My Heart Can't Beat Unless You Tell It To ( 2020)
Director: Jonathan Cuartas ( Our Final Days Together Part 3, The Horse and the Stag, Kuru, Twelve Traditions)
Writer: Jonathan Cuartas
Starring: Patrick Fugit, Ingrid Sophie Schram, Owen Campbell
This year has been a bit slow when it comes to films hitting me hard with the emotions and performances that I can really feel. I was almost about to lose hope in that visceral feeling hitting me like a bag of bricks, but never less I have found that film. My Heart Can’t Beat Unless You Tell It To has flown under my radar all year. I have heard whispers and rumors of its greatness but with so many releases it’s hard to get to everything.
My Heart Can’t Beat Unless You Tell It To is Jonathan Cuartas’s first full-length film that he wrote and directed. When I was researching this movie I was floored to find out this was his first major film. Jonathan made one of the best films of the year and hell it may be my favorite this year. My Heart Can’t Beat Unless You Tell It To grabs you by the throat and never lets go. I don’t mean this in a way that is exceptionally violent but more of an emotional piledriver.
Without giving away any spoilers My Heart Can’t Beat Unless You Tell It To is a family horror drama at its core. Older brother and sister played by the super talented Patrick Fugit and Ingrid Sophie Schram take care and “feed” their younger brother Thomas ( Owen Campbell.) Thomas suffers from a condition that involves him drinking blood and avoiding the light. He is not physically strong enough to get what he needs to survive so he must rely on his older siblings to keep him alive. The word vampire is never used in this film but all signs point to Hominus Nocturna, but the director kind of leaves it up to you to decide. I really dig how this film makes you think for yourself and doesn’t hold your hand the entire time. You may look at this film in an entirely different way than I did.
The blood does flow in this one but don’t expect a high-energy killathon. This is a well-crafted slow burn that pierces the heart and slowly drains you dry emotionally. Jonathan Cuartas really made something special here with My Heart Can’t Beat Unless You Tell It To. Like I said it’s been a bit of a slow year for me when it comes to great horror but Jonathan and crew really lit my fire with this amazing work of art.
I give My Heart Can’t Beat Unless You Tell It To a strong 9 out of 10 score. You can find it streaming now on Shudder and Amazon Prime. I cant wait to see what Jonathan does next.
Directors: Simon Barrett ( The Guest, You’re Next), Steven Kostanski (The Void, Psycho Goreman), Chloe Okuno (Slut), Ryan Prows (Lowlife), Jennifer Reeder (Knives and Skin)
Starring: Anna Hopkins, Christian Potenza, Brian Paul, Tim Campbell, Gina Phillips
Writers: Jennifer Reeder, Chloe Okuno, Simon Barrett, Timo Tjahjanto, Ryan Prows, David Bruckner, Brad Miska
It has been an interesting year for me when it comes to movie watching. There has been a ton of good films rolling out despite the obvious pandemic obstacles. With that being said there have been very few films that really made me go wow that’s fucking killer. “V/H/S/94” is one of those films that made me say fuck this is killer and I know dam well it will be on my top ten list this year of favorite films.
I have been a fan of the V/H/S series from the start. It’s one of very few movie series that never disappoints. There is something dangerous and unnerving about each and every one. You get that feeling that you are watching something forbidden and banned from human society. I kind of crave this feeling more and more as I grow older but I am regularly let down by feeble cinematic attempts.
The first segment “Holy Hell” directed by Jennifer Reeder starts off “V/H/S/94” with a bang. A swat team is on the trail of some crazy satanic slime huffing cult members who are blasting off to an eye-gouging trance of death. An unknown countdown is underway and I would bet the strange VHS tapes lying around have a lot to do with it. Overall this segment is solid and very well done. It’s also a fair warning for all you mystical drug huffing cult enthusiasts.
The next segment is a real killer entitled “Storm Drain’ by Chloe Okuno. This story takes the whole urban legend mythos to a new fucked up level. There is a legend of a half rat half-man living in the sewers. Young reporter Holly and her trusty cameraman try to get to the murky bottom of this legend. They end up finding something conjured from the dark wet depths of hell. The special effects and creature effects are really something special and truly terrifying. All I can say is all hail ‘Raatma.’
Onward to “The Empty Wake’ directed by Simon Barrett. This was probably my least favorite of the anthology but it’s still really killer. A young woman is in charge of watching over a dead body during a late-night wake while a really bad storm blows outside. As the night goes on things start to really go downhill and something undead goes bump in the night. I got a big “Reanimator” vibe from this story and the gory special effects are stunning. If you like old school hide under a blanket and pray horror, this one is for you.
My favorite segment of the whole film is “The Subject” by Timo Tjahjanto. Timo never disappoints and he really kills it with this one. If you are into cybernetic human hybrid killer monstrosities out for blood then you will be very pleased. Just like all of Timo’s work this story is action-packed and full of flying bodyparts and over-the-top gore. The cybernetic creature design is very reminiscent of the abominations from the very underrated film “Frankensteins Army” which is a huge compliment.
The last full segment is “Terror” by Ryan Prows. ‘Terror’ is a really unique twist on the typical vampire film. A team of very unprepared paramilitary group of yokals plans to overthrow the government with their new secret weapon, exploding vampire blood. Let’s just say these dumbasses get what’s coming to them and so much more. I really dug the unique look of the vampire and vicious kills.
At the very end, things roll back into the very first storyline and wraps everything up with a really nice twist. This is hows it’s done in my opinion when you gather a ton of really killer filmmakers and writers. “V/H/S/94” has done it once again and made something truly special. I give “V/H/S/94” a solid 9.5 out of 10. You can find this streaming on the best place for all your horrific needs Shudder.
Jakob's Wife (2021)
Starring: Barbara Crampton, Larry Fessenden, Bonnie Aarons, Nyisha Bell
Directed by: Travis Stevens (Girl on the Third Floor, Cheap Thrills, Mohawk)
Writers: Kathy Charles, Mark Steensland, and Travis Stevens
I was a monster kid growing up and I’m a monster adult kid now. Vampires and Werewolves filled my childhood with all of their horrific goodness. They provided a great escape from the real world for me and really helped me keep my insanity in check for the most part. When I first heard about the new Travis Stevens vampire film “Jakob’s Wife” starring Barbara Crampton and Larry Fessenden I was down. I mean who in their right mind would pass on a Barbara Crampton film.
Jakob’s wife takes a unique spin on a modern-day vampire tale. Yes, there is plenty and I mean plenty of vampire blood-soaked carnage but the focus of Jakob’s Wife is more on self-empowerment and discovery. Anne (Barbara Crampton) lives a mundane unfulfilling life with her preacher husband Jakob (Larry Fessenden). Luckily for Anne darkness has come to her quiet town and changes her life for the better but for some the worse. When I say for the better I mean this new dark vampiric presence played by the talented Bonnie Aarons challenges Anne to change her life for the better while she finds her true self and battles back the darkness.
I was enthralled throughout the film with the strong performances from Barbara and Larry. Their chemistry on screen was powerful and very impressive. It goes to show you what great casting can do for a film that otherwise could have seriously suffered from horrible chemistry. That being said this film would not be near as good without the supremely evil performance of Bonnie Aarons as “The Master.” I have been a fan of hers since her short but extremely terrifying role in “Mulholland Drive.’
“Jakob’s Wife” is such a killer vampire film with so much more to offer than the normally expected clichés of the genre. This film really brings the bloody goods and expands what a horror film can be. “Jakob’s Wife” will definitely be in my top 10 film list this year without a doubt. I give this killer film a strong 8.5 out of 10. You can watch it right now streaming on Shudder.
Vicious Fun (2020)
Director: Cody Calahan ( The Oak Room, Let Her Out, Antisocial)
Starring: Evan Marsh, Amber Goldfarb, Ari Millen, Julian Richings, Robert Maillet, Sean Baek, David Koechner, Alexa Rose Steele.
Writer: Cody Calahan, James Villeneuve
This year has been a bit slow for me when it comes to films that rise beyond the normal fare of just decent films. Thankfully “Vicious Fun” has broken the streak of mediocrity. I was grabbed and pulled into this outrageous 80s throwback blood-drenched horror-comedy right from the start. The first scene was synth-driven horror perfection. Sometimes first impressions are everything especially with me and “Vicious Fun” made one hell of an impression. Also adding Drab Majesty to the soundtrack will definitely improve your odds of me really digging your film, just saying.
“Vicious Fun” is a dark horror comedy that takes place in the eighties that revolves around a group of serial killers (slashers) that meet up for an AA-type program. Unfortunately for Joel (Evan Marsh), he ends up crashing the meeting by mistake and then all hell breaks loose. Luckily for Joel, he has a lot of help from the murder machine Carrie (Amber Goldfarb) who takes down slashers like dominoes.
I really dug the cast of killers for this crazy as hell film. You have your Jason-like slasher, Mike who is played by the hulking Robert Maillet. Then you have the ultra sleazy cousin to Patrick Bateman Bob who is played by the talented Ari Millen. Veteran horror actor Julian Richings plays the killer clown Fritz and dam does he play that role well. Last but not least the final two members of the group are Zachary and Hideo played by David Koechner and Sean Baek. If this all-star lineup of horror bad asses doesn’t get your bloodlust flowing I don’t know what will.
“Vicious Fun” will definitely make my year-end list of favorite films. The dark atmosphere drenched in synth and blood just really hit the mark with me. I highly recommend you give this one a watch on the best streaming service for all things horror Shudder. Trust me you won’t regret this decision. That’s unless you don’t like having a killer time or something. With all this being said I give “Vicious Fun” a bloody 9/10 score.
It Wants Blood (2019)
Director: James Balsamo ( Bite School, Hack Job, Cool As hell, Catch of The Day)
Writer: James Balsamo
Starring: James Balsamo, Eric Roberts, Bill Victor Arucan, Amy Dumas, Ola Ray, Felissa Rose
It’s been a long as hell two weeks of nonstop work so I found it appropriate on my first day off to check out the new James Balsamo film “It Wants Blood!” If you are familiar with James and his production company Acid Bath Productions you already know that you are in store for a bloody as hell laugh till you puke good time. Well before you read any further I can assure you “It Wants Blood!” will not let you down. James has once again made another over-the-top gory as hell practical effect massacre of horror-comedy genius. Also, did I mention it stars WWE legend Amy Dumas aka Lita?
‘It Wants Blood!” tells the classic story of two greedy political candidates battling it out by using two giant-ass Lovecraftian man-eating monsters. It’s a story as old as time itself right? Did I mention that these two giant absurd monstrosities are all done with practical effects? I really dug the design and creativity of the two great beasts. There is a big Larry Cohen feel to the design and execution of the creatures in action. I love the work of the late Larry Cohen so I think this is a big compliment and a huge success for James and the crew.
I have been friends with James Balsamo for years now and I have watched him grow as a filmmaker. Each film he makes is full of love for the genre and respect for those pioneers of indie horror films before him. “It Wants Blood!” may be my favorite film yet from James and Acid bath Productions. I give this crazy as hell film a solid 7.5 out of 10 score. You can rent or buy it right now off of Vimeo. I will have a link down below to rent or buy this film and many more from Acid Bath Productions.
Willy’s Wonderland (2021)
Director: Kevin Lewis ( The Drop, The Method, The Third Nail, Dark heart, Downward Angel)
Writer: G.O. Parsons
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Emily Tosta, Beth Grant, Ric Reitz, Chris Warner, Kai Kadlec, Caylee Cowan, Terayle Hill)
Willy’s Wonderland is a film I have been waiting on for a while now. Since the first trailer dropped last year I have been drooling over seeing this crazy as hell film. I mean what more could you want from a film advertised with Nic Cage fucking up a ton of possessed animatronic monsters. So after finally having the time to sit down and check this one out, I can happily say that Willy’s Wonderland delivered the crazy as hell goods.
