'll remember me blogging about not too long ago. 

From Cavity Colors, I picked up one of the brand new limited edtion shirts from The Demon's Rook, another film I reviewed for Liberal Dead. It's a gorgeous shirt, which I have on as I type this. I also got one of his Season of the Witch shirts, because I've wanted one forever, and I just hadn't pulled the trigger and ordered from the site. The allure was too much for me with it sitting right in front of me though, and my t-shirt embargo was temporarily lifted. I don't have pics, but my girl also got one of his Mickey Malice prints, a Monsterhead turntable slipmat, and some buttons, which Aaron let her have for free. It was great meeting this dude finally. 

From the Bonesart booth, I picked up three more magnets, which brings my grand total to 10, to go along with my Bones tee, 8 bit Jason plaque, and Batman skull. I went with the Nosferatu, because I've had my eye on it for a while now, and I grabbed the Witch, and Pumpkin mask to complete my Andrew Bones Season of the Witch collection. 

And that was my Days of the Dead 2015 experience. If I would've had just a little more cash, it would've been a perfect day. All in all, I'm satisfied with things though, I did a LOT and stuck with my budget. We were there for about 8 hours total, and had a blast. Right before heading out, I stopped by the restroom to empty my bladder, and this hat was hanging on a hook in the stall. At first it seemed a bit odd, but then I decided that it pretty much summed up my day nicely, so I took a picture of it. 

We stopped by Red Robin on the way back, and I got a free birthday burger, and made it home early enough to spend some time with the kiddos before their bedtime. Hard to argue with that. Days of the Dead is the only con of it's kind that within reasonable driving distance for me, and I'm damn sure going to be there every single time. Here's to next year!