Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Directed By: Rick Roessler
Written By: Rick Roessler
Starring: Sherry Bendorf Leigh, Joe Barton, Don Barrett
Color/85 Minutes/Not Rated
Release Date: February 28, 2017
Lester Bacon is in financial trouble and has been confronted by the town's lawyer, the sheriff and a rival slaughterhouse who wants to purchase his land and facility. Lester is fed up with the threats of being shut down and evicted he unleashes his oversized and mentally underdeveloped son Buddy on anyone that might be against them.
SLAUGHTERHOUSE is a video store staple of the 1980s where it found the majority of its audience after a brief theatrical tour. This slasher film is far from original but that doesn't stop it from being one of the better slasher film's from the later part of the decade that thrived on this type of film. Drawing obvious influence from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, SLAUGHTERHOUSE is a dirty, sweaty horror film with a massive 350+ pound madman squealing like the swine he loves so dearly. Yes, Buddy's lone form of communication of to squeal and grunt like a pig and it makes him an instant classic slasher antagonist. Joe Barton really portrays Buddy perfectly.
Director Rick Roessler made great use of the locations at his disposal with a dry, dusty produce plant and old equipment boneyard serving as the exteriors for the slaughterhouse and they make the film look like a million bucks (which was more than SLAUGHTERHOUSE cost to make.) The sprawling maze like interior freezers, grinders and meathook lined storage rooms give an overbearing sense of misdirection and confusion with potential death waiting around each and every turn. The film is violent and gory, with limbs getting lopped off, heads being crushed and bodies being thrown into the grinder but it also has a sense of humor which keep things a bit airier and fun which allow for frequent repeat viewings to remain entertaining and never too heavy.
It may never be considered one of the best slashers and sadly it didn't spawn any sequels because I think there was potential to continue the Bacon and Sons story, but SLAUGHTERHOUSE is highly entertaining and a really solid production. Roessler's script and direction give us just about everything we expect from a "slice and dice" picture and the cast does a really good job top to bottom as they fight through rain, mud, and cold corridors of the slaughterhouse. This is one of the higher quality slasher films to come out in the later part of the decade.
The Audio & Video
SLAUGHTERHOUSE has had a number of home video releases since being released in 1987, ranging from VHS to a rather shoddy DVD in 1999. For years it was simply an unattractive film to watch but the film gained a fanbase nevertheless. In early 2015 it received a Blu-ray release in the UK which was a bit of a revelation for the film. For nearly two years that was the best way to see it but Vinegar Syndrome has done what Vinegar Syndrome does by releasing an even better version with a brand new 2K scan and restoration from the 35mm interpositive. Colors have never looked this vivid and detail has never been this crisp. There's a healthy grain structure and the overall sharpness and clarity is a noticeable improvement over the previous Blu-ray released in England. The DTS-HDMA 5.1 audio mix is fantastic. A strong audio presentation that remains clear and free of distortions. Sound effects and dialogue play perfectly with the score and Buddy's guttural swine screams have never sounded more disturbing.
-Audio Commentary with Director Rick Roessler, Producer Jerry Encoe and Production Designer Michael Scaglione
-New Video Interview with Lead Actress Sherry Berndorf Leigh
-"Making A Low Budget Indie" Featurette with Rick Roessler
-"Producing SLAUGHTERHOUSE" - Interview with Jerry Encoe
-Archival Interviews with Director Rick Roessler and Producer Jerry Encoe from the 1999 DVD
-"Epilogue: 30 Years After The Slaughter" Featurette
-Vintage 1987 Radio Interviews
-Local News Coverage From The Film's Premiere
-Behind the Scenes Featurette
-"No Smoking" Snipe
-Shooting Script Gallery
The Bottom Line
I was a fan of the previous British Blu-ray release of SLAUGHTERHOUSE but with Vinegar Syndrome's release now on the market it really isn't a case of picking one, it's a case of picking the better one. Vinegar Syndrome's release can easily be considered the definitive edition of SLAUGHTERHOUSE.
SLAUGHTERHOUSE is available HERE
Saturday, February 25, 2017
Directed By: Alain Patrick
Written By: Alain Patrick
Starring: Alain Patrick, Barbara Caron, Inga Maria
Color/89 Minutes/Not Rated
Release Date: January 31, 2017
Jim supports his wife and baby daughter by making hardcore porn films, a highly lucrative but illegal profession. Their dream of buying a boat and sailing around the world falls apart when the Vice Squad cracks down on Jim, distributors begin to cheat him on profits and Jim has an affair with one of his actresses leading to his wife leaving him before he has a chance to make it all right.