I was expecting to be entertained but I was actually blown away by how killer this film turned out to be. The Premise of the movie without giving away any spoilers goes a little like this. Nic Cage breaks down in the middle of a derelict run-down town that may or may not be partaking in human sacrifice to a group of animatronic serial killer devil worshippers. Nic Cage is tasked with cleaning up Willy’s Wonderland amusement center in trade for his car getting fixed. Little do these animatronic terrors know that call Willy’s Wonderland there hunting grounds that their worse enemy has arrived to fuck some shit up. If that doesn’t sound like a shit ton of fun well I don’t know what does.
Some of the things that really stood out for me with Willy’s Wonderland was the fact that Nic Cage never says a word but his physical language alone spoke loud and clear with tremendous hellish energy. It was almost like he channeled Red once again from Mandy to do battle with these monstrous foes. This just goes to show you when utilized in the right way Nic Cage is one of the best actors around and one of my all-time favorites.
The other stand-out aspect of this film for me was the killer practical creature effects and special effects. I loved the design of the killer animatronics. They were simple but really creepy and effective. I was reminded of my childhood years with visits to Showbiz pizza where the animatronic band would play and scare the shit out of me. So watching Nic bash the hell out of these creatures into an oily pulp of electronic debris was killer and super satisfying
The last thing I wanted to touch on that I thought was a killer highlight was the lighting and atmosphere. There are so many films out today that are lacking the mood to convey the terror proficiently, but Willy’s Wonderland excels in this department. The use of darkness and the pinks and reds in the lightning effects really creates a nightmarish landscape straight out of the dream world. It made the monsters twice as intimidating and gave off a fever-dream vibe of dread.
So if you are still with me and dig all of the things above that I wrote then this film is definitely for you. I absolutely loved it and it will most likely be on my top-of-the-year list. I give Willy’s Wonderland a strong 9/10 score. You can find it streaming on all VOD platforms.
At Night Comes Wolves (2021)
Director: Tj Marine ( Paris, My Love, Object in Reality)
Writer: Tj Marine
Starring: Colleen Elizabeth Miller, Madeleine Heil, Vladimir Noel, Myles Foster, Sarah Serio, Gabi Alves, Jacob Allen Weldy)
At Night Comes Wolves delves into the world of misogyny and apocalyptic cults. This film deals with both of these subjects in a unique way that pretty much works throughout the film. I think going into this film I was expecting one thing from the trailer but what I received was something completely different and that’s not a bad thing. Actually, I was relieved to find out this was not another torture revenge film. Instead At Night Comes Wolves is a slow burn physiological horror film with elements of sci-fi and thriller.
The biggest factor for me that stood out the most was the killer performances from Gabi, Jacob, and Colleen. There were moments in this film in which I wanted to beat the shit out of Jacob’s character, well not moments but the entire film. To have the acting ability to make me feel so much hate for a character is pretty dam killer. This was the first time ever seeing Gabi Alves on screen and I hope it’s not the last. She really made me feel for her character with that power performance. Colleen Elizabeth Miller always delivers in everything I see her in and she really excels in evil roles like the one she plays in this film.
At Night Comes Wolves will not be for everyone but if you are a fan of a good slow burn and a bit of a mindfuck I think you will dig it. I would have liked to see a bit more elaborated on the horror occult side of the film. I am a big fan of occult horror and I just wanted more. Overall At Night Comes Wolves succeeds as a film and is definitely worth a watch. This one hits VOD on April 20 of this year so keep your eyes peeled for it. I give At Night Comes Wolves a 7/10 score.
The Nurturing (2020) Short Film
Director: Alex DiVincenzo (Trouser Snake, Cybershock, Ted Bundy Had a son)
Written by: Alex DiVincenzo
Starring: Anthony Gaudette, Marty Smith, Hannah Fierman
This review will be a small mini-review since this is a short film. With that being said Alex DiVincenzo packed in a lot of childhood nightmarish terror into a seven-minute viewing time. When I was a kid one of my greatest fears besides Chucky was the fear of the monster under the bed. This fear also extended its way to the creature in the closet. There is a reason why you don’t hang your feet over the edge of the bed and this film shows why.
There are no big special effects or blood and gore in “The Nurturing” but instead, it thrives on good acting and a heavy sense of dread. Great writing and killer story go a long way in making this a killer short horror film. I would love to see this short possibly get a full length down the road. There is a lot of killer creepy angles this film could take on.
I give “The Nurturing” a solid 8/10 score. You can find it right now streaming for free on youtube. I will leave a link to the film at the end of this review.
Bad Girls (2021)
Directed by: Christopher Bickel ( The Theta Girl, Teenage Caligula, Vampyras Psychedelikas)
Writers: Christopher Bickel, Shane Silman
Starring: Morgan Shaley Renew, Sanethia Dresch, Shelby Lois Guinn, Mike Amason, Jonathan Benton, Dove Dupree, Micah Peroulis, Cleveland Langdale.
I recently watched the new Christopher Bickel film Bad Girls and holy fuck does it live up to its name. Bad Girls is roughly 97-minutes of cocaine-fueled mind-melting full throttle to hell ultraviolent heavy metal goodness. I haven’t had this much fun watching a film in a long time. The balls to the wall approach from Christoper Bickel is a truly welcoming breath of fresh air to genre films. He captures the grindhouse feel of the past with a modern-day touch that is really hard to pull off. The last film to get that formula right was the Planet Terror/Deathproof double feature by Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez.
So with all of that said I want to give a small spoiler-free synopsis of the film. The storyline involves three really badass girls on a bloodthirsty path of terror taking out any jackass who stands in their way to ultimate freedom and a killer good time. In between this super violent spree across country, adventures occur and hostages are taken along for the ride of their lives. If this small spoiler-free wrap-up doesn’t grab you by the throat then this one may not be for you and most likely you are a very dull person who doesn’t enjoy a gore-filled good time.
When it comes to really killer effects and trippy cinematography with a badass heavy metal soundtrack Bad Girls really crushes it and leaves no prisoners. I am a sucker for good practical effects and I was super pleased with the outcome of Bad Girls. There was a fine balance of light CGI work with a good bit of old-school blood and guts. The cinematography was stellar and gave off a bit of a Rob zombie-type feel accompanied by the metal soundtrack. These are some of the elements I look for in a good film.
Before I close out my review of Bad Girls I just want to say that all the performances by the very talented stars of Bad Girls really killed it. Also on top of that Christopher Bickel, you are a force to be reckoned with and your style is truly your own and it’s killer. I give Bad Girls a strong 8.5 out of 10 score. You can get yourself a copy now from their IndieGoGo page that I will link at the bottom of this review.
Dolos (2021) Short Film
Directed by: Colleen Elizabeth Miller (Conversations with Myself, Gertie & Dolly, One-Armed Rabbit, Howling Moon, )
Written by: Colleen Elizabeth Miller
Starring: Colleen Elizabeth Miller, Ben Richardson, Tim Prasil
Dolos is yet another really killer dark horror short from the very talented Colleen Elizabeth Miller. When I first started to really get into writing reviews for my website Colleen was one of the first to send me a screener to review and it really helped jumpstart my journey into the writing world. So when Colleen sent me a screener for her new short film I was all in.
Dolos is a dark tale of revenge and retribution set back in Victorian times with a bleak gothic feel. On top of all this Dolos is full of killer emotion and dialogue thanks to Colleen Miller’s amazing performance. Combine all of this with great cinematography and a nice twist ending and boom you have yourself a killer short film that I really dug.
I highly recommend you check out the powerful Dolos when it makes its way around the festival circuit. I give Dolos a solid 9/10 score.
Wishmaster (Novel 2021)
Written by: Christian Francis
Screenplay: Peter Atkins
Published by: Encyclopocalypse Publications
The Wishmaster film has always held a special place in my heart since I first witnessed the grotesque carnage on the screen when I was a teenager. I was blown away by the brilliant use of practical effects and the killer performance from the great but underrated actor Andrew Divoff as The Djinn. So when I got word about a novelization of Wishmaster I was floored and requested a copy to review. If you have not been exposed to this masterpiece of horror cinema and now novel, I will give you a quick synopsis without giving too much away.
The ancient evil known as a Djinn is resurrected from a fiery gem prison by accident and is unleashed upon the earth. If he grants three wishes all hell will be let loose upon humanity and the Djinn will sit atop a mountain of gore as king of this universe. The only person who can put an end to this madness is Alexandra Amberson a mere mortal against a darkness older than humankind. This is the ultimate battle of good versus evil.
If the synopsis doesn’t grab you by the throat then this book may not be for you, but if you dig indescribable evils and eternal torment then this one will be for you. Christian Francis really nailed the dark foreboding theme of the film and transcribed it perfectly into this novel. While I was reading along I could picture everything from the movie happening all over again in my head. The Wishmaster novel is a perfect companion piece to the film. I think the book expands the story more and you really get to know the characters on a deeper level. The evil of the Djinn definitely takes hold of you while you read along and delve deeper into the madness.
The Wishmaster novel is a complete success and a killer tribute to the film in which I love. I really enjoyed reading this one immensely and I definitely recommend you check it out. If you are a fan of the great Clive Barker or King’s work then this one is for you. I give the Wishmaster a 9.5 out of 10 score and you can find it now on Amazon to buy
Psycho Goreman (2020)
Directed by: Steven Kostanski ( The Void, Leprechaun Returns, ABC’s of Death 2, Bio-Cop, Manborg, Father’s Day)
Writer: Steven Kostanski
Starring: Matthew Ninaber, Kristen MacCulloch, Rick Amsbury, Adam Brooks, Nita-Josee Hanna, Owen Myre, Alexis Kara Hancey.
It has been a somewhat long wait to check out the gore-filled craziness of Psycho Goreman. Was it worth the wait, hell yes it was worth the wait. Before I get into the review I will fill you in a bit on the synopsis of the film. Brother and sister duo played by the super talented young stars Nita-Josee Hanna and Owen Myre uncover a strange glowing gem hidden in the ground. Little did they know this gem holds the power to control the almighty bringer of death and alien world-destroyer The Arch Duke of Nightmares also known as Psycho Goreman renamed by the siblings.
Once the kids release Psycho Goreman from his prison underground it’s nothing but blood, guts, and intergalactic warfare that could end humanity as we know it. So that’s a basic synopsis without giving away all the secrets and fun of the film. If that brief description doesn’t get your blood pumping to near heart attack level well check your pulse to make sure you are still alive.
From the very first scene to the very last scene Psycho Goreman is nonstop bloody violent fun. I would describe it as “Wishmaster” meets “The Guyver” with just a touch of “The Monstersqaud”. If you have seen some of the killer crazy as hell films from the director Steven Kostanski like “Manborg” or “The Void” you should know what you are getting into. If you are still digging what you are reading continue onward.
To me, the biggest highlight of the film was the killer use of old school practical effects and makeup work. Everything about this film oozes the 80s gore-soaked monster mayhem. It’s a rarity nowadays to see well-done full monster/creature makeup but with Psycho Goreman you see not just one creature but a small army’s worth of intergalactic weirdness. The effects and makeup crews really crushed it with this film.
When it comes to the story and all-around portrayal of the film it’s just a lot of mindless fun. It doesn’t take its self seriously and it plays heavily on the horror-comedy side of things. I think it’s the film we need now at the start of this new year. I mean we don’t need the monster alien madness in real life although it would be interesting, we do need a killer film to get lost in for a moment or so and forget all the serious bullshit of life. Psycho Goreman is definitely that film and I highly recommend you checking this one out. I give Psycho Goreman a solid 8.5 out of 10. It is streaming on all VOD sites as of right now, there is also some Blu-ray and DVD preorders up on Amazon.
