Movie Review: The Tower (2008)

Fantasy Horror, Horror, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi

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Above the city of Detroit, a long abandoned tower rots in the skyline.  The structure appears lifeless, but in the dead of night a bright light shines from the top window.  Doug (Rick Kunzi) becomes obsessed with entering the tower after learning about its mysterious history: According to legend it’s said to be a gateway to another world.  When Doug goes missing, his sister Lucy (Roxy Strickland) is convinced that he’s trapped inside the tower, leading her on a quest to save her brother while coming face-to-face with the mysteries of the tower and the dangers that lurk within it.

”The Tower”, despite its flaws, is a highly ambitious, deeply imaginative low budget gem, where the sheer scope of the storytelling, abundance of atmosphere and creature designs draw you into a world that’s nightmarish and surreal.  This is not your standard horror film with zombies and beasts; the story is complex and full of mystery, where science fiction and fantasy intersect with horror to create something bizarre, engrossing and original.  It’s a journey into hell, where reality is a blur and danger awaits in every corridor.

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The horrors within the tower include an assortment of zombies, demons and spirits, with more other worldly beings introduced as the story evolves at a brisk pace, which never feels like its dragging.  The Clive Barker influence shines throughout; this isn’t your conventional type of horror film and it’s hard to categorize it alongside anything else.  The demons are reminiscent of Barker’s work, whereas the dimensional aspects and sci-fi crossover evoke memories of Don Coscarelli; especially the latter ”Phantasm” sequels.  However, this is its own beast entirely; boasting a nightmarish vision that drags us with its protagonist through a limbo between worlds as she tries to find her brother and a way out before she becomes just another victim of the void.

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The acting is the only gripe I have with ”The Tower”; nobody experts Marlon Brando levels of character portrayal from an independent horror film, but this cast was amateurish and bland.  However, it’s not the worst either and it doesn’t take us out of the story – which is as engrossing as it is haunting. All of the money they had has went into special effects, which are rather impressive – especially the creature designs which you’ll see in the trailer at the end of my review.  What really carries ”The Tower” though is heart and passion: These filmmakers have put their all into this project and it shows.  For fans of this type of cinema, especially myself, that goes a very long way and makes the flaws irrelevant.

One of the main strengths of this movie is how it transports us to another world.  It’s surreal and leaves a lot to be dissected and interpreted, but very few movies have captured the feeling of actually being stuck in a hellish limbo quite like this.  It possesses a strange, dreamlike quality similar very few movies have managed to capture; watching it is like being thrust into the haze of a nightmare.

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The only available DVD copies are Japanese bootlegs and they don’t come cheap, but you can buy it here.  Even trying to find it through more nefarious means will prove to be a challenge unless you’re a member of some exclusive sites which specialize in rare, underground films.  It’s quite heartbreaking to know this will fade further into obscurity as the years go by; there were even points where I doubted it was even a real movie.  There are no reviews to be found online, nor is there any trace of the filmmakers or any word of mouth about the film.  Movies with this much imagination, made by filmmakers striving to be different deserve to be seen.  But alas, the world isn’t fair sometimes.

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I could include spoilers as it’s highly likely you’ll never see it.  But I’m not going to.  If the following trailer sparks your interest enough to buy it or delve into the far reaches of the web to find it, you deserve the joy of experiencing it firsthand.  This is a movie which throws surprises at you and defies expectations.  Highly recommended.  8/10

Directors: Dan Falzone & Dan McGowan

Writers: Dan Falzone, Dan McGowan, Lon Strickland, Roxy Strickland

Starring: Roxy Strickland, Rick Kunzi, Norm Roth

Genre: Horror

Running Time: 90 min

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Comic Book Review: Lesbian Zombies From Outer Space: Issue #2

Comedy, Comic Book Reviews, Horror Comedy

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Hold onto your crotches.  Don’t succumb to the charms of horny extraterrestrial bimbos in schoolgirl uniforms – no matter how hot they may look.  ”Lesbian Zombies From Outer Space” continues to warm our loins and fear for our groins, picking up where Issue #1 left off – with our heroes Ace and Gwen running for their lives as the dawn of the lesbian zombie apocalypse unfolds.  Will Ace get home in time to save his parents?  More importantly, will he reach the mom-and-pop store in time to save his prized Captain Hammer video tapes?

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In the first issue, we’re introduced to the characters.  Part 2 is all about action.  From the very first page it’s an unrelenting assault of cock munching carnage that further crosses the boundaries of good taste.  We see the formation of a sub-plot where Ace must find his treasured pornography – for when it comes to dealing with an invasion of this nature, The Hammer has the answers.   Furthermore, we explore that awkward moment when you walk in your parents being… intimate.  The gore sprays off the pages and no penis remains intact, but one.

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”Lesbian Zombies From Outer Space” is shaping up to be something truly special.  Unabashed cheese and debauchery it may be, but it’s one hell of a good time that does its inspirations proud.  It’s also a fresh original take on the zombie and alien sub-genres that reads like an animated television series and camp 80’s popcorn movie with lots of replay value.

Credit must be acknowledged to everybody who brought this story to life. Not only is Jave Galt-Miller a very funny and talented writer, but the artists who visualized this story did an outstanding job.  It takes real talent to make cartoon zombies look sexually appealing to real life grown men, but they manage it.

