Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Volumes of Blood


Volumes of Blood is a new indie horror anthology from directors Jakob Bilinski, Nathan Thomas Milliner, John Kenneth Muir, P.J. Starks, and Lee Vervoort. I have yet to see any of these filmmakers previous efforts, but this is a clear example of why that needs to change. Each director brings their own distinct flavor to the table and works with the central theme given for the film. Prepare for fun.

Volumes of Blood follows a group of college students studying Urban Legends. For a project, they decide to delve into how exactly these stories start, and how they spread. They start by sharing ideas of potential fables to spread. Each one plays out in some way involving a library, like the one they are meeting in.

The first story shows a girl who is in dire need of more hours in a day. Although this isn't a feasible option, there is another, more convenient alternative: more energy. A simple solution, offered by a shady peddler, ends in a more unsavory manner.

Following our first gal, the second fable to be passed is of another nature. One man, left alone after hours to work, finds one particular task to be rather hard to accomplish. As he tries to place the books in their rightful homes, a book on the supernatural seems to gain a mind of its own. The more he tries to replace the book, whilst catching glimpses of something out of the corner of his eye, the more redundant the task becomes. The further from its shelf the book becomes, the closer something else gets to our leading man.

Next, we find ourselves in a library again after hours. This time, it is a young coed trying to finish her studies. Her eccentric boyfriend joins her, urging her to leave her responsibilities for a bit of fun. She compromises, saying she'll join him when she finishes. She is then left alone to her work. Or is she? Something is lurking, waiting for a chance to distract her by means other than drinking.

The last idea to be bounced is the story of a girl named Paige. Paige finds herself working in the library alone at night. Familiar, right? Except the fact that it's Halloween, and an unfamiliar book, supposedly able to allow its reader to speak to a deceased loved one, has found it's way to our heroine's desk. Most people would probably have the good sense to leave such a book alone. At least, people who don't harbor guilt for the suicide of an ex boyfriend. This is why children shouldn't play with dead things...

As we hear the stories passed around by the students, we start to realize that while they are discussing a part of their thesis, they have yet to discuss how exactly these grisly scenarios become perpetuated into a viral part of folklore. The head of this group of students seems to have a pretty good hypothesis. The best way to spread a make believe tale, is for it to have actually happened. 

I've always been a sucker for anthologies. They are my favorite type of horror film and have been since my childhood. While I love anthologies, there is one little problem that rings true for the bulk of them. When lacing so many short stories together, it is very difficult to compile more than a few of the same quality. Even the "top dog" V/H/S series for this generation hasn't managed to put out a consistent package in their three attempts. In this film all five tales manage to deliver the goods. They all bring a different tone to the table but not a single one of them is below average. Volumes of Blood maintains the perfect balance of camp and tension. Each segment manages to contain enough of these elements to satisfy your horror loving needs.

Overall Volumes of Blood is an old school anthology that stays consistently awesome. The final story and the tie in finale are easily my two favorite sections here. Things wrap up with a bang followed by an onslaught of bloodshed. These final moments are probably my favorite of any anthology that has came out within the last decade, and possibly the best wraparound featured in any anthology I have seen. This is a must watch for all indie horror fans and anthology lovers alike. It's definitely getting another spin from me come Halloween. It really is a blast that every horror fan should experience. Keep an eye out for Volumes of Blood to release on DVD, you won't regret it!


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Computer Hearts


Computer Hearts is an interesting short directed by Canadian duo Turner Stewart and Dionne Copland. The directing team has a few shorts under their belt and have recently tackled the cinematography on Ryan Nicholson's Gutterballs 2. Watching this short, it is easy to see why they were chosen for the long awaited Plotdigger sequel. Computer Hearts is an incredibly well crafted early film project that should easily put them on the radar of most low-budget film enthusiasts. 

The film centers around a man named Albert who has become overly obsessed with a character on an interactive sex game website. He's letting his relationship with his fiancee fall apart by feeding this addiction. As he slowly begins to fall apart at the hinges, his future wife decides she is tired of his distance. She leaves and with that Albert is alone with nothing but his computer. Things go south quickly when Albert reconnects with his digital playmate quite literally.

Vanessa2 seems to have Albert's heart, though she is lacking one of her own. She is his escape. She is seemingly perfect, no real obligation (though he doesn't seem to notice), and she is always happy to see him. This low maintenance dream girl starts to really byte. Pun intended. Once the 'real' Vanessa leaves Albert, Vanessa2 sees an opportunity. Albert must decide exactly which of his lives he really wants to live.

This release contains two vastly different cuts of the film. Although most of the content is the same, the extended "Hentai Cop Cut" throws in a bit more dialogue and info that manages to completely change the intentions of our lead, Albert. If you are going to check this out I would recommend giving the "Vanessa Cut" a watch to start out with. This cut is significantly shorter, and although both cuts have things I prefer over the other, I would say this one reigns supreme. The pacing in "Vanessa Cut" makes for a much more enthralling watch, while the "Hentai Cop Cut" sacrifices that for a few extra plot points and character building.

Overall Computer Hearts is an exhilarating exercise in the oddities of the body horror subgenre. If you thought browsing the dark side of YouTube at 1 a.m. was intense, think again. Albert showcases how easy it is to get sucked into alternate reality, especially if yours is monotonous. Albert enhances the creep factor by showing how even though he plays through his every day life, his virtual feelings seem to have more depth. The extremely stylish black and white bathtub scene alone is worth the price of admission. This one comes highly recommended for fans of strange, twisted horror flicks. GET IT!!



Monday, June 8, 2015

American Guinea Pig: Bouquet of Guts & Gore



Bouquet of Guts & Gore is the first installment in the American Guinea Pig series. As a big fan of the original Guinea Pig series, I was a little skeptical about the creation of this film. Slowly but surely, as I saw the names attached that feeling washed away as I remembered all the delicious, gory abominations Marcus Koch and Oddtopsy FX have splattered onscreen over the years. The Guinea Pig title is a lot to live up to in many extreme horror fan's eyes. The level of notoriety that series has garnered over the years is nearly unmatched by anything else in the realm of horror. In anyone else's hands matching the vibe of the early flicks would be a daunting, if not impossible, task. For all the fine people behind this film, making it their own, and shattering expectations seems to come with ease.

From the moment we are introduced to the torture chamber, hearts will drop. This is a feeling that keeps me coming back to the more extreme areas of the genre. Unfortunately it is not a feeling that is easy to achieve for me these days, the last film that effectively brought it on was Hate Crime, and before that way back when I first witnessed August Underground. Immediately when this room and our trio of miscreants come into play the mood shift is monstrous. It feels as though this room is hidden within an abandoned warehouse, on the seediest alley the Earth has to offer. It's a little piece of Hell that happened to make its way onto our playground, and its minions are here to play with us. As viewers we get to glare into this chunk of Hell from the comfort of our own homes.

Bouquet of Guts & Gore is a film that seems necessary at this point in time. The "extreme" horror genre has slowly but surely been losing my attention in recent years. I still love the classics, and sure, there's occasionally a new one that blows me away; but that experience has become further spread apart throughout the years. Many directors in this field seem to be giving the gore a backseat position and utilizing shit, piss, and vomit to achieve their gross-out factor. While this did work for a certain director, who I'm sure you are all familiar with, I would hate to see the extreme horror genre all have that uniform attribute. The American Guinea Pig series works as the retaliation of that. Biro and Co. show that these cheap gags aren't the only way left to shock jaded audiences. This is the return to gore, this is the defibrillator blast to the nuts the extreme horror genre has been in need of. 