Top 10 films of 2020 💀
Directed by: Adam Egypt Mortimer ( Daniel Isn’t Real, Some Kind of Hate, Holidays)
Writers: Adam Egypt Mortimer, Luke Passmore
Starring: Skylan Brooks, Zolee Griggs, Glenn Howerton, Joe Manganiello, Joseph D. Reitman, Paul Scheer, Amy Seimetz)
Archenemy was one of my most anticipated films of this year and I just got done checking it out on VOD. I will say this before I go any further, this one definitely didn’t disappoint. Archenemy is a “superhero” film turned upside down on its head. It’s pretty much anti any superhero film you have ever seen. It revolves around Joe Manganiello’s character Max who may or may not be a badass other-dimensional hero helping out a brother and sister played by Zolee Griggs and Skylan Brooks who are trying to escape the dark underbelly of a drug ruined city. Now imagine all of this on a crazy psychedelic trip and then you have Archenemy in a nutshell. If all of this sounds killer to you then keep on reading or rent this one right away.
I really love the badass anti-hero when done right and Max Fist is that badass. He is kind of a mix of the punisher and a homeless superman. It sounds a bit crazy but it works really well. Joe is a super talented actor that puts the role of Max over the edge almost into complete insanity. He is the epitome of the antihero in my opinion. The casting for this role was spot on for this role. We all know a good hero needs some help from time to time and the brother-sister duo of Indigo and Hamster take the reigns in stride. I was not familiar with Skylan Brooks or Zolee Griggs but dam did they crush their roles to perfection. I was really impressed with both of them and I can’t wait to check out more of their work. Lastly being a big “Always Sunny in Philadelphia” fan I was elated to see Glenn Howerton playing the role he was made for, the greasy easy-to-hate villain “The Manager.” This part was made for the talented jack of all trades Glenn Howerton.
Lastly, I would like to touch on the killer cinematography and animations used in this film. Archenemy was shot beautifully and had that super dark tone to it that Adam Egypt Mortimer is known for. It’s almost like peering into another dimension similar to ours but instead, it glimmers blues and reds in otherworldy manners. It’s not the easiest thing to put into words it’s something that must be seen to truly understand. On top of all this, the hand-drawn animation flashbacks are the icing on the cake. The animations added so much depth and style to this film which really made it memorable and something you would want to revisit time and time again.
I highly recommend you giving Archenemy a watch as soon as possible. I give Archenemy a solid 8.5/10 score. You can find it for rent on all VOD sites.
The Dark and the Wicked (2020)
Directed by: Bryan Bertino ( The Strangers, The Blackcoats Daughter, The Monster)
Writer: Bryan Bertino
Starring: Marin Ireland, Micheal Abbott Jr., Julie Oliver-Touchstone, Lynn Andrews, Tom Nowicki, Michael Zagst, Xander Berkeley)
It’s the last month of this very very strange year and it has not been the best year for theatrical releases. In fact, it has been a terribly depressive year for big movie theater releases. Luckily there have been some really killer direct-to-video releases. “The Dark and the Wicked’ is not only a killer VOD movie but it also made my list for this year’s best films.
“The Dark and the Wicked” is written and directed by the very talented Bryan Bertino. He is the mind behind ‘The Strangers” and “The Blackcoats Daughter” so if that doesn’t get your attention I don’t know what will. “The Dark and the Wicked” is a southern pitch black dark tell of death and the purist of evils revolving around the father of darkness Satan himself. The story without giving away too many spoilers involves a brother and sister returning home to try and help out their mother as their father slowly dies. I mean it sounds like a pretty straightforward premise but I assure you this one is a true hellish ride into the dark abyss.
I am not one to throw around the phrase dark abyss all over the place but this may be one of the bleakest darkest nihilistic films to come around in a long time. “The Dark and the Wicked” doesn’t rely on brutal scenes of violence or gore to punish your senses but instead it drowns you in a sea of pure hopelessness and despair. There is no light at the end of this tunnel only hell. It’s all about the atmosphere in this film and it engulfs you throughout. I draw some comparisons with another great film “The Witch.” This film almost feels like it could be its southern US modern brethren.
When it comes to acting and effects “The Dark and the Wicked” excels in both aspects. Marin Ireland and Michael Abbott Jr really nail it in their roles as brother and sister. The raw emotions they throw out is cosmic. I single these two actors out but really all the actors were superb and well-chosen. On the effect side of things, they were used sparingly but very effectively. There is one scene in particular that will make you think twice when using a kitchen knife. Well, really there are a few scenes that will make you wince with fear.
I highly recommend you check “The Dark and the Wicked” out but be warned this one is not for the faint of heart. This is a dark ride that keeps on getting darker. You can find this killer film on all VOD sites to rent. I give “The Dark and the Wicked” a 9.5 out of 10.
Welcome to the Horror Show (2019)
Directed by: (Grace Murphy, Ryan Joseph Murphy)
Writers: (Martin Julio Castillo, Grace Murphy, Ryan Joseph Murphy)
Starring: ( Ryan Joseph Murphy, Virginia Montero, Taylor Nicolette, Jared Wernick, Matthew Evanoff, Shannon Bengston, Alejandro Herrera, John Bigham)
“Welcome to the Horror Show” is an independent first of its kind digital horror short anthology. There are 3 different shorts as of right now and they are all really well done and unique. I picked up on a “Tales from the Crypt” feel mixed with a “Tales from the Darkside” vibe with a touch of “The Outer Limits”. If any of these killer horror anthologies call your name then you will most likely dig what “Welcome to the Horror show” is throwing your way.
Like I said above there are 3 different horror shorts involved in this anthology. I will touch on each of them a bit and give you an idea of what to expect without spoiling things. The first story is called “Ping” and it involves an uber like driver with a mysterious passager with a dark otherworldly secret. I really enjoyed this story and the bleak no hope outcome. The next story is a good one, especially for the holiday season. The title is “Turkey Slay” and yea it definitely lives up to the name. Just like the film before it and after, “Turkey Slay” is really clever and throws you for a loop with a surprise ending. It’s a tale of revenge and murder by turkey. If that doesn’t sound interesting for the Thanksgiving season then I don’t know what will. The last story I will touch on is” La Calavera”. This one is really short but sweet in an undead creature sort of way. This is the story for all those zombie fans out there looking for a quick bite.
I really think “Welcome to the Horror Show” nailed it with the killer acting and great storytelling. I also really enjoyed Ryan Murphy as the host and keeper of the horror. There is something really sinister and unnerving about his performance in which I love. “Welcome to the Horror Show” gets an 8/10 score from me and I hope to see more episodes in the future. You can catch this one on youtube and I will have a link to the channel down below.
@yourhorrorshow on Twitter and Instagram
The Tell Tale Heart (2020) short film
Directed by: McClain Lindquist
Starring: (Sonny Grimsley, James C. Morris, Mikah Olsen, and Teren Turner)
The Tell Tale Heart horror short film is a retelling of Edgar Allen Poe’s macabre story, and wow what a horrifying retelling it is in a great way. Right from the start you are captured and dragged down into the depths of gothic darkness toward a tale of murder and madness. Sonny Grimsley the narrator and main actor portrays the downfall into utter madness and lunacy so well it’s really unnerving and extremely disturbing and I love it.
Mood and atmosphere are key factors for setting the stage and honoring Poe’s work and The Tell Tale Heart handles this feat with ease. Everything from the costumes to the set design really made me feel like this came from the master Poe himself. He would be more than pleased with what was achieved in the visual aspect of this film.
Last but not least I want to talk about the makeup effects. I really dug the creepy old man makeup job. It was almost a monster makeup which makes sense because this is the way The Narrator sees him. The old man is more than capable of haunting your dreams with that demonic dead eye. There is one scene in particular that really brings a chill to the bones and that’s when the old man goes from somewhat human to complete demonic terror for a split second. So once again killer work on the effects department for creating some memorable nightmare fuel.
The Tell Tale Heart is really killer and well done. I highly recommend you give it a watch and try not to descend into utter madness. I mean it’s absolutely possible while viewing this film. I give The Tell Tale Heart a dreadful 9/10 score.
Night of the Axe (2019) /Spirit Board Doorway to Death (2020) short films
Night of the Axe (2019) Short film
Director: Shawn Wright (Spirit Board: Doorway to Death, Laugh Till You Die)
Written by: Shawn Wright
Starring: Myranda Saylor, Stephanie Krebs, Patricia Lewis, Sam Pseudo, Randy Meehan.
Night of the Axe is a really solid independent throwback horror slasher short. Shawn did a really killer job in presenting a true back to basics old school horror film. There’s no crazy hard to follow plot or mindboggling storyline of who done it. It’s very straight up here is the manic ax killer and here are the victims and possible final girl. Simple easy and very effective when done the right way.
The story involves a giant maniac killer known as “The Beast” going on an ax-wielding killing spree targeting a group of women trying to have a good time. This is a tale as old as time but still really effective and to the point. Like I said above a good film does not have to be over complicated to get the message across.
The last few things I want to talk about are the performances and special effects. The acting from the group of protagonists was spot on and very effective. The feeling of fear and terror was conveyed really well. I also really enjoyed the choice of using a big intimidating actor to play “The Beast”, he definitely lived up to the name. When it comes to the special effects in “Night of The Axe” the blood and gore were aplenty and practical just that way I like it in a good slasher.
“Night of The Axe” is one for the fans of old school independent horror. It’s done with a lot of heart and knowledge of the genre. I give” Night of The Axe” a solid 8/10 score. You can find it streaming on Vimeo for free. I will have a link down below so you can check it out.
Spirit Board: Doorway to Death (2020) short film
Directed by: Shawn Wright (Night of the Axe, Laugh Till You Die)
Writers: (Wade Brown, Shawn Wright)
Starring: Gary Carper, Bethany Jedlicka, Stephanie Krebs, Renee Tapla, Shawn Wright
“Spirit Board: Doorway to Death” is another throwback to the older days of horror. The story is simple and straight forward. A group of friends get together and try to make contact with the other side through an ouija board. I mean that sounds like a really killer night to me. Hell if you throw in some possession on top of that it would be a most excellent night.
Once again Shawn does a really killer job making another very effective simple ode to the past horror short. The acting is on point and the special effect are practical and enjoyable. I got a Witchboard type feeling from this one which is a compliment.
This film should be paired with “Night of the Axe” as a double feature in my opinion. You can find this film on Vimeo and I will have a link down below. I give “Spirit Board: Doorway to Death a 7.5 out of 10. Go check it out and keep an eye out for Shawn’s future work because he is one to look out for.
Mistress of Bones (2020) Short film
Directed by: Gigi Saul Guerrero ( El Gigante, The Purge, Into the Dark: Culture Shock, ABC’s of Death 2.5)
Written by: Shane Mckenzie
Starring: (Edwin Perez, Michael Issa Rubio, Gabriel Carter, Nicole Muñoz)
I just finished watching the new Luchagore short film Mistress of Bones directed by the super talented all-around badass Gigi Saul Guerrero and dam it was killer. I have been a fan of the Luchagore films for a while now and they never disappoint. Mistress of Bones just like all the other films before exceeds all expectations and left me drenched in blood. Gigi never holds back and she definitely let the mayhem fly with this one.
Mistress of Bones is about two greedy grave robbers looking for an ancient amulet to raise an evil Aztec God. They just didn’t count on the Mistress of Bones swooping in and channeling some Jason Vorhees carnage, but instead of using a machete, she swings the Macuahuitl, a wooden club with obsidian blades. I am a big fan of the choice of weaponry used by the protagonist. You don’t see the Macuahuiti used much in films and that’s a shame because it’s absolutely devastating.
Mistress of Bones is just plain killer and a ton of fun. I would really love to see a full-length film in the future. The story is unique and the Aztec history behind the film is super intriguing. If you have never heard about Luchagore films or Gigi Guerrero you better go and study up on their work because you are missing out on some of the most unique fresh horror talent around. I give the horror short Mistress of Bones a solid 10/10. You can find it right now streaming for free on Crypt TV. They have a channel on youtube. Also the link for the film is down below.