I’m looking forward to seeing what the next issue has in store.  If it keeps up like this we’re in for some side splitting laughs, with possible leakage.

Movie Review: The Brood (1979)

Body Horror, Horror, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi

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”The Brood” is a science fiction body horror film from David Cronenberg, and is now widely regarded as a horror classic.  However, upon initial release critics were not too kind to it.  Described as Cronenberg’s ”family” movie, ”The Brood” is the artistic manifestation of a filmmaker exorcising his demons; the product of a man going through a divorce and trying to gain custody of his child.  Like most of his films, there was a message to the madness – and the madness ”The Brood” entails is very unpleasant. Roger Ebert labelled it ”a bore” and ”nasty” in his opposing, but much better written review to mine.  For many, it would be boring; not much excitement happens until the final minutes.  However, with time this film has garnered much more appreciation.  Why is that?

”The Brood” is the story of a marriage in ruins: Frank (Art Hindle) and Nola Carveth (Samantha Eggar) are a couple in ruins, with Nola undergoing psychological treatment at the Somafree Institute of Psychoplasmics, where Dr Hal Raglan (Oliver Reed) uses his experimental radical therapy to manifest psychosis through physical symptoms.

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One day, when Frank picks up their young daughter Candice (Cindy Hinds) from a hospital visit with Nola, he’s shocked to find bite marks and bruises on her body.  He suspects his sick wife has been abusing her and revokes visiting privileges – much to the disapproval of Dr. Raglan, who claims it’s a bad idea.  It is.

Through the effects of the mysterious Psychoplasmics and Nola’s ever increasing rage, she starts to give birth to drone children, who then do her murderous bidding without her even knowing.  Once Frank states he’s filing for sole custody of Candice, it sparks a homicidal rage in Nola; she would rather her daughter die than be with him.  So she tries to kill them both, naturally.

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Some criticized the film for being anti-feminist at the time: I see it as more of a statement on the animosity that can occur when a marriage falls apart. Frank’s disgust when he witnesses Nola giving birth to homicidal embryos has been interpreted as a patriarchy seeing child birth as ugly.  When he finally killed Nola, many viewed it as male dominance feeling threatened. To me, I saw Frank’s disgust as a representation of children being used as pawns in a divorce and how it can be damaging to every person involved. The anti-feminism argument may have some merit, but can’t it just be symbolic of resentment towards the one particular woman who was the cause of a stressful time in his life?  This is not a scathing attack of women as a whole; it’s the work of an artist coming to terms with his situation and pouring his soul out on screen.

Cronenberg’s previous work made use of urban landscapes to symbolize society’s growth for the worse; ”The Brood” makes use of rural settings to represent the isolation of its main characters.  The performances from Samantha Eggar and Art Hindle are confrontational and tragic – and the start of Cronenberg’s excellence in working with actors to exude dramatic human prowess in his world’s of science fiction and horror.

The 70’s was also a time of controversial psychological studies.  Cronenberg explores the ethical concerns and potential dangers of them with exaggeration, but he gets his point across in the unsubtle kind of way we know and love him for.

So, to answer my original question.  Why is ”The Brood” now considered a genre classic?  It’s because it’s the beginning of a legendary director finding his voice; an artist at his most open and brave; a filmmaker exploring his own humanity.  It’s also a neat little body horror that’s very entertaining in its own right.  By no means my favourite of Cronenberg’s, but it’s a feature I greatly admire.  7/10

Written & Directed By:

David Cronenberg

Starring:

Oliver Reed, Samantha Eggar, Art Hindle

Genre:

Horror, Sci-Fi, Body Horror

Running Time:

92 min

Article: My Favourite Movies About Cults

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Cults have always fascinated me: if there’s a movie about a group of fanatics out there then you can bet your bottom dollar that I’ve either seen it or have it in my DVD collection waiting to be watched.  I have a special fondness for Satanic cults; the hysteria surrounding them during the 70’s was capitalized by many a filmmaker, and as cheesy as some could be, the image of a group of people in cloaks chanting for the dark lord has always sent a chill down my spine.  Growing up on a steady diet of horror films, I was always suspicious that my neighbours were Satanists, part of a secret sect, sacrificing virgins at the altar of Lucifer.  During my walks into the forest, I used to worry about bumping into a group of nudists dancing around a fire.  But the only naked person dancing around fires was me, I’m afraid.  Not for Satan though: I done it for the ladies.

There have been various cults reported throughout the years; it’s a farfetched notion to acknowledge the existence of extreme sects living on the outskirts of society – or secretly within it.  With all of the ideologies out there, cults come in many shapes and forms.  And so do the movies based on them.  Here are some of my favourites I believe everybody should see at least once if the subject interests you.

Holy Ghost People (2013)

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Mitchell Altieri (one half of indie horror experimentalists The Butcher Brothers) directs this Southern Gothic thriller, which focuses on a religious commune of snake charmers in the Appalachian Mountains, led by the charismatic Brother Billy.  On the surface it looks like a hard working community for healing and worship; but there is something sinister going on just waiting to be uncovered, leading to a twisted finale.

