DIRECT TO VIDEO (DTV) FILMS: THE GOOD AND THE BAD

2015 - 2020

GOOD

BAD

2015

2015

2016

2016

2017

2017

2018

2018

2019

2019

2020

2020


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DTV FILMS: THE GOOD STUFF

Good DTV Genre Films Part 17 (continued): BONE TOMAHAWK (2015) is one of those rare films: A Western with horror trappings. To say it's gory as hell is a vast understatement. The film opens with two bushwhackers, Buddy (the late Sid Haig; 3 FROM HELL - 2019) and Purvis (David Arquette; THE TRIPPER - 2006) slicing the throats of two sleeping settlers and then stealing their belongings. Purvis didn't cut one of settler's throat deep enough, but Buddy kills him, as the settler gets off a shot with his pistol. The noise of the gunshot raises the attention of the other settlers, so Buddy and Purvis beat a hasty retreat on foot and come across a strange Indian graveyard. They then hear a strange howling noise (a high-pitched whistling noise that will chill you to the bone) and Buddy is brutally killed (an arrow to his throat and then something very, very gory) by a weird tribe of Indians. Purvis escapes the carnage and ends up in the town of Bright Hope, where he buries the settlers' belongings and then goes to the local saloon. What Purvis doesn't know is backup Deputy Chicory (a wonderful Richard Jenkins; THE SHAPE OF WATER - 2017) saw what Purvis did and reports it to Sheriff Franklin Hunt (a grizzled Kurt Russell; DEATH PROOF - 2007; who has never been better) and they both go to the saloon to question the stranger. Sheriff Hunt asks Purvis his name and he says "Buddy", but the Sheriff doesn't believe him, showing Purvis the goods he buried. Purvis tries to run away, but Sheriff Hunt shoots him in the leg and locks him in the town jail.  Samantha (Lili Simmons; the fantastic cable series BANSHEE - 2013-2016), the town doctor, is called in to take a look at Purvis' leg and remove the bullet (extremely gory footage). Samantha's husband, Arthur (Patrick Wilson; THE LEDGE - 2011) recently broke his tibia when he fell off the roof of his house trying to repair it, and he loves Samantha with all his heart. You may be asking yourself why I am describing what may seem trivial  matters, but take my word for it, everything in this film is important down to the minutest details. When Sheriff Hunt leaves Samantha and Deputy Nick (Evan Jonigkeit) to keep an eye on Purvis so he can catch some sleep, he doesn't know that these strange Indians have followed Purvis into Bright Hope, which results in Samantha, Deputy Nick and Purvis  being taken prisoner by the Indians and brought back to the cave where they live. The next morning, Sheriff Hunt finds a strange arrow inside his jail and a local Indian tells the Sheriff that the arrow belongs to a tribe of Indians known as "Troglodytes" and he knows where they live, but refuses to go with him to rescue Samantha and Deputy Nick, because just seeing a Troglodyte means certain death, as they are not only ruthless killers, they are also cannibals! The whole town is chickenshit after hearing this and the only people who will help Sheriff Hunt on this rescue mission are Chicory, Arthur (broken leg and all) and the nattily dressed Brooder (Matthew Fox; EXTINCTION - 2014), a gunslinger who has a severe hatred of Indians (when he was young, he saw a tribe of Indians murder his mother and sister, so he has killed over one hundred Indians, whether they deserved it or not). These four people make a five day ride to the Troglodytes' territory (filmed in Agoura, California by Benji Bakshi, who got his start filming Billy Blanks Tae Bo videos [!], but you wouldn't know it here, as the cinematography is lush and beautiful, with memorable vistas you rarely see in films today). On the third day of their travels, their horses are stolen by Mexican banditos, but Brooder's beautiful horse Saucie won't let anyone but Brooder ride her, so the Mexicans cut her throat (the horse is not quite dead, so Brooder has to shoot what is his best friend in the head to end Saucie's misery. This is a very heart-rendering scene that will put a tear in your eye). Sheriff Hunt is determined to save the hostages before they are eaten, so everyone makes the journey on foot, even Arthur with his broken leg. Since this is the mid-1800's, Arthur stands the chance of losing his leg to gangrene, but his love for Samantha proves to be more important than his leg so he pushes on, telling the other three to leave four rocks to mark their trail and he will catch up with them when they bed down for the night. What happens next will leave your jaw on the ground, as Sheriff Hunt and Chicory are captured by the Troglodytes (Brooder is killed in what turns out to be an act of self-sacrifice). Can Arthur save his wife and from these cannibals or will this whole trip have been for naught? I'm not going to tell you, because this is a film best experienced without knowledge of what is to come. Directed and written by S. Craig Zahler (BRAWL IN CELL BLOCK 99 - 2017; DRAGGED ACROSS CONCRETE - 2018), in what is his freshman debut as a director, but you wouldn't know it because it looks like it was directed by someone in the same league as Howard Hawks or John Ford, only with ladles of bloody gore and unbearable violence. Zahler has established himself with his first three directorial efforts as a person to keep an eye on and I couldn't be happier to say that this film is not only a visual treat, his screenplay is full of memorable dialogue, mainly by Richard Jenkins as Chicory, who says the strangest things at times when it is the least expected (his flea circus story is one for the books). Some of the gore you will see is Arthur killing a Troglodyte and cutting out a device from it's neck (it's how they whistle/howl to each other) and using it by blowing into it to kill other Troglodytes (it's quite ingenious). The show-stopper is when Sheriff Hunt, Chicory and Samantha watch as the head Troglodyte scalps Deputy Nick (exposing his brain) and then tears him in half from crotch-to-neck (absolutely nothing is left to the imagination). There's also a beheading and a really nasty top of a foot being chopped off with a tomahawk made from a human coccyx bone (hence the film's title). The film runs 132 minutes, but there is not a wasted scene here, making it the quickest two hours and twelve minutes I have ever experienced. Do yourself a favor and watch this film as soon as possible. It is also filled with cameos from the likes of Kathryn Morris (TV's COLD CASE - 2003-2010), James Tolkan (MINISTRY OF VENGEANCE - 1989), Sean Young (BLADE RUNNER - 1982), Fred Melamed (SUSPECT - 1987) and a blink-and-you'll-miss-it appearance by Michael Pare (SEED - 2007). My favorite film of 2015!;  While I generally dislike the feature films of director/producer/cinematographer/editor/writer (or co-writer) Eros D'Antona, such as HAUNTED (2016) and DIE IN ONE DAY (2017), as they are bland, uninteresting and copies of more successful films, I must make an exception with his first feature film, INSANE (2015), if only for its strange characters and, yes, insane set pieces. Rather than a horror film this is a crime drama with revenge themes. When a crime kingpin (Davide Gambarini) is murdered by Frank (Alex Lucchesi), the wife of the kingpin, Vivien (Linda Hand), hires the kingpin's nephew, mercenary/hitman Condom (Roberto D'Antona; director/star of ROAD TO HELL (2018), a film I admire and he's Eros D'Antona's younger brother), to find and kill Frank, who has gone into hiding with his brother Christian (Steven Renso) and his young nephew Alex (Zac Zanghellini), who idolizes Frank. Condom is no ordinary hitman; he's a sado-masochist who loves to get the shit beaten out of him, but don't dare turn your back on him when you think you have won, or he'll kill your ass (One man tells Condom that he is crazy and he says, "Yes, my mother was a whore. She was the first to jerk me off!"). Condom may also be gay (the way he walks, dresses in loose-fitting primary color zoot suits and uses his hands is quite unique and impressive), but there is no doubt that his partner, Adam (Ivan King), is as gay as Richards Simmons, but, unlike Simmons, he's an expert martial arts fighter that can floor you with one punch (he also carries an umbrella, which he uses as a weapon). Condom and Adam meet in Italy to look for Frank, killing everyone that tell them they don't know Frank. One such unlucky person works in a junkyard, so Condom and Adam tie him to the blades of a forklift while Condom pulls the hairs out of one of his nipples with tweezers, sticks pins through the nipple and then cuts the nipple off with a knife! He finishes off the man by cutting off his penis and shooting him in the head (Condom laughs the entire time), attaching a piece of paper to his forehead with a piece of pre-chewed gum that only reads "Frank". We then learn why Frank killed the crime kingpin. The kingpin sent Frank a DVD video that shows him killing the love of Frank's life by slitting her throat while she is tied to a chair. The kingpin taunts Frank constantly on the video and Christian asks him why he watches this DVD all the time. Frank replies, "I watch it when I want to get angry." And you don't want to get Frank angry! He's an expert fighter, as we see when he saves a woman from getting raped by three punks. Frank floors them all and tells the woman to walk away. He also confronts a "Firespitter" (Simone Fox) and challenges him to a fair fight. The Firespitter, starts spitting fire at Frank, setting one of the gloves on his hand on fire, so Frank grabs his knife and throws it into the middle of the Firespitter's head. Meanwhile, Condom hires a prostitute to get him off. Instead of having sex with her, he makes her wear a golden mask and calls her "mummy" while she jerks him off (I guess he was right about his whore mother!). When he hires another prostitute from the same call-in service the next day and the same prostitute shows up, he kills her by shoving a knife into the back of her head until the blade exits out her mouth, but not before she gets him off! Things come to a head when Frank and Adam get into a knock-down, drag-out martial arts fight (it's quite good), while Condom gets into a fight with Christian and Alex. Frank defeats Adam, killing him, only Christian and Alex are not so lucky (Remember what I said about turning your back on Condom?). When Frank comes home, he finds Christian and Alex dead, lying in pools of blood. He vows to kill Condom, but the film doesn't afford us that chance. In my only real complaint about this film, it ends on a note where nothing is resolved. Two police detectives, Mike (Mirko D'Antona) and Joe (Gianluca Busco), shoot Frank in the shoulder just as Frank and Condom are about to battle each other and the film ends with both of them being handcuffed and Condom smiling at Frank. Maybe Eros D'Antona was hoping to make a sequel, which hasn't happened yet (review written in early 2020). I hope it eventually gets made, just to see who wins the fight. Roberto D'Antona is over-the-top as Condom, but it works here, as his character is supposed to be that way. Alex Lucchesi is wonderful as Frank. We can actually feel his hurt when he finds his brother and nephew dead and his fight scenes are done without the help of a stuntman, proving he is very athletic. This blood-drenched film may not be for everyone (You will know if it is or isn't in the first five minutes), but I found a lot to admire here. I just wish Eros D'Antona's other films were on this level. Look for D'Antona Family regulars Michael Segal as a pimp, Crisula Stafida as Katia, Annamaria Lorusso as Mary and David White as Vivien's bodyguard, who gets his eye stabbed-out by Condom. Available streaming on Amazon Prime (at the time this review was posted).;  People have been telling me that I must see DEATHGASM (2015) for quite some time now and when I found it streaming for free on Amazon Prime, I decided to give it a view. It's vile, foul-mouthed, salicious, immoral, obscene, filthy, lecherous, coarse and nearly every other synonym I could find in my thesaurus. In other words, I loved it! This unclassifiable New Zealand flick reminds me of the early gore films of director Peter Jackson, in its execution, gore and, especially, humor. Heavy metalhead Brodie (an excellent Milo Cawthorne; "I brought about the demonic apocalypse. Biggest dick-move ever.") is forced to move in with his uber-religious uncle when his unbalanced mother is institutionalized (for blowing a Santa Claus in the middle of a store with kids watching!). He is picked on in school and out of school by his douchebag of a cousin, David (Nick Hoskins-Smith; "He's hospitalized more nerds than asthma."), who beats him up constantly, especially when he becomes interested in his girlfriend, Medina (Kimberley Crossman; "The #1 cause of boners in her high school."). The only friends he is able to make in this boring town are nerd Dungeons & Dragon players Dion (Sam Berkley; "Probably the least embarrassing orifice dice has been shoved in to." [his nose]) and Giles (Daniel Cresswell; "He was once suspended for violating the CPR training dummy."). The only place that Brodie feels comfortable in is the alternative music record store in town, where he meets Zakk (James Blake; "A tornado of chaos leaving a trail of destruction and teen pregnancies in his wake."). They become fast friends and they, along with Dion and Giles, form their own heavy metal band, which they name "Deathgasm". Zakk only thinks about himself and never thinks about the repercussions of his actions, especially when he and Brodie break into the home of heavy metal singer Rikki Daggers (Stephen Ure) and steal a record album out of his sleeping hands. Brodie and Zakk escape the house just before hitman Vadin (Tim Foley), who works for evil bad guy Aeon (Andrew Laing), enters the house and slits Rikki's throat (the blood flows like a river!) when he won't tell him where "it" is. That "it"  is the Black Hymn, music so evil, it brings the demon apocalypse when played correctly. And guess where it is? That's right, in the record album that Zakk and Brodie stole! (When Aeon learns that Vadin failed to get the Black Hymn, two of his henchmen cut off Vadin's head. When Aeon complains that they got blood on his expensive oriental rug, he makes them throw down some plastic on the rug and tells them to cut off his head again, this time properly! What happens next will make you howl with laughter). Brodie is able to read the Black Hymn's music, so he and the band play it, causing nearly everyone in town to turn into demons who throw-up a tremendous amount of blood on their victims (This film goes to comic lengths to display how much blood they throw up, especially what a demonic teacher does to one of his female students). With no one to help them, the band has to come up with a way to reverse the curse. Maybe if they play the song backwards? I don't want to spoil this film for you, but there are many funny and very gory scenes to be had here (Death by large black double-sided dildo? Check. Penis dismemberment? Check again. Chainsaw disembowelment? Right on!), especially how Medina handles an axe, giving demons a splitting headache! This is a film where no one is safe and nothing turns out the way you think it will, surprising the viewer at every turn. First time feature film director Jason Lei Howden (his next film was GUNS AKIMBO - 2019), a visual effects artist by trade, shows a deft hand with the material, giving you a film that is so visual and so funny, it will probably be one of your favorite films both during and after you watch it. This film isn't for everyone (especially if you don't like gory violence), but for those who appreciate this type of film, there is so much to enjoy here and you will be overloaded with so many memorable images and pieces of dialogue, you'll watch it twice in a row (which is what I did). Gore films are not dead, they just come from New Zealand now! Stay tuned after the final credits for a funny stinger. A sequel is currently in production, its release predicted sometime in late-2020/early-2021. SIDE NOTE: Before Walmart would allow this DVD to be sold in their stores, they changed the name on the packaging to HEAVY METAL APOCALYPSE so the original title wouldn't offend anyone's delicate sensibilities. Fuck you, Walmart! Speaking of New Zealand, another strange gore film you should watch is MEGA TIME SQUAD (2018), an inventive time travel tale that unfortunately collapses under its own weight in the final third due to its heady ambitions, but it's still worth a watch.;   Nearly everyone who reads this site knows I can't stand most "Found Footage" films, mainly because they go against all common sense and defy reality (i.e. Would you still carry a camera when your life is in immediate danger and film your own death?), but I am willing to make an exception when the film is done properly and has a lot of actual scares. That film would be HELL HOUSE LLC. (2015), a found footage film with a great story, scares aplenty and a mystery that gets you immersed in the story right from the very beginning. The film opens with police cars, ambulances and fire trucks arriving at a haunted house attraction in a small town in Upstate New York called Abaddon (I don't know about you, but that name screams "Lovecraft" to me!). The attraction, at the old abandoned Abaddon Hotel, renamed "Hell House", is the site of 15 deaths, including four of the five staff who created it and eleven tour goers, yet the police and authorities covered-up the reason why they were killed. Five years later, a documentary crew try to find out the reason why and how all these people were killed, interviewing the only crew member who survived, Sara Havel (Ryan Jennifer Jones). Sara brings with her a bag of video tapes, telling the female interviewer, Miranda Kelly (Miranda Robbins), that she took the tapes before the police could get their hands on them and this will be the first time anyone will view them, as Sara herself dared not look at them for all these years. We then take a look at these tapes, where we see crew head honcho Alex Taylor (Danny Bellini) and crewmembers Sara, her boyfriend Paul O'Keefe (Gore Abrams), Tony Prescott (Jared Hacker) and Joey (Phil Hess) enter the long-abandoned Abaddon Hotel for the first time. This place has a bad history, as the owner of the hotel hanged himself in the 1970's for reasons unknown and anyone who tried to re-open the hotel met similar fates. Sitting unused for the past fifteen years, the hotel is in a state of disarray, perfect for a Halloween haunted house. Paul, who was elected to film everything that is going on (so the crew can view it at a later date to see what they did right and what they did wrong for the next year's haunted house) begins to film the crew putting together the exibits for the haunted house; they have less than two months to get the hotel ready for business. After setting up cameras in every room, including the spooky basement, which has a giant pentagram painted on one of its walls (not put there by the crew), strange things begin happening to Paul, all of which he documents on camera. First, he sees what he thinks is Sara sleepwalking one night, but it's not unusual for Sara to do that, so he ignores it. Every night after that, Paul hears noises that wake him up from a sound sleeps, so he turns on the camera and goes to investigate. I'm not going to explain any further other than to tell you it is very creepy (Including the actions of a clown mannequin they put in the basement, which turns up all around the house, Alex thinking one of the crew is playing a practical joke on him until the clown's head moves, looking directlay at him. The clown's mannequin head has no joints, so it cannot move!). On the first day of the official opening, something awful happens, which is all on film, including footage taken by a tour-goer. It results in the death of fifteen people. The film is not quite over yet, as Sara has a surprise in store for the documentary crew back at the site of the Abaddon Hotel, which has been boarded up since the massacre five years ago. This is a thoroughly creepy experience which raised goosebumps on my body on several occasions. Director/screenwriter Stephen Cognetti pulls great performances from his actors, making their characters totally believable and vunerable to the point you actually care what happens to them. Not only that, but the footage Paul shoots demands 100% of your attention because there is always something going on in the background which you will totally miss if you don't pay attention. It is those things that will raise your shackles and the finale is especially harrowing. While lacking any blood, gore or nudity, this film doesn't need it because it's the terror factor that stands out here, wondering from the beginning what actuaslly happened to the crew and tour-goers. Unlike most found footage films, which show you nothing, especially at the end of the film, this film doesn't stoop to that low level, it delivers what it promises: A scary and, above all, a soul-frightening experience. Director Stephen Cognetti has made two sequels (so far), all of them getting good reviews as the originals, so look here for reviews of them in the future. If you are an Amazon Prime member, you can see this streaming for free. Another great reason for becoming a Prime member. I won't go as far as to say I like found footage films, but I will say that this one did impress me.;   Most modern-day haunted house films, especially those made in the New Millennium, follow the same tired pattern, mainly plenty of jump scares with no real frights to be had. And then there's THE HOUSE ON PINE STREET (2015), a haunted house film done right. There's no graphic violence or nudity to be had here, yet the scares are palpable, relying on mood and good acting to deliver the frights. We see a married couple, seven months pregnant Jennifer (an excellent Emily Goss) and Luke (an equally good Taylor Bottles) move from Chicago to a rented house in a small town in Kansas, which happens to be Jennifer's childhood town. We know something bad happened to Jennifer in Chicago, but the film peels back layers of Jennifer's past to get to it. It's obvious Jennifer is suffering from some personal issues, which is why Luke moved them out of Chicago to this small town where Jennifer's overbearing mother, Meredith (Cathy Barnett, whom you just want to punch in the mouth), still lives. Meredith insists on running Jennifer's life, which Luke is okay with, for reasons still unclear. Meredith throws Jennifer and Luke a partyin their new rented home, something Jennifer is very unhappy with because she doesn't know most of the people her mother invited to the party. At the party, Jennifer meets the mysterious Walter (Jim Korinke), a man who seems to be interested in the house's rooms upstairs (he just stares up the stairs with a worried look on his face). Walter seems to know all about Jennifer's life, including the recent "incident" in her past. Jennifer soon learns from another partygoer that Walter is psychic and a medium, something which Walter flatly denies. So how does he know about her past and why is he looking intently upstairs? Strange things begin happening to Jennifer in the house, like boxes moving on their own and constant knocks on the front door, but when Jennifer opens it, no one is there. Is it possible a ghost is haunting this house or is it all in Jennifer's troubled mind? Even Jennifer doesn't want to tell her husband what is happening, afraid he will think she is losing her grasp on reality again, but when she is tossed down the flight of stairs by an unseen force, Luke begins to believe that Jennifer is having another "episode'.  It seems that back in Chicago, Jennifer tried to give herself an abortion to get rid of the baby because she hated being pregnant. Luke believes that the tumble she took down the stairs was another attempt to get rid of the baby, not believing that she was attacked by a mysterious supernatural "force" (Would you believe it given her past attempt to abort her baby?). Merideth and Luke double-down on keeping a close watch on Jennifer, which just fills her with hate for both of them (as well as her unborn baby), because neither of them will accept that the house is haunted. We also begin to realise that it all may be in Jennifer's fragile mind, but when an upstair closet door explodes from its hinges, we do begin to believe her, but can she get anyone else to? She goes to Walter for some help, but he refuses to help her, saying he doesn't believe in ghosts, but he does believe that inanimate objects, such as a house, can have a will of its own. He looks Jennifer in the face and tells her she since is filled with so much hate, is it no wonder that the house is hating her back? Serious and deadly trouble happens when Jennifer delivers her baby boy, whom they name Tyler (a name both Jennifer and Luke picked when they found out she was pregnant with a boy). I'm not going to tell you what happens next, but there are no happy endings here. This is a haunted house film like no other, thanks to directing brothers Aaron & Austin Keeling, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Natalie Jones. This is an adult take on the haunted house genre that will not only leave you feeling sad by how it ends, but also satisfied that you have watched something that doesn't cater to the lowest common denominator. People that we hate, such as Meredith and Walter (who's not afraid to say exactly how he feels), turn out to actually be caring people, because we were seeing everything through Jennifer's hateful eyes and not seeing the real truth. I recommend this film wholeheartedly, as it was just what I needed to bring my faith back to modern supernatural films. Available streaming on Amazon Prime, Tubi and even YouTube, this is one film you should definitely watch to get the stink of modern supernatural films out of your nostrils.;    God knows THE CHAIR (2015) is not a film for anyone with a weak nervous system, as it is relentlessly grim and dark in tone. It is also Roddy Piper's last film role (He died during post-production), so I had to watch it since I am a rabid Piper fan (and always will be). It is also based on a graphic novel written by this film's Executive Producer, Peter Simeti. This horror film takes place in Death Row at some unnamed prison, where prisoner Richard Sullivan (Timothy Muskatell, who looks like Charles Manson) has been sitting in a dank cell for fifteen years waiting for the Governor to call to commute his death sentence, as he professes his innocence to anyone who will listen. Sullivan is accused of raping and killing over thirty children, but he swears that he is not the type of man to do such a thing. Sullivan is also haunted by memories of his white trash mother (Naomi Grossman) abusing him as a boy; whipping the soles of his bare feet with a leather belt, while he yells for his older brother Tommy to help him. Mom blames Richard for driving their father away, leaving her jobless with two young mouths to feed. Every time Mom gets drunk (which is often), she takes it out on young Richard, while Tommy (whom she doesn't abuse) hides in a closet cowering. Richard is also accused of killing his mother, which he also denies. Making life terribly difficult and painful for Richard on Death Row are a quartet of guards, led by the extremely cruel Murphy (Roddy Piper; PRO WRESTLERS VS. ZOMBIES - 2013), who pisses and spits into Richard's meals, that is when Murphy feels like feeding him and the other prisoners. Prisoner Sammy (John Siciliano) hasn't eaten in four days, so during open cell time to stretch their legs, Richard lets Sammy eat the food he has hidden away, which doesn't sit too well with Murphy. He has the automatic cell door close in Sammy's cell, while a terribly weak Sammy lies halfway out of his cell, the cell door cutting Sammy in half! Also making all the prisoners lives seem worthless is Warden Enrik (Bill Oberst Jr.; 3 FROM HELL - 2019), who dons doctor scrubs, a white lab coat and goggles and operates on the prisoners in various painful and bloody ways.  When it is Richard's turn, the Warden tells him he will search for his "Achille's heel", saying every person has a weak spot and he will find his. But how does the Warden know that Richard's Achille's heel are the soles of his feet? The Warden then starts playing "This Little Piggy" with Richard's toes, breaking some of them with pliers (a scene very hard to watch). The film does seem like nothing but torture porn, but there's an underlying theme that child abuse causes violence. One such torture porn sequence comes when the four guards sexually abuse a prisoner until he dies. Guard Riley (Zach Galligan; WAXWORK [1988], if you can believe it) makes the prisoner give him a blowjob, while guards Alvarez (Noah Hathaway; TROLL [1986], if you can believe it) and Simmons (Derrick Damions) take turns fucking him in the ass. Murphy finishes the prisoner off by shoving his nightstick so far up the prisoner's ass, he kills him (wiping off the nightstick with his tie when he is finished). Things come to a boil when the Governor calls and refuses to commute Richard's sentence; he is to die in the electric chair (the "Chair" of the title) in 36 hours (This is after Johnny The Janitor [Robert Rhine], starts mopping up the blood and gore of Sammy's death. Richard grabs the mop handle and shoves it down Johnny's throat, killing him.). So is Richard actually a killer or does his treatment in prison cause him to become a killer? That question is answered in the film's finale, where it is revealed that the Warden is actually Richard's older brother Tommy (!) and flashbacks show us that Richard is, indeed a killer, as we watch him kill his mother with a butcher knife by stabbing her in the back and raping and killing a boy while driving an ice cream truck. And, yes, he did rape and murder 30 children; he just denied it so much that he began to believe his own lies (Denial is not only a river in  Egypt!). The film ends on a rather dark note, as Richard gets even with all the guards and his brother, but he doesn't escape, he takes his own life (shooting himself in the mouth) after strapping Tommy to the Chair and pulling the switch. This film is so dark, that it will change your normally cheery tone to something quite the opposite. Director Chad Ferrin, who also gave us the good low-budget horror flicks UNSPEAKABLE (2000) and THE GHOULS (2002), both also featuring Timothy Muskatell, has fashioned a film with absolutely no light moments. Everything is fashioned to give you a no-holds-barred look at life in prison, where there is no time for jokes or comedy. This is a film made expressly to make you feel awful and the prisoner rape sequence will make you run to the bathroom to either puke or take a shower. Either way you will feel dirty. This isn't a film to watch with a group, it is one to watch alone. It is well made, yet not very bloody (even Sammy's death is not shown in detail, yet the sound effects accompanying his death will startle you). Like I said in the beginning, this film isn't for everyone, but if you like films that are so bleak, it will make you glad you are alive, no matter how awful your life is, then this is the film for you. I actually admire it for not backing down from its original premise. Life in prison, especially on Death Row, isn't a picnic in the park and this film has no problem showing you that. Great job and highly recommended for those who are willing to take a chance. The film ends with a short tribute to Roddy Piper. I still miss him. Available streaming both on Amazon Prime and on YouTube (on channel "Watch Movies Now!").

Good DTV Genre Films Part 18 (continued): Do you like your action films down and dirty with very little exposition and lots of gunfights and hand-to-hand combat? Then you can do no better than I AM WRATH (2016), starring (believe it or not) John Travolta as the main character. I wanted to see this DTV film since I heard that Chuck Russell directed it, his first feature film since 2002's THE SCORPION KING. Other Russell films include A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 3: DREAM WARRIORS (1987); the superior remake of THE BLOB (1988); the Jim Carrey comedy/fantasy THE MASK (1994) and the Arnold Schwarzenegger action flick ERASER (1996). So you can see how, after a 14 year absence, I wanted to see what he churned out. And I wasn't disappointed. When former Black Ops agent Stanley Hill (a fit Travolta, who is excellent if you can ignore his bad hairpiece) watches his wife Vivian (Rebecca De Mornay) being murdered, he tries legal means to find out why. It is apparent to Stanley that Detective Gibson (Sam Trammell of TRUE BLOOD) and his group of other detectives are corrupt and may be in on his wife's murder (Stanley beats up two detectives and forces them to give back all the money to an old oriental woman they shook down every month as "protection" for her restaurant. The next day, Stanley watches as the two injured detectives in casts and bandages carry a huge envelope of money into the restaurant and one of the detectives says, "I don't know what hurts worse, the beat-down or doing this."). Stanley and his best friend Dennis (Christopher Meloni of LAW & ORDER: SVU and very good, as well as funny), another former Black Ops agent, work together to get to the bottom of Stanley's wife's murder. From this moment on, the film is nothing but a series of well-staged shootouts, explosions and fisticuffs, where no blood is spared. This was the quickest 92 minutes I have sat through in a long time, as some of the set-pieces are nail-bitingly suspenseful and this film goes way past what we would regard as an R-Rating, as people are shot in the head, lose body parts and are blown apart in explosions. It also has a satisfying conclusion, which leaves the film open for more Travolta/Meloni films in the future (and I hope there are, as they make a great team). I am glad Chuck Russell is back and this is better than most action films I have seen in theaters, but it seems to me that a lot of John Travolta films are going straight to DTV simply because he is being punished for being a Scientologist. It can't be because of the value of the film. He makes a perfect action hero here and also has in some of the other films of his that have gone the DTV route. I only hope this is Chuck Russell's return to the directorial chair and we don't have to wait another 14 years for another film. This one has everything an action film fan could ask for and more. Highly recommended.; THE OTHER SIDE OF THE DOOR (2016) is one of those horror films you are either going to love or hate, there will be no middle ground. I happen to love it because of its exotic location (Mumbai, India) and some really terrifying scares. A husband and wife, Michael (Jeremy Sisto; LAW & ORDER - 2007-2010) and Maria (Sarah Wayne Callies; INTO THE STORM - 2014) are vacationing in India when Maria announces she is pregnant. They decide to live in India because Michael's job was looking to create an office there. Six years pass and Maria is a wreck. It seems Maria and Michael had two children, Oliver (Logan Creran) and Lucy (Sofia Rosinsky), and Oliver drowned when the car Maria was driving went over a bridge into a raging river during a monsoon. Oliver was trapped, so Maria was only able to save Lucy. Maria is on a spiral of depression, until one day she decides to overdose on sleeping pills, but Michael is able to save her by getting her to the hospital on time. Michael and Maria's housekeeper, Piki (Suchitra Pillai), asks Maria if she would like to talk to her son for one last time and say the things she couldn't say to him before he died. It involves a Hindu ritual where they dig up Oliver's grave and perform a supernatural spell, where they burn Oliver's body and then Maria goes into a temple and is only able to talk to Oliver through the door. But by no means must she open the door or bad things will happen. Maria agrees to do all this, but makes Piki swear never to tell Michael. They perform the ritual and Maria talks to Oliver through the door, but when Oliver says he must go, Maria thinks she didn't have enough time with him, so she opens the door. Big mistake. Something besides Oliver comes to our side and begins to make life hell for Maria and Lucy. Michael is still oblivious to it all because he spends so much time at the office. At first, Maria believes that the ghost of Oliver has followed her home, because the piano starts playing Oliver's favorite tune. But things turn nasty mighty quick. Lucy starts ending up with bruises on her body. The fish in their pond all die and so do the plants. Chairs slide across the floor and pin Maria into one, where she is forced to sit and read Oliver's favorite story. Scary looking Hindu people begin to appear wherever Maria goes and scare the shit out of her and Lucy. And then we find out the spirit is of a violent girl named Myrtu (played by male actor Javier Botet, and this is not the first time he has portrayed a female ghost or demon. He played a female in [REC] - 2007 and MAMA - 2012), the Gatekeeper of the Underworld. I'll leave the rest for you to discover. What surprised me most is that this film was directed and written by Johannes Roberts, who gave us one of the worst money-making horror films of all time STORAGE 24 (2012; look for a review in the bad DTV section), so I was surprised I would like this film so much. It may remind people of all those American-made versions of Japanese horror films (which I mostly hate), but this one has very unusual location work and some truly scary scenes (it starts nearly in the beginning with a small girl on the beach who points at Maria, screams and her face begins to change into something horrible). See if you agree with me and watch it when you get the chance.; I have to say that I wasn't expecting much from director/producer/co-writer Stephen Chow's MERMAID (2016), since I found most of his previous films overlong visual effects festivals with a minimal of story. Boy was I surprised here. The film starts off in a slapstick comical way (which almost made me turn it off), but there was something about it that told me to stay with the film. The basic plot of the film is about a self-absorbed land developer named Liu Xuan (Chao Deng) and his partner, Li Ruolan (Yuqi Zhang), who plans on developing a gulf with a shipwreck on it into an vacation hotspot. Unfortunately, the area is also the home for the last of a horde of mermaids and other creatures, including their leader, The Octopus (Zhixiang Luo) and an elderly mermaid Queen, with the biggest flippers you ever saw. The Octopus assigns female mermaid Shan (the beautiful Jelly Lin, a.k.a. Yun Lin) to disguise herself as a human hooker (the way it is done is quite ingenius) and kill Liu Xuan. She tries using many undersea weapons, but is comically defeated every time and never noticed by Liu Xuan. An American scientist (Ivan Kotik, who speaks perfect Mandarin), has developed a sonic weapon that will kill all dolphins from returning to the gulf (they try the weapon out in a goldfish bowl and the poor goldfish explodes), but that also means it will kill all the mermaids and other creatures in the gulf. Unfortunately, Shan falls in love with Liu and things become very complicated until it develops into Liu being betrayed by Li Ruolan, who wants a live mermaid to become extremely rich and that mermaid happens to be Shan. You'll have to watch the film to see how it turns out. One thing I loved about this film is how it starts out as a slapstick comedy and within its short 94 minutes (for Stephen Chow films, anyway) slowly becomes more violent and violent until there is an all-out war between the mermaids and Li Ruolan's automatic weapon-carrying soldiers. It turns out to be a bloodbath until Liu Xuan and The Queen intervenes and the tacked-on finale gives it a happy ending, the only thing that seemed to be unoriginal, but kind of touching anyway. Besides some dodgy CGI, the film is a spectacle for the eyes, as the colorful underwater scenery seems to pop-out of the screen (it was shot in 3D). This is the most finacially successful Chinese film ever made, bringing in nearly $500 million in China in 2016 alone (it will also soon be adapted into a TV Series). There is a reason for that. It is very entertaining, full of action and some good comedy (watching two police officers trying to draw a mermaid from Liu Xuan's description is a howl) and a really good all-out bloody brawl during the finale (as well as an ecological message like in the 2009 documentary THE COVE). Even though it was certified hit in China, it only got a limited theatrical/VOD release in the United States before being dumped on disc and cable TV. At least we get to see it as it was originally intended, language in Mandarin with English subtitles. Look for Chinese legend Tsui Hark as Uncle Rich (he uses the pseudonym "Ke Xu" here). Hark said he only took the part because he wanted to see how Stephen Chow works, since all his films have been certified hits in China. This is also the only Stephen Chow directed film without Stephen Chow as the star. My highest recommendation; If KICKBOXER: VENGEANCE (2016) seems familiar, it is because the plot follows nearly all the martial arts films since they were created in the U.S and abroad in the 1980's. This one features a very good performance by Jean-Claude Van Damme, who starred in the original KICKBOXER (1989), only this time he is the teacher rather than the fighter (although he does a good amount of martial arts fighting on his own without the benefit of a stuntman; more than I remember him seeing do in the past several years, where he preferred guns over martial arts). Like I said, the story is as old as the ages: When Kurt Sloane (Alain Moussi; a stuntman-turned-actor and not bad at all) sees his brother Eric (the late Darren Shahlavi, in his final film role) killed at the hands of Muay Thai champion Tong Po (GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY's and WWE wrestler David Bautista) in an underground martial arts combat ring (a caged squared circle) in Thailand, the Muay Thai inexperienced (but martial arts proficient) Kurt promises that he will kill Tong Po for what he has done. Three months pass and he has to prove himself to Eric's teacher Master Durand (Van Damme, sporting a wicker fedora and sunglasses, even in the rain!) that he is worthy enough to be taught Muay Thai. Eventually, Master Durand gives in and agrees to train Kurt, while Kurt's soon-to-be girlfriend Marcia (Gina Carano), a local Thailand Royal Police detective (half of whom are on Tong Po's take), tries to stop Kurt from getting himself killed (He saves her life once from a bunch of Tong Po's thugs, part of the fight taking place on the backs of two elephants!). The second third of the film is one big 80's montage, as Durant gets Kurt into shape for his first fight (he has to work his way up to Tong Po) and Van Damme seems to be having a good time here (he's thinner than normal, but still built like a brick shithouse and can still kick high). After some successful and unsuccessful fights, Kurt decides he is ready for Tong Po, but Durant proves to him that he isn't (Durant beats Kurt in a well-choreographed martial arts fight, but then pro-Po fighter Kavi {UFC fighter Georges "Rush" St-Pierre; DEATH WARRIOR - 2009} comes to join in, which Durant makes mincemeat of and convinces Kavi to be Kurt's sparring partner!). We all know how all these films end, so there is no reason to tell you what it is, but this film definitely belongs to Jean-Claude Van Damme. I originally thought he was just going to put in a 5 minute cameo, but the fact is, he looks like he is having so much fun making this film, you can't help but like it, too. Van Damme may be getting old, but with his age comes not just plenty of exercise to keep him in shape, but a true ability to act. It also doesn't hurt that everyone, including Gina Carano, know how to fight in real life and director/actor John Stockwell (CAT RUN - 2011; and made IN THE BLOOD - 2013 with Gina Carano) fills this movie with little tributes to the first film (and ignores the "sequels" starring Sasha Mitchell and Mark Decascos). One such little tribute is when a prisoner asks Durant and Kurt to take him with them when they escape prison. The prisoner who asks that question is Michel Qissi, who played Tong Po in the original film. The end of the film also contains a funny scene for those who remember the original movie. Dimitri Logotheti, the director of SLAUGHTERHOUSE ROCK (1987), is co-writer of this film and is directing and writing a sequel to this film starring both Van Damme and Moussi and called KICKBOXER: RETALIATION, for release sometime in 2017. David Bautista is the person who puts minimum time into this film, as we watch him kill Eric in the beginning of the film (and then bed two naked ladies), see him kill another opponent at the film's halfway mark and then gets into the main fight at the end (but it is a lengthy fight, nearly 20 minutes long). Instead of being bald or having short-cropped hair like we normally see him, he sports an enormously thick ponytail and chin hair which makes him look even more evil. If you just want to watch a good old-fashioned mindless martial arts action flick like you did in the 80's & early-90's, I can't think of a better film to recommend. Van Damme deserves to be on the big screen again. I love his DTV films, but someone should give him a chance to be in theatrical films again. His acting abilities will surprise you.; MORGAN (2016) is one of those modern-day technical sci-fi films with a heart, even if the subject of the title (and someone else) may not have a human one. Morgan (Anya Taylor-Joy; THE WITCH - 2015) is a woman in her young 20's who was created solely without any human DNA (we see photos of the abominations that were first born and killed before Morgan became a viable human-like baby), created by a team of scientists consisting of such people as Dr. Lui Cheng (Michelle Yeoh, still as beautiful as ever) whom Morgan calls "Mother", Dr. Simon Ziegler (Toby Jones; THE RITE - 2010), Dr. Kathy Grieff (Jenniffer Jason Leigh; AMITYVILLE: THE AWAKENING - 2014, one of those films that keeps on getting postponed indefinitely by Dimension Films), Dr. Amy Menser (Rose Leslie; GAME OF THRONES - 2012-2014) and Dr. Darren Finch (Chris Sullivan; THE KNICK - 2014-2015). When Morgan was two weeks old, she had the body of a two year-old girl and five years later, she has the looks and the body of a young woman in her twenties. One day, apparently for no reason, Morgan rips the left eye out of Kathy, so corporate bigshot Jim Bryce (Brian Cox in an extended cameo) sends his best problem solver, Lee Weathers (Kate Mara; TRANSSIBERIAN - 2008), to decide whether Morgan should live or die. Since the incident with Kathy, which Morgan doesn't have any explanation for, she is kept in a large room with one side of the room encased in bulletproof and unbreakable glass. Lee is somewhat a souless person, who shows very little emotion (this was a small problem for me, since I guessed the ending based solely on Kate Mara's performance, even though she is a looker.) and when Skip Vronsky (Boyd Holbrook; A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES - 2014 and RUN ALL NIGHT - 2015, both starring Liam Neeson), a worker at the institute, kisses her, she looks at it as a new experience. Then the shit starts hitting the fan. A psychiatrist, Dr. Alan Shapiro (Paul Giamatti in a cameo), sits across a table asking Morgan some questions, when she gets up and takes a huge bite out of Shapiro's neck, killing him (a quite effective scene). Morgan locks Lee in the glass encased room and starts killing everyone in various bloody ways, except for her best friend Amy and Skip, who manages to avoid Morgan. Morgan saves "Mother" for last as she is sending a video to corporate headquarters that Morgan is an experiment who failed. But is Morgan a failure? Lee manages to escape the glass room (another giveaway) and she chases Morgan and Amy in a car chase, but Morgan makes Lee's car slam into a tree. Skip comes driving by and Lee takes control of his vehicle, with Skip as a passenger. Morgan stops at the end of a dirt road and leads Amy to a dock by a lake. Lee tries to kill Morgan, but Lee ends up impaled through the stomach on a tree branch. Morgan joins Amy on the dock and looks at her reflection in the water. Tears start coming out of Morgan's non-human eyes, proving that even non-human genetically-created lifeforms can have feelings. But the camera pans behind Morgan to find Lee standing there with a gun. She shoots and kills Morgan, her body falling into the water. Lee the puts a bullet right between Amy's eyes. When she comes walking back to Skip's vehicle, she non-chalantly shoots and kills Skip. A clean-up team is sent to the secluded laboratory and the woods to get rid of all the bodies when Jim Bryce exposes that Lee is also a non-human genetic creation made at another lab and she is the best in the business. They have created the perfect assassin. One with no feelings. This is Luke Scott's first film as a Director of a feature film (he was Second Unit Director on some recent big films for Ridley Scott, who is one of the Producers here) and he keeps things moving at a lightning pace (especially the last 35 minutes) and the violence is quite shocking because it comes out of nowhere. I guessed Kate Mara as Lee was also a laboratory creation from nearly the first scene she was in. Her icy demeanor, Darren's kiss and the way she escapes the glass room only further enhances the theory that she is not human. Besides that major mis-step, this is a cracking good action/sci-fi film that was made on a budget of $8 million, just a small pittance when compared to the films of Ridley Scott, and you can see Scott's hand in some of the scenes (Morgan always wears a hoody and in some scenes the hood seems to pulsate). This had a small release to theaters in September 2016 in the U.S., where it hardly made half of its budget back, but that is no reason why you should not check this better than average flick. I enjoyed it immensely, flaws and all.; Now give me a few minutes here before calling me a hack reviewer. I liked ROGER CORMAN'S DEATH RACE 2050 (2016) not just because it is the real sequel to his DEATH RACE 2000 (1975), but because, even though it takes place in 2050, it has a lot to say about us in today's society. It deals with a famous driver named Jed Perfectus (Burt Grinstead), who is gay but refuses to believe it (He won't make love to his beautiful navigator Grace Tickle (Shanna Olson), because she isn't "pretty enough"; another driver named Tammy (Anessa Ramsey), who runs her own fake religion so she can run over her believers and gain more points; a black female driver named Minerva Jefferson (Folake Olowofoyeku), who acts all tough on the outside, but is actually a nice person on the inside; a driverless vehicle named A.B.E. (voiced by D.C. Douglas), who finally passes the point of being an A.I. and becomes human; and, of course, Frankenstein (Manu Bennett; but I am sure David Carradine would have reprised his role if he were still alive), who is sick and tired of killing people and just wants to live a normal life. His navigator happens to be Annie Sullivan (Marci Miller), who works for the Rebels, headed by Alexis Hamilton (Yancy Butler), who wants this waste of human lives to stop. The game is run by world leader The Chairman (Malcolm McDowell, with the weirdest hairpiece he has ever worn), who believes keeping the world's people jobless and replaced by machines is the way for all corporations to become rich (a nuclear experiment has made everyone sterile, so there have been no births for years), but he is growing tired of Frankenstein's refusal to kill innocent human beings (he even swerves his car so that he doesn't hit a kitten swatting at a butterfly!) and plans to make sure that no one crosses the three day cross-country race's finish line in New Los Angeles, so he works with Hamilton and the Rebels to make sure that happens. The people sitting at home are watching the race through their VR headsets (much like today's youth with their video games) and can put themselves in the eyes of anyone in the race. Director/co-writer G.J. Echternkamp (this is his first sci-fi/horror film) also brings up a lot of things that are wrong with today's society, but it isn't a political film. There are gory kills, a humorous homosexually-themed fight between Jed and Frankenstein and plenty of racing action (the cars are not bad-looking). Frankenstein knows that Annie works for the Rebels (at one time, Annie puts a steel-trap devise up her vagina to sever Frankenstein's penis, but he refuses her advances because she was in the shower so long and wasted enough water for a month!), but Annie starts to come around to Frankenstein's point of view and at the finale, Frankenstein does something to make the populace of New Los Angeles to revolt against each other and he and Annie fall in love as the city burns to the ground. There's a lot of valid social commentary in this film disguised as a gory horror film (and the gore flows freely and frequently, as bodies are cut in half, blown apart, heads and body parts hit the cars and other human carnage, all done very well), but that is what B-Films like this should do: Make you think a little bit while you enjoy the blood. I highly recommend the film, but get the disc version, as the version shown on SyFy cuts out some of the gorier parts, bleeps out all the "fucks" (but, surprisingly, keeps everything else in) and blows up frames to crop out the nudity. This is Producer Roger Corman's best film in years, yet it made it's debut on Home Video. Don't pass this by because you think it is cheap. It is probably Corman's best-looking film in a long time thanks to a co-production between Universal Pictures (who also handle the disc release in the U.S.) and New Horizon Pictures.; TERM LIFE (2016 ) is a very interesting crime actioner if you can get over Vince Vaughn's bad hairpiece (he looks like Moe Howard of the Three Stooges!). It was also the second feature film directed by Peter Billingsley, the child actor from A CHRISTMAS STORY (1983). Instead of shooting his eye out with a Red Ryder carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle, Billingsley has people shot in the groin, head, stomach and chest. Vaughn is Nick Barrow, an unassuming crook who plans robberies and heists down to the last detail and sells them to the highest bidder. When one of his planned robberies goes wrong and the brother of crime kingpin Viktor (an excellent Jordi Molla) is killed, he puts a hit on Nick. A troubled Nick takes out an insurance policy on his life and must remain alive for 21 days until his estranged daughter Cate (Hailee Steinfeld; ENDER'S GAME - 2013) can collect the money. He hasn't talked to his daughter in over 12 years, but he has kept a close eye on her activities (His ex-wife is in rehab for drug addiction). Nick must stay away from various hitmen, especially crooked police detective Joe Keenan (the late Bill Paxton, in one of his final film roles), who is the one who actually killed Viktor's brother, and his equally crooked (and nervous) partner, Detective Matty Miller (Shea Whigham; BOARDWALK EMPIRE - 2010-2014), who stole the money from the botched heist. Nick tries to reconnect with Cate, but it proves to be quite difficult, because she never understood why he left her life. When he explains to her what he does for a living, she starts to soften and pulls his ass out of the fire several times, especially when Viktor and his right-hand man Marko (Cain Velasquez) kidnap him and Viktor tells Nick that he is going to die. Nick does not know how to talk to his daughter, so he asks his best friend and partner Harper (Jonathan Banks, who has some terrific one-liners) what to say to his daughter (Harper says, "Talk about Barbies"!). Nick has very many close calls, but he always manages to escape, until Cate comes up with the perfect plan to clear her father (seems like she inherited some of Nick's crime genes). This film is fast, funny, bloody and violent. Paxton shoots people just for looking at him funny and begins to kill his partners, beginning with Matty. (Mike Epps is also one of his corrupt partners). This is a very satisfying crime/action fan, as there are many shootouts where nothing is left to the imagination. Look for both Terrence Howard (as a scared local cop who gets into a disasterous shoot-out) and Taraji P. Henson in their first film together. They would become huge on FOX's EMPIRE (2015 - 2020) as a rich music mogul and his scheming wife. Vaughn's friend Jon Favreau and Annabeth Gish (THE X-FILES - 2001-2002) both put in cameos. Based on a graphic novel by Nick Thornborrow and A.J. Lieberman (who wrote the screenplay as "Andy Lieberman"). Hard to believe that this was a WWE production. Highly Recommended.; THE EVIL WITHIN (2016) is one of those films with a troubled production history, but that doesn't mean it is a bad film. Production of the film began in 2002, but was plagued by many delays including: funding issues, conflicts with cast, and a lawsuit from a studio assistant. After many stops and starts to the production, filming was completed in 2008. Director/screenwriter Andrew Getty (The grandson of billionaire Jean Paul Getty) began obsessing over the final edit of the film and spent many years working to perfect it, but he unfortunately died in 2015 (due to a hemorrhaging ulcer caused by his ongoing methamphetamine addiction). before it could be completed. Producer Michael Luceri, who had also assisted with the editing, finished the film. It opens with Dennis (Frederick Koehler, a very familiar face and under-rated actor on TV and films, such as DEATH RACE - 2008 and it's first two DTV sequels - 2010 & 2013, with another one on the way in 2018) narrating his dreams in a very inventive sequence (One where Michael Berryman; [THE HILLS HAVE EYES - 1977] unzips Dennis' back, does something and zips it back up) that will bound to make you rewind the DVD (especially when his mother takes off her sunglasses), ending with him looking in a full length antique mirror. We then see Dennis in real life having a picnic on his birthday with his brother John (Sean Patrick Flanery; DEMON HUNTER - 2005) and John's girlfriend Lydia (Dina Meyer; SAW I, II, III & IV - [2004 - 2007]). It is obvious Dennis is slightly retarded, but when John gives him the mirror from his dreams for his birthday (He tells Dennis he found it in a "Prohibition Vault"), Dennis doesn't want it because it is evil. John tries to talk him out of it, but Dennis screams for him to stop using "fifty cent words". The mirror is actually evil and begins to affect Dennis' dreams. Dennis begins to talk to himself in the mirror and sees things he would rather not see (Like Berryman biting off the tips of his fingers, revealing his fingertip bones and then slitting Dennis' throat). Dennis' reflection talks him into doing many things. like killing the neighbor's cat and putting it in a cooler. (His reflection tells him he is holding a new paint brush!). John become suspicious when he notices that Dennis has VHS tapes (showing its 2002 roots) on taxidermy, forensics and other subjects (later on it changes from VHS tapes to books on tape) Dennis should not be interested in and wonder what Dennis is building in the basement since Dennis was never interested in carpentry (Dennis tells John  he will show him what he is doing in a couple of days). Dennis is watching a documentary on venomous spiders when the narrator says "you fucking retard!" and a giant spider climbs on Dennis and sucks him dry until he is nothing but a shriveled corpse. It was all a dream, of course, until Berryman (Billed as the "Cadaver") tells him through the mirror that he will make all of it stop if he does him a favor: Kill a child. Dennis kills a young boy on a swing and puts him in a freezer chest. He sees himself in the mirror as not being retarded and his non-retarded reflection tells him that all the things he sees in his dreams are being whispered in his ear by him because where he is is very dark. Dennis' reflection tells him as long as he is done what he is told, he can come live where he is and his reflection can come into the real world. His reflection convinces Dennis to become a serial killer and his first intended victim is the girl at the counter of the local ice cream parlor, Susan (Brianna Brown; NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD 3D - 2006), who Dennis has a crush on. Dennis scares the shit out of Susan and she runs out into the path of an oncoming car and is killed (The whole scene is very well done and has the feel of a nightmare). Meanwhile John asks Lydia to marry him, but he finds out Lydia may be cheating on him (she isn't). Trying to describe the rest of the film is just like trying to make sense of a nightmare. It is indescribable, but it is also very watchable. Frederick Koehler is a revelation here, managing to make you believe he is both retarded and normal at the same time. This is also one of those films where there is always something going on in the background, so this is not a film you want to put on while vacuuming your living room. This film demands all your attention. In other words, a film that everyone should admire. This is as close to a filmed nightmare as you can get. It doesn't surprise me that director Andrew Getty had a methamphetamine addiction that killed him because this is an extremely frenetic film with visuals that defy description (like Dennis' favorite restaurant, where an anamatronic clown sings and an octopus plays the drums!). John also seems to be having psychiatric problems, as we see him talking to his psychiatrist, Dr. Preston (Francis Guinan) on several occasions (We find out that John pushed "prodigy" Dennis down a flight of stairs when they were children, permanently damaging Dennis' brain), and it has forever bothered him since it happened, making him as dependent on Dennis as Dennis is dependent on him. John and Lydia go through a "Twilight Zone-ish" experience. (There is a strange scene where John and Lydia are at a restaurant and can't get anyone to acknowledge them [Because Dennis killed everyone they know in town!]. John confronts one guy and acts tough, but it turns out to be a giant of a man who looks somewhat like Rhondo Hatton [Matthew McGrory of HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES - 2003 and THE DEVIL'S REJECTS - 2005, who passed away in 2005, once again a reminder of the film's troubled production history]) Unfortunately, Michael Berryman has very few scenes in this film (he is prominently displayed on the DVD Sleeve). But there are a lot of indescribable scenes here (especially what happens to Lydia and the ending, which can politely be said to be insane). If you like films that make you feel creeped out, I can honestly say that this film is the one you should watch. And in case you were wondering: Yes, there is some blood, gore and female nudity, but this film is mostly about the surreal visuals and the nudity is in no way titillating. One of the best DTV films I have seen in a while. Look for Kim Darby (DON'T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK - 1973) in an extended cameo as a Child Protective Services agent with a severe dislike for John.; ARSENAL (2016) "There is nothing a man won't do for his brother." So begins this better than average action flick marked by another over-the-top performance by Nicolas Cage. But it works in this film. Ever since brothers Mikey and J.P. were young, Mikey always looked out for his brother. He had a drunk father and an old grandmother who was good for nothing. One day, Mikey comes home and finds his father has blown half his face off with a shotgun. When J.P. comes to enter the house, Mikey gives J.P. a bunch of quarters to get him away from the house and to do his favorite thing: Go to the arcade and play video games. When Mikey goes to the arcade to pick up J.P. he accidentally spies Eddie King (Cage) killing a guy by putting a baton in his mouth and hitting it with all his might with a baseball bat. Eddie catches Mikey watching him and Mikey promises that he saw nothing, so Eddie lets him go. 23 years pass and J.P. (Adrian Grenier; ENTOURAGE: THE MOVIE - 2015) is the head of a profitable construction firm, while Mikey (Johnathon Schaech; THE CULLING - 2014) has just got out of the Marines on a dishonorable discharge. Mikey is a total mess, divorced with one baby girl. Mikey hits up J.P. for $10,000 to pay for rent and take care of his little girl, but he buys a shitload of cocaine instead ("Why have $10,000 when you can turn it into $20,000." is what he says to J.P. when he finds out what Mikey did thanks to his good friend Sal (John Cusack; DRAGON BLADE - 2015). A duo of masked robbers invade Mikey's house and steal the cocaine, so now Mikey has nothing. The next day, someone with a disguised voice over the phone demands $350,000 in three days for Mikey's return. We find out that Mikey is doing it in cahoots with Eddie (Mikey even has someone beat the shit out of his face to make it look real), while J.P. and Sal look for him. Since they are brothers, J.P. wants to sell his business, but his manager put all the money from the company into building himself a new house. Eddie (who is the disguised voice on the phone) lets Mikey talk to J.P. on the phone and Mikey drops an important clue as to where he is (He had second thoughts about screwing over his brother) and is almost killed trying to get away, so Eddie kidnaps Mikey's ex-wife Alexis (Abbie Gayle) to show he means business. J.P. manages to get the $350,000 (we see his manager wearing a neck brace!) and he also finds out that Eddie King is behind it all. They say revenge is a dish best served cold, but J.P. doesn't have that much time to wait for it to freeze, so he picks up a gun and gets down to business. For once, this film has a happy ending. Usually these films end up with some type of tragedy happening, but not here. Director Steven C. Miller (SCREAM OF THE BANSHEE  - 2011; SILENT NIGHT - 2012) makes sure the blood flows fast and freely, Such as when Eddie beats his brother to death by punching his face to a bloody pulp (while a gospel song plays on the radio) and the final shootout is a thing of beauty, especially two scenes (Both in slow-motion): J.P. blowing a guy's face off with a shotgun (better than most horror films) and a bullet going through someone's cheek (you see the bullet exiting his cheek). Screenwriter Jason Mosberg (his first produced screenplay) gives John Cusack very little to do, but everyone else figures importantly in the plot. Who says they don't make good action movies any more? This one hooked me in from the beginning. TRIVIA: Adrian Grenier and Johnathon Schaech both starred in Steven C. Miller's MARAUDERS (2016), one of Bruce Willis' first DTV films..; Speaking of Willis, I applaud HBO for showing director M. Night Shyamalan's UNBREAKABLE (2000) before premiering Shyamalan's latest hit (one of the biggest grossing films per dollar spent in 2017) SPLIT (2016). By HBO doing this, it shows that both films are intricately linked, or like they say nowadays  "exist in the same universe". You may have missed the connection when watching the film, but I guarantee you won't miss it by the film's final shot (both films end with the same line of dialogue and some scenes ape the 2000 film.) in which a surprise visit will shock you. That is Shyamalan for you, always throwing a twist into his films. He was getting a bad rep until he started making low-budget films on his own terms (This one for the notorious BlumHouse Productions, made for $9 million) and especially the goosebump-raising THE VISIT (2015), made for as measly $5 million and getting praise by nearly every critic (including me). Germophobe Dennis (a wonderful James McAvoy; WANTED - 2008) kidnaps three girls in their car in a store parking lot after killing one of the girl's father and locks them in a room behind the zoo he works at. The women Claire Benoit (Haley Lu Richardson), Marcia (Jessica Sula) and especially Casey Cooke (Anya Taylor-Joy), who has a history of mental and sexual abuse in her childhood (as a young girl, she is raped by her brutish Uncle John [Brad William Henke] when her cheerful father [Sebastian Arcelus] dies at a young age. Like in UNBREAKABLE, Casey points a gun at creepy Uncle John, but doesn't pull the trigger). Dennis has multiple personality disorder and has 23 different identities (we only see 8 in this film), but he tells his psychiatrist Dr. Karen Fletcher (Betty Buckley, who is simply amazing) that a 24th personality is about to show itself, known as "The Beast", a muscular creature that is able to climb walls. Dr. Fletcher finds all of this unbelievable, because no person can change their appearance that much (Dennis is very thin) and no one can climb walls. He makes plenty of unscheduled appearances at Dr. Fletcher's office misleading her by saying he is not Dennis (He is, because only Dennis uses a yellow cloth to clean the germs off chairs and tables) and harping on the fact that The Beast is coming. Casey knows how to deal with personalities like his and he really does nothing to the girls (he does rape Marcia, and that is a traumatic event) to mentally hurt them. Casey builds up Dennis' respect for her (and she spots folders of all his personalities on his computer, telling him on how to act like that personality (Is it possible he is a fake?). Casey escapes and she ends up with Dr. Fletcher, but Dennis does actually turn into the muscular Beast, climbing the walls and squeezing Dr. Fletcher to death in a deadly bear hug, while Casey frees the other two girls. We then see the girls sitting at a diner counter when one of the girls says that Dennis had some really freaky names (such as Hedwig), like that person who caused the train wreck a few weeks ago. She can't remember the name, so the man sitting next to her, David Dunn (Bruce Willis) says simply "Mr. Glass." Dennis is now at a crossroads in his life , realizing that he can change his body with his mind, making him invincible. We don't know where Shyamalan is going with this film for half its running time, but he then springs two surprises on us: The Beast and David Dunn from UNBREAKABLE. As a matter of fact, Shyamalan is now directing a film called GLASS (the advance poster is a thing of beauty) for release in 2019, starring Willis, McAvoy, Taylor-Joy and Samuel L. Jackson as the imprisoned Mr. Glass. This promises to be one hell of a mash-up and I am so happy that Shyamalan is once again getting the respect he deserves. See this film and try to spot how many parallels you can make out between this and the 2000 film. My highest recommendation.