Overall, American Guinea Pig: Bouquet of Guts & Gore is a must see for all gorehounds. This is a film that is so gritty, and full of hate that it's almost hard to take in one sitting. THIS IS FUCKING MEAN. Meaner than I could have ever hoped it would be. I had very high expectations for this when it arrived and it surpassed all of them. Biro has created a monumental flick for this style that will be looked at the same way the original Guinea Pig series is now. The terror isn't ending here, as there are already sequels planned. Hopefully, this string of films will ignite a fire under the extreme horror genre's ass. American Guinea Pig has upped the ante, it's set the bar, and from now on, making a well received torture flick will be an uphill battle. Essential viewing for all of you sick twisted fucks. GET IT AND SQUIRM! 


Sunday, June 7, 2015

Massacre Gun


Massacre Gun is the second film directed by Asian film legend Yasuharu Hasebe. Shortly after this movie's release, Hasebe went onto be one of the biggest forces in the Pinky Violence movement of the 70's. Here we see a far more refined style compared to his defining films throughout the coming decade. 

Massacre Gun tells the story of Kuroda and his brothers. One day his Yakuza boss gives him the order to kill his significant other. Kuroda had planned an escape route for her, but out of fear of what would happen after his betrayal, he decides to follow through with the murder. After the deed is done, he returns to his brothers and they are very angered by his decision. The turmoil within the family quickly comes to a halt when Kuroda decides to leave his old crime family behind and start up his own operation. Soon, an all out war is waged between the two factions, and the only way it will end is with bloodshed. Kuroda not only has to deal with constant paranoia, but also the internal struggle of knowing his best friend Shirasaka is still fighting for the opposing side. The tension quickly rises, and hundreds of bullets begin to fly, but only one side can stand victorious.

Massacre Gun is an intriguing Yakuza film in the fact that it seems very Americanized. A smooth jazzy soundtrack is peppered in throughout the entire movie that complements it surprisingly well. The story builds at a slow yet precise pace, and while it can at times be a bit of an endurance test, it never becomes too taxing due to the high level of style on display. You truly feel for these characters and the hardships that they have brought upon themselves. Strong character development and performance is what really makes this film work on the level it does. Without the insight on Kuroda and Shirasaka's struggle to succumb to the violence that is inevitable, the final scene would not have hit anywhere near the level it does. This buildup is what anchors the movie down, but when the finale comes to life it is more than a fair trade.

Overall, Massacre Gun is a very entertaining Yakuza flick. Although the film is not without its flaws, it features enough fight scenes and fiery gun battles to keep most action fans at the edge of their seat. It does all this while still managing to maintain its cool as ice atmosphere. Having not seen many 60's Asian crime movies prior to this I was pleasantly surprised by how far from dated Massacre Gun was. If you're into Yakuza flicks this one is definitely worth a shot.



Thursday, June 4, 2015

Under the Rainbow


Under the Rainbow is Luke Ramer's first feature length film. This was my introduction to West 2nd Productions, and it was a very insightful viewing. The initial viewing of Under the Rainbow is like traveling through an unknown wormhole of the low-budget film world. It's safe to say Ramer took a step off the beaten path with this one and started forging his own. If you're looking for something different from the underground horror scene, you've found it.

The movie kicks off with a cult preparing to drown their sorrows in the Kool-Aid and travel to a realm that promises nothing but glorious things. As with most cults, it is all an illusion and once the bodies start dropping, these sugar-coated lies take them to a place vastly different than expected. We then get to know Vivi. She's a troubled soul whose pastimes include slicing away at herself and getting lost in a world of illegal substances. Vivi lost her mother during her birth, and has carried that guilt her entire life. When things go sour between her and her sole friend during a botched drug deal, she decides that suicide could be her great escape. She doesn't manage to end it all, but instead passes out on a train track.

Vivi awakens in another world, and quickly discovers what happens after suicide. She is now trapped in a purgatory of sorts and is being pursued by the minions of the Queen, who runs her new home. Given that Vivi didn't commit suicide, she is of high priority to the Queen. She trails one of the minions back to the royal fortress to get to the bottom of things and find a way out of this hell hole.

Under the Rainbow sucks you into a dimension that could not be any more captivating. This world seems to be the best of a vivid dream, coupled with the most unsettling areas of a nightmare. This flick grabs you, and pulls you into a Wonderland-esque world that you won't want to escape, if you even could. Ramer succeeds in finding a superb balance of discontent, and comfort. The film caters on the brink of reality and daydreams, teetering from craziness to sanity and back. Ultimately, it holds a thought provoking anti suicide message. Ramer conveys this message in a subtle, none-too-pushy way, allowing the viewer to perceive it in as much or little depth as they'd like.

Overall Under the Rainbow is something that all indie movie fans should give a shot. It is far from a conventional horror film but that is what makes it so great. Although Ramer was a much younger director when this was made, you could already see signs of a well defined filmmaker. It delivers on all fronts, containing a labyrinth of a story, visceral imagery, a dark tone, and solid performances all around. This is a true breath of fresh air in the genre. GET IT HERE!  


Monday, June 1, 2015

Island of Death


Island of Death is a Greek exploitation film from 1976. Greece isn't an area that is exactly known for its cinema. Watching Island of Death always makes me wish it would have sparked some kind of trend of shock movies being filmed there. The fact that a movie like this can get such an awesome blu-ray release makes me a happy camper. Nico Mastorakis successfully takes anyone who has the pleasure of viewing this flick to a strange world where sexual perversion and murder are the norm. This is truly a Video Nasty that actually deserved its spot on the list. Hide your old women, hide your goats, Island of Death is rolling in, packing a tidal wave loaded with bodily fluids.

Island of Death starts up in a way that reminds me much of the Italian cannibal films that came around this era. This illusion doesn't last long though, it wastes little to no time getting into the filth. Within 15 minutes our lead character tries to get freaky with his significant other. When she denies his pleas, he goes out and fucks a goat... yes, you read correctly HE FUCKS A GOAT. This is just the beginning of the onslaught of madness brought forth on the screen.

The essential story here is pretty thin, and is really just an excuse to deliver shock scenes in surplus. We follow an extremely religious couple who's favorite pastime is murdering sinners. However, it appears fairly early on that these two are in fact, the biggest sinners on the island. Upon unleashing their wrath on the island they leave an alarming number of unusual crime scenes in their wake. The whole film showcases just how horribly fractured their minds are.

If I'm having a bad day, nothing does the trick like the last 20 minutes of Island of Death. The final chunk of this film is one of the greatest endings in the history of cinema. I will refrain from giving away anything here, but I'll say the insanity displayed here is unmatched by anything I've ever seen. The fact that so much ridiculous over the top perversion is crammed into such a small time span is nothing short of amazing.

Overall Island of Death is a real sight to see. It is extremely odd to think that this film was made in an attempt to cash in on the shock that came with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It honestly makes me wonder what kind of warped shit was finding its way into a Texas Chainsaw print on its way to Greece. The easily offended should stay far, far away. Island of Death makes no excuses about what kind of film it is. An alarming number of taboos are shattered throughout without hesitation. This is pure, uncut exploitation for die-hard exploitation fans, anyone else can steer clear. GET IT!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

$kumbagz


$kumbagz is the latest tale of debauchery from Florida's horror/exploitation powerhouse The Sleaze Box. I was first introduced to The Sleaze Box shortly after the release of Amerikan Holokaust  (which John Miller wrote). I was immediately taken aback by the amount of sleaze and style that was poured into nearly every shot. To this day I have still not revisited that film, not because I didn't like it, more because Bob Glazier looks EXACTLY like my uncle and happens to be naked a good chunk of his time on screen. It was a traumatic experience that I still haven't quite recovered from. I am also still avoiding contact with my uncle. 

The film opens with music from Eigh8t the Chosen One AND a woman fingering herself. From this moment on, I knew I was in for a fun ride. Stephanie is 25 and still living at home, much to the dismay of her parents. Her father thinks she is lazy and simply doesn't understand why she can't move on from hopping to different burger flipping jobs. Stephanie heads off to work after being ridiculed over her laziness. Once she gets to her dead-end job, her boss tries to get her to blow him. Stephanie makes a face when he gives some juicy details regarding his sexual quirks, and he fires her on the spot. Frustrated with life and without a way home she sits against a building and stews over another shitty day in her seemingly shitty life.

