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Tuesday, October 27, 2020

TO YOUR LAST DEATH (Film Review)

 

Starring: Morena Baccarin, William Shatner, Bill Moseley

Directed by: Jason Axinn

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     Let me just preface this review with this simple declaration, and it may be one that ruffles the feathers of MANY a horror/sci-fi fan: I am NOT a fan of animated features - never have been, probably never will be. Now, this isn't me poo-pooing on the format or premise one bit, but there's always been something that I never felt like a fulfilling characteristic was achievable (to me, anyway) with an animated result.   However, when I was approached to check out director Jason Axinn's latest feature, To Your Last Death I was a bit intrigued simply due to the fact that I've seen and heard some pretty rave reviews about the product itself. What the hell, am I right? Devote a little time to some cartoonish violence and give my honest review - shouldn't be too difficult, so here we go!

  The film's premise itself is simple (yet ultimately deranged): four siblings who've lost touch with each other have been reunited by their power-hungry daddy (Ray Wise in a stellar performance), and dear old dad has got bloody revenge on his mind. He's convinced that his offspring are to blame for his lost bid at the Vice-Presidency and now he plans on making them pay. With "Jigsaw" inspired traps and enough vehemence this quartet of siblings are in for one hell of a family get-together. Oldest daughter Miriam (Dani Lennon) is no stranger to her demented daddy's sadistic games, and with the assistance of a mysterious woman known only as The Gamesmaster (Baccarin), she might just have a clear shot at making it out of this sick scenario with only minimal blood-loss...something tells me there aren't any Christmas cards being exchanged within this group.

  The visuals at times can seem a bit choppy and sedentary, but the violence and gore factor is what makes this beast growl - Axinn certainly didn't ease up on the gas pedal with this presentation, and the movie shines as a result. With plenty of strong voice performances, each character breathes life and acts as their own entity - we've even got the Captain himself, William Shatner handling narration during the film itself - a nice touch, indeed. If there were a negative to poke at it would be the idea that the ending does seem a bit road mapped - if you're following along during the runtime it can seem a bit anticlimactic once the inevitable occurs. However, no harm-no foul as this one should have the juice to appease even the pickiest of genre-aficionados - I mean, it impressed me and that's no easy task - make sure to give this one a look when it crosses your screen!

FILM RATING: 3.5 out of 5

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

CHOP CHOP (Film Review)

 


Starring: Atala Arce, Jake Taylor, David Harper

Directed by: Rony Patel

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Along comes one of those movies during this subdued Halloween season that just gets your mind to wandering...WHY? Why did this happen? Why did this take place? What in the hell just happened to the 80 minutes I've lost watching this friggin' movie? Let's crack open the freezer and slide out the slab that holds director Rony Patel's latest film Chop Chop - then shove it back in and weld the damned door shut.

Simplistic in nature on one end, and convoluted as all hell on the other, this production plays like a Rubik's Cube that someone took all of the colored stickers off of - twist and turn it as much as you like because it won't make any sense no matter how you think you've got it solved. Centered around a lovey-dovey couple (Arce & Taylor) spending a quiet night at home with some dinner and a little lovin'. Their romantic interlude is interrupted by a creepier-than-creepy pizza deliveryman (Harper) who just can't seem to take a hint or to stop his homicidal urges. Without spilling too many spoilers, the delivery guy is quickly "neutralized" by our horny duo (almost too easily, really) and the question now becomes "what do they do with the body?" Now, I may be getting ahead of myself, because before we answer the body-question, we really should try to delve to the bottom of why was Mr. Crazed-Killer-Pizza-Guy there in the first place? Good question, indeed...if I had a speedy answer for you it would've already been thrown down in the review - guess we'll just chalk it up to as an incidental occurrence.

In any event, this unfortunate instance now has our lovebirds facing quite a dilemma which will have them crossing paths with some other shady characters and put into situations that basically defy explanation. This is the punishment we're all receiving and we'll all have to draw our own conclusions as to why all this non-sensical garbage is going on - lucky us, indeed. All of this directionless movement combined with some sleepwalking performances by the collective don't add up to an enjoyable viewing experience by any stretch - sad thing is the film looked as if there was some serious promise in its opening stages but went limp like a wet noodle (insert innuendo here). Overall, I'd seriously have to recommend bypassing this one at all costs, and I usually hate taking a dump on any film, but this was just a completely rudder-free 80 minute voyage into deep waters - screw the life-vest - I'm abandoning ship without a safeguard.