Good DTV Genre Films Part 19 (continued): MARAUDERS (2016) is from the same studio and director that gave us ARSENAL (2016; see above) and I am happy to report is is a bloody good time. The film opens up with four high-tech robbers entering a branch of the Hubert Bank and shotgunning its manager while stealing over 3 million dollars in cash. The bandits leave a bomb, telling the bank customers that they will detonate it if they move within 15 minutes. The bomb proves to be a fake, but it has the fingerprint of a dead criminal, T.J. Jackson (Texas Battle; BOGGY CREEK - 2010), on it. This case proves to be a turf war between F.B.I. Special Agent Montgomery (Christopher Meloni, who uses a lot of foul language, probably to make up for all the times he couldn't use it on LAW & ORDER: SVU) and dirty Cincinatti Detective Mims (Johnathon Schaech), whose wife is bedridden and dying of pancreatic cancer. Somehow bank owner and president Mr. Hubert (Bruce Willis, in what amounts to an extended cameo) is responsible for the robbers (who wear metal skull masks and speak in electronic voices) for doing what they do. It seems more like revenge rather than robbery. F.B.I. Agent Wells (Adrian Grenier), who is new to Montgomery's team (which includes Dave Bautista as Agent Stockwell and Lydia Hull as Agent Chase) also looks like he knows more than he is telling and leaks stories to news reporter Vanessa Adler (Tara Holt). The thieves continue to rob branches of Hubert's banks, one time stealing something out of a security deposit box and shooting the guard dead. The boss of the robbers contacts Montgomery via laptop at his home and tells Montgomery that those who died deserved it (at the second robbery, the boss of the robbers stabs a seemingly innocent man graphically in the throat outside the bank. What possibly could they all have in common?). When Montgomery meets Hubert at his branch office, the robbers strike again and Montgomery kills one of them and gets in a tense Mexican standoff with the other three. Montgomery says to take the money and go, just don't kill anyone else (Another bank guard is shot in the head.). It looks like Mims and Montgomery have something in common. Montgomery blames Mims for getting his wife killed ("My wife had her eyes cut out of her head while still alive" is what Montgomery says. His wife was an undercover DEA agent whose cover was blown and Mims nearly got the person who did it (T.J. Jackson) off of the charges when he lied on the stand during the trial.). All of the plot points are resolved during the finale and it doesn't end the way we think it will. I won't say anything more, except director Steven C. Miller (AUTOMATON TRANSFUSION - 2006; SILENT NIGHT - 2012; UNDER THE BED - 2013 and the previously mentioned ARSENAL) tosses in double and triple crosses, surprise reveals of people who are not what they pretend to be (one that I guessed from the start), lots of bloody shootouts and gory deaths and some genuine human emotions you usually don't see in films of this type. This may be Bruce Willis' first DTV film, but it is far from something to be ashamed of. I think Miller is a director to watch for in the future.;  THE AUTOPSY OF JANE DOE (2016) is what a horror film should be: scary, atmospheric and , most of all, engaging. I really don't understand why such a horrifying film only gets a limited theatrical release while PG-13 rated crap plays for weeks. This film opens with the police at the scene of a mass murder in Virginia at a family home. Everyone who lived in the home is brutally murdered (Lieutenant Wade [Jane Perry] makes the observation "It doesn't look like a break-in, but rather the family was trying to break out"). Sheriff Burke (Michael McElhatton) is called down to the basement where the corpse of a naked woman is found partially buried. She is classified as a Jane Doe since she is naked and has no identification. The body is taken to the home/mortuary of Tom (The fantastic Brian Cox; TRICK 'R TREAT - 2007; RED - 2008) and his son/assistant Austin (Emile Hirsch; THE DARKEST HOUR - 2011) where Austin notices Jane Doe's (played by Olwen Kelly) eyes are clouded gray. They also notice that rigor has not taken place in her body and her wrists and ankles were broken, like she was tortured. They also discover that her tongue has been ripped out and there is peat under her fingernails and toe nails. Tom is perplexed since peat is not found in Virginia, but it is found further up north. They both think she was the victim of a serial killer, but they will soon learn that is not the case. Tom opens up Jane Doe's chest and blood comes pouring out, like she was still alive. Tom assures his son that he has seen this happen before (It happens due to gasses dead bodies produce, from pressure that builds up and then the skin is punctured). After opening her chest and using the rib spreader, Tom begins his internal autopsy. Jane Doe's lungs are burned beyond recognition, but that would be impossible since no other external or internal parts are burned. When Tom opens her stomach, he finds an undigested poisonous plant and a piece of cloth with the Roman numerals XXVII and a ritualistic pentagram on it. Then things start to get weird. There is a big thunderstorm outside and the power goes out, while the radio plays the song "Open Up Your Heart" (by The Hamblens) all by itself. The generator kicks in and Tom peels back her chest skin and discovers the same ritualistic symbol found on the cloth is tattooed inside her skin. How can that be? Austin discovers that if he folds the cloth a certain way it spells out the word "Leviticus". Tom immediately knows that it is from the Bible, so he looks up Leviticus 27, where it mentions the word "witch". (Tom was previously working on a body of an old man who had a bell tied around his ankle just in case he was still alive, so everyone could hear it ring.) Tom is attacked by something supernatural so he and Austin head for the elevator where they hear the bell ringing. Tom grabs an axe and buries it in what he thinks is the old man, but it turns out he murders Austin's girlfriend Emma (Ophelia Lovibond), who was supposed to meet Austin at 11:00 pm to go to a midnight movie. Knowing that they are dealing with a witch, Austin pours flammable liquid over Jane Doe's body and Tom lights up a matchbook and tosses it on her body. The flames rise so high that it sets the entire room on fire, so Tom whips out a fire extinguisher and puts the fire out, only to discover Jane Doe is not burned at all. Austin opens her skull with a bone saw, takes a piece of her brain and discovers the brain cells are still alive. Tom makes the ultimate sacrifice for his son (a really effective scene) after discovering that Jane Doe was a witch from 16th centurty Salem, only to have Austin killed, too, in a fall by trying to open the cellar door that will lead him outside. The police arrive at the house/mortuary the next morning (turns out there was no rain for four days) and they take away Tom, Austin and Emma's bodies. Jane Doe gets her own ambulance and when the driver is taking her body for another autopsy (Her body looks like it was never touched), the radio starts playing "Open Up Your Heart". It looks like the ambulance driver is going to be Jane Doe's next victim. I really can't describe how scary this film is, from a fly buzzing out of Jane Doe's bloody nose, a refrigerated cold storage door that keeps on opening by itself, to the hallways being filled with smoke from Tom's dead cat Sydney (It was the only thing left to remind Tom of his dead wife), which he throws into a furnace. Director André Øvredal (TROLLHUNTER - 2010)  has made a film that should not be seen alone with the lights out. Ian Goldberg & Richard Naing's screenplay keeps you guessing all the way. Olwen Kelly is brave to be shown totally naked on the autopsy table and the autopsy looks just like a real one (There are a lot of real scares in this film that I haven't even touched on and this may be my favorite horror film of 2016). My highest recommendation.; FENDER BENDER (2016) is one of those exceptional films made for the soon-to-be defunct Chiller Channel (it will no longer exist on New Years Day 2018). The film opens with a women entering her house, talking on her cell phone, telling her friend that she just had an accident with her car but it was just a fender bender. She says she doesn't want to go out that night. All she wants to do is go to sleep. She climbs into bed, only to discover that a person dressed all in black leather and a weird black mask is lying next to her. He stabs her in the throat and she is dead. Turns out he is a serial killer known as The Driver (Bill Sage; WE ARE WHAT WE ARE - 2013) and we next see him dressed in street clothes buying gas for his car. He spends a weird amount of money for the gas and lays it out on the counter, including coins. We then switch to teenage ballerina Hilary (Makenzie Vega; SAW - 2004) sitting in her car crying and  talking to friend Rachel (Dre Davis; PRETTY LITTLE LIARS - 2010-2017) while in her mother's new car, watching her boyfriend Andy (Harrison Sim) cheat on her. Rachel wants her to confront him, but she is too late. Erik sees her behind the wheel of the car and wants to explain, but a crying Hilary drives away, saying they are through. She stops at a suburban intersection to wipe away the tears, only to be rear-ended by The Driver. They exchange names, insurance information and phone numbers and Hilary takes photos of the damage to both cars and of The Driver on her phone for insurance purposes. When Mom and Dad see the damage to mom's new car, they ground her and say that she is forbidden to go to a ballerina concert that she was looking forward to with her mother. Mom and Dad head out to the concert without Hilary and Dad says to contact the insurance company to report the damage ("It's the least you can do for your mother!"). Hilary does that and gives her insurance agent all the information given to her by The Driver. The serial killer then begins to text her, saying how sorry he was for hitting her car (He is using all the information Hilary gave him to his advantage, including her address.). Rachel and gay friend Erik (Steven Kelsey Leos Montoya) pay a surprise visit to Hilary to show that they are real friends and support her decision for dumping Andy for cheating on her. They order a pizza and find it lying next to the front door. Rachel and Erik eat the pizza and Andy (who is drunk) knocks on the front door, demanding that Hilary takes him back, but she pushes him out of the front door and slams it shut. She gets a frightening phone call from the insurance agent, who tells her that the information she provided about The Driver is that of a woman who was murdered the night before (The woman we saw in the beginning of the film). Hilary immediately gets worried when the leather-bound The Driver enters the house and murders Rachel and Erik by slitting their throats (They can't get away from him because the pizza was drugged and he also murdered Andy). He turns his attention to Hilary, but she proves to be a difficult catch (probably due to her ballerina training). She whacks The Driver on the head several times with a tire iron in her garage and then pours a jug of gasoline all over his black leather outfit. She tries to set him on fire by striking a match, but he gets up before she has time to throw it at him. In the film's most tense scene, Hilary hits him in the head a few more times and enters The Driver's car and pushes the lighter in his 70's car down to charge it (Remember those cigarette lighters next to the ashtray in older cars?). The suspense builds (it is palpable) while Hilary waits for the lighter to pop-up while The Driver makes it to his feet and begins to approach the car. The lighter finally pops-up and she throws it at The Driver and he is set aflame. He manages to put out the fire by rolling around in a puddle, but he is either dead or unconscious. Hilary cautiously approaches The Driver's body because she sees that he has her phone (which also contains his image from the accident. She goes into her house after seeing all of her friend's bodies posed in peculiar ways. The Driver meets her in the house and stabs her dead, removes his leather gear (and also protective headgear under the mask, which is why he could take hits to the head with a tire iron) and takes a shower. He then goes through Hilary's pocketbook and takes all the money in her wallet (including the coins). He drives to a gas station (his car now has the license plates of Mom's new car (It reads "DNCEMOM") and buys an amount of gas that is the exact amount of money he took from Hilary's wallet. He puts the money on the gas station's counter, including the coins (Now we know why he did such a strange thing in the beginning of the film). In this film, the bad guy wins and all the innocent ones die. Bill Sage is completely frightening inside his leather costume and out of it. His first encounter with Hilary is a really tense moment and you don't know what is going to happen when she takes his picture, but you do know that he is her next victim. This was the first directing effort by Mark Pavia in 19 years, his last film being 1997's THE NIGHT FLIER, based on a Stephen King story. While it contains no nudity and very little foul language, it does have its fair share of gory moments, especially when The Driver stabs Erik in the neck and the blood squirts like a water fountain. While no reason is given why The Driver does what he does (the inside of his car's hood is full of the driver licences of his victims and there are about of 100 of them, with Hilary's being the newest) there is plenty of edge of your seat suspense, especially the sequence of Hilary pressing the car's cigarette lighter and discovering the drivers licences over her head. While nothing spectacular, this is a smart little slasher film that hits all the right notes. You really don't get that too often.; I really didn't initially know what to think of IT STAINS THE SAND RED (2016), another zombie film, but its outrageous ideas and situations won me over. It was directed by Colin Minihan, one half of "The Vicious Brothers", who gave us the boring found footage film GRAVE ENCOUNTERS (2011), but partner Stuart Ortiz co-wrote the twisty screenplay with Minihan (they both also co-produced this), turning this film into a refreshing new take on the zombie genre. It opens with coked-out and vodka-soused stripper Molly (Brittany Allen; JIGSAW - 2017, who is terrific here) driving in the Nevada desert, heading for Las Vegas via Porsche with her gangster boyfriend Nick (Merwin Mondesir). Too much vodka forces Nick to pull over to the side of the road so Molly can throw up, but when she gets back in, Nick finds his expensive car is stuck hopelessly in the sand (Porsches have real-wheel drive). They see a person walking in the middle of the road and it turns out to be a zombie (Juan Riedinger, who is also great), so Nick runs to his car, pulls out a Glock and begins shooting at him. Even a bullet in the head doesn't stop him, so Nick and Molly hide out in the car. The zombie is relentless and doesn't stop trying to get into the car until well into the night. Nick dropped his phone outside the car, so when the zombie disappears, he goes outside to get it, only to become the next meal. While the zombie is chowing down on Nick's intestines, Molly runs out into the desert to get away, only to find out zombies do not get tired like normal humans. Trapped on a rock, she feeds the zombie, who she has named "Smalls" (for "Small Dick"). her bloody tampon (!) to satiate his thirst for blood, giving her time to escape. The zombie continues following her, so she begins to talk to him like a normal person and will soon find out that a zombie is the least of her problems. A sandstorm appears, trapping Molly and Smalls in it and when it ends, she discovers a pickup truck parked on the side of a road containing two men. Molly soon finds out that these men are actually the people Nick was supposed to meet at an airport on the outskirts of Vegas and one of them begins raping her in the bed of the pickup. But Smalls rises from the sand and saves Molly's ass, chewing on the rapist's neck, while the other one drives away in fear. Molly also discovers that Smalls is not the only zombie, as one of the men tells her it is a different world now. Smalls actually becomes Molly's deadly friend and she tries to protect him from a military Hummer platoon sent to kill all the zombies (She uses Smalls as a means to carry her supply of Vodka and cocaine buy putting a car tire around him and tying a rope to the tire so he can pull a rubber raft with her supplies!). Two Army men want to kill Smalls but Molly intervenes, standing in front of the zombie and trying to talk them into not shooting him. She is partially successful (one of the Army men shoots Smalls in the leg as he is getting back in the Humvee), but Smalls bites her finger. Fearing she is infected, she chops off her finger by slamming a sharp rock on it until she no longer has it. Smalls can no longer walk, so Molly does the human thing and crushes Small's head in with a boulder! It turn out Molly has a young son and she will do anything to get back to him. She walks the 30 miles to the airport, where Molly's contact refuses to take her to her son (he takes off in a plane without her). Molly finds a working car, but not before she has to deal with a couple of zombies (She uses a portable drill on one zombie's head). She drives to pick up her son, only to discover that the neighborhood is in shambles. Is her son alive? You'll have to watch the film to find out. I have to say it was hard to see Smalls get killed. He kind of reminded me of "Bub" in George Romero's DAY OF THE DEAD (1985) in his mannerisms and actions. While not a complete gorefest, it does get bloody at times, especially during the zombie attack scenes (Effects done by Ryan Nicholson of GUTTERBALLS [2008] and COLLAR [2014] fame), which is why this film was released Unrated. But this film is more interested in the human angle, as we witness what is most important to Molly in the beginning of the film: her cocaine and vodka. She risks her life to retrieve a bottle of Vodka and yells at Smalls when he interrupts her snorting coke and spilling it all over the sand. It is not until she begins to look at Smalls as something other than a zombie that she begins to think about her son. He bring out the true Molly, not as a coked-out stripper, but as a mother. Director Minihan (EXTRATERRESTRIAL - 2014; also featuring Brittany Allen, but not near as good as this film) does a nice job on turning the zombie genre on its head and giving us an emotional film that should resonate with viewers. It is also left wide open for a sequel. Worth checking out.; I have had the Blu-Ray of THE BARN (2016) for nearly three years, yet I just watched it in the week approaching Halloween 2019. While it is badly scripted and acted, there's no denying that it has a certain '80s charm that will win you over. Oh, and it's gory as hell. Really gory. A group of six overage teenagers decide to have one more Halloween blast before they become adults and accept responsibility for their lives. Sam (Mitchell Musolino) and Josh (Will Stout), best friends since they were little kids, are the biggest fans of Halloween and decide to kill two birds with one stone by collecting candy for the tight-assed church lady Ms. Barnhart (a cameo by Linnea Quigley) and going to a rock concert on Halloween Night (hearing about the rock concert on TV from Dr. Rock, played by Ari Lehman [the original Jason Vorhees in FRIDAY THE 13TH - 1980]). They bring along Sam's childhood crush Michelle (Lexi Dripps), friend Russell (Nickolaus Joshua), as well as Chris (Cortland Woodard) and his girlfriend Nikki (Nikki Darling), for the ride and stop at a strange town to do their trick-or-treating. But they stop at a barn first and do something really stupid. They do a chant at the barn, which wakes up three demons from Hell: The Boogeyman, Hallowed Jack and The Candycorn Scarecrow. They then go to town and collect their candy, not knowing that the three demons are now loose and killing everyone they come in contact with, first killing Chris and Nikki as they are having sex in a tent in a cornfield. That's all there really is to the film, but the kills are very gory, as heads are ripped off, various appendages removed by force and everyone is graphically slaughtered at a hootenanny. The finale takes place back at the barn, as survivors Sam, Josh and Michelle battle the demons and the Preacher (Rik Billock) who is using the townspeople as sacrifices to the demons so their crops will be fruitful (Sam says to the Preacher, "I thought you believed in God!" The Preacher replies, "I do believe in God. Just not yours!"). While not a good film by anyone's definition, it is enjoyable bloody fluff that does manage to entertain, despite the bad acting and nonsensical script. Director/screenwriter/editor and jack-of-all trades Justin M. Seaman (who also portrays The Boogeyman) has turned in a film that is full of very gory practical effects (some CGI is used, especially the fire in Hallowed Jack's pumpkin-faced eyes), where nothing is hidden from view, making this a good film to watch on Halloween (PHANTASM [1979] has always been a Halloween tradition for me and this film won't change that). Financed by crowdfunding site Indiegogo, director Seaman is going the same route in 2020 for a sequel. One that I will watch.; Rob Zombie's 31 (2016) is one of the most violent films I ever laid eyes on, but it's not without its charms. The film opens with the following quote: "A first sign of the beginning of understanding is the wish to die." - Franz Kafka and then introduces us to a character named Doom-Head (an excellent Richard Brake; MANDY - 2017) torturing Pastor Victor (Daniel Roebuck; Zombie's HALLOWEEN II - 2009) with surreal quotes and words before killing him with an axe. It is then October 31, 1976 and we are introduced to the members of "The Venus Virgo Happy Time Fun Show", a traveling roadshow/carnival, as they are driving down a deserted stretch of road to their next destination. The members of importance are owner Venus Virgo (Meg Foster; THEY LIVE - 1988), manager Panda Thomas (Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs; CHANCE - 1990), dancer Charly (Sheri Moon Zombie; Rob Zombie's HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES - 2002; and every other film he has made since), engineer/mechanic Roscoe Pepper (Zombie's 3 FROM HELL - 2019) and jack-of-all-trades Levon Wally (Kevin Jackson; SPIDER-MAN - 2002). They stop at a gas station run by Lucky Leo (a near-toothless Tracey Walter; REPO MAN - 1984) and Charly gets freaked-out by a mechanical puppet show Leo puts on at a building's entrance. They continue on their way, when they run into some strange roadblocks in the road during the middle of the night. They get out to remove them, when they are attacked, kidnapped and drugged by some masked assailants. Everyone else in the roadshow, except for the five members I have mentioned, are savagely murdered. When Venus, Charly, Roscoe, Panda and Levon wake up, they are all tied up and Father Murder (Malcolm McDowell; Zombie's HALLOWEEN - 2007), introduces them to Sister Serpent (Jane Carr; CRAZY AS HELL - 2002) and Sister Dragon (Judy Geeson; Zombie's LORDS OF SALEM - 2012) and tells them that they are about to play a game called "31" in a building he calls "MurderWorld", saying they have 12 hours to play the game, 12 hours to kill and 12 hours to survive. Anyone who survives will be set free (Father and the two Sisters are dressed in opulent 18th-Century garb, complete with large white powder wigs!). He assigns each five members a number, their odds of winning the game and the odds are extremely low (Charly's odds are 500-to-1). They then are untied and handed simple weapons (a baseball bat, a 2x4, an iron pipe, etc. Guns aren't allowed in this game on either side because it would be too easy to win.). Their first opponent will be Sick-Head (Pancho Moler; 3 FROM HELL - 2019), a dwarf dressed in full Hitler regalia (including a Hitler mustache!) who speaks Spanish (!) and wields two very sharp daggers. No one is allowed to leave Murderworld, as all the doors are locked (There seems to be no outside windows in this building, as it looks to be some abandoned warehouse). After some serious taunting, Sick-Head kills Levon with his trusty daggers, before Charly and Venus subdue him, Venus killing him with his own daggers, stabbing him over and over in some kind of bloodlust trance for murdering Levon. A short time later, Father Murder announces over the intercom that he has a nice final meal prepared for them and when the foursome enter the room, there's a table with a huge spread of different foods on it. Charly and Venus refuse to eat it, but Panda immediately does, telling them that poison is not a way of death in this game, it's a "kill or be killed"-type of game, so they better eat something because it's better to kill on a full stomach. Roscoe joins him, but Charly is still unsure. Turns out she is right, for, as she pulls the tablecloth off the table, it reveals that Levon's disemboweled body is directly below the glass table, and the meat they are eating may be Levon's! After listening to Father Murder laugh (and Panda and Roscoe puking their guts out), they are introduced to their next two opponents: Psycho-Head (Lew Temple; ZOMBEX - 2013) and Schizo-Head (David Ury; THE REVENANT - 2009), chainsaw-carrying psychopath brothers who promise to skull-fuck Charly and Venus before killing them (in typical Zombie-style "White Trash" dialogue). The foursome run away and find a room called the "Wet Kitty" (I think we know what Zombie is trying to convey here!), where they find a woman called Georgina (Devin Sidell) tied to the floor. Georgina says if they free her she knows a way to escape, but Roscoe thinks it's a trap. Turns out it is, but not in the way Roscoe thinks. The room is nothing but a large iron cage and Venus and Roscoe become trapped in it, while Charly and Panda are outside, unable to free them. Both duos are then attacked, Charly and Panda by Schizo-Head and Venus and Roscoe by Psycho-Head (he's been hiding under some hay in the cage). what happens next is probably Rob Zombie's best edited scene in any of his films (and I've seen them all), as we cut back and forth between the two duos as they battle the chainsaw psychopath brothers. Psycho-Head kills Georgina and then turns his attention to Venus, but Roscoe turns heroic and makes Venus stand behind him as he fights Psycho with a metal pipe. Panda is cut on the side by Schizo's chainsaw, but both duos defeat their opponents. Psycho-Head falls on his own chainsaw, cutting his body in half (Venus lays on his body so he can't get up while the 'saw rips into his body) and Panda is able to grab the chainsaw away from Schizo-Head when he sees his brother being killed. Schizo pleads for his life, telling Panda and Charly that he is just like them, he was forced to take this role in the game, but Panda is not buying it, using the chainsaw to cut open Schizo-Head's stomach, killing him. The cage door then opens and Father Murder announces that they won again, only this time their odds of winning are multiplied (Charly's is now a million-to-one). Both Roscoe and Panda were seriously wounded in the battle (Roscoe has a gaping chainsaw wound on his left arm), so the women tend to them. Their next opponents are the giant, white tutu-wearing, German man Death-Head (Thorsten Voges; 8MM - 1999) and the tiny female Sex-Head (E.G. Daily; Zombie's THE DEVIL'S REJECTS - 2005; Roscoe knows who Sex-Head is since he met her a Lucky Leo's gas station, but without her clown makeup). Death-Head's weapon of choice is a large wooden club with huge metal spikes sticking out of it and Sex-Head's is a length of chain that she uses as a whip. Death-Head kills Panda with his club, but when Roscoe appears with Sex-Head's chain wrapped around her neck, Death-Head drops his club and pleads for Sex-Head's life (he loves her!). Venus picks up the club and kills Death-Head, while Roscoe strangles Sex-Head with the chain (If you are paying close attention, all of the "Head"s are killed with their own weapons, at least up until now). Father Murder and the two Sisters are now very worried. They did not expect this group of "victims" to be such ruthless fighters. They call in their only other choice: Doom-Head, their best killer, who has never lost a game (his weapons of choice are two switchblade knives). Want to find out how it ends? Well, you are just going to have to watch the film, but I guarantee this: You will never listen to Steven Tyler's "Dream On" the same way ever again! This film has much to recommend, including the lengthy documentary on the DVD/Blu-Ray, which runs longer than the film itself (a Rob Zombie trademark), where you will learn many interesting facts about why Zombie made this film. Zombie got the idea for this film when he read a story about more people disappearing on Halloween than any other day of the year. He doubts the story's authenticity, but he thought it would make a good film. He set the film in the '70s because that was the decade he grew up in, saying those who never experienced that decade could never understand how special it was. I agree whole-heartedly. It's one of the reasons why I started this website in the first place. What amazed me most is that he filmed the dual chainsaw attacks in less than 8 hours, something that would take most directors more than a week to film, yet it looks terrific, the best thing Zombie has ever done. The editing in this scene is simply jaw-dropping. Zombie crowdfunded this film on the Internet since no studio would finance it and it looks terrific for a film made with less than a million dollars. He had to edit the film three times before the MPAA would give the film an R-Rating. Unfortunately, this R-Rated version is what Lionsgate Entertainment released on DVD & Blu-Ray, but it is still quite violent (At the time, Zombie said it was the most "brutal" film he ever made and I would have to agree with that.). Hey, I know a lot of people don't like Zombie's films and I can understand that. He's a polarizing figure, yet I love every film he has ever directed. They are unlike any other films being made today. If you are a Zombie fan, I suggest you search this film out. If you are an Amazon Prime member, they offer it streaming for free. Otherwise, the DVDs and Blu-rays are readily available at an extremely affordable price. Just see it! Also featuring porn star Ginger Lynn Allen (BURIED ALIVE - 1989) as Cherry Bomb, a woman Doom-Head is fucking when he gets a phone call from Father Murder to come to MurderWorld to dispose of the victims who are still surviving. Richard Brake is absolutely frightening and terrifically devious and brutal as Doom-Head, the highlight performance in this film. How he prepares himself for 31 is certainly an eye-opener and not easily forgotten (It involves lots of self-abuse!). The reveal on who Father Murder and the two Sisters really are is also quite surprising (They're just bored millionaires who put the game together every Halloween just for shits and giggles!).; I HAD A BLOODY GOOD TIME AT HOUSE HARKER (2016) is one of those rare birds: A Kickstarter funded film that actually works, mixing broad comedy with bloody practical makeup effects (very little CGI is employed here when it comes to the killings). The story is rather simple, yet ingenious. In the year 1812, Jonathan Harker killed Dracula, the Master Vampire. Without the Master's power, vampires were no longer able to turn humans into vampires with a bite on the neck. Harker burned Dracula's body and destroyed the bones, except for Dracula's skull, which he kept. The Harker family then left Romania and settled in a small midwestern town in the United States, making sure to keep Dracula's skull hidden from all mankind and vampires alike. In the present day, the remaining Harker family, which includes Gerry (Jacob Givens), his slightly retarded brother Charlie (Noel Carroll) and pretty sister Paige (Whitney Moore), are about to lose their house because Gerry blew the $50,000 given to them to fix up house and give it landmark status on a cheapjack stage play about the Harker family. The Harker family name is nothing but a joke in this unnamed small town (Gerry once found short-lived fame as a baton twirler in a Lifetime Movie-like film called TWIRL and the townspeople never let him forget it!), but Gerry must find a way to keep the house before he defaults on the loan. Gerry's best friend Ned (Derek Haugen), a wood-obsessed chainsaw sculptor (!) who has the hots for Paige even though she is engaged to the town's Sheriff Wayne (Nathan Lorch), comes up with an idea of how to get the money. A series of coincidences gives the Harker family a reason to celebrate. A serial killer is on the loose and breaks into the Harker home, only to be accidentally killed by a knife gag that was used in the stage play. Ned uses a shopvac to  suck up all the blood on the floor before Paige sees it (she has no idea that they about to lose their home), but when he leaves the room, the hose gets stuck on the serial killer's knife wound, sucking every drop of blood out of his body. Ned gets the idea of dumping the body and spreading word around town that a real vampire is on the loose and the Harkers set up their home as a haunted house, tricking it out with an assortment of gags (such as crucifixes attached to all the windows and doors so vampires can't escape the house) and inviting the town to experience a real vampire for one night only, hoping to collect the $50,000 to keep their home (Charlie and Gerry are lousy at math, charging $10.00 a person for admittance into the house, which means that 5,000 people would have to come to this "one night only" event for them to pay off the loan!). They ask their friend Peter (Allen Cragin), an actor, to portray the vampire for their haunted house. What they don't count on is that a real vampire from Romania is one the way to this small town, determined to destroy the Harkers once and for all. When the vampire discovers Dracula's skull, he inhales it (!) and is given the Master's powers, now being able to turn humans into vampires with a single bite. Nearly the entire town shows up for the haunted house, not knowing that the real vampire is in the basement of the house. What happens next is a real bloody good time, as Gerry, Charlie, Paige, Ned and Walter (Arlan Godthaab), the Harkers' next door neighbor and a former priest (He left the priesthood after continually getting puked on by possessed people in every exorcism he performed, a funny flashback sequence where pea soup is thrown up on him over and over) must find a way to destroy this vampire once and for all. Will they succeed? While unevenly acted, this is still a very funny film with some very good bloody practical effects, such as when any vampire is staked in the heart, they don't just die, they explode in a heavy spray of blood. Directed by first-timer Clayton Cogswell and written by the cast, who are part of a collective comedy group known as "Good Cops" (they have a popular YouTube channel called "GoodCopsTV"), this is a very funny film that skewers all of the modern day vampire tropes, including sparkling vampires and author Stephenie Meyer's TWILIGHT series of books and films. Nothing is off limits here, but it is done so humorously, I doubt even Meyer would be offended. While the effects are very gory and bloody, they are done comedically, so I think those who are turned off by gore will still enjoy this film.  While I generally don't care much for humorous horror flicks, this very low-budget hidden gem should be on your must-see list of films to be viewed. Any film that uses the Right Said Fred tunes "Lord Have Mercy" and "I Love My Car" into the plot is okay in my book! Available streaming for free on Amazon Prime, if you are a Prime member. Yet another excellent reason to subscribe to Prime.

Good DTV Genre Films Part 20 (continued): I love alien abduction films, especially if they are done right. One excellent example is DEVIL'S GATE (2016), a real mindfuck of a film that hits you with so many lefts, you'll be begging for a right (Sorry, Chuck Norris!), but you'll get not a single one. In the dusty North Dakota town of Devil's Gate, something strange is going on at the old Pritchard Farm. As a driver is passing the farm, his car suddenly stops working, so he goes to the old, decrepit Prichard Farm to ask for help, since his cell phone has no service (an old horror trope, but it is explained resonably here). The main house and barn look deserted and boarded-up, but the man hears a voice coming from the house's basement, so he looks in the window and is scared out of his wits. He tries running away, but he steps on a hidden bear trap. As he removes the trap from his leg, he tries running away again, only to step on another booby-trap and is killed when spikes made of rebar puncture every part of his body (a quick bloody & gory death that will make you wince). Jackson Pritchard (Milo Ventimiglia; THE DIVIDE - 2011) then walks outside and buries the man's body. The big question remains: Why does Jackson have his farm tricked out with booby traps and barb wire everywhere? We then switch to F.B.I. Agent Daria Francis (a very good Amanda Schull; TV's 12 MONKEYS [2015 - 2018]) landing at Devil's Gate's small airport and meeting Deputy Conrad Salter (an equally good Shawn Ashmore; THE DAY - 2011), who tells her to call him "Colt" ("Everyone calls me that.") and then drives her to meet Sheriff Gruenwell (a nearly unrecognizable Jonathan Frakes; STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION [1987 - 1994]). Daria is in Devil's Gate to investigate the disappearance of Jackson Pritchard's wife Maria (Bridget Regan; JOHN WICK - 2014) and young son Jonah (Spencer Drever), who have been missing for over three days. Daria specifically asked to be put in charge of this case because she is a new F.B.I. agent and her first case ended very badly (She found a missing girl and brought her home, but the girl committed suicide in front of Daria, because her father was sexually abusing her at home, which is why she ran away. Daria is haunted by the fact that the girl killed herself, even though the girl never told her the reason she ran away.). Sheriff Gruenwell is not too pleased that Daria is in Devil's Gate and orders her not to talk to Jackson; they already questioned him and came to the conclusion that he had nothing to do with Maria or Jonah's disappearance. Sheriff Gruenwell tells Colt (who went to high school with Jackson) to take Daria to Maria's sister's house to question her, but he is in no way to take her to Jackson's farm (The Sheriff then mysteriously says to Daria, "Some missing people should never be found."). After questioning Maria's sister, Theresa (Sarah Constible; THE HAUNTING IN CONNECTICUT - 2009), and finding a notebook that Jonah hid in the closet Theresa  set up for him ("It's the only place he felt safe." says Theresa. She then tells Daria that her sister and her son would spend a lot of time at her house since Jackson's temperment suddenly changed for the worst when Jonah was born), Daria tells a reluctant Colt to take her to Jackson's farm, showing him the notebook, which contains weird drawings of strange symbols and a hand-drawn picture of Jackson abusing Maria and Jonah (although the drawing can be interpreted much differently). Colt takes her there and is surprised to see Jackson's farm all tricked out with booby traps and barb wire, telling Daria that none of it was there three days ago when he and the Sheriff questioned Jackson. Jackson then comes out of his house pointing a shotgun at Daria's head. Daria disarms him and Colt slaps on the handcuffs, but Jackson swears he had nothing to do with his wife and son's disappearance. He tells them that he is alone at the farm, but a noise can be heard coming from the house's basement, so Daria goes into the house (almost setting off a crossbow booby trap) while Jackson begs her not to go inside. What Daria discovers in the basement in a large barred cell will change her beliefs in everything explainable. Jackson has captured an alien (but Jackson, who is uber-religious, calls it a "fallen angel") and is holding it hostage. The "fallen angels" have taken Maria and Jonah away and Jackson is keeping the alien in exchange for his wife and son. What happens next is surprisingly creepy and is best if you discover it for yourself (even though some of the major clues are in this review). Director/co-writer (with Peter Aperlo) Clay Staub (His only directorial credit at the time of this review, although he was Second Unit Director on the remake of DAWN OF THE DEAD [2004] and THE THING [2010] prequel) has fashioned a film that is full of unexpected twists & turns and surprises, many of which I never saw coming. The alien designs are fantastic and frightening and the deaths are very gory and flinch-worthy (what happens to one major character is something I have never saw done before in a film!), as is the acting from everyone involved. If you love movies that deal with alien abduction (like FIRE IN THE SKY - 1993 and ALMOST HUMAN - 2013), then put this film (also known as ABDUCTION) on your must-see list. It will not disappoint you.;  Does the name "Art The Clown" send terror and shivers down your spine? If not, you haven't watched TERRIFIER (2016), one of the best slasher movies of the New Millennium, with a knowing wink to slasher films of the '80s. This is also one of the most graphically violent films out there, leaving very little to the imagination. Unlike like most modern-day slasher flicks, which ladle-on the cliches one after the other, this film uses those cliches to surprise the viewers, giving you a left when you are expecting a right and making all the players in this film disposable, even though we get to know them intimately and care about them. Absolutely no one is safe here, which makes this film a refreshing jolt for a slasher film lover as myself. The film opens with two pretty young women, Tara (Jenna Kanell) and Dawn (Catherine Corcoran), leaving a Halloween party and on their way home, but they are too drunk to drive and walk to a pizza parlor to get something to eat and sober up. They don't know that Art the Clown (David Howard Thornton, in a silent performance that will chill you to your core), a serial killer, is following them. As they are sitting in the pizza joint waiting for their slices, Art enters the place and sits by himself at a table (with a black plastic trash bag full of his killing implements) and begins staring at Tara. She is creeped out, but Dawn thinks it is a joke and sits on Art's lap to take a selfie with her phone. The owner of the pizza joint asks Art what he wants to eat (no one pays any attention to his creepy clown get-up because it is Halloween Night), but Art says nothing and gets up and goes to the restroom in the back when the owner tells him if he doesn't order something, he will have to leave the premises. The owner asks Tara if the clown is bothering her and she says yes, he is creeping her out, so he says he will get rid of him. A few moments later, the owner is screaming at Art and throws him out of his joint. We soon find out why (He took a crap and spread his shit all over the restroom!). When Tara and Dawn leave the pizza joint, they discover Dawn's car has a flat tire and she has no spare, so Tara phones her sister, Victoria (Samantha Scaffidi), and begs her to come pick them up. While waiting for Victoria to arrive, Tara has to pee, so she walks over to the nearest building, an apartment complex/warehouse, and asks Mike (Matt McAllister), who is there to exterminate the building of rats, if she can use the bathroom. Mike reluctantly agrees and it is now that the film goes off the rails, but in a good way (What happens to the pizza joint owner is merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to graphic gore). To say any more would be a disservice to slasher film lovers, but I will tell you this (not telling you the characters these things happen to): You will see such graphic sights as a girl hung upside down and spread-eagle, as she is cut in half with a hacksaw from vagina to head (nothing, and I mean nothing, is left to the imagination!), another young women gets shot in the face multiple times, another woman gets skinned mid-torso-to shoulders, so Art can wear the skin to fool one of his victims (!), someone getting their head stomped on (with very big shoes!) until it is crushed like a grape, the brains spattering on the floor, a manual beheading, someone getting their face chewed off by Art and surviving (!) and other very gory acts, all done expertly and rather realistically. Director/writer Damien Leone (FRANKENSTEIN VS. THE MUMMY - 2015) made this film, a semi-sequel to his anthology film ALL HALLOWS' EVE (2013; which is actually a collection of previous shorts Leone made tied together by new wraparound footage), also featuring Art The Clown (but played by a different actor; and it does make a difference!), by crowdfunding it on internet site Indiegogo, turning in a film that is professional on all fronts, be it acting, photography, makeup effects (by Leone, who is a special effects technician by trade) and all other technical departments. I loved this film (the fact that Art doesn't utter a single word throughout the entire film and is still scary beyond belief is a testament to this film's effectiveness) and it is now my favorite slasher film in the past twenty or thirty years. A sequel is coming sometime in 2020 (also partially funded by Indiegogo) and to say I am looking forward to watching it is a vast understatement. If you haven't seen this and you love slasher films, what are you waiting for?;  PATIENT 62 (2016) contains all the elements I usually hate in a low-budget film, including CGI bullet hits, gun muzzle flashes and blood, bad acting and "comic relief", but damn if I didn't have a good time with this sci-fi actioner. A bartender named Lucas Chance (Reece Wagner) learns from his mother, Anna (April Kasper) that his sister Angela (Anna Seibel) has been missing for several weeks. Angela has gone missing before since she is a drug addict, but his mother tells Lucas that Angela has been "clean" for six months; she went through rehab and kicked her habit. Lucas promises his mother that he will look for his sister. He learns from Angela's former boyfriend, Dennis (Andrew Valdez), that Angela was working as a stripper at a strip club he DJs at, but she then stopped coming in a few weeks ago. Lucas makes Dennis take him to the strip club, but Dennis will only take him there if Lucas promises to let him DJ a set at the classy bar he works at (Dennis is quite the selfish person, as we will discover later in the film). At the strip club, Lucas runs afoul of club owner Abraham (Brian Dueck), a religious fanatic (!) who orders Rick Ethan (Tyler W. Toppings) and his brother Kelly (Glenn LaPointe; the actor who impressed me the most) to kill Lucas, but first he wants them and his brawny bouncer Herbert (Roman Corkery) to pick up some "methadone" and deliver it to a female scientist, Dr. Carlson (Aubree Erickson), who performs experiments on young women who won't be missed, you know, prostitutes and strippers. Angela is part of her experiments, of which we are not informed what they are...yet. Lucas and Dennis follow the trio to a lab, where Rick kills the chemist and takes 24 bottles of "methadone". Lucas sees this happen and when the trio leave, he checks on the state of the chemist, cutting his hand on a broken bottle of the "methadone" that the chemist had in his lab coat. Of course, this isn't methadone at all, which Lucas will discover very shortly. When Rick, Kelly and Herbert arrive at Dennis's apartment to kill the pair, Lucas does something with his mind that sends Rick flying through the air, killing him, and injures Kelly and Herbert, forcing them to leave (Herbert throws up inside the apartment and outside by what Lucas just did to him). It turns out that this methadone is actually a new drug invented by the dead chemist that turns the people who are injected with it to do amazing things with their mind. Lucas, with the help of Dennis and lesbian friend Twitch (Chrissy Mozylisky), learns how to use his newfound powers (the best part of the film, as it is funny and creative) and he starts having "dreams" where his sister talks to him, which will eventually lead him to Dr. Carlson's laboratory. That's basically the entire film, but it's a fast-paced 80 minutes with a lot to recommend, including a major betrayal, a massacre at the strip club and the brutal death of a family member. While some of the visual effects are cheesy (especially the CGI bullet hits; they never look real), most of them are very well done, especially when Lucas learns how to use and control his powers. This film isn't kid's stuff, as it is an adult tale featuring plenty of nudity and gory violence, especially what happens to Dr. Carlson in the finale. Co-directed by first-timers Bryce Schlamp and Rick Anthony (who also wrote the inventive screenplay) with a lot of verve and imagination. I'd like to see what they can do with a little more money. I'm sure it will be interesting! You can watch this for free on Amazon Prime or, if you are not a Prime member, it can be watched on YouTube on channel "Movie Central". It's worth seeing no matter where you view it.;    BOONE: THE BOUNTY HUNTER (2016) is an action film you will want to hate, but star John Hennigan (STRANGE NATURE - 2018), who wrestles in the WWE under the name "John Morrison" (it used to be "Johnny Nitro"), as well as "Johnny Impact" and "Johnny Mundo", is such a likable actor, it's hard to dislike the film. As a matter of fact, given enough time, Hennigan could be the next B-Movie action hero. Even though this film took nearly five years to complete, due to financial issues (Hennigan, who co-wrote the screenplay and is also Executive producer, sold his dream home and emptied his bank account to finish the film), it doesn't look like it and the action is "stylized", giving the film a shiny look that will impress most viewers, especially Hennigan's parkour moves, which are quite impressive and done without the use of a stuntman. Hennigan stars as Boone, a bounty hunter and star of his own TV "reality" series, ala DOG: THE BOUNTY HUNTER (2003 - 2012), where he, along with female sidekick Kat (Spencer Grammer; the daughter of Kelsey Grammer, who is quite good here), computer/camera ace Denny (Osric Chau; DIRK GENTLY'S HOLISTIC DETECTIVE AGENCY [2016 - 2017]) and muscular brute Jackson (Quinton 'Rampage' Jackson; THE A-TEAM - 2010), chase down C and D-level actors for petty crimes and arrest them (The film opens with Boone chasing Kevin Sorbo, who, after getting slapped with handcuffs, asks Kat if this is going to be shown before his TV movie airs! Sorbo, who I always considered an "eh" actor, is quite funny here.), Boone's tagline being "You've been Boone'd!", followed by looking into the camera and saying, "You're welcome America!"  The show's Producer, Olivia (Dominique Swain; FALL DOWN DEAD - 2007), tells Boone that this fifth season will be their last because of rapidly falling ratings. Boone comes up with an idea to arrest a real criminal and increase the ratings, thereby getting a sixth season, so he phones his old military buddy Cage Bickle (a cameo by Corbin Bernsen; PSYCH [2006 - 2014]) an FBI bigwig who owes Boone a big favor. Boone asks him who is the worst criminal who is now wanted and he says it's Ryan Davenport (Jonathan Lipnicki; CIRCUS KANE - 2017), the son of drug kingpin Cole Davenport (Richard Tyson; DEATH KISS - 2018), who is dumping a new cocaine-like drug on the street, which is deadly if you take too much. One of Ryan's hooker dates snorts too much of the drug at a party he is throwing and dies on the spot, so he splits for Mexico. Boone tells his team that they are heading for Mexico to take down a real criminal (Ryan has a ten million dollar bounty on his head, which means they will get one million dollars for his capture). Boone is able to talk Kat and Denny into going with him, but Jackson refuses, saying Mexico has their own laws (Remember Dog and his crew getting arrested in Mexico for breaking their laws?) and he has a wife and kids to think of (He's a rational man!). So Boone, Kat and Denny drive their van to a small town in Mexico and take Ryan prisoner, but Kat and Denny get arrested by the local police (who are on Cole Davenport's payroll) and Boone has to rescue them, but first he locks Ryan in a porta-potty and tips it over (!) in a deserted section of Mexico near the small town. There's a lot that goes on in this film, a lot of it brutal-looking, especially the martial arts fights and Boone's parkour moves, but be aware it's "stylized" violence, so there's hardly any blood, but plenty of deaths. Lots of people are shot and killed, but there's no blood. People are beaten to a pulp, but there's no blood. People fall out of windows, yet they do not bleed when they hit the ground. I know I should hate this film, but John Herrigan's Boone is such a likable character and can fight with the best of them (using wrestling moves, as well as his parkour), it's very hard to dislike this film, because Hennigan has the chops for both brain and brawn and he's funny to boot. When someone says that he just destroyed a ten thousand dollar item, he shoots back with "10 thou? I've got leather pants that cost more than that." The action never lets up throughout the film and some of the stunts and fights are outstanding (especially by the formidable Cardoza Brothers, played by Lateef Crowder & T.J. Storm, who beat Boone's ass every time they meet), so this is a film any action lover is bound to admire. There are also some very funny scenes, such as the grandmother who asks Boone for an autograph and then opens her blouse so he can sign her breasts! It's also left wide open for a sequel (It turns out Cage Bickle is not quite such a nice guy and wanted Cole Davenport dead for a reason), which I hope is made soon. Filled with cameos, including Lorenzo Lamas (who has a scar on his face that runs from his forehead to his chin!), Tommy 'Tiny" Lister, Erika Eleniak and Del Zamora. Nothing extraordinary, just a solid action flick.;    PHANTASM: RAVAGER (2016). After reading god-awful reviews for this film when it had a very limited theatrical/VOD release in 2016, with a disc release shortly thereafter, I held off watching this film for nearly four years, even though I purchased the DVD as soon as it was available. Why? Nearly all readers of this site know that the original PHANTASM (1979) is my favorite horror film of all time and I didn't want to tarnish my memory of it by watching this film, based on every terrible review I read. After viewing it, all I have to say is I don't get all the hate this film received. Sure, it's not directed by Don Coscarelli (he co-wrote and produced this) and it relies a little too much on CGI, but it is a perfectly fine horror film, even though it can't hold a candle to the original (But what can?). It continues the "Tall Man" (Angus Scrimm; SATANIC - 2005; in his penultimate film) mythos directly after PHANTASM IV: OBLIVION (1998) ended and is basically all about Reggie's (Reggie Bannister; BLOODY BLOODY BIBLE CAMP - 2011) search for his two best friends, Mike (A. Michael Baldwin; PICKAXE - 2014) and his older brother Jody (Bill Thornbury; THE LOST EMPIRE - 1983), as he is stuck in the desert on foot, his 'Cuda stolen when he hid it in the desert. The film also throws a monkey wrench into the proceedings, as Reggie "wakes up" and discovers he has been committed to a hospital because he is in the early stages of dementia, or at least that's what Mike tells him. Is this really happening or is it all a trick by the Tall Man, who is able to travel through alternate dimensions, to stop Reggie from finding Mike and Jody? As the film progresses, we get clues to Reggie's "real" condition, but I'm not going to reveal that here, as "real" in the PHANTASM universe is not always what it seems. In this film, Reggie gets his 'Cuda back (the thief who stole it is made to strip naked by Reggie, gets killed by a silver sphere and then Reggie runs over him!), meets a pretty woman named Dawn (Dawn Cody), who takes him back to her farm, where she is killed by a sphere and Reggie watches Dawn's Romanian-speaking hired hand Demeter (Daniel Roebuck; 31 - 2016) get drained of blood by another sphere. Reggie continues to "wake" to discover himself in a wheelchair or hospital bed, where the patient next to him is the Tall Man (who delivers a spine-tingling piece of dialogue that will have the hairs on the back of your neck standing up, especially when you realize Mr. Scrimm passed away shortly after making this film). Reggie is then transported to an alternate Earth wracked with disease brought on by the Tall Man, turning our planet into a post-apocalyptic landscape where the uninfected not only have to fight the infected, but also giant big-assed speres that shoot lasers and destroy highrise buildings. Reggie then meets Mike, Jane (also portrayed by Dawn Cody) and diminutive Chunk (Stephen Jutras, who keeps calling Reggie "Baldy"!), all soldiers fighting the Tall Man and his forces. I could go on describing what happens in this film, but it's Unrated for a reason. The minuses are that the spheres are all computer generated and look it. The post-apocalyptic landscape is also obviously computer generated, as are the muzzle flashes of some the weapons. I believe even Angus Scrimm's face got some CGI treatment to fill it out, as his skin looks very waxy, a sure sign of CGI enhancement. The plusses are when the spheres drill into bodies of the living, they are practical effects and the blood is not computer generated (God, I hate CGI blood!). The main plus to this film is Reggie Bannister's acting, which I find lacking in most films he appears in. In this film he gives his all and is quite believable as both the hero and the dementia-suffering patient. He's never been better than he is here. So, if you were afraid of watching this film, directed and co-written by David Hartman (a multiple Emmy Award®-nominated animation director; this being his only feature film as a director at the time of this review [May 2020]), I'm here to tell you not to be. This is a perfectly good continuation of the PHANTASM legacy, supposedly the last chapter in the story (18 years in the making), although it is left wide open for another sequel (During the finale, we see the return of Rocky [Gloria Lynne Henry] from PHANTASM III: LORD OF THE DEAD [1994], as she and Chunk join Reggie, Mike and Jody for further adventures where it's very cold, since the Tall Man has a major aversion to it). I wouldn't mind another chapter, but it is unlikely, due to Angus Scrimm passing away (he did get to see this film before he went on to the Great Beyond).  If you are an Amazon Prime member, the full Unrated version is available free streaming (at the time of this review). The DVD & Blu-Ray has deleted scenes, some of which play during the closing credits, but they are all tinted red. Some of the deleted scenes are really gory and I wonder why they were cut from the film (especially Reggie swinging a sword at the Tall Man's dwarf mutants).;   RANGE 15 (2016) is another zombie comedy that's vulgar, in complete bad taste, contains too much CGI blood and muzzle flashes and may be too self-aware for its own good, but I still love it anyway. It could be because it is staffed by real-life ex-soldiers, not actors, who do a completely wonderful job in their roles. This film was able to raise over a million dollars on funding site IndieGoGo, which allowed director/producer/co-screenwriter/actor Ross Patterson to hire name actors in cameo roles, but the film is fueled by the non-professional cast. After a night of hard partying, a group of ex-military soldiers wake up in jail to discover that the country is filled with zombies, thanks to a plane crash that was carrying a top-secret virus. The soldiers, led by Mat Best (Playing a bastardized version of himself. At least I hope it's bastardized!), grab some automatic weapons and head to Range 15, where scientists are trying to find a cure for the zombie plague. Mat and his team have created a special brand of liquor (spiked with viper jizz!) that turns zombies back to their human selves, so they head to Range 15 hoping the scientist can make more. Along the way, Mat and his team run into their old Commanding Officer, Colonel Holloway (Keith David; THEY LIVE - 1988), who makes Mat give the liquor to national hero Gene Vandenham (director Patterson in a standout hilarious role), a narcissist of the first degree who would rather jog to Range 15 than take an armored military Humvee! As more bottles of the liquor get broken during their travels, Mat and his cohorts must try to take the last remaining bottle to their target or the world in in fucking zombie trouble! Can they do it? Filled with really offensive humor, such as an armless female ex-soldier (played by real-life amputee Mary Dague) having sex with Mat (and then trying to pick up a set of keys with her stumps and failing spectacularly!), zombie children getting their heads blown off, sex with a female zombie at a gas station, one soldier (Jack Mandaville) spending the entire film with a female blow-up sex doll glued to his penis (!) and zombies William Shatner, UFC champ Randy Couture and Danny Trejo (!) trying to bite their asses, nothing is off-limits here (There's a really funny scene where actress Mindy Robinson [KILLJOY GOES TO HELL - 2012], who plays Eliza, one of two females with the group since the beginning on the film, is shot in the head by one of the solders for simply saying the wrong thing at the wrong time!). While some of the humor doesn't work, a lot of it does and if you don't laugh loudly, then you, my friend, don't have a sense of humor. Nearly all of the non-actors register in their roles and have very good timing (There's a reason why Mat is the leader. He's very funny!) and the film moves at a very brisk pace. Besides the cameos already mentioned, there's Sean Astin (DEAD ANT - 2017) as a helicopter pilot, Dale Dye (STARSHIP TROOPERS - 1997) as POTUS, Ron Jeremy (ONE EYED MONSTER - 2008) as himself and the diminutive Martin Klebba (CLOWN MOTEL - 2018) as a midget zombie who yanks one of the soldier's (extremely long) penis off and eats it. This film isn't for everyone, but if you like kitchen sink comedies, where nothing is considered taboo, you are bound to enjoy this extremely bloody (even though a lot of the blood is CGI created) and ultra-violent film. Available streaming on Amazon Prime, free to Prime members, or you can watch it streaming for free on Tubi, who show very short commercials every twenty minutes or so.;    Readers of this site know I'm not a fan of anthology films, especially horror anthologies, as the wrap-around footage to all the unrelated short films is tenuous at best. But I am making an exception with PATIENT SEVEN (2016), a slam-bang anthology film where the wrap-around footage is the best I have seen in a long, long time. And that is due primarily to Michael Ironside, who delivers a performance so forceful and memorable, I think it is one of his greatest acting achievements. It also looks like he is having a ball doing it. The story is rather simple: Dr. Daniel Marcus (Michael Ironside; VISITING HOURS - 1981) comes to the U.S.-based Spring Valley Mental Hospital to interview six extremely unusual mental patients for a book he is writing (he's a best-selling author on books pertaining to mental illness). Most of these patients are very dangerous, but they are all hiding secrets Dr. Marcus hopes to uncover and he does it in a way that makes the patients very angry. Basically, he calls them out as fakes, calling them such names as "pathetic killers", "liars" or "phonies", saying all of them are pitiful excuses for human beings. He sees the patients one-by-one, and we then see six short films pertaining to their crimes. Most of these short films were made long before the wrap-around footage with Ironside was shot (One short film dates back to 2011), but it is exceptional the way wrap-around director Danny Draven (a member of the Charles Band filmmaking school, directing such lowgrade, low-budget horror films as HORRORVISION [2000], CRYPTZ [2002] and DEATHBED - 2002), makes all the short films work for the film, even though most of the patients never appear in them! We get short films on demons (one butt-ugly demon played by Doug Jones [THE SHAPE OF WATER - 2017]), serial killers (My favorite short film here, titled THE BODY [2013], directed by Paul Davis and starring Alfie Allen [THE GAME OF THRONES]), zombies, vampires and other creatures that go bump in the night. After Dr. Marcus gets done interviewing the six patients, he goes to leave the mental institution, where we meet Patient #7 (and get a seventh short film). And it's a corker (Pay close attention to the conversation Dr. Marcus has with mental institution psychiatrist Dr. Paul Victor [Jack Plotnick] in the beginning of the film for clues to who Patient #7 is)! The acting in this film is uniformly very good, especially Ironside and Patient #2, "John Doe" (Daniel Lench), who hates plastic wrap for reasons that is explained in director Paul Davis' Halloween-themed short film. So what does Dr. Marcus do? That's right, he takes a roll of plastic wrap and wraps it around John Doe's body until he tells him the truth. This is the way he treats all the patients. No kid gloves here, just brutal therapy that no licensed psychiatrist would ever perform. I must also say that the short films here are also very good, one directed by Erlingur Thoroddsen (who later gave us CHILD EATER - 2015) in Icelandic and subtitled in English. This is a modern anthology done right and even diehard anthology haters are bound to love this, if only for Michael Ironside's outstanding performance. Available streaming on Amazon Prime and now available streaming free on YouTube, courtesy of channel "Kings Of Horror".

Good DTV Genre Films Part 21 (continued): Call me a masochist. Call me a fool. Or just call me insane, but I highly enjoyed SyFy's original film THE SANDMAN (2017). Even though it was Executive Produced by Stan Lee, there is nary a superhero in sight. This is pure horror. The film opens with Claire's (Haylie Duff; FEAR ISLAND - 2009) criminal brother being killed by a strange creature that seems to eminate from his daughter Madison's (Shae Smolik) mind. The police interrogate Claire and there is a strange man in the room, Doctor Valentine (Tobin Bell, who seems to be under contract with SyFy, as he has appeared in many of their original films; FINDERS KEEPERS - 2014, as well as a new SAW film JIGSAW - 2017), who seems to know more about Madison than he cares to share with anyone. Madison goes to live with Claire and her boyfriend Wyatt (Shaun Sipos; THE REMAINING - 2014) and almost immediately, Claire starts noticing that Madison has bruises on her wrists when she screams out while she sleeps. The nasty neighbor across the street says that he called Child Protective Service on Claire because he thinks she is abusing Madison, thanks to TV news coverage and he is the next one to be killed by the Sandman in his car in the garage. The police determine the cause is carbon monoxide poisoning due to a defective garage door, but Dr. Valentine is at the scene, too. A woman from CPS comes to Claire's house and wants to take custody of Madison away from Claire, but she says no. The CPS lady says she will return with law enforcement to make sure she can take charge of her, but notices that Claire and Wyatt are walking into the garage, so she illegally enters the house and goes to Madison's bedroom. She doesn't want to go with her, so she makes the Sandman appear and Claire and Wyatt hear the CPS lady's screams. They both soon become believers when they see the Sandman turn the lady to dust. Both Claire and Wyatt take different steps to resolve the problem. Wyatt tries to kill Madison, but soon feels the Sandman's deadly wrath, while Claire contacts a hypnotherapist, Dr. Amanda Elliott (Amanda Wyss; A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET - 1984) who says she can cure Madison. She hypnotises Madison and tells her to bring the Sandman to life and to grab and hold him. She does that and the Sandman seems to disappear. Seems to. Dr. Elliott gets ta cough and takes a drink of water. She drops the glass and nothing but sand falls out of it. The Doctor falls back on the chair and the Sandman bursts from her stomach, so Claire and Madison run away. Madison is captured  by Dr. Valentine and put in a high tech windowed cell that is impossible to escape from. Unless you are the Sandman. The creature breaks open the door to the cell and kills all of Dr. Valentine's high-tech solders, when Dr Valentine's boss says he is not interested in advancing any further with Madison and try to kill her with poison gas. (The Sandman squeezes one guy in a poison gas protection suit on his head until it is nothing but a bloody pulp. Dr. Valentine tells Claire and Madison to take his car and get the hell out of there before he dies (although we never see him die) and that is just what they do. It seems that Madison has telekenitic powers, too, as she can move objects just by waving her arms, as the Sandman chases them into a warehouse. Madison tries to stop him by using her powers to drop the ceiling on him, but he just pops-up and continues the chase. Just like in the original THE THING (FROM ANOTHER WORLD) - 1951, Madison and Claire electrocute the Sandman and he burns to death, this time for good. This film is better than it has any right to be. It seems a lot horror films today deal with children who are either possessed or have special powers, but Shae Smolik does a good job as Madison. Director/writer/co-producer Peter Sullivan (OMINOUS - 2015) keeps the film moving at a fast clip and for once, the Sandman is not a CGI creation, but an actual man (Mick Ignis) in a monster suit and it is pretty effective. What CGI this film does have is much better than SyFy standards and there is plenty of blood and unusual deaths to go around for 5 films. I usually don't say this, but SyFy has finally released a winner!; THE END? (2017) is an Italian zombie film with a difference, as it doesn't adhere to standard zombie conventions. It is basically a one person film, capably handled by Alessandro Roja as Claudio Verona, a businessman who is quite unlikable at the beginning, ignoring his chauffeur's questions and trying to continue an affair with a fellow businesswoman on an elevator. But things suddenly change as soon as that woman exits the elevator. Claudio finds himself trapped in the elevator between the sixth and seventh floors as something quite deadly happens all around him. People are turning into flesh-eating zombie-like creatures (the fast-moving kind) and all of Rome is affected. Director/co-screenwriter Daniele Misischia only gives us hints of what is happening by way of phone calls and internet sites on Claudio's cell phone, as Claudio tries to get out of the elevator. He is only able to open the doors of the elevator about eight inches, not enough for him to get out or anybody to get in, but enough for him to get an idea what is going on, as he sees his fellow employees turning into flesh-eating creatures and killing other fellow employees. Daniele Misischia and, especially, Alessandro Roja turns Claudio into a person we begin to care about, as he befriends a policeman named Marcello (Claudio Camilli), who helps him understand what is going on and brings out the human side of Claudio. Filled with bloody deaths, but surprisingly sparse gore, this film is remarkable for the way it holds your attention since the main set is the confines of a small elevator. It also doesn't end the way you would expect it would. I wholeheartedly recommend you watch this film. And I thought Italian horror was dead! I would like to see what Daniele Misischia does next.; TRENCH 11 (2017) is a dandy horror film with much to recommend, as long as you are not claustrophobic. This may sound like a "Nazi scientist creates something sinister" type of film, but it is different enough to recommend. During the end of World War One, a British Intelligence Unit discovers a series of underground tunnels that go miles under the ground, all made by the Germans close to the Front Line. A strict Maj. Jennings (Ted Atherton)  has no other choice but to use American soldiers as protection (his distaste for Americans is quite obvious) and a shellshocked Canadian "tunneler" and demolitions expert named Lt. Berton (Rossif Sutherland), who just survived twelve days underground in a tunnel cave-in, as a guide to collect any information they can find in the tunnels, which is believed to be a laboratory for an evil German scientist named Reiner (Robert Stadlober), who is known as "The Prophet". As they make their way into the tunnels, they discover that they are not alone, as there are some disfigured German soldiers there, who seem to be on one mission, to kill everyone they come in contact with. The Germans have also sent a squad of soldiers, led by Kapitan Müller (Shaun Benson), to accompany Reiner back to the tunnels to blow up the laboratory and everything inside it, something they tried to do before they retreated, but somehow it failed. Long story short, nearly everyone is killed, some by the mutated soldiers, who have worm-like parasites inside their bodies and brains, which turns them violent, and some by Reiner himself, who we find out returned there to continue his experiments (Even the German military is scared of him). The only ones left alive are Reiner, Kapitan Müller and Lt. Berton. Müller and Berton join forces to blow-up the tunnel system, because even Müller is tired of Reiner's methods. While this all sounds pat, I am here to tell you it is anything but, as there is plenty of graphic violence (one scared German soldier begs an American soldier to shoot him in the head, which he does!), cringe-worthy practical effects (the worm parasites are appropriately disgusting) and tense situations. Director/co-screenwriter Leo Scherman has a definite grasp of the material and the tunnels come across as extremely tight (hence the claustrophobic comment). The film moves at a quick pace and doesn't give you time to think about some of the plot holes. Both Robert Stadlober and Rossif Sutherland (who reminded me of Vincent D'Onofrio in his acting and mannerisms) turn in good performances and Ted Atherton is bound to get on your nerves as Maj. Jennings, but he is supposed to, as he has a single mindset to complete his mission, no matter how many lives are lost. This Canadian flick hits all the right notes and should be a cult item in the years to come (I finally am in sync with a blurb on the DVD sleeve, which says, "A Future Cult Classic!"). See for yourself. Available streaming on Amazon Prime or you can buy the DVD on Amazon from Image Entertainment. This actually got a limited theatrical run in Canada.; BRAWL IN CELL BLOCK 99 (2017) is one of the most brutal films I have ever seen and I guarantee you will never look at Vince Vaughn the same way again. Vaughn (TERM LIFE - 2016) stars as Bradley Thomas (Do not call him "Brad", he doesn't like it!) and he is about to have a very bad day. He loses his job at a garage and also discovers that his wife, Lauren (Jennifer Carpenter; DEXTER - 2006-2013) is cheating on him. After tearing Lauren's car apart with his bare hands (Vaughn put fifteen pounds of muscle on his frame and took boxing lessons before appearing in this film), he sits down with Lauren to discuss their marriage, which we learn hasn't been good ever since Lauren had a miscarriage and lost their baby. They decide to give their marriage another chance and Bradley takes a "temporary" job with his friend Gil (Marc Blucas; THR3E - 2006) to deliver drugs for him. Eighteen months pass and we see that Lauren is pregnant and her marriage to Bradley is going swimmingly, yet he is still working for Gil delivering and picking up drugs. As a matter of fact, Bradley is Gil's number one guy, so he asks Bradley to help him on a "big" deal. It seems Gil is going into business with a South American drug lord named Eleazar (Dion Mucciacito) and he wants Gil to help pick up a huge shipment of heroin, but there is one caveat: Eleazar brought along two lackeys, whom he insists go along with Gil to pick up the drugs. One of the lackeys, the hulking Roman (Geno Segers), is using, so Bradley doesn't trust him and refuses to pick up the drugs. Gil convinces him to go (he gives Bradley three months off when Lauren has the baby), but Bradley makes one thing clear to everyone: He is the boss on this pickup, no questions asked. As you can guess, something goes very wrong on the pickup, as the two lackeys get into a shootout with the police. Bradley has no choice but to kill the lackeys (well, at least one of them) when they start killing cops. Bradley is arrested and he tells Detective Watkins (Clark Johnson; TV's HOMICIDE: LIFE ON THE STREETS - 1993-1999; in a cameo) that he knows what he did was wrong, but he is not going to give him any names, he will plead guilty and do his time (Bradley is a straight-up guy). After telling Lauren not to come to prison to visit him and especially not when their baby is born (They know it is going to be a girl and Bradley doesn't want her to see him in prison, as it will not make a good first impression), Bradley is sentenced to seven years at a medium-security prison, but he will not stay there very long, While he is there, he gets a visit from the "Placid Man" (a terrific Udo Kier; MARK OF THE DEVIL - 1970), who tells Bradley that he works for Eleazar and they have kidnapped Lauren (he shows him a picture of a tied-up Lauren on his phone). He also tells Bradley that the failed drug deal cost Eleazar $3,500,000 and if he doesn't pay it back, a Korean doctor, who is proficient at cutting off an unborn baby's limbs and still have it live, will do it to his baby unless he finds a way to get transferred to Redleaf Maximum Security Prison and kills an inmate called "Christopher Knight", who is in Cell Block 99. If he kills this man, his debt will be clear and Lauren will be released unharmed. Now I'm not going to tell you how he gets himself transferred, but I will say that it is as brutal and violent as you will ever witness in a film and it only gets worse as the film progresses, culminating in a very gory and unbelievably violent conclusion, the likes of which will leave your jaw scraping the floor. This is grim, brutal stuff ("Brutal" is the only word I can come up with to properly describe this film), as director/screenwriter S. Craig Zahler (BONE TOMAHAWK - 2015; another extremely violent film which I have yet to review, but I will shortly) fills the screen with gory violence and really tense situations. What I found remarkable here, besides Vince Vaughn's excellent performance, is Redleaf's Warden Tuggs is played by a nearly unrecognizable Don Johnson, who turns in an exceptional performance as a man who takes no bullshit from anyone, telling Bradley not to think of this as a maximum security prison, but rather as "minimal freedom" prison. And he couldn't be more correct, as Bradley is fitted with a shock belt that delivers jolt after jolt of electricity to his body as punishment for breaking some prisoners' and guards' bones. It turns out Christopher Knight doesn't exist and it was merely an excuse to get Bradley in this prison, where a convicted Eleazar and Roman want him dead. The finale will make you hit the rewind button several times to make sure you saw what you just saw. This may be the best film that never got a theatrical release in the United States (well, it got a limited theatrical release while being released directly to VOD). It is 132 minutes of pure hell (Vaughn has a shaved head with a huge crucifix tattooed on the back of his cranium, making him look like a skinhead, but that couldn't be further from the truth, as he is a fair man that is just pushed too far.) and the fight scenes are very realistic, Vaughn doing all of his own stunts and doing them with panache. I doubt you will see a film this violent for years to come, so I recommend you become an Amazon Prime member or buy the Blu-Ray. This is a film you will want to see if ultraviolent, extremely gory scenes don't bother you (especially Eleazar's death!). I think I found a new film to put on my Top 20 List! S. Craig Zahler's next film was DRAGGED ACROSS CONCRETE (2018; it is an appropriate description on how one of Eleazar's goons gets killed in prison!), starring many of the same actors in this film. Look for a review soon.; I liked THE UNWILLING (2017) a little more than most people due to the characters, which are more true-to-life than most modern horror films. That's not to say the film doesn't have its share of problems, but, for me, the positives outweigh the negatives. When the elderly Mr. Harris (Lance Henriksen; HARBINGER DOWN - 2015) lies dying in his hospital bed, a mysterious man, claiming to be Mr. Harris' lawyer (Charles Gorgano), delivers a strange-looking black box to his hospital room and then disappears. Mr. Harris suddenly wakes up, touches the box and then touches his nurse (Levy Tran), turning her into a possessed demon, who then kills herself (by slicing her own throat). Mr. Harris then dies. We are then introduced to Mr. Harris' relatives, as they travel to the house of his OCD-riddled son David (an excellent David Lipper; LOST AFTER DARK - 2014), who must do everything three times before he is satisfied. Besides David, there's daughter Michelle (Dina Meyer; THE EVIL WITHIN - 2016), who's is obsessed with looking beautiful as she grows older (letting us see how limber she is by performing an eye-opening yoga scene); good girl niece Kelly Davis (Austin Highsmith) and drug addict nephew Darren Davis (Jake Thomas; THE CELL - 2000), who just missed scoring with his dealer and will soon go through withdrawal. Also at the reading of the will is Michelle's ex-husband Rich Lamplin (Robert Rusler; SOMETIMES THEY COME BACK - 1991), a money-hungry financier who made Mr. Harris a lot of money, who brings along his very young fiancee Cheryl Cates (Bree Williamson), just to make Michelle jealous. As they all arrive at David's house, the doorbell rings and when David opens the door (three times), no one is there, just a package sitting there. When the package is opened, they all discover the strange black box inside, but there are no seams or obvious ways of opening it. When Darren tries to open it, six needles suddenly protrude from the top of the box, Darren pricking his finger. Now this is the part I find hard to believe. Rich says the six needles represent the six of them at the reading of the will, so he talks everyone into pricking their finger on one of the needles (like some DNA test!), hoping the the box will open, which they all do! When they do, a drawer in the box opens, revealing a solid bar of gold. Rich picks it up and is extremely excited, saying the bar of gold could be worth millions, but the bar suddenly turns very hot, burning Rich's hand, forcing him to drop it. It is obvious the Rich is now possessed by some unseen demon(s), as he begins acting strange, trying to rape Michelle as she is taking a shower, forcing her to stab him in the neck with scissors, killing him. It turns out the box gives you not only what you want, but what you need, but it comes with deadly consequences. Michelle is the next to suffer (a small opening in the box reveals a mirror), as the bar of gold dissolves, possessing the wall mirror above it to give Michelle a good look at her younger self. When Michelle gets too close to the mirror, something pulls her inside it, trapping her forever in the demon's world. The box then gives Darren some of his favorite drug of choice, so he steals Michelle's car and tries to drive away, but he always ends up at David's house, no matter what direction he travels in. Since David has a severe case of OCD and is agoraphobic (he hasn't stepped out of his house in over ten years), the demons have a very hard time tempting him, trying to get him to step outside with no success. Will they succeed? You'll have to watch the film to find out. Capably directed by Jonathan Heap (GREENMAIL - 2001), with just the right amount of humor mixed in with some extreme bloodletting. Lance Henriksen's role is nothing but a glorified cameo, making an appearance in the beginning and the end of the film to give David some important information about the box and how to defeat it. This is not a great film by any means, but it is an enjoyable one for those who like their horror films with a little meat on its bones. You can see it for free on Amazon Prime if you are a Prime member. Originally released in 2016 to some film festivals, the film was reworked somewhat after that and now carries a 2017 production date during the end credits.; For those of you who think homegrown films aren't good any more, may I point you to MOM AND DAD (2017), the most bat-shit crazy film of 2017? Yes, Nicolas Cage (MANDY - 2017) stars in a film that was tailor-made for him and only he could pull off, as it is remarkable from beginning to end. It will make you howl with laughter, cringe in fright and play with all of your emotions for 90 minutes non-stop. The film concentrates on one family: father Brent (Cage), mother Kendall (Selma Blair; HELLBOY - 2004), rambunctous & rebellious teenage daughter Carly (Anne Winters) and inquisitive young son Josh (Zackary Arthur). Both Brent and Kendall are going through their own mid-life crisis and it is obvious that their marriage is on the rocks. Over breakfast, Carly says she wants to spend the night with her friends, but Kendall says no, Brent's parents are coming over for dinner tonight and it would be nice if they see their granddaughter. Brent says he knows what Carly really wants to do tonight, spend the evening with her black boyfriend Damon (Robert Cunningham), but he is adamant that he doesn't want her to ever see him again. Carly says she knows the real reason why he doesn't want her to see Damon, it's because he's black, but Brent denies it, saying he was once seventeen, too, and he knows how boys think at that age (Sex, Sex, Sex! Brent then says, "Now the world you kids are living in. The things you've seen on the internet. Mouth to dildo, dildo to ass, ass to ass! Hi Brent! Anal beads."!!!) and that's the reason he doesn't want her to see him (It turns out later in the film that Brent is telling the truth; the color of Damon's skin doesn't bother him, but he doesn't want his daughter to turn out like her mother; pregnant at an early age, destroying both of their lives!). While Brent is at his dead-end job and Kendall is at a gym working out (she wants to have a "young" body, like she had as a teenager), something strange happens to every adult. For some undisclosed reason (we are given very little information, except for a couple of quick shots showing it could have come from TV screen static!) all adults now want to kill their children, as Carly finds out with her best friend Riley (Olivia Crocicchia) while she is in school. All the parents are at the front of the school behind a police blockade, looking for their children so thay can kill them! It doesn't take long for the large group of parents to break-through the police blockade and rush to find their children When they catch them, they put plastic bags over their heads, impale them on flag poles and other grisly sights! During this stampede, Carly and Riley escape and go to Riley's house, where Riley's drunken Mom cuts her daughter's throat, but leaves Carley alone. It seems the parents only want to kill their children and no one else, that is, unless they get in the way (Even Damon's father tries to kill him with a broken beer bottle, but Damon escapes with only a cut on his arm. Then we get to the meat of the film, where Carly rushes home to save her brother, only to discover housekeeper Sun-Yi (Olivia Crocicchia) has murdered her own young daughter and is cleaning up her blood on the floor. Since Carly knows Sun-Yi  won't hurt her or Josh, she tells her to go home, which she does. Carly finds Josh under his bed and tells him to hurry, they must get out of the house immediately before Mon and Dad get home, but they are too late, as both Brent and Kendall arrive home with murder on their mind. (In Brent and Kendall's state of mind during this, they act like their marriage is perfect!). I won't tell you what happens next, but I will say this: It is one of the most inventive films of 2017, as Carly and Josh lock themselves in the basement, so Mom and Dad come up with some very unique ways to force their children out of the basement (Brent: "Your motherfucking mother said to open this door! And motherfuckers, you're going to open this motherfucking door!"). It's not only hilarious, but it is also brutal, as the children always manage to escape just in the nick of time. When they are cornered and it looks like it is the end for Carly & Josh, Brent's parents (played by an excellent Lance Henriksen and  Marilyn Dodds Frank) show up for dinner and guess what they want to do? That's right, they want to kill Brent (and Kendall when she gets in the way!). What happens next is best for you to discover. If you are looking for answers why this is happening to parents, you will be disappointed because this film gives you none (It only implies it, as conspiracy nuts appear on TV saying that it is a terrorist plot or our own government is doing it to control the population. Even Doctor Oz has his own theory!), but this film needs no answers because it is a riot from beginning to end. Nicolas Cage is wonderful as a father who daydreams about his teenage years and talks to Josh like he is an adult (I wish my father did this!). When he threatens Carly with a battery-powered saw, he says, "It's a Sawzall. That means it saws ALL!" I have to say that I laughed so loud, soda shot out of my nose! Selma Blair is also remarkable as the mother, who keeps on smiling and telling Carly, "You're part of a family, Carly, and that means you love each other even when you can't stand each other, and you give a shit even when you don't give a shit.", when all Kendall wants to do is kill her! Director/screenwriter Brian Taylor, who co-wrote/co-directed the cult film CRANK (2006) and its equally good sequel CRANK: HIGH VOLTAGE (2009) as well as GAMER (2009) and many episodes of the full-tilt-bozo TV series HAPPY (2017-2019), has given us a film that all parents should watch. They will not want to murder their children after viewing it, but they will understand all the nearly-hidden asides that tells them what it takes to be a parent, warts and all. This is also a film that has the perfect ending. I will not tell you how it ends, but the dialogue spoken made me clap my hands in approval, even though I am not a parent (This film basically showed me why I never wanted to become a parent!). I haven't even touched on many of the film's outrageous scenes, including Brent singing "The Bunny Hop" while he is destroying a pool table he just built from scratch (all because Kendall asked if they could afford it!) and the talk Brent gives Josh about his father's Firebird (which plays a part in the film's finale).  You really need to see this, please take my word for it! Oh, and before I forget, this film shows that duct tape does have a million-and-one uses (When in doubt, duct tape is the answer.)!;   "The brain sees what it wants to see." Readers of this website know I'm not the biggest fan of anthology horror films, but when they are done right, such as TALES FROM THE CRYPT (1972), THE UNCANNY (1977) and TRICK 'R TREAT (2007), they can be amazingly entertaining. So along comes GHOST STORIES (2017), a British anthology horror film with a difference that is shocking and goosebump-inducing. Not so much the three tales of supernatural horror that can't be explained rationally, but, rather, the wraparound footage, which will have you sitting on the edge of your seat. The wraparound footage concerns Professor Goodman (co-director/co-screenwriter Andy Nyman; SEVERANCE - 2006), the host of a show called "Psychic Cheats", who is a debunker of anything supernatural or psychic (We see him interrupting a TV show of a fake psychic, who is getting his information on an audience member via radio transmitter in his ear from a woman backstage, telling the crying female audience member that this psychic is a disgusting sham). Professor Goodman has spent his entire life debunking the supernatural and has had no time for a personal or family life; he a bachelor by choice and somewhat of a prig who needs to be taken down a peg). Goodman receives an audio cassette tape from his childhood hero, supernatural debunker Charles Cameron (Leonard Byrne), who disappeared years ago and was considered long dead, but the tape tells Goodman where to meet him, he has something important to give him. This leads Goodman to a trailer where the sickly Cameron tells Professor Goodman that he was wrong his entire life, the supernatural is, indeed, real. Goodman can't believe his ears, thinking Cameron is too ill to know what he is saying, but Cameron hands him a folder that contains dossiers on three men, telling him to investigate their experiences with the supernatural and then make up his own mind if the supernatural is real or not. This leads Professor Goodman to document the three men's cases, starting with security guard Tony Matthews (Paul Whitehouse; BURKE AND HARE - 2010), then creepy teenager Simon Rifkind (Alex Lawther, who is chilling in his mannerisms) and, finally, new father Mike Priddle (Martin Freeman; SHAUN OF THE DEAD - 2003), as they relay their supernatural stories to Goodman. Believe me, their stories are nothing spectacular (although Mike Priddle does something shocking and totally unexpected at the end of his story), it's what happens after the three tales are over that will have you shaking in your boots. I'm not going to spoil it for you, but I will say that all three tales are intercut with an establishing shot that seems to make little sense until the film's finale. When the establishing shot is revealed at the end, it will send chills starting from your feet and traveling to the top of your head. At least it did for me. If the film seems disjointed, it was done on purpose (Such as when Professor Goodman says "Can we cut?" in Cameron's trailer when he reveals he's not who he seems to be, thinking he is taping an episode of his TV show), as the ending of the wraparound episode exposes the shocking reveal and suddenly everything begins to make sense. Are all three stories related? Damn straight they are, but not in the way you would expect. That's all I'm going to say. Co-directors/co-screenwriters Andy Nyman and Jeremy Dyson do a bang-up job of keeping viewers on their toes (it was based on a play they both put on a London stage) and it makes the film totally re-watchable, thanks to the reveal in the end. That final shot will stay in your memory for a long, long time (I doubt I will ever forget it), not that it is shocking, but rather because it is the perfect way to end the film. The makeup effects are outstanding and are used judiciously and the jump scares are effective and don't seem tacked-on like most modern day supernatural films. (especially the ones coming from BlumHouse). This is my new favorite anthology film (Not that I have many, although I do love "The Raft" episode in CREEPSHOW 2 [1987]. That's my problem with anthology films. You may like one of the stories and the others may suck.) and, once you watch it, it may be your's, too. I saw it on Hulu and Amazon Prime also airs it streaming, but even Prime members have to pay to see it. Just see it and make up your own mind!

