Movie Review: Julia’s Eyes (2010)

Movie Review

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When I see Guillermo del Toro’s name attached to a project, I immediately associate it with quality; as a fan of every movie he’s been involved with in some capacity I’ve seen up until now, I have yet to be let down.  That was until I saw Julia’s Eyes, Guillem Morales’ mystery thriller which comes up falling way short of being the excellent film it could have been.  And it’s a wasted opportunity.

Julia’s Eyes opens with a blind woman in a basement preparing to hang herself; but she’s not alone, as someone – or something – else in the room with her.  Whatever is there, it’s completely invisible until it helps her dispose of the stool.  Suspicious of the circumstances of the death, the victims twin sister, Julia (Belen Rueda), decides to investigate along with her husband, but like her sister, Julia suffers from a rare disease that’s causing her to lose her sight too; all the while being stalked by a malevolent force.

The problem with this movie is that the story is completely bonkers and unsatisfying.  The first hour is great: a thrilling, spooky cat and mouse chase, sitting on the fence between reality and the supernatural is when it’s at it’s most effective.  There are some minor pacing issues, but not enough to take away from the unfolding mystery.  But then it all goes down hill; spiralling into a cliché-filled mess that’s as predictable as it is convoluted. Never before have I seen a movie crawl up its own butt and be content to drag out its own boring demise for so long.  We know exactly what’s going to happen, yet it insists on dragging it out to the point you wished you’d hung yourself along with the protagonists sister at the start; just so you could avoid 2 hours of boredom.  Okay that was an exaggeration… but it does falter big time.

Strong performances from the cast and beautiful cinematography are enough to carry you until the end.  Furthermore, it’s packed with suspense throughout; even if it does lose it’s effect because you’re counting the minutes until the end credits roll.  At times, the dialogue is a little corny, but there are still some moments of tenderness and beauty between Julia and her husband.  Again, like I said: the performances are impressive.

As a director, Morales shows a lot of potential and I’m sure he’ll go on to make many great movies in the future.  Unfortunately, this one just missed the mark.  Don’t take my word for it though; this was a well received movie, and it does have moments of brilliance, so check it out for yourself.  5/10.

Directed By:

Guillem Morales

Written By:

Guillem Morales & Oriol Paulo

Starring:

Belen Rueda, Lluis Homar, Pablo Derqui

Genre:

Horror, Mystery, Thriller

Running Time:

118 min

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Article: 5 Sequels That Need To Happen….

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It would be easy for me to sit here and vent my frustrations about franchises producing sequel after sequel for monetary gain at the expense of quality; but the Hellraiser franchise is a prime example of just that and I love every movie up until Revelations more than my own family, so I’ll steer clear of sounding like a broken record of the film fan community, who are tired of the regurgitating franchises they continue to support and encourage.  I’m guilty of it myself too: as much as I’m absolutely disheartened by the Saw series as much as its creators are of its mundane existence, I can choose to not see it and watch something better.  However, I will be the first person in the theatre seeing Furious 7 when it’s released in April, handing over my money willingly and feeding the corporate machine.

The fact is, it’s easy to complain about sequels, much the same as it is to complain about remakes.  One can argue that the state of the industry is cluttered with too much of both, and to an extent I agree with it.  But as long as we support them, they’ll keep happening.  And sometimes we enjoy them – as good as originality is, enjoying a movie regardless is better.  I’d love to see the backing and promotion a Saw movie receives given to an up and coming indie masterpiece or trashy monster caper.  It’d be nice to see Gareth Evans with an Expendables resources to go out and make the biggest and baddest action movie ever.  But, the truth is: it doesn’t matter.  People are quick to use more sequels to stale franchises to point out what’s bad about cinema; but let’s not forget, when a franchise is on fire, it leaves us wanting more.  I genuinely hope that there’s another 700 Fast & The Furious movies.

However, let us also remember that some sequels have been essential to beautiful storytelling: Nolan’s Batman trilogy is an example of that, as is Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings.  If either of those franchises didn’t wrap up conclusively, I’d have cried myself to sleep to this very day.  In fact: I’d probably be dead right now, having died of a broken heart.  Some sequels are necessary to enhance a story, and some are just pure fun.  Who doesn’t love seeing Freddy repeat himself? Who doesn’t welcome a rewritten psychological thriller with Cenobites just to be marketed as a Hellraiser? Who doesn’t enjoy Vin Diesel trash cars?  And – more importantly – who doesn’t like seeing good stories told fully?