‘’Holy Ghost People’’ is a huge departure for Altieri, whose previous work included genre-bending efforts such as ‘’The Violent Kind’’ and ‘’The Hamiltons.’’  Focusing on a more by the book drama, this is easily the most accessible feature involving The Butcher Brothers – and the best.  Stunning scenery, fractured characters, a constant sense of dread and a thrilling climax makes for a simple but effective experience.

Lord of Illusions (1995)

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‘’Lord of Illusions’’ is a criminally overlooked and underrated chiller from the demented mind of Clive Barker.  Based on his short story, ‘’The Last Illusion’’, Barker also directs this haunting blend of noir mystery and occult horror, which follows a private detective hired to protect an illusionist from a fanatical cult who plan on resurrecting their leader.

‘’Lord of Illusions’’ isn’t a perfect movie like Barker’s previous film ‘’Hellraiser’’, but it’s still one of the golden nuggets from the sea of mediocrity that was 90’s horror.  For the most part, it’s a mesmerising mystery that’s morbid, violent and frightening with a few nightmarish images sure to lurk in your mind afterwards.  Barker mind is a chest full of treasures to be cherished, and this is ample proof that he’s a master of his craft when it comes to storytelling that’s scary, original and large in scope.

Red State (2011)

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”Red State” is the first venture into horror from Kevin Smith.  Inspired by religious hate mongering idiots of The Westboro Baptist Church, it follows a group of teens who accept an invitation for sex online, only to be taken hostage by the Five Points Trinity Church – a group of Christian fundamentalists led by Alvin Cooper, portrayed by the world’s most unappreciated character actor Michael Parks.

What makes ‘’Red State’’ so effective is the notion that it could happen.  Although the Westboro Baptist Church haven’t murdered anybody that we know of (yet), who’s to say they won’t inspire an even crazier bunch of loons in future.  Social commentary aside, ‘’Red State’’ was a huge change of pace for Kevin Smith, which ultimately rejuvenated his career.  It works both as a horror and action thriller, with a career best performance from Michael Parks – who makes monologues of hate speech sound like poetry with how amazing he delivers it.  You might hate the words he’s saying, but he delivers such an impressive acting master class you’ll want to watch it over and over again.

Daniel Day who?  Michael Parks is the world’s finest actor.

Jug Face (2013)

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‘’Jug Face’’ is a horrific coming of age story about a pregnant teenage girl who must escape from a backwoods commune who worship a creature that lives in a hole in the ground.  To appease a supernatural force, a sacrifice must be made to the creature or else the community shall perish and this time, Abby has been chosen.

‘’Jug Face’’ is an offbeat indie feature that puts an interesting and unusual spin on backwoods horror.  Larry Fassenden is outstanding as the clan leader; completely believable in his role as a societal outcast living in the woods, worshipping a hole.  This is one of the best indie horrors in recent memory.

Black Death (2010)

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Christopher Smith’s ‘’Black Death’’ is a period piece set during the first outbreak of the Bubonic Plague.  It follows a young monk (Eddie Redmayne) and a group of religious mercenaries (led by Sean Bean) as they are tasked by finding out the secrets behind a village unaffected by the outbreak, where the dead come back to life.

Part man-on-a-mission adventure, part folk horror, ‘’Black Death’’ is an excellent movie.  It explores themes such as consequences of trying to force your beliefs on others; something which has led to trouble in modern day society which we read about daily in the news.  It also explores the nature of arcane religious concepts which stunt progress.

A shameless homage to ‘’The Wicker Man’’ at times it may be – but that’s no bad thing.  This is the type of film with ambition I’d like to see more of.  It has battles, an array of interesting characters and a splendid climax where beliefs are questioned and violence ensues.

Drive Angry (2011)

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Nicholas Cage plays Milton, a vengeful father who escapes from Hell to hunt down the satanic cult and kidnapped his granddaughter to use as a sacrifice for the Devil.  He is pursued by The Accountant, Lucifer’s right hand man.  Along for the ride with Milton is Piper, a hot waitress he picked up after she left her down and out husband.

‘’Drive Angry’’ is one of the better neo-Grindhouse movies and Cage’s most enjoyable of his career in decline years.  It has fast cars, sex scene shoot outs and Amber Heart sporting a pair of tiny shorts.  What’s not to love?  It’s pure popcorn entertainment, with lots of open road carnage and high octane action.  I love this movie more than most.

End of the Line (2007)

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Maurice Devereaux is arguably horrors most heartbreaking story.  The guy just can’t get any projects off the ground, yet his imagination is just what the genre needs.   In 2001, he made a little known film called ‘’Slashers’’, about a group of Americans on an extreme Japanese reality show trying to survive a deadly game.  It’s well worth seeing if you can track it down.  However, 6 years later he would unleash ‘’End of the Line’’ – an Apocalyptic thriller about a group of religious fanatics on a killing spree in a subway station.  There is much more to “End of the Line’’ though; supernatural evil is present and Armageddon might actually be happening.  It’s an ambitious effort which pays off – and one of the best unseen horror films you’re ever likely to see in your life.

The Manson Family (2003)

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Has there ever been a scarier cult than The Manson Family?  Led by Charles Manson, a group of young hippies committed some of the most notorious crimes to ever hit American headlines; including, but not limited to, the murder of Hollywood actress Sharon Tate while she was two weeks away from giving birth.  Such crimes should never be celebrated, but Manson has become a cult icon in his own right; and the poster boy of the celebrity serial killer.