Good DTV Genre Films Part 22 (continued): WOLF WARRIOR 2 (2017). To tell the truth, I never saw the first chapter of this China action film, but you really don't need to view it to understand what is going on here. I'm also going to put my political views aside strictly to review this film on its merits, as it's very anti-American; shoving its Chinese propaganda in the viewer's face, but there's no denying that this is one helluva action flick, full of bloody, gory deaths and some excellent wire work stunts, some so unbelievable, you'll have to rewind the film to make sure you saw what you saw. A former China Special Forces soldier, Leng Feng (Wu Jing, who also directed and co-wrote this film), is jailed for three years for manslaughter, when he kills a ruthless real estate developer who threatens the life of the family of his best friend, who was killed on a previous mission. When in prison, his fiancee, Long Xiaoyun (Nan Yu), is killed when she goes on a mission in Africa, the only clue to who killed her is a special spiral bullet that was removed from her body.  Leng wears that bullet around his neck and, three years later, he works security on ships in Africa, preventing them from being hijacked by pirates (The film opens with Leng saving a ship from a pirate attack all by himself [impressive underwater stunts]). He has been trying to identify the bullet, with no luck, until a shopkeeper, whom he saves from a Rebel attack, tells him that he knows where the bullet came from. This leads to the meat of the film, where Leng fights a mercenary group led by American "Big Daddy" (Frank Grillo; AVENGERS: ENDGAME - 2019), who was hired by the leader of Rebel forces to take over an African nation by any means possible, even if it means killing women and children (this film has no problem showing mercenaries and Rebels killing helpless women and children, especially in one village where Leng witnesses it for himself, saving a group of Chinese people and African nationals alike, while he watches ruthless mercenaries/Rebels shooting kids and women point-blank without showing any emotion whatsoever. It's quite shocking.). The Rebels are after  a certain Dr. Chen (Qiucheng Guo), who may have found the antidote for a previously incurable plague that is sweeping the country, killing everyone within four hours of being infected with it. Long story short, violent mercenary Bear (Oleg Prudius) kills Dr. Chen and before he dies, he makes Leng promise to protect his adoptive daughter Pasha (Diana Sylla) and fellow doctor Rachel (Celina Jade) from the Rebel forces. Leng then teams up with an old grizzled soldier He Jianguo (Gang Wu) and hotshot young soldier-wannabe Zhuo Yifan (Hans Zhang) and the fight of good versus evil is on. The rest of the film is one battle after the next, each one bigger and badder than the one before. The final battle, involving tanks, is one for the record books, as I have never seen a more outlandish series of stunts performed before, especially watching one mercenary getting run over by a tank's treads, squishing him to a bloody pulp. While there is some obvious CGI (involving explosions and fire), it's not enough of a turn-off to take your eyes off the screen, as bodies are ripped apart by large-caliber gunfire and Leng uses the metal coils of a mattress to stop a hand-fired rocket launcher grenade! There are so many outrageous stunts here that it's hard to come up with anything negative to say, but I will say this: it was mighty convenient finding out Pasha was a cure for the plague, especially when Leng catches it and she cures him with a simple blood transfusion! While I found it hard to ignore all the anti-America propaganda that's littered throughout the film, I had to remind myself that our action films do the same exact thing; sometimes China is the enemy in those films and we portray them just as they do us in this film, so turnabout is fair play. It should also be noted that this  film was China's highest grossing movie of all time, making over 850 million dollars in China alone! So if it's violent, bloody action you want, mixed with some very unique stunts, you would be hard-pressed to come up with a better film than this. Oh, and make sure to stick around after the end credits for a stinger that will lead into Part Three.; Killer ant films are a dime a dozen. Some are excellent, such as THEM! (1954) and PHASE IV (1974). Some are just corny, like EMPIRE OF THE ANTS (1977) and IT CAME FROM THE DESERT (2018). And some are simply terrible, such as the awful TV movie ANTS (1977) and the abominable KILLER ANTS (2009). But I guarantee, none are as funny and "out there" as DEAD ANT (2017). This isn't just a film you watch, it's a film you "experience". You gotta love a film that opens with a Native American named "Bigfoot" (Michael Horse; TV's TWIN PEAKS [1990-1991]) and his diminutive sidekick Firecracker (a hilarious Danny Woodburn; LAVALANTULA - 2015) selling peyote to a young pretty woman, Bigfoot telling her the name of this peyote is "Sun" and she must only take it when the sun goes down and whatever she does, she is not to kill anything, not even an insect, because there will be hell to pay if she does. We then see the pretty woman running away from a giant ant, stripping off pieces of her clothing as she runs away, until she is totally naked (nothing is hidden from the viewer). The ant then kills her (offscreen). Was the pretty young woman simply tripping on the peyote or did this actually happen? The film then switches over to one-hit-wonder hair metal band Sonic Grave (Their only hit was a power ballad in 1989), who are on their way to "Nochella", a third-rate Coachella-like festival (only with bands no one ever heard of), located in the middle of the desert. The band members include guitarist/songwriter Pager (Rhys Coiro; STRAW DOGS - 2011), lead singer Merrick (a great Jake Busey; STARSHIP TROOPERS - 1997), drummer Stevie (Leisha Hailey) and bassist Art (a bloated Sean Astin; CABIN FEVER: PATIENT ZERO - 2014). Their manager, Danny (A wonderful Tom Arnold; THE CURSE OF DOWNERS GROVE - 2014; who gets off some hilarious one-liners, such as, "I'm not a creeper. I have court documents to prove it!"), who has stuck with the band since their inception, hopes this festival is the chance the band needs to become popular again, because he has seen both the good and the bad and, for the last thirty years, it has mostly been bad. Pager, Merrick, Danny and band groupie Lover (Cameron Richardson; RISE: BLOOD HUNTER - 2006) are in the trailer while Stevie drives the truck, Art riding shotgun. They have to make one stop, an organic fruit stand run by Bigfoot and Firecracker to pick up some peyote for a last "group trip" before the festival (Stevie tries to educate Art, telling him calling someone an "Indian" is racist, the proper term in "Native American". Art tells Stevie, "I'm from the Shire, so I never heard of that", a wink towards the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy [2001 - 2003] he appeared in, directed by Peter Jackson). Stevie and Art meet the imposing Bigfoot, who sells them some "Sun", but warns them that if they even hurt a fly, they will bring hell down upon them. Art doesn't take him seriously and, after buying some Sun and getting back in the truck (As he is leaving, Art yells out, "Thanks, Chief" to Bigfoot!), eats some of the peyote early, not waiting for them to camp out at Joshua Tree. When they finally get to their campsite, a tripping Art wanders out in the desert, where he gets bitten by a regular-size ant. Instead of stepping on it, Art pisses on it and he imagines (?) the ant speaking to him just before it dies, telling him he has opened a can of worms and he will be dead soon. While everyone back at the campsite enjoys the peyote (except for a disappointed Danny, because Pager eats a large amout of the peyote, leaving none for Danny, so he turns to a bottle of Jack Daniels instead), Art is attacked by a swarm of fist-sized ants, that cover his body, eating off all his skin. Later, at sundown, the band notice Art is missing, so they go looking for him (except for Merrick, who is tripping so hard, he thinks he has wings and can fly, so he climbs a large rock and jumps off, breaking his leg and saying, "My wings failed me!"), discovering Art, who is still (barely) alive, is covered with fist-sized ants. Pager and Stevie try to beat the ants off Arts body, but when Pager pulls on Art's arm, it comes off (!), so Pager kills one of the ants with Art's severed arm. A short time later, everyone is attacked by even bigger ants, trapping them in their trailer, along with a groupie named Sam (Sydney Sweeney; THE WARD - 2010), whose friend Lisa (Joi Liaye) is trapped in their car. The trapped people in the trailer watch as Lisa tries to fight the large ants off with some hairspray and a lighter, but she dies when the car explodes, killing one of the large ants. A short time later, everyone are attacked by even bigger ants, who carry the trailer and truck a short distance, Danny losing one of his hands when it is bitten off by a giant ants pincers, which is killed. Stevie then realizes that when an ant is killed, they all become exponentially larger after a short period of rest, so they use this rest period and try to escape, only Art had the keys to the truck, so they must find Art's body. When they find Art's body (or what's left of it!), Stevie pulls the truck keys out of his pants pocket and they drive off only in the truck, a horde of even bigger ants chasing them. They make it to Nochella, but so do the giant ants. Bigfoot and Firecracker are at the festival with bow and dynamite-tipped arrows, hand grenades and a bazooka to stop the ants, but there are just too many of them and the ants begin to chow-down on the festival goers. Sonic Grave take to the stage and play their old power ballad, where they discover Merrick's singing voice makes the ants' heads explode (!), so he sings the power ballad like he has never sung it before, killing all the ants and Sonic Grave becoming a hit with the surviving audience members, who give them a standing ovation. Sonic Grave is back, baby! I can go on-and-on how funny this film is, but you'll have to see for yourself (a lot of the dialogue is priceless), because that's half the fun.  To tell the truth, some of the ant CGI is very well done, but the CGI blood is also quite noticable, bringing the film down a peg for me (please stop doing this, as it takes you out of the film!). The real highlight here, besides Tom Arnold, who has never been better, is Jake Busey as Merrick, who not only kills his role, he turns out to be an excellent singer, as we hear Sonic Grave's new song "Side Boob" play over the closing credits. It's actually quite good, with lyrics that will make you laugh out loud (rhyming "cherry cola" with areola"!). I would also speculate, that if more people heard this song, it would get a lot of radio play, it's that good. Truth be told, everyone is excellent here and director Ron Carlson, who also wrote the screenplay, based on a story by Hank Braxtan (the director/writer of CHEMICAL PEEL [2012] and UNNATURAL [2015]) and his writing partner Dan Sinclair, keeps the film moving at such a fast pace so you don't realize how obviously corny the film actually is. It won't hit you until the film is actually over, but you won't be disappointed. I love this film and recommend it whole-heartedly. Look for low-budget genre actor Shawn C. Phillips (WITCH'S BREW - 2011) as a Nochella Festival-goer who gets trapped in a porta-potty when the giant ants attack, an ant sending him and the portable toilet through the air and covering him in shit. Also known as GIANT KILLER ANTS in the U.K. and DEAD ANT - MONSTERS VS. METAL in Germany. Under any title, this film is must-viewing!;    The reason why I haven't reviewed many B-movie action films made in the New Millennium in this section is because they usually boring, follow the same old formula and, let's face it, they suck. Not so for ULTIMATE JUSTICE (2017). It's a slice of '90s-era B-action flick Heaven, with two actors that will make you nostalgic for action films of the '90s: Mark Dacascos (DRIVE - 1997) and Matthias Hues (MISSION OF JUSTICE - 1992), who have appeared in three other action films together before this one. But the real star of this film (at least I think so) is Mike Möller, a man short in stature, but high kicking when it comes to martial arts fighting, making him look like a combination MMA fighter and a well-trained wrestler who knows all the moves. His fighting skill is the main attraction of this film, in my opinion. The film opens up with a team of ex-Special Forces soldiers saving a kidnapped son from terrorists when his rich father refuses to pay the ransom. It results in the death of a female member, which is too much for the leader of the team, Gus von Behren (Mark Dacascos; JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 3 - PARABELLUM - 2019), so he sells his security company, which he and partner Hans-Georg Sturm (Wolfgang Riehm; SIN REAPER - 2012) had equal shares in. At a party a few months later, Hans meets a beautiful woman named Michaela (Sandra Tauro), which makes him very happy, since he is older than most everyone at the party. Eight years pass and we see Gus and a date arriving at Hans and Michaela's home to have dinner. Hans and Michaela are now married and have a beautiful young 8-year-old daughter. Michaela pulls Gus to the side and says something is bothering Hans; he has been to the doctor several times and he refuses to talk about it. Gus says he will talk to Hans and when he does, Hans tells him he has the feeling he is being followed and his instincts are very seldom wrong. That night, three masked people enter Hans' house and beat him up, making him watch as one of the masked men punches Michaela in the face, rapes her and then shoots her in the head. They then kidnap his young daughter and tell him they will be in contact for the ransom. When Gus discovers what has happened, he decides to put his old team back together to rescue Han's daughter. The team includes the muscle of the team, Frank Radowsky (Matthias Hues; DIGITAL MAN - 1994), heavy arms expert Joachim 'Joe' Weller (Mike Leeder; POUND OF FLESH - 2015), close range combat expert Benjamin 'Benny' Scholz (Mike Möller; HALF PAST DEAD - 2002), reconnaissance/light arms expert Heinrich 'Henry' Stelle (Henry Muller), weapons expert Thomas Brenner (Mathis Landwehr), computer expert Florian 'Flo' Weisshaupt (Martin Baden) and sharpshooter/sniper Julia Schwertbacher (Yazmeen Baker), the only female on the team (As you can probably tell, this is a Germany-financed film). The only member who is not on board is Andreas 'Doc' Clemens (Brandon Rhea), who has a talent for making anyone talk, usually by violent means (including blow-torches and nailing people's hands to the chair). He is now a monk, who is trying to atone for his past life (he is also having an affair with Julia), but he soon comes on board when the team needs him the most. Reviewing the security footage at Hans' house at the time of the kidnapping, they discover a tattoo on one of the kidnappers' neck and go to every tattoo parlor looking for the artist. After finding him, Doc tortures him until he comes up with the name of the person who has the tattoo. Frank holds that man by his legs over a building until he gives them the names of his accomplices, but a bullet, seeming fired by Julia across the street on another rooftop, hits Frank in the chest and he drops the man before he can give them the names. The team chases Julia until they catch her, but she says she did not fire the shot, she had to leave her position for a minute and when she came back, someone hit her on the head and used her sniper rifle to shoot Frank. No one believes her except Doc, because no one on the team ever leaves their position under any circumstances, yet Julie refuses to tell them why she did leave her position. (it's not that difficult to know why she did). That's all I'm going to tell you, as this film is non-stop action from the get-go. The gunfights are bloody, the chases are exciting and the hand-to-hand combat is astoundingly violent, especially from Mike Möller, who will leave you slack-jawed at some of the moves he puts on the enemy. I will tell you this: The kidnapping concerns a one-night affair Michaela had with Gus before she married Hans eight years ago. Director Martin Christopher Bode, in his feature film debut, shows a sure hand with the material (the screenplay is by Marco Theiss, with the English language version written by co-star Mike Leeder, who has a very long resume in Asian actioners) and keeps things moving at a very brisk pace, so much so that you'll probably ignore the gaping plot holes in the story. Don't expect a happy ending here, as many of the "good guys" end up dead in very violent and gory fashion (one person is shot in the head and he has a gaping, bloody exit wound on the other side of his head). I will say I enjoyed every minute of the film, overlooking the obvious English dubbing done by some of the cast (Decascos and Leeder are two people who use their own voices, as I know both of theirs' very well), but it is in no way a deal-breaker. This is one of the best B-action films I have seen in a long, long time. It's ultra-violent, high kicking (Möller's moves are done without the help of wires, which is simply amazing, and Decascos still can kick like back in the old days. In fact, he doesn't seem to age!). Matthias Hues is, unfortunately, on the sideline for most of the film, recuperating from his chest wound, but he still has the muscle structure to be a very imposing figure. His face may have aged, but his body is still impressive. If you like '90s action films (If you do and have a Roku player, you should watch B-Movie TV, as they show many '90s action flicks!), this one should cure your jones for the time being. It's nostalgia Heaven!;    I should hate LOST & FOUND: THE TRUE HOLLYWOOD STORY OF SILVER SCREEN CINEMA PICTURES INTERNATIONAL (2017), not only for its long title, but also because it's a faux documentary, but damn if I couldn't help myself but like it, if only for the talking head sections, which are full of people I know from the "business". The film is about the fake production company in the title, abbreviated as SSCPI, an extremely low-budget company that produced grindhouse style films for the drive-in circuit and local fleapits. For 18 years, beginning in 1967, SSCPI made ultra-cheapie films that jumped on the bandwagon of popular themes of their period, whether it be beach/monster flicks, blaxploitation, WIP, STAR WARS clones and slasher films.  In 1984, SSCPI's founder, Morris “Stogie” Carlisle (Dave Bailey), gathered every print of every film SSCPI made at his warehouse for transfer to VHS, when the warehouse caught fire and every print was lost, SSCPI becoming a faint memory, the films long lost and basically forgotten (The film tries to find out if "Stogie" intentionally started the fire for an insurance settlement or if it was an accident). Then, in 2013, SSCPI's longtime female editor passed away and her children found a case containing reels of film of eleven trailers she cut of SSCPI's output. This documentary shows these cheap trailers as the main crux of the film. But it's not the trailers that interested me, because they were just the regular, shot-on-digital faux films with computer generated emulsion scratches, missing frames, dialogue jumps and intentional bad acting, none of them very interesting or funny. It's the talking head sections between the trailers that interested me, as people such as Fangoria's Michael Gingold and Temple Of Schlock's Chris Poggiali reminisce about the good old days, mixing fact with fiction, while we are shown Photoshopped ad mats and posters displaying the fake films. There's also hilarious testimony from an actor named "Dick Haze" (Mac Welch) who appeared in every one of SSCPI's films and what he has to say is very funny (and also very true!). His deadpan delivery is priceless. As a matter of fact this fake story could be about any real low-budget film company, like Terry Levene's Aquarius Releasing, American International Pictures, Bedford Entertainment, Jerry Gross' Cinemation Industries, Dimension Pictures, Edward L. Montoro's Film Ventures International, Hemisphere Pictures, Joseph Brenner Associates, New World Pictures and dozens of fly-by-night companies (nearly all of them get name-dropped), but the one it fits the closest is Independent International Pictures, who did nearly everything this film describes, such as cashing in on fads, retitling their films so many times that audiences were bound to be fooled more than once, and using a name star to appear in one film, not telling him that the footage shot would appear in dozens of future films and only paying him for one (The "name" star here is "Howard Clinton", played by Clint Howard!). The cigar-chomping "Stogie" could be Sam Sherman and the story could be IIP's (except for the fire), but then the filmmakers would be sued, wouldn't they? Directors Jason Bailey (who also wrote the screenplay) andMike Hull turn-in a film that hits the nostalgia button for anyone who lived through the late-'60s to early-'80s genre film scene. It will bring back many lost memories of times you went to a grindhouse to see films you knew absolutely nothing about (maybe seeing a deceptive trailer before going if you were lucky) and either being severely disappointed or extremely satisfied. There was nothing like those days and this film gives you a good idea what it was like. I didn't care for the fake trailers, but it's what comes between them that made me very happy. If you didn't experience those times first hand (like I did and, yes, I'm fucking old!), you probably won't understand this film or even like it, but those who have are in for a good time.;    If you want to see my smile turn into a frown, just mention "vampire comedy". It's a genre I hate with a passion, as most of them are simple-minded and terribly unfunny. Not so for EAT LOCALS (2017), a British vampire comedy with a difference. Not only are these special brand of vampires bloodsuckers, they are also cannibals! The film begins with a group of these cannibal vampires meeting at a farmhouse in the middle of nowhere, where we discover that they are highly organized, with "councils" all over the world. Not only that, but they are on strict quotas, only allowed a certain amount of human deaths per year so as not to bring suspicion to their species. When one of their kind begins taking more than he is allowed (they generally kill people that would not usually be missed, like homeless vagabonds, prostitutes and Gypsies!), killing young children to satisfy his hunger (He says, "They are so tender at that age!"), the group kills him with a stake through his heart. They are now looking to introduce another human to their group, turning him into one of them, but the vote has to be unanimous. That human would be Sebastian Crockett (Billy Cook) a man who is just returning home from military duty, who was an orphan all his life (Making him a perfect member of this group). Group member Vanessa (Eve Myles; TORCHWOOD [2006 - 2011]) has taken a romantic interest in Sebastian, but when another group member, Peter (Tony Curran; CAT RUN - 2011), votes "no" in making him the newest member (Sebastian has a way of making people hate him for no reason), the group has to kill Sebastian. He is saved from a certain bloody death when a group of soldiers, led by Larousse (Mackenzie Crook), surround the farmhouse and open up fire (The vampires are cold-blooded and can easily be spotted by using heat-seeking equipment). Long story short, Sebastian ends up saving only three of the vampire group, including Henry (Charlie Cox; Netflix's DAREDEVIL series [2015-2018]), but how he does it and what happens during that time is best seen for yourself. I have to admit that I laughed often and loudly on several occasions, such as when Vanessa is hiding in a chicken coop and a clucking chicken is giving away her location to the soldiers. Vanessa turns around and shows the chicken her true face (it isn't pretty) and the chicken shoots an egg out of its ass in fright! There are many funny and clever moments in this film, including a vampire takeoff of the Steve McQueen motorcycle scene in THE GREAT ESCAPE (1963), complete with the film's theme music; an old lady vampire named Alice (Annette Crosbie; HAWK THE SLAYER - 1980) handling an automatic weapon like a pro ("I have one of these at home", she says); and the Commanding Officer of the soldiers, Colonel Bingham (Robert Portal), sacrificing his men to capture one of these vampires alive because he is selling their blood to a cosmetics company (We see a commercial at the end of the film where the company touts their new ageless beauty formula, where the side effects are quoted as "The secret protein ingredient could cause sensitivity to sunlight, nausea, uncontrollable aggressive behavior and an insatiable desire for human blood!"). This is the freshman directing debut of actor Jason Flemyng (SOLOMON KANE - 2009), who does a fantastic job of steering clear of vampire clichés, taking the film in many unexpected and surprising directions.  All the actors register in their roles, especially Tony Curran and Charlie Cox, who never play their roles with a wink towards the audience, rather portraying their characters as something real and dangerous, as well as making them humanistic, even though they are cannibals and vampires. You'll root for this group, mainly because they are more human and caring than the people who are after them. Billy Cook also registers as Sebastian, a young man who uses humor as a weapon. He gives his role a lot of depth with his very funny dialogue (screenplay by Danny King). All in all, this is a film that should be seen by anyone who is looking to make a horror comedy. This film goes into all the right directions and, while some of the humor is quite outrageous, an equal amount is subtle and knowing, making this film a good bet for horror and comedy fans. Why isn't this film more popular? It deserves to be.;    I generally stay away from comedies, especially if they win the "Audience Award" at the pretentious Slamdance Film Festival®, which the film DAVE MADE A MAZE (2017) did, but since so many of my readers recommend I watch the film, I decided to take the hit, but, damn, if I didn't enjoy this film immensely. This is a fantasy comedy with some definite horror overtones, but it's not bloody or very violent. It doesn't need to be. Yes, it can be somewhat dark in tone at times, but that's what I liked about it. The premise is this: Girlfriend Annie (Meera Rohit Kumbhani) returns from a week-long business trip to the apartment she shares with boyfriend Dave (Nick Thune), only to find a cardboard maze in the middle of the living room (made from refrigerator boxes), with the voice of Dave telling her he is trapped inside (He says, "It's bigger than it looks."). Annie has a hard time believing him, telling Dave to get the hell out of the boxes, but Dave says, he can't, he's lost. He tells Annie to call his best friend Gordon (Adam Busch) and no one else, especially Harry (James Urbaniak, who is excellent), to come over and try to help him escape the maze, but he tells Annie not to come inside because it's too dangerous. Pretty soon the apartment is full of people, including the pretentious Harry, who believes life is nothing but a documentary yet to be filmed, bringing his own cameraman (Scott Narver) and sound guy (Frank Caeti, who holds a boom mike through the entire film!) to record the situation. Also along for the crazy ride is the eternally happy Jane (CRIMINAL MINDS' Kirsten Vangsness), Brynn (Stephanie Allynne), Leonard (Scott Krinsky), Greg (Timothy Nordwind) a Hobo (Rick Overton) and a Flemish tourist couple (Drew Canan & Kamilla Alnes), who made a wrong turn in their tour of the city. Over Dave's objections, everyone decides to enter the maze and none of their lives will ever be the same again. Yes, the maze is much bigger on the inside than it is on the outside (reminding me of Doctor Who's TARDIS) and it's a thing of beauty. There are many rooms in this maze, each room having a theme and each room being more dangerous than the last one (there's one that looks like a giant vagina that will make you do a doubletake!). The first one to die is Jane, who is decapitated by a cardboard pendulum, but instead of blood flowing out of her neck hole it's red confetti and streamers! (It's quite funny and ingenious). Everyone is also being chased by a Minotaur, a creature with a body built like a brick shithouse (portrayed by wrestler John Hennigan (BOONE: THE BOUNTY HUNTER - 2016) and the cardboard head of a Minotaur! The rest of the film deals with this group trying to find Dave, avoiding the Minotaur, escaping the dangers each room holds (basically they begin to die one-by-one) and finding a way out of the maze. I noticed a lot of homages to other films, including the trash compactor scene in STAR WARS  (1977), some nods to 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968) and other tips of the hat to many other films. This isn't a laugh-a-minute comedy because some scenes are quite dark, bordering on deadly, but I did laugh out loud quite a bit when the group turns into cardboard puppets (the boom guy and cameraman puppets are standouts in this scene) and when Brynn turns into a cardboard creature (looking like the Cowardly Lion in THE WIZARD OF OZ - 1939), who only says one thing, "High Five!" over and over until it turns into something surreal and quite frightening (you'll have to see for yourself to know what I mean, but here's a hint). This film is a wonder to look at, as the set direction is a thing of beauty (everything is made out of cardboard) and director/co-screenwriter (with Steven Sears) Bill Watterson has turned in a very entertaining low-budget fantasy full of good acting and absurd situations. This is the reason why I trust my readers! Available streaming on Amazon Prime and other streaming sites at the time of this review. This is something you should not miss. It's a childhood nightmare come to life (who didn't make forts out of cardboard boxes when they were kids?).;    A few people pointed me to THE TERROR OF HALLOW'S EVE (2017) and while this horror film doesn't work on all levels, I still enjoyed the hell out of it, if only for the acting talents of Caleb Thomas and the eerie performance of Doug Jones as "The Trickster". The film opens on Halloween Day in 1981, where latchkey teen Timothy Stevens (Caleb Thomas, who is outstanding) spends his time scaring people, this time teenage Stephanie (Christie Nicole Chaplin). As she is walking home from school, she notices a blood trail on the sidewalk, so she follows it and finds Timothy (Don't you dare call him Timmy, because he hates that!) behind some garbage cans, his chest ripped open and his ribcage showing. Blood spurts on Stephanie's face and clothes, bringing out the ire of her father Ed (Eric Roberts in a two minute cameo), who grabs Timothy and knocks on the door of his house. Timothy's mother, Linda (Sarah Lancaster; LOVER'S LANE - 2000), answers the door and tells Ed to let go of Timothy before she calls the police. Ed says this is the last time Timothy performs one of these bloody tricks on his daughter, saying if he does it again, he will call the police. We then find out that Timothy's father, Bobby (Christian Kane; THE DONNER PARTY - 2009), deserted his family when Timothy was a young boy. Bobby was a drunk and a cocaine addict who blamed Timothy for his unhappiness, so he left one night, never to return. Linda has to work the night shift at a hospital to support Timothy, as Bobby cannot be located to pay child support and Linda is barely making ends meet. Timothy still idolizes his father, not realizing what a bastard he was (he use to physically abuse Linda) and fantasizes him returning home. Timothy is also a horror film freak (his bedroom is full of horror posters and memorabilia), who goes with his mother to the local convenience store to pick up groceries (and a monster magazine), where he discovers his childhood crush, April (Annie Read), is working the register. Timothy again fantasizes that April wants him for a lover, but reality hits when April's bastard boyfriend, Brian (JT Neal), enters the store and kisses April (after he steals a candy bar off the counter). This is the beginning of Timothy's nightmare, as he accidentally chips the paint on Brian's car and he gets beaten up by Brian and his two stoner pals, Spaz (Mcabe Gregg) and Chuck (Niko Papastefanou). A battered, bruised and bloody Timothy runs home, but finds a strange pumpkin on his way there and brings it home, carves it and says he wishes he could get even with Brian and his friends ("I'd like to frighten them to death!").  Then The Trixter (Doug Jones; THE SHAPE OF WATER - 2017) appears and tells Timothy that his wish will come true, but only if he does what he says. Timothy agrees, so he goes back to the convenience store and breaks a door window on Brian's car. Brian, April (who doesn't want to go), Spaz and Chuck chase Timothy back to his house, which is now pure nightmare fuel. Every room in the house is a room of horrors. Chuck enters a room and finds himself in the middle of the woods, where a creature named "Scarecrow" (also Doug Jones; RAZE - 2013) chases Chuck, cuts his stomach open with a knife and begins eating Chuck's intestines while he is still alive. Spaz enters another room and finds himself in a room full of living marionettes, who cut their strings, attack Spaz and stab him to death with knives. I'll leave it up to you to discover what happens to Brian, but is April also going to be one of The Trickster's victims? If you want to know the answer, you are going to have to watch the film, which only runs a quick 80 minutes. Let's just say it will be a lot of people's last Halloween among the living. Director Todd Tucker, working with a screenplay written by actor Zack Ward (DON'T BLINK - 2014; who makes a brief cameo appearance on Timothy's television), fills this film with a lot of atmosphere, but some of the scenes are very dark, so you will have to do some squinting. That's my biggest complaint about this film, but it is not that much of a problem to not recommend this film to all horror film lovers out there. Since Todd Tucker is a special effects makeup artist by trade (supplying FX makeup effects to such films as THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM - 1991; DARKNESS FALLS - 2003; and TRAILER PARK OF TERROR - 2008), most of the effects are CGI-free and practical (and amazingly original). Doug Jones kills it as The Trickster and every scene he is in will raise goosebumps on your arms and make the hairs on your neck stand up in fright. For a low-budget effort, this is surprisingly well acted and it gets my highest recommendation. Not everything works here, but when it does, it does it very well. It's September of 2020 as I write this review and Todd Tucker has yet to direct another film. I'll just say this: If and when he does, it will be a high priority for me to watch it. Look for character actor supreme Peter Jason (PRINCE OF DARKNESS - 1987) in a cameo role at the end of the film.

Good DTV Genre Films Part 23 (continued): One of the best horror films of 2018 is HEREDITARY, a nearly indescribable mash-up of supernatural horror and family drama. It also contains some of the most brutal deaths I have seen in a modern-day horror film, five-star performances from everyone in the cast, some weird photography tricks that had me rewinding the film to make sure I saw it correctly, as well as the ugliest child actress I have ever laid eyes on! The film begins with the funeral of the estranged mother of Annie Graham (an exceptional Toni Collette; THE SIXTH SENSE - 1999), where Annie's entire family, which includes husband Steve (Gabriel Byrne; END OF DAYS - 1999), teenage son Peter (a fantastic Alex Wolff; MY FRIEND DAHMER - 2017) and not-quite-right young daughter Charlie (Newcomer Millie Shapiro, who is, to put it simply, hard on the eyes. What's up with her nose???), mourn the passing of Annie's mother, each in their own unusual way. It's quite obvious that Annie doesn't love son Peter as much as she does Charlie (it's explained why in an incredibly hurtful line of dialogue spoken by Annie), but there's something much worse on the horizon. Is it possible that Annie's mother was a witch and she has plans for Peter, even though she's dead? Annie makes a living by creating realistic miniature dioramas, which she fashions down to the most minute of details (check out the opening of the film to see how realistic her dioramas are), which she then displays and sells at at art galleries, She spends more time on them than with her children and we can see it affects them greatly. Peter wants to go to a party with his friends, but Mom makes him take Charlie along. He leaves Charlie alone at the party while he goes off to smoke some pot with a girl he likes, but when Charlie has a piece of chocolate cake, she has some type of allergic reaction and cannot catch her breath. Peter puts her in the car and races to the hospital, but before he gets there, he nearly hits a dog laying in the middle of the road and is forced to swerve off the road, the same time Charlie has her head out the window trying to catch her breath. In an unbelievably brutal scene, Charlie is decapitated at the jawline when her head is smashed against a telephone pole (!). So what does Peter do? Well, he simply drives home and goes to bed (he's in a state of shock). The next morning, we hear Annie scream when she discovers her daughter's headless body in the car. The fact is that we never see her do it, as the scene is played specifically on Peter's face when his mother's screams wake him up, is one of the film's most telling scenes. This film is full of these kind of scenes, which makes it all the more remarkable. While the acting is way above average, it's the direction and photography that got my attention. Directed with a sense of urgency by Ari Aster, whose only other directorial credits are a handful of short films, this is unlike any horror film that came before it and is bound to spawn a bunch of imitators, which couldn't possibly match this film's sense of style. Let me talk about this film's style for a minute: The photography (by Pawel Pogorzelski) plays with light the like I have never seen before, so much so, that I found myself stopping the film, rewinding it and making sure I saw what I saw. Every time there is a trick of the light, something awful and violent happens. The entire film is like living an alternate life in a dream. I really didn't know what to expect, but I found myself jumping out of my seat more than a couple of times. Movies never do that to me, but this one did. That's a testament to this film's effectiveness. I've only revealed 10% of what happens in this film, so be prepared for some major shocks and chills. Let me end this review with this: HEREDITARY is my favorite new film of 2018 and that includes all genres, not just horror. It's guaranteed to put you in a hypnotic trance and plays with your emotions like no other film that came before it. I can't wait to see what Ari Aster does next! A big thumbs-up to everyone involved with this film, from cast to crew.  The film runs 127 minutes, but it never seems overlong. And, oh, that ending (it's bound to piss off a lot of people, but I found it apt and eerie). If you think modern horror films are spineless and ineffective, may I recommend this film to you? To say I am looking forward to Ari Aster's next film, MIDSOMMAR (2019), is a vast understatement.; STRANGE NATURE (2018) may be a Kickstarter-funded film, but don't let that fool you, it's an inventive and well-acted flick with much to recommend. The story is fairly simple: Former pop star Kim Sweet (Lisa Sheridan; star of the late, lamented TV Series FREAKYLINKS [2000-2001]) and her young son Brody (Jonah Beres) move back to Duluth, Minnesota from L.A. to take care of her father, Chuck (Bruce Bohne; DAWN OF THE DEAD - 2004; in a winning performance), who is dying of liver cancer. Years ago, when Kim was famous, she bad-mouthed the town of Duluth and they have never forgiven her, especially when they find out she pulled a Milli Vanilli (She had the look, but not the voice, so the record label went along with the ruse until she was found out). Kim tries to get Duluth's Mayor Paulson (Stephen Tobolowsky; KEEP MY GRAVE OPEN - 1977) to do something about the rash of mutated frogs in the area, believing it has something to do with the pesticides that farms are using, but nearly everyone in town believe that Kim just wants to get famous again and is using the frogs as an excuse to do so. That couldn't be further from the truth. The company providing the pesticides is an important company to this slowly dying town, so people of importance don't want to rock the boat, including the Mayor, but when Chuck's dog has a litter of mutated puppies and pregnant women in town begin delivering mutated babies and begin dying, it can no longer be overlooked. Kim begins a romance with Brody's grade school science teacher Greg (voice-over artist Carlos Alazraqui) and he helps her expose the company providing the pesticide. That's the gist of the story, but there is so much more, including a severely deformed man named Joseph (David Mattey; also this film's editor and supplied the digital video effects. He was also the stunt coordinator.) and his equally deformed daughter Michelle (Chalet Lizette Brannan; CLOWN MOTEL - 2018) whom Brody makes friends with, saving their lives when the town bigots blame Joseph and his daughter for spreading the "disease" in this town, believing he is the one putting something in the water to get even with the town (Joseph moved to Duluth from New Jersey. Why does Jersey always get blamed?). A series of young people have gone missing in town and the police think that kidnappings are involved, but we can see there is some sort of mutated creature that is at fault for their deaths. As you would expect, everything comes to a head, when Chuck dies and Kim discovers that she is pregnant with Greg's baby, but will she get an abortion before she is due to deliver? Half the fun of getting to the answers is the trip director/screenwriter James Ojala (His first full length feature, who is normally a special effects makeup artist; he supplied this film's makeup effects and they are magnificent) takes us on. There's rarely a false note to be had, as the story is based on fact (mutated frogs are a sign of something deadly that would affect all life on this planet and there are real stories about this happening now). Everyone turns in spot-on performances and there are many funny moments, as there are frightening ones. My girl Tiffany Shepis (HOME SICK - 2007) puts in a cameo as a photographer who gets killed in the beginning of the film by the unknown mutated creature (it is revealed in the finale and, boy, is it worth the wait!) and there is a surprising humanity to the entire film (especially Chuck's death). Even the people we think are the bad guys suddenly realize that they are fighting a losing battle (The Mayor is one of them, but of course he makes it look like he had it all under control). And yes, we do see Kim's baby in the finale, but it is best that I don't tell you what happens. There's also a hilarious scene where Chuck and Kim talk to one of their neighbors and discover that he belongs to a "Furry" cult (once again, it is best if you discover it for yourself) and make sure you stay until after the end credits for another funny sting. This could be my favorite low-budget horror film of 2018. Seriously, you should see it now if you can. It is available streaming for free on Amazon Prime.; POSSUM (2018) is a British horror film that is pure nightmare fuel. The story, about a man named Philip (a terrifying Sean Harris; CREEP - 2004) and his best undescribed puppet (once seen, never forgotten) that he keeps in a brown leather bag, is upsetting enough, but his relationship with his creepy Uncle Maurice (an even more terrifying Alun Armstrong; SPLIT SECOND - 1992) will send chills up your spine, as Maurice only talks in two or three word sentences, yet Philip understands completely what he is talking about (even if we don't, but it all becomes clear later in the film). Director/screenwriter Matthew Holness (his first full-length feature as a director; he was writer/creator/actor on the cult limited six-episode British TV series GARTH MARENGHI'S DARKPLACE - 2004) keeps the viewer very off-center (the music, by "The Radiophonic Workshop", will particularly put you on edge), as the film just reeks of mold and rot, especially the house that Philip and Maurice live in. The house is so filthy (look at the walls), you can actually smell the mold. The core of the story takes its time to reveal itself, but you won't mind because the film is ugly to look at, yet you won't be able to take your eyes off the screen (even the outdoor scenes look drained of color; this is no camera trick, as Holness purposely found the most decrepit areas to film in). The original "Possum" nursery rhyme that Philip created as a boy will haunt your memory for years to come (Just like in BABADOOK [2013], I wish I could get my hands on the book Philip made as a child, which contains the entire horrific nursery rhyme complete with original drawings). There is also one of the best jump scares I ever witnessed in a horror film towards the end of the movie (Believe me, you'll know when it happens! I think my heart skipped a couple of beats.). This is a film you won't soon forget, even after it is all over. I love how it throws you a left every time you're expecting a right. It will linger in your brain for quite some time, even infecting your dreams (It did mine!). Films like this don't come around too often, so see this one ASAP. If I say any more about this film, it will deprive you of a totally original horror film that is rare in this day and age, so discover and enjoy it for yourself. It's available streaming on Amazon Prime, free to Prime members. If you aren't a Prime member, what are you waiting for?; I have to say that I enjoyed director/screenwriter/actor Owen Egerton's BLOOD FEST (2018), even though some fans of horror movies may find it disrespectful and cow-tows to them. All I can say is ignore those slams and enjoy the film for what it is, a pretty funny gore flick. The story is quite simple, yet it contains numerous tropes from horror films of the '70s & '80s, but those tropes are needed to advance the plot. When Dax (Robbie Kay; HANNIBAL RISING - 2007) was a young boy, he saw one of the psychiatric patients of his psychiatrist father, (Tate Donovan; SWORDFISH - 2001) kill his mother in their home (they were watching Bela Lugosi's WHITE ZOMBIE [1932] on TV). Dax's mother was a fan of horror movies and passed that love on to Dax. Now a teenager, Dax can't wait to go to Blood Fest, a festival of horror and nothing but horror, overseen by world-famous horror movie director Anthony Walsh (Egerton), who has placed many horror film genre references (and cliches) on a 700 acre plot of land. Dax's father refuses to let his son go to the festival, telling him it was his mother's fault she was murdered and horror films are what causes violence in society (yeah, that old wives tale), so he takes Dax's ticket to Blood Fest and tears it up (yet Daddy had no problem shooting his patient in front of Dax when he was just a toddler! A little contradictory, no?). The tickets are nearly impossible to get without paying ridiculous scalpers prices on eBay and Craigslist. Dax's female friend Sam (Seychelle Gabriel; THE SPIRIT - 2008) and best friend Krill (Jacob Batalon; AVENGERS: ENDGAME - 2019) tell Dax to get a ticket from his ditsy friend Ashley (Barbara Dunkelman), who believes she is a serious actress, even though her best role was "Topless Girl #4" in a cheap horror flick (Dax says this about Ashley: "She thought BLACK CHRISTMAS was a Tyler Perry movie!"). Long story short, it turns out that Anthony Walsh is using all the attendees at the festival as real victims, which he is filming for his ultimate horror film. Dax, along with Sam, Ashley, Krill and a couple of "red shirts" must use their knowledge of horror film tropes to make it out of Blood Fest alive, but seven hundred acres is a pretty long way on foot, especially when Walsh  has the land sectioned off with various horror types, such as zombies, killer clowns, possessed dolls, vampires, werewolves and other horror film "tropes" (that word is used a lot in this film!). There are a few bloody surprises along the way, but it is best if you discover them on your own, because if I spill the beans, I would ruin the film for you. This is an extremely gory film, full of gushing blood and other gruesome deaths (some of them done in CGI, which knocks this film down a couple of pegs for me). But, even though this film has problems, especially when Walsh tells his workers how he managed to get actual zombies and vampires to kill the fans, this is an extremely enjoyable horror film, with many surprises and comedy moments that are actually funny, something that is very hard to do in horror films. The acting is good across the board, especially by Jacob Batalon as the virginal Krill. We also get many chainsaw deaths, impalements, decapitations, drawn and quartering and other methods of death, making this film an enjoyable experience for horror film fanatics, where titles of past horror flicks are bandied about like they are part of their lexicon and, unlike many other horror comedies, it works here. So sit back, relax and take in a film that pays respect to horror film fans, something that is very hard to do. I am not a fan of many horror comedies, but the acting and writing here won me over and it should do the same thing for you. There are many other surprising moments in this film for you to discover. I am purposely keeping everything vague so you can experience them on your own. You can thank me later.; HALLOWEEN (2018) is a very tense sequel to the original HALLOWEEN (1978), which totally ignores all the sequels (Including Rob Zombie's two flicks) in the plot, but pays tribute to them in visuals and dialogue. The first aspect of this film that I completely loved is that the rumor that Laurie Strode was Michael Myers' sister is shot down in some very sly bits of dialogue. John Carpenter (who Executive Produced and supplied music for this film, as well as getting  a "Based On Characters Created By" credit [along with the late Debra Hill]) has gone on record stating that he wrote HALLOWEEN II (1981) for the money and regretted making Laurie Michael's sister in that film, so in this film the record is set sraight. If I do have problems with this film, it's that Jamie Lee Curtis is made up to look very old, wearing the most ridiculous wig, making her look like a crazy cat lady. Ms. Curtis is actually a very beautiful woman, but she kicks ass in this film, so I can overlook director David Gordon Green (PINEAPPLE EXPRESS - 2008) wanting Laurie to look like she suffered a life of hell. Another thing that bothered me is that 80% of the killings are shown after the fact, yet the visuals are quite graphic (i.e. A cop with a cut throat holding a flashlight that is shoved up the severed head of his partner, making it look like some twisted jack-o-lantern; a gas store clerk with his jaw separated from his skull; Michael even kills a young child in this film, a first for him). In this film, a 61-year-old Michael Myers (James Jude Courtney; THE FREEWAY MANIAC - 1987) has been locked away in an insane asylum for 40 years, looked after by Dr. Sartain (Haluk Bilginer) ever since the death of Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence, who does not appear in this film since he died decades ago, but Loomis' name gets dropped quite often). Dr. Sartain is a strange man, who insists on riding the bus when Michael and a bunch of other crazies are being transported to a state asylum. As you can guess, the bus has an accident and Michael is on the loose in Haddonfield, exactly 40 years after his last killing spree, on Halloween Night (how he is reunited with his trademark William Shatner rubber mask is quite ingenious). Dr. Sartain, along with Officer Hawkins (Will Patton; the TV Series FALLING SKIES - 2011-2015), try to hunt Michael down, Officer Hawkins looking to kill him (he supposedly stopped Dr. Loomis from killing him in the original film) and Dr. Sartain having other reasons for finding him (It looks like Michael's evil spread to him. His death is particularly juicy!). Laurie's married daughter, Karen (Judy Greer; CARRIE - 2013), who was taken away from Laurie by Child Protective Services when she was 12-years-old, and granddaughter Allyson (newcomer Andi Matichak) live in Haddonfield, as does Laurie (she's estranged from her daughter, but not her granddaughter), who resides in a fortress-like house, complete with high-tech security, secret rooms, boobie traps and a shooting range full of creepy mannequins riddled with bullet holes. Laurie has waited 40 years for Michael to return (she's a crack shot with any weapon, as is Karen) and she's prepared for him, as you will see when you watch the film. The real star of this film is Laurie's house, which is full of surprises and deadly traps, made just for Michael. There are many unique tributes to the sequels in this film, especially the "Silver Shamrock" masks from HALLOWEEN III (1982) the kids wear on the streets on Halloween Night. See if you can spot the other homages, some quite obvious and others hidden, especially in the dialogue. This film pays proper respect to the original film, thanks to comic actor Danny McBride's dead-serious screenplay, which he co-wrote with Jeff Fradley and director Green. McBride and Green are long-time collaborators who worked together on many projects, such as the HBO series EASTBOUND & DOWN (2010 - 2013). This is one sequel that is worth your time. Will there be a sequel to this sequel? All I will say is stay through the entire closing credits for some special audio hints. Look for the original film's P.J. Soles in a cameo as a teacher. Nick Castle also returns to portray "The Shape" in some scenes. Co-Produced by Malek Akkad, this film is dedicated to his father, Moustapha Akkad, who Executive Produced the original and all the sequels. He was killed in the terrorist bombing in Amman, Jordan on November 09, 2005.; SUSPIRIA (2018) is a really divisive film, one you are going to either love or hate, there is no middle ground (check out the user reviews on IMDb to see what I mean). I happen to love it, if only for Tilda Swinton (SNOWPIERCER - 2013), who portrays three roles, one of them being a man! While not really a remake of Dario Argento's SUSPIRIA (1977), it is more like a visually trippy reimagining of the basic plot. It still concerns a fish-out-of-water young American dancer, Susie (portrayed here by the excellent Dakota Johnson; BEASTLY - 2011), who, in the mid-'70s, comes to a mysterious Markos Tanz Dance Company in Berlin, Germany (during the infamous "German Autumn"; Google it) to be tutored by the prestigious Madame Blanc (Swinton), only to find out she is being conditioned into becoming something far more mysterious; as a member of the academy's deadly witches coven. A former student, Patricia (Chloë Grace Moretz; CARRIE - 2013), was supposed to be the new member, but she told her secrets to her psychologist, Dr. Klemperer (also Swinton, here billed under the phony name "Lutz Ebersdorf". A lot of critics complain about the makeup effects, but the people in the audience with me when I saw it in a theater had no idea it was Tilda Swinton or not a man at all! I concur.), and ends up missing. Dr. Klemperer is obligated to find out what happened to his patient, based on a diary Patricia left at his office, but what he discovers will scar him for the rest of his life. Filled with scenes of extreme brutality and beauty (sometimes at the same time), including Susie's introduction to a deadly dance that contorts and kills another dancer (it must be seen to be appreciated), this film's visuals are not easily forgotten once viewed. Director Luca Guadagnino, like Argento, bathes his film in primary colors, the predominate color being red. Visually, this film is second to none, but that's not what critics complained about. They were more concerned with plot, something I didn't have a problem with. If you just go along with the film's visual beauty, you shouldn't have a problem with the film, either, but you should be prepared for some extreme bloodletting, especially when "Mater Suspiriorum" ("The Mother Of Sighs"), a.k.a. Helena Markos (Swinton again), puts in an appearance, something you won't be able to get out of your head for years to come. What she does towards the end of the film is one of the goriest sequences ever in an R-Rated film and that's saying a lot. The film also ends with a very touching sequence, unusual for a film such as this. Jessica Harper, who appeared in the original film as Suzy (it's just spelled differently in this film), puts in an appearance here as the missing wife of Dr. Klemperer, in a scene full of emotion and pathos. I really don't know what all the naysayers are complaining about. Maybe it is because Luca Guadagnino was remaking a beloved classic or maybe they didn't watch it at all, but there's one thing I do know: It is an unforgettable film, worthy of the original, with many differences to stand on its own (There'a a WTF?!? scene where the witches laugh and play with a police officer's penis!). Yes, it is over two and a half hours long, but it is the quickest 152 minutes you will ever sit through. This film gets my highest recommendation! See it! You can watch it for free streaming if you are an Amazon Prime member (Amazon financed and released the film, but only to select limited theaters late in 2018, before releasing in on disc and their streaming service early in 2019. I was lucky enough to be invited to a sneak preview and the audience applauded when the film ended), but I had to buy the Blu-Ray, because I wanted it to be a permanent part of my film library. Also starring Angela Winkler, Renée Soutendijk (GRAVE SECRETS - 1989), Ingrid Caven, Alek Wek and Doris Hick as members of the academy's coven and Mia Goth (A CURE FOR WELLNESS - 2017), Vanda Capriolo, Karina El Amrani, Halla Thordardottir, Anne-Lise Brevers, Fabrizia Sacchi andMaria Bregianni as students, many of them being professional dancers in real life. You may think you don't like dance films, but the choreography in this film is so unusual, it's hypnotic.; When I heard J.J. Abrams and his Bad Robot Production outfit were making a World War II horror film titled OVERLORD (2018), all I could think about is it being another chapter of his CLOVERFIELD franchise, which I really don't care for in the least. Thankfully, Abrams assured us it wasn't a CLOVERFIELD-related film, but that didn't stop most Internet trolls claiming that it was. After watching the film for myself, I can honestly declare that it has no relationship to that franchise at all, not even in the smallest of details (Yet I have read some reviews from "critics" trying to painfully point it to the franchise, giving ridiculous reasons why it is part of that "universe" and it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever, as they don't want to backtrack from their original statements that it is a CLOVERFIELD film. Just admit you were wrong, no one will think worse of you [I mean, how could they?]). This is actually a very well-made film, full of characters we begin to care about, some great action and explosions, plenty of violence and most of all, some outstanding bloody gore. A group of American paratroopers are sent into Nazi-occupied France to destroy a radio tower atop a fortified church in a small French village. D-Day is to happen in just a few hours, so the radio tower must be destroyed before it begins, so the Nazi's can't contact home base for extra troops. Almost from the start, the mission turns out badly, as the plane they are in is bombarded with shells, forcing the paratroopers to jump out of the plane before it explodes. We see most of the film through the eyes of a green paratrooper named Boyce (an excellent Jovan Adepo), as he parachutes into Nazi-occupied territory and witnesses some German soldiers executing one of his friends just after he lands. He is about to kill the soldiers when he is stopped by his commanding officer Ford (Wyatt Russell), who tells him to focus on the mission, not his friend's death. The tower must be destroyed in just a few hours. They find two other survivors of the parachute jump, Tibbet (John Magaro; my favorite character in the film) and Chase (Iain De Caestecker) and silently make their way to the small French village. On the way, they run into a pretty young French girl named Chloe (Mathilde Ollivier), who lives in the village and hides them from the Nazis, who are swarming all over the village. To make a long story short, there is much more going on in the church than just the radio tower. A Nazi scientist, Dr. Schmidt (Erich Redman), has invented a serum which can revive the dead. His aim is to create the perfect soldier, one that is unable to die (again), so Germany will win the war. Unfortunately, his formula has serious side effects. The dead injected with the serum turn into deformed monsters and they kill anyone they come in contact with. Not quite the perfect soldier, if they kill members of your own military! Boyce infiltrates the well-guarded church and finds another member of his paratrooper team, Rosenfeld (Dominic Applewhite), still alive and connected to some strange device. Boyce rescues him (after removing the device from his body, an act that will make you squirm), steals a hypo full of the serum and brings them back to Chloe's house, where he tells Ford what is actually going on at the church. Ford once again tells Boyce to focus on the mission, but he finds it hard to do when honest villagers, such as Chloe's Aunt (who lives in a room in the house, but we never see her, only hearing her belabored, monstrous breathing), are being experimented on by Dr. Schmidt. Complicating matters is evil Nazi officer Wafner (Pilou Asbæk, in a performance that will make you stand up and take notice), who stops by Chloe's house ever so often to rape her! When the paratroopers see Wafner putting the moves on Chloe, even Ford cannot take it, so he knocks out Wafner and takes him prisoner. After learning what is really going on at the church, Ford still wants to blow up the radio tower, but he also now wants to blow up Dr. Schmidt's laboratory and end this madness. Wafner manages to escape after he gets his hands on a pistol and shoots Chase in the head. He takes Chloe's young brother (who has taking a liking to Tibbet) and heads to the church, but not before Ford shoots him in the face. This now turns into a rescue mission as well as their regular mission, as they must rescue Chloe's brother and blow up the laboratory and radio tower. And it's only 20 minutes to D-Day! Can they pull it off? And what happens to Wafner when he decides to inject himself with the serum, since it has never been tested on a living body before? You'll have to watch the film to find out, but I guarantee you have never seen anything quite like it before. This is a remarkably affecting film, full of interesting characters we become invested in. Some will live and some will die, but you'll never forget a single one of them. Directed capably by Julius Avery, his sophomore theatrical film, and written with a sense of verve and horror by Billy Ray and Mark L. Smith, this is a film best experienced than explained, but you'll see some very horrific moments that won't leave your mind for a long, long time, especially when Boyce injects Chase with the serum after he dies from the head shot. It's one for the books, folks! I almost lost my lunch (and I'm not lying)! A complete surprise from beginning to end. Recommended.; ANNIHILATION (2018) is one of those films that may be confusing at first, but long after it is over, it will still have you thinking of certain events and how they fit together like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle before you have that "Aha!" moment, where everything finally makes sense. I will try to explain the film (without spoilers) to help the uninitiated make sense of the film's many flashbacks and flash-forwards, if they are, indeed, that, after all. Something from outer space hits a lighthouse on the coast of the Florida swamplands and, from that moment on, forms a weird misty barrier around it that keeps growing and growing exponentially, threatening to envelope the entire United States (and the rest of the world). Scientists and the Government have dubbed this mist "The Shimmer" and have secretly sent soldiers and scientists into it, none to ever return. All except one, that is. That happens to be soldier Kane (Oscar Isaac), the husband of soldier/biologist Lena (Natalie Portman), and when he suddenly shows up at Lena's house after being missing for three years, she is taken aback, but she can see something is seriously wrong with him. She drives him to the hospital, only for both of them to be kidnapped by government agents before they get there. When Lena wakes up, she demands to know where her husband is and is told by Agent Lomax (Benedict Wong) that if she wants to save her husband, she must enter The Shimmer with his hand-picked team of female scientists, doctors and soldiers, which includes Dr. Ventress (Jennifer Jason Leigh), Anya (Gina Rodriguez), Cass (Tuva Novotny), Josie (Tessa Thompson) and Katie (Sonoya Mizuno). Their mission is to discover The Shimmer's purpose and destroy it by making it to the lighthouse and stopping its growth, if that is possible. Lena agrees and all six women enter The Shimmer; from that moment on, their lives will never be the same. What they discover refutes all known laws of science and nature, as man and plant can mutate into a totally new creation and other laws of science are proven contrary to known beliefs. Anything can meld with anything in The Shimmer and the results are completely unforgettable. Lena starts losing members of her team to various strange creations that basically have no scientific explanation or basis in reality as we know it (Wait until you see the mutated wolf/bear here! It blows away anything you have seen in PROPHECY [1979] and the sequence when it is shown attacking can best be described as a true lesson in nail-biting tension!). When Lena makes it to the lighthouse, the entire sequence is like tripping on an hallucinogenic; one long scene of weird, colorful & trippy visuals that will leave your jaw on the floor. It's beautiful, expertly crafted and memorable; something like having a non-threatening nightmare that will haunt you for days to come. Yet there is a message to all these visuals; a message some will not understand until after the film is long over (At least that's what happened to me!), if they understand it at all. Is it a message of hope, of doom or of both? I'm afraid you'll have to make that judgment for yourself after you watch the movie. Directed and written by Alex Garland (director/writer of the vastly underrated EX_MACHINA - 2014, and screenwriter of 28 DAYS LATER... - 2003, SUNSHINE - 2007 and DREDD - 2012) with a flair for great-looking, colorful and downright unusual filmic compositions, as well as unforgettable scenes of bloody violence, this film should be on everyone's must-see list if you are fans of science fiction films or lovers of anything strange and weird. You will not be disappointed. How this flew under everyone's radar is beyond me. A modern-day classic!