Before long, a man offers her a ride to his place for a drink. She gladly accepts and before she knows it she's drug and forced into a life of prostitution and abuse. Her $kumbag, drug addicted pimp is far from efficient. Most of Stephanie's clients are giant sacks of shit. Eventually, Stephanie finds her way out when her pimp ends up dead. Luckily, she finds a home with a drug dealer who isn't opposed to getting into the pimp game. Here she is getting a far better lifestyle and things seem to be going great. SPOILER ALERT! This is the fucking Sleaze Box, things won't stay great for long.

$kumbagz is a movie that definitely lives up to its title, and the label it is released on. The level of sleaze coming from the low-budget scene in Florida is enough to balance out the lack-thereof elsewhere in recent years. There isn't really a likable character in this movie (aside from possibly Stephanie and 6-9), but that is actually beneficial to the film. $kumbagz is a journey into some of the crime going on in Florida and all throughout the United States. Some of the settings here don't feel too far off from the area I'm in and I love it. The grit is here, the sleaze is here, and so is the violence. Some of the stylistic choices shown in Amerikan Holokaust are also on display here, but not nearly as often. In exchange for more of those moments, we get montages of ladies shaking their asses backed by rap music. These lengthy scenes were about as far from problematic as you can possibly get for me. 

Overall $kumbagz is an extremely gritty unique experience, and at the same time it managed to be fun as hell. There are many familiar faces from past Sleaze Box flicks and they all turn in awesome performances. Miller's warped sense of humor is still sprinkled in as usual and lands perfectly. This isn't a movie for the easily offended, but if you're easily offended you shouldn't be looking to places with the word sleaze in their name to get your entertainment. If you don't want exploitation, look elsewhere. All you other twisted bastards out there need to check this one out. GET IT!


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Captain Z & The Terror of Leviathan


Captain Z & The Terror of Leviathan is a new horror comedy from director Steve Rudzinski. Rudzinski has been doing low-budget, comedic genre films since 2006. This time around he's tackled a story about a resurrected pirate fighting off demonic entities.

The film revolves around a group of employees working for a museum focused on the local pirate lore in their area. Their dull lives get a strong jolt when an occult professor shows up seeking more information about the legendary Captain Z. He has come in pursuit of a medallion that the Captain allegedly had in his possession. Meanwhile, a group of braindead fishermen pull that very medallion up on their reel and madness ensues. Captain Z is resurrected, and so are the demonic forces that tried to take him out 500 years prior. Now, the museum workers must join forces with the ass kicking pirate, or be forced to walk the shit deck!

There's pirates, demons, a token braindead bombshell, and nerdy references aplenty! Captain Z has a fair share of comedy that works, but unfortunately, it only goes well about half of the time. The acting is okay, the creature effects aren't very prevalent, but when they pop up they look solid. I will say I had a good time with it just for it's charm alone. It's clear that everyone involved in the creation of this film had a good time making it. Admittedly, I wasn't exactly excited to pop this in. Off title and cover alone it just didn't appear to be up my alley, but with that being said, I genuinely ended up enjoying this quite a bit more than I expected. Given my prejudice towards pirates, this on its own is an impressive feat. I refuse to drink Captain Morgan strictly due to its pirate connection, in fact I loathe pirates nearly as much as I loathe grapes.

The movie is definitely not without flaws. Although overall it is decent lighthearted fun, there are a number of things that weigh it down. The first thing that sticks out, is a flaw that many films of this nature are guilty of. I'm all for self referential flicks when they are more comedic based, but like many others coming out lately, Captain Z does not know when to end them. Many of the jokes in the movie go about 2 beats longer than they should, and it nearly kills the humor completely. Luckily, it does not happen enough to make the film unwatchable, but it does weaken the overall viewing experience. The twist at the end (if you want to call it that) is extremely predictable as well. This isn't a horrible detriment as I didn't really expect a movie about a resurrected pirate to pack many surprises.

Overall Captain Z is decent enough Lovecraftian inspired comedy. It's fairly in line with a much cheaper The Last Lovecraft. It won't wow you, but it also won't outright offend you. When the comedy works it is truly great, but when it doesn't it falls pretty hard. It's pretty apparent while watching that the cast and crew were all big film nerds that just wanted to make a movie. If you're a Lovecraft enthusiast and low budget film fan, I'd say give this one a look on a rainy day. Outside of that though, I'd have a hard time recommending this to anyone outside of that demographic, and even then films like The Last Lovecraft, Beyond the Dunwich Horror or The Dark Sleep would come to mind first. SOFT RECOMMENDATION FOR LOVECRAFT GEEKS AND HORROR COMEDY LOVERS. PROCEED WITH CAUTION TO EVERYONE ELSE.

The Sins of Dracula

"THEY NEVER HAD A PRAYER"

The Sins of Dracula is a new film directed by Richard Griffin. Griffin has spent over a decade making his mark on the horror scene. His efforts have shown strong promise since the very beginning. Feeding the Masses and Raving Maniacs certainly show signs of a director getting his start, but these flicks also display a distinct style he has been sharpening throughout his career. Griffin already proved that he can do vampires well with his 2006 film Pretty Dead Things, so I was excited to see him back to deliver another flick with some bloodsucking villains.

Billy is a young man who's entire life revolves around his relationship with God. His sheltered lifestyle starts to collapse around him when his girlfriend convinces him to join the local theater for their next play. Billy has a very hard time adjusting to the diverse group working on the play. When he left his secluded bubble of Christianity, he wasn't anticipating encountering drug addicts and homosexuals among other things. Being around all of these sinners gets him thinking about committing a sin of his own. This temptation comes to a head when Billy has a very intimate conversation with God about his urges to beat his meat into amputee status. Meanwhile, there's a much larger problem occurring back at the theater. The head honcho of the theater department has plans to raise Dracula. Billy's concern about what to do with his junk will soon become the least of his problems.

The Sins of Dracula is essentially a cross between a Hammer horror film and a satire of Christian scare films. The movie is pretty heavy handed with the comedic elements but never really goes into full on parody mode. Many of Griffin's films walk this line. Over the years he's really managed to master the craft of finding the perfect balance between the two. The effects throughout are solid. The flick goes from great, to fucking awesome when the finale comes around. Billy ventures back into the theater to kick some vampire ass, and it is by far the highlight. That being said the first third of Sins is a truly excellent satirical setup. The movie also sports an awesome theme, although I must admit it sounds extremely similar to the training cut scenes from the NES classic Punch-Out.

Overall, The Sins of Dracula is a stellar low budget horror flick. All the jokes in the movie hit their mark perfectly and during the finale it packed some genuine surprises. I've come to the point where I expect quite a bit going into a new Griffin film and he's yet to deliver a disappointment in my book. When I've had a bad streak of indie horror flicks, I can always dig back into his filmography and find a reminder of why I fell in love with movies like these in the first place. If you're looking for a fun vampire flick this is it. GET IT!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road

WHAT A LOVELY DAY.

Fury Road marks the triumphant return of Mad Max on the big screen, after a 30 year absence. Being a huge fan of the original three films, I was obviously a bit excited for the release of this. Whether it was the classic revenge oriented flick Mad Max, the genre defining Road Warrior, or the larger than life epic Beyond the Thunderdome there was one thing the series always guaranteed; An action packed viewing that left me in awe throughout my entire childhood. Going into the theater, I'll admit I was a little nervous about how this flick would turn out. It seemed odd to finally have a new addition to the series from Miller after a three decade break. The moment the lights dimmed and the screen lit up, all of those nerves completely vanished. 