Jim Van Bebber’s ‘’The Manson Family’’ is a dirty movie; it’s grainy, nasty and downright trippy at times.  A movie like this is always going to be polarizing, but no film about some of history’s sickest criminals should be presented as pretty.  Shot in the style of a quasi-documentary, it shows Manson and his ‘’Family’’ engaging in sex, drugs and violence – as well as discussing their delusional beliefs and the figurehead who inspired them.  It doesn’t glorify them like other movies have done: it’s an ugly, accurate depiction of a group of lost sheep succumbing to the beliefs of a madman.

Some might call it an exploitation movie.  It’s not; it’s a stomach churning account of humanity at its ugliest: a reminder that these are people who should not be celebrated.  I wouldn’t call it a morality tale; it’s just an honest portrayal.

Rosemary’s Baby (1968)

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Rosemary and Guy Woodhouse move into an apartment in a building with a bad reputation. They discover that their neighbours are a very friendly elderly couple named Roman and Minnie Castevet, and Guy begins to spend a lot of time with them. Strange things start to happen: a woman Rosemary meets in the laundry dies a mysterious death, Rosemary has strange dreams and hears strange noises and Guy becomes remote and distant. Then Rosemary falls pregnant and begins to suspect that her neighbours have special plans for her child.

”Rosemary’s Baby” is a stonewall horror classic which has stood the test of time and remains fresh to this day.  Very few films have successfully captured paranoia and fear at every corner quite like Polanski’s blueprint for crafting a perfect horror film.  Although not my favourite film on the list, it’s probably the best.  Very few films have replicated its ability not to trust a single character.  When I saw this as a kid, I did not trust a single person for months.  This is horror which gets under your skin and into your mind.

Race With The Devil (1975)

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Frank and Roger and their wives take off for Colorado in a recreational vehicle, looking forward to some skiing and dirt biking. While camping en route, they witness a Satanic ritual sacrifice, but the local sheriff finds no evidence to support their claims and urges them to continue on their vacation. On the way, however, they find themselves repeatedly attacked by cult members, and they take measures to defend themselves.

”Race With The Devil” is one of the best movies of all time to ever blend horror and action.  Coming out during the golden era of carsploitation films and satanic hysteria, it blends both to create a thrill ride with high speed chases and lots of smashed up vehicles; yet it manages to maintain a mood of dread and paranoia throughout that’s genuinely unsettling.

This is popcorn entertainment that’ll give you the willies.

The Sacrament (2013)

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The journalist Patrick works at the Vice, a company dedicated to cover bizarre news. When his sister Caroline joins a community, she travels abroad with her new family. Out of the blue, Caroline invites her brother to visit her in an undefined country and Patrick travels by helicopter with his friends Jake and Sam that work with him at Vice. They find weird that the men that have come to guide them to the Eden Parish have guns. On the arrival to the camp, Patrick, Sam and Jake find a community of happy people that worship Father. They interview Father but soon they realize that people are not as happy as they seem to be.

Ti West returned to cult horror with this found footage thriller loosely based on the infamous Jonestown Massacre.  It puts the viewer right in the midst of a mass suicide – but don’t think for one second just because it’s suicide that it’s optional.  No one is getting out of this one alive.

This is chock-full of suspense and dread, with a jaw-dropping climax that left me stunned – and in love.

House of the Devil (2009)

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Ti West’s breakthrough hit was a return to the good old days of 70’s satanic horror.  It follows a strapped for cash college student who accepts a babysitting job on the night of a lunar eclipse, which we all know is the night Satan likes to have his followers do nasty things to attractive young woman.  From the moment she accepts the job we know she’s in danger.  It’s all about waiting for it to happen.

What makes “House of the Devil’’ so harrowing is the general likability of protagonist Samantha; from the outset she’s somebody you root for.  Most people who have been to college know how difficult it can be financially; she’s a sweet girl trying to make ends meet.  Therefore, her plight into danger is most unwelcome – but so expertly done it makes for a modern horror classic.

‘’House of the Devil’’ is a very slow film, but it’s wracked with suspense from the start and doesn’t let up; this makes the horrific moments more effective when they do happen.

VHS 2 – Safe Haven (2013)

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If there’s ever been a short film of an anthology series I’ve wished was a full feature, it’s ‘’Safe Haven’’.  Co-directed by Gareth Evans (The Raid) and Timo Tjahjanto (Killers), it follows a group of reporters who infiltrate an Indonesian cult on the ‘’Day of Reckoning.’’  What ensues is a bat shit insane segment involving mass suicide, zombies and a giant goat demon; it’s very violent, thrilling and intense and I really don’t have anything else to say about it.  Just go watch it.

Society (1989)

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Bill is a teenager living in Beverly Hills.  He’s popular at school, an athlete and has a beautiful girlfriend.  However, he feels like he doesn’t fit in: his parents and sister are close, but he suspects he might be adopted.  With his sister about to join the “Society’’, a serious of strange events transpire and Bill finds out his suspicions might not be all that far-fetched at all.