Good DTV Genre Films Part 24 (continued): The Italian action/horror hybrid film ROAD TO HELL (2018) came as a complete shock to me, even though I couldn't decide whether to put it in the Good or Bad Section, but since I couldn't get the film out of my mind long after I watched it, I thought it belonged in the Good Section. A quartet of small-time thieves, headed by Rusty (director Roberto D'Antona) must perform one last big robbery to save the life of Rusty's cousin (and robbery gang member) Dario (Alessandro Carnevale Pellino), who was caught fucking the daughter, Katia (Alice Viganò), of crime kingpin Vincent Costello (Massimo Cominato). Vincent threatens to kill Dario and the rest of them if they don't pull off this big-time robbery and deliver the money to him immediately, so Rusty, Dario and Anthony (Francesco Emulo), pull off the robbery while their getaway driver drives them to Robert's Burgers, so they can get a bite to eat (Stealing must make them hungry!). As they are being served their burgers (My God, they are huge!) by pretty waitress Sara (Erica Verzotti), Anthony falls in love with her, but a trio of robbers enter the burger joint planning to rob it, only Rusty will have none of it. Another man in the joint, who looks like a cop, pulls out a gun  and a gunfight ensues, resulting in the deaths of Rusty's getaway driver, the trio of robbers and the cop. Only he is not a cop at all, he is actually an agent of a top secret organization known as "Crisalis", so Rusty, Anthony and Dario, steal the agent's camper van and drive away (but not before Anthony gets Sara's telephone number!). This is when everything turns to sheer horror. As they are driving away in the camper van, Anthony has the dead body of another Crisalis Agent fall on him and then mysterious woman Julia (Annamaria Lorusso) and her son Nicolas (Danilo Uncino) appear, Julia holding a knife and telling the trio to get out of her camper van. Rusty stops the van and disposes of the dead agent's body, telling Julia that she is stuck with the trio until they deliver the money to Vincent Costello, not knowing that the head of Crisalis, Edoardo Di Caprio (Mirko Giacchetti), has sent two Men In Black-like agents, Agent 066 (Michael Segal) and Agent 072 (Aaron T. Maccarthy), to retrieve Julia and Nicolas, because Nicolas is "special". Rusty and his gang are about to find out how "special" he is, as Crisalis scientist Dr. Davide Leonardi (Federico Mariotti) has invented a serum that turns people who are injected with it into unbeatable killing machines (Crisalis hoped to create the unkillable/unstoppable soldier). Nicolas was injected with this serum because it works better on children than it does adults and whenever Nicolas is put in stressful situations, he morphs into a white-eyed monster, who kills anyone he sees. The first time Nicolas morphs is when Rusty and his gang meet Vincent Costello (who has been working with Crisalis to locate them). They hand him the money, but Costello shoots and kills Dario anyway (He even shoots and kills his daughter Katia, saying, "I can always make another."). Nicolas turns into a monster and takes a huge bite out of Costello's neck, even killing most of Costello's men (after a gunfight ensues) before Julia manages to calm him down. This is the first part of a long journey for everyone involved and I won't reveal more, except to say that Rusty and his gang are joined by ex-cop Christian (Mirko D'Antona), who has a love/hate relationship with Rusty, but he will prove to be an asset to the gang, as they battle Agents 066 (Who we previously see hire a hooker, kill her [by suffocation with a pillow] and then fuck her dead body!) & 072, Edoardo Di Caprio and his brutal son Claudio Di Caprio (Andrea Milan), who is so mean, he would give Nazi deathcamp officers the chills. What happens is best left for you to discover. This film, directed and written by Roberto D'Antona is full of comedy, horror and graphic bloodshed, things that don't often blend together, which is why I couldn't decide whether this was a good or bad film, but since I couldn't get certain scenes out of my mind (especially when Anthony  suddenly appears from a door with a huge boner in his underwear while Julia and Christian are making love!), I just had to give it a positive review. Doing research on Roberto D'Antona, I discovered that he is kind of a big deal in Italy, as many people look forward to his films. He first started out making a couple of fan films about Italian comic strip character Dylan Dog, DYLAN DOG: THE BEGINNING (2011) and DYLAN DOG: THE DEVIL'S TRILL (2012), just to get the bad taste out of his mouth that was the awful film DYLAN DOG: DEAD OF NIGHT (2010), which starred Brandon Routh, that was considered an insult in Italy (and the rest of the world!). Since D'Antona was only 20-years-old (!) at the time and his fan films were highly-regarded, this led to him becoming a director/actor on Italian television, eventually morphing into feature films such as THE WICKED GIFT (2017), a horror film that was also given good reviews. D'Antona is also known for staffing his films & TV series with the same actors (Francesco Emulo, who portrays Anthony, was D'Antona's best friend since grade school and he's absolutely hilarious here; he met Annamaria Lorusso, who portrays Julia, on a short film they appeared in in 2014, so they formed their own production company, L/D Productions, to make films such as this), so there is an easy-going atmosphere in this film and it looks like everyone is having the time of their lives, which results in naturalistic acting. Hey, this isn't rocket science and the film does have some faults (some parts of the film are non-linear, which causes confusion), but the film moves at a brisk pace, is shot beautifully and contains a damn good music score (by Aurora Rochez; PARANORMAL STORIES - 2011). Try it, you might like it. Shot as FINO ALL'INFERNO ("Until Hell"). Available free streaming on Amazon Prime (for Prime members), in Italian with English subtitles. I'm looking forward to D'Antona's next directorial feature, THE LAST HEROES (2019). I only hope it is half as memorable as this film.;   "I am all of you." Not all aliens are friendly, but ENCOUNTER (2018) leaves you hanging until the final minutes of the film to find out if this alien is friendly or not. And it's a really good ride to get to the answer. The film opens in north Caroline, where Sheriff's Deputies, a S.W.A.T. team and F.B.I. Agents storming a house, the two head F.B.I. Agents, Tevis (Wendy Davis) and Banks (Peter Holden; UNDER THE BED - 2012), telling everyone to use "lethal force" if necessary. We hear the sounds of gunshots and an agent saying over the radio, "We've got the pod." We are then in Virginia, as we watch wheelchair-bound Will Dawkins (Luke Hemsworth; HBO's WESTWORLD [2016 - Present]) painting a picture of a little girl . Will lives in his sister Teresa's (Cheryl Texiera; BUNNYMAN - 2009) garage and we know something major happened to him to put him in a wheelchair, but we won't find out what it was until the film is nearly over. All we do know is that it is highly emotional for Will and Teresa. We then see three men drinking beer in a field, Brent (Glenn Keogh), Teresa's husband, Johnny (Christopher Showerman) and the deeply religious Marcus (Vincent M. Ward), discussing their lives, when they see an object streaking in the night sky and landing in a nearby field. They take their truck to where the object landed and pour the ice water in their beer cooler on the object to cool it down. The object lets out a screeching sound that sends all three men to their knees and holding their ears. When it stops, they put the object in the cooler and take it to Brent's house. You guessed it. They open up the garage door, clear off one of Will's table and pour the object out of the cooler. Yep, it looks like a small pod and they tell Will and Teresa that it must be valuable and someone should stand guard over it during the night. Will volunteers, over Marcus' objections (Marcus has something against Will; maybe because he doesn't believe in God?), but Marcus is overruled by Brent and Johnny and they all stay at the house because they don't trust each other. While Will is standing guard over the pod late at night, he doesn't see the pod opening, a tentacle coming out of it and attaching to Will's neck. As soon as the tentacle is attached to his neck, Will sees his entire life flash before his eyes (pay close attention and you will see what happened that put him in a wheelchair). The following morning, everyone goes to the garage to make sure the pod is still there. What they find shocks them. Will is standing on his own two feet, something doctors said wouldn't be possible ever, but when they see the tentacle still in Will's neck, they pull it off and Will's legs no longer work. Will wants the alien to attach to him again, telling everyone that they should let the pod attach to them, too; it means no harm. They carry Will to the living room and then Brent says they need someone to come here to look at the object, a scientist or someone like that. Johnny says his old college biology teacher, Professor Westlake (an excellent Tom Atkins; TRICK - 2019), would be the perfect one to come look at it, even if he failed Johnny for never showing up for class. Brent and Johnny go to speak to Professor Westlake, while Marcus takes a look at the field where the pod landed to see if they missed anything. What no one realizes is Agent Tevis and Banks are aware that the pod has crashed and when Marcus goes to look at the field, they secretly watch him and he becomes their "person of interest." If you want to know more, I suggest that you watch the film (it's available streaming on Amazon Prime), as, if I tell you any more, I will deprive you of a film that manages to surprise  and affect you in ways very few films have achieved. If you don't have a lump in your throat and a tear in your eye when the film ends, you, my friend, aren't human. Director/screenwriter Paul Salamoff (this is only his second feature film as director) has delivered a film that not only gets you involved mentally, it also get you involved emotionally, because the cast here is simply amazing and act like normal people would. There's hardly a false note in the film and you'll be rooting for everyone to succeed in their plans, simply because their plans aren't outlandish, they are what any normal person would do. Would you want an alien to attach a tentacle to you, even though Will swears the alien doesn't mean them any harm? Everything comes into place when Professor Westlake, who is dying from pancreatic cancer and has no friends or family, discovers what the alien is really up to. I'm not going to say anymore except that this is a film that will not only get you involved, it will touch your heart, especially ther final line in the film (which is at the beginning of this review). And the pod gets bigger every time it attaches itself to a human. To find out how it all ends, watch the film ASAP! You won't be sorry.;   The "cursed film" genre is very small, but that is because it is a subject that is very hard to pull off. The only successful one in my opinion was not a film at all, but a 2005 episode of Showtime's MASTERS OF HORROR titled "Cigarette Burns", directed by John Carpenter. Other films that tried were MIDNIGHT MOVIE (2008), THE HILLS RUN RED (2009) and CINEMAPHOBIA (2009; Which is so bad I refuse to review it!), but they were nothing but generic horror flicks with nothing much to add to the genre. Then along comes ANTRUM: THE DEADLIEST FILM EVER MADE (2018), a film so unusual and downright frightening, it tosses the genre on its head, stomps on it and then delivers the goods. The film opens with a short 8-minute "documentary' explaining the cursed film named ANTRUM, a horror film made in 1977 (it actually contains two date years on the title screen, 1977 & 1979, which just adds more mystery to the film) that no one had actually seen and lived long afterwards. A movie theater in Romania in 1988 showed the film and the audience of 56 people burned to death in a fire while the film was playing. The fire didn't start in the projection booth, as many fires do in theaters since celluloid is highly flammable, but in the audience itself, which couldn't be explained by the fire marshalls investigating the deadly fire. During the early-'80s, the film was submitted to three film festivals, but all the people who screened the film to see it it was going to be accepted into their festival died under mysterious (and violent) circumstances. The film then was considered lost, until someone recently found a print. After the documentary is over, we then see the film in its entirety, with the usual legal warning that watching the film may cause your death (or worse). The thing is, it actually works here, as the film is shot so unusually, you can feel the desperation and horror in your body and your mind. The story is quite unique. When his pet dog bites him, young Nathan's (Rowan Smyth) mother takes the dog to a vet and has it put to sleep, making Nathan watch his favorite pet die. Nathan has recurring nightmares about his dog's death, especially when his cruel mother tells him that his dog went to Hell instead of Heaven for biting him. Nathan's older teenage sister, Oralee (Nicole Tompkins), wants to help Nathan's nightmares stop, so she and Nathan take a weekend trip to the forest, where Oralee shows him a book of spells that will save his dog's soul and send it to Heaven. She tells Nathan that they must go to the place where Satan landed when thrown out of Heaven by God; they must dig a deep hole to Hell on that spot, rescue the dog's soul and then send it to Heaven. There are "Five Layers" to Hell, each layer with its own dangers, but if they are successful in their task, his dog will have an eternity of happiness. Yes, it sounds ridiculous, but directors/writers David Amito and Michael Laicini pull it off in amazing fashion, as the film has the look, the grain and the exact feel of a '70s supernatural horror film, so much so that you will actually believe it was made during that time period. There are many amazing and quite eerie sights to behold, including two fanatical hunters (one whom we see fucking the dead carcass of a deer!) who capture Nathan and Oralee and try roasting the young boy alive in a hollow steel statue of a goat-headed Devil (reminding me very much of THE WICKER MAN - 1973). This film manages to bring goosebumps because of some quite unique subliminal images throughout the film, which not only brings on a sense of uneasiness, it also will make you freeze the film to try and catch what those images are (not only are there images of a nearly naked man and woman being torturerd for reasons unknown, there are also symbols representing Asmodeus [over 170 of them!] and several terms in Latin, including "Facilis Descensus Averno" ["Descent To Hell"] and "Nihil Pretiosius Veritate" ["The Truth Is More Precious"], which just adds more to the mystery of the film). There are plenty of surprising revelations to be had here, especially the truth about Oralee's supernatural book (If I tell you, it will ruin the surprise) and some other things that if I told you, you would probably not believe me. This is a film that demands to me watched more than once, because there are things going on in the background and foreground (and subliminally) that you quite probably won't see in one viewing. I predict that this film will become a cult classic if enough people see it. At the time of this writing, it is available streaming on Amazon Prime or you can go on Amazon and purchase the DVD. Whatever way you see it, this is bound to become a film you will think about long after it is over. It took me nearly two weeks to write this short review, just so I could get the film out of my head. Shouldn't all films affect you this way? My highest recommendation.;   I use to think Giallo films were a thing of the past, but along come brothers Luciano & Nicolás Onetti to direct/co-write (with Carlos Goitia) ABRAKADABRA (2018), the last of their three unrelated giallo films, which started off with SONNO PROFONDO ("Deep Sleep" - 2013) and continued with FRANCESCA (2015). I haven't seen those two films, but if they are anything like this one, I will put them on my Must-See list. This film certainly has the look and feel of a '70s Giallo flick and after watching it for a few minutes, I totally forgot it was a modern film and enjoyed the ride it offered. The mystery is excellent, the killer brutal and the reveal of the killer in the finale surprised even me, a Giallo fanatic who can usually spot the killer long before a film ends. The film begins in 1951, where world-famous magician Dante The Great (Raul Gederlini) is about to perform the "Bullet Catch" trick, where he has a gun fired at him and he catches the bullet in his teeth. Dante's assistant, Gennaro Bernardi (Abel Giannoni), fires the gun and Dante lies dead, as someone loaded the gun with full-load bullets, not the special low-load bullets that were supposed to be in the gun. Gennaro is accused of murder, tried, convicted and is sent to prison, but it couldn't be that easy, could it? Thirty years later, we see Dante's son, magician Lorenzo Mancini (German Baudino), on a motor scooter with his female assistant Antonella (María Eugenia Rigon) as they are traveling down a road in Argentina (this is an Argentina/New Zealand co-production) on their way to the theater where Lorenzo is about to make his debut. When they get to the theater, there is a group of bystanders and police in front of the theater, as Lorenzo's agent, Fabrizio (Pablo Vilela), appears and tells Lorenzo not to worry, this will not affect his opening night. What won't affect it, you may ask? Why, there's an old woman on stage, dead, and her head is inside Lorenzo's "Box With Swords" device. Her head has swords stuck through it until the blades exit out her cheeks and there's an Ace of Spades card in her mouth. The Detective on the case, Agent Caruso (Claudio Rusiecky), questions Lorenzo, asking him if he knew the victim and he says no, he has never seen her before. When Agent Caruso asks about his whereabouts at the time of her death, Lorenzo says he was with Antonella all night and all day, so the Detective tells him he will need to speak to her to verify his alibi. As you can probably guess, this will not be the only murder that will haunt Lorenzo, as many more people end up dead, the closer Lorenzo, who decides to act as a detective, gets to the truth. There's also a chain-smoking man that keeps following Lorenzo around everywhere he goes, which makes him extremely nervous. Could this man be the killer? As with all Giallo films, the easy answer is never the right answer. On opening night, Lorenzo bombs with the audience, but Antonella takes the blame, telling Lorenzo she was late on her cue, spoiling his magic trick. Add that to the fact that everyone Lorenzo talks to ends up dead with one of his magic devices as the murder weapon and what Lorenzo has is a big problem (Besides his alcoholism. And, yes, bottles of J&B Scotch Whiskey are seen throughout the film! He also cheats at cards, gets caught by three other players at a Poker game and is then beaten to a pulp.). He discovers that his father's accused killer has been out of prison for the past ten years and when he goes to talk to  Gennaro Bernardi, he discovers that he is on his deathbed and it was impossible for him to be the killer. Gennaro soon ends up dead by the killer's hand (the killer injects a red poison into Gennaro's IV line), but not before he tells Lorenzo that he didn't murder his father and says that Lorenzo knows who killed him, he just has wiped it from  his memory at the place that "brainwashed" him; a place he stayed for a long, long time when he was a foster child. That's all I am going to tell you, otherwise I would have to spill the beans, something I never do with a Giallo review. The Onetti Brothers do an excellent job giving this film the look and feel of an actual Giallo film of the past (the film begins with an on-screen quote from Harry Houdini ["What the eyes see and the ears hear, the mind believes!"] and the opening credits sequence is excellent), bathing the film in primary colors and framing shots (judiciously using zooms to good effect) that will remind you of many '70s Giallo films. They also overdub all the actors perfectly. It's not until the end credits (this film runs a scant 70 minutes) that the killer's identity is revealed and it did surprise me (even if it is a trope used in many films like this in the past). The Onetti Brothers also directed the torture porn film WHAT THE WATERS LEFT BEHIND (2017), which I will watch even though I'm not a fan of the genre. Brothers with talents like they show in this film should be supported, no matter what kind of film they make. Luciano Onetti also supplied the wonderful Goblin-esque music soundtrack to the film. This gets a high recommendation from me, so if you are a fan of Gialli and believe that they don't make 'em like they use to, here is a great example to prove you wrong. VERY IMPORTANT SIDE NOTE: The version streaming on YouTube from channel "Watch Movies Now" is heavily edited, missing all the graphic violence and nudity. I spent $4.99 to watch it on Amazon Prime. It is worth the money!

Good DTV Genre Films Part 25 (continued): Rob Zombie's 3 FROM HELL (2019) is the long-awaited sequel to THE DEVIL'S REJECTS (2005), which itself is a sequel to HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES (2002). Thankfully, it was worth the wait. Now I know Rob Zombie is a polarizing figure; people either love him or hate him, there is no middle ground, but what I love about Zombie reminds me of that old saying: "The Devil is in the details", as Zombie is in control of everything, even to the smallest detail. His films have a look and feel like no other films being made today, something which I like to call "White Trash Horror". Nearly all the characters act like they just exited the trailer park where they were raised their entire lives. Call me weird, call me insane, but that type of character interests me to no end. And this film has plenty of those characters. To those of you who are fans of REJECTS, you may be asking yourself, "How can there be a sequel when the three main characters were killed at the end of the film?" I'm happy to reveal that they didn't die. The film opens documentary-style, showing us the story about what happens after the shootout at the end of the second film. They were very seriously wounded and captured by the police. All three were shot more than twenty times and spent over a year in the hospital recovering before they were put on trial for first degree murder of 38 people (the results of the first two films). Baby Firefly (Sheri Moon Zombie; Rob Zombie's THE LORDS OF SALEM - 2012) got life behind bars with the possibility of parole after ten years. Both Captain Spaulding (the late Sid Haig; SPIDER BABY - 1964) and Otis Driftwood (Bill Moseley; Zombie's HALLOWEEN - 2007) were sentenced to death (Sid Haig has his sentence carried out in prison because he was very ill at the time of filming and his role is nothing but a cameo. You can see he is very ill just by looking at him. Very sad). Cut to ten years later and it's 1988 (remember, the first two films took place in the late-'70s). Baby is about to have her first parole hearing and it goes disastrously, as she acts like a total loon and head-butts head female guard Greta (an unrecognizable Dee Wallace; CUJO - 1983), breaking her nose, when her parole is turned down (she will have to wait five years for her next parole hearing). Otis is on road duty (My only problem with this film. No Death Row inmate would ever be put on road duty), when his half-brother, Winslow Foxworth Coltrane (an effective Richard Brake; Zombie's 31 - 2016), a.k.a. "The Midnight Wolfman", breaks him free from the chaingang and they murder everyone (including Danny Trejo [MACHETE - 2010], who returns as bounty hunter Rondo from the second film), which includes both guards and prisoners, as well as a documentary crew doing a story on Otis. The first thing Otis wants to do with his new-found freedom is break Baby out of prison, but first he has to come up with a plan. Meanwhile, Greta is making Baby's life difficult in prison, locking her in a cell with two overweight lesbians who promise to "wreck" Baby for life, only Baby is too much for them and when Greta returns, she discovers the two lesbians dead and written in their own blood on the concrete floor is the message "Fuck you Greta" with a drawing of a heart! Otis and Coltrane then take the family and friends of prison Warden Virgil Harper (a fantastic Jeff Daniel Phillips; Zombie's HALLOWEEN II - 2009) hostage and threatens to kill them unless he frees Baby from prison (Virgil is scared of Baby, saying as soon as he takes the handcuffs off her, she will kill him, so Otis writes him a note to hand to Baby!). Virgil frees Baby (she then kills Greta) and delivers her to Otis at his home, but Otis being Otis, he, Baby and Coltrane viciously murder Virgil, his family and friends. Baby, it turns out, grew crazier while in prison and she gets the attention of a neighbor of Virgil's (the old woman neighbor witnesses Baby chasing a naked women outside and stabbing her over and over with Otis' rather large hunting knife) who then calls the police (When Otis notices Baby's over-the-top behavior, he says to Coltrane, "Who would think that I would ever be the voice of reason!" A very funny comment.). We now have a trio of serial killers once again on the loose, but rather than hoping they die, Zombie makes them seem like anti-heroes and the audience begins hoping they live! This is what I love about Rob Zombie. The trio head to Mexico, where they run afoul of a drug cartel headed by Aquarius (Emilio Rivera; "Marcus Alvarez" on TV's SONS OF ANARCHY [2008-2014] & MYANS M.C. [2018 - Present]), where we discover Rondo was Aquarius' father and he vows revenge, sending his gang, The Black Zombies, to kill the trio. Will they succeed? I will tell you this: There is plenty of room for another sequel, one that I will be more than happy to watch! As I said in the beginning of the review, all three films in this series differ in tone and feel. HOUSE was a straight-up horror film. REJECTS was a combination horror/thriller, while this film is a straight-up thriller with action inserts and some welcome black humor. That's not to say this film isn't extremely bloody and violent, because it is. It is also packed with full-frontal female nudity. The only way to view this film is through the Lionsgate Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack or the 4K Blu-Ray, as it is the only way to watch the Unrated version. The version shown in theaters when it had a limited release was the R-Rated version, missing many instances of extreme gore (including Otis skinning the face of a female hunter) and nudity (including Baby chasing the nude woman out of Virgil's house). The DVD is also the R-Rated version. The way Rob Zombie turns this cold-blooded trio into people we care about is quite remarkable, something I believe only Zombie could achieve, as he understands these characters and what makes them tick. When the masked Black Zombie gang attack the Mexico hotel the trio are staying in, we really hope they don't die because the gang is ten times worse than they are, killing women indiscriminately and torturing the trio when they are captured. There is a rather long documentary on the disc which runs almost as long as the film itself. It's filmed in the way of a video diary, as we watch Zombie prepare the film for the rather small 20-day shooting schedule, which is full of twists and turns, especially Sid Haig telling Zombie two weeks before shooting began that he wasn't well enough to perform his role as written, so Zombie had to do some serious script revisions, introducing Richard Brake's character Coltrane in the process (Haig died a few days after this film debuted in limited theatrical release). It's also full of valuable information, such as Danny Trejo playing one of the masked Black Zombie gang for free because his role as Rondo was so small. He is actually the one who gets into a machete fight with Otis at the end of the film (a sly in-joke to Trejo's Machete character). There are actually a lot of good extended cameos in this film, where nearly all of them suffer horrible deaths, including Clint Howard (Zombie's THE HAUNTED WORLD OF EL SUPERBEASTO - 2009) as clown Mr. Baggy Britches (Otis offers to let him live if he makes him laugh and it is only when he pisses his pants in fright that Otis laughs, but that doesn't stop Otis from sending him to "Clown Heaven".); Richard Edson (FRANKENFISH - 2004) as Mexico hotel owner Carlos Perro, who turns-in the trio to Aquarius for $10,000 (Otis fills Carlos full of holes with a machinegun as he tries to escape in his car); the diminutive Pancho Moler ("Sick-Head" in Zombie's 31 - 2015) as the one-eyed Mexican dwarf Sebastian, who falls in love with Baby and ends up saving the trio from certain death (In a bout of "normality", Baby tells Sebastian that he reminds her of her brother Tiny [late actor Matthew McGrory, who appeared in the first two films in the series]. It's a rather touching scene, but that doesn't mean that Sebastian lives); and especially Dee Wallace as Greta, who is so mean, she could make ice melt with one look. The film is also full of blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameos, including Daniel Roebuck (CAVEGIRL - 1985), Steven Michael Quezada (THE RAMBLER - 2012), Sean Whalen (LAID TO REST - 2009), Bill Oberst, Jr. (CIRCUS OF THE DEAD - 2014), Tracey Leigh (as Virgil's wife, who gets her throat graphically slit open by Coltrane), Sylvia Jefferies (as the totally nude woman Baby chases out of Virgil's house and savagely kills), Wade Williams (CANDYMAN: DAY OF THE DEAD - 1999),Richard Riehle (HATCHET - 2007) and Austin Stoker (ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 - 1976) as a TV News Anchorman. And I must say this: I never cared for Sheri Moon Zombie's acting, but she really impressed me here. She's maturing as an actress and this may be the best acting of her career (so far). So what are you waiting for? Go out and purchase this film if you are a Rob Zombie fan. Even if you're not, this one may change your mind!; I thought I was over zombie films, especially comical ones, but imagine my surprise when I watched Hulu's Original Film LITTLE MONSTERS (2019) and it was so good I didn't want it to end!  Well, it does contain an Academy Award®-winning actress (Lupita Nyong'o; Oscar®-winner for Best Supporting Actress in 12 YEARS A SLAVE [2013] and starring in Jordan Peele's US [2019]) and a screenplay that's completely bonkers, so what's not to like? The film opens with slacker Dave (Alexander England; ALIEN: COVENANT - 2017) arguing everywhere with his girlfriend Sara (Nadia Townsend; KNOWING - 2009); the grocery store, the movies and even in a crowded restaurant with friends. Sara wants to get married and have kids, but Dave doesn't want to bring kids into this world, especially his. It turns out he just plain doesn't like kids. David moves out of Sara's apartment, but since he is a slacker, he doesn't think that he has no place to stay, so he ends up at his sister Tess' (Kat Stewart) apartment, sleeping on the couch. Oh, yes, Tess has a young son named Felix (Diesel La Torraca), who has an inquisitive and intelligent mind, asking Dave questions he rather not answer. Long story short, Felix and Dave become friends and Dave comes up with a plan to propose marriage to Sara, which involves Felix dressing as Darth Vader (!) and barging into Sara's apartment, setting up Dave for the proposal. As you can guess, things don't turn out so well, as when Felix/Darth Vader bursts into Sara's apartment, he sees Sara fucking her boss on the couch! A surprised Sara tells Dave that he left her, so what she is doing should not come as a surprise, but Dave says it's only been two days and tries to escort her boss out of the apartment, only for the boss to beat the shit out of Dave. When Tess finds out what Dave did with Felix, she is furious, telling Dave to get the hell out and not come back, but Felix begs his Mom to let him stay. Tess, relents, but tells Dave he has to keep up his own end. First, he must take Felix to his school in the morning. Dave does just that, but when he sees Felix's beautiful kindergarten teacher, Miss Caroline (Nyong'o), it's love at first sight, at least for Dave. Tess tells Dave that every father of the children in Miss Caroline's class have hit on her with no luck, but that doesn't deter Dave, as he volunteers to escort the kindergarten class with Miss Caroline to Pleasant Valley, a children's park with a petting zoo. This is when the film takes a turn for the deadly, as Pleasant Valley is right next to a "secure" U.S. Army base and it's not as secure as they thought, as zombies have escaped from it and are heading for Pleasant Valley (If you are wondering what zombies are doing at an Army base, you will get no answer here!). Who will live and who will die? This is actually a very raunchy, foul-mouthed film, especially by Josh Gad (PIXELS - 2015), who portrays famous children's entertainer Teddy McGiggle, who actually despises children when he is not in character. The zombie attack brings out the worst in him, as every other word out of his mouth is "fuck" or variations of the word. Him screaming these obscenities in front of the children, while trying to put the children between him and the zombies (he even shits his pants and blames the smell on Dave, or at least he tries to!), comes as quite a shock to the viewer, as we (or, rather, I) have never seen this done before in a film, especially it being done so often. The film is also very bloody and gory, once again shown in front of the children (some other children visiting Pleasant Valley are turned into zombies, as we watch them chow-down on their victims and the animals in the petting zoo! Miss Caroline's class, along with Dave and Teddy McGiggle, become trapped in the park's gift shop, surrounded by very hungry zombies. After being duped by Teddy (who gets a gory comeuppance), Dave and Miss Caroline must come up with a way to save the children. Maybe Darth Vader will save the day? This Australian horror flick was directed and written by Abe Forsythe (usually a Film Short and Australian TV director) and he has fashioned a film that's funny, foul-mouthed and very gory (the zombie makeups are excellent), sometimes in the same scene (the sequence where Miss Caroline beheads a group of zombies with a shovel is a deftly shot scene that is both hilarious and frightening). I haven't even touched on the finer points of the film, which I will leave for you to discover, but I will say the music is great (Hanson, WTF?!? But it works! And Lupita Nyong'o plays the ukelele and sings like a pro!) and the final scene is touching and nearly brought a tear to my eye (Nearly!). I wouldn't have even watched this film if Hulu didn't offer their streaming service to me (with limited commercials, but only before the film starts and after it ends) for only $1.99 a month for 12 months! That is a great deal, as Hulu offers some very good films, (including the fantastic MOM AND DAD - 2017), original series (The Emmy Award®-winning THE HANDMAID'S TALE) and original films (Such as their INTO THE DARK, Blumhouse Television's series of original films, where they make a new horror film every month about 12 holidays of the year [now in its second year]). If you have Hulu, give this film a watch (Wait until you see the zombie that tried to eat a porcupine!). I know you will like it, maybe even more than I did (and I loved it!), as I was not expecting such a gory, swear word-filled, funny zombie film. Well done, Hulu!; I was somewhat impressed with director/screenwriter Jordan Peele's sophomore film US (2019), his follow-up to the award-winning GET OUT (2017), but the heavy symbolism in this film practically demands that you watch it more than once, which I did. I have to say that though it's a good film, it's not as good as his first film, but then again, what is? When Adelaide (Lupita Nyong'o; see LITTLE MONSTERS [2019] above) was a little girl, she broke free of her parents when they were vacationing at a beach town and entered a house of mirrors off the boardwalk and on the beach. Something happened to her that struck her dumb, or she just flat-out refused to speak, but it it was obvious she was scared to death (or, rather, we are made to believe she was scared out of her wits). Now an adult, Adelaide is married to Gabe (Winston Duke; AVENGERS: ENDGAME - 2019) and has a young daughter, Zora (Shahadi Wright Joseph), and an even younger son, Jason (Evan Alex) , who wants to be a magician when he grows up. Adelaide now is speaking, but when Gabe wants to vacation in the same beach town where her trauma began, she doesn't want to go, but Gabe has just purchased a new boat and wants to use it, so she is over-ruled by her family. Gabe rents a beach house from his co-worker Josh Tyler (Tim Heidecker; TIM & ERIC'S BILLION DOLLAR MOVIE - 2011) and his wife Kitty (Elisabeth Moss; Hulu's THE HANDMAID'S TALE [2017 - Present]), who will also be vacationing at their own beach house a few miles away. As soon as Adelaide enters the beach town, she is overcome with a foreboding sense of doom and she's right on target, even tough Gabe brushes it off as something silly. Adelaide hasn't told Gabe, or anyone, what happened in the house of mirrors when she was a young girl, not because she was afraid no one would believe her, but because she was afraid they would. A few strange things happen to Adelaide's family, such as Jason meeting what seems to be a man made out of straw with blood on one of its hands at the beach and Zora walking towards the house of mirrors as if in a trance (Yes, the house of mirrors is still there), until Adelaide snaps her out of it, but she still can't get Gabe to understand that she doesn't feel safe here and wants to go home (Gabe makes jokes out of everything), until she tells him what happened to her on the beach when she was a young girl. While she was in the house of mirrors, she saw her doppelganger, an exact duplicate of her, but different in some ways (especially attitude; the doppelganger looks especially sinister). Gabe seems to understand, telling Adelaide he doesn't know how she has held this in so long (And there's a reason for that!), but he really comes to believe her when a family of four dressed in red jumpsuits stand in the driveway of their beach house holding hands, not speaking and not moving a muscle. While Adelaide calls the police, Gabe politely asks them to go away, but he gets no answer. He then grabs a baseball bat and tells them that he's not kidding, if they don't go away, he's going to use the bat on them, but still no answer or movement. Only when he tells them the police are on their way, do they move quickly towards the house. It turns out the unknown family of four are exact doppelgangers of Adelaide's family, except for a few differences (Jason's double wears a mask, for reasons that are made clear quickly). Only Adelaide's doppelganger can talk and the others just grunt or groan loudly (Jason's double walks on all fours, like a dog). Gabe's double uses the bat on his knee, disabling Gabe and dragging him away to his boat, while Adelaide's doppelganger explains why they are there. She tells Adelaide (in a raspy, hoarse voice; a clue) that every living human being has a "Shadow" that they are "tethered" to. For every good thing that happens to a human being, something equally awful happens to their Shadow (Adelaide's Shadow tells a terrifying story about what happened to her when Adelaide gave birth to her two children. It turned out quite differently and painfully for her Shadow, as both her Shadow children are quite evil, which they will prove later in the film). When Adelaide asks her Shadow who they are, she replies, "We are AMERICANS!" She then tells Adelaide that it is now the time for the "Untethering" and it turns out that the Shadows are attacking and killing their human counterparts (and anyone else who stands in their way) all over the world and when they are done, they form a single line and hold hands, like some twisted version of "Hands Across America" (tethering themselves together, as it were). If you want to know why this is happening, you better put on your thinking caps and start thinking hard, because this film is ripe with symbolism, from all the Shadows wearing red jump suits and unable to talk (except for Adelaide's Shadow, which is a major clue), all Shadows carrying scissors as weapons, right down to the Shadows living quarters (Hell?) being over-run with white, fluffy bunny rabits! Even if you don't put on your thinking caps, this film can still be enjoyed as horror film, kind of like a modern-day version of INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (1956), but without the Communism paranoia. That's not to say that there's not some humor in this film, because there is plenty, but it's black as coal. One scene I really laughed at is when Josh, wife Kitty and their two teenage daughters are being murdered by their Shadows and a near-death Kitty yells out to her Alexa-like A.I. device to "Call the police!" and it starts playing NWA's "Fuck The Police" instead! Anyone with an Alexa, Siri or other A.I. device can relate to that and I have to say I laughed quite loudly! One thing I do have to admit: I did guess the final twist in the film, but others may find it quite M. Night Shyamalan-like in its execution (Clue: Why is it that only Adelaide's Shadow has the gift of speech when none of the other Shadows do and why does she talk in such a raspy voice?). For only a sophomore effort, Director/writer Jordan Peele shows a deft hand behind the camera, as it is beautifully filmed, quite shocking at times and full of little filmic clues as to why this is happening (I like to think of this film as a modern-day fable about the poor versus the rich. I know that's not what is meant to be conveyed [or is it?], but it works here.). It's not a total success (some scenes could have used some trimming), but this is a perfect example of a horror film with a message done right. I wait with baited breath for Jordan Peele's next film. He's proving to be a modern-day Hitchcock or John Carpenter. We all wear masks sometimes, don't we?;   GUNS AKIMBO (2019) is the return of New Zealand director/writer Jason Lei Howden, who gave us the excellent DEATHGASM (2015). While not as good as that film (in my opinion), it is still a wild treat for all action fans out there. It's fast-paced, bloody as hell and really funny in spots, thanks to the talents of actors Daniel Radcliffe, Samara Weaving and Ned Dennehy and the frenetic cinematography of Stefan Ciupek, so if you liked to look of DEATHGASM, you are bound to like the look of this film, too. The basic story is about nobody Miles (Radcliffe), who works as a computer programmer during the day for one of those games you play on the phone, where it takes money to progress in the game, sucking the cash out of players bit by bit (his boss is also a giant dick) and at night he's a keyboard warrior, one of those trolls that we all hate. Well, his keyboard antics bring out the ire of criminal mastermind Riktor (Dennehy), who has developed an underground fighting "game" where two people take on each other with various deadly weapons (usually automatic rifles, rocket and grenade launchers) and the one who survives wins. Only this game is real, run by a computer program named "Skizm" and there's no reversing the course of the game. Long story short, Riktor kidnaps Miles, drills holes in his hands, bolts 50-shot automatic pistols to his hands  and attaches screws to his fingers to screw them to the pistols' handles and triggers, thereby making Mile's hands good for only one thing: shooting. When Miles wakes up and discovers he can't use his hands, it leads to a bunch of comical outings, including trying to take a pee, trying to put on pants and a whole lotta other things where hands are needed. What Miles soon finds out is that he is to battle the defending champion of Skizm, a drug-sniffing, heavily tatted and body pierced young woman named Nix (Weaving), who loves to kill. This leads to Miles trying desperately to escape Nix's weapons fire and trying to reason with her with no luck, that is, until he discovers who she truly is. I'm not going to give away any more of the plot because this is a film best seen cold. What I will tell you is this film is one wild set piece after another, where people are murdered in a variety of bloody ways (what happens to Mile's boss will make you smile), none of it hidden from the viewer. Daniel Radcliffe is excellent as Miles, who at first is a fish out of water, but, as the film progresses, he becomes someone we all wish we could be, a man who just wants to live and appeals to Nix's humanity (which she didn't know she had) to bring down Riktor and his crew. Even though I like this film, I didn't love it the same way as I did DEATHGASM. That film had something this film seems to be missing: it's too self-aware; lacking a sense of the absurd. Don't get me wrong, there's plenty of absurdity in this film, but some of it seems forced and unnecessary (like Miles meeting a crack-smoking bum in an alley). But it is still good enough to be put in this category. No doubt about it, Jason Lei Howden is a talent to keep an eye on. I would like to see him do something different in his next film, just to see if he can handle a good story without all the crazy camera angles and zippy editing both of his other films have. All-in-all, an entertaining way to spend 97 minutes. (Available for free on Amazon Prime at the time of this review).

Good DTV Genre Films Part 26 (continued): THE DUSTWALKER (2019) is a pretty good Australian sci-fi/horror film that pays respect to INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (1956) and other '50s genre films. A UFO crashes near an isolated town in the Outback, destroying the town's cell tower and its electricity, their only means in contacting the outside world (besides CB radios, which only work in the town's limits). The female sheriff of the town, Joanne Sharp (Jolene Anderson), who is about to retire from her job to move to the "big city" with her teenage daughter, Samantha (Stef Dawson), must contend with animals dying horrible deaths and infecting the majority of the townspeople with an alien organism, forcing them to stand motionless in the street (really eerie) and then trying to kill the uninfected. There is also a huge alien monster, who seems to be working on the side of the uninfected, grabbing the infected and killing them (later on we see the alien burning their bodies). There is also a huge dust storm that envelopes all the roads out of town, making it impossible for anyone to escape or anyone to enter, so the uninfected, including Joanne's deputy, Paul (Harry Greenwood), must stop the infected from killing the uninfected (One infected father kills his young son and leaves his torn-apart body in a public bathroom. When Joanne asks him why he did it, the father says he was fully aware he was killing his son, but he couldn't stop himself. He then begs Joanne to kill him before he kills someone else.). While that is basically the entire film in a nutshell, director/screenwriter Sandra Sciberras fills the film with weird and creepy scenes of the infected standing motionless in the streets, but when they find a victim to kill, they let out a vicious scream and their mouths get unusually large, running at speeds no human could ever hope to achieve, also doing acrobatics that defy the laws of physics. It's also refreshing that the alien monster is on our side for a change, but we don't know it until the final minutes of the film. It's apparent it doesn't want the infection to spread across the globe, or it is just covering its tracks. Either way, it's a really good CGI creation that is used sparingly. We always hear it and watch its tentacles grabbing the infected, but very rarely see it until the final twenty minutes. This is nothing Earth-shattering, just a good, old-fashioned monster flick that incorporates modern conveniences into the plot. This time, there is a valid reason why cell phones don't work in the town. Catch it if you can.; In the mood for a good killer kid movie? Then THE PRODIGY (2019) is the film for you. Not only is there an excellent story, this film also contains some very good acting, especially from child actor Jackson Robert Scott. The film opens with a young woman escaping from a house and running away into the woods. When she makes it to a road, she is nearly run over by another woman in a car. She stops the car and the young woman raises her right arm, showing nothing but a stump, screaming out, "He took my hand! HE TOOK MY HAND!" We then switch to a very pregnant Sarah Blume (Taylor Schilling), as she wakes up husband John (Peter Mooney) to tell him the baby is coming early. John and Sarah go to the hospital and she delivers a baby boy that they name Miles. At the same time Sarah is delivering her baby, we see a SWAT team invade the house of a serial killer named Edward Scarka (Paul Fauteux), the man who kept the young woman captive. Scarka sees the SWAT team coming, so he runs outside completely naked with one hand behind his back, screaming something in Hungarian. As he moves his hand from behind his back, the SWAT team kills him in a hail of bullets and then discover what was in his hand. It wasn't a gun, it was the young woman's dismembered hand! Scarka's MO was removing the hands of his victims and hanging them on his wall!. What does this have to do with Sarah's pregnancy, you may ask? You'll have to watch the film to discover that, but I will tell you this: Miles turns out to be a child prodigy. He begins talking at six months of age, begins solving complex problems at the age of two and begins humming a strange tune and speaking in a foreign language, a language his parents never spoke. An 8-year-old Miles (Jackson Robert Scott; IT - 2017) also has problems around other children. He is put in a school for gifted children and ends up beating one child student nearly to death with a pipe wrench, when he partners up with a female student Miles wanted as a partner. One night, Sarah hears Miles talking in a foreign language in his sleep and tapes him. This will prove important in properly diagnosing Miles' problems. Miles also kills the family dog with a pair of garden shears and hides the body in the basement. When Miles is taken to psychiatrist Dr. Strasser (Paula Boudreau), Sarah hands her the tape recording of Miles talking in a foreign language. Dr. Strasser listens to the tape and contacts a specialist named Arthur Jacobson (the excellent Colm Feore; THE CHRONICLES OF RIDDICK - 2004), a specialist in a field I cannot say without spoiling the plot, who hypnotizes Miles and discovers the shocking truth, which he is not able to tell Sarah, because Miles blackmails him in a way you must see and hear to believe (I cannot believe an 8-year-old child could say such things in films, but what he says is really shocking!). Miles' actions causes a rift between John and Sarah, which leads to a conclusion that is rather disappointing, but still surprising. This is like a modern retelling of MIKEY (1991) and THE GOOD SON (1992), but with a supernatural twist. There are two jump-out-of-your-seat moments, which you will know as soon as they happen. Have your heart medication ready. If you don't use any, you may need some before this film ends. Jackson Robert Scott is simply terrifying as Miles. He has a stare that would send shivers down the spine of the Pope and make you never want to have children (If you already have some, you may want to lock your bedroom door at night!). Director Nicholas McCarthy (THE PACT - 2011; AT THE DEVIL'S DOOR - 2013; two films I praise in this section), working with a screnplay by Jeff Buhler (THE MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN - 2008), has delivered a film that supplies shocks, scares and some really goosebump-raising moments. It's a film you should not skip. Available on Amazon Prime (at the time of this review).; Do you think the U.S. doesn't make good slasher films any more? Then let me point you to TRICK (2019), one of the most bloody and fast-paced slasher films you are likely to see. And it's a Halloween slasher flick to boot! In a small New York town, during a Halloween party in 2015, a bunch of teens are playing "Spin The Blade", which works the same way as "Spin The Bottle", where a knife is spun and whomever the blade points to, the spinner has to kiss. When Patrick "Trick" Weaver (Thom Niemann) spins the blade and it points to a male member of the game, the other players egg Trick on the kiss the boy, but when it looks like he is about to, Trick picks up the blade and begins slaughtering everyone at the party, not just the ones playing the game (it's quite gory). Trick is stopped by partygoer Cheryl (Kristina Reyes), who impales Trick with a fireplace poker, sending him to the hospital. At the hospital, town Sheriff Lisa Jayne (Ellen Adair) meets Detective Mike Denver (Omar Epps; the TV Series HOUSE [2004 - 2012]), an F.B.I. agent put in charge of the case. Detective Denver goes to interrogate Trick in his hospital bed (both his hands are handcuffed to the railings of his hospital bed), over the objections of hospital physician Dr. Steven (Jamie Kennedy; SCREAM - 1996), resulting in Trick attacking Detective Denver and trying to escape, concluding with Mike and Lisa pumping five bullets into Trick's body as he crashes through a second floor window and falls to the pavement below. When Mike and Lisa run downstairs to examine Trick's body, it's not there, but there is a blood trail leading to a nearby river, Lisa telling Mike that there's no way he can survive the freezing temperature of the water, especially after getting shot five times and falling twenty feet onto a hard surface. Mike, on the other hand, has doubts, which will be proven true in a year. When doing a background check on Patrick Weaver, all Mike and Lisa come up with is a big dead end, no photos, no known mother and father and no history at all, like he never existed and he can be anybody. At a 2016 Halloween party in a nearby New York town, another massacre occurs, the killer unknown, but he was holding a knife that had the name "Trick" on it. Mike thinks Trick has returned, but everyone, including his boss and Lisa, think it is a copycat, saying that there's no way Trick survived that night a year ago, even though his dead body was never found. Mike is the only one who believes Trick is still alive. When the same type of massacre occurs in other small New York towns, during Halloween parties in 2017 and 2018 (including a gory decapitation death of Mike's boss, Chief Gunn [Tony Mitchell], which puts any Rube Goldberg-like death in the SAW Franchise [2004 - 2007] to shame in its simplicity!), Lisa starts to believe Trick is still alive, but is he really? This killer, who dresses like Trick, seems to be supernatural, such as appearing in two places at once and avoiding capture by moving like The Flash. In other words, Trick is very quick, quicker than any human should be.. Even bullets can't stop him. When Mike figures out that Trick has returned to kill anyone at the Halloween party in 2015 that is still alive, both he and Lisa must protect Cheryl, whose father apparently tried to commit suicide by jumping off the roof of his business, but he survived and is now a paraplegic in a hospital bed in the same hospital where Trick escaped back in 2015. Can they stop Trick once and for all? Let me just say this: There is non-stop death and bloodshed in this film from beginning to end, not giving the viewer a chance to catch their breath. This rollicking gorefest, which was released Unrated to a few theaters late in October 2019, was a joy to watch, and, even though I guessed the final reveal (it's slyly referred to in this review), it's a good watch for every slasher fan out there. Director Patrick Lussier (DRACULA 2000 - 1999 [also with Omar Epps] and its sequels; MY BLOODY VALENTINE - 2009; DRIVE ANGRY - 2011), working with a screenplay written by himself and partner Todd Farmer (JASON X - 2001, and all the other films I just mentioned [except for the Dracula franchise]), has fashioned a film that comes at you so fast and furiously, you won't have time to notice all the holes in the story until long after the film is over. Yet this film is full of memorable, gory deaths, including one against one of Lisa's female deputies at a shipyard, which you will have to experience for yourself. This is a good old straight-from-the-Eighties slasher flick, that was, thankfully, never submitted to the MPAA for a rating. If it were, the film would probably be a thirty minute short! You actually can feel the pain every time Trick uses his knife against his victims (especially during the pain-filled finale, which will have you grimacing from all the blade impalements). The ending may be a little too pat for some people, but I was able to overlook it, as this was one wild ride that deserves a sequel and will probably get one if there is justice in this world. It was also nice to see Tom Atkins (HALLOWEEN 3: SEASON OF THE WITCH - 1982; NIGHT OF THE CREEPS - 1986) in a rather large role as Talbott, a man who loves Halloween and puts on a yearly Halloween maze attraction and shows NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968) in a makeshift theater before he falls victim to Trick and his blade. He still handles a shotgun like a pro! I saw this for free on Hulu and it will cost Amazon Prime members $3.99 to watch it (at the time of this review), but even that amount is worth it. See this as soon as possible and be prepared for a bloodbath!;   GLASS (2019) is director/writer M. Night Shyamalan's sequel to his UNBREAKABLE (2000) and SPLIT (2016). It's also one of the most accomplished films of his career. The real star of this film is James McAvoy, who returns from the 2016 film as Kevin Wendell Crumb, the man with 24 personalities, one of them being "The Beast", who has been kidnapping young women in Philadelphia and mutilating them. Bruce Willis returns as David Dunn, the man who was the only survivor of a train wreck and now believes he is super strong and indestructible (or "unbreakable"). He takes "walks' through the Philadelphia streets looking for the killer with the help of his son Joseph (Spencer Treat Clark, who returns from the 2000 film), who keeps in contact with his father by radio transmission. Long story short, David finds Kevin, who turns into The Beast, and begins to battle him, but they are stopped short of a full-on assault by Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson; a regular on TV's AMERICAN HORROR STORY) and the Philadelphia police force. It seems Dr. Staple knows all about David and Kevin, including their weaknesses, and puts them in separate cells in an insane asylum, the same asylum Elijah Price, a.k.a. "Mr. Glass" (Samuel L. Jackson), has spent the last twenty years. Dr. Staple doesn't believe in comic book heroes or villains, telling David, Kevin and Elija that they have brain injuries which make them believe they are heroes and villains, but like Elija says, "Just because there are valid scientific explanations, it doesn't make them correct." David is unable to escape from his cell because when he tries to escape, he is sprayed with water, which is his kryptonite. The same thing with Kevin, as he is hit with a bright light, which is his kryptonite. For the past twenty years, Elijah has been drugged to the gills to keep him in line. Elijah may be the smartest man in the world, his brain a total weapon, and the only way to keep him from using it is to keep him drugged with powerful tranquilizers. Also returning from both previous films are Mrs. Price (Charlayne Woodard), Elijah's mother and Casey Cooke (Anya Taylor-Joy), who was Kevin's last female captive in the 2016 film (He let her go because he liked her and she had the same tragic family life he had when they were children). As you can probably guess, all three escape from the asylum, but it is what happens after the escape that is truly phenomenal. I'm not going to tell you, except to say that M. Night Shyamalan throws not only one surprise finale, but also a surprise of the surprise! Actually, the film is full of little surprises, including how Kevin is related to David and Elijah (not by blood, but by circumstances) and how comic books are closer to the truth than we realize. The ending is great and leaves the franchise open for another sequel, but this one will have to go in a totallly different direction (If I told you why, it would ruin the film for you). Let's just say it's another trio who will carry the comic book torch. Everyone in the film is fantastic, especially James McAvoy, who switches his characters with such ease, you will actually believe he has 24 different personalities and, unlike the 2016 film, he actually portrays most of them here (there's a scene in the middle of the film where an intern hits him with the bright light every few seconds and he displays most of his personalities in a true tour de force performance). He is amazing and deserves awards for his turn(s) here, but he won't get them because a film of this caliber never gets nominated for awards, which is a crying shame, as McAvoy also physically transforms for every personality, especially as The Beast and he's quite imposing. The film is a little long at 129 minutes, but that's just a small gripe, as everyone gets their turn to shine, even those in minor roles (like the asylum's interns). I wholeheartedly recommend this film and it's nice to see M. Night Shyamalan returning to his roots. This is a film where you will be watching the magician's right hand while his left one is throwing you a whammy. That's the best way to describe Mr. Glass, as in the end he tells his mother he didn't want a "hero vs. villian" ending, but a whole new origin story. That's what this film delivers in the most satisfying way. See it! For an even more satisfying experience, watch all three films back-to-back (which is what I did) and you'll keep picking up certain things that you will miss if you haven't seen the previous two films recently (such as the clover tattoos). It's the closest you'll get to the perfect trilogy.;   KNIVES OUT (2019) is a near-perfect old-fashioned murder mystery, with equal measures of comedy, edge-of-your-seat thrills and fantastic acting and dialogue, all wrapped in a very fast-moving 130 minutes. When family patriarch Harlan Thrombey (Christopher Plummer), a best-selling author of mystery novels, is found dead on the night of his 85th birthday, his fucked-up family becomes the prime suspects, all of them having a reason to kill him. The family includes real estate magnate Linda (Jamie Lee Curtis), Harlan's daughter, her cheating husband Richard (Don Johnson), and their trust fund son Ransom (Chris Evans), as well as New Age guru daughter Joni (Toni Collette), her daughter Meg (Katherine Langford) and also son Walt (Michael Shannon), who runs his father's publishing company, his wife Donna (Riki Lindhome), and their internet-obsessed son Jacob (Jaeden Martell), whose eyes are attached to his cell phone. Also on hand for all the madness is Harlan's fulltime nurse Marta Cabrera (an excellent Ana de Armas), who can't lie without puking her guts out. Oh, and I forgot to mention Harlan's ancient mother Greatnana Wanetta (K Callan), who acts like a doorstop, yet she's not as senile as she seems. Investigating Harlan's death, which looks like a suicide, is Lieutenant Elliott (LaKeith Stanfield) and Trooper Wagner (Noah Segan), with an assist from famous private detective Benoit Blanc (an amazing Daniel Craig), who was hired to look into Harlan's death by someone who wishes to remain anonymous, even to him, but they gave him an envelope stuffed with cash, so he's going to do his best to find out if it was a murder or a suicide. Almost immediately, we see how Harlan actually died, but is it the entire story? Of course not, because if it was, the film would end right there. I'm not going to get into specifics because this is a film that should be watched cold, without knowing anything. Like all good mysteries, the clues are there, but only if you pay close attention. The cast is fantastic, the dialogue pricelesss (Just hearing Chris Evans point at everyone and say, "You can eat shit" is worth the price of admission!) and the mystery is well thought out, making this film a real treat for fans of mystery films, especially those from the pen of Agatha Christie (this is not one of her films, although the caliber of the cast reminds me of MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS [1974]). Director/screenwriter Rian Johnson (LOOPER - 2012) has delivered a delicious film full of bright spots, as everyone in the cast gets their turn to shine. I'm going to cut this review short by saying if you are a mystery fan, this is one film you should not overlook. It got great reviews because it is a great film. See it!

Good DTV Genre Films Part 27 (continued): CRAWLERS (2020) is a pretty good alien invasion flick in the vein of INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (1956), only much gorier, with a wicked sense of humor and everyone swears like a truck driver. This is also one of Hulu's original movies under the INTO THE DARK banner; monthly films where Blumhouse Television picks a holiday and celebrates it in horrific fashion. The holiday here is St. Patrick's Day, as a group of college students go on a pub crawl, not knowing that they are slowly being replaced by aliens, who look, talk and act like them, only they bleed green instead of red. The film is narrated by Shauna Shore (an excellent Giorgia Whigham), the town drug dealer (!) whose mother (Virginia Louise Smith) is labeled crazy ever since she saw an alien ship crash in the woods on the outskirts of town during the late-'70s and has been warning the town of an impending invasion ever since. The invasion is happening now, as people are being replaced by exact alien duplicates, for reasons not made clear, but I guess we can guess what they want: our planet as their new home. Shauna is a loner, she has no real friends in this town, only people who buy drugs from her, like "Molly", weed and other low-level prescriptions (but no heroin or cocaine, as Shauna is against that!), but she kind of adopts college girl Misty (Pepi Sonuga), who is trying to reconnect with her clique-y friend Chloe (Jude Demorest), who didn't believe Misty when she told her she was raped by fraternity boy Michael (Zachary Roozen). Misty has very few memories of being raped since Michael slipped her a roofie, but she is certain she was raped, but Chloe doesn't believe her. Chloe has taken another girl, Yuejin (Olivia Liang), into her clique to replace Misty, but Misty is determined to win back Chloe's friendship (Why she would want to do this is beyond me, as Chloe only thinks about herself and Misty knows it, but it is that selfishness that will save Chloe's ass towards the end of the film). Chloe is in charge of the pub crawl, but when she is kidnapped by Michael, Misty enlists the help of Shauna, Yuejin and frat boy Aaron (Cameron Fuller) to find her, only to discover that the alien invasion is just beginning, but only Shauna and her mother believe it until it is almost too late. So how do you know who is your friend and who is an alien replica? Why you do like John Carpenter's THE THING (1982); everyone cuts a finger with a knife and if they bleed red, they are human. If they bleed green, they are an alien. Shauna believes the aliens behave with a hive mind, just like ants, so they must find the hive and destroy it (Luckily, Shauna's mother has an alien invasion kit ready, which includes plenty of weapons and C4 connected to a timer!). The hive is located in the building at the final location at the pub crawl, so our "trio" (yes, one of them was proven to be an alien, but I'm not going to tell you who that is!) plant a bomb at the hive and have five minutes to vacate the building, but they try to save as many humans as they can, including Chloe, who now has an exact double. Misty has to decide who is the real Chloe and who is the alien Chloe and she is able to do that by just asking one simple question, which I am not going to reveal to you. Will they escape the explosion in time? Capably directed by Brandon Zuck (his first full-length film), with a teleplay by Catherine Wignall and Mike Gan, this film is full of graphic deaths (including head-stompings and various impalements) and enough foul language to make George Carlin cringe, but in a good way. The film wouldn't work at all if not for Shauna's narration, where most of the film's comedy comes from, as the film proper is nearly comedy-free. There are a few scenes that will have you on pins and needles, especially when Shauna and Misty find Aaron tied to a bed, a huge chunk of flesh bitten out of his leg or when the foursome try to figure out if one of them is an alien. I have been enjoying my subscription to Hulu (I was able to score a "deal" late in 2019, where I only pay $1.99 a month for a full year. Yes, it is ad-supported, but the ads don't play during the films, only before and after and they are 30 seconds or less), especially their original films, like LITTLE MONSTERS (2019) and this one. I will be watching more of Blumhouse's series and reporting here how good they are. I can only hope they are as good as this one.