This article will discuss the movies I want to see sequels to personally: this is only a written extension of my desires.  It’s highly plausible that none of them will ever see the light of day; but I have limited it to five that could, maybe… just MAYBE… make it on to the screen one day.

1 – Dredd (2012)

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Despite screenwriter Alex Garland saying that Dredd 2 is unlikely, the world isn’t prepared to give up hope just yet.  On a production budget of 45 million, Dredd only managed to rake in about 60 million; but that’s including both worldwide box office and domestic video sales.  I’m unaware of the domestic video sales worldwide, but I’m sure it was adequate since everybody fucking loved this movie.  However, the general consensus is that it performed poorly, so a sequel might never happen.

Of course, Dredd might find itself subject to another reboot with others at the helm; the 2012 version was independently financed and consisted of a B list cast.  With comic book properties a usual sure fire box office smash, I could see a studio buy the rights, bring in a name director and cast The Rock, so never say never.  But Karl Urban was fantastic as the big guy and I want to see that guy shoot people.

2 – Hellboy 3

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The thought of Hellboy 3 never happening is the equivalent of a world without The Dark Knight Rises, Return of the King or a new series of Twin Peaks.  Remember all that crap I talked about closure earlier?  Well this is a prime example of that.  Hellboy 2: The Golden Army teased a turn to the dark side for our big horny hero, as well as his imminent fatherhood.  My point being: it was building up to something freaking huge.  It had an ongoing narrative that’s just been left dangling in the air like an old man’s wrinkly balls on a nudest beach.  If this doesn’t happen, I’ll march.  Oh, I’ll march.  All the way to my bedroom to cry into a pillow.

What’s keeping it back is the lack of popular demand to justify the budget needed for a third; although the first 2 were financially successful at the box office and home video, they didn’t perform well enough for the studio to give Del Toro an Avengers budget, basically.  Fuck Avengers.

Again, never say never.  But prepare for never.  For the world is a cruel place.

3 – Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer (2007)

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The possibility of Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer 2 is very much alive and well: according to Jon Knautz, the wonderful man who gave us this amazing horror comedy, he does plan to make it some day.  If you watch the movie you can see that it’s a precursor to an ongoing story; most of the movie sets up the character discovering his new role in life as a monster slayer, and the movie ends with him about to go on to bigger things.  So, it probably will happen. And the delay makes sense to allow the character to age for the next instalment.

Jon Knautz, however, has this nasty little habit of being an incredibly imaginative filmmaker who keeps making amazing movies.  He makes movies we all enjoy and hasn’t repeated himself once.  Seriously though, we need more directors like Jon – but we also need more Jack Brooks.

4 – Deep Rising (1998)

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Let’s be honest, the potential sequel to Deep Rising is as dead in the water as the doomed hijackers who fell pray to the sea creatures in the original movie.  Despite it’s cult classic legacy, it just didn’t perform well enough because cinema goers aren’t as into sea monsters as they should be.  What sucks is that it set up perfectly for a sequel, but it was never to be.  Famke Janssen is still hot to this day though.

5 – House of Re-Animator

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It’s a horrible world we’re living in right now when horror icons such as Stuart Gordon and Brian Yuzna and can’t get any new projects up and running.  The 4th instalment of Gordon and Yuzna’s demented Re-Animator series has been stuck in development hell longer than I’ve been stuck on hoping that it happens.  I am a huge fan of this series and the men who brought it to life, so it breaks my heart to think we’ll never see it with the original cast and crew ever again.  Of course, it’s a guaranteed certainly for a remake one day; but what I wouldn’t give for one last swansong with Jeffrey Combs as Herbert West, and Gordon or Yuzna behind the camera.

So, there’s my 5 most wanted sequels.  What are some of yours?

Movie Review: Spring (2014)

Movie Reviews

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I’m a sucker for a good love story, I admit it:  As a teenager I discovered Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise (1995) and became an instant fan, discovering all of his old films and keeping track of his career ever since.  Followed by 2 sequels, the Before trilogy has been a regular viewing fixture in my life; the characters feel like old friends and I like to visit them from time to time.  I’m have an emotional attachment to these characters because they feel so real; and now with Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson’s mumblecore fantasy hybrid, Spring, I have found myself smitten once again; the same way I was as a teenage boy, sitting in my underwear, watching love blossom between Jesse and Celine.