Brian Yuzna’s first film as a director is a social commentary on class divisions with a cult and body horror twist.  It’s a very funny movie; it’s also very disgusting and bizarre, with a climax that you’ll never forget.  I have friends who won’t listen to my recommendations anymore because I made them watch this.  I also know people who are eternally grateful for me putting them onto it.  See it for yourself and make up your own mind.

Martyrs (2008)

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The New Wave of French Horror during the 00’s was one of the best periods the genre has ever known.  Movies like “Inside’’, ‘’High Tension’’ and “Frontier(s)’’ were, essentially, the horror movies fans of the extreme had been waiting for.  However, the best of the bunch is “Martyrs’’ – deemed by many as one of the most disturbing films ever made.

‘’Martyrs’’ is a grim, bleak experience no person in their right mind would ever want to revisit.  It’s incredibly violent, psychologically punishing and uncompromising.  It’s also an intelligent movie which excels beyond the one dimensional torture porn films it shares elements with.  This is horror that is devoid of humour and resolution; the experience is unrelenting and harrowing.  It won’t entertain you, but it’s a true masterpiece in the truest sense of the word.

The Wicker Man (1973)

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Sargent Howie travels to Summerisle in the Scottish aisles to investigate the disappearance of a young girl.  The locals are weird and unhelpful – he’s convinced that they’re hiding something and he’s adamant to get to the bottom of it.

“The Wicker Man’’ is one of very few movies that is as ridiculous as it is scary.  Unabashedly camp, often silly and offbeat in every way, it incorporates strange musical numbers and left field humour into a suspense-filled, paranoid mystery thriller to great effect.  It’s a strange concoction that shouldn’t work, yet it does – wonderfully well.

Christopher Lee gives the best performance of his entire career as the peculiar and imposing Lord of the Isle; his scenes are basically cameo appearances, but they’re so powerful and essential to the film it adds to the mystique of his character.

Chilling.  Enchanting.  Funny.  Bizarre.  Unsettling.  Unforgettable.  “The Wicker Man’’ is a one in a million cult classic that will never be replicated.  This is magic captured on film unlike anything else.

Kill List (2011)

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Ben Wheatley is the most exciting director working today and “Kill List’’ is my all time favourite horror film.  Many would say that it’s three movies thrown into one – a Ken Loach style social realist drama, a hitman thriller and a horror film to put a cherry on top.  Upon my first viewing, I felt this way; but subsequent rewatches have made me realize how it’s all tied together.

The story revolves around an ex-hitman with financial woes.  He quit the business after a past event which is never discussed in detail, but we get the impression it was bad.  Now, in desperate need for a payday, he agrees to help out his old partner in crime who has a lucrative job for them.  It seems run-of-the-mill at first, but the organization who hired them have a hidden agenda for Jay.  As his sanity starts to slip, he gets deep into a situation he can’t escape from.

“Kill List’’ is a movie you have to watch closely to see how the events which transpire are connected.  Nothing is randomly thrown together; every single moment in Jay’s downfall has been premeditated.  To sum it up: he didn’t take the job by chance.  He was carefully chosen and lured without his knowledge.

This is an ambiguous movie, with no exposition to guide you.  You’ll pick more up every time you watch it and make your own evaluations.  It’s a fun movie to research and interpret.

’Kill List’’ is very grim and violent, with occasional moments of pitch black humour.  Neil Maskell delivers a powerhouse of a performance and shows that he’s one of the best around for playing characters with violent tendencies.  All in all, this film is perfect.

What are some of your favourites?

Movie Review: Kingsman: The Secret Service (2015)

Action, Comedy, Movie Reviews

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It’s been awhile since we’ve had a great spy movie; not since Matt Damon’s previous incarnation of Jason Bourne in 2007’s ”The Bourne Ultimatum” can I say I’ve been particularly impressed by any that I’ve seen – and that includes the recent Bond films with Daniel Craig.  However, since that series became the phenomenon that it did, subsequent spy films have replicated its serious approach.  ”Kingsman: The Secret Service” injects the genre with some fun again: Ian Fleming’s iconic British agent and older film adaptations are the inspiration behind Matthew Vaughn’s caper; humour, flashy rodomontade and an eccentric villain hellbent on world extermination are all firmly present.  The spirit of classic Bond is alive and well.  However, much like Vaughn’s ”Kick Ass (2010)” was to superhero movies, ”Kingsman” takes the basic premise and throws in crude humour and sensational, bloody, R rated violence to crank a worn genre up a few notches.

Taron Egorton plays Gary ”Eggsy” Unwin, a down-on-his-luck petty criminal who is facing a jail sentence for stealing a vehicle from a local ruffian.  But thanks to having a father Harry ‘Galahad” Hart (Colin Firth) owes a debt to, he’s miraculously cleared of all charges and recruited to join a training camp for the shadowy secret service organization Kingsman, who are led by Arthur (Michael Caine) and his knights of the round table sworn to protect Britain (the organization members are all named after characters from the old tale).

Meanwhile, the lisping lunatic Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson) – an eccentric billionaire who wants to destroy the world for its own good – is set to bring an end to mankind, because he believes people are destroying the environment.  With human existence in jeopardy, new recruit Eggsy is thrown in at the deep end to try and save the dead.