BLUE MONEY is an interesting film, presented as a pseudo-documentary at times and a traditional narrative film with narration from Bob Chinn who was a very notable porno director and gives instant legitimacy to the film. BLUE MONEY was made by the people actually making adult films during the time period. It should be noted that this isn't a porno. Softcore at most but there are no hardcore shots. I consider it to be more of a straight forward drama and pseudo documentary than even a softcore film. Even in to the 1970s pornography was still a taboo and illegal in areas. BLUE MONEY is centered around that idea and tackles that morale issue to an extent. It is driven by Alain Patrick's character Jim and his journey to leave the world behind with his family despite his imperfections and mistakes you can't help but route for the guy and his wife and child.
BLUE MONEY isn't the smoothest film, it's a bit choppy in it's progression and editing but it draws you in and holds you there for all 89 minutes. It touches on social and morality issues, family issues while also being a character piece. I appreciate it more with each new viewing and I hope this Blu-ray release gives it the exposure it deserves.
The Audio & Video
BLUE MONEY has previously been released on DVD multipacks with up to five movies crammed on one disc. This is how I previously had seen the film and obviously this wasn't going to allow the best quality picture and sound but Vinegar Syndrome has exceeded expectations with yet another slam dunk release. The brand new 2K scan and restoration features a 1.85:1 transfer maintaining the film's original aspect ratio and it looks phenomenal. Skin tones, of which there's plenty, are fleshy and natural with no artificial waxiness from excessive DNR. Colors are recreated vividly and look true to life. The image is sharp, with strong detail and a crisp, clean image. The English audio is handled with a DTS-HDMA Mono mix which is free of any background noise, hissing, popping or other imperfections. The dialogue and soundtrack are blended perfectly to allow each to come through clearly. Optional English SDH subtitles are included.
-"Making BLUE MONEY" video interview with Producer Bob Chinn
-"The Affairs Of Aphrodite" - Bonus feature film from 1970, directed by Alain Patrick
-Original Theatrical Trailer
-Promotional Still Gallery
-Reversible Cover Art
The Bottom Line
BLUE MONEY has been an underrated and overlooked film taking a hard look at film and cultural history while remaining completely entertaining and sexy. It's the best of both worlds and I highly recommend everyone check this one out.
BLUE MONEY is available HERE
Thursday, February 23, 2017
Directed By: Jess Franco
Written By: Jess Franco, Nicole Guettard
Starring: Agnes Spaak, Marcelo Arroita-Jauregui, Hugo Blanco
Color/84 Minutes/Not Rated
Release Date: February 7, 2017
DR. ORLOFF'S MONSTER aka The Secret Of Dr. Orloff or the more racy and perhaps confusing The Mistresses Of Dr. Jekyll, showcases the things I love about Jess Franco films and the shortcomings he has been known to have all in one 84 minute film. Though it is a sequel to 1961's The Awful Dr. Orlof it is only loosely connected. The plot concerns Melissa, a young college student visiting her aunt and uncle to settle the inheritance of her recently deceased father. Unbeknownst to her, her uncle has been working on an experiment to create a zombie like killer. Local police investigate the deaths while Melissa searches for answers into her father's death.
Jess Franco had a shoestring budget to work with during the production of DR. ORLOFF'S MONSTER, small enough that various cast and crew received no pay for their work and Hugo Blanco was tasked with creating his own monster makeup. The look, that of a scaly, and possibly burned and blistered man, is simple yet effective and surprisingly well done by Blanco. Blanco's character sort of wraps up the production into one single character - effective despite it's faults. Franco makes the most out of some really nice looking locations, including the castle which he makes sure to show off as much as possible with his framing choices. I don't blame him one bit for getting every ounce of value out of it. A lot of time is also spent inside a jazz club, something these early Franco films are known for and frankly I feel many of these scenes are there to pad the film's runtime.
I think some of Jess Franco's best work are the early black and white horror films he crafted during the early to mid 1960s and though DR. ORLOFF'S MONSTER isn't the cream of that crop it does have a good gothic atmosphere, an interesting if familiar mad scientists plot and a creepy monster and ends up being an enjoyable creepy little mystery.