Evan (Lou Taylor Pucci) has just lost his mother and decides to take a trip to Italy to avoid problems at home; he’s in a dead end job and possibly facing assault charges, so on the advice of a one night stand, he boards the first random flight the next day.  When he arrives he meets the beautiful and mysterious, Louise (Nadia Hilker), and they spark up a romance.  However, Louise is harbouring a dark secret.

Spring is, first and foremost, a love story about two troubled characters meeting by chance and discovering an undeniable bond.  The chemistry between them is natural: the way they get to know each other is naturalistic, whether it’s taking their time to roam the streets deep in conversation, or just sharing a bottle of wine, it all feels very organic and natural.  The mumblecore aesthetic is never pretentious in the slightest.

The horror/fantasy element might be too divergent for some to accept, and it’s understandable why one might feel that way; with such a sweet blossoming love story between 2 people who are extremely likeable, you just want to see them live happily ever after without complications.  But, the addition of the darker elements only strengthens the idea of true love; if you can love someone unconditionally, regardless of what they’re like at their worst, then you’ve found the one, and that’s the message I believe the story is portraying.  A great man who goes by the name, Haddaway, once asked the question, what is love?  Love is embracing someone at their very best and worst.  That’s what love is, people.

Spring deserves all of the plaudits it’s receiving; it’s a wonderful love story that isn’t afraid to remind you that love can be as difficult as it can be beautiful.  Benson and Moorhead have created the ultimate date movie for those who aren’t interested in Hollywood’s unrealistic fables.  This isn’t a horror movie at all; but the idea of our protagonists perhaps not getting the happily ever after they deserve is more horrifying than a monster eating people.  If there’s a hopeless romantic inside you then Spring is going to tug on your heart strings.  From locations; to story; to performances; to the score, this is the most beautiful movie you’re likely to see this year, and it accomplishes this without hitting any corny high notes.  9/10

Directed By:

Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead

Written By:

Justin Benson

Starring:

Lou Taylor Pucci, Nadia Hilker, Vanessa Bednar

Genre:

Romance, Sci-Fi, Horror

Running Time:

109 min

Movie Review: The Loved Ones (2009)

Horror, Movie Review

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Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned!  High school stoner, Bret (Xavier Samuel), finds that out the hard way in Sean Byrne’s prom night predicament, The Loved Ones.  Sitting somewhere between a John Hughes romantic teen comedy and Misery (1990), with torture porn sprinkled on top, this should be a lesson to all parents to punish their spoilt brat kids at a young ages before they become too demanding and expectant.  One day they’re asking for Barbie’s then before you know it it’s power tools.  Of course, it’s different when the father also happens to be a psycho with an incestuous crush on his daughter; so I can see why a child would grow up to have problems in that particular situation.

After suffering the loss of his father, Bret is a stoned, suicidal wreck who thinks his situation can’t get any worse; that’s until he rejects Lola’s (Robin McLeavy) prom invitation because he’s already going with his girlfriend.  However, Lola isn’t used to being told ‘no’, so she has her father kidnap Bret over for supper.  Like most teenage girls, she’s looking for her Prince Charming; she is nicknamed Princess after all.  What ensues is a date from hell.

If you’re thinking that this is just another torture porn movie then you couldn’t be more wrong; while it does follow the formula of kidnapping and torturing a captive in the most gruesome ways imaginable, The Loved Ones has a lot more going for it than human butchery.  It takes that tried and tested premise that was done to death in the Noughties to the point it’s still boring in 2015, and adds layers to it such as a memorable spoilt brat villain, pitch black comedy, teen angst drama and a few wincing twists and turns that’ll make your jaw drop.  By taking the concept of a torture flick, turning up the volume to psychotic and infusing it with a little teen rom-com, you have a formula which would suggest hipster garbage; but here, it works as it balances humour with unhinged, demented horror perfectly.  Moreover, Princess is both terrifying and hilarious as a daddy’s girl used to getting her own way.  Hyperbole it is not when I saw that Lola deserves to be placed in the upper echelons of horror iconography alongside the likes of Freddy and Leatherface.  And don’t be too concerned if you find her insatiably attractive in her pink dress and psychotic meltdowns.

