Monday, August 6, 2018

BREAKING IN (Unviersal Home Video Blu-ray Review)

Directed By: James McTeigue
Written By: Ryan Engle
Starring: Gabrielle Union, Billy Burke, Richard Cabral
Color/88 Minutes/PG-13
Region A
Release Date: August 7, 2018
Blu-ray/DVD/Digital HD

The Film
After the recent death of her father a mother (Gabrielle Union) brings her kids to his sprawling estate to prepare it for sale but find that the house is already occupied by a group of criminals looking for the safe they believe is hidden and full of cash. With her family in mortal danger Union must fight back to save their lives.

Let's start with the good, shall we? Gabrielle Union is pretty decent here, capable of handling the physical and emotional sides of her character well. The on-location shooting at a real house gives a sense of realism to the film even if the house is an absolute mansion compound with state of the art of security that no normal person could ever dream of affording. Director James McTeigue makes good use of the location. Otherwise the film sets itself up to be a digestible slice of Hollywood despite being something unremarkable or particularly memorable and that is perfectly fine. Not every movie has to be groundbreaking or a new spin on a genre. BREAKING IN, for the first half of the film was on its way to being that.

And then the bottom dropped out.

The second half of BREAKING IN is a train wreck filled with plot holes the size of the Grand Canyon, editing that if I called it sloppy I'd be extremely kind and forgiving because it is really just plain awful, performances from the cast that are simply not good but to be fair that's really due in part to the writing at this point as well. The entire movie asks you to overlook so many inconsistencies for the sake of convenience for itself and the situations it wants to set up that it is downright insulting.

Cookie cutter isn't necessarily a bad thing. I like when my cookies are the same size and I know what to expect when I bite in to them. You won't win any fancy awards or be the next big thing making cookie cutter cookies but you can at least make a product that the party will enjoy. BREAKING IN is the equivalent to biting into a cookie and finding out that chocolate chip is actually a cockroach and nobody wants to eat a cockroach.

The Audio & Video
Universal's Blu-ray of BREAKING IN is gorgeous. The 1080p presentation looks stellar, with deep, inky black levels that show no signs of compression or blocking issues. Colors are vivid and lifelike while detail levels are very high including finer detail like facial hair and surface textures. The audio is crisp and clear with a strong mix across the 5.1 lossless audio mix. From a technical standpoint this release is top notch.

The Extras
There are several featurettes included in the release taking us behind the scenes to look at various aspects of the filmmaking including Gabrielle Union's performance and her role as a protective mother, James McTeigue's direction and use of the real life location the movie was produced in and the film's action scenes. Also included is an alternate opening and deleted and extended scenes each with optional commentary from the director and a full length audio commentary track from the director and writer.

The Bottom Line
BREAKING IN had the potential to be a standard but altogether successful home invasion thriller but it completely falls apart and descends into the type of movie that if you're not rolling your eyes at it you're simply staring wide-eyed at the screen in amazement of how ludicrous what you're watching is.

BREAKING IN is available HERE

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Bill Zebub Announces New Film: The Most Offensive Movie Ever Made

Bill Zebub has made dozens upon dozens of films and has been distributed all over the world. He's been a B-movie king for decades with titles such as Holocaust Cannibal, Dickshark, Santa Claus: Serial Rapist and Antfarm Dickhole under his belt you can bet you're in for something special. He's also also someone I've shared a couple too many drinks and plenty of laughs with at conventions and can tell you he's good people. The point is if you support his upcoming film Clowna Nostra you will be supporting independent art and you can rest assured that you will get everything you are owed.

Check out the IndieGoGo HERE

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

FLORA (Mill Creek Blu-ray Review)

Directed By: Sasha Louis Vukovic
Written By: Sasha Louis Vukovic
Starring: Teresa Marie Doran, Dan Lin, Sari Mercer
Color/100 Minutes/Not Rated
Region A
Release Date: August 7, 2018

The Film
Set in 1929, a team on an expedition to an uncharted forest to map the terrain and document the local plant life finds the team that arrived before them have gone missing. They realize that the native flora contain a deadly bacteria and that their lives depend on escaping the mysterious forest with limited supplies as they're being attacked by nature itself.