The Audio & Video
Kino has released the latest entry into the Redemption Films with a new HD presentation giving the film previously unseen levels of detail and clarity on home video. While this is not a full restoration and there are still some rough spots in the source material with plenty of dirt and debris speckling the picture the high definition quality is never in question. Detail levels are strong especially in close ups. The monster's burned and blistered face makeup shows this more than anything else perhaps. The black and white photography has a great stark look with beautiful greys and deep blacks.
There are two audio choices, with French and English options both in DTS-HD 2.0 formats. Having listened to both tracks I found the English to be the track to listen to. Not only is it a crisper and clearer listening experience, as the French track has more issues with imperfections and background noise, the English dialogue simply presents the story and dialogue better and clearer. There are optional English subtitles available.
-Audio Commentary with Film Historian Tim Lucas of Video Watchdog Magazine
-Eleven minutes of additional more sexually explicit footage
-French Theatrical Trailer
-Italian Theatrical Trailer
The Bottom Line
DR. ORLOFF'S MONSTER is an imperfect beast but it has many of the touches and flourishes that make these early Jess Franco horror films desirable and among his best work. Gothic horror fans should take note of this release. Recommended.
DR. ORLOFF'S MONSTER is available HERE
Tuesday, February 21, 2017
Chip Gubera's Slasher.com Hits DVD March 7th
Film Festival Hit Puts Sadistic Spin on Online Dating
Available Nationwide from All Major Retailers
Los Angeles, CA - MuchoMuchoMucho Productions and Firefly Films, in association with ITN Distribution, has announced the March 7th DVD release of Slasher.com. The latest feature from horror director Chip Gubera (Song of the Dead, Academy of Doom, Mil Mascaras vs. the Aztec Mummy), Slasher.com puts a gruesome twist on the perils of modern dating.
Co-written by Gubera and Chelsea Andes, Slasher.com combines the time-honored tradition of young people facing unfathomable horrors in the wilderness with the everyday horror of meeting people online. Ben Kaplan (ADDicted, Wingman Inc) and Morgan Carter star as the hapless would-be couple, anchoring a cast supported by R.A. Mihailoff (Leatherface: Texas Chainsaw Massacre III, Hatchet II), Jewel Shepard (Return of the Living Dead) and Grammy winner Delious Kennedy.
Slasher.com took home awards for Best Feature Film at the Bloody Horror International Film Festival in Ottawa, Best Horror Feature at the Hollywood Boulevard International Film Festival, the Golden Award at the Spotlight Horror Film Awards and Best Screenplay at the Optical Theatre Film Festival in Rome. Jewel Shepard and R.A. Mihailoff were nominated for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor respectively at the Optical Theatre Film Festival.
At a time where online dating could prove fatal, Jack and Kristy decide they're ready meet in person. Aiming for an adventurous first date, they plan a weekend getaway to a cozy cabin deep in the woodlands of rural Missouri. While discovering each other, they soon learn of the terrorizing horrors that the forest, and the family lurking there, has in store for outsiders.
The DVD release (SRP $14.93) of Slasher.com will be available at all major retailers, courtesy of ITN Distribution.
Sunday, February 19, 2017
Grab your silver bullets and wooden stakes because it’s the Beasts of February on COMET!
Full moons can be frightening and this month on COMET TV there are enough beasties to send a shiver down your spine and make you smile at the same time!
Whether you love the 1980’s classics Teen Wolf and Teen Wolf Too or prefer your beasts a little more out of this world with Species and Strange Invaders, COMET TV has you covered!
COMET, the newest & obviously coolest Sci-Fi Network has been showing the best in fun cult classic films and television shows! If you haven’t checked it out, you’re missing all the fun!
We also have an awesome prize pack giveaway for your readers that will get you in the Beast-like spirit!
The pack includes:
Two Limited Edition COMET TV Pint Glasses - Two glasses will be chosen out of four Limited Edition designs. If you can’t beat your inner beast, having a drink will soothe even the darkest soul!
One Heart Splatter Toy - There’s nothing a beast wants more than the heart of their victims, now you can beat them to the punch, just don’t squeeze too hard!
Fire Ants Hard Candy - The beasts have invaded! But now you can fight back and have fresh breathe at the same time!