Valentine’s plan is quite brilliant: he uses sims in cell phones to trigger a satellite which turns human beings into homicidal maniacs.  It’s the type of ludicrous, out-of-the-box villain and scenario we’ve been missing for quite some time now – and it allows for the movie to break out into some scenes of over-the-top carnage.  There is one particular scene involving Colin Firth’s character, to the tune of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s ”Freebird”, massacring a church full of people that’s sure to send shocks down the spines of the many middle aged housewives who’ll watch it just for him.  It’s a Colin Firth we’ve never seen before – a merciless cold blooded, killer who can more than capably perform action scenes.  Bridget Jones would soil her overgrown panties if she seen her man like this.

The movie does contain some not-so-subtle messages about Britain’s class divide, the danger of global warming and America’s role as a world domineering superpower.  Whether you agree with the political undertones or not shouldn’t derail your enjoyment of the film; it’s more parody and satire than preaching, but it won’t sit well with some.  For the entire 2 hour duration, ”Kingsman” is lighthearted fun that homages classic spy movies and throws in the crude humour and cartoon violence 21st century audiences are accustomed to. Some people may find the violence to be unnecessary to a story which didn’t need it to be enjoyable, but I loved it personally.  Despite it’s charms, it’s crudeness and occasional mean streak is a much appreciated delight. At least for me.  ”Kingsman” is one of 2015’s best thus far and I’m sure it’ll remain as such for the remainder of the year.  9/10

Directed By:

Matthew Vaughn

Written By:

Matthew Vaughn & Jane Goodman

Starring:

Colin Firth, Taron Egerton, Samuel L. Jackson, Mark Strong

Genre:

Comedy, Action

Running Time:

129 min

Movie Review: ReGOREgitated Sacrifice (2008)

Extreme Horror, Horror, Movie Reviews

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Lucifer Valentine’s ”Vomit Gore” is a series I have no interest in seeing. The only reason I watched this was because a friend told me the Soska Sisters were in it and I had to see for myself.  There is no record of it on their IMDB pages – which is understandable as no aspiring filmmakers with career ambition would want to associate themselves with what is essentially a fetish porn film.  And yes, Jen and Sylvia Soska were present.

The plot?  Well, much like the mind that created it, the plot was lost before it even began.  It’s an incoherent, hallucinogenic nightmare of sorts; where pissing, puking, sex and gore all enter the same blender to concoct a nuclear cocktail sure to kill a few brain cells and make most people physically sick.  But if I had to hazard an interpreted guess, it’s about the nightmares of a young woman as she enters Hell.

So, is this where I call ”ReGOREgitated Sacrifice” a pointless piece of trash not worth your time unless you’re a complete sicko?  Not quite.  Many have already and even though it’s not something I enjoyed, per se, dismissing it without acknowledging its merits would be dishonest of me.  It contained so many moments that left me questioning my own sanity for watching it that it deserves credit.  Furthermore, the gore effects are masterful; I’d go as far to say they’re the best I’ve ever seen.  Or the worst -depending on how you view it. They’re so well done they’re sickening: it’s not something I would describe as fun, like say, FX from a splatter movie – but they have to be commended.

The film also contains a strange, hypnotic aura throughout; it’s arthouse for the scathouse and it’s very successful in its bid to be as unsettling as possible. It’s an unrelenting assault on the senses which challenges the viewer with every segment.  I don’t consider this to be a good movie by any means, but Lucifer Valentine possesses a lot of talent and achieves exactly what he sets out to do.  I have no doubt in my mind that he has a potential good film in him somewhere, but whether he decides makes it is up to him.

Kudos to Lucifer Valentine for creating something so balls-to-the-wall and courageous; this trilogy has encouraged stalkers and death threats sent his way.  The gore is a triumph of FX and there’s plenty of insanity and WTF? moments worth noting – even applauding.  However, it has too much shameless piss/puke pornography within it for my taste.  4/10

Written & Directed By:

Lucifer Valentine

Starring:

Ameara Lavey, Lucifer Valentine, The Soska Sisters

Genre:

Extreme Horror

Running Time:

65 min

Comic Book Review: Lesbian Zombies From Outer Space: Issue #1

Comic Book Reviews, Horror Comedy

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”Lesbian Zombies From Outer Space” is a title that’s screaming to be read.  It also gives you a good idea of what the story is about – undead alien invaders who like to kiss girls and feast on men.  Jave Galt-Miller has created something special; a rollicking good time born out of love of 80’s cheddar.  Inspired by alien invasion classics like ”Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956 & ’78)” and ”Lifeforce (1985)”, along with John Hughes’ classic nerd comedy ”Weird Science (1985)” – and porn, this is camp, shlocky toilet humour at its finest.

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Ace Johnson (think about it) is your average twenty something guy: he works in and mom-and-pop video store, he’s addicted to porn and he has sex on his mind 24/7.  He has a ”good eye for porn”, and his refusal to sell his Captain Hammer video tapes has earned him a nemesis who frequents the store.  Gwen Moffett on the other hand is a lesbian who hates men that like porn.  She doesn’t have much luck with the ladies – her last date got turned into an alien after all.  However, guess who needs to team up and save the world after their is invaded by an alien Space Queen who turns the female population into green eyed, genitalia munching cannibals?