FLORA is an ambitious debut project for writer/director Sasha Louis Vukovic who was pretty freshly out of film school when this production went underway. Not only did he take on a period piece but he focused the film on an invisible antagonist which makes the audience focus entirely on the story and doesn't give himself any wall to hide behind as he could have with a more special effects driven horror movie. And to his credit I think Vukovic is largely successful. FLORA is a tense thriller, with fleshed out characters who have genuine intentions and purpose within the film. There are a few moments where the direction gets a bit too into itself and goes for flare over simple effectiveness. I chalk this up to a new director trying to show what he's capable of and I understand that but it's not always necessary. Sasha Vukovic is a young director and I think he'll be able to dial in his style and feel out when to reel it in a bit in the future.

The cast is comprised of a group with limited experience and like their director, there's more to praise than to critique. Instances of stilted performances are spread amongst a believable ensemble who are more than up to the task of not only a dramatic but at times a physical performance as well with plenty of sprinting and carrying heavy equipment through the actual Canadian forest this movie was shot in. A period piece is only as believable as the set dressing and wardrobe and that is tough to accomplish with millions of dollars let alone with the $120,000 (Canadian) budget that the film had according to IMDB and I never once questioned that this film was taking place in the late 1920s. I applaud the Vukovic's writing and costuming of Olivia Ball to make sure the characters spoke and wore the era.

FLORA isn't perfect but it is quite good. Sometimes less is more and in separate instances FLORA both adheres to that rule and breaks it. The script has questionable character decisions and potential plot bumps if not holes regarding this unseen organism but I found myself engaged, entertained and totally invested by this adventure in minimalist horror that reminded me of M. Night Shyamalan's The Happening if The Happening if Shyamalan had written a script that was worth a damn. FLORA is a debut that avoids many of the stumbling blocks a young rookie director and writer fall victim of and is a promising start. I hope Sasha Vukovic works more in the horror and thriller genres in the coming years.

The Audio & Video
Mill Creek gives FLORA a home on Blu-ray and it looks very nice. The digital photography shines in the 2.00:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer with the lush greens of the forest popping and engulfing the screen. Skin tones look fleshy and natural with no signs of waxiness or pink coloring. There are no noticeable issues with black levels clumping up or becoming pixelated. The 5.1 DTS-HD audio mix sounds fantastic with the beautiful score shining through when it needs to be more in the foreground but blending nicely with the dialogue the rest of the time. The audio is crisp and clear with no distortion issues.

The Extras
Bonus features include a short behind the scenes featurette which provide a bit of insight into the development of the film and its production. Also included are deleted scenes and an audio commentary track with writer/director Sasha Louis Vukovic and stars Teresa Marie Doran and Dan Lin.

The Bottom Line
FLORA had success on the festival circuit and deservedly so. It now has a very respectable home on Blu-ray and I think it deserves a place on every horror fan's watch list.

FLORA is available HERE

Monday, July 2, 2018

ANOTHER WOLFCOP (Blu-ray Review)

Directed By: Lowell Dean
Written By: Lowell Dean
Starring: Leo Fafard, Yannick Bisson, Amy Matysio
Color/79 Minutes/Not Rated
Region A
Release Date: July 3, 2018

The Film
A year after the events of the first film the town of Woodhaven is home to a new brewery being opened by a devious entrepreneur named Swallows (Yannick Bisson) who plans to use his new Chicken Milk Stout to attack the local population with stomach bursting monsters. It is up to the local police force led by the wolfcop himself Lou Garou to stop Swallows and save Woodhaven.

A few years have gone by since the release of Wolfcop but it is still fresh in the mind's of horror fans including myself and I was cautiously excited about the sequel being released. My trepidation comes from plenty of prior experiences where a successful modern indie horror movie spawns a far less successful sequel, losing the magic that the first film had created. ANOTHER WOLFCOP clocks in at only 79 minutes and upon seeing that runtime I was a bit less worried as it seemed that writer/director Lowell Dean had a tight idea for a sequel that can hit all the beats and get us in and out in a whirlwind of lycanthrope action but what I was presented was a mess of a story that only sort of comes together and more ideas that are used for laughs than to actually progress the story. The stomach monster angle only gives the character of Willie Higgins (Johnathan Cherry) a minor inconvenience to deal with and otherwise doesn't have any real point.

The special effects are a high point for the film with the wolf suit looking excellent yet again including some simple yet effective transformation scenes. There's plenty of gore including limbs getting lopped off and guts getting ripped out all of which are dripped with blood and will please the gore hounds. The effects work on the stomach monsters isn't bad either except for the one on Willie Higgins which looks like a cheap piece of rubber with a shitty face painted on it. I can see that monster design being a style choice based on how good all of the other effects were but it doesn't work either way. It's played for laughs but it's painfully unfunny which is a running theme as this is very much a horror comedy but the laughs are sporadic.