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Written & Directed By:

Sean Byrne

Starring:

Xavier Samuel, Robin McLeavy, Victoria Thaine

Genre:

Horror

Running Time:

84 min

Mark my words: this is a stonewall modern classic that’ll give you a boner, then proceed to bleed all over you.  10/10

Movie Review: Chocolate Strawberry Vanilla (2014)

Comedy, drama, Movie Reviews

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The mentally fractured loner reaching breaking point isn’t a new concept in the annals of cinema, but Stuart Simpson’s dark pyschological dramedy Strawberry Chocolate Vanilla ranks among the best of them.  A movie about an ice cream man who’s addicted to a soap opera to the point of delusion might sound silly on paper; but thanks to a great script and a master class performance by Glenn Maynard, Chocolate Strawberry Vanilla is a powerful movie that’ll stay in your mind long after the end credits roll.  It’s also yet another absolute gem from Australia; further reaffirming that their cinema is the best in the world.

 Glenn Maynard stars as Warren Thompson, an ice cream truck vendor who oscillates between living in fiction and reality.  Warren is tormented by bullies in his daily life and has spent the majority of his years alienated; his only solace comes in the form of a soap opera which he watches for the beautiful Katey George (Kyrie Capri).  Then one day, Katey starts to visit his ice cream van and the line between daydreams and reality becomes a blur.

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The film opens with our protagonist as a sobbing mess, having just accidentally run over his own cat.  Immediately we’re made aware of just how tragic his situation is, and it makes for uncomfortable viewing watching Warren project such heartfelt grief over the loss of his beloved pet; but there is some darkly comical humour to be found and it sets the tone for the rest of the film, which balances offbeat humour with disturbing and tragic psychological drama.

The supporting cast are comprised of characters who are mostly obnoxious, vile human beings: there’s a pimp who stands under a bridge who spends every scene he’s in with Warren abusing him either verbally or physically, for a start.  The pimps girlfriend’s son also just happens to be a thieving little bastard whose crimes come back to haunt Warren.  Furthermore, the neighbourhood teenagers poke fun at the way he walks.  To put it bluntly: you want to see these people get their comeuppance.  However, Warren does have one friend in the girl who works at the store, and their interactions make for some shy pleasantries in an otherwise unpleasant series of interactions.

On top of soap operas, Warren’s other love is westerns.  There’s a scene where he imagines himself as a heroic Man With No Name-like figure; in real life he’s pushed around daily, but in his fantasies he’s a bad ass of the Old West.

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I can’t praise Glenn Maynard’s performance with words that’ll do it justice; this is a case of it having to be seen to believe it.  Chocolate Strawberry Vanilla might not ever be held in as high regard as Taxi Driver, but Warren, in his own right, is a character who’s as powerful as Travis Bickle.  In some respects, Chocolate Strawberry Vanilla is a lot like Taxi Driver by way of James Gunn’s Super (2010).  They all share fractured central characters, but here we see an offbeat quality similar to the latter that really screws with your emotions.  Will you laugh?  Yes.  Will you feel chills ripple down your spine?  Yes.  Will you hit a mild depression?  Probably.  But the beauty of this movie is that it plays so many cards, evokes every emotion and seamlessly shifts between gears without ever losing tonal balance or comprising its narrative.

This definitely isn’t a movie for everyone, but, for me, it catered to my tastes.  I thoroughly recommend it if you want something a little bit left of the norm.  It’s a fearless film; a dark, oft-hilarious character study that’s impossible to pigeon-hole.  As funny as it is harrowing, I felt it to be very moving and bittersweet as well; loneliness is more often than not a tragic theme to explore, and Chocolate Strawberry Vanilla delves into how it can affect mental health.  Unlike other similar movies of its kind, this one stands out by having restraint, and it makes the pay-off that little bit more satisfying.

And now I have another director and actor on my radar to look forward to in future.

Directed By:

Stuart Simpson

Written By:

Addison Heath

Starring:

Glenn Maynard, Kyrie Capri, Aston Elliot

Genre:

Comedy, Drama

Running Time:

85 mins

Movie Review: Mall (2014)

drama, Movie Reviews

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I’m not the world’s biggest Linkin Park fan, but when I found that their jockey of discs, Joe Hahn, directed a thriller about one of my favourite movie subjects (mass murder) I just had to check it out immediately.  Mall massacres, school shootings and other unfortunate tragedies have become too common of an occurrence in the real world in recent memory, but I have to admit that I love movies that deal with these issues.  Mall deals with the events leading up to and after the events of a massacre; we follow a group of characters as they go through the motions of their existences, witnessing how they’re all connected and how the aftermath of the events affected them.  The protagonist is a socially awkward pseudo-intellectual who thinks he has it all figured out; but through the ashes of the tragedy the night takes him on a journey of self-discovery which might just mark the first day of the rest of his life.