DTV FILMS: THE BAD STUFF

Bad DTV Genre Films Part 17 (continued): I love most horror films that are released by IFC Midnight. For some reason they are smart and even brutal films with good stories. Not so with THE HALLOW (2015), which is basically a "monsters in the woods" film with a few effective scenes.  A conservationist from London, Adam (Joseph Mawle) travels to Ireland with his wife Clare (Bojana Novakovic) and young baby boy to survey an area in the Ireland forest believed to be hallowed ground (Which brings up a good question: How would a conservationist know it was hallowed land?)  Adam searches the land and immediately comes upon a horde of tiny creatures who prey among the lost. Pretty soon Alan's windows are being broken (A window replacement man tells Adam, "If you trespass upon them, they'll trespass upon you"). It's not long before Adam and Clare's house is under full attack from the creatures, who ooze a slimy black liquid that could change people into one of them. Adam believes his baby boy is changing, but Clare doesn't, so there is also some internal strife inside the house. In fact, it is Alan who is changing and not the baby, which makes Clare run out into the forest (Not a good idea Clare!) to try and escape. Alan goes running after her and subsequently finds the creature's home in a hollowed-out tree and it is full of the little buggers, who don't seem scared of Adam. Clare finds a house of a local resident and finds out the creatures are stealing the children of families (which could be why they are so small). The creatures kill Alan and Clare does something so stupid and unfathomable with her baby (yet it works) that she would be arrested for child endangerment in the U.S. But it satisfies both the creatures and at the end we see the creatures' land being destroyed by a logging company during the closing credits. That'll teach these creatures for fooling around with a woman!  The last shot we see is a log on a truck covered with the slimy black substance, so the creatures will have to find a new home, hopefully not next to mine! Directed and co-written by first -time feature film director Corin Hardy (whose next film seems to be a remake of THE CROW, titled THE CROW REBORN), who does one right thing that most "monsters in the woods" films dont: He actually gives us a clear view of the monsters. There is very little gore or blood, no nudity and no foul language that I could hear, which makes me wonder why this film got a "NOT RATED" tag (Probably because they never submitted the film to the MPAA) I have seen hundreds of these types of films and this one neither excites or makes you gasp. It just is what it is.; I'm going to keep this review short and sweet because of the bad taste topic, which happens to be suicide. The name of the film is THE FOREST (2015) and not only is it a bad film full of false scares and tepid dialogue, the theme of suicide just makes my blood boil, especially since this was being made at the time of Robin Williams' suicide and I knew people who committed such an act. Anything for a buck. A woman named Sarah gets a call from the Japanese police saying her twin sister Jess, since she was seen entering the Aokigahara Forest, also known as "The Suicide Forest" and "Sea Of Trees" (since it is a real place, the Japanese would not let the crew film there out of respect to the families of the victims, so they had to settle for the Tara National Forest in Serbia), may have committed suicide. Sarah travels to Japan and hires a guide and a newsman joins her, as they find bodies of suicide victims on their travels and something else may be in the woods following them. Since suicide should not be a topic for a horror film. especially a PG-13 piece of shit like this, I am going to stop here and never watch another film ever directed by Jason Zada (this being his freshman feature directorial debut). A film about a subject so serious should be a documentary or fictional film that traces the causes of suicide, not a $10,000,000 horror film that will make more than its budget in one week and then disappear (It made $26,500,000). The worst part of all of this is that the grotesque posters for the film are actually recreations of some of the real-life suicide victims that were found in The Suicide Forest, some after years of being lost in the forest. Way to pay respect to the families of the victims assholes!; BODY (2015) is a short 75-minute hipster horror drama, only this time the hipsters are three young women. They banter endlessly on Christmas Eve until one of the girls suggests they go to her Uncle's mansion because he always goes away for Christmas. The only thing is the girl is lying. The mansion belongs to a couple she once babysitted for and she knows they always travel on Christmas. What they don't count on is the couple have hired Arthur (screen legend Larry Fessenden) to look after the mansion and when two of the girls spot him at the top of the stairs, one of them pushes him down the stairs and think they have killed him. His back is broken, but he is still alive and he begs the girls to call for an ambulance. The leader of the girls doesn't want to get in trouble for breaking and entering, even though Arthur promises he won't say a thing, so they leave Arthur in another room and hope that he dies during the night. When he doesn't, the leader goes into the room and suffocates Arthur. They are now all responsible for murder, so the other two girls come up with a plan that will kill their leader and make it look like Arthur did it. And they get away with it. That is the entire film in a nutshell, so you don't have to watch this slowly-moving short feature film. Again, it takes two directors, Dan Berk & Robert Olsen (who both also wrote the screenplay), this being their first barely feature-length film, to come up with a film that has plenty of cursing, but no nudity and barely any blood or gore. Even as a straight thriller, this film doesn't pass muster (Why doesn't a huge mansion have a camera security system?) and I would advise anyone wanting to see this film to change their minds. The acting and technical aspects of the film are fine. It is just the movie that stinks.; The crime film MOMENTUM (2015) starts out exciting enough, as four thieves in high-tech body suits that hide their identities and distort their voices steal a load of money and some diamonds from the bank's even more high-tech safe. The person that hired them to pull off the heist, a U.S. Senator (Morgan Freemen, in a five-minute cameo) doesn't want the money or diamonds, but a USB drive with top secret blueprints on it that is in the diamond's pouch that will bring governments to their knees. One of the thieves, Alexis Farraday (Olga Kurylenko; HITMAN - 2007), who is a martial arts ass-kicker, finds the USB drive, while the Senator has his men (led by Mr. Washington, played by James Purefoy, the best asset of this film) kill the thieves and try to kill Alexis, but she manages to get herself out of all types of situations, including gunfights, hand-to-hand combat and car chases. While all the fights and chases are terrific, we are cheated out of a proper ending, when the Senator is told that Alexis is going to be a martyr by releasing the contents of the USB drive on the internet and the Senator says, "Do you know what makes a martyr? You have to be dead.", as we watch Alexis fly away in a plane. THE END. Huh? Then I learned that this film was supposed to be the first part of a franchise, yet when this movie (filmed mainly in South Africa) was released in the United Kingdom, it just earned a paltry $69.00 on ten screens on its opening weekend, so I can guarantee you that there will be no second film in this series. We never learn what is on the USB drive (except for a quick look at the end of the film) or who Alexis really works for. Olga Kurylenko is great on the eyes and can fight really well (as well as kill without emotion using a gun), but an action film needs a plot that audiences can understand and leaving everyone hanging at the end is a major no-no. Freeman's short film time was shot in two days in Los Angeles as a favor for  director Stephen S. Campanelli because he was the Camera & Steadicam operator for Clint Eastwood's MILLION DOLLAR BABY (2004), in which Freemen had a major role. The film is not a bad time-waster as long as you don't mind non-endings. I do.; THE CONDEMNED 2 (2015) is not really a sequel to the Steve Austin-starrer THE CONDEMNED (2007), but more like a retelling of the first film, since it was directed by the man of many DTV sequels Roel Reiné, who also gave us THE MARINE 2 (2009), DEATH RACE 2 (2010), DEATH RACE 3: INFERNO (2012), THE SCORPION KING 3: BATTLE FOR REDEMPTION (2012) and THE MAN WITH THE IRON FISTS 2 (2015) and many others. Since this is a WWE Productions film, it stars wrestler Randy Orton as bounty hunter Will Tanner who, with his team, try to arrest Cyrus Merrick (Wes Studi; DEEP RISING [1998], in a cameo), who runs an operation where two bums are strapped and attached to a chemical suicide machine and people bet on who dies first of the lethal injection. Will tells his crew to shoot anyone in the legs who shoots at them, because he doesn't want anyone dead. but when Will ends up fighting Cyrus, he accidentally kills him (by impalement). The only person to escape is Raul Baccaro (Steven Michael Quezada; BREAKING BAD [2008-2013]) when the police arrive. Will is arrested and charged with involuntary manslaughter and the judge imposes a two year suspended sentence, with five years probation after the two years are up. Will drives to his father Frank's (Eric Roberts, in a much bigger role than usual in these kind of films and the best thing about this film) house and tells him he is giving up the bounty hunting business he inherited from his father, who has retired. Frank is none too happy that Will has given up a business that he gave him and makes it known in no uncertain terms. Almost as soon as he comes home, he is greeted by one of his old bounty hunting team, who tries to kill Will in a bar. Turns out that Raul has turned all the bounty hunting team against each other (using relatives' lives as a way of making them do it) without Will's participation and he runs a very lucrative high-stakes internet business, where helicopter drones (the kind with four spinning blades on each four corner) equipped with cameras keep an eye on the action, while the rich elite place bets in an abandoned warehouse on who lives and who dies during each battle. While there are plenty of gunfights, hand-to-hand combat (which is particularly weak since Orton is a good wrestler) and big explosions, the film fails for one big reason: We have seen this all done before and done much better.  There is plenty of blood (the female cop's death is memorable) and bloody bullet squibs and a fiery explosion-filled finale, where Will takes on Raul, who decided to put himself in the game because two of Will's ex-team join with Will (as does Frank) and refuse to kill each other, although the sniper on his team tries his hardest to kill them all in his dune buggy at the most inopportune times. Basically this film is HARD TARGET (1993; which Roel Reiné directed a sequel of in 2016, starring new action icon Scott Adkins!) without enough talent to make it believable (and Randy Orton has some big ears!). Only Eric Roberts registers here as a disappointed father who slowly realizes that son Will is being set up. Otherwise, this is ordinary at best. Director Roel Reiné used the pseudonyn "John Rebel" to direct two non-sequels, BEAR and WOLF TOWN (both 2010) which get shown a lot on the Chiller channel. They are also pretty bad horror flicks.; OK, now will someone tell me who wanted practically a word for word remake (or as they rather call it, a "reboot") of director Eli Roth's 2002 horror flick CABIN FEVER? Well it seems like director Travis Zariwny (who uses the name "Travis Z" here) and screenwriter Randy Pearlstein (who used most of Eli Roth's script verbatim) filmed their own version of CABIN FEVER in 2015, with Eli Roth's blessing (he is one of this film's Executive Producers and puts in an uncredited cameo) and made this idiotic piece of deja vu, only with worse actors and some comedy that falls flatter than a ten year-old girl's chest. The only real difference between the two films is the opening of the new one, where a guy camping out in the woods returns with a dead rabbit and tells his dog that they now have dinner. He turns the dog over and it sprays him in the face with blood. The dog's name? PanCakes (a take off on a certain scene in the original). The rest of the film is basically an exact retread of the original, only with two differences: 1.) Instead of the partying cop Detective Winston (Giuseppe Andrews), this films does a gender reversal and Detective Winston is now a female partying cop, played by Louise Linton (and she gets much less time than Giuseppe) and 2.) instead of the group having a single-shot rifle, they now have a fully automatic rifle (Now where does an older teenager gets his hands on a full auto?). This film also ups the gore factor than the 2002 film, but the original was much better acted and we never knew what was going to happen (and it was gory enough), only here, 13 years later, we know EXACTLY what is going to happen. No surprises, nothing new. Oh, and it completely omits the old man in the backwoods store and his iconic line to the three black people who walk into his store at the finale (We have to be politically correct now and it pisses me off!). Instead, they substitute a scene that leaves this film wide open for a sequel that I hope never happens. It makes me wonder why this film was greenlit so soon after the original. It is Rated R, so anyone born in 2002 would still not be legally able to see it without a parent or guardian, Sometimes it boggles the mind that people would remake a film that already had two sequels and do it so soon (one sequel was made a year before this film!). Doesn't anyone have an original idea in their heads? If you feel you must see this film, remember one thing: It went the basic limited theater/VOD route in 2016 before being dumped on Home Video and Cable TV. If you haven't seen the original film, I would recommend that you watch that one instead because it was a quasi-hit back in 2002 and for a reason. It was somewhat original in its ideas and was acted so much better than this one. This new reboot is for masochists only. Especially if you have seen the original. This reminds me so much as when director Gus Van Sant tried to remake Alfred Hitchcock's PSYCHO (1960) word-for-word, scene-for-scene in 1998. Just like this film, it stank, it bombed and all because the directors and actors didn't have the talent to pull it off.; ANDRON (2015) is exactly like those "Young Adult" films like THE MAZE RUNNER (2014; actually based on an Italian TV movie called THE PLACE [2012], made by the same director of this abomination), but with more blood and foul language to give it an R-Rating. In the far-off future, a group of people wake up in an underground maze and must figure a way to get out. The problem is, this is a game developed by Chancellor Gordon (Danny Glover) and controlled by Gamemaster Adam (Alec Baldwin; both Baldwin and Glover shot their scenes in one day) called "The Redemption Game" and the entire population are slaves. The slaves also bet on which person will come out of the maze alive and if their pick is killed, so are they. This entire game is nothing but a ploy to kill as much as the population as the ruling government can, because in the words of Chancellor Gordon, "This planet can not sustain more than 2 billion people". Cameras follow the group, as they are attacked by cyborg-like soldiers and traitors within the group and the group is whittled down little by little. They also manage to defeat the Gamemaster from time to time, which pisses off Chancellor Gordon, who promises Adam that he will be killed if anything else goes wrong with the game (But Adam has more tricks up his sleeve than a cheesy Vegas magician). In the finale, after all the fighting (much of it shot in the dark, so it is impossible to make out), two people make it out alive and they are welcomed by a voice that tells them, "Welcome to Level Two.", as the computerized outside buildings morph into an ocean and our two heroes are standing on a beach. Huh? C'mon now, throughout the entire film, there was no mention of different levels of the game. This Italy/Malta/UK/Canada-financed film, directed and written by Francesco Cinquemani (his first theatrical feature and it shows), was hoping for a sequel, which is made quite apparent by the ending, but I can't see it happening unless the investors want to lose money. This movie was filmed in 21 days and it is apparent as the mole on a witch's nose. The fighting is horribly staged, the futuristic special effects consist of Adam's computer and some quick shots during the end (all done poorly) and both Baldwin and Glover (who is quickly becoming the king of B-film cameos) look bored beyond belief. It had a quick limited theatrical/VOD release in the Summer of 2016 in the U.S. and then quickly went to pay cable. This is a cheap, grimy YA wannabe that is not worth the time of YA enthusiasts. Even the R-Rating makes no sense, because all we ever see are people being electrocuted by futuristic weapons and puddles of blood, things we have already seen in PG-13 films. It got the rougher rating because people say fuck more times than a PG-13 film will allow. Please save me from watching crap like this!; THIRST (2015): Did you hear the one about a badly-rendered CGI metal exo-skeletoned alien that crash-lands on Earth (in its meteor-like spaceship) right in the path of a desert boot camp for troubled teenagers, who accidentally kill the alien's baby? You have? Good, then I won't have to explain any further with what you can expect here, including all adults being killed, the troubled teenagers turning on each other, the bad metal alien hunting them down one-by-one and the frequent royalty payments that should have been made to James Cameron. Director Greg Kiefer's only other feature film was STALKING SANTA (2006). I think that should tell you all you need to know! This is nothing but a shopworn plot that can be traced back to 1993's TICKS.; THE BOY (2015) is another one of those horror films that was made for a minimal amount of money ($8 million) in hopes that the first week in theaters would make four times the budget. Well, the film went on to make $11 million on the first week in theaters (hardly a blockbuster) and made nearly $36 million by the time it left theaters 2 months later (it also made $23 million in all foreign territories). A nice haul for a film so absurd it wouldn't scare anyone (thanks to its PG-13 Rating). American Greta Evans (Lauren Cohan; THE WALKING DEAD - 2011-2017) travels to a mansion in the United Kingdom to take care of a boy named Brahms, because her boyfriend Cole (Ben Robson; TV's ANIMAL KINGDOM - 2016, based on the 2010 movie.) found out Greta was pregnant with his baby and he beat her up, killing the fetus in the process. When she gets to the mansion, she meets handsome food delivery man Malcolm (Rupert Evans; ASYLUM BLACKOUT - 2011), who tells her she is in for a very strange experience (and you know almost from the beginning that Greta and Malcolm will become lovers). Greta meets Mr. & Mrs. Heelshire (Jim Norton [not the comedian; STRAW DOGS - 1971] & Diana Hardcastle), who introduce her to Brahms: A creepy porcelain doll that the mother and father treat as if he is alive. Even though Greta finds all this extremely strange, she accepts the job (Mrs. Heelshire tells her that Brahms accepts her, the first caretaker he has approved of in over two years) because she is getting a pile of money to basically do nothing. The Heelshires tell Greta that they are going on a much needed vacation (they actually put rocks in their coat pockets and walk into the ocean, killing themselves.), but there is a list of rules Greta must follow to make Brahms happy. When the Heelshires are gone, Greta takes it easy, ignoring the rules and she soon finds out by not following the list of rules, that she is being punished. Her shoes, clothing and necklace disappear and other strange things happen (Most of them jump scares while Greta is sleeping, a turn-off for any real horror fan). Greta decides to follow the list of rules and her items begin to come back to her. Malcolm tells her that Brahms died in a fire at the mansion twenty years ago, so the Heelshires made a doll to replace him. About three quarters into the film, Cole tracks Greta down and the film does a complete 180° turn. A turn so unbelievable, that you will immediately begin to feel ripped off. While Cole is abusing Greta and Malcolm appears to try and stop him, it seems that the real Brahms is still alive, wearing a porcelain mask to cover his fire-scarred skin (which we never get a good look at) and spying on everything and everyone that goes on in the house through secret hallways behind the walls. Brahms wants Greta for himself, so he kills Cole with a piece of the doll's head that Cole smashed on the edge of a coffee table by stabbing him in the neck (we never really see anything), knocks-out Malcolm (Why doesn't he just kill him?) and chases after Greta. Greta manages to stab Brahms in the leg and stomach with a screwdriver, rescues Malcolm and they both drive off to safety. The final shot finds Brahms, who is somehow still alive, gluing the pieces of the doll's head together. Next victim, please! Director William Brent Bell (STAY ALIVE - 2006; WER - 2013) forgot the first rule of horror films: Don't wait 75 minutes to show the first death and quit playing us with false jump scares. The story has been done tons of times before, so there isn't even anything new here. Just do yourself a favor and go to bed instead of watching this. It looks like you need sleep.; Remember director Steven Spielberg's 1971 TV Movie DUEL and the Paul Walker film JOY RIDE (2001) where he and a couple of friends try to outrun a nasty faceless trucker named "Rusty Nail" (Not to mention the two JOY RIDE DTV sequels)? You do? Well, then there is no reason to watch WRECKER (2015), a thriller about two young women, Emily (Anna Hutchison) and Leslie (Dréa Whitburn), who manage to piss-off a faceless driver of a big tow truck in their cherry red Ford Mustang and are chased for what seems like forever. When they do get out of the car, Emily manages to pick on the wrong truck driver in a diner and then later, manages to knock herself out by falling and hitting her head on a rock and when she wakes up, Leslie is missing. She searches for Leslie, but not in the obvious places. This film hits on all the clichés: From lack of cell phone service, nearly getting run over by the Wrecker while making a phone call to the police in a glass phone booth (Do those still exist?), an emergency phone on the side of the road not working to being pulled over by an unbelieving police officer (an unbilled Michael Biehn; good choice Michael!), who gets hit by the Wrecker and disappears (now you see him, now you don't). Emily finally gets the Wrecker to teeter over a cliff and she finally checks her trunk where she finds the body of Leslie (We see nothing except Emily scream and close the trunk!). Emily backs up her Mustang into the back of the tow truck and it falls off the cliff (no explosion, no nothing!). The finale is really perplexing, as another young woman stops by the Wrecker's gas station and the camera pans across the yard, where we see Emily's Mustang, a few other cars and vehicles and finally the Wrecker. The headlights go on and the film ends, Director/co-writer Micheal Bafaro (The director of the interesting serial killer film THE BARBER [2001] and the average 11:11 THE GATE [2004]) fails to generate any suspense here. We actually know what is going to happen before it does. One gets the feeling that the ending was tacked-on to make room for a sequel. One I do not wish to watch.;  Nature run amok films are one of my favorite sub-genres of horror films and director Eric Red usually makes good films (BODY PARTS - 1991; BAD MOON - 1996), but when NIGHT OF THE WILD (2015) involves The Asylum (The SHARKNADO films) and tries its hardest to mimic director Robert Clouse's THE PACK (1977), you have nowhere to go but down. This was originally made for SyFy, which should give you a good idea what you are in for. In Clouse's film, pet dogs turn feral and form packs when tourists visit a small vacation island and leave the dogs there to fend for themselves when they leave. In Red's film, a small town experiences a meteor shower and a mysterious green meteor hits near town, forcing all dogs (no other animals, just dogs) to turn into vicious, teeth-showing and drooling killing machines (a seeing-eye dog drags his blind master into the middle of the road, where he is hit by a car.). Town citizens, including Dave (Rob Morrow, a long way from TV's NUMB3RS - 2005-2010), Sara (Kelly Rutherford; SCREAM 3 - 2000) and a bunch of other residents try to outrun all the murderous dogs that use to be their pets (there is one small dog that seems to be unaffected), only to be picked-off one by one by the bloodthirsty dogs (a mixture of physical effects, real dogs and awful CGI). Their only choice is to make it to a plane at the small airport on the outskirts of town and only four people make it (Thank God; the plane couldn't fit more than four people and a tiny dog!) and take off just in the nick of time. They fly to another town hundreds of miles away and, as they get off the plane, discover that they are surrounded by drooling dogs ready to use them as chew toys. It looks like the entire world now has a severe vicious dog problem. THE END. All I can say is Eric Red (who has said he tried to shoot this film with the same color gel lighting as Dario Argento's SUSPIRIA - 1977!) must have needed the work because this film contains none of his regular suspenseful scenes (even the other THE PACK copy, 2006's THE BREED, was much more entertaining than this; there was even an Australian version of Clouse's film made in 2015, appropriately called THE PACK!) and since this was made for TV (Rated TV-14), there is some blood and minimal gore, but not enough to make you take notice as much as you will notice The Asylum's crappy CGI. If you want to remake a film that offers thrills and bloody situations galore, do not make it for TV. A film like this needs to be made for theaters or DTV. Of course, The Asylum released this on DVD as being "Unrated" because DVDs do not usually use TV ratings (unless they are TV Series Season box sets). If you watch this film, you will find it hard to believe that Eric Red wrote the screenplays for THE HITCHER (1986), NEAR DARK (1987) and COHEN AND TATE (1988). Oh my non-bloody hell, what a stinker!; WOLVES AT THE DOOR (2015) is a bad retelling of the Manson murders in 1969. During The Summer of Love a sleeping husband and wife are interrupted from their sleep in the middle of the night when Mary (a cameo by Jane Kaczmarek; MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE [2000-2006]) is awoken by someone knocking on their front door and husband John (Chris Mulkey - TOMCATS [1976]) goes downstairs to see who is knocking, but there is no one at the door. John tells Mary that no one was there when someone knocks on the front door again. Mary calls the police while John goes downstairs to investigate. He runs upstairs and locks the bedroom door while we see someone is trying to break it down. When the police arrive they see "LITTLE PIG" painted in red on the front door  and "LITTLE PIG" painted on the wall leading upstairs. When they get to the bedroom, the police see painted on the bedroom door "LET ME IN", but John & Mary are fine. It looks like Manson's followers were just going out on a dry run. We then turn our attention to a pregnant Sharon (Katie Cassidy; and it doesn't take a genius to know who she is supposed to be.) and three friends celebrating the departure of one of them to Boston. Suddenly Two men and two women invade the house in the middle of the night and we then squint to see people being murdered because it is so dark The victims turn out to be two of Sharon's best friends, Abigail (Elizabeth Henstridge, TV's AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. [2013 - 2017]) and Wojciech (Adam Campbell) From what I could make out from this short, 73-minute film is that some of the murders are bloody, especially when Sharon gets stabbed in the stomach with a knife (we see the blade slowly being pulled out of her stomach) and the film ends with David Brinkley (remember him?) reporting on the real-life murders, along with a short interview with the real Manson (actually, the scariest part of the film!). The film really offers nothing new in the Manson Massacre genre, except for the real-life footage at the end. Sometimes fact is stranger than fiction. Director John R. Leonetti (ANNABELLE - 2014; WISH UPON - 2017) couldn't bore us more if he filmed the grass growing in his front yard. Avoid.; 12 ROUNDS 3: LOCKDOWN (2015) is your regular WWE Studios DTV sequel to a 2009 film (starring John Cena) that tanked at the boxoffice and a 2013 sequel titled 12 ROUNDS 2: RELOADED (with Randy Orton). The wrestling star here is Dean Ambrose (real name: Jonathan Good) as police officer John Shaw who is just back from injuries suffered in a gunfight that got his partner killed (all the other officers in this precinct blame him for his partner's death). He comes across some evidence in the form of a credit card with a memory card attached to it that points to Officer Tyler Burke (Roger R. Cross) and 11 more police officers are dirty and just killed another officer the night before (We see it happen in the beginning of the film). Burke knows Shaw has the incriminating evidence, so he sets off a fire alarm and puts the entire precinct in lockdown (It is the largest police precinct I ever saw!). Shaw carries a 12 round .45 pistol and plans to use one bullet on every crooked cop, while Burke convinces the higher-ups that Shaw is the one who is dirty. Ambrose acts crazy in the WWE wrestling ring , but plays it fairly subdued here, Sure, there is some wrestling moves in the film, but it looks like half the film's budget went towards blanks and bullet squibs. For a WWE film, this film is fairly bloody (People get shot in the eye and have a knife shoved under another crooked officer's chin), but we have seen this film a hundred times before and director Stephen Reynolds (VENDETTA - 2013) keeps things moving at a quick pace but it offers nothing new for action fans. Even the double surprise ending, where a good cop turns out to be crooked and Shaw redeems himself by using a sneaky measure (Fuck cell phones that can record voices!) and uses his last bullet on Burke's knee didn't surprise me. In these films, the good guy always wins. And the viewer always loses. Some people may like this just to see a calm Dean Ambrose instead of his over-the-top performances in the ring (his nickname is "The Lunatic Fringe" on WWE), but this is your standard WWE DTV sequel flick. Nothing more, nothing less.

Bad DTV Genre Films Part 18 (continued): CHILD EATER (2015) is one of those DTV films with no back story, but wants you to believe that everything that is happening is real. We first see a young girl with a bloody hand  and carrying a doll while walking through the woods, she walks and walks and walks until she gets to a river, where she tosses the bloody doll into the water. She continues walking, walking, walking until she gets to a park. As she is walking across the street, a female driver stops her car and runs to the little girl, who says, "He hurt me." She turns around and we can see that her right eye is missing. The camera pans down to her bloody hand and when she opens it, she is holding her eye. Twenty five years pass and we concentrate on Helen Connolly (Cait Bliss), a troubled young woman who has just broken up with her boyfriend Tom (Dave Klasko), so she asks her Sheriff father (James Wilcox) to get her jobs to keep her busy. He gets her a job as a babysitter to young Lucas Parker (Colin Critchley), a new boy in town who is sure some old man is following him. Lucas has a crush on Helen, so he is not happy when Tom pays Helen a surprise visit at his house. Helen tells Tom that she is pregnant, so the callous Tom asks her, "Is it mine? Are you gonna keep it?" Lucas disappears (Tom thinks it because he has a crush on her), but it is more serious than they both think. Lucas has been kidnapped by the monstrous Robert Bowery (Jason Martin), a local legend in this neck of the woods. It seems Bowery suffered from macular degeneration and was slowly going blind, so he kidnapped children, put masks over their heads so they were as blind as he was and then ate their eyes (!), believing that eating eyes of children would reverse his condition (Why? It is never explained). Helen's best friend, Deputy Casey (Brandon Smalls) gets a phone call at the station by a person who says her name is Ginger. She sings a nursery rhyme and then says, "He's awake now." This seems to trouble Sheriff Connolly, as this has awoken something deep inside him and he begins to worry for the safety of his daughter (Earlier in the film, a bird flies into Lucas' house and he says to Helen, "If a sparrow flies through your house, it means someone is going to die."). Helen and Tom go looking for Lucas in the woods (filmed in Catskill, NY, an old stomping ground of mine). They end up at an old deserted camp ground, which is considered "off limits" by the residents and they find evidence that someone was staying there. What do they do? Why, they split up, just like in hundreds of other horror films! Tom steps on a bear trap and screams bloody murder. Helen arrives just in time to see Bowery rip out Tom's eyes with his monstrous hands (a decent effect). Helen runs away and ends up in a deserted farm house, full of missing person posters and newspaper stories about missing children taped to the walls. Ginger (Melinda Chilton) then appears and Helen passes out. When she wakes up, she is tied to a tree and we learn that Ginger is the young girl we saw holding her own eye in the beginning of the film. She is holding a shotgun on Helen and tells her, "Call for him. This ends tonight!" We then see Lucas waking up, finding himself with a mask over his head in a house full of dead bodies.  Helen then breaks free and knocks out Ginger. She calls the police and then accidentally (?) stabs herself with a knife and passes out, She wakes up in a hospital room, brought there by her father, who wants to know what happened. A nurse comes in and tells Helen that she and her baby are going to be okay. It seems that Bowery is on the loose once again, but how can that be since he has been long dead? If you are looking for answers, you won't find them in this trifle of a film, which is heavy on gory eye removal (even Helen gets one of her orbs removed), but light on explanations. This (Kickstarter-funded) film, based on a 2012 short of the same name, makes very little sense and seems way too long for its short 82-minute running time. Icelandic director/screenwriter Erlingur Ottar Thoroddsen doesn't bother to explain why Bowery returns or if it is even Bowery at all. He just appears and doesn't look human at all, with a large mouth full of sharp teeth and sharp talons for hands. Of course, bullets can't stop him, which makes me wonder how he was caught 25 years earlier. Like most modern-day DTV horror films, Helen's best friend Casey is gay and he ends up saving her life when Bowery rips out one of her eyes and he shoots him in the head (What?), leading to Helen grabbing a gun and shooting every bullet into his head, too (Double What???), as we watch Bowery's body transform into a pile of goo that is absorbed into the ground. It also ends like most modern-day DTV horror flicks, as we watch a pregnant Helen walking down a dark hospital corridor, when Bowery appears behind her, saying, "They're best when they're fresh!" setting up the film for an unwanted sequel. Stay tuned after the end credits for a worthless stinger. Nothing about this film stands out, not even the creepy Catskill location shoot, of which I am very familiar. Available free streaming on Amazon Prime. Why bother?; CONTAINMENT (2015) is one of those films that makes you think, even if it's for the wrong reasons. What would you do if you woke up in your apartment and found your doors and windows sealed shut (with some type of epoxy), as well as your electricity, gas and water turned off? That's what happens to the residents of the Oslo Towers apartment buildings in Southhampton, U.K. The buildings are then surrounded by people dressed in orange hazmat suits, who set up camp on the apartment buildings' grounds, with snipers on the roofs to kill anyone who tries to escape. The residents on one floor break open the walls of their apartments and join together to try and find a way to escape, but they are the most cliched people ever to staff a film. There's the level-headed Mark (Lee Ross), mute young boy Nicu (Gabriel Senior), violent Sergei (Andrew Leung), who believes a punch in the face resolves everything, young impressionable woman Sally (Louise Brealey), insufferable Aiden (William Postlethwaite), who has a snotty remark for every situation, and elderly lady Enid (Sheila Reid), who thinks booze and cigarettes are a food group (she's the best thing about the film). They discover that some type of new virus is killing the residents of the buildings and the government have trapped everyone inside to die. After watching the government killing innocent residents, a group of residents join together and kill everyone they think is involved in this, whether they are or not, even going as far as to attack and kill some of our main players simply because they captured Hazel (Pippa Nixon), one of the hazmat-wearing government officials. The major problem with this film is not only the cliched characters, but what they don't do in this situation. Not once does someone even try to break a window, even though one of them is armed with a hammer. And this brings up other problems that have no proper explanation, such as how the government sealed everyone's windows, even up ten floors, without waking anyone up (I guess they gassed them)? How did they even do it all in one night??? The film is outright sloppy in spots, as director Neil Mcenery-West (his first directorial effort) piles on the inconsistencies without any explanation, until the viewer throws their hands up and cry "Uncle!" There's no graphic violence or bloodshed to speak of, as the camera pulls back when it should move forward and there a WTF?!? ending that has no legitimate explanation (What's a mute boy going to do with a cell phone?). All in all, this is a movie you can skip without hesitation. It offers nothing new or interesting. Nice idea, bad execution.; THE QUIET HOUR (2015) is a British post-apocalypse film about a worldwide alien invasion that has crippled Earth. The aliens, who live in giant "hives" that float in the sky, have killed most of the human population, as they mine the Earth for its minerals. Only this film doesn't give us a single view of the aliens (!), only showing us brief glimpses of their ships. The film is about a girl named Sarah Connelly (Dakota Blue Richards) and her blind brother Tom (Jack McMullen), who was blinded when the aliens first came to our planet in a bright flash of light (killing their mother), as they try to survive the two hours a day the aliens quit mining and return to their hives. Sarah has recently buried their father, who committed suicide due to the hopelessness he feels, but she refuses to tell Tom, letting him think that their father will return shortly. Enter Jude (Karl Davies), a shotgun-toting stranger who breaks into their farmhouse looking for food, only Sarah knocks him out with the butt of her rifle. Tom wants Sarah to kill Jude, thinking that he is not worth saving ("It's what father would do!"), but Sarah sees something in him that Tom doesn't see (basically someone to have sex with!). There is also a cannibalistic family (food is in short supply on Earth, so people have taken up eating human flesh) who wants to kill Jude for killing a member of their family. Jude tells Sarah and Tom that he killed the man when he watched him murder his wife and young daughter, but is he telling the truth? This is a boring, slow-moving film, where nothing much happens until the final ten minutes, where Sarah and Jude fight off the cannibal family and Tom rebels when he discovers his father is dead.  Filled with unrealistic scenes, such as the cannibal mother, Kathryn (Brigitte Millar), sacrificing herself to the aliens when her entire family is wiped out, this film, directed and written by Stéphanie Joalland (her only feature film at the time of this review) seems twice as long than it really is, thanks to the lack of blood, gore and nudity (Sarah is nearly raped by the cannibal father and she makes love to Jude, but there is no naked skin to be seen), making this film an extreme loser. I guess we are supposed to admire that even though this is an alien invasion film, we never see the aliens, but for God's sake, give us something to enjoy! Skip it.;  CHATTER (2015) is a film that lives up to its name. It's all talk and no action. The film starts out interestingly enough, where Nate Terry (a bloated Richard Hatch; UNSEEN EVIL [1999/2001]) walks into the Department of Homeland Security to show old friend, Chief Director Greer (James James; no, that's not a typing error!) a video chat he had with his daughter. It shows his daughter being taken by a demon spirit that traveled through the internet from a haunted house Hatch was investigating to his daughter's apartment and she disappears on camera. Nate wants Greer to keep an eye out for his daughter, knowing the Department of Homeland security "monitors" (i.e. illegally spies on) video chats all over the world. Greer says he will keep an eye out and Nate walks out of his office, but not before saying, "Once they know you can see them, they will come after you." That is the last time in the film we will see Nate or any mention of his daughter's disappearance. Instead, the film concentrates on Department of Homeland Security worker Martin Takagi (Tohoru Masamune) one of the "monitors" of video chats. He stumbles on a chat going on between husband David Cole (Brady Smith; TRUTH OR DARE - 2018) , a film music composer in Los Angeles, and wife Laura (Sarena Khan), a lawyer in London. David has purchased a new place to live and Laura has given her two weeks notice at her job and plans on joining her husband in L.A.. Martin gets interested in this married couple for personal reasons, as Laura promises David some long distance video sex that night, so Martin works overtime to see Laura naked. Unfortunately, Laura keeps her bra and panties on during the sex play, but something strange is going on in the apartment David now lives in. Laura, who had a miscarriage a short time ago, keeps seeing a ghostly little girl behind David during the video chats, but every time David turns around, she's not there. Things get dangerous when David finds a trap door in a closet, which leads him to a secret basement, where a toy doll sits in one of the corners. David also cannot get any sleep, as he keeps hearing a child cry during the night. It gets so bad, that David asks his lawyer friend, Ted (Pete Capella) to talk to his realtor, Alex (Laura Niles), to see if this place has some kind of history. All Ted can come up with is the name "Hausland", as Alex refuses to talk to him, but the name doesn't ring a bell to David. Then it starts getting very strange. Everyone David talks to start getting into weird accidents. Ted takes a stumble down the stairs in his house, but in actuality, something supernatural throws him down the stairs. David's brother-in-law (and Laura's brother) Charles (Derrick Redford) gets into a car accident and David's mother has a heart attack. A next door neighbor informs David that a little girl named Anna died in his place in 2007 at the age of seven. It all starts coming together when Ted, who is still alive, but a paraplegic, informs David that "Hausland" is actually the maternal last name of Alex and Anna was her daughter. David realizes that he had an affair with Alex back in 2000 and, doing the math, comes to the conclusion that Anna may be his daughter. Anna, meanwhile, travels through the internet to Laura's apartment in London and Laura adopts the ghostly girl as her own! The biggest problem with this film, directed by Matthew Solomon (his only feature at the time of this review), is that the film is staffed with unlikable characters. David cheated on his wife, not only with Alex, but also with starlet Meghan Collins (Ashley Palmer), as well as Laura's best friend, Jenna (Clementine Heath), while Laura had an affair with her boss Bob (P.J. Marshall), so it's hard to root for either of them. Martin is nothing but a perverted peeping tom, who watches David and Laura's conversations, not for National Security, but for his own thrills. He also leaves the room just when the supernatural stuff begins to happen, seeing none of it. The film ends on an abrupt note, where not one thing is resolved, making this film nothing but a giant cheat on the audience (there is also a stinger after the final credits where Martin seemingly gets his comeuppance). I hate found footage films because, just like this film, it promises something scary, but fails to deliver. There's no nudity, no one actually dies on screen (they just get hurt badly!) and the violence always happens in the dark. I can't believe people actually love this genre of film. They promise you the moon, but all they give you is a rock. Skip this film and watch some internet porn.; A lot of people have been telling me that I must see BEYOND THE GATES (2015), but after viewing it, I have to wonder what the big deal is. Sure, it brings back memories of visiting my local video store in the '80s, walking among the shelves of VHS tapes that seemed to go on forever, but it has little to offer most viewers besides the nostalgia factor. In 1992, Bob Hardesty (Henry LeBlanc) and his wife Marilyn (Caryn Richman; SLEEPSTALKER - 1995) open their own video store (it's actually the front to Eddie Brandt's Saturday Matinee video store in North Hollywood, California), while their young sons, Gordon and John watch in amusement. Cut to the present, where we see fully grown brothers Gordon (Graham Skipper; ALMOST HUMAN - 2013) and John (Chase Williamson; VICTOR CROWLEY - 2017) packing up the store after the mysterious disappearance of their father, who we learn was never the same since Marilyn was in a car accident. Bob turned into a man who was mad at everyone and sometimes brutally violent, especially when Marilyn left him. While packing up the store, Gordon and John find a VCR game titled "Beyond The Gates" in their father's office and bring it to their father's house where they are both staying, along with Gordon's girlfriend Margot (Brea Grant; HALLOWEEN II - 2009). We learn that John is a regular fuck-up who hangs around with the wrong people, such as his friend Hank (Justin Welborn; DANCE OF THE DEAD - 2008), a verbally abusive asshole who says what he pleases without any guilt at all. We also learn that Gordon is an ex-alcoholic who gave up booze after grabbing the wrist of Margot while drunk during an arguement and breaking it. When Margot sees the VCR game, she suggests that they all play it, not knowing that this is no regular VCR game (as someone who played such games in the '90s, I can tell you all of them sucked): You don't play it, it plays you, and if you don't follow the rules of the, game it will mean your death. As soon as they put the tape into the VCR, they are greeted by the Gamekeeper, Evelyn (Barbara Crampton; RE-ANIMATOR - 1985; still looking hot as hell), who tells them they must find four keys to save their father's soul. Evelyn talks to them like she can actually see them (she can) and finding the keys will mean the deaths of their friends, which neither Gordon and John are aware of until it is too late. The first key is found buried in a metal box in their backyard. The key is inside a cloth doll, but when John cuts it open with a knife to retrieve the key, we see Hank in a bar, his stomach being slit open by an invisible force in the same way as the cloth doll. When John pulls out the key, we see Hank's intestines rising in the air as if being held by some supernatural force, resulting in Hank's gory death (I will give the film credit, it's a death that is quite impressive). The second key is found in the head of a clay figurine, but when Gordon pulls the key out, it causes the head of his cop friend, Derek (Matt Mercer), to explode (another impressive gore effect). When the gate appears in their basement Gordon, John and Margot will have to make some hard decisions, but will they still be alive when the film ends? Will their father's soul be saved? So what's my problem(s) with this film? For one, it takes forever to get to playing the game. The first forty minutes is spent on getting to know Gordon, John and Margot and to make matters worse, they are not interesting in the least (they are all vanilla and very boring). I found myself freezing the film whenever they were in the store, just to look at the titles on the VHS boxes and the posters hanging on the walls. To me, that's the best aspect of this film, as the rest of the story is not that interesting, including the game, which doesn't seem to have any palpable rules at all, as if director/producer/co-screenwriter (with Stephen Scarlata; also a Producer) Jackson Stewart was making it up as they went along (The actual printed rules they show are actually instructions for using a Milton Bradley Ouija Board!). Add to that a totally pat finale that makes absolutely no sense at all, just so all the characters survive for a happy ending, and you have a film that's totally ordinary in every way, except for a couple of very gory deaths, but we all know that good gore doesn't make a good film. More patient viewers may find themselves enjoying this film much more than I did, but when I read that this was one of the best horror films released in 2016, I expect a lot, something this film failed to deliver. Too much filler and not enough meat.;   Everyone wants to know what happens to us after we die, but the film AFTERDEATH (2015) tells it in such a heavy-handed way, it will make you want to live forever. Basically a five character play, this film opens with Robyn (Miranda Raison) waking up on a beach, not knowing how she got there. Suddenly the beach begins exploding and smoke demons arise out of the explosions, forcing Robyn to flee the beach. When she looks back, she sees "Even The Good Are Damned" written in huge letters in the sand. After checking her pulse (she has none), all Robyn can see in the distance is a beach house and a lighthouse, so she goes to the beach house, where the lights are on. There is a sign on the front of the house that reads "Tabula Rasa", which is Latin for "Clean Slate", so she enters the house where she sees three people, Seb (Sam Keeley), Patricia (Elarica Johnson Gallacher) and Livvy (Lorna Nickson Brown) engaging in three-way sex. Robyn introduces herself, where the trio say they are not alone, Onie (Daniella Kertesz) is in the bathroom. When Robyn goes to check on her , she sees Onie cutting her wrist over and over with a knife, but she doesn't bleed. Onie also has the habit of disappearing into thin air in the blink of an eye, later returning to the exact same spot where she disappeared (Livvy likes playing practical jokes on Onie, by placing a bowl of water where she disappeared, so when she returns, Onie gets her feet wet!). It turns out everyone appeared the same way Robyn did, only Seb, Patricia and Livvy appeared on the beach together, Seb saying the last thing he remembers was being at a rave where something deadly happened. Seb then says, "We're all dead", but is he right? The lighthouse's bright beam then hits the house, causing everyone to fall to their knees in pain, as we see images of a baby in the womb and hear the cries of a baby. What does this all mean? Are they in Hell, as Seb believes? Slowly, everyone begins to realize that rooms in this house are familiar to them. Seb says the living room looks exactly like the room that he had in college, right down to the furniture. Everyone else has a room in the house that is familiar to them. Robyn says, "This house was made for us specifically. What did we do to deserve this? If we're being punished, then somebody thinks we did something." They begin to play a game of Truth or Dare with endless bottles of Vodka that magically appear in a wooden cooler in the kitchen, a cooler no one recognizes. The more they drink (but they don't seem to be getting drunk), the more everyone confesses to minor sins they committed, but not the major ones that may have put them here (Seb says, "Once I didn't wear a condom. I crushed a Morning After pill and put it in her morning coffee."). Robyn then tells Seb that she was interviewed as a witness to a rape he was accused of. Seb says he didn't rape anyone, it was consensual and he wasn't charged. Robyn asks Seb if he remembers the girl's name and he says no, asking Robyn if she knows her name. Before she can answer, they are hit with the bright lighthouse beam again, once again sending everyone to their knees in pain (as well as seeing the baby in the womb and hearing its cries). Seb wants to have a word with Robyn outside, where he says he played her little game and it's time to fucking move on. Robyn tells Seb that they are connected and it may have something to do with everyone being here. Seb wants to know the real reason Robyn is here, but she says nothing, even though it is obvious she is hiding something. After Patricia and Seb have a fight, where Patricia breaks Seb's hand, he takes a walk to the beach, where he sees "Damned" written in the sand. He is then hit with the lighthouse beam and chased by smoke demons, one of which throws him to the ground and rapes him in the ass! Robyn looks at a wall mirror and tells everyone this is not what she looks like in real life. The other three women admit the same thing, Robyn saying she looks better, idealized. Onie once again disappears and when she returns, she comes back with a bracelet she didn't have before. Before Robyn can look at it, a smoke demon appears and rips it out of Onie's hand. Robyn believes Onie is their only hope of leaving this place, theorizing that she is traveling between two planes of existence and when she disappears, she goes to a place that is real and physical. (Like she is in a hospital and is in serious condition, between life and death. When she disappears, she regains consciousness and when she reappears, she is back in an unstable state of death, not quite dead and not quite alive). Seb returns to the house and says he was raped by a demon. When Livvy laughs, he attacks her, forcing Patricia to stab him in the head with a kitchen knife, killing him. Everyone drags Seb's body into another room so they don't have to look at him. Robyn comes up with an idea to trap a smoke demon in the wooden cooler (It's a rather long-winded explanation) and when she is successful, Robyn makes it tell them the reason they are here by spashing it with vodka! The demon says, "That's the way the system works", following it with, "Eternity insurance." Suddenly, Seb comes out of the room ("You can't kill me twice!"), knocks Robyn to the floor and starts torturing the demom by spraying it with vodka, until the demon escapes and possesses Seb. A possessed Seb grabs Patricia by the neck and then breaks her back, saying to Robyn, "It knows what we all did. There is no escape!" Seb is then sucked through the front door and disappears into the ether. So what ties all these people together, you may ask? Seb, Patricia, Livvy and Onie were all at a concert in a club called J.J.'s when a fire broke out and nearly everyone was killed due to the club being overcrowded and above legal capacity. The owner of J.J.'s? Robyn, of course. The final words in the film are Robyn's, as she says, "If you see God, tell him to go fuck himself. Hell is other people.", as the beach house implodes when the bubble surrounding it gets too small to hold the house. This would have been a much better episode of THE TWILIGHT ZONE (the new version on CBS All Access) than a feature film, as the pace is much too languid to hold the viewer's attention. I had no problem with the acting, all except for Elarica Johnson Gallacher as Patricia, who overplays her role as a complete bitch. It took two directors, Gez Medinger & Robin Schmidt (the first feature film for both), to make this convoluted mess, even though the screenplay, by Andrew Ellard (his first feature film script), has a lot to say about life and death. It's a valiant try, as the CGI effects are good (I did like the women walking toward the lighthouse, yet no matter how far they walk, the lighthouse is the same distance away and they only end up a few hundred feet away from the beachhouse, as if they were all walking in place), as well as a certain painting hanging in the beach house that tells the story better as the film progresses than the film does itself. It's not a complete loser, but it is bad enough for it to be put in the Bad Category. More religious types may disagree, but like Robyn says, "Tell God to go fuck himself." The only good thing I can say about this film is that it doesn't try to force religion down your throat. It plays more like a horror film with religious undertones (In this place, morning never comes, it is eternally dark). Available streaming on Amazon Prime (at the time of this review).;   DEATH'S DOOR (2015) is an abysmal haunted house horror film that contains awful acting, aggravating characters and pacing that can be best described as totally erratic, like an ADD-riddled teenager was given the job of Editor. Twelve seemingly unrelated strangers are invited to a party (by text) at a foreboding mansion, but once they are inside, they are unable to leave, as all the doors and windows are locked (Not once does anyone try to break a window!). They soon start dying in mysterious ways (One woman is tied to a chair and devoured by rats. Another woman has her legs cut off. A man voluntarily puts his head in a guillotine, only to have his noggin' lopped off!) and the mansion holds clues as to why they are there. It seems, sometime in the 1920's, a magician named Mesmer The Magnificent (Obba Babatundé; THE EYE - 2008) was performing his "Flaming Coffin" trick, where he is handcuffed and chained in a wooden coffin while the coffin is soaked in gasoline and set on fire. Mesmer is unaware that his wife is cheating on him with his assistant and they have rigged the coffin so that he can't escape. As he is burning to death in front of a live audience, he pleads for help and when his hulking friend Jomo (Tommy 'Tiny' Lister; BOONE: THE BOUNTY HUNTER - 2016) tries to save him, his face is horribly burned. In the present, the ghost of Jomo haunts the mansion, killing members of the party indiscriminately, usually by grabbing them by the throat with one hand and lifting them into the air (which I have no doubt Mr. Lister can actually do!). But why? Okay, in case you haven't guessed, the members of the party are actually decendants of the assistant and the cheating wife and the ghost Mesmer and Jomo have, for some unknown stupid reason, decided that they must pay for his death. Idiotic, right? I do not know why innocent descendants must pay for something they had no control over. The fact is, most of these party members are so cliched, you'll look forward to them dying. The main offender is Bruce (Chico Benymon; NITE TALES: THE MOVIE - 2008), a black man who sets race relations in this country back 100 years.  His character is so annoying, you'll want to strangle him with your bare hands for the things he says and does. When he finally dies, I believe I heard loud applause coming from somewhere in the distance. But the main fact of the matter is none of the party members act like normal people. All the women do is scream loudly (a lot!), while the men argue with each other about who is right or wrong. I really wanted to turn this film off after the first fifteen minutes, but my conscience won't allow me to do it because I'm thinking about you, my dear readers and how you would suffer watching this piece of excrement. This is director/screenwriter Kennedy Goldsby's (IF I TELL YOU...I HAVE TO KILL YOU - 2014) verbatim remake of his own THE TRAP DOOR (2011), a shot-on-video turd with the same cast in the same roles. Why, Kennedy, why? If at first you don't succeed, give up! I did have to laugh at the really skinny actor with hair so big, a good gust of wind could make him airborne! Okay readers, you have been warned!

Bad DTV Genre Films Part 19 (continued): PET (2016) made only $63 on its opening limited theatrical weekend (It's also the second film I saw open with the old Orion Pictures logo, the first one being the reboot of THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN - 2014). That is not to say the film is that bad, just too familiar for its own good. Pet shelter (unfortunately, it's not a no-kill pet shelter) worker Seth (Dominic Monaghan; THE DAY - 2011; TV's LOST - 2004-2010) loves his job feeding and playing with the dogs, especially the one German Shepherd who is soon due to be put to sleep. Otherwise his life is a humdrum existence. One day on the bus ride home, he meets old schoolmate Holly (Ksenia Solo; THE FACTORY - 2012) and her beauty puts something into Seth's life that he probably never had before: Love. He follows her around, sends her flowers, eats where she works as a waitress and it is plain to see that Holly thinks Seth is a creep. One day at work, the German Shepherd is about to be put to sleep, which upsets Seth because it was his favorite pet in the shelter. The veterinarian asks Seth if he wants to take the dog home before he gives him the hypodermic needle that will kill him, but Seth says his apartment doesn't allow animals, so the dog is killed. This gives Seth an idea to capture Holly and keep her as his own pet. He uses a paralyzing agent on her and puts her in a box and brings her to the pet shelter in the middle of the night (He is almost caught by the guard Nate [Da'Vone McDonald; THE GAMBLER - 2014], who is watching NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD [1968] on TV when he hears Holly moan) and brings her down to the bowels of the shelter, where there are tunnels and a cage, which Seth puts her in. Most of the film is Seth telling Holly that she has to throw away her inhibitions and accept her fate as his lover, but when Nate discovers Holly in the cage, the film takes a 180° turn, which I will not explain here (In the film's only funny moment, Seth is stabbing the huge Nate in the stomach with a pen knife and Nate says, "Are you stabbing me?"). Let's just say that Holly, even though she is still locked in the cage, now controls Seth's life. The film becomes the same as the first half, only the roles are reversed (Holly says to Seth, "Maybe you're not supposed to save me. Maybe I'm supposed to save you."). Director Carles Torrens (APARTMENT 143 - 2011) and screenwriter Jeremy Slater (THE EXORCIST TV Series [2016 - 2018]) offer nothing new to the old captive storyline (only a few seconds of gore), except for the surprise turnaround (But we knew Holly was a screwed up girl almost from the beginning when we see her talking to her imaginary friend Claire [Jennette McCurdy; BREAKING DAWN - 2004]. Or is she imaginary?). Most of the film is slow-going, a hodge-podge of cheap psychological wording (it turns out Holly's kidnapping was just the thing she needed in her life to return to a twisted kind of "normalcy") and the police trying to pin Nate's murder on Seth (who he fed to the dogs). There was a film in 1974 called PETS, which uses much of the plot seen in this film, so I guess you can look at this as the remake. An inferior remake. A U.S./Spain Co-Production.; THE REMAINS (2016) is just another one of those supernatural horror films where a family moves into a haunted house, strange stuff happens, they all die and another new family moves in at the finale. That's basically the whole storyline to this hackneyed film. The film opens up in the 1800's, where a couple go to a strange looking house to meet a medium, Madame Addison (Maria Olsen; THE LORDS OF SALEM - 2012), to find out if their daughter, who has been missing for three weeks, is dead or alive. The medium asks the couple to give her something that is important to them and the husband (who is a non-believer) gives her his pocket watch. During the seance, where Madame Addison tells the couple not to break the circle (Guess what happens?), the medium becomes possessed by an evil spirit, slit's the wife's throat with a knife (probably the most bloody scene in the film) and then kills the father. Cut to present times, where recent widower John (Todd Lowe; "Terry Bellefleur" on TRUE BLOOD from 2008 to 2014), teenage daughter Izzy (Brooke Butler; THE SAND - 2015), and young son and daughter Aiden (Dash Williams) and Victoria (Hannah Nordberg) are driving to look for a new house to live in, when they run across the same house where the couple were murdered 100 years before and it is so cheap, John can hardly believe it, so he buys it from real estate agent Claire (Ashley Crow), who knows the history of the house, but dances around John's questions. It is not long before the usual haunted house crap happens: Doors close by themselves; the library has all the books strewn over the floor; people see ghosts for a split second; an old Victrola keeps playing buy itself; and John gets a warning from a ghost girl named Melissa (Lisa Brenner), who suddenly appears in the attic and tells him to burn everything because "She" is coming. Aiden and Victoria find a chest full of stuff and show it to their father. It has the pocket watch in it, a creepy doll that Victoria wants to keep, Tarot cards, and "ghost photos", which were usually fake photos double exposed to make it look like ghosts were present. John asks Claire about why all this stuff is in the attic and she tells him about Madame Addison and the murders of the couple. John does some research (Seems that there have been more murders in this house over the years) and becomes highly concerned, because Aiden and Victoria are changing their attitudes, talking in monotone and disobeying him and he believes Claire is not telling him everything about the house. He throws away everything that was found in the chest into the garbage outside, but he discovers that all of it is back in the house (He catches next door neighbor Melissa [Lisa Brenner] reading Aiden and Victoria's future with the Tarot cards when he comes home and John throws her out of the house. She comes back that night to apologize and tells him that ever since her father entered that house, he had a near-fatal heart attack and now she looks after him next door). John tries a do-it-yourself home exorcism kit, but it fails and John once again finds the pocket watch on the floor. It all ends with the entire family either dead or joining "She" in the depth of the Underworld and ends with another couple with kids moving into the house, meeting Claire at the front door. I can honestly say there is not one genuine scare in this film. This is director/screenwriter Thomas Della Bella's first stab at a horror film (he is usually a Production Assistant on TV Series and Theatrical Films) and he has to learn if you are making a haunted house film, put some scares in the damn thing. I can't complain about the acting and technical aspects of the film because they are all first-rate, but as a horror film, it stinks. Don't waste your time unless you have to see every haunted house film ever made (and this is no THE LEGEND OF HELL HOUSE [1973] by a long shot).; THE CARETAKER (2016) starts out creepy enough, when a male caretaker digs up a box outside and gives it to sick old lady Birdie (Sondra Kerr Blake; HELTER SKELTER - 1976), the owner of the creepy house, who is listening to 78 rpm records on her Victrola while sitting in her favorite chair. Inside the box is a ragdoll named Scarlett and a pair of scissors. Birdy takes the pair of scissors and cuts her right hand deeply, causing blood to drip to the floor. The caretaker hears her cries and enters her bedroom, where he finds her standing and she says to him, "Get out of my house!" Birdie's granddaughter Mallorie (Meegan Warner; SCARE CAMPAIGN - 2016), gets a call from Birdie's doctor and he tells her that Birdie needs a new caretaker. Little does Mallorie realize is that the caretaker will be her. She was raised by Birdie when she was a child after Mallorie's mother disappeared when she was four and just four months ago, she moved in with fiance August (Sean Martini), so he goes along with Mallorie to take care of Birdie, but the old lady takes an instant dislike to August (She says to him, "I wonder who is going to die first, you or me?") and warns him not to have any type of sexual activity in her house (she makes him sleep on the couch). Mallorie remembers Scarlett and Birdie gives it to her, but whenever she holds it at night, she sleepwalks calling August's name and August has to put her back to bed. Mallorie and August put an ad in the newspaper for a new caretaker (Sebastian, played the late Irwin Keyes, in one of his last films, shows up and fills in the hole left by the last caretaker, but August thinks he is too weird to take care of Birdie), but they can't seem to find anyone who hasn't worked for Birdie before and has been fired by the old bat. Birdy becomes more and more unhinged and so does Mallorie in her own way, which worries August, who goes sees a psychiatrist to see what she thinks about Mallorie's sleepwalking. The psychiatrist gives August signs about Mallorie to look for. Mallorie and August find a red folder full of documents which fill in the blanks and the question now is: Can they ever leave this house? A search of the attic gives them the answer (It is full of old VHS tapes and a creepy room that awakens something in Mallorie). You have all the clues you need to figure out how director/producer Jeff Prugh (his first horror film) and screenwriter/producer Jeremy Robinson's (also his first horror movie) film is going turn out (The only new caretaker to show up is a Spanish woman, who takes one look at Birdie and calles her a "Bruja", Spanish for "witch", and quickly leaves the house.). While not a bad film, it is merely a regular one (There's even a music video of Birdie and August dancing!), as Sondra Kerr Blake (who was once married to accused murderer/actor Robert Blake for 22 years) is simply terrifying as Birdie and Sean Martini is awful as August (it was his first acting gig and it shows). Those looking for lots of blood and gore and going to be very disappointed, because this is more of a supernatural gothic thriller. Believe it or not, Irwin Keyes, who is in this film for not more than two minutes, won a Best Supporting Actor award in a Feature Film from the FANtastic Horror Film Festival in San Diego. Maybe it was their way of paying tribute to a recently passed actor, one that I always loved, too. Otherwise, this is nothing but standard DTV pablum. Watch out for the scissors (and lipstick)!; FIGHT VALLEY (2016) is an extremely poor actioner because it stars real-life UFC/MMA female and male fighters and the story is about as old as it comes. Director/screenwriter Rob Hawk at least had the sense to fill the film with some well-known female UFC fighters (Meisha Tate, a star of this film, defeated Holly Holm to become the women's bantamweight champion of the UFC. Holly Holm, another one of the stars of this film, defeated Ronda Rousey to become the women's bantamweight champion of the UFC), but to even attempt to call them actors is doing the acting profession a disservice. As actors, the entire cast are good fighters. The story is as plain as it comes: When her sister Tori (Chelsea Durkalec), a "knockaround girl" (a girl who streetfights with no manager in streets and alleys), is murdered by some unknown person, Windsor (Susie Celek) gets into a series of fights to find Tori's killer, even though she is not a fighter. Windsor gets some much needed help in streetfighting by Jabs (Tate), who puts her through an 80's montage (nearly the whole second third of the film) of ways to learn how to become a fighter quick. She learns about "Fight Valley", the place where her sister was killed by a champion fighter named Church (Cris "Cyborg"). The only problem is that you have to get invited to go to Fight Valley, otherwise everyone there will stomp your ass. It doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure out how this story ends, but the terrible acting from everyone involved (especially Salvatore Franciosa as Windsor and Tori's father Gino, also a Producer and Executive Producer) makes the film seem twice as long as it really is. If you have never heard of this film, good for you. I had to watch it. The women aren't especially good looking and the nudity is kept to a minimum, but there is plenty of lesbianism and foul language for ten action films. And the violence is kept to the the outside (There is only one fight in the UFC fighting octangle) and none of it is very well staged. This looks like an action film if it was made by the late Jess Franco. That is not a good thing. Avoid it. It makes the female UFC/MMA fighters look like a bunch of foul-mouthed, gay pseudo-martial artists. Filmed mostly in New Jersey. Believe it or not, a sequel has been announced!; I really wanted to admire NOCTURNE (2016) because some scenes are downright effective, but the film slits its own throat, as it were, by using too many supernatural/possession film clichés and the ending is one where we know the filmmakers didn't have a proper conclusion, so they fell back on the worst cliché of all. The film, partially financed by Kickstarter, opens with Jo (Clare Niederpruem) driving her car down a road, continuously looking behind her like she is being followed. She stops at a high school graduation party at Isaac's (Darien Willardson) parents' house and it is the most anemic graduation party on film in a long time (everyone else who graduated is at another party with a live DJ). It consists of only six people (seven later on in the film, but more on that later): Jo, Isaac, Maren (Hailey Nebeker), Gabe (Jake Stormoen), Vi (Melanie Stone) and Jo's ex-boyfriend Liam (Colton Tran, the best actor in this film, who is a regular partying teen, but still dishes out quotes from the Bible). Isaac is not only the town jock, but he is also an excellent magician, as he proves to everyone by performing an unusual magic trick involving two folded playing cards. Maren gets the idea of performing a seance using an ouija board (What low-budget possession film doesn't have one?), but Isaac doesn't have one, so they make their own on a table using half a deck of playing cards representing the alphabet, "Yes" and "No" written on the table and an upside down wine glass as a planchette. Personal questions are asked and everyone has dark secrets that come out (including Liam cheating on Jo) and something happens to Maren (yes, she becomes possessed, not by any old spirit, but by the Devil himself!). After a soak in a hot tub where Maren, Liam, Isaac and a reluctant Jo (who refuses to take her shirt off) play a game of "Never Have I Ever..." (The possessed Maren says, "Never Have I Ever had sex."), everyone plays a game of Strip Blackjack, where the losers who go above 21 have to take off a piece of clothing or take a shot of Jack Daniels. Maren never loses a hand, as she hits 21 nearly every time, even though Isaac is a magician and tries to make her lose. Jo takes all her clothes off except her shirt, when she starts drinking shot after shot for losing hands. Toward the end of the game where Jo is so drunk, she can't drink another shot, Liam says the game is over, and as Jo gets up, Gabe grabs her and drunkenly tears off her shirt by mistake, revealing a lot of freshly-made huge bruises on her back caused by her drunk father Hank (Corey Sondrup). I guessed that was who Jo was looking for following her when she was driving in the beginning of the film. I was wrong (kind of). Maren (who now has the uncanny ability of saying the same exact things everyone else says at the same time they say it) then goes on a killing spree, first killing Gabe by making love to him and burning him to death. Vi is next, as she is locked in the bathroom, has some of the top of her fingers burned, has some teeth removed, as she spits out blood and some molars and, in the most impressive moment, Maren makes her cut her shoulder over and over with a lady disposable razor and then makes her pull off her skin, where Vi bleeds to death. Hank shows up to Isaac's house and wants to know where Jo is, but Maren soon makes mincemeat out of him by pulling him under an upstairs bed. Maren (who shows how evil she is by stepping on Isaac's cat and crushing it to death) is threatened by Isaac with a gun, but Maren makes him fire it towards Liam (just missing him) and then putting a bullet through the floor (this shot is not by mistake). Isaac disappears and wakes up in the covered hot tub, where Maren turns up the temperature and boils him to death. When Liam looks for where Isaac and Jo went, he finds himself suddenly trapped under the floor. Remember the gunshot Isaac put in the floor? He hears the discussion between Isaac and Maren from the time before and the bullet shot through the floor hits Liam right in the neck, killing him (The best sequence in the film because it shows a modicum of thought). Jo is attacked by Hank under the bed, but she hits him with a baseball bat and escapes through a shattered window (Just moments before, none of the windows could be broken or the front door opened. Jo hops out the window, only to be greeted by Maren on the lawn. Jo hops in her car and takes off, driving her car down a road, continuously looking behind her like she is being followed. The next thing that happens almost made me throw my bottle of Coke at my TV screen. Jo stops at Isaac's parents' house and Isaac says, "I'm glad you came to my party!" Jo is doomed to relive this nightmare for all eternity. Director, co-screenwriter, co-producer, cinematographer Stephen Shimek (THE MAZE - 2010 [which I liked]; DUDES & DRAGONS - 2015 [which I didn't like]) keeps the budget low by having a minimum of actors and they all do a pretty good job. The last 30 minutes of the film (besides the convoluted ending) do hold your attention, but all this has been done before and done much better. Don't get me wrong, this is not a badly-made film, just one you have seen done before under different titles. Some may like this film a lot better than I do and I wouldn't blame you. Shimek does have some talent and maybe with a bigger budget, he can wow me.

Bad DTV Genre Films Part 20 (continued): ISLE OF THE DEAD (2016) is one of those bottom of the barrel "SyFy Original Movies" made by The Asylum, those pioneers of awful films who make a mint off of copying big budget films at a fraction of the cost (Fraction may be too much; lets say a pittance). On an uncharted island, Colonel Aiden Wexler (D.C. Douglas) is trying to make the perfect biological weapon: to create better soldiers that don't die, but he creates mindless flesh-craving zombies instead. Ten years later (Why ten years? Why not immediately?), a group of highly-trained soldiers, including Lt. Paul Gibson (Joey "Whoa" Lawrence; he actually says "whoa" in this film, but not in his usual way) and Mikaela (Wrestling diva Maryse Ouellet Mizanin, the wife of WWE superstar "The Miz") are sent to the island by helicopter to collect all the papers they can find in the laboratory. The rest of the film is nothing but the government military group being pared down by zombies as they shoot the zombies in the head. Colonel Wexler, the scientist from the beginning of the film, has injected himself with a serum that makes him a zombie that can live forever, but he keeps all his memories and can talk. Mikaela gets bitten by a zombie and injects herself with the serum, turning her into the same type of zombie as the Colonel Wexler. She gives the serum to Lt. Gibson, the last uninfected person on the island and he is picked up by helicopter and nukes the island. THE END. Director Nick Lyon (ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE - 2011; RISE OF THE ZOMBIES - 2012, two other undead films that suck) has no idea how to pace a film and the acting is so stiff here, you could see branches growing out of their arms. Most of the shots to the head are done by CGI, which also takes you out of the film. This film is not even worth a mindless zombie's time.; THE SHALLOWS (2016) is only good for one thing: Seeing Blake Lively in a bikini. The rest of the film is the same old story about being prevented from coming to shore by an evil-tempered shark. Nancy (Lively) takes a vacation to the favorite Spanish surfing spot of her late mother (much to the dismay of her father and friends, one who was supposed to go with her, but got sick). She goes out about 100 yards and sees something that upsets her: a dead whale with a big chunk bitten out of its side. Soon she is the only one in the area and a shark (both real life footage and mechanical) goes after her, biting her surfboard in half and forcing her to take refuge on the body of the dead whale. It seems that every time Nancy ends up in the water, she gets hurt and this time she has a nasty cut on her upper thigh, so she uses her belt to fashion a tourniquet to stop the bleeding. After what seems like a lifetime, where she watches two divers with cameras being killed by the shark and finds one of the cameras (head not included because this is a PG-13 film) and makes a "save me' video before throwing the camera towards shore, she hops on board a huge metal buoy (but not before getting hurt for like the fourth time) and must fight the shark and kill it in a way not seen before. It is not graphic, but it is interesting. OK, there are two reasons to watch this film. A small Spanish boy finds the camera and gives it to the young Spanish guy Carlos (Óscar Jaenada) who drove Nancy to this location and he finds her on the shore as she is spitting water out of her mouth. So the camera "save me" video did her no good (it just took up time to make the film feature length) and she had to rely on her own wits to kill the shark. Not exactly original, but the shark's death is. A year later, Nancy (with a hugh shark bite scar on her leg), brings her young sister Chloe (Sedona Legge) and Father (Brett Cullen) to the exact spot where she was attacked to teach Chloe how to surf. Is Nancy out of her mind or is she working out some issues from her mother's death? Who fucking cares?. Director/Executive Producer Jaume Collet-Serra (HOUSE OF WAX - 2005; ORPHAN - 2009) and screenwriter Anthony Jaswinski (the excellent VANISHING ON 7TH STREET - 2010) are lazy in their approach of Nancy's urgency. Case in point: Nancy finds a seagull with a dislocated wing (listed as "Sully 'Steven' Seagull" in the credits) and fixes its wing so it can fly. This is not one minute after being attacked by the shark. The entire film is full of scenes such as this (not to mention flares from a flare gun that get wet and only fly about 20 yards, even though flares were made to work when they are wet), which takes any reason the film could have had tension-wise out of contention. If you just want to see Blake Lively in a teenie bikini, fine. But if you want to see a scary film about a killer shark, look someplace else.; LIGHTS OUT (2016) is another one of those PG-13 Rated horror films which manages to show as little as possible while throwing in plenty of jump scares just for the hell of it. Based on the popular 2013 internet short of the same name by David F. Sandberg (who also directed this film), this is one of those "make a horror film for less than $5 million dollars and get your money back (and then some) the first week it is in theaters". This film went on to make nearly $22 million in its first week (and $67 million before its run ended in the U.S., plus $90 million worldwide), making Sandberg the new "it" horror director (He was hired immediately to direct ANNABELLE: CREATION [2017; which made over $35 million on its opening weekend], the sequel to ANNABELLE - 2014, another low-budget, high financial return horror film). One good thing I can say about this short, 81-minute, film, is that it gets to the action right away. The stepfather of a family (a cameo by Billy Burke of TV's ZOO) and his female assistant Esther (Lotta Losten, in her feature film debut) are killed by some demon who is afraid by the light. We then go on to meet disillusioned stepdaughter Rebecca (Teresa Palmer; POINT BREAK - 2015), her stepbrother Martin (Gabriel Bateman; the failed TV series AMERICAN GOTHIC - 2016, and one of the stars of ANNABELLE - 2014) and loony mother Sophie (Maria Bello; ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 - 2005), who once spent a couple of years in a mental institution and somehow brought a demon named Diana (Alicia Vela-Bailey) home with her to keep her company (Diana was once a human friend of Sophie's in the institution and then died, turning her into some kind of demon, which proves that all mental cases may not be what they seem); Sophie's only stipulation is that Diana does not hurt her family in any way. Martin is the only human living in the house with Mom (Rebecca has her own place, and her boyfriend, Bret [Alexander DiPersia], keeps trying, and failing, to get at least some space to put some clothes so he can stay the night), so when stepdad dies and Martin is shaking worse than a 8.0 earthquake, Rebecca decides to move in with Sophie and Martin. Immediately, they are attacked at night when the lights go out, so they learn to carry flashlights and other means of light that don't depend on electricity or battery (Diana can turn off all those devices). In short, Sophie learns never to trust demons and ends up putting a bullet in her brain to save her kids. No Sophie, no Diana, right? The film makes you think so, but if you buy the DVD or Blu-Ray of the film, there is an extra on how the film really ended, but advanced audiences hated it so much, it was cut out of the film (In this instance, I think it was a good idea, although a germ of an idea still remains). All we ever get to see of Diana is her thin silhouette and grotesque hands, which burn when light touches them. Sandberg decided to keep the effects practical (the same way with the light, which makes some of the action difficult to see), which is all fine and dandy, except there are few physical effects in the film. Poor Alicia Vela-Bailey had to wear a photorealistic prosthetic suit, so when the lights went on, her body would disappear from the camera using the green screen technique. While not the worst of the films of this type (OUIJA [2014] would get that honor and both films were shot in the same house and the basement [where a lot of the action take place] caught fire a few months after this film wrapped!), there is not much to recommend here. Which tells me one thing: Just because a short film is successful, doesn't mean a full-length film based on that short will have the same effect. This may scare children, but adults beware.; Zombies have become an over-used theme in recent horror films and I am getting sick of watching them. Double that disappointment with zombie comedies and you have what is called ATTACK OF THE LEDERHOSEN ZOMBIES (2016), a German film (filmed in English, but the few portions filmed in German are subtitled) that is about as funny as watching a live cat being dissected. The plot is simple as can be: Climate change has reduced the amount of snow at ski resorts (this one was filmed at the Mountains of South Tyrol, Italy), so inventor Franz (Karl Fischer) has created a green liquid that can produce instant snow that he hopes to sell to an investor. At the same time, two champion snowboarders, Josh (Oscar Dyekjær Giese) and Steve (Laurie Calvert), jump out of a helicopter, with Steve's girlfriend/producer of this documentary, Branka (Gabriela Marcinková), telling Steve that there is someone important waiting for him at the end point. Steve stops down halfway and strips off all his clothes, only to find out the "special guest" was a nine year-old terminal girl in a wheelchair. The backers of the documentary leave the threesome to get home on their own, as they take the helicopter is disgust and leave them in the lurch. Franz shows the investor how the liquid he has created can make snow, but something goes wrong with the machine and Franz gets a face-full of his own liquid, which turns him into a zombie. As you can guess, he begins turning all the lodge guests into zombies by biting them, so our threesome, plus obese, buxom barmaid Rita (Margarete Tiesel, the best thing about this film), try to find a way to get to civilization, which is impossible by snowboard or skis and they only have one snowmobile (At a ski resort? C'mon now!). Rita saves their asses more times than I can count (the only really good death is when she drops a hinged trap door from a ceiling and it decapitates a zombie). If you are a zombie comedy fan, I'll leave the rest for you to discover, but director/co-writer Dominik Hartl (his first feature length horror feature; his film before this was a romantic comedy) piles on the gore, as you will see ripped-off body parts, intestines falling to the ground, zombies taking big bites out of people and even some zombie deer (fake-looking, but funny). Zombie fans may like this, but I have seen too many to make me appreciate them unless they have a special hook. I was watching this one and thinking to myself: "This is nothing but a seasonal change take on director Jorge Grau's LET SLEEPING CORPSES LIE (1974), which are turning the dead into zombies with an experimental machine used to get rid of insects in farming fields." If I were you, I would watch that film instead.; Remember when Ti West was declared the "new thing in horror"? Well, I never cared for his horror films much, which include THE ROOST (2005), THE HOUSE OF THE DEVIL (2009), CABIN FEVER 2: SPRING FEVER (2009) and especially the boring piece of crap called THE INNKEEPERS (2011), and after directing episodes of TV Series, such as SCREAM: THE TV SERIES (2015) and WAYWARD PINES (2016), he directed and wrote a Western called IN A VALLEY OF VIOLENCE (2016), which was made by the notorious cheap Producer Jason Blum and his BlumHouse Productions, known for making horror films for less than 5 million dollars and more than making a huge profit in the first week alone. Well, Blum has ventured into Western territory and you can tell this is a BlumHouse film because it has a small cast and only takes place in two areas: A town called Denton and the area surrounding the town (filmed in New Mexico). The plot is simple: An Army deserter named Paul (Ethan Hawke; a BlumHouse regular, with films such as SINISTER [2012] and THE PURGE [2013] made with Jason Blum as Producer), who accidentally killed an Indian woman and adopted her dog, illegally leaving the Army in the process, is on his way to Mexico, when he stops at the town of Denton to stock up on water and supplies. He has sworn to God never to kill a person again, but in Denton, that is an impossibility. At first, Paul knocks out Gilly (James Ransone) for threatening to kill his dog. He is warned by the wooden-legged Marshal (a very interesting John Travolta, who seems to be becoming the new king of DTV) that Gilly is his son, so he better leave town and never come back (Marshal is not a bad man; he is just concerned for his family), even though a girl named Mary-Anne (Taissa Farmiga) has taken an instant shine to Paul (her sister Ellen [Karen Gillan] is pregnant with Gilly's baby). Paul leaves town with his dog and camps out for the night only to be awakened by Gilly and his gang (which includes Larry Fessenden, Toby Huss and Tommy Nohilly) and Paul is forced to watch Gilly shoot and then knife his dog to death. Paul is then thrown off a cliff and left for dead, but the next morning, we see that he didn't fall more than 20 feet, as a ledge stopped him from falling all the way down. Paul talks to God and tells him that he is sorry that he is going to have to break his word about killing, as he vows to get even with everyone who killed his dog (Where have we seen that scenario before?). Paul steals a drunk priest's (Burn Gorman) mule and heads back to Denton, where he begins to pick off Gilly's posse one-by-one. It doesn't take a brain surgeon to know how this film ends. Hell, you don't even have to have a brain at all. Marshal is the only one who has sense enough to try and work things out between Paul and Gilly, but Gilly wants a High Noon shootout in the middle of the town's only street and kills his own father to get to Paul. Paul is injured, but gets the upper hand on Gilly by first hanging him ("Why did you kill my dog?!?!" he says to Gilly over and over) and then by beating him across his face with Gilly's own boot, still yelling the question. Paul stops because his injury is serious, so Gilly slowly gets up and pulls out the knife that killed the dog and plans to now use it on Paul. Mary-Anne shows up and shoots and kills Gilly in the back and the film ends as the drunk Preacher enters the town. THE END. Besides Travolta's interesting performance, this film has nothing going for it. It is cheap to the extreme and it takes forever for some action to take place. And we have seen the same plot done over and over at least a hundred times and done much, much better. I don't know what people see in Ti West, but he just seems like a hack to me. Not worth your time unless you are a John Travolta fan.