Intrusion: Disconnected (2020)
Directed by: Kyle Cates (Reap, The Rink, Intrusion)
Written By: Craig Everett Earl
Starring: (Katie Stewart, Lee Haycraft, Sabrina Scott, Tiffany Shepis)
I am guilty of not seeing the first film in the Intrusion series, but I think this film gives a good recap of what went on from the first film. Intrusion: Disconnected is the classic story of the crazed stalker/slasher vs the strong final girl. Behind all the knife-wielding carnage there is a decent storyline to back up the bloodshed.
Intrusion: Disconnected pays respect to the slasher films that came before it and its shows throughout. The body count would make Michael Myers smile a bit if he wasn’t a soulless embodiment of pure evil. The kills are not that creative but they are effective and get the job done literally. The really great thing about the kills and bloodshed is that there is no CGI used that I can tell. The less CGI the better for my viewing pleasure, but there is a place for really well-done CGI in certain kinds of films.
The big standout performance in this film goes to Katie Stewart. She absolutely crushes the role of the strong final girl. There are big glimpses of Laurie Strode and Sarah Connor all over Katie’s performance. Laurie Strode and Sarah Connor are two of the most badass female leads in horror and sci-fi history. I hope to see Katie in more roles in the future because I really believe she has a strong career in front of her.
Overall Intrusion: Disconnected is a solid lower budget slasher horror thriller that delivers the bloody goods. I definitely recommend this one to all the horror fans who dig the old school slasher flicks with a little bit of extra drama thrown in. I give Intrusion: Disconnected a solid 7/10 score. You can find this film streaming on Amazon.
Psycho Ape! (2020)
Directed by: Addison Binek (Tromasterpiece Theatre: The Battle of Love’s Return, Kevin Walter’s Tower Rats, Tromasterpiece Theatre: Poultrygeist)
Writers: Stephen Albers, Addison Binek, Greg Deliso
Starring: Kansas Bowling, Bill Weeden, Stephen Albers
2020 has been a crazy year and I think we could all use a good laugh. Well, you are in luck with the off-the-wall crazy horror comedy Psycho ape!. Psycho Ape! Plays out just the way the title says, a psycho ape is on the loose around town killing tons of folks with his trusty banana. In between all the crazy banana violence, the hairy murderous primate manages to find love with the ape obsessed Nancy Banana (Kansas Bowling)while being tracked by the fanatical Dr. ZOOmis played by the exceptional Bill Weeden. I mean if that doesn’t catch your attention I’m not sure it can be caught.
Psycho Ape! plays homage to many horror films before it like Haloween, King Kong, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Pyscho but all done in an apish manner. There are tons of inuendos throughout this crazy bananas film. I love the fact that this film does not take its self seriously but uses it as a strength throughout. A big kudos to the director Addison Binek for keeping this movie super fun and light-hearted.
The last thing I want to talk about is the killer performances from Bill Weeden and Kansas Bowling. They played off each other so well and the comedic chemistry was top notch. You would have thought these two have been acting together for ages. It was like a great meeting between the old guard and the new rising guard of horror comedies and film in general.
So with all that said I really enjoyed Pyscho Ape!. It has enough blood and guts for the gorehounds and all the comedic ape violence one can handle. If you are a Troma film fan you will absolutely dig Psycho Ape!. I give this totally bananas film a strong 7.5 out of 10. You can find it out on VOD soon, so make sure to follow Pyscho Ape! On social media.
The Stylist (2020)
Directed by: Jill (Sixx) Gevargizian (Bff Girls, One last Meal, Watch if You Dare, 42 Counts, Dark Web, The Stylist Short Film)
Writers: Jill (Sixx) Gevargizian, Eric Havens, and Eric Stolze
Starring: Brea Grant, Nejarra Townsend, Laura Kirk, Sarah McGuire
I had really high hopes for The Stylist after first checking out the short film version on Shudder a while back. So my standards were set pretty dam high before I sat down and watched the world premiere from Fantastic Fest on my couch thanks to Alamo Draft House on demand. Well, I can tell you right now that The Stylist surpassed all my expectations and delivered one of the best horror films of the year.
Right from the start, I was mesmerized by the killer cinematography. The use of reds and blues really does it for me when it comes to catching my attention. I think this is one of the main reasons the film Mandy has such a stronghold on me. The lighting and the whole color scheme throughout The Stylist was just pure genius and really reflected the antagonist’s unlit view on the world.
The next thing I want to talk about is the stellar performance from Najarra Townsend and Brea Grant. They absolutely crushed their roles and ate up every dark scene. Najarra’s role as Claire was downright frightening and chilling to the bone. In my eyes, she was part Leatherface with just a hint of May, well maybe more than just a hint and a touch of Frank Zito. As scary and brutal as she was I still felt for her and the longing to belong. As a somewhat introverted person, I can totally feel this. Then you have Brea’s character Olivia who is on the opposite spectrum of life and plays the part to perfection. She is everything Claire wants to be even if it means killing to get there.
The Stylist was able to achieve just the right amount of brutality mixed with a great original story. Most of the time with films you either get one or the other but the balance achieved with The Stylist was really killer. Just the idea of a killer stylist, someone you put trust in with sharp objects really close to vital areas is ingenious. There is something for every type of horror and thriller fan packed into this great piece of work. Also on a side note, I really dug the practical special effects. There is nothing better than some killer practical effects work.
Lastly, all I have to say is wow what a heavy hitter of a film. Jill and crew really delivered something unique and special. I will be keeping my fingers crossed for a possible sequel. I give The Stylist a 9/10 score and you can find it on the festival circuit making its rounds.
Anonymous Killers (2020)
Directed by: A.R. Hilton (The Death of a Prince)
Written by: A.R. Hilton
Starring: Natassia Halabi, Dominic Pace, Sandra Staggs, Gabriela Lopez, Patrick Caberty, Kevin Glikmann, Nathanyael Grey, Andrew Bonglorno
Its been a while since I have seen a decent crime/thriller and Anonymous Killers broke the streak. Now keep in mind this is not just a straight-up crime thriller, there are horror elements thrown in throughout but especially towards the end. I think this is what really caught my attention and gave this film some real bite and venom. Perhaps this film will start the trend of dark crime thrillers that we had in abundance during the 90s.
Anonymous Killers does not reinvent the wheel but it does add a bit of something different to the genre. The something different is the added element of horror. It’s not overwhelming buts its there in spurts. I got the feeling that this film could be set in the Saw universe. If you are looking for something to hold you off until Spiral comes out then I think you will be pleased with this offering.
The other big highlight of Anonymous Killers is the phenomenal acting from a cast I have not heard of until now. There is not a big hitter really but as a whole they just killed it. If I had to pick one standout performance it would be Nathanyael Grey the devilish antihero and judge of impending doom. There wasn't anyone lacking in the bad acting department and that’s a really rare thing.
My final thoughts on Anonymous Killers is that its a solid film and a really well-done first full length from the director A.R. Hilton. I think it will appeal to a wide audience of horror fans and crime thriller fans. Also, I want to point out not to go into this film expecting a ton of blood or gore even though I made reference to the Saw franchise. It hits on the Saw series in other notable ways that you will pick up on. So with all this being said, I give Anonymous Killers a solid 7.5 out of 10 score. You can find this streaming on October 6 on VOD. Check out the film’s website for more updated info.
Thr33 Days Dead (2014)
Directed by: John M. Ware ( Town of the Living Dead)
Starring: (Bryan Boylen, Gary A. Carreker, Catie Teeter, Chase Lawrence)
Thr33 Days Dead is an independent zombie film that came out a few years ago. Its one of the first zombie films I have seen that takes place in Alabama. Most of the time the prime state of choice for zombie films is Georgia. I can tell you from first-hand experience that if a zombie breakout did happen in Alabama we would be in store for a real shit show.
Thr33 Days Dead is a horror-comedy that pits a group of friends against the undead gut-munching townsfolk. The result is a decent low budget blood spewing entrail eating zombie romp in the country. This film does not reinvent the wheel but it does pay respect to all the zombie films to come before it. I also thought it was cool to have so many people from the town participating in the zombie mayhem, from kids to adults they came out to eat some guts.
The zombie makeups and gore effects were pretty good and worthy of the zombie genre. I wish there were a bit more gore buts that’s just my preference in films like these. Overall you got the feeling that this was a town overrun with the undead and escape is futile.
I would recommend this film to the zombie genre completist. If you have been looking for your zombie fix give Thr33 Days Dead a watch. I give Thr33 Days Dead a 6 out of 10.
A Werewolf in England (2020)
Directed by: Charlie Steeds ( Vampire Virus, Winterskin, Deadman Apocalypse, Death Ranch)
Writer: Charlie Steeds
Starring: (Reece Connolly, Tim Cartwright, Natalie Martins, Mark Mckirdy)
I have been saying this for years now it seems, but we need more werewolf films. I think its a genre that has been overlooked since the early nineties. There have been a few exceptions over the years like “Wer,” ‘Ginger Snaps,” “Late Phases,” “Dog Soldiers” and a few others. So when Charlie Steeds the director and writer of “A Werewolf in England” hit me up about a review I was down.
Well, I can say before you even read any further “A Werewolf in England” was a fun hair-raising moon howling good time. I went into this film pretty much blind except for seeing some screenshots of the werewolves. I prefer to do this with any film I watch nowadays just because of potential spoilers.
I was expecting a serious maybe “An American Werewolf in London” homage, but what I got was a killer almost Sam Raimi ish werewolf horror-comedy. I was thoroughly entertained from start to finish. “A Werewolf in England” is full of laughs and memorable moments, like the scene with werewolf diarrhea explosion. Yea you won’t forget that moment for at least a week or four. There was also a killer scene where one of the werewolves was kicked in the balls. This to me felt like a tribute to “Monster Squad” with the famous quote by Horace “Wolfman’s got nards.”
Besides all the laughs and craziness, there is a killer original story supported by great acting. I was not familiar with any of the cast but they made a mark with me and I will keep an eye out for them in the future. I really dug Tim Cartwright’s role as Horace Raycraft. He had the John Malkovich thing going on and that’s a really good thing.
Lastly, I am really happy to say that all the effects were practical, including the werewolves. This was a huge plus in my book, there’s nothing worse than a CGI werewolf. I’m sure it can be done when the tech gets better but as of now, its a no go. The werewolf design reminded me a lot of the “Late Phases” werewolves. So if you dig that design you will like these werewolves. There is also a good bit of gore and severed limbs, so that’s a bonus for the gorehounds.
My rating for “A Werewolf in England” is a solid 7.5 out of 10. You should most definitely check it out when it comes out. It’s the film we need in these crazy times to take away a bit of the stress with some fun crazy werewolf mayhem. “A Werewolf in England” comes on September 28th in the UK, the US release date is not confirmed yet.
Old Man Forever (2020)
Directed by: Nickolas Duarte (Jay, Where the Sun Goes to Die, Dead Languages, Trouble Will Find Her)
Written by: Sonia Campbell (Triplet, Matchbook)
Starring: Joseph Lopez and Tomm Jacobsen
I just had the opportunity to check out the short horror film “Old Man Forever” before its full release. All I have to say is wow, what a mindblowing insanely dark moody piece of artistic tour de force. The first thing that really caught my interest was the main star, Joseph Lopez. His presence and portrayal of an aging vampire passed his prime was absolutely killer. I will definitely keep a lookout for his future works.
The second aspect that really caught my attention was the killer cinematography. The dark purples and the almost silver sheen really highlighted this bleak universe. It reminded me a lot of a Nicolas Refn film which I think is a great compliment. Finally, the last aspect I want to talk about is the great score. It complemented the film really well and added a deepness to it almost as if you were experiencing a fever-like dream.
I give “Old Man Forever” a 10/10 score. It really hit on everything I love about film. Keep your eyes peeled and your neck covered up for this one.