FILM RATING: 2 out of 5

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

ELI ROTH'S HISTORY OF HORROR (Blu-ray review)

 


Starring: Eli Roth

Featuring: Eli Roth, Rob Zombie, Greg Nicotero

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     We as horror fans can certainly consider ourselves a fickle bunch at times, be it overly choosy about exactly what subgenre to watch, or how much gore, right down to just how badly we want to be scared. Make no mistake though - every single one of us that makes up this frenzied collective can appreciate the history of the genre itself, and that's where this latest review leads us, so grab a chilled glass of crimson refreshment and read on!

  Director Eli Roth (who also executively produced) gives fans a baseline to work from in his History Of Horror. This 7-part series aired last year in October and is poised to ramp up its second season on AMC beginning this weekend. I was fortunate enough to snag a copy of the 3 disc set of Season 1 from our generous friends at Katrina Wan P.R. (thank you all so much), and I've honestly watched this set 2 times over since receiving it - it's simply that good. With narration by Roth and a heavyweight round-table consisting of Eli, Rob Zombie, and gore-master General Greg Nicotero, each episode consists of one particular sub-genre that is focused on and highlighted with clips, interviews from a bevy of stars, and some information that you might not have known about your favorite film. Covering sub-genres such as slashers, zombies, vampires, and ghosts, you'll fully be in the know as to how to properly set up your Halloween movie marathoning this month - hell, you might even come across a film that you've never heard of thanks to this series. 

  Jam-packed into all these discs are clips and interviews with a seemingly endless array of personalities contained within the horror spectrum - Stephen King, Robert Englund, Kane Hodder, John Landis, Quentin Tarantino, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Tom Savini are only a sampling - hungry yet? Personal stories about some film's conceptions are on the block as well, and if you're only thinking that this series will focus on the big-ticket items, think again. This is quite the impressive display and covers quite a bit of cinematic scares dating way back into the early days of frights - naturally, not everything could be shoe-horned into this presentation, but it works for not only the rookies to the genre but to the seasoned & hardened souls that have seemingly been desensitized to the visions on-screen over the years. I'll admit there were a handful of films that I'd completely forgotten about that were refreshingly "re-animated" back into my memory (and NO, I do remember that film - it's merely a play on words). Overall, this is a fantastic set to own and toss into your player any time you want a guide from the professionals to cross-reference. It's on sale now damn-near everywhere and should set up Season 2 nicely so grab your copy now!

RATING: 4.5 out of 5

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

ATTACK OF THE UNKNOWN (Film Review)

 


Starring: Richard Grieco, Robert LaSardo, Tara Reid

Directed by: Brandon Slagle

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     Why in the blue hell would any otherworldly soul want to infiltrate, much less visit this planet in this day & age is beyond me, but in the case of director Brandon Slagle's latest film Attack Of The Unknown, they're here, and they're ready to throw down. Before this review gets truckin' I'd like to thank Mr. Sonny Mahal for offering the film up for inspection and dissection - it's always appreciated. Now that the pleasantries are out in the open, let's break out the slicing tools and cut into this one while it's still fresh, shall we?

  The film centers around SWAT team leader Vernon (Grieco in a convincing role) who is faced with a medical diagnosis that seemingly saps the "OOMPH" straight out of his system, but not before he and his team have to take down a fierce drug kingpin named Hades (LaSardo). Once Vernon's crew comes up successful in their apprehension of the notorious baddie, they're tasked with moving him into FBI protection...and THAT'S when the alien-istic problems arise! It appears that a full-on invasion is taking place, and through some rather interesting information from Hades it's revealed why they've come, and what they're after (a little perplexing, but hey - it's Sci-Fi). Now it's up to an ailing Vernon and the rest of his hard-nosed squad to shut down the big green men and deliver their prisoner into protective custody - wonder if this accumulates their tiered hazard pay?