Ace Johnson is a larger than life character who idolizes porn legend Captain Hammer.  So it’s to his delight when his friend Ellis announces that his wife is game for a Menage à Trois with another woman; Ellis, like most men would be, is intimidated by the thought of such a daunting task.  As a man, I could relate to him: the thought of pleasing one woman is scary enough, let alone two.  Anyway, Ace is over-the-moon for his pal, and insists on hiding in the closet with a camcorder to record the hot action.  Unfortunately what he witnesses is his friend losing his manhood in a very literal sense.

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Needless to say, ”Lesbian Zombies From Outer Space” does not take itself seriously.  The humour is crude, silly and, to some, undoubtedly offensive.  It’s a battle of the sexes, where the women are portrayed as deadly seductresses and the men are incompetent tools.  Joss Whedon would have a field day accusing it of being male chauvinistic and sexist – it’s not.  Not only does it provide some hilarious satire of how women are portrayed by some corners of media, it also represents male sexual fantasy gone horribly wrong.

”Lesbian Zombies From Outer Space” is off to a very strong start.  I get the impression that it’s going to be one fun-filled, politically incorrect adventure to be read over and over.  Writing this good doesn’t lose steam, but right now, we’ve barely scratched the surface; knowing that it’s only going to expand is an enticing thought indeed.  It’s as fun as the title suggests, with laughs to be had on every single page. Pure 80’s cheese for the 21st century at it’s wackiest.  Check out the Kickstarter and website for more information about the project.  8/10

Web Series: 20 Seconds To Live (2015)

Comedy, Horror Comedy, Web Series

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”20 Seconds To Live” is an anthology web series that is well worth your time.  Every Friday for the last month or so, I have sat down after dinner – my tummy full of the latest hapless victim – and enjoyed this hilarious and creative series of shorts about death.  One thing is for certain with ”20 Seconds To Live” and one thing only: SOMEBODY IS GOING TO DIE.

The series is directed by Ben Rock, who you might not know by name.  But you can bet he’s been the cause of nightmares of somebody you know.  You see, in 1999, there was this little movie called ”The Blair Witch Project” and it scared a lot of people.  Some of those people even thought it was real.  Anyway, one of the scariest things about it was the stick figure symbol, which I know for a fact haunted the dreams of my mother for a month after she saw it.  Ben Rock is the creator of that symbol, as well as subsequent Blair Witch spin-offs including the outstanding ”The Burkittsville 7 (2000)” – in my opinion this has always been the best entry to the Blair Witch saga and is well worth checking out if you’re into the mythology.

In addition to his work on an iconic horror film, he also directed ”Alien Raiders (2008)”, which, despite its silly name, is a criminally underrated gem.  Of all the people I’ve talked to who have seen it, not a single one of them had a bad word to say about it.  Go check it out.

Also on board is co-creator Bob DeRosa, whose previous writing credits include the Ashton Kutcher movie ”Killers (2010)”, and the impressive ”The Air I Breathe (2007)” starring an impressive cast which boasts the likes of Kevin Bacon, Brendan Fraser, Andy Garcia and Sarah Michelle Gellar.  From the work of his I’ve seen so far (I enjoyed both of those movies), this is by far my favourite due to it being so joyously twisted.

The series is short, sick and a laugh riot.  Catching up on the current available episodes won’t take you long at all and I guarantee you’ll be entertained.  Despite knowing death is inevitable in every episode, ”20 Seconds To Live” throws in little surprises you don’t see coming. Every episode puts a unique, creative spin on everyday situations, ranging from dinner dates to Satanic rituals.  You can watch them all for free HERE.  I suggest you get on it now.

Movie Review: Hotel Inferno (2013)

Action, Horror, Movie Reviews

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”Hotel Inferno” is yet another slice of gore filled, brazen lunacy from Necrostormthe Italian production company who brought us ”Adam Chaplin (2011)” which I reviewed here.  Now 2 movies into my quest to complete their back catalog, I have a basic idea of what they’re all about: gore, gore and more gore – splattered all across genre pictures inspired by retro movies, comic books and video games.

In recent years, ”retro” homages to B movies of the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s has become the in-thing; some are genuine love letters to their influences, where as some are hipster parodies which fail to capture the spirit of the films they’re trying to imitate.  However, Necrostorm films don’t come across as homages whatsoever; they are authentic works of cyberpunk insanity born from forward thinking creative minds, as opposed to ones seeking nostalgia, which just happen to include influences from yesteryear.

”Adam Chaplin” was like a comic book come to life in movie form.  ”Hotel Inferno”, on the other hand, adopts another approach us geeks love – first person shooters.  The movie is filmed POV from the perspective of our protagonist as he slaughters his way through hordes of deformed baddies to try and escape from a hotel that poses as a front for an occult organization.  Furthermore, the scenes between slaughter are very reminiscent of video game cut scenes, which makes for some welcome exposition to inform us on the story and mythology behind it all.

The films ”hero” is Frank Zimosa (Rayner Bourton); a contract killer hired by an organization who call themselves the ”Luman Corporation”.  His task sounds routine at first: carry out a hit on a couple of serial killers holding up in a hotel.  Frank is equipped with a pair of special sunglasses, which are used to communicate with Luman Corporation’s owner Jorge Mistrandia (Michael Howe), as well as a recording device to film his every move.  Jorge is very particular with how the executions must be carried out – and soon Frank learns his mystery employer has greater, more sinister intentions in mind.