Fury Road makes no excuses or compromises about what it is. This is a post-apocalyptic film that is loaded with balls-out action from start to finish. Insane stunts litter the screen throughout the entire runtime, and a significant amount of them happen to be practical. Whether an effect is practical or CG has very little relevance in this film. It's all badass. Hell, you could re-imagine the whole movie in CG animation and it would still annihilate ten times more ass than any action flick I've seen in the theaters the past decade. 

This movie is damn near a wall to wall chase scene. It's 2 epic hours of non-stop, pulse pounding action. A full movie of constant action can easily turn into a steaming pile of shit, but Fury Road manages to avoid that, by developing characters amidst the action sequences. The character development in this film is fantastic. Our group of central characters turn in amazing performances, and manage to give themselves an impressive amount of depth, without the need for much in terms of dialogue. This is one of the many factors that made this flick flourish as well as it did. Any movie that can push the film forward without ever slowing its full throttle momentum is an extremely impressive achievement. 

Overall, Mad Max Fury Road is a modern day anomaly. I can't believe something like this has hit theaters in this day and age. They just don't make them like this anymore. Fury Road is extremely reminiscent of a classic 80's action/adventure film. I strongly urge everyone out there to go give this one a shot in theaters. Maybe if this makes a boatload we can get a renaissance of awesome action flicks, or possibly even a stream of future movies exploring the Mad Max universe. GO SEE IT IN THEATERS, THEN BUY IT WHEN IT COMES OUT. OBEY.


Malignant

HE JUST WANTS TO HELP!

Malignant is a 2013 mad scientist flick directed by Brian-Avenet Bradley. Bradley has been directing horror films since the early 2000's. Somehow, I've managed to go until now without seeing any of his work, but I have heard high praise for his last feature length effort, Dark Remains. Although it may seem strange to take an 8 year break after your most successful film, Malignant is a very good indicator that if Bradley had it then, he's still got it now.

Gary has been leading a rough lifestyle since the untimely passing of his wife. Getting blackout drunk every night has become the main objective of his after-work routine. One day, he leaves the bar and remembers the good old days, when his significant other was still present. A strange man shows up and jerks him back to reality. The man offers help to Gary, hoping to free him from the grip of alcoholism. He wakes up the next day at his lonely house with a freshly stitched up scar on his chest.

Gary is understandably a bit bothered by this fresh wound, and decides to get it checked out at the hospital. He gets a rude awakening when he is told by the nurse that he had just been checked in the previous night for a "bar fight" he was supposedly involved in. Things aren't making sense, and a nice liquor filled evening is in store. After getting blackout drunk once again, he wakes from his stairway slumber covered in blood. An email from the man who tampered with his insides gives a bit of insight. That fateful night, Gary had a device planted within him. This device allows the mysterious man to take control of Gary's mind whenever he pleases. If he drinks at all, people die. Sometimes it takes a little tough love to put an addiction to rest.

Things pick up at a rapid speed that never really lets up. The only complaint I have about the film, is that the ending didn't quite pack the punch I was anticipating during the build up. Even that doesn't manage to overall damper the viewing experience. The film keeps you guessing throughout, and there's a genuine interest to learn more about the mysterious villain. Along with the thick tension, there is also a fair amount of violence. The film isn't an all out gorefest, but there are definitely a few scenes that are quite gruesome. If eye violence is your kryptonite as it is mine, there are without a doubt a few cringe-worthy moments to be found here.

Malignant's plot is pretty unique, to say the least. The idea of a man tearing apart what is left of someone's life in order to end an addiction is interesting. All the while the mystery man is indulging in an addiction of his own; human experimentation. Brad Dourif's performance as The Man is stellar. His role as the film's villain was, without a doubt, a make-or-break kind of character. Luckily, they put the role in good hands, and Dourif delivered a performance that fit the mood of the movie perfectly.

Overall Malignant is a damn fine indie flick. The movie has a very engaging, well paced plot that keeps things moving along at a fast, yet tension building speed. Between Dourif's performance and the strong writing there's more than enough here to leave most satisfied. There really aren't many movies about mind control in recent years so this plot was a breath of fresh air. GIVE IT A WATCH!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Fear of the Dark

"TRUE HORROR HAS BEEN UNLEASHED!"

The Todd Sheets madness continues! Today we're taking a look at the last film Todd made before going on his near decade long horror hiatus. Fear of the Dark follows a group of delinquent girls taking part in a program that requires them to stay in a creepy building for a few days. Soon after they get settled in, all kinds of alarming things start taking place. The power is on the fritz, there are papers scattered all around about the history of the building as well. It's discovered that many years ago, the building was used as an orphanage. The orphanage was later shut down after the children slowly went missing.

The group of girls are spread throughout the building doing their work and meanwhile each of them are experiencing their own set or problems. Warden Wanda, who is leading this operation, gets the worst of it. She is greeted by a naked woman who vanishes into thin air. Don't be alarmed though, the fun has just begun. She is quickly replaced with an aggressive dominatrix. The dominatrix takes control of Wanda and yells out orders, like, "Lick my boot!" and, my favorite "LICK ME AND TAKE MY NECTAR!!". The dominatrix then goes down on Wanda, and apparently, she really knows how to treat a lady. Wanda's vagina begins to ooze some worrisome green goo. Terrifying vaginas will continue to be a theme throughout this film, so if that's your thing you are in luck. Rather than lighting up a cigarette after this experience, Wanda decides that a sexed up bloodthirsty rampage is the way to go.

Meanwhile a few of the other girls are quite creeped out. In typical Todd Sheets fashion, they decide that a seance would be their best bet at getting to the bottom of things. One of the girls channels some spirits that explain they are in need of help. Unfortunately not all of the spirits within the building are quite so nice. The seance takes a rough turn and the majority of the girls blackout. From here on the spirits begin to show themselves and everything goes to hell in a handbasket. The ultimate battle for survival is at hand as the remaining mortals must fight to shatter the horrible history that has lingered and haunted the area for years.

Fear of the Dark is an all out gore and sex extravaganza that wastes no time getting to the goods. Once the spirits start to really run the show, the movie completely derails into a feast of gory perversions. The remaining security guard in the group comes to a realization. With the SECURITY t-shirt he received, came great responsibility. Luckily, he is fully prepared to fulfill his duties. When things get real, he has his sword fighting and ability to rattle off one liners down to a science. As soon as he goes into full blown badass mode things take a ridiculously fun turn. The effects in this flick are awesomely gruesome. The only complaint to be had here is that the lighting at times makes it a bit hard to bask in the full glory of the nastiness. As usual with these mid-era Sheets films there are also a few CGI effects that do their job. The performances are actually fairly solid throughout as well.

Overall Fear of the Dark is another crazy fun installment into Mr. Sheets filmography. Prior to Sheets comeback, I'd say this is his movie with the best crossover appeal to please mainstream audiences, although greats like Zombie Bloodbath and Violent New Breed aren't far behind. The film does have a few shortcomings with the lighting, but otherwise there is nothing but good things to say about it. I highly recommend this one to micro-budget horror fans. Plus, we almost get a glimpse at Pamela Anderson's plastic juggage! GET IT!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Sodomaniac

"Freddie fucking Mercury has never even seen anal carnage like this before."

Sodomaniac is the first feature film from upcoming director Anthony Cantanese. The film is a send-up to the rape revenge flicks of the 70's and 80's. It blends the old school exploitation aesthetic and brings it into the modern day club scene. The killer in this movie is easily one of the best to surface in the horror genre in quite some time. There's nothing better than seeing a rape victim scoring that sweet revenge while wearing an ass mask on their head.

 The film kicks off with a crime scene showing the aftermath of a murder involving some butt guts. Soon we are introduced to a group of douchebags at the club who refer to themselves as the "Wolf Pack". The group goes clubbing constantly and unfortunately their glowing personalities just aren't enough to bag the ladies. They easily solve this problem with a little GHB, which apparently makes for some exhilarating sex. The movie wastes no time getting to the revenge. One of bros gets separated from the pack after consuming his own date rape concoction. He soon stumbles into the streets and is quickly buttfucked to death by a killer sporting an ass mask. Once the humping commences we see a shadow silhouette of the kill and hear what appears to be some sort of power tool. It appears this vigilante killer is packing quite the lethal weapon downstairs. You know the old saying, fight fire with fire, fight rape with deadly rape.