Oozing Candy Eye Balls - Perfect for the beast in your house, these candy eye balls with an oozing gushing center will have your pack fighting for more!
Gummie Tarantulas - EEEK! Don’t be scared these Tarantulas aren’t coming to get YOU… You’re coming to get THEM! Unleash your inner beast and take a bite out of these former frightening foes. In delicious cherry and lime!
1. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with subject "COMET FEBRUARY"
2. Include your full shipping address (US addresses only)
3. Tell me which upcoming Comet movie is your favorite
Winner Selected March 3rd
Winners addresses must be submitted by March 10th.
Giveaway open to the U.S.
About Comet TV Feb Giveaway
COMET TV has all the spine tingling beasts you can sink your teeth into this February!
From the classic adolescent werewolf trials and tribulations of Teen Wolf to the outer world invasion of Species, catch any and all beasts airing this month on CometTV.com
Monday February 27 at 6/5C
Tuesday February 28 at MIDNIGHT/11C
Species II (1998)
Friday February 17 at 6/5C
Thursday February 23 at 4/3C
Tuesday February 28 at 6/5C
Species III (2004)
Saturday February 18 at 6/5C
Thursday February 23 at 6/5C
The Faculty (1998)
Sunday February 26 at 10am/9C
Howling II: Your Sister is a Werewolf (1985)
Friday February 24 at 4/3C
Tuesday February 28 at 10am/9C
Empire of the Ants (1977)
Saturday February 18 at 10/9C
Teen Wolf (1985)
Wednesday February 22 at 4/3C
Monday February 27 at 4/3C
Teen Wolf Too (1987)
Friday February 17 at 8/7C
Saturday February 18 at 8/7C
Wednesday February 22 at 6/5C
Tuesday February 28 at 4/3C
Strange Invaders (1983)
Friday February 24 at 8/7C
Saturday February 25 at 8/7C
Monday February 27 at MIDNIGHT/11C
Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988)
Sunday February 26 at 4/3C
Available on television digi-networks and online at CometTV.com, COMET offers something for everyone and has an incredible array of movies that you simply can’t get with a subscription to streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon, or Hulu.
Directed By: Richard Mansfield
Written By: Richard Mansfield
Starring: Michael Lieber, Darren Munn, Henry Regan
Color/80 Minutes/Not Rated
Release Date: September 13, 2016
After a series of strange knocks at her front door at the same time each day Amy receives a strange video tape featuring strange violent animations and a figure that is stalking her. Soon she realizes that she isn't the only person dealing with this and sets out to find the other victims in an effort to find out who is stalking and killing them.
Haunted video tapes have been a plot device in horror films for years, from The Ring series that was probably the peak of the subgenre to the more recent films that sometimes combine the idea with the found footage style to set up a plot that is rather inexpensive to produce. VIDEO KILLER falls into that category despite not being a full on found footage movie it does use the style along with traditional film making styles. The idea is to keep production costs down while creating a viable horror film setup. In that way VIDEO KILLER is most definitely successful because most of the scares involve doors opening on their own, flashes of creepy figures and other terrors that we only see the victims running away from.
The best moment of VIDEO KILLER is a nightmare moment when one of the victims hallucinates that he is being attacked by the ribbon from a VHS in the woods. I don't think I've seen something so unintentionally funny as a pile of film slithering along the ground while a man writhes in terror until it wraps around him, consuming him in fear until he awakens. I'd almost go as far to say VIDEO KILLER is worth watching for this sequence alone. Alas, it is not. VIDEO KILLER isn't a terrible production, the few cast members are actually fairly decent and there's moments where the direction is solid but there's just nothing to keep your attention. The same fleeting moments of suspense and horror are repeated and there's too many moments that come off as comedic. I liked the animation sequences featured on the haunted VHS tapes more than almost anything else and that should say something.
The Audio & Video
Wild Eye Releasing's DVD of VIDEO KILLER features an anamorphic widescreen transfer that is very attractive. Colors are warm and the picture has good clarity. Black levels are deep with no blocking issues while the English 2.0 audio mix is clear and has stable levels that don't fluctuate. There's no damage imperfections in how the audio is portrayed.
- Deleted Scenes
- Making Of VIDEO KILLER
- Killer Cartoons
- Short Films
The Bottom Line
VIDEO KILLER is another in a line of films centered around haunted video tapes. The sooner this trend in the genre fades away the better.