   The movie's opening 20 minutes are jam-packed with great action, fun dialogue, and a metric crap-ton of flying lead...unfortunately the lead sticks around for the remainder of the film, slowing down not only action but communication between the actors as well. I've always been a Grieco fan, and he simply knows how to convey those silent yet gruff emotions, but here it seemed as if he grew bored with the character in the latter stages of portrayal - regardless, he was fun to watch and held the film on his shoulders, especially in his scenes with LaSardo (the classic bad guy). Added to which if you keep an eye out you'll spot notable performances from Tara Reid, Robert Donavan & Douglas Tait - all providing some punch to the collective mix. Slagle's direction is edgy and centers on the horror/thriller scope - the guy knows how to present a product and it shows once again here. All in all, I'd say to any prospective sci-fi/action fan to give this at least a one-timer. If you can get past the slowed-down pace in the latter stages Attack Of The Unknown is actually a pretty fun film, but when those BIG green fellas come around, you'd better get your butt behind some thick doors!


FILM RATING: 3 out of 5

   

Friday, September 25, 2020

TEN MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT (Film Review)

 


Starring: Caroline Williams, Nicole Kang, Nicholas Tucci

Directed by: Erik Bloomquist

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Approaching that last day at your job can be an emotion-filled catalogue that can range from relief to sadness...possibly even infection and possession - WHOA! Don't let me get ahead of myself here - anyhoo, I was lucky enough to be granted a review link to director Erik Bloomquist's latest film: Ten Minutes To Midnight, and not only due to the fact that he is a fellow Connecticut fella like myself, the film's trailer had me hooked before I'd even pressed play. So, without any backups in the embalming tube, lets get this movie up on the slab for dissection, shall we?

Unbeknownst to her, radio DJ (and local legend) Amy Marlowe (Williams in a standout role) strolls into her station ready to hit the airwaves for the final time, and what even makes this worse is that she's saddled with a "tagalong" for the shift. Sprightly and all too eager to learn Sienna (Kang) will be the new gal in the big chair, thanks to some seedy undertaking from Amy's station manager, Robert (William Youmans). Amy's now nursing what she believes to be a bat bite on her neck and is feeling the debilitating after-effects from the rabid attack, but is what she's seeing in the station actually happening, or is it a result of the wound itself? As her mask of sanity slowly begins to slip into the night, this last shift promises to be one that will go down as one of the most disturbing employment-finales anyone's ever recorded! 

With Erik's directorial style and his brother Carson's writing savvy, the movie moves along at a brisk pace, with more than enough nightmarish imagery and comedic instances to give it a fresh off the block mix - trust me when I tell you, this one doesn't allow itself to grow moss on its ass. Complemented by some utterly fantastic performances (especially that of the late Nicholas Tucci as a station security guard), we're constantly hooked by whomever has the light on them at the time. Now, for the film's most shining entity - the alluring, hypnotic and completely mesmerizing Caroline Williams - this gal not only takes this movie by the throat, but firmly plants her boot on its neck and makes it hers - it's that commanding of a performance and possibly one of her greatest ever (and that's saying a lot here, horror junkies!) With an absolute laundry-list of emotions, she conveys her character's sense of not only isolation within herself, but sheer panic when the bat-shit hits the fan.

Overall, I personally cannot rave enough about this film and look forward to seeing it on the big screen when it continues on its current tour (check out @mainframepictures on Instagram for the full listing). If you're up for a full-assault on your visual senses with blood, guts...more blood...and Caroline Williams spewing blood, then this one's for you - if not, might I suggest keeping your sensitive butts at home, cause this one's surely for the gorehounds. Quite possibly one of the strongest entries for top horror film in this wacky year known as 2020 -  Ten Minutes To Midnight is coming for your throat - don't miss it!

FILM RATING: 4 out of 5

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

THE WAITING (Film Review)

 


Starring: Nick Leali, Molly Ratermann, Laura Altair

Directed by: F.C. Rabbath

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Horror films and hotel rooms over the course of cinematic history have gone hand-in-hand on multiple occasions - some with completely terrifying results, and others with a somewhat softer touch, however still frightening in nature. Director F.C. Rabbath's latest presentation, titled The Waiting gives the audience a couple of new employees with not much luck on their side to get in and out of a room in just under a minute before some rather spooky goings-on take place.