The Pack heads back to their bachelor pad to take turns with the woman they've drugged. After waking up the next morning the woman they drugged from the night before believes she just got too drunk and made a mistake. The crew taunts her before she leaves and go about planning their big annual party. Some flowers get delivered to their door with a name on it. Soon enough it becomes clear that the notes included with these flowers aren't just empty threats as the gang of rapists begin to get them one by one before they get picked off (perhaps plowed off is a better term). As the gang is slowly decreasing in numbers due to severe anal trauma the head wolf is fearless. Without any regard the packs' assholes he continues on with the party plans. As the party takes place many of the guys get a little paranoid about someone roaming around potentially wanting to scramble their poopshoots.

It must be mentioned that the film has nearly no gore to speak of. It doesn't work against the movie since it is more comedic than anything else but those who come in looking for a splatterfest will be severely disappointed. The acting is actually surprisingly solid and it is easy to see that the cast had a damn good time in the making of this. Characters like Teddy and Cunter are what really make Sodomaniac as fun as it is. The drug montage towards the beginning of the movie is pure gold. The movie also shines big time on the comedy aspect. This thing is LOADED with great one liners and gags. Once the party kicks off the comedic side really gets going.

Overall Sodomaniac is an extremely fun play on the rape revenge genre. This may sound a bit off-putting due to the subject matter of these films but Sodomaniac really tackles the sensitive topic in a lighthearted manner. The film really delivers on the comedy and that is the primary reason to check it out. Aside from those who are easily offended I think most people into horror and exploitation can enjoy this for what it is. It's a blast from the past updated for the youth of today and it does what it sets out to do pretty damn well. Sodomaniac has still yet to see a release but if this sounds up your alley I'd definitely recommend keeping an eye out for it.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Headless

 
Headless is a 2015 shocker directed by Arthur Cullipher. The film is a full-length feature expansion on the movie within a movie shown in the 2012 epic Found. Found was one of my personal favorite indie films over the past few years. The way the buildup evolved it, from a drama to a full blown horror in its finale, was near perfect. The flick had a tone that, in a way, took me back to Toetag's opus Sella Turcica. Having enjoyed Found so much, I was pretty excited to see that this was being made. With that being said, fans of the previous film should be fully aware that Headless is a completely different beast in terms of execution and tone. It should also be noted that Headless is based in 1978. Headless is one of the few throwback horror romps that doesn't go too overboard with all of the scratching/cigarette burn effects. They pop up every now and then, but don't pop up enough to get on the viewers nerves.

The film kicks off with a shot of the original footage from Found. Followed with a nice little montage of gore to introduce us to the Headless killer. Little time is wasted before the audience gets their chance to dive into what the daily routine is for a tortured soul who loves to fuck skulls. The hulking killer is "guided" by his young companion Skullboy, his silent, mysterious entity that keeps his madness going. Headless also has a bit of backstory to show how the killer became such a sick bastard. He was kept in a cage throughout his childhood by his abusive mother. His sister and mother spent a lot of their free time letting him know how sick he was. He was subjected to a diet that consisted of rabbit heads and his sisters urine. After a while, Skullboy creeps into his life, and a seed of vengeance is planted within him. Years of this torture and humiliation go by, and his sister opens the cage so her brother can "play" with her. Little does she know he would much rather use his newfound freedom to play with just her eyeball in particular.

We bounce back and forth between watching the killer's deeds and getting to know his future victims. Jess is a young, hard working woman struggling to pay the bills, while her boyfriend, Pete, lounges at the house smoking joints with his "band" The Dead Bugs. She is holding onto the relationship in hopes that he will finally grow up and get a job. She won't have much time to find out whether that was ever in the cards or not. The killer makes his way to the roller rink and sets his sights on everyone she knows and loves.

GORE GALORE! This flick is loaded with one nice effect after another. Eye removals, skull-shagging, de-limbing, it's all here, plus more. The best moment in the movie is when we get to go down into the killer's pit of corpses. That was a great setting, and you wouldn't have caught me complaining if there was a bit more of it. Gorehounds will most definitely find their fix here, although I could see fans of Found having a problem with the movie feeling a bit more like an effects reel than anything else. Sure, Headless isn't exactly flooding over the brim with plot, but neither were many of my favorite films of the 70's, so naturally, I don't have a problem with it. The story doesn't call for the drama buildup that was present in Found, and if it went that route it simply wouldn't have worked as well.

Overall Headless is a pretty damn good modern day exploitation flick! It's one of the few that doesn't feel the need to constantly wink at the audience. For that, along with it's random tendency to spiral into strange, psychedelic sequences, I can do nothing but applaud everyone involved in the making of this. The movie isn't perfect, but it delivers what I wanted from it. I'm off to continue the skull-humping madness with Header. GET IT!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Catacombs

"THERE"S A NEW FACE IN TERROR!"

Catacombs is a supernatural slasher flick from 2000 directed by Todd Sheets. This was one of the last films Sheets directed before taking a long hiatus from horror filmmaking. Kansas City has had a long reputation for having some of the best haunted houses the US has to offer and this film was set in one of them that shares the same name. The movie offers up a wide variety of things all horror fans love. Loaded with gore, atmosphere, intense lighting and just a dash of some classic blaxploitation goodness there's something here for everyone to enjoy.

Catacombs follows a group of horror fans that get summoned to a fear study at the world famous Catacombs haunted house. We get a pretty diverse cast of characters to watch get brutalized. Personal favorites of mine include a wannabe thug who will go Columbine on yo ass if you deprive him of his blunts, and of course, the loud mouthed horror fanatic who writes scripts for Troma. As a surprise for the participants the dynamic duo Mack Brazzle and Durville Sweet come into the fold as well. The conductor of the study splits them up into small groups and sends them into the haunted house to roam around. It is quickly revealed that they are not alone in the building. There's a silent killer in a white mask lurking in the darkness just waiting to shed the blood of whoever crosses his path.

As the group begins to drop like flies everyone begins to wonder whether something serious is happening or the study was just rigged to scare the living hell out of them. Unfortunately for them this is much more than just a cruel joke and nobody is safe in the Catacombs. Once the killer reveals his true motive the stakes raise with a demonic force coming into play. Our white masked killer is merely a servant to a demon that needs souls to feed on. Now the remainder of the group is forced to battle not only with the crazed maniac but also his legion of forces from the beyond. The epic battle ensues with some of those classic kung-fu kicks from Durville Sweet, but will the group be able to overcome the onslaught of the occult powers that be?

This flick is loaded with awesome death scenes. My personal favorite would have to be the nod to Fulci's City of the Living Dead. We get a double death here featuring some good old fashioned gut regurgitation and a press drill making it's way through a skull. There's also plenty more where that came from for all you splatter fans out there. For each gore shot seen you'll be happy to know that there's another one just as disgusting right around the corner. On top of all the gore we also get some pretty solid CGI effects. Sheets is one of the first shoestring budget directors that comes to mind to use effects like these in his films.


Overall Catacombs is a fun low budget slasher. There have been many flicks over the years that take place in haunted houses and the result isn't always satisfactory. That being said when Sheets sets something there it is always a recipe for greatness. The setting of Catacombs gives a naturally eerie atmosphere. The lighting is perfect, along with the set pieces and even the entrance to the building. What more could you ask for? The moment they step through that entrance the tone changes completely. Highly recommend this one to those into low budget horror. I've been on the search for it for years and it definitely didn't disappoint! GET IT!