Bad DTV Genre Films  Part 21 (continued): ELOISE (2016) was a real mental institution that was a large complex located in Nankin Township in western Wayne County, Michigan (filmed on location) from 1832 until a tragic fire in 1984 closed it down (in real life the fire was in 2016, but it did close down in 1984), and in this fictional horror film, it killed many patients and a crazy psychiatric doctor named Dr. H.H. Greiss (Robert Patrick; LOST AFTER DARK - 2014), who treated all his patients based on their worst fears, ending up in causing many deaths. In the present, grease monkey Jacob Martin (Chace Crawford; THE HAUNTING OF MOLLY HARTLEY - 2008), who owes a lot of money to bill collectors and has a stack of "Past Due" letters, learns from a lawyer that his estranged father has died. He agrees to meet the lawyer the next day, who tells Jacob that his father has left him an estate worth $1.2 million, but there is a problem. Unless he can dig up a death certificate for his aunt, who was a patient at Eloise since 1965, he will have to wait seven years to inherit the estate. Needing the money bad, Jacob and his friend Dell (Brandon T. Jackson; PERCY JACKSON & THE OLYMPIANS: THE LIGHTNING THIEF - 2010, directed by Chris Columbus, who also directed the unfairly maligned PIXELS - 2015) search the internet for someone who is an expert on Eloise and comes up with Scott Carter (P.J. Byrne; who overacts terribly), who is the brother of barmaid Pia Carter (Eliza Dushku; WRONG TURN - 2003). She is against Scott showing Jacob and Dell the asylum, but eventually agrees. They all sneak into the asylum and almost immediately they begin to see things that no one else can see. They eventually end up in 1965, where Dr. Greiss performs a lobotomy on Scott by pushing a metal rod into the corner of his eye and hitting the rod hard with a hammer, killing him (Thank God, he was really getting on my nerves.). Dell goes mad and has a gun in which he shoots at imaginary people and he soon ends up dead. Jacob and Pia are eventually captured, where Dr. Greiss makes them face their worse fears. Jacob is claustrophobic and fears on being buried alive, so Dr. Greiss locks him inside a coroner's cold storage area in one of the small coffin-like spaces in the mortuary. Pia has a huge fear of needles and is subjected to a nurse sticking hypodermic needles in her arm over and over and drawing blood. Pia eventually escapes and takes a nurse uniform, walking the halls looking for Jacob. She finds him and frees him by opening the mortuary cold storage door and they try to get the hell out of Eloise. They see Jacob's aunt have a baby and then die by bleeding to death. It turns out to be Dr. Greiss' baby boy, but a nurse puts it in a box with holes poked in it and gives it to a small girl, who runs away with it. The finale is so inexplicable that I was scratching my head raw, as Jacob is the reason why the fire started in 1984 and only Pia is left alive. We then see Jacob in a small cage as Dr. Greiss approaches him and the film ends with the camera pointed at a painting of a young boy next to a dog. Huh? I must have missed something, as director Robert Legato (His first film, his normal job being a visual effects supervisor) and screenwriter Christopher Borrelli (THE MARINE 2 - 2009) offer nothing new, except for some weird-looking patients that inhabited the institute and an unusual dance between the nurses and the patients. Everything else is DTV 101 and the blood and gore is kept to a minimum. Only Scott's death registers as something worth watching. While not badly made, you can skip this one because it is nothing but your regular DTV movie. Fun Fact: Eloise is one of the most haunted places in Michigan.; SiREN (2016) is a made-for-Chiller film that is based on the short film "Amateur Night" (directed by David Bruckner, who gets screenwriting & executive producer credits here) which is the first short in the film V/H/S (2012). Instead of three guys going to a bar, with one of them wearing eyeglasses with a camera hidden in it, meeting a strange girl named Lily (Hannah Fierman; GONE BY DAWN - 2016), who says "I like you." before killing and eating two of them in a motel room and flying off with the one with glasses (Lily is some kind of gargoyle creature), this film fleshes out Lily's story (also played by Fierman). Four guys drive to Garden City to have a bachelor party for Jonah (Chase Williamson; JOHN DIES AT THE END - 2012), including Jonah's brother Mac (Michael Aaron Milligan; DON'T KILL IT - 2016), his best friend and best man Rand (Hayes Mercure) and friend Elliott (Randy McDowell), for a night of drunken debauchery. They hit a bar that turns out to be a dud, but a stranger lets them know about an underground club called "50n / 40w" where their are plenty of nice girls to party with. They meet the club's owner, Mr. Nyx (Justin Welborn; THE SIGNAL - 2007), who escorts Jonah to a glass booth where he can see a naked Lily and worries about her because she looks like she is being kept prisoner (she is). Jonah breaks Lily out of her booth and they, along with the other three escape from the club. Pretty soon they notice Lily is extremely strange, as she says "I like you" a lot to Jonah. Mr. Nyx and his posse, including a woman named Ash (Brittany S. Hall), who has black worm-like creatures instead of hair on her head (you have to see what she does with them!), are not far away trying to get his star attraction back, when Lily and the guys stop at a convenience store to pick up some food and drinks, but Lily sprouts wings and flies away with Jonah to God knows wherein the woods and she makes love to him before he escapes and runs into Ash. Lily eventually returns, because she really does like Jonah, but the other two guys are somewhat reticent about spending more time with her and for good reason. Jonah begins falling for Lily, as Mr. Nyx captures Lily and Jonah and Rand. Nyx has a special necklace that keeps Lily in line, as they all are in an abandoned church used for satanic rituals. Mr. Nyx is so pissed at Lily, he wants Jonah to control Lily (who is naked throughout the entire film) with the necklace, but Jonah refuses and Mac shows up in time to save both Lily's and his brother's lives, but Mr. Nyx kills Mac by stabbing him in his stomach and slitting his throat with his knife and he approaches Jonah and a tied-up Rand to kill them. Lily sneaks up behind him (and also uses her singing voice to control people) and, when he turns around, she shoves her pointy tail through Nyx's mouth and out the back of his head. Lily wants to go with Jonah, but he tells her it will never work. Besides, he is in love with his fiance Eva (Lindsey Garrett). One year later, one their first anniversary, Jonah and Eva have sex in the upstairs bedroom and Jonah goes downstairs to get something to drink out of the refrigerator, when he notices Eva asleep on the couch. Jonah realizes he just had sex with Lily and she attacks Eva, ready to kill her. Jonah tells Lily to stop and he will go with her. The final shot is of Lily flying through the air to God knows where with Jonah as her passenger. While not an awful film (at least it is not a found footage film like V/H/S), there is so much nudity in this film, you can spot the edits (but on the other hand, besides a couple of "fucks", all the foul language is kept in the Chiller TV version) and we do get to see frequent shots of Lily's naked ass. Besides a creepy Hannah Fierman as Lily, the only other actor to register is Justin Welborn (THE CRAZIES - 2009) as Mr. Nyx. He is actually more evil than Lily. Director Gregg Bishop (DANCE OF THE DEAD - 2008; V/H/S VIRAL - 2014) tries his best to upgrade the short film (This version has much better CGI), but the problem is how do you upgrade something that doesn't need upgrading? Though Bishop tries unique ways to cover Lily's naked breasts and vagina, a lot of the nudity is blurred out. Get the Unrated DVD if you want to see the entire magilla. But don't expect more than what you saw and heard on the Chiller TV version. I never heard so much swearing and foul terms used for body parts on a non-pay cable TV movie. A nice try, but do something original the next time.; If there was one film that never screamed for a sequel (or in this case, a prequel), it was OUIJA, one of the worst PG-13 Rated horror films of 2014. But Producer Jason Blum and his BlumHouse Productions never know when to quit because they make cheap $5 million horror films (usually Rated PG-13), where they make back ten times their budget in the first week and then they quickly go to home video and pay cable. Well, Blum decided to spend $9 million on making OUIJA: ORIGIN OF EVIL (2016) and it only grossed $14 million the first week of release and it was one of his company's biggest disappointments, earning just $31 million in U.S. theaters (The first film earned over $105 million in theaters on a $5 million budget). Director/co-screenwriter Mike Flanagan (ABSENTIA - 2011, an arthouse horror film that I love) at least keeps the prequel true to the first film as, in 1967, a mother and her two daughters, after the death of their husband/father after he is hit by a drunk driver (The mother being a fake medium), get an Ouija Board and nine year-old daughter Doris (Lulu Wilson) becomes possessed by the evil spirits in the house, where, in the basement, there is a secret room where a Nazi doctor ("The Devil's Doctor") performed evil experiments on people, killing them. Like in all horror films where Ouija Boards are used, the evil is terrible (well, as terrible as a PG-13 film can get) and the older daughter Lina (Annalise Basso) ends up sewing Doris' mouth shut (we don't see her do it, just Lina going through the actions with a doctor's hook with thread attached to it) and is then taken over by the evil spirits, kills her mother Alice (Elizabeth Reaser) and ends up in a mental asylum, where there is a shock ending (Once again the killing of the mother is implied, not shown). Henry Thomas also stars as Father Thomas, the Principal of the Catholic school where Doris and Lina are students, who tries to help the family, only to be possessed and then have his neck snapped by Doris in the basement, who crawls on the ceiling and throws the Father onto the basement stairs. The only effective scenes in the film are when Doris explains in detail what it feels like to be strangled to Lina's new boyfriend Mikey (Parker Mack), Doris being able to open her mouth wider than any human is able to, a 78 rpm record music score made up of 1920's songs for "atmosphere" and an effective stinger after the end credits that links it directly to the first film that takes place in the present (I'll never tell!). The problem with this film is that, if it were Rated R, it would be allowed to show much of the violence that this film pulls away from (there is also a scene involving a slingshot that would have been much more effective with an R-Rating). All it is is jump scares and evil faces made by Doris (Lulu Wilson is the best actor in this film. You actually believe she is evil as she grabs people by their head, whispers something into their ears and they all end up possessed and then usually dead, all except for Lina). I'm beginning to hate seeing the BlumHouse logo in the beginning of horror films because I like about 10% of them. The only reason most of them are Rated PG-13 is because they can put more asses in the theater seats than with an R-Rated film. And they suck for this reason alone. Avoid it like the plague.; Speaking of Jason Blum and BlumHouse Production, there's the terrible INCARNATE (2013/2016), another one of his PG-13 Rated horror films with a budget of $5 million that they hoped would clean-up at the boxoffice. Whoops, it only made $6,337,659 by the end of 2016, making it one of BlumHouse Productions' biggest money losers in their career (But, believe me, they can afford to have ten money losers. A 2016 poll of the best money making film companies show BlumHouse to be Number One with $6.30 returned for every dollar a person spends to see their movies, making it a 630% profit!). Right away, I had the sense that this film had some production troubles (I was right. It was filmed in November 2013, released in December 2016, and the end credits lists an "Additional Photography" team. And just what did the WWE have to do with this film?) because the film only runs 80 minutes, followed by 10 minutes of the slowest moving end credits I have seen in quite a while (to pad out the running time). The storyline is rather idiotic. Dr. Ember (the always capable Aaron Eckhart; SUSPECT ZERO - 2004) loses his wife and young son in an accident caused by a demon named Debbie (A demon named Debbie? Was she a cheerleader in real life? You have to be kidding me!). Dr. Ember is now permanently in a wheelchair, but ever since he was young, he had the ability to enter in the mind of people possessed by demons and bring them back to reality, but doing so is dangerous to him because he has to be temporarily dead in order to do it. For most of his life, he has hidden his gift, but since the death of his wife and child, he has brought his power out into the open, using his associates Oliver (Keir O'Donnell; AMUSEMENT - 2007) and Riley (Emily Jackson; HEADLESS - 2014) to make sure he is dead for no more than ten minutes and then bring him back to life before his death is permanent. Dr. Ember is always on the lookout for the demon Debbie to bring out into the open (She cannot possess anyone if no one is near her and she can't repossess the person she just possessed, Confusing, isn't it?). That chance comes to Dr. Ember when Debbie possesses a young boy named Cameron (David Mazouz; THE DARKNESS - 2016, another BlumHouse production) by entering the body of a homeless woman and she crawls on the ceiling of his divorced mother's Lindsey's (Carice van Houten; "Melisandre" in GAME OF THRONES [2012 - 2017]; her ex-husband, Dan [Matt Nable] is an alcoholic, but he will soon end up dead) kitchen ceiling and falls directly on Cameron, instantly possessing him (Walking on walls and ceilings are a trademark of BlumHouse horror films). When Dr. Ember discovers it is Debbie possessing Cameron, he and his team enter Lindsey's house and set up shop. A priest friend gives Dr. Ember a serum he should take when he draws Debbie out (the priest ends up dead), which will give him 10 seconds to leave the room and leave Debbie without a human body to possess, sending her permanently to Hell. Like all BlumHouse productions, Dr. Ember does everything by the book (he jumps out the window and eventually ends up dead), but the ending shows that Debbie is still able to travel to another body, leaving the film wide open for a sequel. But don't look for a sequel to this film any time soon, since BlumHouse lost money on it. Just like all their PG-13 films, there are jump scares, but very little blood and you would think after sitting through 10 minutes of closing credits, there would be a stinger or two, but no, it just ends. Director Brad Peyton (SAN ANDREAS - 2015) does what he can with a confusing screenplay by Ronnie Christensen, but when you are handed shit, it is almost impossible to turn it into gold. And this film is a pure unadulterated Grade-A #1 steaming pile of shit. Nothing to see here, move on please, but watch where you step!; It's really hard to like ATTACK OF THE KILLER DONUTS (2016), as sloppy continuity and a lackluster script do it more harm than good. The story is about slacker Johnny Wentworth (Justin Ray) who is in his mid-20's and still working at a donut shop (which never seems to sell any donuts!). His mother (Kassandra Voyagis) wants him to be more assertive and make something of his life, but he's in love with Veronica (Lauren Elise), who uses him as a bank and cheats on him as much as humanly possible. His best friend since high school and co-worker, Michelle (Kayla Compton), sees Veronica for what she really is and she has the hots for Johnny. The killer donuts come into play when Uncle Luther (Micheal Swan, and yes I know Michael is spelled wrong, but this film is full of sloppiness) invents a serum to elongate human life and it accidently gets tossed into the donut fryer, causing all the free donuts they give away to grow teeth and attack the customers. The only known actor in this exercize in tediousness is C. Thomas Howell (credited as "C. Tommy Howell" in the closing credits) as Police Officer Rogers (His partner's name is Officer Hammerstein. "Rogers & Hammerstein". Get it? Ugh!!!!). He stops in the donut shop to pick up some free donuts and a perp he has handcuffed in the back seat of the patrol vehicle asks for a donut, which he readily gives him. Big Mistake. The perp slams Rogers & Hammerstein's heads together and kicks the back door of the car off and escapes (When the officers wake up, the door has been magically attached back to the car. There are too many of these sloppy scenes to mention.).  The rest of the film is about Johnny, Michelle and Johnny's good friend Brian (Burt Rutherford, who is fucking Johnny's mother!) trying to stop the killing by getting back all the donuts they gave away. While there are some gory scenes (including the disgusting scene of the perp "shatting" himself to death!), the story makes absolutely no sense and it is filmed in a way that one scene begins with no connective tissue to the last scene. Directed by Visual Effects Producer Scott Wheeler (which is probably why the CGI killer donuts look better than they have any right to), who has also directed films for The Asylum (JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH - 2008), which would explain the weak screenplay (It took three people to write this mess. I'll refrain from naming them to protect the guilty.). While played as a broad comedy, most of the jokes fall flatter than bread made without yeast and a good percentage of the acting is way below-par. Do yourself a favor and eat a bearclaw instead.; I really wanted to like ISLAND ZERO (2016) since it started out so creepy and foreboding, but then it turns into a cheesy CGI monster flick, destroying all the foreboding creepiness. Everyone on a small island in Maine is stranded when the ferry never shows up from the mainland. As fuel, electricity and food become scarce, the residents begin turning on each other until an ocean biologist (Adam Wade McLaughlin) tells them that there is an "apex predator" out in the ocean, a creature that has thus far been unknown to humanity. It turns out these creatures, who have skin that refracts light, making them nearly invisible, are intelligent and there is a person on the island who is not who he says he is. He's actually a government agent sent to the island to communicate with the creatures, who tear people in half and rip out their innards, They are not only in the water, they can also survive on land for short periods of time, so all the remaining residents hide out in a house while the creatures attack. The sad fact is these creatures are awful CGI creations and, while bloody and gory, they are not that scary. Toss in a huge amount of coincidences (the biologist's late wife was killed by one of these creatures; the biologist's young daughter has a thermal camera, the only device that can "see" the creatures; etc.) and people doing the stupidest things and what you have left is a film that held promise but falls apart rather quickly when the creatures are introduced. Director Josh Gerritsen, working with a screenplay supplied by wife Tess, does populate the film with real Maine actors, giving it an air of authenticity, but the film, made in 2016, but not released until 2018, is no better than a SyFy original movie. Proceed at your own risk.; ONE BY ONE (2016) is a sick Spanish knock-off of I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE (1978), but it is too disjointed and badly acted  to be worthwhile. The film opens with John (Steven Jeram) delivering a satchel containing a huge amount of coke to three-man motorcycle gang leader Cuchillo (Guillem Fernàndez-Valls). We then see John bragging to girlfriend Sentenza (Elisabetta Montonato) that they are now rich because he cut the coke he gave to Cuchillo and they can now go anywhere they please. Sentenza says that it is dangerous to cheat such a mean person, but John tells her not to worry, if and when Cuchillo finds out the coke is cut, they will be so far away, he will never find them. So what happens next? That's right, Cuchillo and his gang of two, Rider (Carlos Reyes) and Santos (Oliver Novelles), show up right where John and Sentenza are lounging (they don't even try to hide themselves!) and Cuchillo rapes Sentenza while Rider and Santos beat the crap out of John. When Cuchillo is done, he gives Sentenza to his mates and they rape her, too. When they are done, they put John in a hole, pour gasoline on him and set him on fire (off-screen). Sentenza watches her boyfriend burn alive (all we hear are his screams) as the gang rides away (Rider and Santos want to kill Sentenza, but Cuchillo says leave her alone, she will not cause any trouble. Yeah, right!). Sentenza then toughens herself up, learning how to shoot a gun (by herself!), ride a motorcycle and other things she will need, so she can kill Cuchillo and his gang one-by-one. First of all, this film looks like it was edited with a trowel, as things just happen without any rhyme or reason, such as the scene where Cuchillo and his gang have the detective (Sebi Alcaraz) assigned to the case tied to a pole as Cuchillo skins him alive with his sharp knife, finishing him off by pinning his badge on his bare chest and Cuchillo then sticking his knife into his mouth. We have no idea how Cuchillo and his gang captured the detective, he just shows up tied to a post. Sentenza then sees the detective tied to the post and shoots him in the head! The only reason I watched this short film (It only runs 71 minutes, but the film itself only runs 63 minutes, the rest of it is the very long end credits), was because the synopsis read: "It contains one of the most vicious scenes in cinema." That "vicious scene" would be Cuchillo capturing another girl named Samantha (Cintia Ballbé), but instead of raping her, he stabs her over and over in the vagina with his knife, the camera giving us a close-up view of him doing it! It comes out of nowhere (Cuchillo tells Rider and Santos that they are going on a "cunt hunt"!) and took this viewer by surprise, but it seems that it was only added to shock the audience, as it does nothing to advance the plot, which is paper-thin anyway. While we expect Sentenza's revenge will be nasty, it isn't, because she just simply shoots them one-by-one, no blood, no gore, they just die, even Cuchillo. Freshman director/screenwriter Stefan Ruf (whose next film would be SEX TERRORISTS ON WHEELS - 2018) has no idea on how to frame a scene, even when Sentenza traps the gang in an area where there are many hand-made crosses sticking out of the ground. He also tries to get us to believe that this is taking place somewhere in the western United States, but everyone has Spanish accents, some so thick, I had to turn on the subtitles to understand what they were saying! Even though it runs a little over an hour, it seems three times as long, as Ruf also tries to get us to believe that Sentenza taught herself how to become a silent killer who is an expert with a gun and a motorcycle, failing spectacularly. Don't waste your time with this one, folks, it is not even good for an unintentional chuckle. The music soundtrack sounds like some cheap Spaghetti Western knock-off. If you must watch it, Amazon Prime offers it streaming, free to Prime members. All non-members have to pay for the "privilege".; FLORA (2016) can be considered an arthouse horror film, where nature runs amok, but it is far too long and contains some sloppy writing, as well as some amateurish acting, to be anything but an acquired taste. I should have known something was wrong when the posters for the film claims it won many awards at film festivals around the world, but as we all know, that means nothing in real life. The film takes place in 1929 at some unknown thick forest (filmed in Canada), where a crew of Ivy League college students, some of them botanists, are studying the local flora. They become trapped in the area when they discover that all of their food supplies have been burned by their professor, who has disappeared, leaving no clues as to where he has gone. With the nearest drop-off of supplies a month away, the group must find a way to survive, but food is scarce, because there are no animals in the forest, no fish in the water  and no insects anywhere to be found. What could cause all living things, besides plants, to suddenly disappear? It turns out to be a new kind of fungi, which travels around just like pollen, has infected all living, breathing things, causing them to die painful deaths. The fungi begins to kill members of the group, who are going hungry and must find something to eat, causing their throats to close and die from lack of oxygen. The remaining four of the group still left alive decide to walk to some railroad tracks over 200 miles away, in hopes of stopping a train and getting themselves away from harm. Not only is this hard to swallow for the viewer (pardon the pun), especially since the fungi seems to have the capacity to think and strike back (!), as the survivors walk every day wearing gas masks and gear to keep the fungi from infecting their lungs, clothes and body. Only one of them survives and makes it to the railroad tracks. She hears a train approaching and the film ends with the survivor looking towards the unseen train. This film leaves more questions unanswered than answered (How do you stop a train on the tracks when there is no station for it to stop at? Do you throw yourself on the tracks and hope the train stops?) and the way the fungi attacks the group is very uneven, especially one the last persons to get infected. It's just very sloppy writing. The film also runs about thirty minutes too long, as I was hoping for the film to conclude, but it kept slogging along until the uneventful ending, where I threw up my hands in frustration, hoping for a sensible ending, but not getting it. Freshman director Sasha Louis Vukovic sure could have used an editor for his screenplay, especially some of the hoary dialogue, which tries to get us believe the "hip" 1920's dialogue, but it just doesn't sound normal coming out of the mouths of the amateur actors, many of them who were also producers of the film. One of the members even brings a gramophone into the forest and uses it as his personal iPod! Some of the make-up effects are excellent, but there's really not much to recommend here besides some lush, colorful photography, which is nearly ruined by the digital cameras being used to film this flick. Some people may enjoy this meandering film, but those looking for a decent eco-thriller are advised to look elsewhere. This isn't the film for you. Watch THE LONG WEEKEND (1977) instead.;  WELCOME TO WILLITS (2016) begins like a house o' fire, but quickly degenerates into boring and quite familiar territory. In the woods of Northern California, a marijuana grower named Brock (an excellent Bill Sage; FENDER BENDER - 2016) has created a highly potent version of crystal meth, but both he and his girlfriend Peggy (an equally excellent Sabina Gadecki) are doing something no dealer should ever do: sampling their own product and sampling it hard (Gadecki's makeup is true of most meth addicts. Her lips are cracked and burned [from smoking meth out of a hot glass pipe] and the skin on her face is discolored, pocked and full of scab marks, making her look much older than she is). Brock also believes that his marijuana farm is being invaded by aliens, as he swears that he was once abducted by aliens, but escaped and they have been after him ever since. As both he and Peggy smoke a lot of this "super meth" (Peggy much more than Brock), Peggy shares in his belief of aliens and swears she has seen them, too. Trouble gets big when Brock's niece Courtney (Anastasia Baranova; TV's Z NATION {2014 - 2018]) visits Brock unannounced and brings her best friends with her (you know, the typical horny, sexed-up and pot-smoking "teens", who go crazy when they discover the marijuana farm). The "aliens" start killing Courtney's friends in various bloody ways (usually by beheading and then tearing their bodies apart), but are they really aliens? I really wanted it to be aliens, but in the back of my mind I knew it was Brock and Peggy doing the killings and, sure enough, I was right. The problem with this film is that anyone can guess what happens next and it usually does. After Courtney's friends are murdered, Peggy chops-up the bodies and puts the pieces in special plastic bags, as "proof" aliens do exist (She believes, in her methed-out mind, that the body parts are alien in origin). While the film has some excellent bloody effects, director Trevor Ryan and his screenwriting brother Tim Ryan (billed as "The Ryan Brothers") have fashioned a film with no surprises (Dolph Lundgren is involved in the film is a very weird way; as an actor on a detective TV show who keeps talking to Brock through his TV set! But it all adds up to a big pile of nothing, as Lundgren's role leads nowhere.), even though it was based on their SXSW award-winning 2013 short called WELCOME TO WILLITS: AFTER SUNDOWN, proving that some shorts should stay short because padding them with extra footage does it no favors. Also featuring Rory Culkin (SIGNS - 2002) as stoner hitchhiker "Possum" (who speaks quite eloquently!) and Thomas Dekker (LAID TO REST - 2009) as  Klaus, a drug-dealing piece of scum looking to steal the super meth. Both die in spectacular fashion. Uwe Boll (ASSAULT ON WALL STREET - 2013) was one of the film's Executive Producers and the film is better-known as ALIEN HUNTER. A nice try, but a not-so-brilliant fail.;    I KNOW YOU'RE IN THERE (2016) could have been a good film, but freshman director Robert Lawson Gordon fills his screenplay with one unbelievable plot contrivance after another that you will throw your hands in the air and yell out, "REALLY???" The contrivances start nearly from the first frame, where we discover Tom Redding (producer Will Hurst) is being supported by girlfriend Jamie (Karin Lee), as Tom is a college student who is trying to find a subject for his film documentary final thesis (Never mind that Tom looks at least fifteen years older than any college student I know!). Tom then gets a phone call from a lawyer telling him that his mother is dead, she committed suicide and he is needed right away. Tom tells Jamie that he never really knew his mother since she deserted his family when he was just a young boy, but he decides to make the trip to the lawyer just to see why he is needed. Tom then drives to the lawyer's office, where he discovers his mother left him her house close to Mount Shasta in California. The lawyer then hits Tom with another big bit of news: Turns out he has a sister named Chloe, but she is not quite normal and has been spending time in a mental hospital since their mother's suicide. Tom insists on seeing Chloe (Grainne McDermott) at the hospital, where Dr. Jorgenson (Mindee de Lacey) tells him that his sister hasn't moved a muscle for years, as she just sits motionless in a wheelchair, not speaking and not moving. Dr. Jorgenson tells Tom there is no medical reason why Chloe is doing this and it's best if she stays in the hospital for proper treatment, as she has to be bathed, dressed and fed by the staff since she can't do it on her own. Now this is when the film really goes off the rails. Tom decide s he wants to live in his mother's house, sight unseen, and insists that he will take care of Chloe by himself and secretly document her condition for his college documentary thesis.  Dr. Jorgenson tells Tom that is a bad idea; he doesn't know how much work it will be to take care of his sister's needs, but Tom is adamant, takes Chloe out of the hospital and promises to call Dr. Jorgenson twice a day to update her on Chloe's condition. Wanna bet? Tom tells Jamie that she needs some time away from him and she agrees (Tom is an idiot), giving him two weeks before she comes to his mother's house to visit him, so Tom drives a motionless Chloe to his mother's house, documenting evey aspect of the trip with his camera (He talks to Chloe as if she will talk back to him, but she never does...yet). Before you can say, "Boo! Strange things are about to happen!", strange things begin to happen at his mother's house. Items seem to move and suddenly disappear by themselves and the room Chloe was staying in when their mother was alive has a strong padlock and chain attached to the door. Was that to keep somebody from getting in or somebody from getting out? Long story short, Tom begins to unwind rapidly. We learn early in the film that he's a recovering alcoholic and nearly as soon as he arrives at the house he begins drinking heavily. He believes Chloe is faking her condition and begins to leave a camera in her room to record her to see if she ever moves. When he plays back the footage, just when it looks like he is going to prove Chloe is a fake, the footage gets all static and wonky, blurring out what is actually happening. When two weeks pass and Jamie arrives, she immediately sees that Tom is losing it, so she tells him to put Chloe back in the hospital, quit drinking and come back home. Chloe then begins talking to Tom, telling him that Jamie must be silenced, as she is interfering in a serious brother/sister relationship. But is Chloe actually talking to Tom or is Tom certifiably bonkers? If you went with the latter, you would be correct, for when Tom photographs Chloe talking to him and Jamie plays back the footage, she discovers that Tom is actually supplying Chloe's voice. Will Jamie be able to leave when Tom won't give her the keys to her car? Will Jamie be a murder victim to Tom's psychopathology? Is Chloe actually faking it? Does the film end on a note that's just as unbelievable as the rest of the movie? What do you think? There is an interesting plot to this film, but it is so heavy-handed and the denouement is telegraphed nearly from the beginning that an infant could guess it, the germ of a plot is destroyed rather quickly. Just the fact that Tom wants to take care of Chloe after being with her for only a few minutes, says a lot about how stupid this film actually is. No rational person would ever make that decision so quickly without looking at her medical records and taking the advice of her doctor, but Tom does it anyway. There is no reason to watch this film, which is like a no-budget mash-up of CARRIE (1976) and THE SHINING (1980) and about 50% of it is "found footage" (half the film is seen through Tom's camera), but it is so idiotic, it's best avoided just for the sake of your sanity. It could have been good, but director/screenwriter Robert Lawson Gordon drops the ball quickly and it never recovers. So far (it's September of 2020 as I write this) he hasn't directed his sophomore feature film effort yet, if he is ever allowed to.

Bad DTV Genre Films  Part 22 (continued): The entire time I was watching THE SHADOW PEOPLE (2016), a wave of deja vu rushed over me, as if I had already seen the film. It turns out I was right, this is nothing but a cheap remake of 1973's NIGHTMARE, starring David Hemmings and his then-wife Gayle Hunnicutt. In this update, Andrew (Bug Hall) is driving his wife Megan (Kat Steffens) down a dark street in the pouring rain so they can get to their new house. A girl darts out in front of the car, causing Andrew to swerve off the road and into some mud, the car getting stuck. Rather than calling and waiting for a tow truck, they decide to run the quarter mile to their new home. Yes, these people are idiots. As soon as Megan enters her new home (she is a painter and Andrew is a successful author of books on the paranormal, but is not a believer. Of course he isn't!), she begins to catch quick glimpses of horrifying-looking faces staring at her through the house's many windows with their mouths wide open, as if they are trying to tell her something. These "Shadow People" include an old man and woman, a man in a cowboy hat and a sinister priest (played by C. Thomas Howell). As the days and nights pass and the rain never lets up, Megan continues to see these Shadow People, but Andrew refuses to believe her, even though they are very much in love (it's sickening the way they continue to kiss and fondle each other!). Andrew believes Megan has a high fever and wants to take her to a doctor, but she refuses to leave the house, even swinging a hoe at him to get him to stop dragging her out of the house ("This is MY house!"). When fires starts breaking out in the house for no reason at all, Megan begins to get worse and worse and Andrew fares no better, as Megan keeps seeing him dead in bed. So, are the Shadow People to blame, as Megan explains to Andrew that she has the "gift" to see them ever since her grandfather told her they were real (and dying soon afterward)? Legend states that if you begin seeing Shadow People, that means you don't have very long to live. Andrew still doesn't believe, that is until he sees the priest, who begins quoting the Last Rites at them both. What's the kicker? If you haven't guessed already, in the beginning of the film, their car did not survive the near hit of the girl. Instead, the car overturns and Andrew dies at the wheel. A mortally wounded Megan is trapped in the car, which is on fire, as an emergency crew worker (in a cowboy hat) and an elderly couple tell her to hold on, the jaws of life will get her out or the car. Once out of the car, a priest (Howell) gives Megan the Last Rites, tells her to "let go" and then she dies. Yes, everything that seemingly happened for days and nights on end was going through Megan's mind in a matter of minutes, as she is sitting in the overturned wrecked car next to her dead husband, slowly dying in the pouring rain. This two-character supernatural horror film, directed by Brian T. Jaynes and written by David Wilson, is a total rip-off of the previously-mentioned 1973 film, and it can't begin to hold up when compared to that film, as the two actors here are no Hemmings or Hunnicutt by a long shot (Who in the hell would name their son "Bug"?). All this film has are one jump scare after the next and, truthfully, they aren't that scary. C. Thomas Howell is in the film for two minutes maximum, even though he gets star billing (it could have something to do with him being one of the Executive Producers on the film!). Overlong at a mere 78 minutes, it seems three times as long, as the film just plods along, Andrew continually praising his love for Megan and she for him, even if he doesn't believe a word she is saying. This film is so cheap that when Andrew calls for the Sheriff to come over when he sees the evil priest, it cuts to Megan waking up after passing out and Andrew telling her the Sheriff arrived, but then left when he didn't see anything! I realize that this is all fragmented due to Megan's dying condition, but it could have been done so much better with some talent in front of and behind the camera. As it stands now, it's just a boring supernatural tale with a pay-off that anyone with a working brain could see coming. Avoid at all costs. You'll thank me later. Not to be confused with the film SHADOW PEOPLE (2012), which is a much more truthful (although equally boring) take on the legend.; HOTEL OF THE DAMNED (2016) almost ended up in the "Good" portion of this section except for one thing: The camera keeps pulling back when it should be pushing ahead. Otherwise, it's a decently acted film with some atmospheric sequences. American criminal Nicky (Louis Mandylor; THE FRANKENSTEIN SYNDROME - 2010; who also was one of the Producers) is released from a Romanian prison (filmed on location) after serving five years for some unspecified crime. Meeting him outside the prison is old friend/criminal partner Jimmy (Peter Dobson; THE FRIGHTENERS - 1996; who was also an Executive producer here) and he wants to know what they should do next (This film is interesting in the way it doesn't adhere to standard timeline filmmaking, as it is full of flashbacks and flash-forwards that clues us in on what is going on, but I'm going to explain it in a straight linear fashion). Nicky and Jimmy go to a boxing gym and Nicky beats the snot out of the owner before Jimmy shoots him in the head. The owner apparently owed the duo a large amount of money that he never paid them, so they take it out of a safe in his office and put it in a satchel (I can only guess that Nicky was in prison for robbery). Nicky then tells Jimmy that he wants to see his daughter Eliza (Roxana Luca), so they go to the home of Nicky's ex-wife Maria (Manuela Harabor), only for her to tell Nicky that Eliza has turned to stealing all her money and jewelry and has run away with her junkie boyfriend Bogdan (Bogdan Marhodin). Maria doesn't know where Eliza is, but she tells Nicky and Jimmy that Bogdan hangs out under a nearby bridge with his drug-addled friends. The twosome go to the bridge and "confront" Bogdan's friends (with a pipe and a baseball bat!), where they learn that Eliza has turned into a junkie prostitute and that Bogdan plans to sell her as a prostitute in Italy (Nicky doesn't take the news too well and beats the crap out of Bogdan's friends, while Jimmy pummels another one with the baseball bat). They learn that Eliza and Bogdan are at a local sleazy motel, so they go there, where Nicky sees Eliza half-naked and Jimmy pulls a nude Bogdan out of the shower and brings him to Nicky. Eliza tells her father something that he doesn't want to hear, saying that she is a junkie whore and blames him for it. Bogdan tries to bribe Nicky with drugs, so Nicky knocks him out and puts him in the trunk of his car (without Eliza's knowledge) as he, Jimmy and Eliza drive to the airport for America. As they are driving, they hit a screaming half-naked girl and the car careens off the road and flips down a steep hill. While the car lays on the ground overturned and wrecked, we see two rather large bald men with machetes kill the screaming girl and carry her off. The first one out of the destroyed car is Nicky, as we watch him pull large shards of glass out of his leg. He checks on Eliza and she's bloody, but not hurt seriously. Jimmy, on the other hand, is severely injured, with broken ribs and hardly able to walk. Bogdan then escapes from the trunk, basically unhurt, and Nicky makes him survey the area looking for help or shelter since their cell phones don't work there (an overused horror trope). Bogdan finds an abandoned, creepy hotel nearby and tells Nicky about it. Nicky decides everyone will stay there for the night, unaware that it is the home of a family of grungy, dirty Nazi cannibals (!) who haven't had an American meal for decades (they are the people who killed the screaming girl). Eliza tells her father that she saw someone looking at her when she was in the bathroom, so Nicky and Jimmy search the hotel and find the cannibal family feasting on the screaming girl, the head of the cannibal family (Floran Kevorkian) chowing down on one of the girl's eyes! The rest of the film is basically nothing but Nicky, Jimmy, Eliza & Bogdan trying to escape from the cannibals, who don't seem to understand that guns are more powerful than machetes, but it's a rather large family. Who will survive this onslaught and who will become the cannibals' next Happy Meal? That's all there is to this film, which is basically nothing but a copy of the WRONG TURN franchise (2003 - 2014), but both Louis Mandylor and Peter Dobson make the film more enjoyable than it has any right to be. Mandylor is memorable as a father who is disappointed in his daughter and has a severe hatred for Bogdan for turning her into a junkie prostitute, but both Daughter and Boyfriend redeem themselves before the film is over, which came as quite the surprise, especially on Bogdan's part, where he sacrifices himself so everyone else can get away. Dobson is also quite good as Nicky's sidekick, who says some very funny things (usually as quick asides) and admires Nicky, standing by his side until he, too, becomes cannibal chow. But this film's main problem is that the camera pulls back when something gory is about to happen, as besides the very brief scene where we see the cannibal family eating the screaming girl (who is being roasted over a spit of fire!), we do not see any more cannibal action and hardly any other gore (Parts of the film, such as when Nicky pulls out the shards of glass from his leg, are shot very dark). I have to say that I did enjoy this film to some extent, but it could have been much, much better. The non-linear storyline was quite pleasing, that is until they ran out of ideas for the flashbacks and scrapped the idea halfway through the film. Directed by Bobby Barbacioru (his feature film debut) and written by Paul Petcu (his only film credit) and Luca Bercovici (who appeared as an actor in THE HORROR STAR [1981] and PARASITE [1982], before becoming a director of such films as GHOULIES [1984], ROCKULA [1990], THE GRANNY [1994] and LUCK OF THE DRAW [2000]). A sequel was announced in 2017, which Mandylor was to star and Bercovici was to write, but it's the latter half of 2019 as I write this and nothing has become of it yet. Too bad. Maybe it would have fixed the problems I had with this film.;  MY LITTLE SISTER (2016) is nothing but torture porn Italian style. And we all know how much I love torture porn (insert sarcasm here). The film opens with a crazy old woman (Lucia Castellano) deep in the woods, playing with leaves and dirt as if she wants to make love to it. We then see a masked madman, "Little Sister" (Saverio Percudani), whom we soon learn is named Igor (My, how original!). His mask is made out of the faces of his former victims (My, how original!) and we see him with three of his victims: Jessica (Astrid Di Bon), who is topless and tied to a post; her boyfriend James (Antonio Pauletta), who is chained to a wall, his head strapped in place to he can't move it; and Nadine (Sofia Pauly), whom is fully-clothed and tied to a table. Igor walks into the room, where he has some foreplay with everyone with his knife, before slicing off James' face with a scalpel, putting the skin in a bowl of liquid and then pulling out a gas-powered weed whacker (the kind with metal blades), which he uses to disembowel Nadine before cutting off her limbs. Jessica manages to free herself and run away, but we'll see more of her later in the film. We then see couple Tom (Mattia Rosellini) and Sheila (Holli Dillon) prancing about in the forest, unaware that they are being followed. They search for the campsite of their friends, James, Nadine and Jessica, and find it, but all three of them are missing and they can't call them on their cell phones because there is no service (My, how original!). Suddenly a man with an axe, Ben (David White; DIE IN ONE DAY - 2017; another bad Italian horror film), appears and tells them to leave before Little Sister gets them, just like he probably got their friends. Sheila makes fun of Little Sister's name, but Ben tells her this is no joking matter; if they want to live, they will leave the forest immediately. Of course, they don't listen to him and bed down in one of the tents for the night, where they have sex (My, how original!), when suddenly Sheila hears a noise outside. It's Ben and he says they are very stupid for staying and he can no longer be responsible for what happens next. Ben kills the romantic mood, so Sheila and Tom sit in the tent, now scared. Igor, er, I mean Little Sister, then strikes, swinging his axe into the tent over and over, striking Tom several times, but Sheila escapes and runs away. Little Sister drags a still-alive Tom away to his torture room, while Sheila finds a house where a long-dead corpse is watching a VHS tape containing home movies of Igor when he was a young boy. Igor and his loving father are working outside together in the blazing sun, when he asks Igor to fetch him another bottle of water, unaware that Igor's sister is videotaping the entire thing. Igor grabs a bottle of water that is sitting on a table and brings it to his father, who opens it and pours it on his face, unaware that Igor's sister replaced the water with acid, as their father screams on the ground, the acid eating away his face. Turns out the corpse watching the tape is Igor's father and the house she is in contains Igor's torture room, so Sheila searches the house, finds Tom in the torture room and they both escape, but Tom dies a short time later in the forest. Sheila finds a still-alive Jessica and they both decide to get revenge on Igor, but Jessica is captured and is tortured to death (graphically). Then Sheila does something so outrageous, you won't believe your eyes. She cuts off Tom's face and puts the skin over her face, pretending to be Igor's mother! She manages to kill Igor and when she is leaving, the crazy old woman we saw in the beginning of the film offers Sheila an apple, which she eats. She then gives Sheila a bottle of water to drink and when she swallows it, it turns out to be acid and Sheila dies a horrible death. Yes, that crazy old woman was Igor's sister! The film ends on that note. Directed by the brother team of Maurizio & Roberto del Piccolo, this film moves at a snail's pace, even though it is very violent. Everyone speaks English, but their accents are almost impossible to understand and the dialogue was recorded so low, even a hearing aid wouldn't help (I turned on subtitles when I watched it streaming on Amazon Prime, just so I could understand what the fuck was being said!). This film doesn't miss one horror trope, from the slow-moving Igor always being ahead of Sheila no matter how fast she runs to having sex in the woods even though their friends are missing. All I could do was say, "My, how original!" at this film's total lack of originality. Just stay away and watch something else. For torture porn freaks only.; I love horror movies made in Australia, but I must make an exception when it comes to RED CHRISTMAS (2016), a horror film with a "message". I have to admit I was enjoying the film until the "message" kicked in. The message is that this film is a Pro-Life Movement endorsement disguised as a horror film. That's right, it forces down the viewer's throat that abortion is a sin and that a baby's life begins at conception, a "fact" disproven time and time again by science, yet politicians and the clergy disagree, facts be damned. Abortion is not what God or the conservative government wants! I vehemently disagree, as people who believe in such things routinely bomb abortion clinics, killing the people inside. If a baby's life is sacred, isn't everyone's? Not to pro-lifers. This film starts with such a bombing at an abortion clinic, where an aborted baby in a plastic pail is found to be alive and taken home by the bomber. Twenty years pass and it's Christmas Day at the house of matriarch Diane (Dee Wallace; 3 FROM HELL - 2019), where her brother Joe (Geoff Morrell; ROGUE - 2007), very pregnant daughter Ginny (Janis McGavin; SCOOBY-DOO - 2002) and her husband Scott (Bjorn Stewart), other daughter Suzy (Sarah Bishop; star and screenwriter of the Australian found footage horror film LAST RIDE - 2011) and her priest husband Peter (David Collins), Diane's Down Syndrome son Jerry (Gerard O'Dwyer; LITTLE MONSTERS - 2019; who actually has Down Syndrome) and adopted daughter Hope (Deelia Meriel) are all gathered to celebrate Christmas and open presents. Right away, we can see that these family members are quite estranged, as Suzy and her husband Peter (who is obviously gay, staring at Scott's naked ass when he makes live to Ginny in the bathroom and when he gets caught by Joe, he goes to his bedroom after grabbing a box of tissues and masturbates in a portable closet [which looks like a confessional]!) have been trying to have a baby with no luck and Ginny rubs her pregnancy is Suzy's face, Joe is a pothead who offers no apologies, smoking it out in the open (occasionally passing the joint to the pregnant Ginny), Ginny likes to say things that hurt Diane, and Jerry likes to overeat cream pies, all to Diane's displeasure. Diane is selling her house and taking a cruise around the world, which makes her children very angry. She tells them that their father, her husband, who died of cancer, made her promise to sell the house and take the trip when she turned 65, telling her it was time to think about herself for a change, but the children (except for Jerry, who is being sent to an assistant living facility) hate that their childhood home is being sold and blame their mother for their unhappiness (all the children, besides Jerry, of course, since he is "special", are spoiled, morose brats). Then something happens that will change all of their lives forever, as short as that may be. They are visited by Cletus (Sam "Bazooka" Campbell), a strange figure who mumbles (turn on English subtitles to understand what he is saying) and is dressed in a black hooded robe with layers of cloth covering his face, looking like a modern-day version of the Elephant Man (and talking like him, too), who knocks on the front door and says he wants to read a letter (When we first see Cletus, he visits a farmer [Anthony Jensen] and says that he is lost. The farmer looks at Cletus and says, "You are just wrong, boy!", tosses him to the ground and begins to piss on him. Cletus then rips his penis off!). Diane lets him in, over her children and Joe's objections, saying it's Christmas and it's the time to show that we care (sure!). When Cletus doesn't know what a present is, Diane gives him a jar of peanuts wrapped in Christmas paper (Cletus says, "It's the most beautiful thing I have ever seen!"). Cletus then begins to read his letter, mentioning that he is the survivor of an abortion twenty years ago at a clinic that was bombed. Diane gets very angry when he mentions the name of the clinic and tells Joe to throw Cletus out of the house, which he does, and Diane throws the jar of peanuts at him, beaning Cletus on the head! We then learn that it was Diane who had the abortion after learning that her baby was going to have Down Syndrome. Since Jerry already has it and her husband was going through chemo at the time for his cancer, Diane thought it was best to have an abortion. She tells Peter this, since he is a priest, and makes him swear not to tell anyone else, but since priests can't be trusted (the only time this film wanted its cake and eat it, too) he lets it slip and Jerry hears it, thinking his mother no longer loves him and wants him dead, but I'm getting ahead of myself. Cletus begins killing members of Diane's family one-by-one in various very gory ways (but none of it done very convincingly), beginning with Hope (of course, the adopted daughter is the fist victim; to pro-lifers, they aren't considered family at all), whom he splits in half from head to crotch with an axe. Scott has his head cleaved in half with the axe; Joe is strangled in a car; Susy is impaled in the head with an umbrella, which opens and spills her brain matter all over the ground (!), Peter has his head ground with the blades of a kitchen mixer until blood flies out of his eyes like a fountain; Jerry is accidentally shotgunned dead by Diane when she mistakens him for Cletus (this film's idea of "irony") and Ginny is stabbed to death while hiding in a giant stuffed bunny after delivering her baby. The sheriff, who has come to save everyone, parks his car 100 yards away from the house (Why???) and Cletus kills him by tossing a bear trap on his head, resulting in geysers of blood spurting from his neck. Diane kills Cletus by impaling him with an anchor and jumping out a window, hanging herself by the neck and decapitating Cletis. We don't get a full view of Cletus' face until very near the end of the film and I will say this: It is shocking and the best aspect of the film. Only the baby is left alive at the film's conclusion and the the biggest insult comes during the end credits. As the end credits roll, it points us to some Pro-Life websites and then suggests some films to watch that take the anti-abortion political stance! Message films like this are why I hate films with messages, especially horror films. It's no coincidence that the newborn baby is the only life saved in this film, because to Pro-Lifers, that's the only life that counts, other human life be damned. Weren't we all babies at one time? They rather not think about that. While I enjoyed this film as a cheap horror flick (with acting from Dee Wallace better than it needed to be), I can't honestly recommend this as entertainment, thanks to it's rather large political slant. If all aborted babies acted like Cletus in this film, wouldn't it be better if they stayed aborted? Chew on that Pro-Lifers! And fuck you RED CHRISTMAS! There was a documentary on the making of this film called HORROR MOVIE: A LOW BUDGET NIGHTMARE (2017), which is infinitely more enjoyable than the film itself. Watch that instead. Both are available streaming on Amazon Prime (at least at the time of this review). The version streaming on YouTube from channel "PopcornFlix" has edited out all the graphic violence, nudity and swearing, making it a chore to get through. It's still a chore in its full, uncut form.; HAUNTED (2016) is an Italian horror film by director/producer/cinematographer/editor/co-screenwriter Eros D'Antona (DIE IN ONE DAY - 2017; which I didn't care for) and his co-screenwriter/actor brother Roberto D'Antona (director/star of ROAD TO HELL - 2018; a film I really liked). The biggest problem with this INSIDIOUS trilogy (2010 - 2015) rip-off is that everyone speaks English and it's plain to hear it's not their chosen language, as they speak it so fast, it's really hard to understand what they are saying and the auto-translated English subtitles don't help at all (Example: "The house has ghosts" reads "The horse needs oats" on the screen!). The film in a nutshell is this: Aspiring writer Max (Roberto D'Antona) agrees to housesit for his sister Anna (Annamaria Lorusso) and her young son Danny (Danilo Uncino) after her husband commits suicide, causing Danny to go dumb. Anna wants to take Danny away for two weeks so they can relax and get away from it all. What Max doesn't know is that the house is haunted by seven Sumerian demons: an old woman (portrayed by Robert and Eros' brother Alex D'Antona); a naked woman with an ugly face who likes to slit her wrists (the right way, up and down, not across); a little girl; and others, including a demon who controls them all (a scrawl in the beginning of the film states that once these seven demons invade your house, they can never be forced to leave). Almost immediately, Max begins to experience some strange shit, including knocking on the front door, but every time he opens it, no one is there (he blames the neighborhood kids, but not for long). Every time he locks the front door, he finds it unlocked and open. He invites his sometimes girlfriend Liza (Diandra Elettra Moscogiuri) to spend the night with him, but as they are making love, Liza's face turns into the old woman's hideous face and he throws up all over her, making Liza leave immediately in disgust. Max tries to tell his best friend, musclehead alcoholic Chris (Michael Segal), what is happening at the house, but he doesn't believe him. He soon will when he spends two nights at the house. Max then contacts an exorcist, Professor Sam James (David White, a regular in all the D'Antona Brothers' films) and he comes to the house, not to exorcise it, but to contact the demons and make them leave on their own. It doesn't end too well, as the finale will either leave you extremely mad or extremely satisfied. The real problem with this film is that it is played as a broad comedy; Michael Segal as Chris overplays his role so broadly (he's a sex fiend, who watches a porn film in his mother's house, squirts some lotion on his hands to masturbate and when Max calls him on his cellphone, he answers it with his tongue!), that his character becomes a parody. Some parts of the film are very funny, though, but when the film turns very serious on a dime quite often, you will be left wondering if the change in tone was worth it all, as the film ends on a really downer of a note. Still, there are two good jumpscares in the film, but a couple of scares don't make a good film. It would have played better without the comedy, but it's not really a bad film, just an ordinary one, enough for me to put it in the bad category. I'm going to watch Eros D'Antona's INSANE (2015) next, since it won some awards at film festivals around the world, but one thing I have learned: even though a film may have won awards at festivals I never heard of, it doesn't make it a good film, but I love to be proven wrong (and I was!). Look for cameos by Mirko D'Antona and Francesco Emulo, two of Roberto's favorite co-stars, in roles as wisecracking police detectives. All of the Italian films I mentioned in this review are available on Amazon Prime (at the time this review was posted).;    BRACKENMORE (2016) is a supernatural horror film looking for some kind of hook, but doesn't seem to find one. When Kate was a little girl, she caused the death of her mother and father by screaming uncontrollably in the backseat of the car (for some unknown reason, the car radio goes wonky at the same time) as her father is driving, causing him to lose control of the car and crashing it, killing her parents. Now a fully grown woman, Kate (Sophie Hopkins) is living in London with her husband Steven (Kieran Baker) and has no memory of the accident that killed her parents, even though she is haunted every night by recurring nightmares of her parents' deaths. It is obvious that Kate is a very somber, troubled woman and her marriage is just as troubled, as she and Steven sleep in separate bedrooms. Kate gets a letter from an estate lawyer telling her that her uncle, whom she never met and didn't know existed, has died and left her an inheritance: his home and the thirteen acres of property it sits on in her ancestral home of Brackenmore, a very small village in South Ireland. Steven wants to go with her, but Kate sneaks out of her home early in the morning and drives to Brackenmore by herself, leaving Steven a note. Once in Brackenmore, Kate is forced to take a room in the home of Caroline (Elaine Kennedy) and John Duffy (Bertie Brosnan), when she finds the estate lawyer's office locked tight (she leaves him a note with her cell phone number). Over dinner, Mr. & Mrs. Duffy prove to be extremely strange people. Caroline serves a dinner of meat stew, which Kate thinks tastes funny, but she eats it all so she doesn't upset her hostess. All Mr. Duffy wants to know is how long Kate is going to be in Brackenmore, as he seems eager to see her leave. The estate lawyer phones Kate and meets her at his office. He is also an extremely strange man with greasy hair and he drives Kate to her uncle's estate, which is now hers. Immediately after entering the house, a feeling of deja vu rushes over Kate, as she gets the feeling she's been in this house before. The estate lawyer tells Kate that her uncle killed himself (not telling her that he hanged himself) and seems very anxious to leave the house. Entering the house is local resident Tom (D.J. McGrath), a handsome young man, who will be a part of Kate's life very soon. The estate lawyer tells Kate that he has to leave and Tom will drive her to her car, but Kate says that since this village is so small, she'll walk back to her car and do a little exploring before she gets there. When the estate lawyer leaves, Kate suddenly gets ill and throws up on Tom's shirt (I guess Caroline's meat stew didn't agree with her). She apologizes to Tom, but he takes it all in stride, telling Kate that in Brackenmore, everyone knows everybody who lives here and he wants to know if Kate is going to be their newest resident. Kate says she doesn't know and she will have to think about it (Every time she phones Steven, she gets his answering message. He never picks up.). It is obvious Kate and Tom are beginning to have feelings for each other, but will they act on them? And what does a strange symbol, seen everywhere in the village and even on Kate's property, have to do with why the residents act so strange? Tom chaperones Kate to one of Brackenmore's festivals by the lake, where the residents wear masks and dance around. Kate and Tom  smoke a pipe filled with a local root, Tom telling her everyone in Brackenmore smokes it; it's a tradition. Kate becomes semi-conscious and when she comes to, she is in her house with someone knocking on her door. When she opens it, she is attacked by someone carrying a knife and wearing a white mask and a hooded robe. The person tries to strangle Kate when she kicks the knife from their hand, but Kate manages to pick up the knife and stab the person through the neck, killing them, their blood gushing out of the wound like a river and splashing all over Kate's face (It's quite bloody). When Tom and a local constable arrive at Kate's house, the policeman treats Kate like a perp, telling her he knew the young man she just murdered, he was a good lad and accusing Kate of sexually coming on to him and changing her mind once they arrived at her house. He accuses Kate of murder and Tom tells him to get out of the house, but the constable tells Kate that this is far from over. That's as far as I'm going to go here, as this is a very slow-moving independent chiller that will remind people of the much better THE WICKER MAN (1973) and even MIDSOMMAR (2019), as all the residents of Brackenmore belong to a pagan cult where they see everything in black and white terms, there are no gray areas (such as Kate's marriage to Steven). It also has a "surprise" reveal towards the end of the film that even a blind man would see coming. It's obvious that this film, the feature film directing debut of one Chris Kemble, had a troubled production history, as J.P. Davidson is credited as "Post Production Director". Some plot points are left hanging, such as the meaning of the strange symbol and people just enter the film and then just as suddenly disappear, never to appear again. There are some plusses to the film, such as the acting by Sophie Hopkins and the striking cinematography by Justin MacCarthy and Rupert MacCarthy-Morrough, but it just isn't enough for me to give it a recommendation. It moves way too slow to be entertaining. It's not a badly-made flick, it just offers nothing we haven't seen before and done much better.;   Several people have told me to take a look at CAROUSHELL (2016) because they found it campy and full of nudity and bloody gore. Well, I did watch it and I'm afraid I'm not of the same mind about the film as they are. Sure it has plenty of female nudity, near pornographic sex and extreme gore, but it's far too self-aware to even be called campy. I wouldn't necessarily even call it funny, although it does try to be different, but the lack of budget does it no favors. As a matter of fact, I would even go as far as to say that the film has no problem telling us that there was not enough money in the budget to make a good film, so much so that director/co-screenwriter/co-star Steve Rudzinski (one of the main actors in SCREAM PARK - 2012) goes as far as to focus on the things that would have worked better with more money. And that is where the film fails. The crazy storyline is this: A carousel (or "merry-go-round" for those unfamiliar with the word) unicorn named Duke (voiced by Steve Rimpici) gets sick and tired of children abusing him, especially after a fat kid named "Lunchbox" (Teague Shaw) begins kicking him and wiping his boogers on his head, so he breaks free from his pole and starts killing everyone he meets, as he tracks down Lunchbox, looking to murder him. Now here is where the film fails in a big way.  Duke is an inanimate object, with no moving parts (his legs never move and his mouth doesn't, either, when he talks); he just floats in the air (obviously helped by wires) and kills everyone he runs into, starting with rodeo clown Jock-O (Andrew Zibritosky), whom he stabs in the throat with his horn. The secondary story finds Lunchbox's sister Laurie (Sé Marie), an Internet obsessed princess (she is always texting on her phone), being forced to babysit her brother by their stripper mother (Judy H.R. Kirby), so she takes him to an sparsely-attended house party, as Duke begins killing the members of the party in various gory ways (stomping or kicking them in the head with his hoofs; planting an axe in someone's head; pulling out the intestines of a female partygoer), something an inanimate object could never do. I guess we are supposed to suspend belief as we watch this, but I guess I was in some kind of mood where I just couldn't; it was just too ridiculous for me to accept, even as a comedy. This is one time when I would have accepted some cheap CGI to animate Duke, because it would be far more acceptable for me than the way this film tries to pull it off (i.e. "let's do nothing"). I get where this film gets good reviews from some Internet film "critics", but I demand a little more than what this film delivers. The acting is awful, especially by Teague Shaw as Lunchbox (and most of the partygoers). The only person to register here is director Steve Rudzinski as Joe the Pizza Delivery Guy, who drops off a load of pizza at the party and then spends a good amount of the film looking for payment from anyone at the party, only, just when he is about to get paid, Duke murders them and Joe must try to collect from another partygoer; rinse and repeat. Even that joke grows old quickly, because it goes on far too long to be funny. There's also another subplot, where "Cowboy Cool", a man with a giant cowboy head on his shoulders (played by P.J. Gaynard), hunts down Duke to kill him. That joke also grows old very fast. There a scene where Duke fucks partygoer Sarah (Haley Madison) in one of the house's bedrooms that crosses over into near-pornography territory, reminding me of a scene in GUTTERBALLS (2008), another jokey gore film I didn't care for. You may have more fun with this film than I did if you leave your brain at the door and just go along for the ride, something I was unable to do. The film runs less than 70 minutes, but it seemed twice as long to me. Available streaming for free on YouTube and Tubi. I watched it on Tubi, as YouTube has been showing far too many commercials inserted willy-nilly during films and everything else on their site. Tubi does show commercials, but they are short and very infrequent. Believe it or not, you have to pay for this on Amazon Prime! A sequel is currently being funded on crowdsourcing site Kickstarter (at the time of this review).;   When I read the synopsis of RAVENSWOOD (2016) on Amazon Prime, it sounded like a found footage film with some promise. Imagine my surprise to discover that it wasn't a found footage film at all, just a regular horror movie. Calling it "regular" is giving this film much too much credit, as it is actually a cliche-ridden Australia horror flick that offers nothing new to any serious horror fan. Ravenswood Psychiatriac Hospital was one of Australia's most notorious (fictional) asylums, known for giving patients electroshock treatments on a regular basis. A flashback shows us a female patient named Sam (Celyren Phipps) trying to escape the asylum on foot when two orderlies hit her with a car (!) and drag her back to the asylum, where "The Doctor" (Darren K. Hawkins) hooks her up to the electroshock device over a nurse's protest. He tells her she doesn't understand how important it is and then electrocutes Sam with the device. A short time later, The Doctor commits suicide by electrocuting himself with the device and Ravenswood Asylum is shut down for good. Back in the present, we see a young couple about to make love in the abandoned asylum, when, suddenly, their eyes shine a bright blue color and the film fades to black with the sound of screams.. We then are introduced to four Americans, Sofia (Madeline Marie Dona), her boyfriend Carl (Adam Horner, who is one of the worst actors I have ever seen), Michael (Shane Savage) and his girlfriend (and Carl's sister) Belle (Isabel Dickson), who arrive in Australia on vacation. Right away, we see that even though Sofia and Carl have been together for two years, they have never done the deed together for reasons made clear later in the film (and it's the most contrived excuse I have ever heard!). Sofia came to Australia for the sole reason on taking a "Ghost Tour" of Ravenswood Asylum, even though Carl thinks ghosts are a bunch of useless and phony crap. When the foursome arrive at Ravenswood, they are greeted by tour guides Zach (Jock Campbell, the only actor to give his character some actual character) and Emma (Ashley Fitzgerald), who have secretly tricked-out the entire asylum with false scares. Carl is a total dick (even Zach callls him that), ruining the entire experience for everyone with his constant put-downs and whining (you'll want to kick him in the nuts). Things take a decidedly dark turn when Sofia meets the female lover from earlier in the film, whom is possessed by the spirit of Sam. She tells Sophia that she had to kill her boyfriend because he was possessed by The Doctor (the possessed have shiny blue eyes), who wanted to kill her and the spirit of Sam. Long story short, Sophia is possessed by the spirit of Sam when Michael is possessed by the spirit of The Doctor and he kills the other girl. Everyone is then trapped in Ravenswood, as all the doors and windows are locked. A reveal toward the end of the film changes things drastically, as Sam is actually the evil spirit and we learn that The Doctor didn't commit suicide, he was actually killed by the spirit of Sam. Everything about this film is just plain ordinary, as director/co-screenwriter (with Darren K. Hawkins) Jon Cohen offers nothing in the way of scares or even a plausible plot. The majority of the film has everyone running through the halls and rooms of Ravenswood Asylum, either trying to escape the possessed Michael or trying to get the spirit of Sam out of Sophia. It ends on a fatalistic note, which is probably why this movie won awards at a few film festivals you never heard of before. This film taxes your patience, as it goes in no interesting directions until the final shot and even that has been done to death hundreds of times before and done hundreds of times better. I'm usually a huge fan of Australian horror flicks, but this one didn't interest me at all, as I was watching the clock rather than the screen the majority of the time, waiting for it to finally end (I watch these films so you don't have to!). Believe it or not, it would have played better as a found footage flick and if you know me, you know I am not a fan of that genre, so that is saying something. The total lack of blood, violence or nudity also do it no favors. Skip it.:   ALL THE WRONG FRIENDS (2016) held some promise, but the lazy writing by ten writers (!) do the film in almost from the start. During the mid-1980's, loving young couple Drew (Ricco Fajardo) and Nani (Krishna Smitha) are about to drive to a music festival with Drew's troubled friend Adam (Tom Gelo), but when they pick up Adam, they find out he invited three friends to come with them, including the bossy and racist Logan (Sean O'Connor), who makes an Ali Baba joke to Nani's face, who is obviously Persian, Logan's girlfriend Alison (Brina Palencia), who is a bitch with a capital "C", and Simon (Dexter Hostetter), who agrees and laughs at everything Logan says. This upsets Nani, who doesn't like Logan one bit (and rightfully so) and wants to have some alone time with Drew to work on their relationship, but Drew is able to calm her down and she agrees to go with the flow. Almost immediately, things take a wrong turn, for when Logan is driving Drew's car to the music festival, he takes a detour to his friend Mondo's (Nick Commella) house in the middle of nowhere and in the middle of the woods. Logan says he has to pick up a package (drugs, naturally) from Mondo, which he intends to sell at the music festival. When they get to Mondo's house, Logan discovers that Mondo is not there, so he bullies everyone in staying at the house for the night and they will drive to the festival tomorrow morning. Logan takes some of Mondo's cocaine stash, so he, Alison, Simon and Adam snort huge amounts while Drew and Nani watch, refusing to participate. Nani is really angry now and retires to one of the bedrooms, where she discovers Mondo dead in one of the bathrooms, apparently murdered and put in the bathtub. Drew wants to call the police, but Logan breaks the phone by stomping on it (remember, this is before everyone had cell phones) and tells everyone that he has a better idea. He'll take Mondo's keys, open his safe, take the drugs he was after and they will leave to go to the music festival. Nani doesn't go along with it, so she and Drew go to leave in their car, but it will not start (naturally). When Logan opens the safe and discovers no drugs are in it, he convinces Adam, Alison and Simon to stay until the drugs are found (he's convinced Mondo hid them somewhere in the house). They really have no other choice to stay since the car won't start and they can't call anyone to come pick them up. Complications arise when a young couple, Brian (Andrew Milbourn) and Erika (Boo Williamson), knock on the front door and ask Logan for some help. It seems Erika fell on some rocks while they were camping in the woods and has a huge gash in her leg that needs immediate medical attention. They tell Logan they have been walking for hours looking for some help and when they saw the house, it was a blessing. But are they telling the truth? Long story short, someone kills Logan by bashing his head in with a shovel and secrets are revealed, such as Simon and Alison are lovers. Adam, who has been in this house before, finds a hidden gun and shoots Brian in the stomach, when it is revealed that he killed Mondo in a drug deal gone wrong (Erika was injured during the scuffle). They tie Erika up, while a dying Brian, who is a mechanic, tries to fix the car by giving Drew instructions (Really?). Adam starts to lose his mind, all sorts of tepid violence happens and we find out it was Simon who killed Logan with Alison egging him on. No one in the film survives the outcome. Where do I begin? Obviously, no one in their right mind would ever agree to Logan's demanding attitude, barking out orders like he was the cock of the walk and everyone immediately does his bidding. All except Nani, that is, as she seems to be the only one with a conscience, but Drew is able to talk her out of everything with a simple kiss or a hug! It's not only unreal, it's insulting to the viewing audience. Directors Ryan Hawkins and Mark Kerins, in their first feature-length film, offer nothing for fans of horror films, as the violence is rather subdued, there is minimal nudity and the situations in the film  are quite unbelievable, making me throw up my hands several times, yelling out, "C'mon now!". No one ever acts this way, not even in the lowest budget horror film and yet we are supposed to accept their actions and reactions. I couldn't, which is why this film gets a big goose-egg from me. I've seen better horror films in my dreams and they make more sense than this film. It only runs 78 minutes, but it is a looooong 78 minutes.