Zombies from Sector 9 (2020)
Directed by: Rob Ceus ( House of the Rotting Flesh, The Writer, Necro)
Written by: Rob Ceus and Inge Vanleene
Starring: (Manoush, Tim Dedobbelaere, Veronique Seghers,Sebastien Godin)
“Zombies from Sector 9” is the first full-length zombie film from Belgium and it delivers a ton of blood guts and chainsaw mayhem. My good friend and director of “Circus of the Dead” Billy Pon gave me the heads up on this film and I am really happy that he did. “Zombies from Sector 9” is insane and full of great zombie kills. The action is nonstop and the egregious amount of gore would make Herschell Gordon Lewis blush.
The lack of action and thrills in most modern zombie films really bothers me. It may be the catalyst for me becoming burned out on the zombie genre as a whole. Luckily with “Zombies from Sector 9”, I was engaged throughout the film. Between the gratuitous chainsaw dismemberments and inventive zombie kills, you will be most definitely be entertained.
The other really killer aspect of this film I liked a lot was the homage paid to the horror films of the past that paved the way for the genre. At the beginning of the film we get to see the main badass zombie killer Bookwalker’s room. It’s filled with great horror posters and VHS films. He is also watching ‘Night of the Living Dead” which pays respect to the grandfather of all zombie films. Bookwalker also wears a “Bad Taste” t-shirt throughout the film. For those that don’t know, “Bad Taste” was the super gory first full-length film from the great director Peter Jackson.
I highly recommend you keep an eye out for this film when it finally releases. It’s not a perfect film but its fun and made with a lot of love for the genre. I give “Zombies from Sector 9” a 7/10 score.
Directed by: Lorcan Finnegan ( Without Name, Foxes, Nocebo)
Written by: Lorcan Finnegan and Garret Shanley
Starring: (Imogen Poots, Jesse Eisenberg, Jonathan Aris, Senan Jennings, Eanna Hardwicke)
In a world of played out horror tropes and mediocrity there comes a film that breaks the mold and Vivarium is that film. Vivarium is not your typical horror film it’s more sci-fi horror than just straight horror and I’m definitely fine with that. If you have ever seen the killer Channel Zero series on Shudder you will get the same feeling of dread and downright creepiness and weirdness that will put you off-kilter for weeks to come.
The story is simple enough at first, a young couple goes about looking for a house and find the perfect one but there is a catch. Once you are in you can never get out. When you think you have grasped the storyline and you know what to expect Vivarium turns everything around on you and throws you down the rabbit hole never to return. Not even Alice could come back from this one unscathed.
After watching Vivarium my head was swimming with thoughts of what did I just watch and what if this happens to me and my wife. Otherworldly forces that could possibly be a reality freaks me out to no extent. We are definitely not the only living creatures in this universe. This film explores that possibility but it never gives you a definite answer to if this force is something of the demonic realm or something from beyond the heavens. The truth is out there somewhere between the two possibilities, but the movie leaves the final conclusion up to the viewer.
So far there are two films at the top of my list for the best of the year and this one is up there for me with Color Out of Space. Those two films would make for a great double feature but beware your mind could be blown to another dimension and it may never return. I give Vivarium a solid 9/10 and you can find it right now streaming on Amazon Prime.
The Au Pair Nightmare (2020)
Director by: Joe Russo ( Nightmare Cinema, Midnight Clear, Be Mine, Who’s There, Monsters)
Writers: Chris LaMont, Joe Russo
Starring: (Annie Heise, Tristan Thomas, Brytnee Ratledge, Trevor Donovan)
The Au Pair Nightmare is most definitely not the normal kind of film I review but it was worth it to venture outside the box. This is Joe Russo’s first full-motion picture and I am proud to know him and have the chance to check this film out. You may know Joe from his producing role in the killer Mick Garris horror anthology Nightmare Cinema or if you are a big-time horror podcast listener you will know Joe from the Postmortem podcast with Mick Garris.
The Au Pair Nightmare is first and foremost a thriller with some horror elements. So don’t expect a horrific bloodbath filled with death and chaos, but you can expect to be sitting on the edge of your seat from the building tension and unnerving suspense. I got the overwhelming Hitchcock feeling while glued to my tv checking out this film. There is something really dark here underneath the shiny gleam of the cinema photography.
The Twist and turns are abundant and keeps you guessing until the very end. I also have to point out my favorite role in this film was played by Annie Heise. She portrayed the epitome of evil so well and really knocked her role out of the park. I thought the rest of the cast was good but there was something about Annie that really gives you the chills.
Overall I had a really fun time watching The Au Pair Nightmare and I think for this being Joe’s first full-length film he really killed it. I can’t wait to see what he will do next in the future. You can check out this film on the Lifetime channel. I give The Au Pair Nightmare a 7.5 score out of 10.
Catch of the Day 2: You Die At Dawn! (2019)
Directed by: James Balsamo ( The Litch, Cool as Hell, Bite School, I Spill Your Guts)
Writer: James Balsamo
Starring: James Balsamo, Ash Khan, Mikaela Moody, Mike Baez, Kreskin, Bill Weeden.
I have been friends with James Balsamo for many years now and I am always excited to check out his new films. The first thing you should know before you watch any Acidbath Productions film in which James runs is that you are in store for a crazy fun-filled gory good time. James is definitely one of the hardest working filmmakers out there and Catch of the Day 2 definitely shows it.
Right from the start COTD2 hits the ground running for 90 minutes of pure slapstick fucked up craziness. This is to be expected with a Balsamo picture and its glorious. COTD2 takes you on an adventure following two numbskull cops on the case chasing after a crazed nazi serial killer who leaves carnage in her wake. This film is loaded with debauchery and heavy metal. My band Tripping the Mechanism has two songs in this film and it was a true honor.
If you dig cameos from old school actors and celebrities of the genre, well you are in for a treat because this film is stacked with them. If you were a fan of the old school wrestling tag team the Bushwackers and the psychological master of terror Jake the Snake Roberts, well you are in for a killer surprise. The nostalgia factor of COTD2 will hit you like a clothesline.
COTD2 has a little something for everybody from the fans of practical effects to the fans of raunchy unforgiving horror-comedy and beyond. Catch of the Day 2 is not a big-budget Oscar-winning film but instead its a low budget big-hearted film directed with a passion for the genre. I give Catch of the Day 2 a strong 7.5 and you should definitely check it out and escape a bit from all the craziness around us. You can rent or buy COTD2 on Vimeo right now!!
I See You (2019)
Directed by: Adam Randall (Night Teeth, iBoy, Level Up)
Written by: Devon Graye
Starring: Helen Hunt, Jon Tenney, Judah Lewis, Owen Teague, Libe Barer.
Once again I have to thank the always killer horror podcast Shockwaves pod and more specifically Rebekah McKendry for the killer heads up on this film that I would have probably passed over any other time. I See You is a suspense-filled drive down an old country road full of twists and turns you never saw coming. Just when you think you have a grasp on what’s really going on I See You throws another curveball straight to the skull.
From start to finish I was entranced by the enthralling story and phenomenal acting from all of the stellar cast. It was pretty cool seeing Helen Hunt in a role like this. She is not really known for being in horror or thriller films but I would definitely like to check her out in more films from the genre. This was definitely one of the better-written films that I have seen in a long while. It kept me guessing all the way up to the climax of the film and then it still had a few more surprises up its sleeve.
I See You is not the typical horror film so if you go into this expecting the normal horror tropes, well you might be disappointed, but if you dig mystery thrillers with a touch of a Stephen King feel to it you will really love this film. I thought it was a really refreshing reset from what I normally watch and it challenged me and made me think a bit more than I would in a typical horror film. It feels good to go outside your movie comfort zone and enjoy something different once and a while.
I highly recommend you check out I See You as soon as possible. You can find it streaming on Amazon Prime and to rent at all your favorite VOD sites. I give I See You a solid 9/10.
Life Insurance Lottery (2019)
Directed by Chuck Norfolk: (Conjoined, Getting Schooled, Bar Room Blitz, It’s Not Your Grandma)
Writer: Chuck Norfolk
Starring: Tom Long, Haley Hussey, Brad Potts, Joe Grisaffi, Chaney Moore, Romen L.McPherson, Gary Smith, and Victoria Yap.
I was tagged on Facebook by my good friend and killer director Billy Pon about this film Life Insurance Lottery. I can’t refuse my friend Billy so I had to check this one out and give my review. Before you read any further this is not a straight-up horror film but does have a lot of horror elements to it. I would classify this one as a thriller dark comedy with a touch of the slasher genre.
From the get-go, Life Insurance Lottery throws you straight into the deep end of the pool and tries to drown you in this dark world of treachery and deceit. I was pretty much guessing the whole film which of these despicable characters were the slasher like killer and I was pleasantly surprised with the end result. Kudos to the director Chuck Norfolk for really shaking it up a bit and keeping us guessing.
My highlight of this film has to be Brad Potts for me. He crushed his role as the imperfect drunken detective. I think Brad is one of the best character actors out there in film today. He just eats up the scenes in the best way possible and absolutely delivers. This is not taken away any from the other actors because I think they all did a killer job as well and played there parts spot on.
Lastly, I want to touch on how well Life Insurance Lottery was shot and the atmosphere it built. I was really impressed with what I was seeing and how each scene had its own feel but came together to create a really killer sometimes dark world.
I would most definitely recommend Life Insurance Lottery to horror and thriller fans. This film will scratch that itch for something a bit different than the norm. I give Life Insurance Lottery a solid 7.5 out of 10. This one comes out to Vimeo on demand April 30, 2020.
Color Out of Space (2020)
Directed by: Richard Stanley (Hardware, Dust Devil, The Theatre Bizarre)
Writers: Scarlett Amaris, Richard Stanley. (H.P. Lovecraft)
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Joely Richardson, Madeleine Arthur, Elliot Knight, Tommy Chong, Brendan Meyer, Julian Hilliard, and Josh C. Waller.
I found today to be a fitting day to write this review being that its the anniversary of Lovecraft’s death. Lovecraft’s work has been recreated on film but no one has ever been able to capture the true cosmic terror of the master of the macabre until now. Richard Stanley nails everything great and dark about Lovecraft’s world in his film Color Out of Space.
Stanley has lived and breathed the Lovecraftian existence since he was a kid and it really shows in his first of many Lovecraft films. The world that Stanley created with Color Out of Space is morbidly dark yet sickly beautiful. The colors that he chose to use in this film are literally out of this world. The visuals took me away to a place beyond my normal plane of existence and left me stranded in a world my mind could never fully comprehend. As I write this review I’m not too sure if I am back to my own reality or maybe I’m still trapped in Stanley’s creation.
The acting was phenomenal and the cast was well picked. Cage did what cage does best and that’s bordering the edge of losing all control but still keeping it together and really delivering. Joely Richardson, Madeleine Arthur, and Elliot Knight also really killed it in their roles and really helped make this movie memorable. I also thought it was really cool seeing Tommy Chong playing well Tommy Chong which he does perfectly. I would definitely like to see him in more horror films down the road. I really felt for this family and it was really rough to see them go through this hellish nightmare.
The last thing I want to touch on a bit is the special effects. One word can sum up all the effects in this film and its astounding. The fx team really knocked this one out of the park and into another dimension. The creature Fx were stomach-turning grotesque creations that would have made Lovecraft blush. The well-crafted CGI parts were very tastefully used and super effective. You will leave this film feeling very pleased and possibly mentally scarred beyond repair.
Color Out of Space was my most anticipated film of the year and it delivered on all the goods. I have seen just about every Lovecraft film ever made and this one is the best. Stanley captured all that is great about Lovecraft and still gave it his magical touch as well. I can’t wait to see what awaits with this Lovecraftian universe that Stanley is creating in the future. I give Color Out of Space a perfect 10/10 score. You can find this film on all VOD sites and physical video format.
