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Saturday, May 14, 2022

Are You Ready To Survive Another "Cruel Summer?"

For those who were lucky enough to have a previous jaunt in the time machine back to the 80's to check out Los Bastards slasheriffic "Cruel Summer" - get ready to climb in once again, because this's gonna get even bloodier with "Cruel Summer - Part II."

Hot off the presses from the deranged duo of Scott Tepperman & Jim O'Rear (and I mean deranged in the nicest way), word comes along that the fellas are ready to begin lensing on the sequel to the throwback gorefest that racked up the body count and stored the crimson in 5-gallon buckets. Following the events of the first movie, the survivors are thrown back into the mix for another go-round with the sadistic masked soul that decimated their friends & loved why not do it all again, you ask? Because those winged-angels known as "medical professionals" have decided that the only way for thier patients to overcome this debilitating trauma is to put their harrowing experience on stage...remind me to cancel my next doctor's appointment.

With a fresh truckload of new actors joining the cast of the original, trust me when I tell you that the body-count will be top-heavy and the gore will take more than a trip to the car-wash to clean things up. As soon as a release date is near, we here will spill the blood...I mean the beans and get you all up to speed with the latest details. For those of you who'll need to play a healthy game of catch-up, the first "Cruel Summer" will be streaming on numerous platforms from SMS, and you'll also be able to get your grubby mitts on not only Blu-ray & DVD versons, but for those videophiles there's even a VHS version on the horizon.

As always, keep it here for the latest - in the meantime, here's the links to the 2 Facebook pages


Friday, February 25, 2022



                                       Compiled & edited by Theresa Scott-Matthews

                                                Published by Hellbound Books


      Call me a purist, but I don't always necessarily need to resort to chucking in a horror film into my Blu-ray player or diving into the multitudes of streaming choices online when I want a decent scare - just give me a good book with some well-penned frights, minimal lighting (don't want to strain those peepers), and I'm ready for the scares to commence. First off I'd like to thank the good (or are they evil?) souls at Hellbound Books for graciously offering their latest horror anthology up for review - it's appreciated greatly I'm thankful for the opportunity.

  This chill-inducing tome is titled Bloody Good Horror and it showcases 35 tales of terror from a bevy of ultra-talented authors, and they best describe this collection as "No theme, No boundaries, no limits..." Well, now if that isn't taken as a challenge for a set of experienced eyes when it comes to the spooky stuff, I don't know what is. This 487-page whopper was primed & ready for my dissection and without spilling too much blood...I mean too many spoilers, this certainly didn't disappoint in any fashion. With almost 3 dozen short stories at your disposal to hop into like a fresh cadaver drawer, there's literally multiple avenues and subjects of scares that will fit any discerning reader, and that's coming from a guy who at times can come off as a bit picky when it comes to horror reads. In all seriousness (which is a rarity for me), this book is so jam-packed with fantastic stories you'll be sure to have some sleepless nights as a result of overindulging. With titles such as "A Crimson Portrait", "You'll Hear Her Knocking" and my personal favorite: "Razor Blade Sandwich" it's a safe bet that you'll most certainly find a tale or two that fits your framework of the genre. 

  Overall, my recommend-o-meter has officially overheated with all of this talk about blood-soaked, entrail relocations, and general dissertations of devilishly demented happenings. If you're one of those maniacal elocutionists that simply can't get enough of the unnerving parlance thrown before you, then I advise you to stop on over at and shop around - if you can't find what you're looking for, it may be time to have your pulse checked.

BOOK RATING: 4 out of 5

Friday, October 8, 2021



                           Starring: Laila Lockhart Kraner, Steven Grayhm, Rudy Reyes

                                                 Directed by: Steven Grayhm


             I think we can all agree to an extent that even in the world of horror, it's not always about the blood & guts parameter being smashed, but the effective storytelling and pacing of a slow-burning chiller to give an audience the creeps. However, when one particular presentation opts to take TOO LONG in its creation & delivery, it can be detrimental to the overall product - so, without any further ado, I give you all The Secret Of Sinchanee

          Pulling double-duty (director/actor) for this one is Steven Grayhm, who plays the role of Will Stark, a tow-truck driver who at a young age suffered incomprehensible trauma as a child years ago, and sadness has come full-circle in present time with the recent passing of his father. This event brings Will back to his childhood home to close affairs, but the "otherworldly" aspect of the childhood tragedy seems to want to pry back into the mix, and couple that with a murder investigation of a mother/daughter duo, Will's certainly going to have a full dance card when it comes to trouble in his hometown. With a strong backstory involving Native Americans and the horrific treatment against them over the course of history, Grayhm lays out the best table-setting and decorates the surrounding area with delicate details - combined with some beautiful camera work and sullen atmosphere, the initial thought on this one was that I was in for something extraordinary.