I am being rough on the movie because even though I approached the film with tempered expectations I still felt disappointed and cheated. Wolfcop had a great idea and was well thought out and executed with skill. Perhaps most importantly it felt fresh and didn't force itself to be everything else, it was happy being Wolfcop for better and for worse. ANOTHER WOLFCOP tries so hard to be everything all at once. It is bloated with references and nods to make it feel relevant to current genre trends. It has a bunch of ideas but none of them are thought through to conclusion and there's a lot of clutter in its 79 minutes. There are moments I enjoyed and I thought the use of the moon rock was ingenious but ANOTHER WOLFCOP feels more like any film that would have come out a decade ago towards the start of this "grindhouse revival" we find ourselves in than a sequel to one of the great horror comedies of the last few years.

The Audio & Video
ANOTHER WOLFCOP comes to Blu-ray courtesy of RLJE Films who previously released the first film and it looks and sounds excellent. The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer features a crystal clear picture with a vibrant color palette, especially with the bloody reds. Detail is strong letting the special effects work shine and giving way to great looking surfaces and textures. There's no signs of edge enhancement or excessive DNR use. The audio is presented in a 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio mix that is crisp and mixed perfectly between the dialogue and rocking soundtrack. There's no distortions or other audio hiccups to mention.

The Extras
-"The Making Of Another Wolfcop"
-"Friends & Foes: Meet The Cast"
-"The Monster Shop" - Special FX featurette
-"Shoot Or Die: Surviving On The Set"

The Bottom Line
While there's a good bit of gore and some scattered laughs, ANOTHER WOLFCOP simply felt slapped together and a weak story with very little actual Wolfcop makes for a rather disappointing follow up.


Friday, June 29, 2018

THE LODGERS (Epic Pictures Blu-ray Review)

Directed By: Brian O'Malley
Written By: David Turpin
Starring: Charlotte Vega, Bill Milner, Eugene Simon
Color/92 Minutes/R
Region Free
Release Date:

The Film
Rachel (Charlotte Vega) and Edward (Bill Milner) are orphaned twins living alone in their family's crumbling estate, haunted by a family curse. As long as they obey the curse's rules of being in bed by midnight, no strangers in the house and if you try to leave the other will die, the curse will leave them alone. But now as they've grown to be adults the curse becomes more overbearing and demanding of them and Rachel sees her chance to leave it all behind when she has a romantic encounter with a local man from the village who has to deal with his own type of curse; the horrors of war.

THE LODGERS is a gothic romance horror film that feels straight out of the 1960s. It feels like a film of another time, more interested in mood, tone and characters rather than loud obnoxious scares devoid of any substance. Director Brian O'Malley is more concerned with getting an emotional response out of the audience than pandering to the lowest common denominator of fright berating them with volume. Charlotte Vega flourishes as the troubled Rachel who not only has to deal with her cursed existence but also in fighting off her brother's romantic advances and the family's accountant played by David Bradley (Argus Filch of the Harry Potter franchise). Edward's longing for his sister is an uncomfortable scenario and one that shows Edward's fractured mind. He is terrified of the curse and follows their rules to a T. His incestuous lust is almost understandable however as he has been locked in the house with his sister alone for years and knows nothing of the outside world. Rachel tends to the day to day needs including going to town for groceries every so often, it is there where she's followed home by Sean, a veteran of the war who not only lost his leg in battle but now has to face the bigoted locals who don't like that he served.

You must be patient with THE LODGERS, it is not meant to bombard you with scares and action. Instead David Turpin wrote a very deliberate script that burns slowly and builds to a crescendo with important beats along the way. Your patience will pay off with a story rich in story and mood, with characters you come to know and have real feelings for for better or worse. Enjoy the landscape of the forest and the breathtaking mansion that is dripping and crumbling around the twins and acts as a symbolic structure for their entire existence. There's plenty of imagery that will be etched into your memory for some time to come. Take note of any scene at the lake and how well composed they are.

THE LODGERS deserves to be seen and it deserves discussion. There are horror films that have been released wide in theaters over the last few years that wish they were as stylish, moody and well acted as THE LODGERS is including those with gothic backgrounds. If THE LODGERS proves anything it is that there is still plenty of life in gothic horror and that a horror film is a fine setting for a romance. It always was.