Bad DTV Genre Films  Part 23 (continued): While I applaud SyFy for attempting to go back to their roots, especially during their "31 Days Of Halloween", where they are making original films that don't rely on giant ridiculous CGI monsters or movies from The Asylum, not every one can be a winner. Such is the case with NEVERKNOCK (2017; pardon the photos, as there is no advertising material...yet. Problem solved (three years later!]). On Halloween in 1986, three kids died while attempting to knock on the door of a haunted house on 59 Oakwood Lane. When a young policeman arrives, he finds the older boy dead with "NEVER NEVER KNOCK" carved into his back. In the film's most inventive sequence, we find out how legends are born over 30 years through newscasts on TV. (You have to see it to appreciate it.) Grace (Dominique Provost-Chalkley) and her younger sister Jenna (Lola Flanery) agree to go out on a night of trick or treating with fellow students Sydney (Eliana Jones), Amy (Kiana Madeira), Ben (Jack Fulton) and Leah (Jodelle Ferland). To prove she is scared of nothing, the younger Jenna climbs the chain link fence (and cuts her hand) at 59 Oakwood Lane and knocks on the door. Everyone is shocked to see the door absorb Jenna's blood and not soon after a creature of some sort begins stalking the group, using their worst fears against them after Jenna disappears. The creature (thankfully, not a CGI creation, but a man [Troy James] in a suit) attacks and kills Amy first. She has a severe scare of needles, so the creature has needles come out of its hands and puncture her to death. Ben has a severe fear of blood, so everyone he sees has blood coming out of every orifice. Grace watched her mother burn alive in a car fire and has a severe fear of it. The creature manages to kill almost everyone except Grace and Leah, who are rescued by Officer Rance (Nicholas Campbell; TRAPPED - 1982). He tells the girls he was the young officer who found the boy with the words carved on his back and for the past 30 years has been doing research on the house. It seems it is not the house that is the problem, but the house's front door, which was once the entryway to a warehouse until a string of murders happened. The door was transplanted to the house, where it remains till this day. Leah, who has a fear of dogs, imagines she is being chased by a doberman from her childhood. Officer Rance is killed by the creature and so is Leah, but Grace finds sister Jenna inside 59 Oakwood Lane with her hands nailed to the wall. The only way to defeat the creature is to not be afraid and leave it to Jenna, the youngest of the group, to defeat the creature by saying "I'm not afraid of you any more!" and destroys the door. Director/screenwriter/executive producer Sheldon Wilson (The sleeper SHALLOW GROUND - 2004; KAW - 2007; SCREAMERS: THE HUNTING - 2009; MOTHMAN - 2010; SCARECROW - 2013) does provide some effective scenes, especially the sequence inside a maze made of bales of hay and the creature is creepy, but the story is something that you have seen many times before. I was expecting more from Wilson and didn't get it.; LIFE (2017) is one of those films where the parts are better than the whole. A group of scientists on an International Space Station pick up a probe that took samples from Mars and soon discover a single cell that shows life. Soon, the single cell starts growing into an ever-growing intelligent octopus-like translucent creature with flat tentacles that begins killing all the scientists. In the film's most effective scene, the creature enters the mouth of Rory Adams (Ryan Reynolds, who gets top billing, but is only in the movie about 40 minutes because he was filming THE HITMAN'S BODYGUARD at the same time.) after he tries to kill it with a flame thrower and blood comes pouring out of his mouth in a gravity-free environment (It really is creepy). The creature exits Rory's dead body and starts to pick off the rest of the crew. This is where the film's major problems occur. No matter what protocol is in place, one of the scientists manages to breaks it, which would not happen in real life. The creature can live both in space and in oxygen, so one of the female Russian scientists, Ekaterina Golovkina (Olga Dihovichnaya), puts on a space suit to try to capture it (This is after they decide to kill it!) and the creature enters her spacesuit and drains all the water out of her body and she drowns in her own suit. The creature always finds a way to get into impenetrable places and gets back into the space station and begins killing off the scientists one-by-one. Soon, all that are left are David Jordan (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Miranda North (Rebecca Ferguson) and they decide to take off in separate escape pods in an attempt not to bring the creature to Earth. David decides to to sacrifice himself and take the escape pod into deep space, while Miranda takes her escape pod to Earth. In a surprise twist everyone saw coming, the creature enters David's pod and it enters Earth's atmosphere, while Miranda's pod flies out to deep space (I told you this creature was intelligent). The pod splashes down in Japanese waters and two fishermen goes to the capsule. David pleads with them not to open the pod, but they don't understand English and open it. What happens next is left to our imagination. Besides some great creature CGI effects and the scientists moving fast through the gravity-free station to avoid the creature, the film is a total dud. It was released to theaters, where it bombed and was quickly dumped on VOD, disc and cable. Director Daniel Espinosa (SAFE HOUSE - 2012; also with Ryan Reynolds) tries his best to make an effective Sci-Fi film , but he is let down by Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick's screenplay, where the scientists do the worst possible things at the worst possible times (These scientists wouldn't pass an Astronaut Training Camp). The creature sure is impressive, though. Too bad the film stinks.; Director/screenwriter/co-producer Victor Salva's (I get sick to my stomach writing his name, but as a critic I have to learn to separate the art from the artist, but you don't) JEEPERS CREEPERS III (2017) is so much worse than the first two films and I'll explain why. First of all, it was announced to have a Spring 2017 release, then a Summer release and then a VOD release. It ended up making its premiere on the SyFy Network just before Halloween! Second of all, the film spends way too much time on The Creeper (Jonathan Breck, who played him in the first two films). So much time, in fact, that The Creeper no longer seems scary. In the first two films, The Creeper's screen time was minimal, which made his appearance a lot more scary. And a lot of time is also spent on The Creeper's truck (you know the one, a 1941 Chevrolet Heavy-Duty COE [Cab Over Engine] whose license plate reads "BEATNGU" [Be Eating You]) The truck is filled with many booby traps like a bone spear shooting out of its tailpipe connected to a steel wire that impales one teenager's leg. While there are a few effective scenes in the film (like the slow motion sequence of Sheriff Tashtego [Stan Shaw; THE MONSTER SQUAD - 1987] firing a high power malfunctioning machine gun bolted to a military vehicle and the bullets passing through the flying Creeper) but the biggest surprise of all is how ugly they made Gaylen Brandon (Meg Foster) look. She looks scarier than The Creeper itself and talks to the ghost of her dead son Kenny (Jordan Sallou; Spike Lee's remake of OLDBOY - 2013), who was killed by The Creeper, but not before cutting off The Creeper's hand and burying it.). All Gaylen's daughter Addison (Gabrielle Haugh) sees is her Mother talking to herself. Mom digs where Kenny told her he buried The Creeper's hand but warns her not to do it. She does it anyway and finds The Creeper's hand is still moving and the Creeper is conscious of that fact. Whomever holds the hand is in for a nasty experience. There is some bloody stuff, like The Creeper throwing a carved bone spear (Like in JEEPERS CREEPERS 2 [2003]) just at the right time to impale two teenagers to a tree. Unfortunately, hardly any of the film makes much sense, (I guess the biggest explanation is for Sheriff Tashtego to stop The Creeper from collecting enough bodies to eat ["Every 23 years for 23 days it gets to eat"; Salva must have a thing for the number 23, because in his film DARK HOUSE {2014}, that number plays an important part in the hackneyed plot], but by the huge body count in this film [including the Sheriff himself], he fails miserably)  as the Creeper proves he cannot be killed (we already knew that from the first film) and Gina Philips returns from the first JEEPERS CREEPERS (2001) as Trish in what amounts to a thankless cameo role in the finale, leaving room for yet another sequel/prequel. Victor Salva (ugh, my stomach!) failed to learn to keep the monster's appearance to a minimum amount of time, like he did in 1 & 2. Here, The Creeper has at least 80% of the screen time and the films ends with Buddy Hooks (Chester Rushing; who has so many freckles on his face and body, it looks like he has the Measles!) boarding a school bus heading for a basketball championship game. I guess Salva (I pooped my pants!) the screenwriter wanted it to look like a prequel to JC2, but the story here doesnt jive with that film. In this film, the Creeper has finished his 23 days. but in JC2, the Creeper was very much active. If he was going for such an inference, the story should have been much different and it should have been called JEEPERS CREEPERS 1.5. That's 70% too much screen time for the Creeper. With all the sex scandals going on (at the time this review was written, Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey [who finally admitted he was gay!] were being blamed for raping or sexually abusing over 50 women and boys), it wouldn't surprise me if Hollywood was punishing Salva (barf bag not included) for being a convicted pedophile by releasing this first to SyFy. If this theory is true, it will be a long, long time before he directs another film. So if you are one of those sick bastards who enjoys his films (Child Protective Services must be present when he films kids or teenagers) and even I have to admit he has made some good films (NATURE OF THE BEAST - 1995; POWDER - 1995; ROSEWOOD LANE - 2011), it will probably be years before you see another film directed by him. NOTE: According to the IMDb, Salva (I just threw up in my mouth a little!) has a film in Pre-Production titled THE OLD HAG SYNDROME (Release Date Unknown). How much do you want to bet that this film never gets made? NOTE #2: The DVD is advertising this film as a sequel to the first film and a prequel to the second. It makes a little sense, but I stand by my review. I had to laugh when one reviewer on Amazon stated: "Every time someone watches this film, God kills a kitten."!; STICKMAN (2017) is director/writer Sheldon Wilson's (NEVERKNOCK - 2017; THE HOLLOW - 2015; SCARECROW - 2013) last of SyFy's original movies for their "31 Days of Halloween" movie marathon. If it reminds you a litttle more than the plot of CANDYMAN (1992) you would probably be right. When she was ten, Emma was sent to the loony bin for killing her mother and younger sister. Emma has always pleaded innocent,  saying a creature was responsible for the murders, for the only way to bring him to life is to say his name (Just once instead of three), An adult Emma (Hayley Law) refuses to tell anyone the killer's name (because it will bring him back to life), but she has the poem that she keeps close to her person which does mention The Stickman's name. Emma is sent to a Halfway house, where a wiseass girl steals Emma poem and says The Stickman's name out loud. Unable to convince anyone that this idiotic girl has unleased the ultimate evil. The Stickman (a creature with movable thin branches all over his body) begins to dispatch the girls and orderlies at the Halfway House. This creature is able to make deadly branches grow out of anything made of wood and even infects a girl over the telephone, with branches growing out of her mouth. Jeremy (Erik Knudsen), and old schoolmate of Emma's and fellow mental patient confesses to Emma that he put the poem in Emma sister's knapsack (he found it behind a brick in his basement wall) and it was Emma sister who got Mom and sis dead. Emma makes Jeremy work with her to destroy the thing, but how do they do it that is wood's biggest enemy? Fire, of course, so Emma  and Jeremy light him up, until someone in the future mentions his name again. Now wasn't that easy? Not like THE HOLLOW where the beast made of twigs has fire in his mouth, but doesn't burn up. Sheldon Wilson seems to be SyFy's go-to guy for original movies, but the only film he ever made that I found interesting was 2004's SHALLOW GROUND. Otherwise he is a typical SyFy director, the only difference being is that he uses as little CGI as possible and prefers men in monster suits.; THE EYES (2017) is a totally predictable crime thriller that we have seen dozens of times before. Six people wake up tied to chairs in a locked room around a table. A digital clock is above them and a disguised voice on a loud speaker gives them two hours to decide which one is going to live. After freeing themselves from their ropes and introducing themselves to each other, Harry (Vincent Pastore), a degenerate womanizer who found God is the first to be killed when he rushes through the locked door after some masked men with masks and an Oriental woman enter the room with coffee and donuts. Now the five prisoners must open up about their lives. Victoria (Ana Isabelle) was a Miss Puerto Rico who has become an adult film star; Arnold (Steven Hauck) is a college professor; Robby (Greg Davis Jr.) was a normal man who got behind on the bills and became a big-time losing gambler; Jeffrey (Danny Flaherty) is a foul-mouthed twenty-something and Jaclyn (Megan West) is a lawyer; but the voice on the intercom says they will have to do better than that. They have all committed deadly crimes and he wants them to tell the others in the group what they did. Victoria said that she killed an adult film producer by running him over in a car, but she also killed a baby in the process (which she purposely leaves out of the conversation). Arnold says he murdered a college student Andy because he was gay and had sex with Andy when he was 10 years old. Robby murdered his wife and his wife's lover when he found them in bed together. Arnold makes a run for the door when it is opened again and is killed. The disguised voice turns out to be an FBI Agent named Charlie (Nicholas Turturro) who wants everyone to tape their crimes so there is no doubt that they are guilty. Jeffrey runs through the door and is shot and Charlie yells out the door, "I told you to keep this door locked!" Everyone admits to their crimes on camera and then it is Jacyln's turn. Turns out she was once convicted of murder in New Jersey, but was found not guilty. She thinks no matter what she says will be double jeopardy, so she admits to stealing a man's money from an offshore account and when he found out she poisoned him and his wife in Delaware and dropped their car off a cliff in New Jersey. Since we never saw anyone actually die, Charlie brings out a very much alive Arnold, Robbie and Jeffrey and a female FBI Agent arrests Jaclyn, saying double jeopardy doesn't apply since the murders actually happened in Delaware, not New Jersey. All the other people were actors hired by Charlie to play their roles. The film closes with everyone celebrating with a shot overhead of the camera ("The Eyes" of the title) watching them. I guessed the ending of the film from the first death of Arnold. Everyone gets killed when they walk or run through the door and we never see them die. Director Robbie Bryan (iMURDERS - 2008) and screenwriter Robert T. Roe offer no suspense, just talk, talk, talk, with absolutely no surprises. This actually reminds me of a 2006 film called UNKNOWN, where 5 officers and detectives wake up in an inescapable warehouse and must figure out why they are there. The first one to do so will live. It is absolutely Hitchcockian when compared to this film, which has the audacity to end with a quote from the Bible! I'll end this review with my own quote from the Bible: If thine eyes offend thee, pluck them out rather than watcheth this film (Sorry Jesus).; FIRST KILL (2017). Bruce Willis must like working with director Steven C. Miller. He appeared in two previous films by Miller (EXTRACTION - 2015; MARAUDERS - 2016) and, while I liked the two previous films, this one is not so good. It was shot in 14 days and looks it. The story is rushed and the main star (not Willis) is quite amateurish in his delivery. The story centers on Danny (Ty Shelton), a young boy who is always getting beat up in school by a bully. To toughen him up, his investment banker father Will (Hayden Christensen) decides to take him to the small town of Granville, Ohio (filmed on location), where they go for a short while to stay with Aunt Dottie (Deb Girdler). Dad decides to take Danny on his first deer-hunting trip. First, he teaches Danny how to shoot a rifle (Sure, that will toughen him up!) and then they go on the hunting trip. While in the woods, Will and Danny spot two people in the distance, Charlie (Shea Buckner) and Levi (Gethin Anthony). They are arguing over money that Levi has from a big bank heist he has hidden from his partners. Charlie shoots Levi in the chest and then hears Danny make a sound. Charlie begins shooting in their direction, so Will has no other choice but to fire back. Will kills Charlie, only to find out that he was a cop. Levi is still alive, so Will puts him in the truck and brings him back to the cabin, where wife Laura (Megan Leonard), who is a nurse, patches him up on Will's orders. Quicker then you can say "instantly healed", Levi makes a miraculous recovery and takes Danny as a hostage, telling Will that he will return Danny when he retrieves the money that he has hidden (He threw a key befoire he was shot, which both Will and Danny saw where it landed). Will retrieves the key, while Danny finds out that Levi is not such a bad man. Levi needed the money so his girlfriend's mother could have an operation to remove an 85 lb. tumor in her stomach (They have no healthcare insurance). Danny learns more from Levi on how to handle a bully than Dad could ever teach, but retrieving the money may not be as simple as imagined. Will has to deal with some crooked cops, especially Police Chief Howell (Willis), who keeps a close watch on Will and sets Levi up for a deadly fall. It all ends so predictably that you will know the ending way in advance. The only thing good here is Gethin Anthony (who played Charles Manson on the sadly short-lived series AQUARIUS [2015 - 2016]). He gives Levi a layer of humanity not usually given kidnappers in films. But Ty Shelton is simply terrible as Danny. You'll wish that Danny doesn't make it through the film and Levi lives. The story jumps from situation to situation without any thought, a main problem with films shot on a tight schedule. Especially Willis's character. He does things in the film that make you doubt that he is crooked, but he proves to be in on the robbery during the finale and his motives are rank (He thinks he deserves two million dollars for serving his town as Chief for most of his adult life! I wonder how the real-life Chief of Granville, Chief Bill Caskey, thought of that turn in the story?). Willis is quickly becoming a DTV staple. I'm still trying to figure out whether that is a good or bad thing. One look at this film may give you the answer.; DON'T SLEEP (a.k.a. THE OTHER - 2017) starts out creepy enough, but then turns into a bunch of supernatural mush. It starts out thirteen years ago, where a young Zach (Dash Williams) has recurring nightmares about an old, blind, nearly hairless, disfigured witch (Muriel Minot; who keeps saying "Don't be scared. There's nothing to be afraid of here." Sure!) and masked deformed people (who could use some acne treatments) trying to kill him. Young Zach refuses to go to sleep, so his mother, Cindy (Jill Hennessy; LAW & ORDER), takes him to psychiatrist Dr. Richard Sommers (Cary Elwes; SAW - 2004) to see if he can cure Zach. Dr. Sommers tells Zach that this is normal for kids to experience, so mom lies down in bed with Zach that same night until he falls asleep. She gets up from his bed and he instantly opens his eyes and says, "You are going to die!!". The film then cuts to the present, where unmarried couple  Zach (Dominic Sherwood) and Shawn (Charlbi Dean Kriek) rent a house from Jo (Drea de Matteo; THE SOPRANOS - 1999-2006) and Vincent Marino (Alex Carter; CSI: CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION - 2003-2013) and Vincent's elderly father (Alex Rocco in his final film). It's apparent that Zach is still suffering from nightmarish visions (He is attacked by a hooded creep in his car and sees strange monstrous figures on his laptop) and it doesn't help that Jo thinks the house they are renting is haunted by spirits, especially when Vincent's father goes looney when he sees a young female ghost ghoul dining on his dog. Mr. Marino eventually hangs himself by the neck with a chain in the garage telling the demons "Fuck you!!!"  Law student Zach becomes increasingly unhinged as the days pass, so he goes to his mother (who is still alive) and childhood friend Timmy (Andrew Caldwell). They both refuse to talk to him about what happened to him when he was a child (Timmy ends up being dragged away to his death by the unknown forces). Zach's nightmares and Jo's warnings to leave the house for good become too much for Shawn, who tells Zach "This is all becoming too bizarre for me!". Zach goes back to Dr. Sommers to try and alieve his nightmares (in the film's biggest flub, neither his mother or the doctor have aged a day in thirteen years!), where we find out , that as a kid, Zach was given electro-shock treatments to cure his nightmares.  It brings up the questions: What ever happened to Zach's father? What happened to the Marinos (they disappear from the film, never to return)? The main problem this film has is that it keeps adding new stuff to the plot and never resolves any of it. Director/producer/screenwriter Rick Bieber (one of the producers of FLATLINERS - 1990 and STONE COLD - 1991) offers no real frights, just useless jump scares that offer nothing to advance the plot. How many times can we witness ugly, deformed people jumping at us from nowhere before we say enough's enough? Bieber throws in a kid from the school that Shawn teaches at that acts the same way that Zach did when he was a child, another young girl, Lilah (Sinclaire Schaefer) that is Shawn's friend, who is the spitting image of the ghost ghoul that ate Mr. Marino's dog, Zach's violent behavior when he makes love to Shawn and someone (or something) that watches Shawn as she showers. None of these plot points are ever resolved. What pissed me off most about this film is when Dr. Sommers and his wife are attacked by the demons that Zach is fighting. Dr. Sommers tells his wife that things will be alright and they will be together forever. WHAT?@!? What the hell is that supposed to mean? You'll give up when the film reveals that Shawn is the reincarnated demonic soul of a woman that was searching for the demonic soul that Zach possesses. It seems that ages ago, Zach once save her life and gave his own and she has been searching for him ever since that day. When you see Shawn complete with ugly sharp teeth and demonic makeup, I dare you not to turn this film off. Too bad that it is the final scene of the movie! All this film really is is scene after scene of unanswered questions that never give answers. If this is what modern horror has come to, count me out. NOTE: Since the film has a production date of 2017 and Alex Rocco died in 2015 (The closing credits end with a tribute to him), it is easy to come to the conclusion that this film had many production problems. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that once you watch the film.; CIRCUS KANE (2017) could have been a great addition to the Killer Clown genre, but its overall cheapness ruins what good this film has, mainly a terrific performance by Tim Abell as the titled clown, Balthazar Kane, an '80s icon, whose tagline was "Magic is sacrifice". He supposedly died in a fire, but we know he didn't. He invites a bunch of modern-day cliches (a gamer, a thief, a musician, a movie memorabilia store owner, mysterious girl, etc.) to his house, under the guise of winning half a million dollars each if they survive till the next day. Each room contains a booby-trap that they must survive to get to the next room (each room taking the life of one of them) until only two are left. This film, directed by Christopher Douglas Olen Ray (MERCENARIES - 2014), has some great ideas, but the meager budget cheapens the overall effect of its lofty ambitions. Starring child actor Jonathan Lipnicki (now an adult) and featuring a winning performance by Ted Monte (HYBRID - 1996; directed by Fred Olen Ray, Christopher's father) as "Big Ed", the movie memorabilia store owner, but as soon as he dies, the film goes down the dumpster, only enlivened by Tim Abell (his makeup is terrific) when he is on the screen, which is not often enough. The "surprise" ending is anything but and the story reminded me of several other better movies, like the SAW franchise (there's an homage to those films here). While not terrible, it could have been much better with a bigger budget. Richard Moll puts in a cameo as the house's gaunt butler, the "Pale Man". Written and produced by James Cullen Bressack (MY PURE JOY - 2011). I saw this for free on Amazon Prime.; SIGHTINGS (2017) is a Kickstarter-financed film and for that reason alone, it fails because of its cheapness. The story is about ex-sheriff Tom Mayfield (Boo Arnold), whose wife disappeared two years ago (Tom thinks she left him) and his brother-in-law, Ricky (Rawn Erickson), is a conspiracy theorist who thinks he sees Bigfoot on his property. Strange things begin to happen on Tom's ranch (he has over 200 acres in a small town in Texas) and it's plain to see that it all has to do with Tom's daughter, Hannah (Tahlia Morgan), who wants to become a writer, but she keeps getting turned down by publishers. Ricky doesn't believe his sister, Lillian (Tiffany Heath), left Tom at all. He believes she was kidnapped by a bigfoot! The shit starts hitting the fan when Tom discovers the bodies of three naked women on his property, all of their internal organs missing. The idiotic detective on the case, Detective Brendan Pitney (Kevin Sizemore), believes Tom is the killer, and starts to realize he may be wrong (He hopes this case will get him hired by the FBI). There is also cryptozoologist Rebecca Otis (Stephanie Drapeau), who comes to Tom's property to investigate the matter and tells Tom that Bigfoot is only interested in women with O-Negative blood! It turns out the three dead women also had O-Negative blood and Tom begins to believe when Detective Pitney tells him that his wife's body was found a thousand miles away and that she was with two other dead, naked women, all of their internal organs missing. Yep, Lillian also had O-Negative blood. The rest of the film details Tom trying to stop a Bigfoot from taking his daughter. Yes, she also has O-Negative blood. Here's where the film cheaps out. All we ever see of the Bigfoot are its arms, legs and stomach breathing, we never see the full magilla. The film is also atrociously acted by everyone involved. Director/screenwriter Dallas Morgan (Nothing else interesting of note) offers nothing in the way of entertainment to the viewing audience and Tom, who is supposed to be the hero, acts in the worst ways possible when he finds out his daughter is the next on Bigfoot's list of victims. It turns out that Bigfoot is an alien who comes to Earth to kidnap women! It is never explained why the creature needs women with O-Negative blood and the nihilistic finale, where the aliens destroy all the evidence Tom and security expert/bigfoot chapter member Akiro (Dante Basco) collected, does the film no favors. Even if Dallas Morgan decided to give us a good view of the Bigfoot, the story still makes this film a loser. Watch ABOMINABLE (2004) instead.; Speaking of Bigfoot: Do you want to watch people walking endlessly through the snow and every once in a while being attacked by blurry monsters? Then COLD GROUND (2017) is for you! This "found footage" film (Jesus, when will people realize this genre died a long time ago?) purportedly shows us a pair of French documentarians, who are also lovers, going to the French Alps in 1976 to investigate a series of animal mutilations and disappearances. Along for the trip are a detective from Colorado (!), who is there to see if it is connected to the "Snoopy Case" (Don't ask!) and a couple of guides, who are going to the top of the mountain where the titled area is, an unexplainable region where the ground is below zero, even in the summer. As they make the three day trip up the mountain, they experience an avalanche, find some human bones and remains and are attacked by creatures we never get a good look at. The cameraman, David (Geoffrey Blandin), breaks his ankle during the avalanche, but continues filming as if nothing happened. When the group is thinned out by the creatures until only David and Melissa (Gala Besson) are left, they must find their way down the mountain before the creatures kill them too, but they fail miserably. This film delivers nothing in the way of entertainment, as it is nothing but 90 minutes of footage of people walking in the snow and when the creatures attack, the camera swirls so wildly, you never get a clear view of them. Everything these people do are beyond comprehension and the camera David uses is indestructible, surviving getting hit directly by an avalanche and falling hundreds of feet down the mountain. We are supposed to believe this footage was found forty years later, but you wouldn't know it by the condition of the print (this is not supposed to be video footage, but film!). Where did they find the camera, encased in ice?!? Nothing is explained in this film, not what the creatures are or where they came from, not why the area is a "cold ground", not why the creatures skin their victims before killing them, not where the footage was found, nothing! And to make matters worse, we never discover what happens to the last victim, as the film just ends, explaining nothing. That is the problem with these found footage flicks, they think that nothing needs to be explained because it is supposedly "real life", but entertainment needs explanations, nothing near it is in this film. Director/screenwriter (and I use that term loosely) Fabien Delage gives us nothing in the way of entertainment, offering one unbelievable scene after the next (Why do people keep on filming when their life is a stake???), even going as far as to have Melissa cut David's broken foot off with what looks like a butterknife and a sharp rock (!) and then, moments later, the creatures kill him! Do yourself a favor and skip this one unless you are a found footage freak (I am still wondering why people like these kinds of films). I saw it for free streaming on Amazon Prime, but I still felt like I was cheated. Christ, when will I ever learn?

Bad DTV Genre Films Part 24 (continued): FIRST HOUSE ON THE HILL (2017) is a simply abysmal supernatural flick that makes no sense almost from the get-go. It is full of unbelievable characters that grate on your nerves (besides, no people ever acted this way...ever. They only act this way to advance the film's slow-moving plot) and cliched situations, so take my word for it, avoid this piece of shit-cake at all costs. The plot (if you want to call it that) concerns an uber-religious girl named Valerie (Christine Scherer), who is about the spend the weekend at the titled rented house. She goes to her priest, Father Matthew (Lou Volpe, who passed away before this film was released), to tell him this will be her first time in a coed environment, so he tells her to have some fun and gives her a religious artifact to wear around her neck to protect her from "evil" (Just because she will be spending a weekend with another girl and two guys? C'mon now!). When they get to the house, mysterious owner Madame Windsor (Helene Udy; MY BLOODY VALENTINE - 1981; the best thing about this film, but only because she is the only professional actor in this stinking pile of dog droppings), makes all of them sign a contract without reading it (I know this is a film, but don't you think someone, anyone, would want to read it before putting their signature on it? These four don't!). As expected, supernatural events begin to happen, such as a strange force field that surrounds the house and makes it impossible to escape. The quartet start playing with tarot cards (I mean, why not? While you are at it, play with an Ouija board, too!) and begin dying in non-bloody ways. But wait! Turns out they are not dead, they were only pretending. Turns out Valerie is the long-lost daughter of Madame Windsor and she needs to sacrifice Valerie to unleash all of Satan's demons on Earth. (Pardon...What???). As you can see, this film doesn't make a lick of sense and I should have known when I saw all the unknown film festivals this film played in that were mentioned on the poster (Never a good sign! What the fuck is the "Ferrera Film Festival"? The "Wayward Festival"?). It turns out director/co-screenwriter Matteo Saradini left his native Italy to come and live in Los Angeles so he could make films. If this is the kind of film he will continue to churn-out, maybe he should go back to Italy. One more thing: "actor" Umberto Celisano, who portrays quartet member Samuel is probably the worst actor I have ever laid my eyes upon. I wanted to reach into my screen and rip his throat out, not because of the character he plays, but because of his acting ability, which is non-existent. I caught this for free streaming on Amazon Prime and I almost discontinued my membership because of it, but if I did, I would be acting no better than Umberto Celisano! This film should be used as a torture device for terrorists. It's probably the worst thing you can do to them.; WISH UPON (2017) is one of those PG-13-rated supernatural horror films that promises bloody horror, but, in the end, shows you nothing but cheap jump scares. I was hoping for a little bit more when I found an "Unrated Director's Cut" streaming on Amazon Prime, but even this version would find a hard time getting an R-Rating, as there is very little blood and absolutely no horror to be found. When Clare Shannon was a little girl, she witnessed her mother commit suicide by hanging her self in the attic, after throwing something in the trash that was wrapped in a cloth. Twelve years pass, and a teenage Clare (a good Joey King; WHITE HOUSE DOWN - 2013) still lives in the same house with her father Jonathan (Ryan Phillippe; CATCH HELL - 2014), who collects trash for a living (He's not a garbageman, but a person who looks for trash that may be valuable, being a major embarrassment to Clare). Clare's life in high school is not much better, as she is constantly shamed by a clique of girls (and a token gay man) who think she is beneath them, posting photos of her father collecting trash on social media (We all know people like this, or at least I do!). One day, Jonathan finds a unique box in the trash with Chinese writing on it and brings it home as an early birthday present for Clare. She actually likes it but she can't understand most of the words written on the box (She is taking a Chinese language class in school), except for the words "Seven Wishes". Just for a joke, she wishes that the girl in school that bothers her most would "rot" and, sure enough, when the girl wakes up in the morning, her body is beginning to rot, as she has caught a flesh-eating disease! What Clare doesn't realize is that every wish she makes means the death of someone she knows (the box opens on its own and begins playing music). In this case it's her dog Rex, the dog her mother gave her (Rex refuses to come in her bedroom when she brings the box there, even though he has slept there every night), as she finds him under the porch being devoured by rats.. Clare hasn't put 2 + 2 together yet and continues to make wishes, which causes the deaths of her nice neighbor across the street, Mrs. Deluca (Sherilyn Fenn; TWIN PEAKS [1990-1991], whose ponytail gets stuck in the garbage disposal until it snaps her neck (!), and her rich Uncle August (Victor Sutton), who slips in his bathtub, knocks himself out (twice!) and drowns. It's only when Clare asks her friend Ryan (Ki Hong Lee) to take the box to his cousin Gina (Alice Lee) to translate all the writing on it that she discovers that she has a cursed "Chinese Wishing Music Box" (akin to the Chinese Wishing Pot) and just what it does to the person who owns it. It seems that the only way to pass the box to someone else is to die (which is why Clare's mother hanged herself). When Gina learns even more about the box, she dies in an extremely painful manner (Even though we don't see it!), when she trips and impales her head on a horned Chinese dragon statue in her apartment (This is the best sequence in the film , as it plays with the viewer, since Jonathan [who is changing a flat tire on a dark and twisty road] or Gina could be the victim here). So, can Clare find a way to destroy the box and bring her life back to "normal" or is she cursed like her mother? At first, everything goes swimmingly for Clare, as her pauper existence turns around and she becomes rich (after wishing Uncle August's will would name her as the sole beneficiary of his wealth and mansion!), but just like any film that uses "The Monkey's Paw" as a primer (and there have been plenty), it turns out that all the best-intentioned wishes will bite you in the ass. Do not expect any happy endings here. The best way to describe this film, directed by John R. Leonetti (ANNABELLE - 2014; WOLVES AT THE DOOR - 2015), is ordinary PG-13-rated crap, as the camera always turns away rather than facing the horror. This film is nothing but a collection of unsurprising jump scares, especially Clare's fate, which anyone with a brain could see coming a mile away. Even the Unrated Director's Cut shows us close to nothing, except for extending the deaths for a few frames, but still showing us very little. This is nothing but a major disappointment which I urge you to stay away from, unless you have to see every PG-13 horror film out there. In that case, all I have is pity for you.; After watching director Roberto D'Antona's excellent ROAD TO HELL (2018), I decided to watch a film called DIE IN ONE DAY (2017), which was directed by Roberto's older brother Eros D'Antona (HAUNTED - 2016). I don't know if Eros was having a bad day, but this film is nothing but a cheap knock-off of Rob Zombie's 31 (2016), a film I admire, but this film has none of Zombie's verve or excitement, because, let's face it, no one can do Rob Zombie except Rob Zombie. The film begins with a masked figure meeting another masked figure in a remote location. One of the masked figures hands the other a bag and they then drive away in opposite directions. The bag contains an envelope full of cash (Euros) and a hard drive that contains information on a selection of people. The masked figure then sends messages to a variety of rich, wealthy types, telling them that "New Auditions Are Available" and they all look very excited. We then switch to Richard (Co-Executive Producer David White; ZOMBIE MASSACRE 2: REICH OF THE DEAD - 2015), a British man who is riding his bike in Rome. We see him get off his bike at a dirty trailer park, where he meets his daughter Mindy (Lisa Marie Picciolo), whom he hasn't seen in eight years when his slut of an ex-wife, Paige (Cinzia Susino), absconded with her and left no forwarding address. Father and daughter bond easily, but when Paige shows up with her biker boyfriend Vinnie (Mirko D'Antona; another brother that has appeared in nearly every D'Antona film by both brothers), she tells Richard to beat it, even when he shows her some letter saying that Child Services are going to take Mindy away from her because she treats her daughter like a slave. Paige crumples the letter, throws it to the ground and has Vinnie strong-arm Richard to get him to leave, Paige telling Richard that he will never get custody of Mindy. It will happen over her dead body. Richard then goes to a bar to drown his sorrows in booze. A pretty lady named Sasha (Kateryna Korchynska; Roberto D'Antona's THE WICKED GIFT - 2017) enters the bar and walks directly to Richard. They begin to talk and it is rather obvious that Sasha has ulterior motives in mind, but what are they? When Richard starts talking about his daughter and his predicament, Sasha asks why he doesn't hire a good lawyer to get custody of Mindy. Richard says he is broke and doesn't have the kind of money to hire a good lawyer. Sasha then tells him that she can have him enter a contest to win 25,000 Euros. She is taking part in an experimental improvised theatrical play in and locked-down theater and the "actor" who gives the best performance wins the jackpot.  Richard thinks it is too good to be true but agrees to join her, so the next morning they arrive at the theater and a masked man (the same man who handed the bag to the other masked man in the beginning of the film) sees Richard and contacts the head of the "game". The head of the game, called "The Director" (voiced by Roberto D'Antona) sends out messages to his wealthy clients, asking them if they would like Richard to join their little "game". It is a resounding yes and when Richard and Sasha enter the theater (they must first have to give up their cell phones before entering the theater), they meet the two other participants in the game, Debbie (Daniela Ladisi) and Kurt (Dario Grassi). A masked man then enters the stage and points a gun at Debbie's head, pulls the trigger and we hear a loud bang. Instead of Debbie being dead, we then see it's a water pistol and The Director comes over the loudspeaker to announce the rules of the game, called "Die In One Day". The rules are rather simple. The contestants will be hunted down and killed by various masked "Hunters", but anyone who survives in the inescapable theater for 24 hours will win the prize, which is now 100,000 Euros. The theater is equipped with many cameras, so there is no use in trying to hide, but the Hunters cannot simply kill their prey, "It must be done with style", so paying customers on the Internet watching the game are entertained. When a masked Hunter comes out with a sword, Kurt thinks it is nothing but a prank like the water pistol, only for the Hunter to slice his neck open (one of the goriest effects in the film). The Director comes over the loudspeaker to reprimand the Hunter, reminding him that the killings must be done with panache, Kurt's killing lacks the flair the viewers are demanding. Richard, Sasha and Debbie run for their lives, but Debbie is caught rather quickly and is run-through with a sword (after she kills a Hunter with a box-cutter, slicing his neck open). Now only Richard and Sasha are left and this is the film's major fault. There aren't enough contestants to make this film interesting, especially since we think that Sasha is a knowing participant in the game. Spoilers ahead: It turns out that Sasha is not a knowing member of the game, she is actually Mindy's sister! It turns out that Paige was once married to a Russian guy before she married Richard and she got pregnant with Sasha. She entered the game to win the money to take Mindy away from Paige. Long story short, Richard gets killed in the game (he gets shot in the side with a speargun bolt and then has his head caved-in with a crowbar by a Hunter who turns out to be Vinnie) and Sasha wins the money, but what Sasha doesn't know is that Paige is also part of the game and The Director is actually a police detective who covers up the killings. When Sasha walks away with the money, there is a stinger during the closing credits that shows The Director setting up Part 2 of the game, telling Paige that Sasha will definitely be part of it. I guess this is because there is to be a sequel? Even though this film runs a scant 78 minutes, it still seems twice as long than it actually is. The killings are nothing to write home about (Richard kills one Hunter by crushing his head in with an old computer CRT monitor and Sasha kills another Hunter by ramming a metal hook into his neck, ripping out his throat and planting an axe in his head) and the film just slogs along until the uneventful conclusion. Since Eros D'Antona is an award-winning director and writer (for INSANE - 2015), starring Roberto D'Antona in the lead role), I was expecting a lot more than what I got. This is a sparsely-occupied film that contains uninteresting characters, pat situations and no surprises (except for the unbelievable reveal that Sasha is Mindy's sister!). It's films like this that give Italian modern-day horror a bad name. Skip it.; THE NIGHT WATCHMAN (2017) is another cheap Italian horror film with very little to recommend and a lot to complain about. Former cop Jack (Jonathan Silvestri) is on his first night as night watchman at a music school. He begins hearing noises and voices, but every time he goes to investigate nothing is there. He also keeps getting phone calls from a woman named Emma, who tells Jack that she is about to be killed by "him". Every time Jack tries to get information from her, like where she is and what's her last name, he only gets a tiny tidbit before the phone goes dead. What Jack can't see, we do, such as a woman called "HalfFace" (Andreea Dragusanu) in the credits, a ghostly monster whose top half of her face is a mutated and deformed mess (All she does is scream). Jack keeps phoning his new boss (not a good thing to do on the first night on the job) and tells him about the phone calls he keeps getting from Emma, but his boss tells him he shouldn't be getting any phone calls at all since the phone is transferred to an answering service every night at closing time. Just who is Emma and why is she contacting Jack? When Jack finally gets Emma's last name, he phones his boss, who tells Jack he has a friend in the police force and he will give him Emma's information, but not to call him back again tonight; he will call him when his friend come up with any info on Emma. Of course, Jack doesn't listen, as the noises keep getting louder and louder, pianos start playing by themselves and one room stinks of death, so he calls up his boss again, who tells him that his friend in the police department just phoned him to say Emma was murdered in the building that is now the music school, his boss saying he had no idea this ever happened. The film ends with Jack, Emma (Vanessa Grappa), a ghost woman named Nancy (Elena Vettori) and his boss lying dead on the floor, pieces of paper on all the bodies where their names are handwritten in block letters. WTF?!? There is so much wrong here, I don't know where to begin. The fault lies firmly on one person's shoulders, as director/producer/writer/cinematographer/editor/costume designer/nose wiper/hall monitor Tiziano Cella has no idea how to make a movie. It looks like it was shot on an iPhone and the story is all over the place, but the worse thing about it is that midway through this film, everything stops so that Jack can watch a short film on his tablet! Obviously inserted to pad out the film's scant 66-minute running time, it has no other reason for being here than for Tiziano Cella to whore out an 11-minute short he made in 2011 called IMAGO VOCIS ("Echo"), about two deaf couples who stay at an evil bed & breakfast. It has nothing to do with the film proper and is as boring as fuck. It is also obvious that English was a third language for most of the "actors" here, as it is hard to understand them, especially when there are no English subtitles. The slow-moving end credits run a very long ten minutes and show bloopers during the making of this film, none of them funny at all. Let me end this review by saying this: If you are ever to see Tiziano Cella's name in the credits of a movie you are about to watch, burn it immediately and run away in the opposite direction. Believe me, it will save you from suffering a lifetime of boredom. This is a hundred pounds of shit in a five pound bag.;    ESCAPE FROM CANNIBAL FARM (2017) opens up with this little nursery rhyme: Don't venture near old Hansen Farm...Where blazing fire brought them harm...For those who travel past this place...Beware The Boy With The Melted Face... Charming, right? The film then shows us two young brothers who stuff a younger boy named Sammy Hansen into a burlap sack and go to a river to smoke cigarettes. One of the boys accidently (?) throws a lit cigarette on the sack, setting it on fire. They throw the sack into the river, but it's too shallow to put the fire out. Sammy's mother, Bethany (Charlotte Roest-Ellis), and father, Hunt Hansen (Barrington De La Roche), pull the sack out of the river, open it and pull a still-alive Sammy out of it, but his face is horribly burned. So begins the legend of "The Boy With The Melted Face." Bethany can't take the pain and anguish of her son's horrible face, so she runs into the woods, douses herself with ethanol alcohol and sets herself on fire in front of her husband, who arrives too late to save her. Hunt keeps the skeleton of Bethany in his attic, adorned in a dress and sitting on a chair (!), which her deformed son Sammy visits frequently. We then watch the Harver family jump into an RV and head to the Hansen Farm property for a camping vacation. The family includes overbearing mother Jessica (Kate Marie Davies), her new husband Wesley Wallace (Toby Wynn-Davies), her daughter Katherine (Rowena Bentley) and her fiancé Kurt Daniels (Joe Street), smart-assed older brother Toby (David Lenik) and young pre-teen brother Sam (Dylan Curtis). To say this family is dysfunctional is a vast understatement, as every one of them has serious issues (it would take far too long to list them, so take my word for it). On their way to the farm, Jessica makes Wesley stop the RV and ask a man sitting by the roadside for directions, even though Wesley says he isn't lost. That man would be Hunt Hansen, who has long hair and looks like the Uncle no one talks about over Thanksgiving dinner (they don't get much creepier looking than him!). Hunt tries to sell them his brand of apple cider and lemonade, but the Harver family declines and drives on (You would have to be insane to even try to drink it!). Once they reach the Hansen Farm property, Jessica and Wesley rough it outside in a tent while everyone else sleeps in the RV. Sam sees a face in the window, but no one believes him. Suddenly, everyone hears Jessica screaming and when they run outside, they see Jessica and Wesley's tent is on fire (Wesley is enjoying an expensive cigar and is not in the tent). Kurt and Toby pull Jessica out of the tent, but her arms are horribly burned. They go to drive to the nearest hospital, but the RV won't start, so they leave Jessica nd Sam in the RV and everyone else walks to the farmhouse to use the phone (If I told you why no one thought to bring a cell phone with them, you wouldn't believe me!). As soon as they arrive at the Hansen barn, they are met by a shotgun-toting Hunt and a fully-grown Sammy Hansen (Jack Miller), who is carrying a chainsaw. Hunt pulls the trigger and shoots a load of buckshot into Wesley's chest, wounding him, while everyone else scatters to avoid the shotgun blasts and chainsaw dismemberment. When Hunt runs out of shells, he picks up a pitchfork and gores Toby in the ass as he tries to climb to safety. When Hunt knocks out Katherine with the butt of his shotgun (Katherine says, "Please don't shoot me!" Hunt replies, "Pity, girl, you'll wish that I did!" just before knocking her out cold), she wakes up and discovers the entire Harver family, including Jessica and Sam, are in their own separate wire cages, like some wild animals waiting to be slaughtered. Sammy Hanson tries to brand the other Sam with a red-hot giant "H", but he is stopped by Hunt, who tells Sammy to untie everyone, while he tells the the true story of Hansen farm. A flashback shows us that Hunt got vengeance on the two brothers' family who burned Sammy by entering their home, blowing off their father's foot with the shotgun and shooting the mother point blank, killing her. One of the boys tries to run away, but Hunt stops him with a shotgun blast full of buckshot. He locks the family in the same cages the Harver family are now occupying and he even went as far as to burn the escaping boy's face, turning him into an exact duplicate of Sammy. Hunt then feeds the flesh of the family to two cannibals who live in a cave; they were also former victims of Hunt, both of whom he nearly starved to death, Hunt turning them into cannibals by only feeding them human flesh. Back in the present, Hunt warns everyone to not try to escape from the cages because they are electrified. Kurt has a problem being locked in a cage, so he tries to bust his way out, using his hands to push the cage open, only to lose both his hands when the electricity makes them explode! Kurt never even gets the chance to learn an alternate way to hitch-hike, as Sammy appears and kills him with a sledgehammer. I'm not going to bother to explain the methods of how everyone else dies, because this film offers nothing new in the torture porn genre. It's just a gory kill, rinse and repeat, ad nauseum. I will tell you this: Wesley brought a "clean white middle class family" to Hansen's Farm to be slaughtered for their meat for a rich class of cannibals that will pay Wesley handsomely for it, but never trust a cannibal. Does this surprise you? I didn't think so. This British horror film is nothing but pure torture porn (I hate using that term, but it fits here) with a minimum of plot and lots of gory kills. Director/Producer/Screenwriter/Editor Charlie Steeds (WINTERSKIN - 2018; THE BARGE PEOPLE - 2018) manages to evoke some tension in a couple of scenes, one scene in particular, when Toby is about to be turned into cannibal chow (Sammy cuts the top of Toby's forehead with a handsaw), only him to to turn the tables by freeing his hands, running Sammy through the neck with a shish-kebob skewer and then hacking him to death with a pickaxe. Toby then hides in a furnace, but Hunt turns it on and as Toby cries out in pain, mother Jessica, still trapped in her cage, sings a hymn while watching son Toby burn to death. It's the closest thing to a "soul" this film has. There's also a character named Reverend Hawksworthe (Jackson Wright), who represents the unseen rich cannibal clientel. He gets his own flashback explaining how he came to be that way. But this film is far too long at 102-minutes to hold your attention. Another thing that bothered me to no end was that all the shotgun blasts sound like a low-level click, like the film couldn't afford to use ADR to dub in the proper sound. It's not only annoying, it takes you completely out of the film since shotguns are never that silent when being discharged. The final sequence is also especially maddening, but I'll leave that for you to discover should you decide to watch this bloody film (I know who you are!). This film tries to be something you have never seen before, but its tone of hopelessness is sure to be a turn-off to any serious horror fan. At least it was for me. The title was shortened to CANNIBAL FARM for its U.S. VOD and disc release. Available streaming on Amazon Prime at the time of this review.;   DEVIL 2.0 (2017) is a film best viewed while tripping on LSD or some other hallucinogenic, as it will only make sense under those conditions. This film, which started shooting in 2010 and finished in 2017 (proving to me that many illegal drugs were ingested), tells the tale of Bobby Angel (director/executive producer/screenwriter/star/steroid abuser Stace Williamson), who, as a nine-year-old boy in 1975, saw his parents and sister killed by a vampire named Toyfa (also portrayed by Williamson), but he was saved from the same fate by his "Space Father", a blue-skinned alien. In the present time, Bobby is wanted by the police for a crime he did not commit, so he becomes an outlaw, who declares his innocence on the Internet via a "video diary". What comes out of Bobby's mouth during these YouTube-like confessionals is pure metaphysical crap. In other words, he couldn't look more guiltier. Bobby tells us that Toyfa is coming for him and if he wins, it means the end of all human life on our planet. You see, according to Bobby, vampires are aliens from another galaxy (!) who steal people's souls as they suck out your blood. If they get Bobby's soul,  there would be no hope for our planet. As Toyfa draws nearer to Bobby, he acts like he is possessed, only for his Space Father to return to tell him that he is not human at all, he is an alien. Bobby has to learn how to "beat a bullet", so his Space Father begins shooting him in the forehead (Bobby screaming, "Son of a BITCH!") until he learns to move faster than a speeding bullet. Did I mention that Bobby could also "dimension jump"? As the film draws nearer to the finale, Bobby's wife, Pam (Dorothy Dalba), and daughter Kayla (Cassandra Ebner) fall victim to Toyfa, as Bobby prepares for the battle of his life. Does Bobby win? Fuck if I know, I wasn't on drugs when watching it! The shit that comes out of Bobby's mouth can be best described as the mystical words that come out of some New Age guru's blowhole (Williamson makes so many funny faces during his confessionals, it will have you rolling on the floor, not with laughter, but with uncontrollable seizures!). The film is one big clusterfuck, as the photography is solarized so that nothing is its natural color and the music is akin to scratching your nails over a blackboard. I kept trying to turn this film off, but something inside me made me watch it entirely. I only hope that "something" never comes to me again! There is not one thing about this film that I can recommend, as the acting is awful, the photography and music headache-inducing and the dialogue is nothing but words fit for a psychoanalist talking to a crazy person (and vice versa). And get this: When the end of the final credits roll, it points us to the website of Mr. Williamson, who is just as loony as his Bobby Angel character. He tells us that he is visited by aliens all the time and they have been on our planet just as long as we have. He offers no proof of this, telling us that we must take him for his word. Really? Why should I believe him? Conspiracy theorists are a dime a dozen. This film is hardly worth anyone's time, yet some people may enjoy it for its trippiness factor. I'm sure that jack-of-all-trades Stace Williamson was trying to convey the duality of character since he plays both the hero and the villain in this flick, but he does it in such a heavy-handed and far-out way, he fails with everyone except the drug crowd. After watching the entire film, you will finally realize that drugs are bad. Those looking for female nudity are going to be disappointed (just lots of shots of women in bikinis), as are those looking for lots of gore (just Toyfa biting people on the neck). Ugh, does anyone have any Rolaids?

Bad DTV Genre Films Part 25 (continued): THE HAUNTING OF THE SUICIDE HOUSE (2018) For years I have been talking about the benefits of being an Amazon Prime member, but now it is time I tell you about one of the deficits, especially for me. If it's one thing I hate more than "Found Footage" films, it is the so-called "Real-Life Paranormal Investigation" flicks, which use both found footage and herky-jerky camera footage. Don't get me wrong, I love real paranormal footage (I'm a huge fan of "Nuke's Top 5" on YouTube), but when you spend an hour or more looking at footage that shows you nothing and they try to tell you something is there, that is where I draw the line.  The above film is one of the worst of the lot, but Amazon Prime is literally brimming with these cheap paranormal investigation-type films, made with a budget that can be found jingling in my front pants pocket. This film deals with the exploits of two Internet "Stars", paranormal investigators Summer (Nichele Lambert) and Kai (Sariel Toribio), who, along with new cameraman Steven (Jesse Ramos), go to investigate the "Suicide House", a one level ranch style house built in the 1970s (which Summer calls "ancient" and a "hella long time ago"!) where everyone who lived there were either murdered or committed suicide. Right off the bat, we can see that this greedy and selfish team are not about the paranormal investigation, but are only interested in getting a high number of viewers, so they falsify most of the so-called ghost activity (Kai slouches down out of camera view and flips some pots and pans, making it look like ghosts did it), as they no longer want to do this kind of stuff and want to graduate to the "big time" (Even Steven is in on it). Good luck with that, asswipes. When real ghost activity begins to happen, they just go along with it, thinking that the other person is responsible and not telling them (or making stupid assumptions; Ass = u + me). When Kai begins acting strangely and wants to leave, they talk him into staying for their "big finale". They should have left, as Steven is attacked by a spirit and wants to leave, but they talk him into staying one more night. I would have flipped them the bird as I walked out the door because Kai becomes possessed and kills Steven with an axe, before he breaks Summer's arm and then stabs himself with a large knife rather than killing Summer, killing himself. Oh well, another suicide for the house. Ho-hum. To say that this 63-minute film is a bore is a vast understatement. It seems ten times longer than it actually is, thanks to abhorrent acting, no special effects whatsoever (all we get is a door closing by itself and kitchen cupboards opening by their lonesome [you can see the strings pulling the cabinet door open!]) and we never see Kai slaughtering Steven. We know how everything is going to turn out because in the beginning of the film, we see Summer sitting in a detective's office, her arm in a sling, while the detectives view the footage Steven shot from the past two days (Summer even says that both Kai and Steven are dead!). Even the ending, where Summer and mental former resident Alex (Lauren Searl) return to the Suicide House, pour gasoline over it and strike a match, bottoms out. We don't see the house on fire, we just hear it burning! So where's the surprise? The sad fact is that there isn't any. No blood, no graphic violence and no nudity, so why even bother? It took three directors to make this video garbage and they made another piece of crap called THE HAUNTING OF THE WHITLOW HOUSE (2018), which I do not intend to watch (It's also on Prime, if you like to beat yourself over the head repeatedly with a blunt object, go for it!). My stool is more interesting than this. So there is the only deficit I can think of about being a Prime member. Seriously, I can't think of another reason why you shouldn't be a member! Just stay away from this piece of flotsam or you'll end up as jetsam.; EXPOSURE (2018) is basically a two-character film where a married couple, Myra (Carmen Anello) and James (Owen Lawless), drive to his grandparent's mountain home to repair their troubled marriage. Almost from the beginning, we can see why this marriage is troubled. Myra keeps getting text messages by her (former?) lover and James use to physically abuse his wife. Something bad also happened to James' grandparents, something he refuses to talk about, even getting verbally abusive with Myra when she asks about it. That's the problem with this entire film. It rests on the shoulders of this married couple, only they are so despicable, we don't care what happens to them. They also do stupid things at the worst time possible. When James finally tells his wife what happened to his grandparents, we ask ourselves why he brought her there in the first place. Flashbacks show us that his grandfather (Bruce Smith) disappeared in the woods surrounding the home and when he was found, he was never the same. He then killed his grandmother (Lynn Lowry; I DRINK YOUR BLOOD - 1971) and then disappeared in the forest again, never to be found. When James and Myra begin repairing their marriage by going fishing (!), James hooks what he thinks is a piece of driftwood, only it is some unknown creature that bites him on the hand. Then the same thing that happened to his grandfather begins to happen to him. That's basically the entire film, but we never learn what the creature is or why its bite turns James into some kind of monster who can shoot tentacles out of his body! And speaking of doing stupid things at the worst possible time, after getting slashed in the face by a transforming James, Myra hops in the car and drives away, only to come back when she sees a photo of her and James during a happy time in their relationship! Are you fucking kidding me? Not only did she cheat on her husband, only to have him physically abuse her, she returns after he abuses her again??? The #MeToo movement would have a lot to say about that decision. Even I have a lot to say about it, but I think "Are you fucking kidding me?" basically covers it. When she returns to the house and shows her monster husband the photo, thinking it will turn him back to his normal self (Are you fucking kidding me?), she finds out the exact opposite, as he slashes her chest with his clawed hands and then shoots a tongue out of his mouth that looks like an uncircumcised penis (!) and begins licking her face. Myra then bites it off, reaches into his chest (for some reason, there's a hole there) and pulls out his heart! Made for only $20,000, this film looks beautiful, but with characters we don't give two fucks about (Lynn Lowry, who is only in the film for about five minutes, is the best aspect here), I have to ask myself why bother? We don't even get an explanation what the creature is or why its bite transforms people. It just is what it is. Mercifully short at 77 minutes, this film is still overlong by about 60 minutes. And let's not talk about Myra's nose ring and her heavily tatted body (both a major turn-off to me). There are brief flashes of nudity and some graphic violence, but when it happens to two people we don't give two shits about, it amounts to nothing. Director/producer/co-screenwriter Austin Snell knows how to make a good-looking film (he was also the cinematographer), but he needs better material to make audiences care. Not a total failure (the practical makeup effects are pretty good), but bad enough to be put in this category.; FLIGHT 666 (2018) starts out like gangbusters, but quickly degenerates into something all too common. Once you learn this film is from The Asylum, that should tell you all you need to know. A flight to New York is surrounded by a storm that doesn't seem to have a beginning or an end, it seems to be following the plane, trapping it inside. Passengers aboard the plane begin to become possessed by female spirits, one missing an eye and another carrying a crying decomposed baby. These women are trying to tell the passengers something important, something that an air marshal on the plane, Austin (Paul Logan), is determined to discover. After searching the cargo hold of the plane, they find evidence that someone on board the plane is a serial killer, someone who travels from city to city killing women just because they love killing. When the serial killer turns out to be the plane's pilot, Captain Jack Hanstock (Joseph M. Harris), the passengers must find a way, with the help of the female spirits on board, to punish the pilot and still land the plane safely. It won't be easy, because the female spirits are only interested in revenge, putting everyone's lives in extreme danger. While there are some very good jump scares in this film, the basic plot falls apart faster than a swimsuit made of paper and quickly becomes a barrage of lousy CGI effects, something The Asylum is well known for. Even the plane's crash landing is awful, a mixture of crappy CGI and some forced perspective cinematography. Director Rob Pallatina, who is usually an editor on some of The Asylum's "mockumentaries", including BIGFOOT (2012) and ISLE OF THE DEAD (2016; reviewed in this section) starts off with a sure hand, but he can't sustain it with the screenplay's scene-after-scene of deja vu and pat situations. I had high hopes in the beginning, but it quickly turned into "watching the clock for the film to end." Too bad. This could have been something with a completed script. All it is now is a waste of your time. Available streaming on Amazon Prime for all you masochists out there. I have to watch this stuff, but you don't!;   DEAD SQUAD: TEMPLE OF THE UNDEAD (2018) is a ridiculously bloody and gory horror film that is severely hampered by extremely bad acting and a cliche-ridden script. It seems the U.S. government put Nazi scientists to work after the end of World War II and in the 1950's, one Nazi scientist, Dr. Baumgartner (Peer Metze), is trying to create the perfect "Master Race" with his top-secret formula somewhere in the jungles of South America, but he fails time and time again, turning his subjects into zombie-like creatures that crave the taste of flesh. Cut to the present day, where three stereotypical young men, including jock John (Ryan Sobolski), wise-ass Ethan (Guy Talon) and nerd Daniel (Jonathan Looper), meet three equally stereotypical young women, including the Paris Hilton-like Tiffany (Bianca Zouppas, who is simply awful), tough chick Aneesha (Alina Carson) and nerdy Jennifer (Elizabeth Morse), at some tropical paradise in some unnamed South American country. Yep, you guessed it, the same country where the illicit experiments were performed in the '50s. The guys and gals hook up, get drunk and decide to take a boat trip down the river, where they are warned to stay on the marked trail. Quicker than you can say, "Fuck the rules", this sextet of worthless human meat take a right hand fork in the river, where it is clearly marked "Do Not Enter" and find a beautiful waterfall paradise. Of course they lose their boat when they decide to take a dip in the waterfall, forcing them to travel by foot trying to get back to civilization. As night begins to fall, they discover what they think is an ancient Mayan temple and decide to stay there for the night. As you can probably guess, the temple is actually the base of Dr, Baumgartner's experiments and the six young people try to avoid all the zombies that are still living there. Most of them are not successful, as they are ripped apart and eaten by the zombie-like creatures, including "Z13" (Conan Stevens; the Man-Thing in MAN-THING - 2004), the hulking head zombie that rules the place (a terrific makeup job). First, let me tell you the positive points this film has to offer: The makeup effects are mostly practical and they are as bloody and gory as they come (which makes me wonder if the film's R-Rating is a fallacy), as heads and spines are torn out of bodies, heads are crushed and brain matter squirts out in gallons, chunks of flesh are eaten from bodies and Tiffany is one of the first to die (Believe me, once you see Bianca Zouppas' acting, you will appreciate this!). The Bali, Indonesia locations are also very colorful and add a lot to the visual splendor of the film. Now the bad parts: The acting is strictly second-rate and it is clear that director/producer/writer/music composer Dominik Hauser (his first film as a director; he's a music composer by trade) bit off more than he could chew, as his script (which he shared with co-writer Nancy Thornhill) contains so many holes and unbelievable coincidences, as well as hackneyed dialogue, it is difficult to overlook and forgive. It's just sloppy. Some of the character's actions are unbelievable and you'll be throwing up your hands in total disbelief more than one time, especially when Aneesha reveals who she actually is and why she is doing it (This is where the film falls completely apart). But, if it's blood and guts you want, this film is hard to beat. You'll see such unusual sights as a zombie that is nothing but half a torso with its spine and skull walking towards the cast, a "Zombie Wife" (Réka Gavaldi), who is seemingly married to Z13 and a "Zombie Queen" (Erika Ervin), who wants Z13 as her own, even performing oral sex on him! There are a lot of other good practical effects on view and the blood flows like water, but the film as a whole fails to entertain. It's too off-center to be entertaining. Nice try, though, but it is still a disappointment. As is usual for these DTV films, there is a mid-end credits scene which sets the film up for a sequel. Let's hope it is more entertaining than this one, if it is made at all.;  DEATH KISS (2018) is a third-rate version of DEATH WISH (1974), with the added "bonus" of Robert Kovacs, a.k.a. "Robert Bronzi", who looks exactly like Charles Bronson, but with one or two caveats: He can't act worth a lick and his voice is obviously dubbed by someone else. It also comes as no surprise that this film was directed by Rene Perez (THE DEAD AND THE DAMNED - 2010; THE BURNING DEAD - 2015), who hires has-been actors (i.e. Daniel Baldwin) for his films, but has no idea how to use them to their best advantage. In other words, I have yet to see a Perez film that I like, this one included. It is a slow-moving tale about an unnamed vigilante (Kovacs) who goes around shooting criminals, including drug dealers (one portrayed by Richard Tyson; HAYRIDE - 2013; he looks embarrassed being in this, even though he also has an Associate Producer credit here) and child slave traders, and then sends a load of money to single mother Ana (Eva Hamilton, the best thing about this film) and her paralyzed young daughter, who was shot in the spine when she was younger when her mother tried to score drugs at a drug den, while a radio talk show host (Baldwin) rambles on and on about how the police are useless regarding serious crime. Ana has cleaned up her act and the vigilante's money gave her enough to put a down payment on a house in the country, but it doesn't take a genius to know why he is sending her the money. Robert Kovacs being dubbed takes the viewer completely out of the film, because it is plain to see that he is speaking English, but his Spanish accent was replaced with someone trying to sound like Charles Bronson and it doesn't work. If I have one good thing to say about this film it is that the bullet squibs are very bloody and whenever anyone gets shot, nearly a pint of blood comes out of their bullet holes. Otherwise, this is a chore to get through, as its situations are pat and there's not much meat on its bones. The action scenes are also lazily staged and downright sloppy at times. Avoid at all costs unless you want to watch someone pretending to be Bronson. Perez also gave us the terrible FROM HELL TO THE WILD WEST (2017), also starring Kovacs as a cowboy who battles a transplanted Jack The Ripper in the Wild West! Both films are available streaming on Amazon Prime for all the masochists out there. Where does Perez get money to make these abominations?; Speaking of prolific badfilm director Rene Perez, his film THE PUNISHED (2018) is a badly-acted, haphazardly-staged action film that is nothing but a paid tour through Turtle Bay Exploration Park, a Redding, California water park. Mercenary Wolfgang (Austrian bodybuilder/actor Robert Amstler, an Arnold Schwarzenegger stunt double; Once you see him and hear him talk, you will know why!) is a ruthless killer, hired by an old rich businesswoman (Lisa Murphy Collins), who lost her three-year old grandson to a random act of senseless street violence, to retrieve a collection of cell phones for reasons better left alone (because of the stupidity of it all). During one of Wolfgang's killing missions, he gets shot in the back and has to go to the hospital (when a doctor looks at the wound on Wolfgang's back and asks him how he got it, he just says, "I fell."), where he meets a young orphan girl named Maria (Leia Perez), who needs medical attention every day of her life ("I was born sick."). Wolfgang decides to mix his life of violence with random acts of kindness, so he takes Maria to Turtle Bay and spoils her, hiring park worker Lisa (Nicole Stark) to be Maria's tour guide. Long story short, in between violent escapades, Wolfgang begins to care deeply for Maria and Lisa begins to care deeply for Wolfgang, but will any of it be acted upon? Do we really care? This film has zero entertainment value, thanks to director Perez, who has an uncanny ability to have lens flares in nearly every outdoor scene. If it isn't lens flares, it's bathing outdoor scenes in purple hues, which becomes very bothersome, ruining most of the scenes. What this film does display perfectly are all the attractions Turtle Bay Exploration Park offers, as we see Wolfgang, Lisa and Maria enjoy water slides, trampolines, rafting, jet boats (including the "Jetovator"), paddleboard yoga (!)  and other water attractions the park offers. If this is a paid ad for the park, it works, but as an action film it fails miserably. Wolfgang is a man of few words, his sentences barely more than three words. This film tries to get audiences to believe we are watching a PUNISHER film (Amstler even dons a Punisher mask in two of his violent missions, in one, he forces an innocent man to kill someone so he won't turn the security camera footage over to the police!), but this no-budget film can't reach such lofty ambitions. Perez has found his Bronson replacement in Robert Kovacs and he has also found his Schwarzenegger replacement in Robert Amstler, but the sad fact is neither of them can act a lick and they have zero chemistry on screen. Oh, and did I mention this film ends the same way DEATH KISS does (both films were shot back-to-back)? I have yet to see a Perez film that is worth mentioning (nearly all his films are alarmingly anti-police), including the simply awful HAVOC franchise (2015-2019), but I keep trying. Will I ever learn? I doubt it.; IT CAME FROM THE DESERT (2018), based on the early-'80s 8-bit video game of the same name, starts out well enough, but then completely falls apart. Three typical young adults, Brian (Harry Lister Smith), Lisa (Vanessa Grasse) and air-headed Lukas (Alex Mills, who reminds me of a young Timothy Olyphant), head out to a booze-filled weekend of partying and motocross riding, when they discover a hidden laboratory in a cave that houses giant ants. It's not long before these ants escape and attack everyone at the party, bringing their still-alive bodies back to their nest to feed their queen. It is up to this trio, who have serious personal problems (Brian loves Lisa and doesn't know she feels the same way, thinking she like Lukas better), to free the others before they become chow for the queen and kill all the ants before they get to civilization and multiply quickly to take over the world. That's the basic plot of this Finland-lensed flick, directed by Marko Mäkilaakso (WAR OF THE DEAD - 2011), who co-wrote the generic screenplay with Hank Woon Jr. and Trent Haaga (DEADGIRL - 2008), which is why this film is in this category. The CGI and anamatronic giant ants are very well done, better than films with ten times the budget, but the acting and plot leave a lot to be desired. Only Alex Mills manages to register in his role of Lukas, as the rest of the cast, including the minor players, are weak  imprints of the way real people would act when put in situations this film offers. It's all played rather broadly and, as a viewer, we know exactly what is going to happen next and it does, no surprises or twists are on view. This is not a badly made film, just a typical DTV horror/actioner. The photography is very well done for such a low budget affair, especially the motocross scenes, as people try to escape the invading giant ants on their motorcycles, but it is a losing proposition because the ants are faster. As a player of the actual video game, I can attest to the fact that this film follows the game very closely, but what is fun on the computer is very cliched as a film, which proves one thing to me: video games should not be turned into films because more times than naught, they are very boring and tepid. For its budget, this is a very well made film, but the story is lacking in entertainment value. Stay through the end credits for a view of a full replay of the entire video game. If you have ever played it, nostalgia will rush over your body like a cold wave of ocean water.; BOOK OF MONSTERS (2018) is a British horror comedy that was crowdfunded on Kickstarter. It is a film too cheap for its own good, full of missed opportunities, sloppy writing and monsters who look like people in Halloween costumes. Young lesbian Sophie (Lyndsey Craine) is about to have her eighteenth birthday party, not knowing she is about to unleash monsters that killed her mother when Sophie was a young child. Mom loved reading Sophie bedtime stories from the book of the title, but one night, some real monsters drag Sophie's mom under her bed and kill her. Sophie's father (Nicholas Vince) gives Sophie the book on the day of her 18th birthday, not knowing that Sophie is needed by five monsters as a sacrifice to open the gates of Hell and unleash all the monsters on Earth, turning it into a planet of evil. Just for convenience, Dad leaves the house on Sophie's birthday, so her schoolmates, Mona (Michaela Longden), Beth (Lizzie Stanton) and Jess (Rose Muirhead), can throw her the birthday party of all birthday parties, not knowing that the school snob, Arya (Anna Dawson), has sabotaged the party, inviting only the dregs of society to the party. One of those dregs is Pandora (Steph Mossman) a shapeshifting monster who gets the ball rolling by killing a male virgin by tempting him with sex in Sophie's bedroom. This triggers an onslaught of monsters to the party, one of them, called the Beast, breaks down the front door and begins killing the partiers in various gory ways, it's preferred method being ripping off heads from bodies. Sophie uses the book, which turns out to be a monster fighting bible written by her mother, to kill the monsters. This is where the film falls apart. Killing these monsters is too damn easy. The Beast has a huge boil on its back that is its weak spot, so Sophie grabs her birthday cake knife and stabs it in the boil, killing it instantly. There's another monster outside called The Slasher, who kills nearly everyone that escapes the house with well-placed sickles, which it throws at the partiers. The Slasher also releases worm-like creatures that can take form of anything they touch, so they take the form of three garden gnomes and attack male stripper Carl (Arron Dennis, the best performance in the film), who kills them with his vibrating dildo! (Ayra hired a male stripper just to embarrass lesbian Sophie, because she's, well, evil). Sophie joins forces with her three female friends and male party-goer Gary (Daniel Thrace) to fight the monsters, discovering that Sophie's mom was a kick-ass monster fighter in her day, leaving her daughter instructions in the book as how to kill each individual monster. This gory film, directed/co-produced by Stewart Sparke (THE CREATURE BELOW - 2016) and written by co-producer Paul Butler (who portrays The Slasher in some scenes), fails to make an impression, even though it is very gory and somewhat funny. For starters, the gore is not very well done and the monsters not very believable (they look like people in costumes rather than outright monsters) and some of the scenes are far too convenient to be believable. When the remaining people are trapped in the house, Sophie suddenly remembers that her house went through a remodeling when she was a child and they find a secret passage that leads to the barn, where her mother had a secret room full of weapons and monster-related information, along with a tape recorder that mom left a final message for her daughter. Not only is this coincidence far too unbelievable for its own good, when Sophie picks up a chainsaw in the secret room to fight the monster with, it immediately starts up, after sitting in the room for ten years! Sloppy writing like this makes the film seem hackneyed and desperate. A missed opportunity comes when the worm creatures turn into the garden gnomes, which are killed off far too easily. It would have been nice to see these worms turn into something else rather than have them killed off without giving them any backstory (and they look like GHOULIES!). I saw this film for free streaming on Amazon Prime and at 81-minutes in length, it didn't chew up much of my free time, but when it ended (stayed tuned during the final credits for a closing sting), it left me feeling that it could have been so much better. It's not awful, mind you, just too ordinary for its own good.

