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Thursday, February 25, 2021

WRONG TURN (2021 - Film Review)

 


Starring: Charlotte Vega, Adain Bradley, Matthew Modine

Directed by: Mike P. Nelson

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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

Friday, February 19, 2021

DEAD AIR (Film Review)

 


Starring: Kevin Hicks, Vickie Hicks, Chris Xaver

Directed by: Kevin Hicks

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Well, here I am - back in the mix once again, and after a 3 week bout with the big Corona back in November and an even longer self-imposed sabbatical from the writing process I've returned to (hopefully) entertain you all with my mindless babblings and useless opinions about the genres I find to be most beloved. So settle in with the beverages of your choice, read my rants and let's all keep each other company in these crazy times!

Dead Air is the latest specimen on the slab, graciously offered up for review by Justin Cook PR, and it goes without saying that I was more than interested in dunking my peepers into this one. Starring Kevin Hicks (who also directed) and Vickie Hicks (writer), William is a man whom after the loss of his mother, begins the arduous task of cleaning out his parents' belongings, and when he comes across an antiquated ham radio, his curiosity is piqued and he fires it up. Once hooked up to the airwaves, he comes in contact with a mysterious woman named Eva who after claiming to be agoraphobic and paranoid to a debilitating extent, begins to warm up to William and the two spark up a most-unlikely "friendship" of sorts. Their connection is the air itself, and they use it as an appendage to reach out to one another, assisting in lessons of grief-management and basic companionship...but we all know that things won't exactly be rosy when the veil is lifted, now don't we?

Now, if you came to this film looking for a fright-a-minute fest with non-stop thrills and chills I'm sorry to say that you'll be extremely disappointed - however, if long stretches of mundane dialogue coupled with a stale sense of dread is your gig, this presentation is right up your alley. This isn't me taking a big ol' porcelain potshot at the movie itself, because the premise in its wholeness is intriguing, and if you thrive on the "who is behind the curtain" aspect of a product such as this then dive on in. Both Hicks' work on the microphone is stable and conveying to the story in an acceptable fashion, but unfortunately there isn't much left to go on once that's reached its peak. There are a few twists and turns in the plot that assist in keeping things somewhat fresh, but I'd bet solid money that the hardcore horror and thriller fans can see them coming from a mile away. 

Overall, I'm going to give this one nothing more than a "one-and-done" as I'd really hoped for something more productive in the story and resulting effects - Dead Air will have an audience that I'm fairly sure of...but how long will it take before the listeners turn the power button to the OFF-position?

The film is available TODAY (2/19) on digital and cable VOD platforms.

FILM RATING: 2 out of 5

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