Mall opens on a sinister note as we witness a young man shoot his mother dead in cold blood before setting their trailer alight and making his way to the mall with a bag full of guns.  Elsewhere, Jeff (Cameron Monaghan) is trying to woo aspiring teenage model, Adelle (India Menuez), with his brains; but she just wants the dick and some fries.  After bumping into some friends, he drops some ecstasy and luckily avoids being shot.  What ensues after the shooting is a series of events for each character as their true natures are revealed: Adelle is basically an emotionally desolate bitch who likes beating off perverts in handcuffs; the killer is hiding out in a nearby forest trying to as the police hunt him down; and Jeff makes his way to a bar where he meets a woman that triggers a series of weird occurrences for him throughout the night.

The central theme of Mall is emptiness and it’s evident in every characters personality: Jeff identifies himself as a wolf, based on a book and it’s not until a chance encounter with the killer that he eventually starts to find his own identity.  Adelle is promiscuous and her existence is only validated through helping guys get off.  The killer is an angry person of course, but he certainly left his mark on the world through his mass murdering antics, so power to the guy, I say.

Joe Hahn’s direction is gritty, but he does incorporate his music video past to great effect to enhance storytelling and convey drug trippiness.  I’m eagerly anticipating his next project – whatever it may be – and I hope he considers directing movies for future consistent artistic output.  Sure, there are a few minor flaws here and there: the characters backstories could have been fleshed out some more, for instance, but overall I found it to be a wonderful piece of cinema that was strangely uplifting.  8/10

Directed By:

Joe Hahn

Written By:

Sam Bisbee (screenplay) & Eric Bugosian (novel)

Starring:

James Frecheville, Cameron Monaghan, India Menuez

Genre:

Drama

Running Time:

88 min

Interview: Tyler Hosley

Interview

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Tyler Hosley might be a name you’re unfamiliar with just now, but I have a feeling he’s going to scar our minds forever in the near future.  Tyler might have the face of an angel, but his mind is a strange, demented and hilarious place even Satan himself is afraid visit.  Him and I have shot the poop for about 3 years now; whether it’s discussing our love of movies or ideas for our own, we always have fun conversations and I feel it’s about time I more people get to know this guy.  Unlike me, Tyler actually has the technical know-how when it comes to making films, and throughout the years I’ve had the luxury of watching him grow as a filmmaker.  Up until now he’s just made some zero budget shorts starring his friends, family and himself – all of which have been a lot of fun to watch.  Earlier today I got the chance to turn our conversations into a well constructed interview, and I’m sure when you read it you’ll agree that he’s a very cool dude with a love and passion for movies we can all appreciate.  Enjoy.

Oh!!!  He also just happens to be the world’s biggest fan of Rob Zombie and The Spice Girls.  True story.

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Now, before we get started on the interview I’d like to give you a taste of what Tyler’s work is like.  This film in particular never fails to absolutely floor me.  It captures his sense of humour and style perfectly – white trash, cocaine, serial killers, necrophilia and 80’s music.  I swear you’ll never listen to Tony Orlando the same way again in your life!

1) Hi Tyler. How are you today, my friend?

I’m doing awesome, brotha! Enjoying the heat, it got a little too cold in Florida for the past couple months, I mean, really, there is a reason why I live in Florida, goddammit! Haha

2) When did you decide that you wanted to become a filmmaker and how did you go about making it a reality?

I was always making movies as a kid, me and some buddies used to take VHS cameras and make these grainy, cheap-ass slasher flicks with ketchup blood & these goofy-looking cheap masks from the dollar store, but I can actually tell you that the moment I realized I wanted to make movies was hearing Rob Zombie talk about him directing one of his music videos back in the 90’s, how he loved the creative process of it all and such, and how it was like creating little short films for his music, I’ll never forget that little moment in my life, dude! That’s also around the time I became the uber Rob Zombie fanatic that you know right now!

3) Your shorts thus far have varied between horror, comedy and crime; and they’ve often incorporated all 3 to make dark, hilarious and gruesome stories. To those who haven’t seen your work yet, how would you sum up a typical Tyler Hosley film?