Friday, February 6, 2015

The Fine Art

"REALITY IS IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER"
The Fine Art is the second film from St. Louis director Eric Stanze. Stanze is most well known for his later efforts like Scrapbook and Ice From the Sun, while typically his first efforts Scare Game and The Fine Art have gotten lost with age falling into the obscurity that many low budget films from the VHS era succumbed to. His first two flicks were relatively short and got chopped up and released as a compilation tape which seems even harder to come by these days than the individual releases. I was lucky enough to stumble upon a copy of this a year or two ago but unfortunately still haven't managed to track down a copy of his first release.

The movie kicks off with Julie bugging her painter friend Val to go on a blind double date. Julie and her boyfriend back out leaving Val on her own to date the stranger. Luckily for Val despite her fear of how things will go the two of them hit it off very quickly. Before she knows it he is proclaiming his love for her and she is feeling much of the same. Things couldn't be more perfect, hell they even share a love for painting! Soon the two spend a romantic night together. Val wakes up before her new man and decides to venture through the house. She stumbles upon some of his paintings which consist of intense violent images of women freshly murdered.

Val reports back to her friend Julie and describes one of the paintings. Once she mentions one displaying a woman tied up to a road sign it rings a bell that shakes both of them to the core. About a year ago there was a local serial killer that was never caught. One of his victims was found hanging from a street sign on a nearby highway. The two hatch a plan to have Val sneak into his house while Julie keeps him busy at work. They've read up on the murders and upon breaking into his house all the paintings seem to match up perfectly. Val discovers that he has some loopholes to his murderous ways. Phil has his "rules" for these killings and he has them dialed down to a fine art. An art that in his mind simply cannot be broken. Now all Val needs to do is beat him at his own game.

Stanze would later become well known in horror circles for his very visceral style with titles like Scrapbook. Although it is far from fair to call him a one trick pony as a director. Over the years Stanze has managed to show off a wide variety of skills in tackling films with heavy atmosphere, gore, and strong surreal moments. The Fine Art is very low on gore. In fact, aside from the paintings gore in the film is nearly nonexistent. That being said the lack of on screen violence is completely made up for with a healthy dose of suspense. Surprisingly for such an early work in his career (apparently a student film according to the behind the scenes) this may very well be Stanze's most suspenseful movie to date. The plot is fairly simple but kept me on the edge of my seat from start to finish. Most of the tension that kept me from drifting off into boredom can be attributed to the acting. Don't get me wrong there aren't any award winning performances present here but the small cast does a pretty damn good job.

Overall The Fine Art is a great flick that really shattered my expectations upon first viewing. The few people I had spoken with over the years that had seen this always have the complaint that it is VERY slow. While I can see why some people may feel this way I'd have to disagree. The plot trots right along pretty quickly and there isn't much unnecessary downtime. The runtime is a swift 54 minutes and it really flies by. I'd imagine most who didn't enjoy the film had more of a problem with the overall lack of gore rather than the pacing. I can recommend The Fine Art to anyone out there into low budget films and specifically Eric Stanze fans. I've always been a big fan of these shoestring budget horror flicks from the early 90's and this one is no exception. GET IT IF YOU CAN!

Monday, February 2, 2015

House of Forbidden Secrets


"SOME THINGS SHOULD STAY BURIED..."

House of Forbidden Secrets is Todd Sheets big return to horror after going nearly a decade without releasing a film. After watching Spirits I was very pleasantly surprised that the two films tie together. House of Forbidden Secrets gives a deeper look into the tale of the brothel that was briefly touched on in Spirits. Where Spirits honed in on pure, unrelenting suspense, Forbidden Secrets brings the suspense, gore, atmosphere and a plot with almost as many turns as the labyrinth within it. 

It's Jacob's first day on the job as a security guard at the Shadowview Manor. He comes in for work and gets introduced to the colorful group of people who stay in the building after hours. One of which is a clairvoyant woman who does occasional séances for people in the building. Although Jacob is very superstitious about messing with the occult he joins in on the circle after a bit or peer pressure. The seance quickly goes awry when the medium begins to lose control and an entity begins to speak aggressively through her vessel. Upon awakening she can't remember anything about what happened. Luckily there was a small crew present to film the event. Shaken to the core the woman who the seance was performed for leaves in a hurry. Once in her car she is attacked by one of the many tortured souls that are inhabit the Shadowview Manors grounds.

Everyone involved in the seance is ready to evacuate the building but they soon realize that the spirits have other plans for them. With no way to escape they are trapped in this haunted house for the long haul. Due to the seance the veil that separates our world from another with terrifying otherworldly inhabitants has been spread paper thin and the sinister possibilities are endless. With the wall being broken our small group begins their hellish descent into the vicious past of the Shadowview Manor. Hideous events had taken place there in the 1930's back when the building was used as a brothel. The group finds themselves decreasing in numbers and encountering things that the eyes can't unsee. 

The Prince of Gore without a doubt shows his true colors here. RED! There's plenty of gore to be found within House of Forbidden Secrets. The face tearing and womb removing are just a few highlights that will without a doubt have gorehounds foaming at the mouth. The death scenes are just as gruesome if not more than they were in Sheets past efforts. If he keeps going at this pace on future films a knighting will be necessary. The film also has a star studded cast for those into classic cult flicks. A definite highlight would be Dyanne Throne (Ilsa!!). Not to mention other greats like Lew Temple and Llloyd Kaufman among others. Surprisingly Lew Temple plays quite a big part in this one. I was expecting a few minutes of screen time but he definitely exceeds that and delivers an excellent performance. The whole cast really delivers solid performances though. Even though the faces may not be familiar the grand majority of them seem pretty natural in front of the camera. 

This film is loaded with so many send-ups to classic horror movies. Some are extremely subtle while some are more upfront. Surely most die hard horror fans can pick up on most of them but I'm sure on repeat viewings I'll realize I missed some. Forbidden Secrets is a true to form love letter to the horror genre. The influence from Italian horror of the 70's and 80's shines through big time in the form of surreal lighting. The movie also sports a stunning score by the one and only Fabio Frizzi who reached legendary status from his extensive work with Lucio Fulci. This score does a fantastic job at setting the tone of the movie. It really lends itself to the overall Italian vibe that comes across when watching. As a horror fan Italian horror has always been my pick of the litter. With that being said this is easily THE BEST modern day film to recapture the feeling of Italian horror from that era. The sense of dread and delirium is all there and served up in surplus.

Overall House of Forbidden Secrets is one of the greatest horror films of recent years. It delivers on all fronts. I loved Spirits but man this one solidifies the fact that Todd Sheets is without a doubt back and ten times better than ever. After nearly a decade long break for him to be able to knock the dust off and come out of the gate with something at this level is amazing. He managed to find the perfect balance of atmosphere, humor and suspense and rather than delegating each to their own sections they all coexist at once and compliment one another. This is an extremely difficult task that is not done often these days, but he knocked it out of the park with ease. Although I feel Sheets has been stiffed in the past and under-acknowledged there's absolutely no way this film can slip through the cracks and not find it's audience. WATCH OUT FOR THIS FLICKS RELEASE, IT WILL BE WELL WORTH THE WAIT!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Spirits

"EVIL. IS. REAL."


Spirits is the latest film from Todd Sheets. Being from the Kansas City area Todd Sheets has always been a hometown hero of mine. In his early days when he was churning out flicks like Zombie Rampage, Nightmare Asylum and many others you could literally feel the passion for horror flooding out of the screen on any nearby tube TV that you had the pleasure of viewing it on. These early films from him were low budget DIY horror in its most primal form and although Todd seems to dislike these efforts that's were the passion started for me. Sheets took a brief hiatus from horror to focus on his radio show Nightwatch and also encountered some health problems before returning. Luckily these past few years the master of splatter has slowly but surely been making his triumphant return to horror. Unfortunately I've still not had the privilege to see The House of Forbidden Secrets but I was lucky enough to snag a copy of the limited VHS release of Spirits.