VIDEO KILLER is available HERE
Friday, February 17, 2017
Directed By: Charles Band
Written By: Charles Band, Neal Marshall Stevens
Starring: Blake Adams, Jacqueline Lovell, J.W. Perra
Release Date: December 20, 2016
Loretta is having an affair with Lance and they're looking for a way to knock off Loretta's husband Howard who is the toughest guy in town. When they spot the local family of weirdos disposing of a body from their truck they get an idea to enter into business with the Stackpools but then Lance finds out their secret that they're quadruplets with one specific human trait each including super strength, incredible beauty, highly sensitive senses and massive intelligence. The smart one is the leader of the group, a massive cranium with a tiny body rolling around in a wheel chair... this is only the beginning of the weirdness.
HEAD OF THE FAMILY is a total oddball science fiction horror film steeped in dark comedy. It is easily one of Full Moon's best productions. The script is strong and well written with genuinely funny moments along with a likable pair of protagonists in Lance and Loretta. Jacqueline Lovell is gorgeous and adds the sex appeal by frequently shedding her clothes. She's also quite good as the damsel in distress type character during a forced performance as Joan of Arc by Myron, the head of the Stackpool family.
Myron is such a well designed villain, as is the rest of the family, but Myron is easily the star of the show here. His giant bulbous cranium is an excellent makeup job and the performance from J.W. Perra is quite aristocratic and domineering with his massive brain power. His control over the rest of the family is an interesting dynamic and the way it all plays out isn't overly original but it is a wildly entertaining love letter to oddball sci-fi horror flicks of the 50s. It's an absolute shame that the long rumored sequel Bride Of The Head Of The Family never came to fruition.
The Audio & Video
Full Moon's foray into Blu-ray continues to be mostly a success as HEAD OF THE FAMILY looks and sounds quite good. The anamorphic widescreen transfer has a nice sharpness and natural color scheme. There's a thin but healthy grain structure and very little dirt or debris. Black levels are deep and there's no signs of edge enhancement or DNR. English audio options include 5.1 and 2.0 HD options that are mixed skillfully and sound crisp and clear. There's no distortions or background noise. The film doesn't have a lot going on to really give either mix a work out but it is very pleasing to the ear and that's all I need for this movie.
-Audio Commentary with actor J.W. Perra
-Bride Of The Head Of The Family Promo
The Bottom Line
HEAD OF THE FAMILY is an absolute B-movie blast and one of Full Moon's crowning achievements. Highly recommended!
HEAD OF THE FAMILY is available HERE
Tuesday, February 14, 2017
Directed By: Mike McMurran
Written By: Mike McMurran
Starring: Annette Wozniak, Geoff Almond, Keegan Chambers
Color/78 Minutes/Not Rated
Release Date: December 13, 2016
A house of college students get together for a Christmas party where Olivia plans to introduce them to her new boyfriend, their Professor Ramsey. Hoping to break the awkward tension they hand out their secret Santa gifts but everyone finds their gift replaced by an object that the masked intruder stalking their party plans to kill each of them with. SECRET SANTA is giving the gift of death and the co-eds must fight for their survival.
SECRET SANTA is a throwback to holiday slashers of the 70s and 80s and it's obvious that writer/director Mike McMurran loves the genre. When he's keeping things straight forward he has an interesting group of characters from the goofy funny guy, to the sexy girl creating trouble with the guy she likes that's already taken, and everything in between, this house of students is generally pretty likable and diverse. The kills are well done and at times pretty gory creating the memorable moments that slasher fans latch on to. The thumping synth score drives the violence and tension and McMurran creates a really well done slasher film.
Unfortunately all too often SECRET SANTA is handled as a spoof on the genre and gets unnecessarily goofy and intentionally cheesy. One of the gifted weapons is a hair dryer and the murder scene with that weapon starts out with a moment looking for a big laugh and I don't think this movie really needs those moments. There's enough lighthearted comedic moments with the Dwayne character and a few moments scattered throughout that I don't think they needed to spill the comedy over into the killer and the kill sequences.
That doesn't stop SECRET SANTA from being an entertaining and well acted film. The core group are all solid in their roles from the goofy Dwayne (Geoff Almond) to Annette Wozniak who plays Nicole and is a worthy final girl type character. The cast is a strong point. The killer's motive reveal is a mixed bag however as I think the scene plays out well but the motive feels like they pulled it out of a hat filled with various motives.