Awful people, doing awful, horrible things….BUT, making you laugh, and feeling like shit because you laughed! haha! Which means having ‘Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree’ blasting in the background, while a neo-nazi rapes a dead woman!

4) You live in Florida: Has growing up there influenced your work any?

Kinda, I always have my work set in the south, in some way shape or form. Not Florida in-particular, I love this state dearly, but I love pretty much like anything set in the south.

5) Your films definitely aren’t for everyone due to their dark subject matter; which is often portrayed in a humorous way with uplifting songs to accompany it. Have you ever offended anybody with your work?

Oh yes, I’ve offended many people, I can’t remember exactly what was said, but I think the guy called one of my short films “Misogynistic, juvenile smut, with nothing but disgusting, grammar school dialogue” or something along those lines! haha! Seriously though, I consider that the highest of compliment, because, really? Is the dude wrong?

6) What films have been the most inspiring or influential to you and why?

Sooooo many, bro. The films of Rob Zombie, Harmony Korine, Larry Clark, those three guys inspire me in so many ways, those are my 3 filmmaking heroes! It’s like when I watch The Devil’s Rejects, or Gummo, or Another Day In Paradise, after the movies are over, I just wanna pick up a camera and make something! It’s such an amazing feeling, man!

7) What makes a film great for you? Are there certain qualities that make a film better for you?

For me, a movie that makes you feel like complete shit, makes you feel you dirty, etc! Just depressing, bleak, brutal cinema, with terrible people as the lead characters! Those are the qualities that I look for when watching a film, and what I personally always connected & gravitated towards. I just recently re-watched Larry Clark’s Bully again for about the 100th time, and everybody in the movie is just awful, sweaty, disgusting human beings, and I love every second of it!

8) Tell us about your creative process when you sit down to make a short.

It’s funny, dude, my mind is always thinking of different movie ideas, doesn’t matter what the hell I’m doing, I can guarantee there’s a short film idea running through my head at that very moment, but when I actually sit down to write the script, my ideas always completely change! Even when shooting the scripts, I always change shit up. My short film ‘Immoral’ which is actually playing at The Mad Monster Party Film Fest in a couple weeks, that short has a couple drastic tonal changes I changed during filming, and when you see it, you can see those tonal changes as clear as day, but I think it totally worked, especially for that particular short! But yeah, my process is just rollin’ with what comes to warped brain at that very second! haha

9) Since knowing you I’ve witnessed your progress as a filmmaker from the very beginning until now, and you’ve came on leaps and bounds since the beginning. I honestly think you’re ready to make a full feature. So can we expect a Kickstarter or Indiegogo any time soon?

I think that’s a very, very strong possibility, sir! Even if I didn’t start up a Kickstarter, I might just make a feature length with a micro-budget, I make short films for practically nothing, so I think even 500 bucks could go a long way, considering how I shoot and stuff.

10) What are you currently working on? Furthermore what do you have coming up in future and what is your dream project you have cooked up in your twisted mind?

My next short film is called ‘Steps’ about a heroin addict who’s obsessed with fucking his staircase, because honestly, who hasn’t thought about humping a staircase when walking up’em, at least once, everybody has! As for dream projects, I have a script written called ‘Crack Head Holocaust.’ It’s basically a character study of 5 different people living in a 5 story crackhouse, and in-between all those stories, there’s a slasher film thrown in involving a woman-hating serial killer wearing an S&M gimp mask. I will get that fucking movie made one day, that’s a goddamn guarantee!

11) Just how much do you love The Spice Girls?

No words, bro, no words to describe my love for those ladies! Definitely the best band of all time, lyrical genius, amazing stage presence, seriously, no other girl band will EVER come close!

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If you want to more shorts then check out his channel on that Youtube.  If you want to get in contact with Tyler then you can follow him on Twitter here; and if you like to discuss movies with a group of fun, friendly people then you can find Tyler and myself over at this FB Group discussing movies daily with like-minded nerds.  Hope to see you there.

Movie Review: Zombeavers (2014)

Movie Reviews, Zombeavers (2014)

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Zombeavers based on title alone is reason enough to watch it if you’re the type of person who sees a movie called Zombeavers and decides that it’s a must see.  However, with such an incredible name and concept, it has high expectations to live up to: a simple, gory, creature feature would suffice of course, but Zombeavers goes one step further by being a legitimately fun and witty horror comedy.  One could be forgiven for assuming it’s just another Syfy fare which ruins its awesome title with bad execution; all the while assuming it’s charming.  Granted: Zombeavers is a self-aware silly romp that treads on familiar ground; but it’s also a witty little delight with bite that’s filled with all sorts of ridiculous surprises.  So, to those of you dismissing this as another piece of crap: may your souls be DAMMED.  Get it?