Spirits follows a group of teens who are obsessed with the paranormal investigation shows on TV. After one of the girls in the group scores a job at the Shadowview Manor she quickly hears rumors from coworkers that the building is haunted. Being the supernatural enthusiasts that they are they decide to sneak into the buildings after hours with cameras in hand. They show up with their fancy ghost detecting gadgets and soon realize they aren't alone in the building. They bump into the janitor that has been working the late shift there for ages. He is all too ready to give insight on the rumors of the building being haunted and begins to discuss all of the evil things that have occurred there over the years. 

After a bit of conversation with the custodian the group notices the guy seems to have a few screws loose. He leads them down to a section of the building where he claims to feel the most energy and then heads off when his shift is over. The teens begin to play with the Ouija board in the dark room. Once the dial begins to move they become pretty startled. Little do they know a little Ouija board activity will soon be the least of their worries. The Shadowview Manor has a life of it's own and it believes that the supernatural isn't something that the local teens have any business meddling with. Banging starts happening throughout the building, dolls appear out of nowhere, chairs are found stacked and that's just scratching the surface of what our wannabe paranormal investigators will be experiencing.

Spirits is an extremely odd outing for Todd Sheets. It is done in the found footage style that has grown more and more popular in recent years. Normally I'm not a huge fan of this style but I love it when it's done right (which is not as often as I'd like). The really strange thing about the film though is the fact that it is completely goreless. Sheets has become well known for his extremely gory horror onslaughts that aren't shy about showing the red stuff. This proves not to be a problem for the film though, merely a surprise. The story doesn't necessarily call for much in terms of bloodshed. 

The best thing about this movie is the very convincing performances from our tiny cast. This was achieved by the genius idea of not the letting the cast know what was going to happen or when it was going to happen. This technique got some excellent authentic performances from all the actors and actresses involved. One of the things that sets this one apart from the recent batch of other supernatural found footage films is this aspect. Spirits easily has the most convincing reactions from the cast and it doesn't hurt that the dialogue doesn't consist of them mentioning the fact that they are recording every few minutes. 

The genuine performances really help cause the aspect of this movie that makes it shine above the others in this vein. Suspense. My main problem with many of the supernatural found footage films of today is the fact that the suspense is substituted for a constant array of jump scares, or, even worse moving the movie along at a turtles pace and trying to pass it off as suspense due to how shocked the audience get when something finally happens. Spirits doesn't have that problem. From the moment this begins to the very moment the credits start running this film is OOZING with suspense. When a horror flick gets my pulse racing a little more than usual that's a sign that it is a success. I watch horror movies everyday and nowadays the pulse pounding is a semi-rare occurrence for me.

Overall Spirits quickly shot up the list as one of my favorite Todd Sheets flicks and also as one of my favorites of 2014. I've got my fingers crossed that The House of Forbidden Secrets will be up to par when it gets released. Sheets sure set the bar high for his return to horror with this one. Highly recommend this to all the horror fans out there. Even if found footage and low budget horror aren't up your alley. This film surpasses the restraints of both of those things and prevails as just a damn good horror flick. Plain and simple. GET IT!

Die Die Delta Pi

 
"IT'S PLEDGE WEEK AND ALL THE GIRLS OF DELTA PI ARE JUST RUSHING TO DIE."

Die Die Delta Pi is the second feature film directed by Sean Donohue (Joe Vampire). The film is a throwback to the classic, steamy sorority house slashers of the 80's. Die Die kicks off in 1986 during Spring Break for the Delta Pi sorority. We are quickly introduced to the bitchy, wino housemother, along with the many air-headed women in the sorority. One of the girls was accepted in strictly due to one of her relatives. Her rabid interests in observatories and science in general clash with the other girls in the house. As the annual sorority bonfire is getting underway the girls hatch a plan to pull a little harmless gag on the token nerdy girl. Things go South when the gag backfires. Unfortunately the ditsy sorority girls were just one brain cell short of realizing that flammable substances near bonfires are a bad idea. As she burns one of the men at the bonfire flees to the sorority house for help only to find everyone within murdered. It is revealed early on that the housemother is the killer but the film still manages to pack a solid twist later on.

Flash forward to present day. One of the survivors from the horrific Delta Pi slayings of 1986 has now settled down and has a daughter. The Delta Pi house is finally opening back up just in time for her innocent daughter to start college. Her mother is having a tough time letting her daughter go off to college and the fact that Delta Pi is open again isn't helping matters. She has buried the memories of the horrible events years ago and the situation is bringing all of it back to the forefront. Eventually she ends up visiting the site of the old bonfire where the atrocity occurred. She bumps into another survivor of the events who is now working as a local sheriff. The only other survivor resides nearby in a mental institution. This proves to be the perfect time for the killer to strike and wipe out the remaining members from 86' and modern day all in one glorious bloodbath.

 The daughter is immediately invited into the Delta Pi along with her friends for initiation. Some stripping occurs just in time to get the spanking started! All the things that make you want to enroll in college and gain some smarts are present here. After a bit of sexiness happens the story of the murders that shut down Delta Pi is told around campfire. Meanwhile back at the college the housemother is back with a vengeance. She's armed with cyanide pills, a butcher knife and an axe and she's taking no prisoners.

The flick sports great special effects from Marcus Koch. Not to mention his hilarious and rare cameo appearance. Plenty of kills are crammed in although I think it definitely wouldn't have hurt to have some of the kills from the 86' sorority happen onscreen. The pacing for the kills works out perfectly in the end though. Between the comedic banter and various awesome kills there isn't a dull moment throughout the entire runtime. The beginning section that takes place in 1986 is so well done. The walls are covered in hysterical posters that are plays on 80's pop culture. The dialogue is killer using words like "Grody!" and "Totally!" like it's going out of style. Did I mention nudity? There's plenty of that to be found here too.

Overall Die Die Delta Pi is a phenomenal throwback. I'm a sucker for sorority slashers in general but this is definitely one of the best that comes to mind in recent years. There's been quite a few slashers in this vein that have come out these past few years but this one really hits the nail on the head. The movie doesn't reinvent the wheel but it does a damn good update on it. I was genuinely blown away by how well the plot unravels. Going into a slasher like this plot wasn't really a concern but there are some really well done turns throughout the story. Keep in mind this is super low budget fare so the acting isn't exactly the most consistent. Luckily even the weakest acting performances just add to the camp level of the flick and don't ruin it. I'd recommend this one to any slasher fans out there. It delivers on the bloodshed and in the boob department. What more could you possibly want? This may be my favorite throwback slasher since Gutterballs and that's really saying something considering how highly I hold that flick. GET IT!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

HI-8: Horror Independent Eight

"LOOK OUT V/H/S- THERE'S A NEW OLD FORMAT IN TOWN"

Hi-8 is an anthology film that is a homage of sorts to the shot on video classics of yesteryear. This underground answer to V/H/S features eight shorts from Tim Ritter, Marcus Koch, Tony Masiello, Ron Bonk, Chris Seaver, Todd Sheets, Donald Farmer and Brad Sykes. Since the announcement of this anthology I've been extremely pumped. Being a huge fan of the SOV horror classics myself immediately after seeing the list of filmmakers I had a fangasm (luckily blood-free).

The first short is "Switchblade Insane" directed by Tim Ritter (Truth or Dare, Killing Spree). Ritter's short starts this flick off right with one of the most ambitious stories of the bunch. A housewife who believes everything about her relationship is fairly normal comes to the realization that her husband is the serial rapist/murderer she keeps hearing about on the news. She follows him to one of his rituals with gun in hand. She's fully prepared to end it all until she sees his victim laid out and prepared for carving. Ritter manages to come up with a nice cohesive twist within his short stretch of runtime. "Switchblade Insane" proves to be one of the sleaziest of the bunch as well. Next up is "A Very Bad Situation" directed by Marcus Koch (100 Tears, ROT). An insane meteor shower has turned society upside down and we get to experience it in the claustrophobic environment of a garage. This segment features a tiny cast with a big amount of tension. This one flies by and goes out with an awesome face splitting bang. This is one that you just have to see. Very straightforward and well done. It delivers all the goods I've come to expect from Koch over the years.