Our duo of grime-fighters consists of Eric (Leali), a poor schlub who is about as unlucky in love as a fella could get, and Sally (Altair). Together they're facing a hectic first day at the hotel and compounded with the daunting task of a less than 60-second cleaning frenzy in room #101 before the ghost of a dead girl (Ratermann) shows up...let's just say that a short lunch break is the least of their work complaints. As the film moves along, we see a connection of sorts between Eric and his spectral counterpart - although silent, she appears to act as a mirror-image to Eric's hang-ups and general psyche situation. It's actually a nice avenue that Rabbath leads his audience down, as his production not only offers scares but some genuine laughs and feel-good moments as well.

The performances from the three main characters were simple, non-complicated, and enjoyable at varying levels - I can normally latch onto an annoying portrayal in damn-near every film and harp on it relentlessly, but there honestly wasn't one to be found. At the end of it, all The Waiting is a watch that might not satiate the die-hard "needs a scare-a-minute" horror fan, but rather will appetize those looking for a toned-down exhibition of how the living and the dead can connect on a level that might defy rational explanation to the tamer crowd. It certainly did not come as advertised, but that isn't always a nail in the coffin for some films - in this case, it worked out quite nicely. At the time of this review, the film was being shopped around to film festivals, so as soon as we get a concrete release date, we'll let you loonies know what's up.


FILM RATING: 3.5 out of 5


Tuesday, September 1, 2020

THE PALE DOOR (Film Review)


Starring: Melora Waters, Natasha Bassett, Zachary Knighton

Directed by: Aaron B. Koontz

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            The more I wrack my brain the more I honestly think it's been a blue moon since I've seen a decent horror/western film...then again it's been a while since I actually wrote a review on anything, so bear with me will ya? Okay - now I've got it: the last semi-decent horror/western that I laid eyes on was Bone Tomahawk, and while it had its moments of marrow-rattling brutality I couldn't shelve it as something that I'd need to revisit once again. So here we are, 5 years later smack-dab in the middle of a pandemic and the need to watch something even remotely entertaining is paramount to a cinephile's sanity - let's hold the door open wide for Aaron B. Koontz's The Pale Door.

    The film follows the rather unlawful exploits of The Dalton Gang, and their latest caper takes them to the rails as they plan on knocking off a train of some seriously worthwhile cargo. Led by Duncan (Knighton), the clan is amped up for a sizeable score, including young brother Jake (Devin Druid), who's on his first-ever robbery, and it certainly will be a memorable one. It doesn't take very long before shit goes sideways with this heist and after a smoky shootout, the gang stumbles upon a woman who has been locked away in a treasure chest, mouth firmly bound up. Her name is Pearl (Natasha Bassett), and she'll prove as a sort of saving grace to the criminals when she offers up a brothel in her "abandoned" town for the fellas to lay low in until things smooth out. The cathouse's leading lady, Maria (Waters) is all too happy to take these dusty derelicts under her roof for the night, cause she's got a big surprise planned...and it's not one worth paying for if you catch what I'm flingin' at ya.

  The film then takes on a "catch em if you can" mentality: cowboys vs. witches, if you're up for some shooting-gallery activity once these ladies of the night reveal their true selves. If you can bypass an otherwise sluggish and monotonous setup to this second-act of flying lead and screeching hag showcasing, then you'll be rewarded with a film that doesn't lay anything on too heavy and provides some interesting viewing. Characters all have some sort of interesting foothold and each is an integral piece to this puzzle - hey, no one said portraying a cowpoke with a complex was an easy task by any stretch. Eventually, plot runs thin and the film relies on a bevy of gory and grotesque imagery, which should be enough to satisfy anyone with a hankering for some singed flesh and flying clots of plasma-rich fluids - TASTY!

  Overall, The Pale Door is a moderately moving way to spend 90+ minutes, and a generally satisfying way to satiate your need for Old West terror, but please: if any of you gentlemen have an "itch" that you need scratched, might I suggest digging in the spurs to your steed and riding right on past Maria's house of happiness.

FILM RATING: 2.5 out of 5