Zombeavers is an action-packed horror/comedy in which a group of college kids staying at a riverside cabin are menaced by a swarm of deadly zombie beavers. A weekend of sex and debauchery soon turns gruesome as the beavers close in on the kids. Riding the line between scary, sexy and funny, the kids are soon fighting for their lives in a desperate attempt to fend off the hoard of beavers that attack them in and around their cabin.

The movie opens with a truck hitting a deer on the road; this truck just happens to be carrying barrels of toxin, which it spills into the lake after the collision, infecting the beavers and turning them into rabid rodents.  Now these aren’t your typical zombies; human zombies tend to be brain dead morons who lost their ability to formatively process thoughts when they became infected.  Zombeavers, on the other hand, retain the skills of their regular beaver counterparts – chomping wood, digging tunnels, etc – but the infection turns them into cunning creatures who cut phone lines to ensure their prey can’t call for help.  Moreover, they’re also bionic super beavers that are dam (get it?) near impossible to kill.

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So many creature features in recent years have deliberately included bad CGI and poor humour as a wink to the audience, acknowledging their awfulness.  While that can make for some mindless entertainment, I think it’s lazy; it takes a smart person to make a good intentionally silly movie, and thankfully Zombeavers is a witty affair which incorporates genre traits while still revelling in its own absurdity.  This is more along the lines of Piranha than Sharknado and a wonderful throwback to a time when creature comedy could still provide entertaining horror.

In true 80’s tradition, most of the effects are practical: the beavers are puppets with only a small touch of CGI.  The obvious looking puppets not only adds to the hilarity, but they also add to its charm.  Some of the effects are just incredible; like when the infected victims transform into human/zombeaver hybrids.

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Zombeavers is everything you could possibly want from a riotous creature feature.  It doesn’t take itself seriously at all, but it has too much love for the horror genre to allow itself to be a throwaway piece of crap.  They made this one to become a cult classic that can be enjoyed over and over.  I’ll certainly watch it again.  8/10

Directed By:

Jordan Rubin

Written By:

Jordan Rubin & Al Kaplan

Starring:

Rachel Melvin, Cortney Palm, Lexi Atkins

Genre:

Horror Comedy

Running Time:

85 mins

Movie Review: Holy Ghost People (2013)

Holy Ghost People (2013), Movie Reviews, Thriller

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If you’ve followed the career of The Butcher Brothers (Mitchell Altieri & Phil Flores) up until now, then you’ve no doubt come to expect the unexpected:  Not content to ever play it safe, they have become polarizing directors in the horror community.  The less said about the April Fool’s Day (2008) remake the better; but it is the better than the boring original (sorry purists) at least.  However, 2006’s The Hamilton’s was a critical success; by incorporating dysfunctional family and coming-of-age melodrama with a fresh take on vampire mythology, they certainly made a statement.  Their next feature, The Violent Kind (2010), pushed the envelope even further by splashing splurges of crime, horror, sci-fi, drama, surrealism and comedy on the canvas to create a polarising genre-bending masterpiece that just needs to be seen to be believed.  Love them or hate them, you can’t fault their ambition, and Holy Ghost People is another change in direction.

Holy Ghost People is a wonderful Southern Gothic suspense thriller that explores the concept of faith and religion: on one level, religion is portrayed as being a dangerous tool that breeds fanatics; but, it also explores religions ability to heal those who suffer from addiction, social rejection and sickness.  In the movie we’re introduced to two lost souls: Charlotte (Emma Greenwell) and Wayne (Brendan McCarthy).  Charlotte is on a mission to find her missing sister after receiving a letter informing her she was residing in a religious mountain community known as the Church of One Accord.  She enlists the help of Wayne, an alcoholic ex-marine who’s struggling with demons of his own.  The community is run by the charismatic Brother Billy (Joe Egender), a snake-handling preacher who isn’t shy of causing harm when necessary.  However, Charlotte and Wayne’s search for Charlotte’s missing sister reveals some sinister truths about themselves, as well as the Church of One Accord.