Once Frank abandons the mission, he must fight to survive.  Violence and mayhem ensues as he shoots, hacks and slashes his way through the hotels secret corridors, pursued by zombie-like henchman, with a supernatural demonic force lying in wait.  The demon demands specific violence to appease ”Her” – or else she’ll rise from her Hellish slumber. And nobody wants that.

The acting and dialogue is akin to that of a video game as well, with interactions kept brief and to the point when the chaos is having a breather; this is only enhanced by the dubbed voices, which are over-the-top and, quite frankly, too cliched to resemble real people.  Jorge Mistrandia speaks with a posh English accent that’s eloquent and sinister.  Frank Zimosa sounds like an ape who can only blurt out vulgar slurs and repetitive phrases.  It takes you awhile to accept the awful dubbing, but once the movie gets going you find it adds to its charm, as it does feel like you’re watching a video game progress through levels before climaxing at the big boss.

”Hotel Inferno” blends digital and practical effects perfectly, but it’s the practical effects which stand out out most impressively.  These include decapitations, spines being ripped out and countless other acts of frequent artistic butchering.  The crew know what us horror fans love, and they don’t take any shortcuts unless it’s completely necessary.  The digital effects are used to create fire and explosions mostly, but they never seem out of place.

Overall, ”Hotel Inferno” is another inventive gem from the Necrostorm team.  It’s as ultra violent, dark and demented as they come, but it does so in such a gleeful manner it maintains a sense of gleeful fun throughout.  This is a company worth following; much like Astron-6 they’re a company who share a connection with genre fans who seek more than your typical, run-of-the-mill fads.  If you like your movies left field, ”Hotel Inferno” is worth checking into.  7/10

Written & Directed By:

Giulio De Santi

Starring:

Rayner Bourton, Jessica Carroll, Michael Howe

Genre:

Action, Horror

Running Time:

80 min

Movie Review: Adam Chaplin (2011)

Action, Crime, Horror, Movie Reviews

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They say we fall in love when we least expect it – and after watching ”Adam Chaplin”, I can wholeheartedly relate to this sentiment.  Every once in awhile, you stumble upon a movie that caters so well to your tastes. you think it was made just for you.  That’s the feeling that overwhelmed me when watching ”Adam Chaplin”, the manic action-horror hybrid revenge story from Necrostorm – an Italian film production company who specialize in gore and insanity.  Inspired by Japanese manga and violent B movies of the 1980’s and 90’s, this self-proclaimed ”Italian gore extravaganza” is an amazing triumph of micro-budget cinema.

Set in the fictional country of Heaven Valley, the film tells the story of Adam Chaplin – a demonically possessed vigilante with superhuman strength hellbent on avenging the death of his wife, who was burnt alive at the hands of Denny, a sadistic mob boss who is impossible to touch.  With a corrupt police force and a hired killer on his case, Adam and his demon sidekick must slaughter their way through their foes before vengeance can be claimed.

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To compare ”Adam Chaplin” with other movies, I’d say it’s a combination of ”The Crow (1994)”, ”Faust: Love of the Damned (2000)”, ”Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky (1991)” and ”Fist of the North Star (1986)” to name a few.  Essentially, it’s a comic book come to life: the story is a Faustian tale of revenge, with cartoonish characters in a city ruled by crime and corruption.  The villains are grotesque, maniacal and savage, whereas Adam is a trench coat clad killing machine who can punch through faces. Visually, it’s dark and grimy, with an ever present blue flair which further enhances its comic book aesthetic; this provides a stunning contrast to all of the crimson splatter, which sprays, splurts and slithers in gallons.

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Gore is the obvious appeal of a film like ”Adam Chaplin”, and it makes sure to bring it to the forefront whenever possible – which is often as the story was tailor-made to include as much visceral carnage as possible.  Blood sprays, limbs are torn and heads are bashed; eyeballs and brains are squished and allowed to pour out from skulls and lay with rotten carcasses.  However, the plot – as thin and simple as it may be – makes for an engaging story to be told.

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The film is a showcase of practical effects, which look absolutely outstanding considering the budget they were working with – which was less than the daily catering of a Michael Bay movie.  I imagine this will be very inspiring to any up and coming horror filmmakers.  At times it is a little rough around the edges, but the sheer ambition of the project – as well as the heart and effort put in – is so incredible it blurs out its minor flaws.

”Adam Chaplin” is the type of film many horror fans yearn for: a violent, frenzy of bizarre madness that’s so off the rails you wonder if it was even on track to begin with.  It’s a balls-to-the-wall splatter fest full of non-stop action at its most hyper and deranged.  It’s style over substance at its most entertaining and a sure fire cult classic of popcorn entertainment. Necrostorm are bringing Italian splatter back to prominence in the 21st century.  And they’re doing so with style.  8/10

Written & Directed By:

Emanuele De Santi

Starring:

Emanuele De Santi, Valeria Sannino, Chiara Marfella

Genre:

Action, Horror, Crime

Running Time:

84 min