"The Tape" is the third short and the directorial debut of Tony Masiello. I was unsure what to think of this one given that I'm not at all familiar with Masiello. Luckily this ends up being one of the best sections of the whole film. As a rabid fan Masiello really captures that love for SOV horror. An employee at a closing video rental store manages to snag an old VHS copy of an unreleased flick called "Bloodgasm". He goes home and pops it in the trusty VCR and is mesmerized by what he is seeing. So much so that he fucks his girlfriend without ever taking his eyes off of the hyper realistic gore. He soon decides that he must release the film. After trying to contact the cast he comes up empty handed until he finally reaches the actor who played the killer. Little does he know he may be getting himself into a shitstorm that he didn't anticipate.

Then we have "Gang Them Style", a hilarious romp directed by Ron Bonk (City of the Vampires, The Vicious Sweet). This segment had me laughing my ass off from start to finish. We're introduced to our 80's style badass Mongoose right out of the gate as he busts into a old folk's home to save his grandma. A zombie outbreak is at hand and Mongoose now has to save all of the senior citizens. Unfortunately for our hero the task of getting everyone to the van ten feet away may be too much to handle. This short KICKS ASS. It features so many great one liners with perfect delivery in such a short amount of time. Now the strangest of the bunch "Genre Bending" directed by Chris Seaver (I Spit Chew On Your Grave, Terror At Blood Fart Lake). This segment follows a woman getting stalked constantly by a local creeper. The stalker gets closer and closer in hilarious fashion (at one point he even appears between her legs). The short takes a turn when the stalker sneaks up on the woman while she's doing dishes. This one will definitely not be for everyone as it tries to put a humorous spin on rape. Not all the jokes here worked for me but it got a few laughs throughout.

The sixth short is "The Request" directed by Todd Sheets (Dead Things, Violent New Breed). Sheets shot the film in the radio station he uses for his Night Watch radio-show. The tale is of a radio host who is literally being haunted by his past. This short is easily the most traditional of the eight featured. "The Request" is a fairly subtle horror tale that would fit right in with Creepshow or the classic horror anthology shows of the past. Number seven is "Thicker Than Water" directed by Donald Farmer (Savage Vengeance, Scream Dream). It kicks off with a man trying to calm down his significant other. Crazy bitch would be an understatement here. He then discovers that she's pregnant and she leads him to the garage for a little surprise. She has his ex-girlfriend tied up and covered in blood and is ready to put an end to his past. The victim is played by Vanessa Nocera (Scaremaker, Wooden Stake), the metalhead in me had to mention this. Complete with Draino chugging this one delivers the goods.

The final short is "The Scout" directed by Brad Sykes (The Pact, Death Factory). Sykes conceived the idea for Hi-8 and also directed the wraparound along with this story. I've been a fan of all the Sykes films I've seen thus far but this short threw me for a loop. It follows a director and actress scouting for locations in the desert. After the car breaks down the sassy actress decides to go off on her own to find the road. She comes back and the director is gone. After finding the camcorder she discovers something very strange on the tape. I honestly just didn't really dig the ending of this one. I understand the idea of keeping the end open for an open interpretation, but throwing something nonsensical in with no explanation just didn't sit well with me in terms of how it meshed with the other shorts. On the other hand though I enjoyed the wraparound Sykes did much more. It really captures the essence of low budget filmmaking and takes a turn for the worst when the no budget filmmakers get a nice dose of real life horror.

Overall Hi-8 delivers the good stuff. You get eight great indie horror directors hitting you from eight different angles. The styles vary greatly from one story to the next. I was planning to accompany this review with a favorite to least favorite list of the shorts but in the end that proves to be more and more difficult the more I think about it. The shorts are all excellent for completely different reasons. In terms of humor "Gang Them Style" definitely takes the cake, but if I were to go with most well made I'd probably say "The Request" edged out the others. It's safe to say that "The Scout" and "Genre Bending" were the weakest for me but they weren't really bad by any means. All eight tales here blend together to create an extremely entertaining anthology and that's all that really matters in the end. Highly recommend this one for horror fans all across the board. Even those not into SOV or indie horror in general should be able to find something of value here. A fun movie is a fun movie, and there's no denying that regardless of your perspective. GET IT! I've got my fingers crossed for Hi-8 Part 2 with McBride getting in on the action!
ABOVE: AN ACTOR REENACTMENT OF ME WATCHING HI-8 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Cryptic Plasm


Cryptic Plasm is the latest flick from underground gore guru Brian Paulin. Paulin has been on a mean streak with a string of gore films that should go down as classics for years to come. Films like Fetus are exactly what I look for in horror. It sported a plot that was unique and effects that were enough to make the unsuspecting guests at my house gag. Even though his previous effort Blood Pigs suffered from a frame rate difficulty it was still easy to look past it with the inventive ideas and crazy ambitious nastiness that was brought forth. This is something you can always anticipate when going into one of Paulin's films. Ambition is never an issue and luckily unlike many others who can get a little too ambitious for their own good, Paulin actually has the talent necessary to pull off the insane ideas he comes up with.

The film follows a two man crew on a cryptozoologist show. In Search of Sasquatch style. Unlike most of these shows everywhere these guys go the footage delivers the goods. After a few successful shoots in various locations the crew makes their way into an abandoned town. An immediate eerie feeling washes over them when they step foot in the ghost town. Rightfully so, the sight itself is creepy. Houses still appear to look as though they would in any neighborhood. Cars decorate all the driveways and upon entering a house it appears that everyone was evacuated very abruptly.

David and his camera man soon realize that this may not be the case at all. A government evacuation seems likely upon first glance but once the crew sees something they can't unsee the situation seems to be much more complex. While investigating in one of the homes David catches a double of himself roaming around the house. He then freaks out big time and runs for the woods. The crew heads home shaken to the core. Unfortunately for our duo, you can't just leave this town and forget about it. It sticks with you and once you visit it just gets worse and worse as time goes by.

I'll refrain from going much deeper on plot but there's actually a lot of it crammed in for a 75 minute film. Soon after leaving the ghost town the slow descent into hell begins for the two leads. Cryptic Plasm wastes no time turning from slightly strange, to a fucking surreal nightmare. Paulin's effects skills are displayed in completely balls out fashion. This flick gets very INTENSE towards the end. So many great effects are packed into to the final act that it is truly mindblowing. I'd recommend many filmmakers to watch the final moments of this movie and take some damn notes. We need some more of this ambition in horror in general, independent and mainstream alike.

Overall Cryptic Plasm is an amazing horror flick. Brian Paulin has done it yet again. Much like the early work of Clive Barker and even underground greats like Olaf Ittenbach, Paulin manages to use his effects skills to make the viewer feel as though they've entered a whole new world. Seeing what he can do on such a low budget is astounding but I couldn't even begin to imagine the kind of epic he could create with a million dollars at his disposal. It's too bad the mainstream is all too ready to throw their money in the wrong places. I can't praise his work enough. In this day and age many low budget filmmakers are so prepared to go the self aware cheesed up horror comedy route. While there is a place for that it is great to have people like Paulin and a few others keeping a balance in this area. This is serious horror for serious horror fans with a hefty amount of gore to back it up. Even if you're not one to normally one to give horror on a budget a shot I'd still recommend giving this one a watch. GET IT.
If Cryptic Plasm sounds like it may be up your alley then this link may be of interest. Brian Paulin currently has a crowdfunding campaign going so that he can press professional DVD's for the film. Give the link a look and support independent horror if you can swing it. HELP FUND CRYPTIC PLASM!!!