Directed by: Joe Begos (Bliss, The Mind’s Eye, Almost Human)
Writers: Max Brallier, Mathew McArdle
Special Effects: Bob Trevino, Chris A. Wilks
Visual Effects: Brandon Christensen
Starring: Stephen Lang, William Sadler, Fred Williamson, Martin Kove, David Patrick Kelly, George Wendt, Tom Williamson, Sierra McCormick, Travis Hammer, Dora Madison, Josh Ethier, Graham Skipper.
I have been eagerly awaiting VFW after hearing about it last year and I finally got to check it out last Friday on Valentine’s day. My hopes were really high going into this film after Joe Begos absolutely crushed it last year with Bliss. After about ten minutes in I was hooked and on the edge of my seat the whole time for this bloodsoaked Carpenterish joyride of vengeance.
The quick synopsis of VFW is that some badass vets played by (Stephen Lang, Fred Williamson, William Sadler, Martin Kove, David Patrick Kelly, George Wendt, Tom Williamson) are partying it up at the local VFW when a strange girl(Sierra McCormick) needs there help to protect her from crazed mutant junkies. Shit goes downhill real fast when the drugged-out crazies led by Boz (Travis Hammer) want the girl dead and the drugs she stole returned. The outcome becomes hyper-violent and very reminiscent of Assualt on Precinct 13 in the best possible way.
I loved seeing some of my horror and action idols of the past killing it and kicking some ass just like they use to do. The nostalgia factor played a big part for me with VFW and it was one of the main factors that drew me to this film. You don’t get to see these masters of there craft much anymore but Joe pulled them all together and gave them one hell of a showing.
The story and the visuals were incredible and really threw it back to the violent films of the 70s and 80s. The heavy use of the reds and purples were really trippy and surreal. It reminded me a bit of being in a fucked up nightmare. I notice that all of Joe’s films have this same visual theme for the most part and I really love it. It draws me in like a moth to a flame.
The special effects in VFW were filled with over the top bone-crushing skull-cracking greatness. The blood and gore were abundant and brutal just the way I like it for a film like this. The effects crew really nailed it with this one and drove a spike in it.
VFW is the best film of the year so far for me. Joe had the best film last year with Bliss and looks like he may have me again with this one. I highly recommend you check this one out as soon as possible. If you are feeling really badass pair this on up with Bliss and have one hell of a double feature. I give VFW a perfect 10/10. You can find it in select theaters and on VOD
The Empties (2020) Graphic Novel
Story by: Kristen Renee Gorlitz
Art: Eli Powell
Cover Art: Jeanne Vadeboncoeur
Letters: Marshall Dillon
Executive Producers: Alexander A. Garcia(1st issue) and Kristen Renee Gorlitz
I am really excited that The Empties is my first graphic novel review on my website and I’m really honored that Kristen let me get ahold of it before its official release. Reading graphic novels and comics have been a big part of my childhood and adulthood. I can go ahead and tell you now that before you read any further that The Empties is killer and really delivers the horror.
The first thing that really got me hooked to this gruesome novel was the artwork. It draws you into this world of ghastly nightmares and horrid realities. When the flesh-eating mayhem starts you may feel your stomach turn and run for the hills from this amazing art. You will definitely not forget what you saw that’s for sure.
Storywise this was really something special. Kristen really nailed the horror love tale from hell. This is not your average zombie gut chomping story. There is a ton of depth with the main characters and I definitely felt for both of them. There were moments while reading that I could really relate to the emotional drive to do anything for the one you love. Even if it means feeding a few folks to them. The horrors of letting down your defenses for love is just as scary as any flesh-eating monster. It’s the ones you love that can do the most damage. All of these feelings were conveyed so well by the brilliant writing.
Outside of the torn lovers, there is a deep horror story that could spread and possibly destroy humanity. The threat of a zombie-like outbreak is something that’s always on my mind. Maybe its too many zombie movies in my time but you never know because art imitates life sometimes. Kristen really nailed it with a different take on the zombie horror genre.I could definitely see this being made into a really killer movie.
The official Kickstarter release date for The Empties is February 18. You can check out the first issue for free right now at www.freehorrorcomic.com/empties. I highly recommend you check this one out if you are a horror fan and a fan of killer graphic novels. I give The Empties a 10/10.
Directed and written by Ari Aster (Hereditary, The Strange Thing About The Johnsons, Munchausen)
Starring: (Florence Pugh, Jack Reynor, William Jackson, Will Poulter, and Vilhelm Blomgren)
This is my last review of this year and I’m really happy that this review is about the great Midsommar. I was super late on checking this killer film out because its hard to get to the theater and I’m not the biggest fan of crowds. I am really stoked that I finally got to check this one out about a month ago now. Before you read any further I can go ahead and say it was killer and made my top film list of this year joining other great films like Bliss, The Head Hunter, and Daniel isn’t Real.
Ari’s film he did right before this one was Hereditary and that is one hell of a movie to follow and live up to but dam did Midsommar nail it and then some. Midsommar takes you on a journey to a mysterious world and leaves you for dead. I was hooked from the first scene and i could not take my eyes off this beautiful trip to hell. This is the dream that turns into the darkest nightmare imaginable.
The first thing that really caught my attention was the bright and enthralling cinematography. It definitely throws you off from the pitch-black darkness hiding in the shadows. If you have seen Hereditary you will definitely understand what I mean by pitch-black darkness hiding and waiting to destroy your senses. Ari is the king of taking things downhill in the best way possible.
The acting and choice of characters was spot on and well placed. Everyone did a killer job making their roles believable and captivating. The story itself was original and came way out of left field and caught me off guard. This is a really good thing because it gets old fast when a movie follows those same old storylines. Midsommar will have you on the edge of your seat the whole film trying to guess what comes next.
Lastly, I want to touch on the special effects. The words best to describe the effects would be holy shit and what the hell did I just see. The gore is realistic and extremely brutal and I loved every minute of it. It’s not like this movie is a gore filled blood bath but when shit gets brutal it gets really brutal. If you are not familiar with a blood eagle you definitely will be after this film is finished.
All I have to say if you haven’t checked out Midsommar you are missing out on one of the best films of the year if not the decade. If you are a fan of pagan folk occult horror this one is for you. If you are just a fan of great movies this one is for you. You can watch it on any VOD site. I give Midsommar a solid 10/10
Daniel Isn’t Real (2019)
Directed by Adam Egypt Mortimer (Some Kind Of Hate, Holidays, Archenemy)
Written by Brian DeLeeuw and Adam Egypt Mortimer.
Starring: Miles Robbins, Patrick Schwarzenegger, Sasha Lane, Mary Stuart Masterson, Hannah Marks)
Daniel Isn’t Real was one of the films I have been waiting to see all year and the hype has been intense. I am more than happy to say this film delivered on the hype and then some. I just literally got done finally watching this killer film and it blew me away. I was possessed and mesmerized instantly when I clicked play on Amazon Prime. Holy shit this was such a killer experience in visuals and storytelling. I may have been a bit biased because this film was done by Spectre Vision who was behind my all-time favorite film, Mandy but dam did they deliver.
I would compare this film with a great childhood favorite of mine Drop Dead Fred if it was written and directed by the master Clive Barker. It also pays homage to the Stephen King classic The Dark Half in a great way as well. This was one of the most original and absolutely best films I have seen all year. I would say it may be my pick for the best film of the year tied with the great film Bliss.
Everything flowed so well with this film from the storytelling to the phenomenal acting. I can’t really single out just one cast member because they all just killed it. Patrick Schwarzenegger played evil like the devil shredding on the guitar. I wasn’t really familiar with him until this role but now I will definitely keep a lookout for future films. Miles Robbins and Sasha Lane’s chemistry on screen was electric and hypnotic. Hannah Marks was killer as always and really steals the scenes.
Visually Daniel Isn’t Real was spellbinding and nightmare-inducing. I would kind of compare this film to a really great dream that turns into a downward spiral from hell. If felt like I was being taking on a trip deep into the rabbit hole of the macabre. The special effects were grotesque and very Hellraiserish. I guarantee Clive Barker will love this film if he hasn’t seen it yet. When this film goes dark it goes really dark and there is no coming back alive.
I strongly suggest and highly recommend you rent or go to the theater and check out Daniel Isn’t Real. Like I said before this is tied for my favorite of the year and it is not one to miss out on. I am really looking forward to more from this director and especially Spectre Vision. They are really killing it right now and pumping some fresh air into the horror genre. I don’t do this often but I give Daniel Isn’t Real a perfect 10/10. You can rent it on all VOD sites and watch in selected theaters.
Directed by Mathew Fisher ( The House, Attack of the Atomic Killer Bee, It Wants Blood)
Starring: (James Balsamo, Sabrina Dennison, Richard Chandler, Ray Boutin, Alexander Hauck)
Insomniac is a killer horror short that delves into the world of extreme insomnia and the evils it can create. This film is definitely a slow burn that pays off at the end with terrifying results. The tension that the lead actor Richard Chandler builds in this film is devastatingly heavy. There is so much dread here you could cut it with a knife. Insomniac is a dark journey of a tired mind that we all can relate to.
The key to a good slow burn is the atmosphere and there is a ton of nihilistic atmosphere in this film. While I watched this I could feel my mind slipping a bit into the darkness of thought and nothingness. There are a ton of big-budget films that cant nail that feeling but Insomniac does it well. Also last but not least I thought the special effects were done well and really worked for the film. There was nothing over the top but instead, the effects were used sparingly to convey the story,
If you dig psychological slow burns this film is going to be for you. I give Insomniac a strong 7/10 and you can check it out at BoomBastic Films on Facebook. www.facebook.com/BoomBasticFilms/
Directed by Scott Beck and Bryan Woods (A Quiet Place, Nightlight, Spread, The Bride)
Starring: Katie Stevens, Will Brittain, Lauryn Alisa McClain, Andrew Caldwell)
I found a killer film for the month of October and that film is Haunt. Shudder once again throws out another killer release that really speaks to me. I’m always on the lookout for a good creepy Halloween movie and most of the time its a hit and miss journey. Haunt is definitely a hit in the creepy Haloween movie category.
This movie starts off a bit slow but picks up speed and takes you on a nightmare fueled journey of terror. If you enjoy going through haunted houses in the middle of nowhere like I do Haunt may cause you to rethink all of that. Once you sign the waiver anything is possible. Things are not what they seem in this film, once you think you figured things out boom everything goes downhill fast.
The first thing that stands out to me is the dark claustrophobic atmosphere. It closes in around you and chokes the life from you. They did a really killer job with the lighting and a sense of massive dread. The atmosphere can either make or break a film and it definitely makes this one. The set design is also really killer and really believable. I have been to a ton of haunted houses in my time and they nail the look and feel.
The acting was great and believable. I think the cast was well put together and played off of each other nicely The sheer terror of the actors seemed real and not scripted. I was not familiar at all with the cast but im super impressed and will keep a lookout for them in future roles.
The last thing I want to talk about is the special effects and makeup. Holy shit they killed it with the gruesome deaths and really terrifying makeup work on the protagonists. If you love some good old fashion practical gore this ones got you covered. It’s not an all-out gorefest but when it comes its done right. On the makeup side, I don’t want to give to much away, but if you think the masks are scary, be prepared for what’s underneath.
Haunt is a must-see especialy for this time of year it’s perfect. Really killer story with a nice twist. Great special effects and very interesting protagonists. I highly recommend you check this one out on the greatest place for horror Shudder. I give Haunt a 9 out of 10.
Directed by Joe Begos (The Minds Eye, Almost Human, VFW)
Starring: (Dora Madison, Tru Collins, Rhys Wakefield, Jeremy Gardner, Graham Skipper, George Wendt, and Abraham Benrubi.)