SECRET SANTA is a holiday slasher that takes a step back for each step forward. I think there's a great slasher hidden in there but you have to wade through some spoofy moments that frankly aren't needed and kill the mood. I do enjoy the movie and think Mike McMurran is really capable of creating a top notch slasher film and look forward to seeing what he does next. Until then SECRET SANTA is worth adding to your Christmas horror collection.
The Audio & Video
SECRET SANTA has an intentional imitation aged style and look with fake grain and damage to give it the throwback look of drive-in horror films from decades past. WILD EYE RELEASING has given us a DVD that faithfully maintains that style but also manages to keep the film looking sharp and pleasing to the eye. Colors are natural and don't look artificially altered. Detail is decent and black levels are handled well with no artifacting. The 2.0 English audio sounds good with no background noise or distortions. The mix is good but the score could have been pumped up a tad to really let it come through and shine because it is excellent.
-Audio Commentary with Director Mike McMurran
-Behind The Scenes Documentary
The Bottom Line
SECRET SANTA is flawed and would have benefited from a more straight forward approach but it remains an entertaining holiday slasher that slasher buffs will surely be adding to their Christmas horror rotation.
SECRET SANTA is available HERE
Saturday, February 11, 2017
Directed By: Charles Band
Written By: Charles Band
Starring: Cynthia Rothrock
Color/109 Minutes/Not Rated
FISTS OF FURY is a trailer compilation of some classic and not-so-classic Kung-Fu films from the 70s and 80s hosted by martial arts expert and film star Cynthia Rothrock. Rothrock not only gives lead ins to each section of the film such as Femme Fatales and Brucesploitation but she sheds a little light on martial arts films and gives us a little bit of action from would be attackers as well. There's not much else to say, Rothrock's scenes are all filmed in a gym and they're campy as hell but they're entertaining fare to help break up the trailers a bit. The trailers are the main attraction however and act as a damn good checklist of some lesser known Kung-Fu from the golden era of the genre.
The Audio & Video
The scenes with Cynthia Rothrock that were produced for this release look great. They're sharp and clear. Full Moon didn't restore the trailers used for FISTS OF FURY so naturally this compilation of trailers runs the gamut from great condition to pretty rough and filled with scratches and other damage. I find the damage in some of the trailers to be part of the charm and they're all quite enjoyable. The 2.0 audio matches the video, with crisp audio for Rothrock's scenes and more of a mixed bag for the trailers. Overall a very pleasing release.
A short behind the scenes making of featurette and an interview with Cynthia Rothrock are included.
The Bottom Line
Kung-Fu is cool and it's about damn time more people get on board with the genre. FISTS OF FURY is something you can sit and enjoy while taking note of the films you still need to track down and see or something to put on in the background of a party.
FISTS OF FURY is available HERE
Friday, February 10, 2017
Directed By: Alexander Babaev
Written By: Alexander Babaev
Starring: Margaret Judson, Devin Goodsell, Michael Johnston
On VOD February 10, 2017
Emily is moving into a new home with the help of her friends so that she can better take care of her brother Zach who has Cerebral Palsy and is paralyzed. Shortly after arriving the group begins to find out the evil secrets the house holds and it begins to take hold of them one by one.
BORNLESS ONES is a straight forward demonic possession style horror film that had potential to be pretty good but it falls in to too many cliches of the genre and there are a few too many moments where everything is so over lit that I was wondering if there was anyone looking through the lens of the camera while filming. The cast is good, it's unfortunate that there's a lot of all too typical pitch-shift demon voices that I would have liked to see the actors emote their demonic possessions instead of relying on the voice change. The cast is likable with good comedic timing when it's asked for and I think the acting is the high point of the film.
The script by writer/director Alexander Babaev is a mixed bag. There are some interesting ideas I thought were really different and something I don't think I've seen before but there's also way too much reliance on poorly rendered CGI (but hey, it was better than The Bye Bye Man!) scares and stabbing scenes. It may sound like an odd complaint but there's so much stabbing at the end that everyone gets stabbed repeatedly. It does make for a bloody violent finale but good lord there could have been something else tossed in. The CGI scenes were a poor decision as far as I'm concerned, similar scares could have been achieved with less flashy but more atmospheric and simply better looking practical effects.