         With also having written the film itself, Grayhm crafts what definitely should have come off as a timed-out spookfest with multiple angles of dread and uneasiness, and that would have fit nicely inside a tidy 90-minute presentation...but...At damn near two hours the movie drags along relentlessly and honestly wastes multitudes of time stretching too many focal points of psyche-damaging ordeals, paranormal incidents, criminal investigations, and the commentary of atrocities committed against Native Americans - not unforgivable by any means, but it honestly made this "secret" worth keeping locked up. Performances around in the film were adequate and moderately effective in the conveyance of the story, but at times some of the talents appeared to be lost in their labors - were they put off by the pacing as well? Overall, The Secret Of Sinchanee is one of those films with an important story to tell...I'm just not sure that this framework was the right composition to do so - possibly a one-time-watch if you love SERIOUSLY slow-burners.

FILM RATING: 2 out of 5


Thursday, September 9, 2021

CRUEL SUMMER (Film Review)


                             Starring: Ashlyn McCain, Bridgit Linda Froemming, H. Marie

                                                 Directed by: Scott Tepperman


      Does anyone know of a possible chance that we can hop in that long-overdue time machine and jettison back to the heydays of slasher-dom -  I'm talking about the '80s, ya carnage-freaks! I'd love for nothing more than to abandon this era of whiny, entitled, gluten-free, mocha latte-drinking, safe-space residing snowflakes and live among the summer of the Reagan-era once and for all (not a political statement, by any means). The days of renting my cinematic slaughter on VHS seem so long ago and I'm just really homesick for a little mindless manhandling of the oversexed and chemically altered teen populous, and thanks to the demented minds of Los Bastardz Productions, these days have come back in grand style. Get ready, lovers of retro-slash filmmaking, because even though the calendar may say otherwise, we're still in the middle of a CRUEL SUMMER. 

   Directed by Scott Tepperman (who also wrote AND holds down the role of "Gunnar"), the film tells the tale of a group of college-pals who are setting up a little pre-grad bash, complete with an '80s murder-mystery theme at a remote lake house. We've got the atypical boozers, stoners, and people with a penchant for shedding some pesky clothing all wrapped up in a nice package, just waiting for their chance to get decimated by a crazed-killer who has decided to crash the festivities. You see what I'm flingin' at you all? Simplistic, barbaric and ultimately entertaining for those looking to get back to the glory days of party-time slashing - no muss, no fuss - just grade-A (well, maybe B) bloodshed. 

   Tepperman and his co-producing cohort Jim O'Rear waste no effort in delivering fun performances, and alongside a youthful cast of willingly wanton victims, CRUEL SUMMER is a movie that lets you shut off your brainpans for a spell, and frankly revel in the glory that is throw-back horror, constructed by those who have the same loyalty & respect for the genre that our collective has come to embrace for a long time now. The film is currently on the hunt for a distributor, but I have a good feeling that this little gem won't go unclaimed for long, and we here at Zombies & Toys will surely keep you all in the know as to its progression.

 FILM RATING: 3.5 severed heads out of 5

SLAXX (DVD review)


                                 Starring: Romane Denis, Brett Donahue, Sehar Bohjani

                                                   Directed by: Elza Kephart


             Calling all fashion victims! If you're one of those "gotta have it" people when the latest togs hit the racks, and are endorsed by the high-favored types on TV, the movies, and social media, then director Elza Kephart's latest denim-gone-bad film SLAXX is definitely for you. 

     The premise of the film takes us inside the ultra-snooty, and insanely objectionable world of mall-retail clothing sales and the fictional Canadian Cotton Clothiers is no different. Their salespeople are confined to "ecosystems" that represent the particular section of the store they work in, and all are rigged up with the pseudo-FBI agent earpiece for communication purposes - nice touch, indeed. This entitled band of slack-slingers are being led by CEO Harold Landsgrove: a retail icon that's as close to a cult leader as you can get, and he's got the collective ear of his employees firmly entrenched in the notion that his product is entirely free of any negative stereotype that can be placed in the public eye. The only problem here is, that the horrors of sweatshop work and unsafe conditions for the souls that risk their lives to create these commodities is about to rear its ugly head...or its rear, for that matter. Turns out that the diamond in the clothiers' latest collection is a pair of denim jeans that will literally fit any body shape. therefore eliminating any misconceptions about body-shaming or the general angst of some people who can't shoe-horn their derrieres into a pair of pants - we're talking about the possession of a pair of pocketed pantaloons, people!

   First-night employee Libby is eager for the chance to make a difference at her new job, and she's now been chucked into the mix of a bevy of personalities - each one generally unpleasant but ultra-effective to the film's storyline. The store will soon be going into overnight "lockdown" to allow a social-media influencer to film her latest vlog about the new collection, and believe me when I tell you - the crimson will fly when the denim spirits get angered. The movie itself certainly isn't to be taken seriously, outside of the whole "ending child labor" statement of course, but this presentation is simply dumb-fun - nothing more, nothing less. Performances are humorous if not downright farcical, and you'll probably find yourself debating which commission-collecting douche will get offed next. The whole package adds up to a fun watch that should be taken as seriously as one of those runway shows. The film is now available on Blu-ray & DVD formats, as well as VOD & streaming services.