It has been a long time since I have seen a vampire film that really catches me off guard and delivers the goods. Well, I'm happy to say that the search is very much over. Bliss totally destroyed my mind with all the gore and bloodsucking violence that I could ever want. This year has been really hit and miss with films that really stand out and take notice. Bliss had no problems standing out and taking a giant bloody chunk out of my neck. Whenever a film pretty much starts off with an Electric Wizard song you got my attention.
Bliss has a very unique take on the vampire genre, that I haven't really seen since Near Dark. The formula for what you think a vampire film should be abruptly takes a hellish inverted direction into the extreme. The lighting and soundtrack in this film will blow your mind. The reds and the purples highlighted in darkness are very trippy and nightmarish. The metal and doom soundtrack fit this movie perfectly. Having a killer heavy soundtrack always helps to win me over on a film. All of this combines to make the perfect atmosphere to a pitch-black bloodletting horror film. This is one of the best soundtracks to a film I have heard in a very long time.
Dora Madison was a complete force of brutal nature in her role as Dezzy. Her emotion and raw power was flooded on the screen like a tidal wave of fury. Before seeing her in this I was unaware of her, but I'm definitely taking notice. The supporting cast was great as well and kept the flow of the movie going strong. It was also killer to see two Tv and movie legends growing up George Wendt and Abraham Benrubi playing some dark roles.
The last thing I want to talk about is the special effects, fucking brutal work. What does every good vampire film need in my opinion and that's great gory, nasty killer special effects. Bliss is loaded with some of the best practical effects I have seen all year. There is enough blood and visceral to satisfy any gorehound's appetite.
I have been searching for my favorite movie of the year and i have found it with Bliss. Growing up as a huge fan of the vampire genere this movie just nails it and then some. I am absolutely floored by this film and this is a must-watch for all fans of the vampire genre. I give Bliss a strong 10/10 and its one not to be missed, You can rent it now on VOD.
Tigers Are Not Afraid (2017)
Directed by: Issa Lopez (Ladies Night, Casi Divas)
Starring: Paola Lara, Juan Ramón López, Hanssel Casillas, Rodrigo Cortes, Ianis Guerrero, and Tenoch Huerta Mejía.
Tigers Are Not Afraid first came on my movie radar from checking out one of my favorite horror podcasts Shockwaves Podcast. I made a note on my phone and patiently waited for this film to hit Shudder. The wait was well worth it, Tigers Are Not Afraid blew my mind. I could not take my eyes off this beautifully tragic masterpiece of film-making.
I can't stress enough how powerful this film is, and how it may leave you in glorious shambles. There have only been a handful of movies over the years that hit me as hard emotionally as this one. I was doing my best to hold back the emotions but it was hard to do. The subject matter is so brutal and real that it makes you feel the horrible pain and turmoil of the young protagonists. I will warn you this movie is not for the faint of heart, and I don’t necessarily mean the gore but the subject matter.
One of the many highlights in this killer film was the acting. The mostly untrained child actors were amazing. I would have never known these kids were not seasoned actors if I had not looked it up afterward. Their performances were hypnotic and mesmerizing, I felt emotionally attached to each of them throughout the film. If these kids don't pull at your heartstrings then you might already be dead.
The atmosphere and storytelling reminded me of the great Guillermo del Toro. This is a very good thing and a huge compliment to the director. This is not a strict horror film, there are many strong elements of fantasy and wonder. This is where the comparison of Guillermo comes into play. I love that aspect of this movie, it gives a beacon of light and hope through the darkness of the subject matter.
The special effects were killer and very well done. The realistic blood and gore really sold the brutality of the violence throughout the film. The creature effects were amazing and believable in this horrific fantasy world. If you are a fan of practical and well-done CGI then you will be satisfied.
My final words on Tigers Are Not Afraid with no spoilers of course because I don't do spoilers. This is perfect horror film, in my opinion, All the aspects of a good horror/fantasy film are well represented in this one. This is a great movie but be warned that the subject matter is brutal and it may not be for everyone, but I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys great film. I give Tigers Are Not Afraid a solid 10/10. You can check it out right now on the best horror streaming site Shudder.
Jessie’s Super Normal Regular Day (2019)
Jessie's Super Normal Regular Day (2019)
Directed and written by Brian K. Williams
Starring: Ellie Church, Allison Maier and Alyss Winkler
It’s been a long two weeks for me since we were hit with a hurricane. I needed something killer to watch that would take my mind away for a bit. Well I got my mind taken away on an acid fueled mind melting trip into the next universe. Jessie’s Super Normal Regular Day melted my brain into a lump of grey matter.
I prepared myself beforehand but all my expectations were exceeded. I was hooked from the very start of this killer film. Ellie’s performance was spot on and captivating. I have seen her in other films like Plankface and Headless but i really think this role stole the show for me. The psychedelic story-line was original and inventive. The story really reminded me of a drug induced Alice in Wonderland in the best way possible.
The punk soundtrack really added a nice touch to this film. When it comes to special effects they were abundant and trippy as Hell. Jessie’s Super Normal Regular day made great use of practical effects which are my favorite. I also thought the supporting cast was fantastic and super interesting. Overall this a killer fun sci-fi ish trippy comedy film that delivers the goods. I recommend this movie to anyone who wants to have a good time and kick back and possibly lose their mind. I give Jessie’s Super Normal Regular Day a solid 8/10. Be sure to check this one out as it makes its film festival run.
Directed by: Panos Cosmatos (Beyond the Black Rainbow)
Starring:(Nicolas Cage, Andrea Riseborough, Linus Roache, Ned Dennehy, Olwen Fouéré, Richard Brake, and Bill Duke)
I have been thinking about this movie almost every day since I watched it for the first time. I’m starting to think that Mandy may have ruined all other films to follow for me. I don’t really ever score a movie as a perfect ten out of ten but I did with this one. There is something deeply magical about this film, almost otherworldly
. The combination of the stunning hallucinogenic visuals mixed with the ethereal story telling just destroys my mind in the best possible way. The movie Panos did before this one Beyond the Black Rainbow had almost the same effect but not as deep. Mandy cuts threw me like a samurai sword. The thunderous devastating soundtrack created by the late Jóhann Jóhannsson really adds to the visceral passion of this film. Mandy would not be the same movie without the amazing score.
On top of all this the brutal violent special effects are pulled off without a hitch. Each component adding to what i call a masterpiece of film. Nick Cage shines like a bloody machete cutting through the scum that took away his love. This role was made for his skills and personality. All of the roles were filled perfectly and well acted. If you look past the blood and gore you will see that love is everlasting. Love is what drives us beyond what we deem capable. Mandy really hit me hard in a way a movie has never done before. If you haven’t seen this one yet please do yourself a favor and check it out. This may not speak to you like it did to me but if it does this film with grab ahold of you and never let you go. I give Mandy a perfect ten out of ten. You can find it on all VOD sites and its exclusively streaming on the mighty Shudder.
Under the Silver Lake (2018)
Under the Silver Lake (2018)
Directed by David Robert Mitchell: (It Follows, The Myth of the American Sleepover)
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Riley Keough, Topher Grace, Callie Hernandez.
I have been hearing a ton of good things about this film and being a fan of ”It Follows” i knew i had to check this one out. When I was finally able to track this movie down on Amazon i don't think i was really ready for what was in store for me. Watching this film made me feel like I slipped and fell into a dark rabbit hole of mystery and the unknown.
Under the Silver Lake is less horror and more mystery thriller than what I was expecting. There is a big David Lynch feel to this film which is a good quality. The story is really unique and mind bending. I would think i knew what was going and then boom it totally turns things upside down and throws me for a loop. I really love movies that don't go by the usual guidelines and really keep you guessing. The acting was killer and really spot on. The cast really did a great job nailing the weirdness of this film. I found a new respect for Andrew Garfield being that im not much of a superhero movie guy and that's what he is known for.
When it comes down to special effects and gore it's really tame and used sparingly, but that's not a bad thing. Where this movie really shines is in the story. I haven't felt this perplexed since i first saw Donnie Darko many years ago. There are so many layers and odd things to this film that it will leave you thinking about what the hell did i just experience for weeks to come. I really love movies that leave their mark on your psyche. Under the Silver Lake is killer and definitely one of the best films I have seen in a while. If you like movies that really make you think and may cause permanent paranoia in a good way this ones for you. I give Under the Silver Lake a strong 9/10. You can find it on Amazon Prime and all other VOD pages.
Culture Shock (2019)
Directed by: Gigi Saul Guerrero (El Gigante, Barbarous Mexico)
Starring: Martha Higareda, Richard Cabral, Shawn Ashmore, Barbara Crampton.
I have been following the Hulu horror film series Into the Dark since the beginning. There has been some ups and downs with the series but overall it’s been a good. There is one film I have especially been looking forward to and that’s Culture Shock directed by the very talented Gigi Guerrero. You may know her gory work from the killer Luchagore film company. They have done some really badass films that celebrate Latin Horror.
So going into this film I had high hopes of greatness and I was not disappointed. This one pulled me in from the start and never let me up for air. Culture Shock shows us the true horror of what’s going on in this country and that is truly scary. The horror genre is the perfect outlet to shine light on fucked up topics that affect humanity as a whole. The story of overcoming the hellish odds was well told and really got the point across.
The dark gritty way the beginning of the film was shot in contrast to the bright sugary sweet way of the later scenes were really killer and visually disturbing. The acting from the main star Martha Higareda was top notch and powerful. I really thought it was killer that Creed from one of my favorite shows The Office plays the main antagonist. Special effects were subtle and pulled off with just the amount of gore to get you going. I highly recommend everyone who loves the horror genre to check out this killer film. Gigi really put a lot of heart into making this and it shows. I give Culture Shock a solid 8/10 and you can find it on Hulu under the Into the Dark series.
Nightmare Cinema (2018)
Nightmare Cinema (2018)
Directed by: Mick Garris, Joe Dante, Alejandro Brugues, Ryuhei Kitamura and David Slade.
Starring: Mickey Rourke, Richard Chamberlain, Adam Godley, Orson Chaplin.
Nightmare Cinema is a horror anthology that I have been following for a while now. My horror hero Mick Garris got this film together with a top notch gang of horror directors. I was first made aware of this movie from listening to the Post Mortem podcast with the great Mick Garris and Joe Russo a while back.
First of all I will say that this film delivered the bloody horror goodness. From the very first story it grabs you and takes you on a horrific rollercoaster of emotions. There is something here for all fans of the genre. For example the first story is a bloody horror comedy that will keep you on the edge of your seat. The second story is definitely for the body horror fans out there. This one will definitely make you feel unease. I don’t want to give away any spoilers about the other stories but instead I wanted to give some examples of what you can expect from these brilliant horror directors.
Each story gets introduced by the Projectionist played by the great Mickey Rourke. Besides the amazing actors and directors, the special effects team really make a bloody splash. There is a old school feel to the practical effects that pays homage to the great 80s gore. Overall this is a killer horror anthology that I really enjoyed. I think this one will appeal to the seasoned vets of horror and also a gateway to the new students of horror. I give Nightmare Cinema a strong 8/10. You can find this movie on all VOD locations and selected theaters.
Directed by: Chris Sun (Charlie’s Farm, Daddy’s Little Girl, Come and Get Me)
Starring: Nathan Jones, Bill Mosley, John Jarratt, Hugh Sheridan)
Ever since I was a little Horror Wolf I have always loved monster movies. When i was made aware of the Australian horror movie Boar it was on the Shockwave Podcast. Then i hear that Shudder is exclusively releasing it and I was like hell yea, my favorite source of horror is once again delivering the killer content. I was expecting a gory killer giant monster pig movie and I was not disappointed.
From the start I was hooked with the opening scene of pure giant Boar destruction in all its gory glory. The storyline is what you expect from a monster movie that doesn’t take its self to seriously, it’s solid and fun. The cast is filled with horror vets and all stars. I’m pretty much going to watch anything the great Bill Mosley is in that’s a given. I’m also a fan of the giant Nathan Jones who really steals this movie. It was definitely odd seeing the human monster from Wolf Creek, John Jarratt playing a lovable role, but he played it well.