I didn't particularly care for BORNLESS ONES but I do admire how Alexander Babaev fit in some interesting idea in the confines of a familiar demonic possession horror film. If you have a particularly strong love for these types of horror films you might want to seek out BORNLESS ONES but I think Babaev's best efforts are ahead of him.
Wednesday, February 8, 2017
Directed By: John Portanova
Written By: John Portanova
Starring: Bill Oberst Jr., Jason Vail, Miles Joris-Peyrafitte, D'Angelo Midili, David Saucedo
Release Date: February 07, 2017
Recently widowed Roger (Jason Vail) and his son Mark (Miles Joris-Peyrafitte) retreat to his brother-in-law's remote cabin deep in the woods after losing their home. There, when they are visited by two friends for a weekend hunting expedition, they discover that they are not the only ones living there. A group of Sasquatch also call the woods their home and are on the offensive since a logging company began destroying it.
I love Bigfoot movies, but I'll be the first to admit that most of them are complete and utter trash. There are definitely more than a few gems in this sub-genre, but before you can get to them you have to dig through a whole lot of garbage. HUNTING GROUNDS falls somewhere in the middle of those two extremes. The story mostly seems to focus on the meek Mark and his tenuous relationship with his father since his mom passed away. His father is battling with depression and possibly alcoholism which is enabled by his arrogant buddy Sergio (David Saucedo). Mark's uncle, Will (D'Angelo Midili), is on the opposite side of the spectrum, trying to help Mark put himself into a better situation rather than letting his father's self-destructive behavior drag him down as well. Most of the first half of the movie deals with this dynamic, which tends to make it drag a bit. All of the actors do a fine job with the material, but it just wasn't particularly the movie I was looking forward to.
About halfway through the movie, the bigfoot action really starts to ramp up and this is where the movie does what it does best. A lot of recent bigfoot movies have been CGI-heavy, and I really appreciate the fact that HUNTING GROUNDS is not. The effects are nothing incredible, but are used extremely well in a way that never feels silly. The movie never feels like it's trying to hide it's creatures either. Though they are in shadow a lot, we see enough that we never feel cheated. As the group fends off the group of sasquatch, the movie builds to a pretty tense climax. Unfortunately, I think the ending kind of drops the ball and leaves the viewer with a conclusion that feels unsatisfactory and rushed.
When all is said and done, I feel like HUNTING GROUNDS is a solid film that's probably worth checking out if you're a bigfoot movie enthusiast like me. But if you're just looking for a fun creature feature, you might do better with something else.
Review by Shawn Wolfe
Monday, February 6, 2017
Directed By: Jeff Ferrell
Written By: Jeff Ferrell
Starring: Brian Sutherland, Megan Karimi-Nasar, Jeffrey Arrington
Color/114 Minutes/Not Rated
Release Date: February 7, 2017
A nameless outlaw is driving across the country leaving a trail of blood behind him each time his search for love fails. His journey may come to an end when the brother of one of his victims tracks him down and puts him at gun point.
DEAD WEST is one of a slew of gritty, violent thrillers set in the American west being released these days. Brian Sutherland stars as the lead who changes his name with each new encounter. He's decently threatening and charismatic enough to get the job done. The best performance in the film is that of Roxy, played by Megan Karimi Nasar who plays the lead protagonist and main love interest of Sutherland. She's likable and easy to care about, giving a very sympathetic performance. The rest of the cast is competent except for the entire scene at Sug White's house which is down right awful. It feels like a spoof but they're dead serious about it.
There's not enough to the script to support nearly two hours of a movie and that doesn't include what was inevitably cut from the final product. The plot is thin and frankly the synopsis that the drifter is looking for love is bullshit since he has no intention on giving many of his encounters a chance and disposes of them very quickly. The drifter seems more into killing than he does finding love. It doesn't make him seem more dangerous or maniacal, it just makes the entire film feel like a cheap excuse for murder sequences. Even my favorite part of the film, Semih Tareen's score, became repetitive and overused because of how often it cues in to the drifter's attitude.
DEAD WEST is a well shot thriller with a pair of leads that were let down by a lackluster script. It has its upside but falls well short of what it could have been.
The Audio & Video
RLJ Entertainment gives DEAD WEST a nice looking 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. The picture is clean and colorful and black levels are fairly deep. The Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo mix sounds crisp with a steady mix that allows the score to shine without making the dialogue muddy or hard to understand.