The Audio & Video
Epic Pictures delivers THE LODGERS on Blu-ray with a stunning transfer that perfectly translates the film's gothic setting to disc. The film's color palette is intentionally drab, heavy in grays and age faded hues but those tones look exceptional. Detail, including finer details is well defined and black levels are deep and inky. Skin tones are natural with no signs of excessive DNR. The 5.1 Dolby surround mix sounds excellent, balancing delicate sound effects with the dialogue and score. The track is crisp and clear and is quite pleasing to the ear from start to finish. Numerous other language and subtitle options are available including English, Spanish, French, German, Portugeuse and more for the subtitles.

The Extras
-Mini Behind The Scenes Documentary
-Deleted Scenes

The Bottom Line
THE LODGERS nails the gothic tone and successfully balances horror and a twisted romance and should not be overlooked by horror fans who prefer a touch of class with their scares. A definite recommendation.

THE LODGERS is available HERE

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

ABOMINABLE (MVD Rewind Collection Blu-ray Review)

Directed By: Ryan Schifrin
Written By: Ryan Schifrin
Starring: Matt McCoy, Haley Joel, Jeffrey Combs
Color/94 Minutes/R
Region Free
Release Date:

The Film
After a climbing accident that has left him paralyzed and his wife dead, Preston Rogers returns home to his cabin and finds the girls partying at the neighboring cabin under attack by a Bigfoot. With phone lines down they must fend for themselves and fight for their lives against the giant mythological creature that is all too real.

Made in 2005, ABOMINABLE had every possibility at being a worthless Z-grade piece of junk like many Bigfoot horror films are. Thankfully ABOMINABLE is better, much better, than many similar films. Writer/director Ryan Schifrin creates a simple yet time tested story that combines elements of Hitchcock's Rear Window and every killer-in-the-woods slasher film you've ever seen and crosses them with a man-in-a-suit Bigfoot monster. Add in doses of blood and gore, supporting roles from Lance Henriksen and Jeffrey Combs who is absolutely hilarious in his limited screen time and there's a recipe for success that nobody involved with the movie would allow themselves to mess up. The cast is capable if not good and the special effects are well done including the suit which doesn't look cheap or questionable and the face is menacing. The only iffy aspect of it are the eyes which have been digitally enhanced to fix them and it works out nicely.

There's back breaking, face eating, shotgunning and needle stabbing. Nudity and blood and soy milk hunting. ABOMINABLE doesn't try to be anything it's not and knows exactly what it is but doesn't take the cheap way out in going for the intentionally bad and overly stupid route. Ryan Schifrin plays the film straight but with a light hearted attitude. It's a fun movie and is better than most creature features or slashers that have come out since but doesn't sell itself short. ABOMINABLE is a freaking blast and is pretty well put together too. If every Bigfoot horror movie was this good I'd own a lot more of them. ABOMINABLE should be one of the Bigfoot movies that other Bigfoot movies are held to the standard of. '

The Audio & Video
ABOMINABLE has receiving its high definition debut courtesy of MVD Visual as part of their MVD Rewind Collection and features a brand new 2K scan from the original negative. The anamorphic widescreen 1.78:1 transfer looks absolutely gorgeous. Colors are rich and vibrant, shining off the screen. Reds pop and black levels are deep and free of any blocking or compression issues. Detail is high and only gets better with tight shots. The audio is presented in an uncompressed PCM 5.1 surround mix that sounds crystal clear and has everything you'd ask for it in a mix and none of the damage, background noise or distracting issues in a lesser quality audio mix.

The Extras
As is usually the case for the MVD Rewind Collection, this release is jam packed with extras including a mini poster included in the case. On disc extras include:

-New Introduction From Director Ryan Schifrin
-Audio Commentary with Ryan Schifrin and stars Matt McCoy and Jeffrey Comb
-"Back To Genre: Making ABOMINABLE" - Making-of featurette
-Deleted and Extended Scenes
-Outtakes and Bloopers
-"Shadows" - Ryan Schifrin's student film from USC
-"Basil & Mobius: No Rest For The Wicked" - Short film by Ryan Schifrin
-Original 2005 Version of ABOMINABLE
-Theatrical Trailer
-Poster and Still Gallery
-Storyboard Gallery

The Bottom Line
ABOMINABLE is everything I hoped it would be; a highly entertaining Bigfoot romp that just plain gets it.

ABOMINABLE is available HERE