Now for my favorite part of Boar, the special effects. This movie really nailed the creature design. He is one big mean terrifying killing machine. The practical effects of the beast really sell the brutality of his kills. All the monsters kills are done with practical effects as far as I can tell. There are a few scenes of cgi but it’s few and far between. I would suggest this movie to all the monster movie fans and lovers of special effects. I give Boar a solid 8/10, so go check it out only on Shudder.
The last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs
The last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs (2018)
Starring: Joe Bob Briggs and Darcy
These past few years have really been killer times for horror. Movies like Mandy and Hereditary have really stepped up the bar for good quality horror, but there was something missing and that something was The Last Drive-In. When Shudder first announced The Last Drive-In marathons last year I was excited that they were bringing back the legendary horror host Joe Bob Briggs.
So many of us grew up with him and he guided us to some of the best that horror had to offer. Not only do you get to watch these movies but you are also guided by the vast knowledge of Joe Bob, who is a real scholar of horror and film in general. It was announced late last year that Shudder was going to make The Last Drive-In a weekly thing, every Friday a double feature. After a long hard work week nothing beats coming home on a Friday and getting ready to watch The Last Drive-In with all the horror fans on Shudder.
To top things off Joe Bob is accompanied by the talented Darcy the mail-girl who really adds a yin and yang perspective to the show. The way they play off of each other really adds a dynamic to the show that can’t be matched. I am a horror junkie who is always looking for my next fix. I get my horror fix every Friday with Joe Bob and Darcy. Season one has come to an end but not to worry because season two is right around the corner. I highly recommend The Last Drive In to all fans of horror. Come join us mutants every week and watch some horror only on Shudder.
The Nightshifter (2018)
Directed by: Dennison Ramalho (ABC’s of Death 2, Ninjas, Nocturnu)
Starring: Daniel de Oliveira, Fabiula Nascimento, Bianca Comparato, Marcos Kligman.
I was in the mood for something new and different so I checked out my favorite source for horror Shudder and boom in the new release section I found The Nightshifter. The cover art and description really sold me on giving this film a watch. There are tons of movies out about ghosts and haunts but this film sets its self apart from the rest, and on top of that you don’t see many Brazilian horror stories.
The story is original and really adds a new spin to the haunted horror genre. The acting was really solid and the cast was great. When it comes to the special effects I as pleasantly surprised and satisfied with the final gruesome outcome. I thought the way they added the cgi with the practical effects really worked. I’m not a big fan of cgi but used sparingly and carefully sometimes can come out alright. I recommend The Nightshifter to all the fans of haunted horror. I give this movie a solid 8/10 and you can find it only on Shudder.
The Ranger (2018)
Directed by Jenn Wexler (Darling, Like Me, Most Beautiful Island)
Starring: Chloë Levine, Granit Lahu, Jeremy Holm, Jeremy Pope.
The Ranger has been on my radar for a while now and when I got word that Shudder was going to add it to the lineup of killer movies I was happy. Right from the start this film grabbed me and threw me into the band van for a punk rock horror fueled joyride. There is never a dull moment in this film it flows really well and delivers on the horror.
The main actress Chloe Levine delivers a strong performance that would make Sarah Conner smile. The visuals are striking and vibrant with a heavy dose of punk rock that really brings the movie to life. Another plus for me was the great use of practical effects. Having good practical effects in a film is always a plus for me. The antagonist “The Ranger” was a nice breath of fresh air when it comes to evil bloodthirsty villains. I would classify this film as a slasher at first but it also takes the form of a psychological thriller towards the end. Overall I would highly recommend The Ranger to everyone who enjoys killer fun horror movies. I give
The Ranger a strong 8/10 and you can check it out on the best home for horror Shudder.
Monster Party (2018)
Directed by: Chris von Hoffmann ( Drifter, White Trash, Fuel Junkie)
Starring: Sam Strike, Kian Lawley, Julian McMahon, Virginia Gardner, Brandon Hall.
I got home early from a work meeting Thursday and I was in the mood for something brutal and exciting to watch. As always Shudder delivers on the exclusives and this one is called Monster Party. I went into this movie without knowing any back story or watching any trailers which I usually don’t do anyways and I must say this was a feast for all the senses.
I know this is not always true but the majority of horror films that start out with a killer opening score usually are killer overall. Monster Party hooked me from the start and it never let me go. The visuals are stunning and crisp and really gets your blood pumping. The story is original and full of bloody horror goodness. The pace of this gore fest is fast and ruthless from start to finish. The acting from all the psychotic monsters is spot on and really believable. The special effects are a fantastic blood-soaked nightmare of gore. The effects would make any gore-hound blush. I can’t say enough good things about this film. Monster Party is already on my top films list for this year. If you have Shudder watch this movie if you don’t have Shudder get it.
I recommend this movie to all my fellow horror lovers out there, it’s a must see. I give Horror Party a solid 10/10.
Directed by Brian Cunningham (Overtime, Monsters Wanted, Loss Prevention)
Starring: Megan Massie, Spencer Korcz, Daniel English, Riker Hill
I found out about this film luckily from scrolling through my twitter feed. I gave the description a quick look and sent for a screener. I have seen a ton of found footage films in my time but not many as good as Wretch. This is a slow burn found footage psychological creature film. It delves into a famous Native American mythological entity that I don’t want to give away in this review.
I was pulled into this moody dark vision by the great storytelling and solid acting by all of the cast. The visuals are bleak and at moments you catch something off screen and wonder did I just see that or was it all in my head. I love movies that take you beyond the given perception of what is reality. Special effects were well done and very efficient. My favorite aspect of the film was the creature design. You would get glimpses of this hoofed menacing monster that would send shivers down your spine. The design of the creature was really killer and unique. This is one of those films that will leave you with a cold uncomfortable feeling that something may be right around the corner watching and waiting.
I highly recommend this movie to anyone who loves horror. This is an excellent film done on a small budget with a lot of love. I give Wretch a 9/10 and you can find it on Amazon and most VOD sites.
The Headhunter (2018)
Directed by Jordan Downey ( Thankskilling, Techno Western, Critters: Bounty Hunter)
Starring: Christopher Rygh and Cora Kaufman
A few weeks ago I saw the trailer for The Headhunter and knew that I must see this film. Well today I sat down and watched the screener for this movie and dam did it live up to my expectations. As soon as this movie starts you are taken back by the beautiful cinematography. The opening few scenes just blew my mind with the feeling of being thrown back in time into a magical world of beasts and monsters.
The set designs and costumes are super detailed and fit really well into this mythical Viking world. The work that went into designing the main characters armor is insanely detailed and robust. After you let the scenery sink in then the story takes you away on a path of bloody vengeance. The everlasting trail of retribution drives the protagonist to go on and seek justice for his great loss. I felt so much emotion from the main character that sometimes I forgot I was watching a movie but instead looking through a window into the past of a mystical world. This a definitely a character study about how we deal with a great loss and what we will do to make our selves feel justified. As far as special effects go The Headhunter delivers on the realistic practical effects.
The creature designs were really well done and original with a lot of thought and time put into them. I have already seen and reviewed a lot of good movies this year and this one sits high on my list of favorites so far. I highly recommend this to anyone who likes atmospheric horror character studies. I also recommend this to anyone who likes good film. It was a real pleasure watching and reviewing this movie. I give The Headhunter a solid 9/10.
Directed by: Todd Jenkins(Vows,Why,Harvey and Peter)
Starring: Todd Jenkins, Billy Blair, Justin Armstrong and Olivia Sabini.
I will admit I am a total sucker for Bigfoot movies so when I got the chance to review Cherokee Creek I jumped on it. This is a raunchy, gory, funny ride to the wild side. From the very beginning you will know what kind of film experience you are in for.
This is a Bigfoot movie that doesn’t take its self very serious but that’s a good thing. Cherokee Creek was made with total love for the genre and it shows throughout the film. The Bigfoot creature looks killer and menacing as he dispatches the unlucky bachelor party. There is no cgi in this film, it’s all well done practical effects that drip with gore. There’s plenty of guts and dismemberments to satisfy any gore hound.
I definitely recommend this film to anyone who loves good campy Bigfoot movies. I give Cherokee Creek an 8/10 and you can find it on Amazon 🤘🦇🤘
The Theta Girl (2017)
Directed by Christopher Bickel (Teenage Caligula, Vampyras Psychedelikas)
Starring: Mike Amason, Shane Silman, Quinn Deogracias, Darrelle D. Dove, Victoria Elizabeth Donofrio.
I was first made aware of this film last year by a friend of mine who told me. I finally got to check it out after hearing nothing but good things and I gota say it lives up to the hype. From start to finish this is a thrill ride full of blood, guts and psychedelics.
The visuals have a grind-house feel to them with a heavy handed touch of a bad acid trip. There is definitely a David Lynch feel to this film with the other worldly dream like sequences. I was also really impressed with the practical effects used in this film. The gore is over the top and really well done. There is a shotgun scene in this film that would make Tom Savini smile. The lead actress Victoria Donofrio really steals the show with her rampage of bloody vengeance that can’t and won’t be stopped. So to sum everything up if you are looking for a killer revenge film with a grinding psychedelic feel then this one is definitely for you.
I give The Theta Girl a strong 8/10. You can get watch this film on Amazon right now.
Released:June 14, 2013
Director: Jed Brian
Cast: Jed Brian, Tyler Landers, Levi Atkins, Gavin Groves, Andrea Potts, Griffin Groves, Haidee Corona
This is definitely one of the better found footage movies I’ve seen in a while. The cast really pulls you into thinking that your not watching a movie but more of a documented tale of bad choices. The old saying that curiosity killed the cat really sums of this movie.
I was really impressed with the presentation of this film and all the subtle effects that made you go hmm did I just see something or was it in my head. The use of practical effects is always a plus in my book. Once the movie really gets going it never stops until you are left with blood soaked questions of why and what really happened. I recommend this film to anyone who is looking for a good independent well done found footage film.
Jed Brian did a really good job for his first film and I give Unlisted Owner a strong 7/10. You can rent or buy this on Amazon.
The Litch (2018)
Directed by James Balsamo
Starring: James Balsamo, Dave Stein, Tom Sizemore, Debra Lamb, Dick Warlock and Terra Strong.
I’m not the biggest fan of horror comedy's but I have a soft spot for AcidBath and Troma films. What I love about James and AcidBath Productions is that the films they make are full of heart and passion for the genre. I have been friends with James for a while now and I have also had my music featured in two of his movies (Bite School,Killer Waves) which was killer and a honor.
So getting into The Litch I was prepared for a gory insane ride into a slime filled cave of doom and what I got was just that. The Litch is a fun laugh out loud horror comedy with plenty of gore and practical effects that would make Herschell Gordon Lewis blush. This film just like all of James’s work is packed with the kings of the heavy metal world and guest cameos from the legends of the horror genre. If you are a metal head or a fan of old school horror comedy’s that don’t take themselves seriously but are packed full of respect and love for the horror genre then this movie is definitely for you.
I give The Litch a strong bloody 8/10. You can find his films on Vimeo and AcidBath Productions .com page.
Directed and written by Colleen Elizabeth Miller
Starring: Colleen Elizabeth Miller
I’m always really happy when a killer horror short comes my way. Watching a good short film always makes me hungry for more. I just got finished checking out One-Armed Rabbit and I was super impressed. The visuals were really crisp and well done. I definitely got the sense of scale of being alone in a desert with no real hope of survival. Colleen really nails it with the acting and “self” harming which may or may not have been inflicted by an imaginary rabbit. Overall this was a really well done horror/comedy short that needs to be seen.
So if you are in the mood for a bit of insanity I highly recommend checking One-Armed Rabbit out when it’s released. I give this film a strong 8/10