Holy Ghost People lies somewhere between The Sacrament (2013) and Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011); but it stands out on its own is by having more conflicted, fleshed out characters.  Furthermore, while criticising the stronghold religion can have in the form of extremity, it does not negate its power to comfort those in need:  Charlotte and Wayne go into the community as 2 people in need of help and guidance, and one can’t help but think they might have found it there if they allowed themselves to be a part of it.  However, the community is very much still a cult who are prepared to die and kill for their extreme viewpoints.  Did I mention that this movie is conflicting already?

This is the most cohesive Butcher Brother’s movie to-date: Unlike their previous efforts which shift gear more than the Fast & Furious franchise. Holy Ghost People is a formulaic thriller.  But the performances from the actors and thought provoking content lift it beyond the populated realm of generic action/suspense capers.

The cinematography just happens to be exquisite, boasting the mountains, rivers, roads and landscapes of Tennessee with texture and aplomb.  It also provides a fitting backdrop to the hopelessness and desolation of the characters by placing them in an isolated environment away from the regular society that’s shunned them.

Holy Ghost People is an outstanding thriller which questions universal views on faith and religion, as well as exploring human themes such as addiction and alienation.  There’s enough thrills and chills in store for a casual adrenaline rush, but beyond the surface is a smart, intelligent movie that will leave a lasting impression if you let yourself invest in the characters demons.

Directed By:

Mitchell Altieri

Written By:

Mitchell Altieri, Phil Flores, Joe Egender & Kevin Artigue

Starring:

Emma Greenwell, Joe Egender & Brendan McCarthy

Genre:

Thriller

Running Time:

88 min

Movie Review: Found (2012)

Horror, Movie Reviews

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Horror films being a cause of violence is a poor cop-out by the powers at be when trying to place the blame on something or someone after a tragedy has occurred; Marilyn Manson and horror movies didn’t cause the Columbine massacre, for example.  It was social stigma and mental illness.  However, being that the killer in Found is an avid horror nut, I suspect the authorities would deduct the blame towards the films he watched – especially considering how one in particular gave him some ideas to incorporate into his murderous methods.  The theme of violence is one of many in Found that contributes towards an unsettling experience; this is a coming-of-age story that deals with alienation, loneliness, bullying, racism, homophobia, domestic abuse and tragedy.  Certainly not for the faint hearted, but it’s sure to leave an impression on even the most hardcore horror fanatic.

Found is about a boy going through his formative years as a social outcast.  He finds solace in horror movies and they’re a shared interest between him and his older brother.  However, his older brother also happens to be a serial killer who keeps severed heads in a bowling bag in his cupboard.  What makes it so interesting is that little brother Marty (Gavin Brown) has always known about his sibling’s (Ethan Philbeck) affliction; most other coming-of-age horrors deal with the protagonist discovering a dark secret, but in Found it’s a case of already knowing and finding a way to live with it.

The most distressing aspect of Found is not the violence – which there is plenty unflinching amounts of – but what makes it so horrific is watching a child whose underwent a lifetime of victimisation already falling apart.  We witness him lose his only friend, get harassed by his peers and neglected by his parents; when he finally works up the courage to stand up to his bullies it’s still Marty who gets punished.  It’s an unforgiving experience about a child in a tragic situation spiralling downwards to the point of no return; but as harrowing as it sounds it does manage to raise awareness about the themes I mentioned earlier.

Be warned: if you decide to watch this movie you will not come out of it feeling uplifted. It is cinema at its bleakest and most disturbing; but it’s also a very powerful melodrama that goes that is not hampered by its minor flaws.

From a fun perspective, Found is brimming with love for other horror films and any die-hard fan is surely going to get a kick out of spotting the posters and VHS tapes.  Despite his brother being a sadistic killer, the relationship Marty has with him is enjoyable for the most part; especially when they’re having conversations about Clive Barker films.

Found will stay with you long after it’s finished, and even though the sanctity of your mental well being will plead with you not to, you’ll want to watch it again.  It’s went on to win numerous awards since it’s release, but its biggest badge of honour must be getting banned in Australia – a country that’s usually been supportive of extreme cinema.  Found is an impressive movie and I strongly recommend it.  8/10

Directed By:

Scott Schirmer

Written By:

Todd Rigney (novel) & Scott Schirmer (screenwriter)

Starring:

Gavin Brown, Ethan Philbeck, Phyllis Munro

Genre:

Horror, Drama, Thriller

Running Time:

103 min