-Audio Commentary with Director Jeff Ferrell, Actor Brian Sutherland, and Composer Semih Tareen
-The Making Of DEAD WEST - A feature length making-of documentary clocking in at over 68 minutes.
The Bottom Line
DEAD WEST is thinly plotted and one note. If you're extremely interested in seeing it I suggest renting it.
DEAD WEST is available HERE
Thursday, February 2, 2017
Directed By: Ken Russell
Written By: Ken Russell
Starring: Amanda Donohoe, Hugh Grant, Catherine Oxenberg
Release Date: January 31, 2017
When Archaeologist Angus Flint (Peter Capaldi) unearths a strange serpent-like skull while excavating the site of an old convent on the grounds of a bed and breakfast he quickly learns of the tale of the D'Ampton Worm, a mythical snake-god from said to have been slain a thousand years earlier by John D'Ampton, the ancestor of current land owner James D'Ampton (Hugh Grant). The old tale seems to come true when a couple of women go missing and the group discovers that a local woman named Lady Sylvia Marsh is in fact an ancient priestess to the snake-god.
THE LAIR OF THE WHITE WORM is loosely adapted from the Bram Stoker novel but Ken Russell has greatly changed most of the story and details making for a wildly entertaining, purposely campy mashup of horror, fantasy and comedy. Hugh Grant is quite good as James D'Ampton and he has good chemistry with Peter Capaldi as an odd couple type pair who go about investigating the legend in different ways. Amanda Donohoe is captivating as Lady Sylvia Marsh, giving a sexy and domineering performance of pure evil. From seducing a Boy Scout to turning townspeople in to vampires with a single bite, she is a leather clad vixen that owns her sexuality and strength and the film is better off for having her in it.
Arguably the film's most interesting scenes are after those snake bites from Marsh when they lead to these trippy LSD induced visions of the snake demons, orgies, medieval battles and more bizarre scenes. This is purely Ken Russell being the brilliant director he's been known to be. The hallucinations wouldn't have felt out of place in his masterpiece from 1971 The Devils. Russell seamlessly mixes these elements of horror with very organic and natural comedic moments that never feel out of place and wrap the entire film up in a fantasy film shell. These ingredients make for such a wildly entertaining hour and a half filled with interesting and lovable characters, a giant B-movie monster, and a strong sense of aesthetic. Russell's eye for detail in sets, costumes and props is on full display from the blue body paint serpent scene, to the Victorian mansions decorated floor to ceiling with all sorts of gaudy yet elegant dressing and even massive underground snake/dragon monster look appealing to the eye and not at all corny.
THE LAIR OF THE WHITE WORM would have benefitted from a slightly larger budget as it would have allowed the film to have a more expansive feeling and allowed for more special effects but THE LAIR OF THE WHITE WORM is a charming, funny and well made fantasy horror film based in folklore. It has held up to multiple viewings over the years and will remain in rotation for years to come.
The Audio & Video
Vestron Video gives a beautiful HD presentation to this new Blu-ray of THE LAIR OF THE WHITE WORM. The anarmophic widescreen (1.78:1) transfer looks gorgeous. There is a very tiny bit of speckling otherwise the picture is quite clean and sharp. Colors are beautiful and shine while black levels are handled nicely. Detail levels are strong with surfaces and textures and skin tones are healthy and handled naturally. The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 stereo mix takes the film's original audio mix and makes it sound pristine. The track is crisp and has crystal clarity. There's no damage, imperfections or background noise. Levels are mixed nicely so that dialogue and music are complimentary.
-Audio Commentary with Director Ken Russell
-Audio Commentary with Lisi Russell and Film Historian Matthew Melia
-"Worm Food" - Interview with Special FX Artists Geoffrey Portass, Neil Gorton and Paul Jones
-"Cutting For Ken" - An Interview with Editor Peter Davies
-"Mary Mary" - Interview with Actress Sammi Davis
-Trailers From Hell with Producer Dan Ireland
The Bottom Line
THE LAIR OF THE WHITE WORM is an overlooked and underrated piece of 80s horror. I hope this Blu-ray allows the film to be rediscovered and gives this great piece of work from Ken Russell the credit it deserves.
THE LAIR OF THE WHITE WORM is available HERE