FILM RATING: 3 legs out of 5



Sunday, September 5, 2021

GREAT WHITE (Blu-Ray review)


Starring: Katrina Bowden, Aaron Jakubenko, Tim Kano

Directed by: Martin Wilson


Now look, I think we can all agree that there isn't a shark flick that can touch the immensity of 1975's classic about that smilin' son-of-a-bitch in the sea - now some may have come within a fathom or two, but in my useless estimation everything since has been a whimpering guppy in comparison. Do I sound the least bit protective and jaded of the original product? Good. Now that we've got that brutish bit of harebrained reasoning off the freeway, we can delve into this titanic bucket of chum...don't get any on ya!

The premise of GREAT WHITE is based around the floundering (I promise, no more fish puns) small seaplane business of retired marine-biologist Charlie (Jakubenko) and his girlfriend Kaz (Bowden). One of their last-ditch attempts to keep their livelihood churning comes in the booking of a quick-trip from a couple of lovebirds. Not too soon thereafter shit goes sideways (no spoilers here, folks), some seriously misguided decisions are made and the group finds themselves at the mercy of a very hungry shark. Stuck in a life-raft with a dwindling supply-status the small contingent of not-too-friendly acquaintances has to band together to outwit a predator that at times acts as if it's out-thinking them at every watery turn. The main issue that I had with this production was the pacing and seemingly never-ending dialogue that would make most anyone want to call it quits and hop in the big blue for the last bite. 

Performances were adequate enough for another killer-shark film, but some of the decisions made by the characters and criminally-offensive CGI handcuff the movie to the bottom of the boat and drag it WAAAY past the channel-markers. A solid positive here is how the film actually looks on Blu-format, with electric blue seas and golden shores of sand that even look more impressive if you've got a big ol' idiot-box to watch them on, but unfortunately it isn't a saving grace. The film will hit Blu-Ray & DVD formats this September 7th, but it's been doggy-paddling around for a spell on VOD streaming services - if you're not put off by sleepy talk, a digitally-enhanced marine carnivore and a never-ending sense that you should have just watched JAWS for the millionth time, then this one's DEFINITELY for you.

FILM RATING: 2 out of 5

Thursday, February 25, 2021

WRONG TURN (2021 - Film Review)


Starring: Charlotte Vega, Adain Bradley, Matthew Modine

Directed by: Mike P. Nelson


While not EXACTLY a reboot, Director Mike P. Nelson's 2021 take on the Wrong Turn franchise takes a different path in its story and intently brings a new vision to what audiences will ultimately see as refreshing...PERHAPS?

We've spanned between the years 2003 and 2021, and with 6 films under its belt, the "hillbillies on the hunt" universe rears its toothless faces towards us and drags the collective back into the deep woods of Virginia. It almost seems as what we've come to know about these killer rednecks is swerved to a deceptive extent, and what looks like a threat may not be what its cracked up to be - messin' with your minds!! The film drops Jen (Vega) and her band of pals into the heavy green of the Appalachian Mountain region for a little hiking trip, and they stumble over a border leading into land inhabited by a group known as "The Foundation." We're not talking about a clan of uneducated, sister-humpin' stiffs that have a bunch of axes to grind, no, no, no - this is a well-structured (and long-tendered) population of hermits who have eschewed the normality of everyday life and its problems, and deal with injustices on their own terms. As the day grows longer and our tempestuous band of friends detours themselves in the confusing coppice, they begin to find themselves under attack - but for what reason, and who will step up to save them?

Nelson's direction in this fresh restart is exactly that: fresh - however the presentation does have some lagging points, which seemed to be smack dab in the middle of the film. An ABUNDANCE of f-bombs (which seemed to be the base of our young characters' vocabularies) grew extremely tiring after the first 30-40 are littered in a short span, and let's not forget their winning personalities! I guess it makes it comprehensibly more feasible to warrant someone's imminent demise when they come off like a petulant and confrontational whiner...and it was on full display with this gang. Matthew Modine shines as Jen's protective papa (I'm not willing to admit that he's getting older), and he aids in the flow of the story, even when bouts of stagnancy begin to set in. Some of the kills were admirable in their brutality and execution, while (thanks to some heavy censoring, I'm sure) others were sadly cut away from too quickly. 

Overall, this isn't your 2003 Wrong Turn, and aside from some MUCH-NEEDED lopping off from the movie's runtime, this one should satiate gorehounds and horror fans alike - Mr. Nelson has taken an otherwise dried up exhibit and infused it with the power of rejuvenation - this is a one-timer for sure as far as this corpse is concerned, but there is promise glowing on the horizon if there happens to be a chance of continuation.

The film is now available on Blu-ray and DVD format, as well as numerous streaming opportunities.

FILM REVIEW: 3 out of 5