Bad DTV Genre Films Part 26 (continued): THE CHAIR TO EVERYWHERE (2018) is a British sci-fi no-budgeter whose aspirations are much larger than the measly budget allows, but it is not without some positive points; mainly, it will have you thinking long after the film ends. A father, Graham (Sean Botha), and his daughter, Laura (Polly Tregear), invent a prototype teleportation device (it couldn't look cheaper if it tried!) to transport people from one place to another after losing their wife/mother in an airline accident. But there are some serious issues with this device. Instead of transporting a human body from one place to another, it actually creates a duplicate, so the original human has to be killed (!) while they are being teleported, otherwise there will be a displacement in the time continuum (Don't think about it. Your brain might explode!). Laura volunteers to be the guinea pig and the first time they try to teleport her, her clothes catch on fire. Turns out the device can only teleport organic matter (Shouldn't they have known that?), so Laura strips completely naked (she's not bashful about it) and tries again. The second time they try, Laura's mouth becomes painful and it turns out she has a metal filling in a tooth, so she makes her father pull out the tooth with a pair of pliers! The third try is the charm, as the device teleports her successfully, Graham killing his daughter by strangulation before her duplicate appears (the dead bodies then disappear into the ether). Since both the transmitting and receiving devices are in the same room, Laura wants to move them further apart, so they move the receiving device to the other end of the room (I told you this film was cheap!). The fourth time they try (Instead of strangling Laura, he injects an air bubble in her neck causing her to pass out, then he strangles her with the rope!), it seems successful, but Laura disappears and another naked girl appears in the receiving chair. She's from a planet in a different universe and apparently their teleportation device got cross-entangled in his, sending his daughter to the other planet and this woman to his. She tells him if he wants his daughter back, he needs to teleport her immediately, so he does, but another woman appears, not his daughter. He does this dozens of times, killing all these different naked women while they are teleporting until his hands are bloody and raw with rope burns! His next attempt turns out to be disastrous, as he accidentally kills the naked woman before she teleports and no one comes back. So what does he do? Luckily, a woman from a missing child agency (WTF?!?!) knocks on his door and asks for a donation, so he knocks her out, strips her and then teleports her, killing her at the right time. This time, another woman comes back, but she says she knows Laura and if he teleports her at the right time, she will come back to him. This time he is successful, but there is a price to pay for his actions. I won't tell you what it is, other to say that the CGI in this sequence is way below par and ruins the finale, but like I said, you'll be thinking about all this long after the film is over. I know I did, but that doesn't excuse the film's cheapness and bad acting. Sean Botha is simply awful as Graham. He always looks like he is about o break out bawling at any time and his line delivery leaves a lot to be desired. Thankfully, there is a lot of full-frontal female nudity here, as every woman that comes back shows us the full monty, but why do women from different planets in another universe all speak with a British accent? And why are no men coming back? There's actually an answer for that one in the finale, but like I said, the cheap dimestore CGI ruins the overall effect of the film. I do give director/producer/screenwriter Mol Smith (ABDUCTION - 2017; ABDUCTION 2: REVENGE OF THE HIVE QUEEN - 2018) some credit for making a film with high intellectual aspirations on a nothing budget, but it simply isn't enough for me to recommend this film. There's also a wince-inducing scene where Laura sleeps with her father the night before she tries to teleport for the first that will make you feel extremely uncomfortable, especially when Laura tells her wary father that it's okay, she just wants to cuddle! UGH! It's not a complete failure, but it's enough to be put in the Bad Category. Better luck next time. I saw this for free, streaming on Amazon Prime.; CLOWN MOTEL (2018) another movie streaming for free on Amazon Prime, is one of those films I wanted to turn off after watching it for five minutes, but I can't, because once I start watching a movie, I finish it (It's both a gift and a curse). This is one of the worst acted pieces of crap I have ever laid eyes upon (All of the "actors" here are mainly bit or background actors, except for Ari Lehman, the original Jason Vorhees in FRIDAY THE 13TH [1980] and Tony Moran, who portrayed the 23-year-old Michael Myers in the original HALLOWEEN [1978], but even they stink on ice here.), as well as being boring as all fuck, with effects that are of the Ten Cent Store variety (I could buy most of them at my nearest Army & Navy store!). Based on the real-life Clown Motel in Tonopah, Nevada, this flick also has the nerve to depict the hotel as the only building in the middle of nowhere, when Tonopah is actually a very bustling little town, with its own gas station, eateries and even a casino! It's also a very busy truck stop destination, a mid-point destination where truckers can sleep for the night (it has several motels and hotels besides this one), get something to eat, fill up their diesel tanks and lose all their money at the same time! This film finds a trio of male ghost hunters who are running a fledgling YouTube paranormal channel (they only have 200 subscribers!) running into a quartet of women, on their way to Las Vegas to have a bachelorette party for their best friend Brooke (Elinor Price), at the titled motel. The guys want to tape a show at the Clown Motel since it is reportedly a hotbed of paranormal activity and the women end up there when they drive into a mysterious cloud, which results in them ending up at the motel no matter what direction they travel. Too tired to drive any more, the women bed down with the three man, after they falsely tell them that it is the only room available (Can't they see that no one else is there?). What they don't know is that the hotel was rebuilt about 30 years ago when some country hicks discovered that a family of clowns lived there (headed by father Pyscan [Lehman; THE BARN - 2016]) and they are mining for gold in a nearby cave and getting rich because of it. The clown family is non-violent, but they don't trust "humans" because of their propensity for violence towards things they don't understand (such as clowns), but when the hicks burn down the motel, stealing the gold and killing the entire clown clan, they return from the afterlife (from the cemetery next to the motel, the only piece of truth in this entire film [the cemetery, not the clowns returning from the dead!]) to kill anyone who dares use their motel. That's basically the plot of the film, as all of the humans are picked-off one-by-one (after their vehicles are disabled) by the ghostly clown family, for every one they kill allows another member of their clown family to return from the Great Beyond. I can't begin to describe how awful this film is acted (it's like watching a grade school play) and the clowns' makeups are so threadbare and lousy, they wouldn't scare a baby. The effects are no better, the most graphic being midget clown Loco (Martin Klebba; "Marty" in the PIRATES FROM THE CARIBBEAN franchise [2003 - 2017]) thrusting a crowbar through Casey's (Amanda Kott) left breast. We really don't see anything since it is done through her blouse. All the gore are of the after-effects of the murders, as we never see a clown murder anyone, except Crank the Clown (Robert B. Oliver) shoving a wiper blade into Chris' (Donald Schell) mouth and blood comes gushing out. Another clown rips off the arms of Ian (Steven Vogel) but it's quite obvious his arms are tied to the back of his shirt (and he hardly bleeds!). He is then beaten to death with one of his own arms. This movie tries to be funny in spots, showing overweight clown Hammy (Johnny Perotti) masturbating with a canned ham (!), before he grabs Spencer (Eric Prochnau) and butt-fucks him, but the comic moments (such as Pyscan killing Kristen [Angeline Mirenda] with a bowling pin while yelling, "Respect the testicles!" after she kicks him in the nuts), are flatter than the serious parts, so why bother? I could mention director/screenwriter Joseph Kelly's other credits (he also has a bit part here), but why would I want to torture you with that? This is a film best avoided at all costs. Believe me. The only positive thing I can say about this is that Pyscan's young daughter, Silly Lilly (Chalet Lizette Brannan; STRANGE NATURE - 2018) delivers the best performance in the entire film. Leave it to a child to show the adults how to do something right! Based on a short Kelly directed in 2016. The film also has a non-concluding finale, where nothing is resolved, probably so Joseph Kelly could film the eventual sequel (Due sometime in 2020). Pray it doesn't happen. Pray hard.; The story behind the making of MASKED MUTILATOR (1994/2018) is more interesting than the film itself. Financed by a group of minor wrestling figures and their managers, this film was started in Pennsylvania in 1994, where 80% of it was finished before they discovered that there were some gaping holes in the plot that they thought couldn't be fixed, so they abandoned the project until they could find a way to fix it. Flash-forward 24 years later (!) and  a way to complete the film was discovered, but there was no money to finish it. They took the film to Severin Films head David Gregory, who agreed to film the wraparound segments that would complete the film, but only if his sublabel, InterVision Picture Corp., could distribute it on Blu-Ray & DVD. An agreement was reached and this was the result, a rather tame mash-up of wrestling and slasher genres. I was hoping for something better than what was delivered, but it still is a nice time capsule where wrestlers-turned-filmmakers decided to make a horror film on celluloid, rather than video. The results are semi-professional, but disappointing, because the violence is pulled-back rather than going full-steam ahead. A wrestler going under the name of the Masked Mutilator (former wrestler Jeff Sibbach) accidentally (?) kills an opponent in the ring, so he loses his right to wrestle anywhere and has to take a job as the head of a group home for troubled youths that is under-funded and under-staffed. He uses his real name, "Vic Mangino" so no one knows he was the Masked Mutilator, but everyone, including the snotty, overaged teens in his charge already do. He is forced to take-in an apprentice college kid named Steve Carson (wrestler/actor Brick Bronsky; Troma's SGT. KABUKIMAN N.Y.P.D. - 1990; CLASS OF NUKE 'EM HIGH PART 2: SUBHUMANOID MELTDOWN - 1991; THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE SUBHUMANOID: NUKE 'EM HIGH III - 1994; and RETURN TO NUKE 'EM HIGH VOLUME 1 - 2013; who directs this film using his real name, "Jeff Beltzner"), by a crooked state employee who threatens to expose his wrestling background to the government. Before you can say, "Fuckin' overage teenagers!", someone dressed as the Masked Mutilator begins killing the teens in the group home one-by-one. It's not hard to figure out who it is because there are precious few suspects, only Vic, Steve and the overweight cook, Carl (Doug Yasinsky), but only one of them has the physique of the Masked Mutilator killer. Yes, it's Steve. He is killing teens because, years earlier, he watched teens from this very same group home rape and murder his sister while making him watch. This short, 76-minute film, is short on logic and, like I said before, the gore is sparse, which is surprising, since Glenn Hetrick and Paul Sutt (who both have roles in this film), are well-respected special effects makeup experts, supplying bloody effects to films such as KING OF THE ANTS (2004); 300 (2006); and FEAST II: SLOPPY SECONDS (2008). On this film, all they do is splash plenty of blood on the victims' faces and bodies; no open wounds, no gushing blood. In their defense, they were just getting started in the field of special makeup effects. On the plus side, there's some brutal wrestling and martial arts fighting in the film, made all the more believable because they were wrestlers. The short running time may find you more forgiving than if the film ran ten minutes longer. So how did they "fix" this film? Well, the wraparound segments are of a podcast where one of the teens, Brian Worth (Tom Taylor, who returns from the original footage no longer a teen!), explains what went on at the group home when the murders were taking place. The 1994 film is then shown as a long flashback. It works in the film's favor, at least to some degree, but the sad fact is that the mystery is not much of a mystery at all if you don't have enough red herrings to throw off the viewer (Screenplay by Ed Polgardy & Dale Schneck, their only writing credit, although Polgardy is a respected Producer of such films as THE HALFWAY HOUSE - 2004 and LAID TO REST - 2009). A nice try, but it ultimately fails. Look for a young James DeBello (CABIN FEVER - 2002) in a flashback as a young Steve Carson (which is actually a flashback-within-a-flashback in the re-worked film!). Also starring Heidi Shelhamer (as Brian's virginal new girlfriend, Leslie), Andrew Denzel, Chet Cole and Amanda Kupchinsky as Marcy, the group home slut, who provides the film's only topless nudity. Do yourself a favor and watch WRESTLEMANIAC (2006) instead. It's not good, but at least it's gory.; Since I have been in charge of this website for over 20 years, I do get a lot of offers to view upcoming horror film as screeners (usually on Vimeo). I turn down nearly all of them, because I don't want to feel beholden to anyone for giving me a film for free. I feel as if I am put in a corner, obligated to giving the film a positive review, which I would never do unless it is actually good. Then, along came BLOOD BAGS (2018), an Italian horror film (filmed in English with English-subtitles whenever someone speaks Italian [which isn't very often]) that I have read many good reviews about. I accepted October Coast Releasing's (the company who is distributing the film on VOD early in December 2019, with an eventual DVD release later) offer to watch the film (after they sent me the password to unlock the film on Vimeo) and, low and behold, the film stinks on ice! Director Emiliano Ranzani (his first feature film), who co-wrote the screenplay with Davide Mela (his first feature film screenplay, as well as being this film's Executive Producer), has delivered a horror film that lacks horror or any type of coherent plot. The film opens with two burglars, Tony (Riccardo Leto) and Alex (Emanuele Turetta), breaking into an abandoned mansion to steal any valuables they can find (Which begs the question: Why would these two thieves even think there were valuables in an abandoned mansion?). A misshapen Creature sneaks up behind Tony and stabs him repeatedly with a large knife, killing him. When Alex sees Tony's dead body and the Creature coming after him (apparently, the Creature can only see in black & white, as its frequent POV shots show us!), he runs away, his fate left up in the air. We then switch to two female friends, American architecture college student Tracy (Makenna Guyler; COULROPHOBIA - 2015), who has come to Italy to do her thesis on Italy's ancient and beautiful architectual buildings (something I always wanted to do!), and Italian slut Petra (Marta Tananyan), who will screw anyone with two legs and a cock. These girls are the exact opposite of each other, because Tracy has no time for boys or men, since she has to go back to the United States very soon. When she hears about an abandoned mansion that is unusual in its architecture, she drags Petra along with her to take photographs of the mansion, inside and out. I don't have to tell you what mansion this is, do I? Meanwhile, a man is traveling around Italy, collecting bags of blood from people, after they show the man written proof that they are disease and HIV-free. When one woman demands more money from the man for her blood, he simply kills her after collecting her blood and walks away. We then see Tracy and Petra breaking into the mansion, not noticing that elderly caretaker Bruno Cramori (Franco Olivero) has seen them doing it and padlocks the front gate, so they cannot run away. It's not long before the Creature kills Petra and chases Tracy upstairs, but she is saved by Alex, who has been hiding in the house. They can't escape the mansion because all the exits and windows are boarded up, so they must try to kill the Creature. Tracy manages to get one call to the police on her cell phone before the Creature destroys it and two cops, Laura (Denitza Diakovska) and Antonio (Salvatore Palombi) come to the mansion to check it out. Antonio questions Bruno and he tells the officer that the mansion has been empty for a long time, showing him the locked padlock on the front gate, which is too dangerous for anyone to climb to get inside (or outside!) the mansion's grounds. Laura and Antonio then leave, but Antonio believes something is fishy with Bruno, so they return to the mansion and make Bruno unlock the gate so they can enter the mansion. While all of this is happening, we discover that the man collecting the blood, Vittorio (Alberto Sette), is actually the Creature's brother. He collects blood in blood bags so his Creature brother (played by Mario Cellini; P.O.E.: PROJECT OF EVIL - 2012) can drink it. It's the only way his brother can survive (Don't expect an explanation why he needs blood to survive, because we are never told). So who will live and who will die? It really doesn't matter, because the film throws-in the worst cop-out ending I ever witnessed in a long, long time. I can't really tell you what it is because I get mad just thinking about it! Just take my word for it, the final two minutes will make you throw your remote at the TV screen, as both the screenwriters couldn't think of a proper ending, so they just ended it as being all a dream (nightmare?) on Tracy's part, after she is captured by the Creature and faints at the sight of him. When she wakes up, the Creature then slices her to death with his large knife while she is tied to a table (There, I did tell you the fucked-in-the-head finale! Fuck you, film. Sideways!), leaving the film wide-open for an eventual sequel, one I hope is never made. The finale is better if you just ignore the final two cop-out minutes, as it is a better ending than what comes after it (Tracy kills the Creature by stabbing him in the head and body over-and -over with the Creature's own knife, saving both her and a wounded Alex). Although the film is very bloody, most of it is very hard to see, especially the killings in the mansion, which is only lighted with the victims' flashlights (The Creature is a very nice creation, though). Most of the blood and gore comes after the fact, only shown after the murders are committed (a chopped-off hand with a small hatchet; various bloody neck slashings and other impalements, etc.). The worst things about this film are the generic music soundtrack (by Fabio Di Santo & Daniele Prina) and its total lack of pacing. It's a well-shot film, however, but that's not enough for me to give it a positive review, because, frankly, it's rather boring and uneventful. I recommend that you stay away from this film if you don't want to waste 90 minutes of your precious time. There goes any more offers for screeners, but I calls them like I sees them!; "If life breaks your heart, you break life." The consensus in the film community is that the stories by H.P. Lovecraft are unfilmable as written, but that never stopped Italian director Ivan Zuccon from trying to adapt Lovecraft to the screen. Among his Lovecraft films are THE SHUNNED HOUSE (2003), COLOUR FROM THE DARK (2008) and a few others, all of them lacking a budget to give Lovecraft's visions any chance of succeeding.  He even directed a few non-Lovecraft films, such as WRATH OF THE CROWS (2013), but they also have a Lovecraft "feel" to them. With his latest, HERBERT WEST: RE-ANIMATOR (2018), he gives Lovecraft the old college try, trying to be faithful to Lovecraft's story (a lot more faithful than Stuart Gordon's classic RE-ANIMATOR - 1985). but lacking a proper budget to bring it to life. It's a valiant try, but the film is mainly a collection of confusing flashbacks and flash-forwards with little connective tissue between scenes and, unless you are a fan of Lovecraft (as I am), you'll be lost as soon as the film begins. I will try to make it less confusing here. When Herbert West's young daughter, Eleanor (Valentina Bivona), dies in a car accident caused by West's wife Elizabeth (Roberta Marrelli), he uses his serum to bring Eleanor back to life, only to discover she has come back without a soul. When Elizabeth commits suicide over the guilt of killing her only daughter, Herbert tries to find a way to bring his daughter back with her soul, which involves him killing Eleanor over-and-over (usually by shooting her in the head with a pistol), only to discover that every time he "kills" her, she returns back to life on her own, each time being quicker than the time before, but still without her soul. Herbert decides to inject himself with his serum to see if her can locate Eleanor's soul. He learns about "The Darkness", a Purgatory-like place that is nothing but blackness, where people go between life and death, just before they are "judged" being good or evil and whether they will go to Heaven or Hell. Herbert manages to escape The Darkness and return to Earth, but he is sure Eleanor's soul lives there. One day, Eleanor escapes from her father and goes out into the world, becoming a famous violinist in an orchestra, Now an adult, Eleanor (played by Rita Rusciano) is not only a world-famous violinist, she is also a remorseless serial killer (Remember, she has no soul), murdering anyone who stands in her way, usually by garotting them. This is when the film loses all forward motion and becomes a really confusing mess of a film, as Herbert's son, Herbert West Jr. (Alessio Cherubini) enters the film and he knows all about his Father's work, even though Herbert Sr. is sure he never had a son! Just who is this man and why has he created three re-animated bodies, keeping them locked in Herbert Sr.'s house (and keeps Herbert Sr. chained to a wheelchair!)? If you are looking for answers, you'll get none in this film, as it turns into a hodge-podge of confusing (but eerily affecting and atmospheric) scenes of grue and symbolism, especially the bathtub that is a portal between the living and The Darkness (Herbert Jr. makes his first appearance when Eleanor is pulled under the murky black water in the bathtub and Herbert Jr. suddenly appears, trapping Eleanor in The Darkness! Confused yet? Yeah, so was I!). I really wanted to like this film because it is beautifully shot and edited (Zuchon does have a flair with the camera),  but I just couldn't give it a positive review because, even though I am a huge Lovecraft fan, the film makes absolutely no sense, especially the sudden finale, which will having you scratching your head until there is blood under your fingernails. Keep trying Zuchon, but only when you have enough of a budget to properly put Lovecraft on screen. But maybe Lovecraft is really unfilmable as written? Time will tell.; THE JURASSIC GAMES (2018) is as silly as it sounds, a low-budget knock-off of JURASSIC PARK and THE HUNGER GAMES franchises, not to mention THE RUNNING MAN (1987), only this time, instead of an amusement park full of genetically-created dinosaurs, ten Death Row inmates must battle computer dinosaurs in a virtual world. If you die in the game, you die in real life and the winner of the game will get their freedom. Taking place in the near future, this film details the trials and tribulations of the Death Row inmates, while the game does nothing but expoit their eventual deaths as "entertainment" for the 300 million people watching the games on their TVs, especially by the game's master of ceremonies, known simply as "The Host" (Ryan Merriman; FINAL DESTINATION 3 - 2006; the best acting in the film). The Death Row inmates include the regular assortment of cliched characters: Joy (Katie Burgess), a female serial killer with over 16 deaths on her hands; Albert (Luke Wyckoff), the leader of a drug cartel; Two murderous brothers, one a giant simpleton (Rett Terrell), and the other a mohawk-wearing loudmouth (Kyle Penington); Stephanie (Cate Jones), another female killer; Ren (Tiger Sheu), your typical Oriental bad guy; a cannibal named Billy (Gary Frazier); Dr. Eli Franklin (Sidney Flack), a serial bomber (and the first to die; after The Host shows footage of one of his bombings); a couple of "red shirts" (who die quickly, so we don't get to know them) and of course, Tucker (Adam Hampton), the only innocent convict in the group, who was convicted of murdering his wife while she slept. The game is played in four steps. the First Step is trying to make it to a "Safe Zone" before they are attacked and killed by raptors; the Second Step (and the most interesting) is trying to make it through a maze, where the first one to do so is given a laser rifle (It's Tucker, who refuses to shoot anyone, because he is innocent); The Third Step is to make it through a mine field without being blown to pieces while being attacked in the air by pterodactyls (One convict is picked up by one of the flying lizards and dropped on a mine!); and the Fourth Step is reserved for the final two contestants, where they are chained together by a long chain in the desert and must find the key to unlock the padlock (it's somewhere buried in the sand) before they are eaten by approaching Tyrannosaurus-Rex's. It's Tucker and Joy who are chained together and in a "surprise twist" everyone saw coming, it was Joy who killed Tucker's wife and The Host knew it, but opponents to the game, called the "Cavemen", sabotage the finale and The Host is dispatched rather fittingly, getting swallowed whole by a T-Rex. If I make this film sound interesting, my apologies, as the CGI dinosaurs are pitiful, as is an attack on Joy by a Sabertooth Tiger and Albert getting attacked by a carnivorous plant, spraying acid all over him as we watch him dissolve. There's nothing here that's the least interesting except for Ryan Merriman's portrayal of The Host, a real scumbag of a human being who orchestrates the killing of nearly everyone, until the tables are turned by the game's Associate Producer (Raychelle McDonald), who was made to interview Tucker's kids and they believe their father is innocent of killing their mother. She joins the "Cavemen", who sabotage the game's final minutes, resulting in the death of Joy, and Tucker, being the winner of the game, is set free. Just so there is no doubt there will be a sequel on the horizon, the film closes with the game's Producer, Savannah (Perrey Reeves; CHILD'S PLAY 3 - 1991), announcing on TV that the game will continue next year with a new "upgrade", showing us dinosaurs fitted with machine guns and rocket launchers! Director/producer Ryan Bellgardt (ARMY OF FRANKENSTEINS - 2013), who wrote the anemic screenplay with Galen Christy, fails to give any of the characters interesting backstories (except for Tucker), resulting in the viewer not caring about any of them, so when they are killed, all that it ellicits is a ho-hum by the audience. It could have been a much better movie with more professional CGI (it gets worse as the film progresses, like they ran out of money for good CGI and just winged it on a computer) and a better written story. You can watch this streaming for free on Amazon Prime, or if you aren't a Prime member, you can watch it streaming for free (with ads) on Tubi, no membership required. Just go into it knowing that it's not a very good film and you may find yourself enjoying it, just for its badness. All-in-all, it looks like a typical original film on the Sy-Fi Network, so you will know if you will enjoy it or not.;   HALLOWEEN AT AUNT ETHEL'S (2018) is a horror comedy that just doesn't work, thanks to a loss of logic and common sense. The story is about the title character, Aunt Ethel (portrayed shamelessly by "Gail Yost", who is actually the mother of the film's director), who, every Halloween, kills children for reasons unknown and uses their body parts as "Pickled Chocolates", which she gives to other children who knock on her door. Two teenage girls, the innocent and pure Melissa (Madeleine Murphy) and the whorish Mandy (Stephanie Town), along with Mandy's boyfriend Mark (Sean Michael Gloria), spy on Aunt Ethel to catch her in the act of killing children for reasons only known to Mandy and Mark, Melissa being kept out of the loop. It turns out both Mandy and Mark lost brothers and sisters to Aunt Ethel during Halloweens past and they plan on killing her. It turns out that, years ago, Aunt Ethel was cursed by a witch, who made her immortal if she kills thirty-one people (it doesn't have to be children) every Halloween. If she doesn't,  bad things will happen to her. I know it doesn't make very much sense and that's where this film fails, badly, very badly. For one thing: if everyone in town knows Aunt Ethel is killing children, why aren't the police involved? We do not see any cops in this film at all. It's only in the film to advance the plot, where Melissa has to face-off with Aunt Ethel, Melissa being the thirty-first victim, but Aunt Ethel gives her a way out of this. She must kill the next child who knocks on the door, which she does, stabbing a little boy in the stomach, without any emotion at all! Aunt Ethel then laughs and says the curse is now on Melissa, as the only way to break the curse is to have someone else willingly kill the thirty-first victim! Now Melissa must kill thirty-one people every Halloween or something "bad" will happen to her! There, I have given away the entire plot of the film. You can thank me now, readers.  I will say this: The film is chock-full of nudity, usually by Mandy, who is a slut of the first degree and also uses people like toilet paper. Why anyone is friends with her is beyond me. There's also a sub-plot about a serial peeping tom and masturbater named Ricky (Chris Cavalier), who peeps into everyone's windows and jerks-off. When he does it to Aunt Ethel (Why???), she captures him and cuts off his dick with pruning shears and then slaps him in the head with it. Aunt Ethel is a ridiculous character with a blonde fright wig, who talks to all of her dead victims (she even plays checkers with one of her dead female victims and then accuses her of cheating, slugging her in the face!). All of this is played as a broad farce, but director/producer/screenwriter Joseph Mazzaferro hasn't the foggiest idea of what is funny, using gags older than time itself, none of them working. Do yourself a favor and ignore this film. I wish I did. It doesn't work as either a comedy or a horror film; it's just a poorly scripted and acted piece of celluloid that shouldn't have been released. The only good thing I can say about it is that it is only 70 minutes long, with a nearly ten-minute "rap" song added during the end credits, bringing its running time to 80 minutes. Like the film itself, the song is neither memorable or good, as it sounds like thousands of rap songs that came before it, only with scenes of Aunt Ethel and the cast dancing to the music and doing it badly. Christ, no one does anything good in this film!

Bad DTV Genre Films Part 27 (continued): BLACK WAKE (2018) is one of those films that you hope gets better as it progresses, but all it does is let you down. The main problem with this film is its main actress, Nana Gouvea (great body, terrible actress). Her Brazilian accent is very hard to understand and that wouldn't normally be a problem for me, but she narrates 90% of the film! The second problem is that this is a "found footage" flick. And the third, and most important, problem is that this film can't make up its mind what type of film this wants to be. It starts out as a zombie film, then turns into a "Government covers-up strange murders all over the Eastern Seaboard" scenario and then turns into some H.P. Lovecraft-like tentacled monster film. The film opens with two C.I.A. agents (wearing Google Glass, or optical head-mounted display smart glasses) doing secret surveillance on Dr. Luiza Moreira (Gouvea), watching her as she jogs and swims in a pool (in a tiny bikini, so we can see she has a fantastic body [and a tattoo just below her navel]). She then goes to her new job at some government building, where she is introduced to her boss, Dr. Vincent Jones (Vincent Pastore; THE SOPRANOS [1999 - 2007]). Luiza is put in charge of researching a series of strange "murders" happening along the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, where people are found with huge holes in their heads, exposing their brains. The strangest thing about these "murders" is that it was like the brains exploded out of their heads, not like someone cracked their skulls open. And none of the many victims had anything in common with each other. They were found hundred of miles apart, but all died at the same time and in the same way. The only thing these people had in common is that they were all near bodies of water before they died. The only police official who seems to notice the strangeness of these murders is Sheriff Williams (Chuck Zito; OZ [1998 - 2002]), as he tries to warn the public of the danger, but he is quickly silenced by the government. The building Luiza works in is covered with surveillance cameras, the government keeping an eye on everyone 24/7, but Luiza uses to web camera on her laptop as a video diary, as she collects evidence which seems to reveal the the deaths are not murder at all, but unknown "worm-like" creatures (they actually look like alien scorpions) that enter the human body through any opening they can find and after a short while they explode out of the person's head. Luisa gets her hands on a "book" (actually a lot of paper attached together) that is titled "The Seas From Whence They Came" that was written by a homeless young man named Tommy (Jonny Beauchamp; PENNY DREADFUL [2014 - 2016]) and full of strange, hand-drawn pictures. As a boy, Tommy was on a boat with his mother and father, when something strange happened. His father was killed and his mother disappeared and was never found. Luiza gets her hands on some documentary footage, where two teens interview Tommy about homelessness. Tommy gives one of the teens his "book" and he give the other a plastic jug that contains black liquid and one of the "worms", which shoots out of the jug and into the teen's mouth. The surviving teen, Lucas (Jeremy Fernandez), is interviewed by Detective Michaels (Tom Sizemore; BOTTOM FEEDER - 2006) and when he asks the teen what this "book" means, Lucas laughs, grabs an officer's pistol and shoots himself in the head (Even I know that no guns are ever allowed in an interview room, just because of something like this very incident!). Somehow, Luiza gets her hands on this "book" (There are a lot of "somehows" in this film, too many to keep track of) and becomes obsessed with it. She now believes the "murders" are caused by unknown creatures that may not be from this planet. She tells her supervisor, Dr. Frank (Eric Roberts; SELF STORAGE - 2013), about the creatures, but he tells her to stick with the facts and quit believing in science fiction. I've told you all you need to know about this poor independent film, directed/co-written by Jeremiah Kipp, who really hasn't done anything else of note except for dozens of short films (Nana Gouvea was this film's Executive Producer, which explains why she got the key female role). If you notice all the "stars" in this film, know this: They are in one or two scenes (Eric Roberts' scenes could have been shot in less than 30 minutes) and then disappear. Vincent Pastore gets eaten by two topless "sea zombies" in a morgue, Chuck Zito turns into a zombie and eats two bank robbers in their hotel room and Eric Roberts is killed offscreen, his death mentioned in passing by Luiza. The only one to survive is Tom Sizemore, who looks like he is making up his lines as his two scenes progress. Most of the film is Luiza talking to her laptop camera, her dialogue very hard to understand (I had to rewind the film several times to understand what she was saying), but there is a "surprise" near the finale that tells us why the two C.I.A. agents are keeping a close eye on her. When Luiza goes home to her husband and teenage daughter after being away for nearly half a year, she discovers they are not her husband and daughter at all. Care to guess who she really is (It's mentioned in this review)? If I have to say one good thing about this film, it's that the CGI of the small creatures and the honking big tentacled creature we see in the finale are very well done. Better than this film deserves. It won countless awards at film festivals I never heard of (including one for Tom Sizemore as "Best Actor"!), making me think of the films this flick went up against to get those awards. Could they have been as bad, or worse, than this one? I highly doubt it!; Director Todd Sheets is one of the originators of the Shot-On-Video (SOV) genre, churning out scores of films since the mid-'80s. What's amazing is that he is still going strong some 35 years later. While most of Sheets' films are nothing but extreme gore with a minimal of understandable plot, he has tried to up his game lately with story-driven, gore-drenched films such as HOUSE OF FORBIDDEN SECRETS (2013; his tribute to Italian Gothic horror films), OUIJA DEATH TRAP (2014; a Found Footage flick that was mostly improvised), DREAMING PURPLE NEON (2016; my favorite Sheets film) and BONEHILL ROAD (2017; a decent werewolf flick with all physical effects, no CGI), but his latest film (at the time of this review), CLOWNADO (2018) is a step backwards for Sheets. Just look at the title and it tells you all you need to know. A group of crazy psychotic circus clowns, led by Big Ronnie (John O'Hara) murder the boyfriend of circus worker Savanna (Rachel Lagen), so she goes to witch Autumn Moonspell (former porn star Jeanne Silver) to cast a deadly curse on Big Ronnie, who raped her after killing her boyfriend. Something goes wrong with the ritual and Big Ronnie and his clown mates are now able to travel by tornado and touch down anywhere they want to, killing anyone in their way in various gory manners, but it almost always ends up with their victims being disemboweled or torn apart, revealing to us that they are full of various red-colored jellies and jams.  A truck driver named Hunter Fidelis (Bobby Westrick) teams up with a stripper named Bambi (Dilynn Fawn Harvey), a runaway daughter named Rachel (Sierra Stodden) and a black Elvis impersonator named Dion (Sheets regular Antwoine Steele) to try and find a way to stop these murderous clowns before they wipe out the entire town. That's the entire plot to this film. The rest of the 99-minute running time is filled with awful CGI twister effects and plenty of gory physical effects, including the previously mentioned disembowelments, appendages being ripped or cut off, several decapitations, stabbings, shootings, and female clown Satchel (Cayt Feinics) growing teeth on her breasts (like in the film MAUSOLEUM - 1982) and a huge tongue popping out of an opening in her stomach, where she chews off a man's head and swallows it through her stomach! When Satchel is shotgunned in the chest and stomach, she gives birth to a midget clown named Shrinky Dink (Jeffery White), who crawls out of her stomach! While I won't call the effects good, they do fit perfectly into the story, but when reality sets in with the viewer, they will realize that this isn't a good film at all. Sheets manages to raise money to make his films through crowdfunding and it's apparent that there are many fans of his work out there, because he always manages to raise his funding goals. While I don't care for this film, I have to say I am a fan of Todd Sheets. I have had conversations with him on Facebook and he seems to be an easy-going person who loves the horror genre. He also usually hires actors way past their prime to appear in his flicks (such as the late Dyanne Thorne), his favorite being Linnea Quigley, who appears here as stripclub/bar owner Spider, a character she originally played in SORORITY BABES IN THE SLIMEBALL BOWL-O-RAMA (1987). She only appears for about a minute in this film, but she registers in her role, if only because the rest of the actors here can politely be called amateurs (except for Jeanne Silver, who also registers in her role). As long as Todd Sheets makes films, I'll watch them, because he is truly an American icon in the field of SOV horror. No one in his field has lasted longer (the closest anyone comes to him is Mark Polonia, but his films, nearly all of them, stink on ice. AMITYVILLE DEATH HOUSE [2014] anyone?). Todd Sheets has talent to spare, but in the overcrowded genre of clown horror films, this is not a good one. Watch TERRIFIER (2016) or CLOWN (2013) instead.; When I was a kid growing up in Wanaque, New Jersey (one of the strangest towns in Northern New Jersey), the major ghost story all kids would tell was about the ghostly happenings on Clinton Road, a ten mile stretch of county road in nearby West Milford. As a matter of fact, the first thing I did when I got my first car at the age of sixteen was drive to Clinton Road (In the daytime, never at night. I'm not stupid!) and see for myself if the tales were true. Nothing happened, but there is no denying that it is a creepy stretch of road, a thick row of trees on both sides and very little traffic. There were tales of a ghostly female hitchhiker, a white phantom truck that would follow you at night, a ghost child that would stand in the middle of the road, coins on a bridge that would fall into the water below by themselves (causing someone to drown) and other ghostly happenings, all on that stretch of paved road. That is why I decided to watch the horror film CLINTON ROAD (2018) and after viewing it, all I can say is "Phew, did you smell that?" When extended cameos by Ice-T and Vincent Pastore are the best acting in a film, you know that is a sign of trouble. The rest of the film is as threadbare and anemic as a low-budget horror film can get. The story, as it were, tells the tale of Michael (Ace Young), whose wife, Jessica (Sarah Pribis), disappeared on that ghostly stretch of road a year ago and was never found. To get some much-needed closure, Jessica's sister, Isabella (Katie Morrison) hires a psychic named Begory (James DeBello, in a wince-inducing performance) to travel to Clinton Road and contact her sister to find out what happened to her. She invites Michael and his current girlfriend Kayla (Lauren LaVera), as well as Michael's best friend Tyler (Cody Christopher Calafiore) to join her, Begory and Begory's stuck-up girlfriend Gianna (Erin O'Brien) to go to Clinton Road and try to contact Jessica at the last known location where she was seen. As you can probably guess, nothing goes as planned, but these are the most unlikable people ever to grace a movie screen. They also do the stupidest things imaginable, all so the story can separate them from one another and they can be killed off in various non-gory fashions. There's a ghostly little girl with blacked-out eyes who screams (that's all she does!), a ghost woman who walks silently through the woods, a ghostly park ranger (played by Carlos Leon, the former beau of Madonna!), and a bald-headed, thickly bearded hulk of a man with a sledgehammer who looks like a member of ZZ Top, all who kill members of the cast in their own ways (usually offscreen). Directors Steve Stanulis and Richard Grieco (yes, that Richard Grieco; he portrays the driver of the phantom truck in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameo) toss in all the ghostly tales of the area that I mentioned, but they don't even try to explain them. They are just there. With no backstory, what's the point? Toss in a non-ending that will make you want to kick-in your TV screen, performances that can best be described as amateurish and absolutely no blood or gore and you have a film that fails on nearly every front, except for topless female nudity, of which there os a lot (Probably inserted to get your mind off on how bad this film really is. It didn't work). The film's best scenes comes in the beginning, where Michael and the gang visit Ice-T and Vincent Pastore's bar in NYC. Ice-T is a hoot, as he tells a story about his experience on Clinton Road and scares the crap out of "the white boys" when they are smoking pot in a back room. There are also cameos by Eric Roberts (playing himself, although the female bouncer doesn't believe he is who he says he is), Bo Dietl as the mayor of New York (!), and Real Housewives of New Jersey's Dolores Catania (who???) as herself. The end credits thank Weird New Jersey, one of my favorite publications and infinitely more entertaining than this film (It even published a couple of my stories). Personally, I can think of better ways to spend 77 minutes. How about having a friend burn off your ass hair with a magnifying glass?;  BUS PARTY TO HELL (2018) is a terribly unfunny horror comedy, whose only saving grace is plenty of female nudity and some good, gory, mostly physical makeup effects. The biggest negative about this film is Tara Reid, one of the worst actresses working today (she may be the worst actress working today!). Thankfully, she's only in five minutes of the film, but it's in the beginning, where I almost turned the film off, thanks to her. She is one of the most unexpressive actresses I ever saw. She only has one "look" and that is confusion. After watching Reid running through the desert for five minutes, while mummies try to attack her (!), the film then switches to the main plot (And we never see Reid again. Hooray!). A party bus in Las Vegas picks up its passengers, who are all going to the Burning Man Festival in the middle of the desert. An unscheduled passenger, Lara (Stefani Blake), who gets out of a car after being propositioned by the old man driver, hops on the bus when its driver, Joan (Sadie Katz), tells her the ride is free. The passengers on the bus are your typical clichéd lot. There's lesbian Ivy (Shelby McCullough), bickering married couple Reese (ViDonna Michaels) and Warren (Ben Stobber), nerd Stuart (Ray Gutierrez), intellectual Peter (Demetrios Alex), ladies man Alan (Richard Hochman) and a bunch of other passengers who are about to be slaughtered very soon. When the bus breaks down in the middle of nowhere (and of course, there is no cellphone service!), everyone gets out of the bus and are attacked by a cult of cannibal Devil worshippers, who begin slaughtering all the red shirts on the bus, by tearing their limbs off, beheading them, cutting them in half and other bloody mayhem. Only the seven people I mentioned survive, running into the bus and locking the door. It turns out Joan, the bus driver, wasn't the bus driver at all (she's dead in the luggage compartment), she's actually a member of the cult. The cult wants Lara as their sacrifice, since she is a virgin (of course she is!). Then the blood and bad comedy really hit the fan. As the passengers are killed one-by-one, it is up to Peter to have sex with Lara, so she's no longer a virgin. But, in the act of sex, Lara turns into a horned demon and begins killing everyone else (starting with Peter) until only Ivy and Reese survive. The film ends with the promise of a sequel. Where do I begin? The humor is extremely juvenile and unfunny, such as when lesbian Ivy tells Joan that Lara can't be a virgin, because they just had sex in the bus's bathroom. Joan then says "I'm sorry. You don't have the required equipment to take her virginity!" When Joan swallows the keys to the bus so no one can drive away (Why didn't the cult just disable the bus?), Alan shoots Joan in the head with his pistol and Reese cut's Joan's stomach open, feels around in her guts and retrieves the keys, like it's nothing! All of Joan's tatoos (of snakes, spiders and lizards) disappear from her body and become real, attacking everyone still alive, but killing no one. I mean, what's the point? Director/screenwriter Rolfe Kanefsky, whose first film was the horror comedy THERE'S NOTHING OUT THERE (1990), ladles on the nudity and blood, trying to get your mind off the ridiculous story and it almost works (there's a surprising amount of lesbianism here, not just on the bus, but in the cult, too). Almost. This is a threadbare IndieGoGo-crowdfunded film that basically fails in what it attempts to do. It's a valiant try, but still a failure. Filmed as PARTY BUS TO HELL, but the title was changed by the distributor. Why?; Sometimes I really suffer for my craft, especially when I do something really stupid, like watching the LAKE FEAR trilogy (2014 - 2018) back-to-back in a single night. After doing so, I now understand why people commit suicide (I know it's a comment in very poor taste, but please bear with me). LAKE FEAR (2014), also known as A HAUNTING AT CYPRESS CREEK, is an extremely low-budget Texas production (made for about $8,000) about four young girls who go to a secluded cabin in the woods and encounter a cursed TV! Yes, you read that right. This film is nothing but a mish-mash of film cliches, where everything is way too dark to see. When one of the girls destroys the TV, a man called Remington (Joshua Winch) appears and tells them they opened up a big can of whupass and only he can stop it, since he was the one who trapped the evil demons in the TV. Before he can even begin to fight the evil, the film ends! Director/cinematographer/editor Michael Crum has made a film that he thinks is a tribute to THE EVIL DEAD (1981), but all it is is a digital headache that copies elements from POLTERGEIST (1982) and other horror films from the '70s & '80s, and does it in horrible fashion, as it looks like the camera lens was coated with a thick layer of vaseline, Crum trying to be arty, but it looks like amateur hour. Some of the makeup effects are good, at least what I could actually see, but you will find yourself squinting more than looking, which is guaranteed to be a pain in the head. It's simply awfully acted, shot, scored and sound recorded, looking and sounding more like one of those '90s SOV flicks than an actual film. LAKE FEAR 2: THE SWAMP (2017) is not a sequel to the first film at all, but actually a retitling of the film THE EVERGLADES KILLINGS. This one takes place in Florida, as a bunch of college kids head to a cabin in the Everglades to celebrate Spring Break, but they must contend with a family of hillbillies and a monstrous creature that begins killing them one-by-one. The most professionally made of the three films, but that's not saying much, as director/producer/writer/film scorer Ben Wilder has made nothing but a rehash of THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974) and other "terror in the woods" flicks, such as RITUALS (1977) and JUST BEFORE DAWN (1980). While the murders are bloody, it's nothing that you haven't seen a thousand times before and done much better than what you will find here. Boredom will set in after watching the first ten minutes and it's a very long 80 minutes. After watching the first two films in the trilogy, I was ready to scream "Uncle!", but I soldiered on just so I could end the suffering. And I was suffering! LAKE FEAR 3 (2018) is a true sequel to the first film and I held out some hope for it, based on the opening scene and some of the creature makeup creations, if you can get past the jumbled opening credits and dark photography. Michael Crum returns as director and Joshua Winch returns as Remington. This one finds Remington being followed by the evil released in the cabin's TV in Part 1. Wherever he goes, death happens, as we see Remington walk into a bar in a small Texas town, where a fat lady becomes possessed and falls to the ground. An old drunk man, thinking that the woman has suffered a heart attack, tries pounding on her chest and before you can say "John Carpenter's THE THING (1982)", the fat lady's chest opens up and bites the arms off the drunk man! The whole bar becomes possessed by evil, so Remington exits as quickly as possible. Then the film begins its main story, where we see Revel (Shanon Snedden), the sister of one of the murdered girls in the first film, and her bored friend Chloe (KateLynn E. Newberry), in the same small Texas town putting up missing person flyers for Revel's sister. Revel then sees that "Ghost Hunter" Vincent (Devi Khajishvili; whose English is not quite up to snuff) is at the local movie theater signing autographs for his latest movie (where no one will pay $5.00 for his signed headshot!). Revel, not knowing that Vincent is a phony, asks him to perform a seance to contact her missing sister, but Vincent refuses when Revel tells him she can't pay him anything. When Revel leaves the theater, Chloe tells Vincent she will pay him, knowing that he is not a real paranormal investigator, just a very bad actor, saying to tell Revel that her sister is dead, so she can get on with her life. Vincent agrees and they all go to a restaurant, when Remington enters. Oh, no! The restaurant's female owner threatens Remington with a shotgun, telling him to get out of her place, she heard about him from other local business owners that he brings death and destruction everywhere he goes. To make a long story short, the shotgun goes off and shoots Revel in the face. Revel then becomes possessed by evil (good makeup, at least what I could see!) and rips the head off the restaurant owner and begins chasing Chloe, Vincent and Remington. The only way to stop the evil is to return to the cabin, with a possessed Revel not far behind. If I make this sound interesting, I apologize, because this film is even darker to look at then the first time, Michael Crum learning nothing about lighting between the first film and this one. Nearly half the film is shot so darkly, you can never make out what is going on. When this film was over, I had a headache so bad from squinting so long that I had to take a couple of valium to get rid of it! And, to even insult me further, the film has a non-ending, setting us up for a Part 4, which, hopefully will never get made because I will have to watch it for the sake of my readers of this site. It's late-March 2020 as I write this review and there's still no talk of another sequel, but it was four years between this one and the first film, so I'm not holding out hope that it will never get made. This film is like a cheapjack version of THE EVIL DEAD 2 (1987), but without that film's wit or camera wizardry. Crum tries to inject some comedy into the proceedings (screenplay written by his brother Gerald Crum), but both Devi Khajishvili and Joshua Winch's line deliveries are rote. We can't understand half of what Khajishvili is saying because his English is really bad (He could really use an English translator!) and Winch talks in monotone, making both their characters uninteresting and boring. There's also a lot of extremely slow motion shots between edits, like Crum didn't have money for a second unit to film the B-roll needed for exposition between scenes. I wanted to scream "Get on with it!" after experiencing just a couple of these slow-motion sequences, which go on for far too long. After watching all three films back-to-back in one night and taking a couple of valium, I felt spent and traumatized, like I was just tortured by the Spanish Inquisition. I don't recommend any of you do the same thing, because I am a professional (You can laugh now). The things I do for my readers. All three films are available streaming on Amazon Prime (at the time of this review), but I will not be responsible if you decide to watch them. You have been warned!;  HIGH MOON (2018) was a werewolf film I was enjoying until a hurried finale ruined that enjoyment. A hundred and fifty years ago, gunslinger Colt (Chad Michael Collins; ROCK MONSTER - 2008) kills bad guy/werewolf Willie Price (Tom Zembrod; TICKED-OFF TRANNIES WITH KNIVES - 2010) and his gang of werewolves in a small Texas town by using a sceptor an Asian monk gave him. It seems Willie and his gang murdered Colt's wife and family, so he killed hundreds of werewolves looking for Willie, who was the "Alpha Werewolf". The sceptor can only kill the Alpha Werewolf, putting an end to the werewolf menace once and for all. Colt buries Willie and his gang in coffins he made himself, putting the sceptor in Willie's coffin to make sure he never rises from the dead. If he only knew about climate change! We are now in the present, as the small Texas town, now known as Temple Wells, experiences a weird weather anomaly, bringing Willie and his gangs' coffins, as well as Colt's, to the surface, bringing them all back to life (WTF?!?). Willie murders a local fisherman, which gains the attention of Sheriff Ethan Hardy (Matthew Tompkins; BAD ASS 2: BAD ASSES - 2013) and his deputies. Local physician Doctor Reed (Ted Ferguson; DYLAN DOG: DEAD OF NIGHT - 2010) has never seen a murder so vicious, blaming the death on a wild animal. Colt, who is now a fish out of water, makes friends with young beauty Lucy Andrews (Chelsea Edmundson; DAYLIGHT'S END - 2015), a widow who lost her husband in the war in Iraq. She teaches him all about modern machinery, including teaching him how to "ride a truck", while they try to stop Willie and his revived gang of werewolves, who have just murdered a gang of bikers and are now all riding Harleys! Eventually, our heroes team up with a disbelieving Sheriff Hardy and Doctor Reed to end the werewolf menace in his town, but it will mean gaining the confidence of corrupt Mayor Bob Barlow (Sean Patrick Flanery; THE EVIL WITHIN - 2016), who is having an affair with the Sheriff's wife and smuggles guns for a living. The finale takes place in Bob Barlow's house, but it is a finale so rushed, you will want to kick your TV screen in, because it is obvious that the ending was put there just so a sequel could be made (it even says "Colt Will Return" at the end of the closing credits!). Fuck them and a big "Fuck You!" to director/screenwriter Josh Ridgway (Executive Producer of the rather good horror film HAYRIDE - 2013), who supposedly had $22,000,000 to work with (I'm willing to bet it was much lower), yet he couldn't give us a complete film. While much of the film is very gory, it is obvious that some blood, gun barrel blasts and bullet hits were computer generated. With a budget like that, you would think they could afford the real thing, physical effects and special effects done the old-fashioned way, but no, the film cheaps-out on nearly everything, including the crappy werewolf makeups. I was willing to overlook the werewolf gang becoming professional motorcycle riders after just a few minutes on the bikes and Colt driving a truck like he was doing it all his life after just one short lesson from Lucy, but when the film promises a showdown between Colt and Willie Price and doesn't deliver, that's where I draw the line. I was going to put this film in the good section until I experienced one of the most rushed endings in horror film history. It turns ot Lucy has turned into a werewolf, kills Willie with the sceptor and says, "You're not the Alpha Werewolf, I am!", runs away and then the film segues to a news reporter on the radio, who says Sheriff Hardy and Doctor Reed are dead, Mayor Bob Barlow is alive, but he rants incoherently and Lucy Andrews is missing, when we see Colt steal a sports car, yells, "YeeHaw!" and drives off into the sunset, setting the film up for an eventual sequel. Fuck you movie (filmed as HOWLERS)! If I want to be fucked up the ass, I'll hire someone, not watch this film again or its sequel, if it ever gets made (I hope it doesn't). Interesting concept, poorly executed, playing the viewers for were-asses. Watch WEREWOLVES ON WHEELS (1971) instead. It may not be any good, but at least it delivers what it promises.;   PUMPKINS (2018) is a ridiculous horror flick from the U.K. that can be best described as "lazy". It's lazy in its storytelling, lazy in its killings and lazy in its acting. The film begins with Shelly (director/co-screenwriter Maria Lee Metheringham) injecting a green liquid into pumpkins in a farm patch (We are never told what the liquid is. Is it fertilizer? Growth hormone? RE-ANIMATOR serum?), while her crazy Uncle (Terry Wood, who passed away during filming) yells to her to give the pumpkins the right amount of the green liquid. Uncle is crazy because he loves his pumpkins; he even talks to them while he eats dinner in the patch with them! Along come two punk teenagers, who hate the Uncle because he is a land owner (To be fair, one of the teens said the Uncle pointed a rifle at him when he got too close to the pumpkin patch). They decide to teach him a lesson, where, one night, they sneak into the pumpkin patch and draw faces on some of the pumpkins, smashing the rest of them. When Uncle gets up the next morning to feed the pumpkins their daily dose of green liquid, he sees what the teens did to his pumpkins and has a heart attack, spilling the green liquid on the pumpkins and himself, dying in the pumpkin patch. Somehow, the green liquid brings Uncle back to life, but it also put some pumpkin genes into his system and now he has a pumpkin head (an obvious rubber Halloween mask, as we never see any facial movement on it)! When  the two teens wait for Uncle to see what they did to his pumpkins, "Pumpkin Man" (co-screenwriter Will Metheringham; as he is now called, but PUMPKINHEAD would be more fitting, but I guess the film didn't want to cause a lawsuit, as it is easy to see that this film was made for the change they found in their sofa!!) sneaks up behind them and kills them (like all of the killings in this film, we never see Pumpkin Man actually kill anyone, we only see the bodies after the killing is done. Really lazy!). Hearing the screams, Shelly grabs a big knife she keeps in her boot (!) and runs outside, coming face-to-face with Pumpkin Man. Instead of being scared and running away, she hands Pumpkin Man her knife and goes back inside (again, really lazy). We then switch to two lovebirds camping out in the woods and making out in a tent. When the man walks outside to take a pee, Pumpkin man cuts off his head (offscreen, but I would have cut off something else!) and dumps his headless body in front of the tent for the woman to see (all we see is a headless body with no blood on the stump!). Pumpkin Man then enters the tent and murders the lady (by cutting her head off, which we also don't see). We then see a group of five cliched campers on a weekend survival class in the same neck of the woods. These campers are the least likely to survive anything, because they don't listen to their two tour guides and two of them end up lost in the woods by themselves. One of them, a female, finds the tent with the two headless bodies (which we never see) and runs to find help, while the other lost camper is killed by Pumpkin Man (offscreen). The two tour guides eventually go looking for the two lost campers, only to be killed by Pumpkin Man (offscreen again). The last three remaining campers decide to make pumpkin soup (!), so the male of the group begins carving a pumpkin, only for the pumpkin to bite two of his finger off (again, offscreen, although we see his two severed fingers on the ground). You see, not only is Pumpkin Man alive, so are the pumpkins, although we never see any of the pumpkins do anything violent, we are only told they are alive. The one female camper who found the tent and headless bodies, makes it to a pub, where she tells the "Punters" what happened, but they don't believe her until Pumpkin Man shows up and begins killing them one-by-one (offscreen). You know they are going to die, because every one of them, just before they are murdered, see a pumpkin on the ground (are these Pumpkin Man droppings?). Just like the rest of the film, the finale is very weak and unbelievable, even the stinger that comes after the end credits, making this film a loser of the first degree. It's one of the laziest horror film I ever saw (especially the axe one of the women holds, which is obviously made of plastic or paper maché!), but many "critics" give it glowing reviews, saying it's the best '80s throwback slasher film they ever saw. Please give me what they are smoking! The film is horrendously acted (especially by the late Terry Wood as Uncle and the camper who has his fingers bitten off) and sloppily paced, so I fail to see how anyone could like this, but taste has no bounds. Fortunately, I do, and this is probably the worst horror film of 2018. The only fun I had with this film is when the Punters were singing along with a two-man band in the pub and adding their own filthy lyrics to the end of every stanza. Thankfully, Pumpkin Man doesn't talk or crack wise, probably because the cheap rubber mask wouldn't allow it. If you are a slasher completist, it can be found streaming on Amazon Prime. Just be aware that you have been warned.;   I almost put THE LEASE (2018) in the Good Category, but the truth is, I knew how it was going to end ten minutes into the film. It's one of the oldest horror/supernatural film tropes out there: the car crash. If a film begins with a car crash and everyone survives, the film is probably going to end with that they are really dead and don't know it. It's one of the oldest tricks in the books, but this film has a couple of things in its favor, but it is just not enough for me to give it a recommendation. It's an Italy/Philippines co-production and it is filmed very well; the cinematography is lush and colorful and the acting is pretty good for a low-budget production. The film opens in Venice, Italy, where husband Romano (Ruben Maria Soriquez) is hired to head a big project in the Philippines, so he moves his family, including Filipino wife Clara (Garie Concepcion), pre-teen son Anton (Harvey Almoneda) and young daughter Althea (Jill Demski) to the Philippines in a huge villa he rented for two years. Yes, the villa is haunted by a dark past, and the viewer gets small clues as the film progresses. There are some good jump scares here, such as Romano looking at his reflection in a stainless steel pot and seing a whole different man; Anton looking at a clown drawing on his wall (Clara is deathly afraid of clowns) that has his back to him and when he tells the clown to turn around and look at him, and it does (!); Clara taking a photo of herself by a Christmas tree  and the image turns out to be that of a different woman; Anton and Althea try to go swimming in the villa's pool, only to see two bloody bodies float to the surface; and Althea going all POLTERGEIST (1982) on the TV set, where an evil clown on screen tries to pull her into the TV set after she sees a balloon that reads "I Love To Kill You". If I told you that the family got into a car accident just before they arrived at the villa, would that clue you in to what is actually going on? I thought so. Actually, even though I guessed the ending early on, I did enjoy the film to some extent, but not enough for me to recommend it to you. This film borrows cliches from nearly every modern haunted house film, including Althea finding a possessed doll named "Jennifer" that talks only to her; a stringy black-haired girl ghost who hides under Althea's bed; four shadow people who stare at Roberto and his family in bed; everyone going to a medium and holding a seance to contact the ghosts who are haunting the house (it ends badly), bloody footprints that appear on the floor and the final reveal, where the car crash caused them to take over the bodies of another married couple with two children who were in the car ahead of them, which is why they always saw their reflections as somebody else. In the end, Roberto and his family release the bodies of the people they possessed and they all fly off to heaven. Director Paolo Bertola, working with a screenplay written by Nick Harvie Aquino, does give the film a sense of structure and style, but it's just not enough to be a film you sit down to at night and enjoy. It's too derivative for its own good. I do have to say I was surprised to see expatriate actor Don Gordon Bell in a small role (he was also the film's Still Photographer) and Jim Gaines (here billed as "James Gaines Jr.") was an Associate Director, both of them appearing in dozens of Filipino war actioners during the '80s that I review on this very site. I should also note that is wasn't unusual to have Italy/Philippines co-productions, as many Italian genre films were made there, including THE LAST HUNTER (1980); THE RAIDERS OF ATLANTIS (1983), COP GAME (1988) and the final films of Bruno Mattei, including THE JAIL: THE WOMEN'S HELL (2006) and ZOMBIES: THE BEGINNING (2007). It's nice to see that the tradition is still alive, no matter how bad the films are.;   Speaking of Italian horror films, THE MUSIC BOX (2018) won awards at many film festivals, mainly for the acting talents of Rachel Daigh (well deserved, even if she bears an uncanny likeness to Meryl Streep!) and the direction by "John Real" (real name: Giovanni Marzagalli), but, at least to me, it is nothing by rehashed supernatural cliches wrapped in a nicely photographed package (cinematography also by John Real). After watching a young girl being killed by a ghost girl after playing with a music box (or an "IL CARILLON", the film's original title), we skip ahead a few years and watch as Annabelle (Rachel Daigh) and very young girl Sophie (Cearl Pepper) move into the house where the other girl was killed. Annabelle is Sophie's Aunt; she was awarded custody after Sophie's parents were killed in some sort of accident (the film fails to tell us what it was). Ever since that day, Sophie hasn't said a word and she's a real cunt with a capital "C" towards Annabelle, who has no idea how to take care of a child (Annabelle was estranged from her sister, Sophie's mother, right up until her death). Sophie sees psychiatrist Dr. Loris (Antonio Lujak) regularly, as he tries to snap her out of the psychological funk she is in, hoping to get her to spaek again, but he's not very successful. While Annabelle and Sophie are working in the garden, Sophie unearths a buried wooden box with a strange symbol carved on it. Annabelle takes it into the house and pries the box open. Inside it is the music box, the same one we saw the murdered girl playing with in the beginning of the film. Sophie grabs the music box and becomes inseparable with it, even taking it to bed with her. Annabelle starts to get worried, as she hears Sophie talking to someone she cannot see. Dr. Loris, who communicates with Sophie written word, Sophie answering his questions by writing responses on a pad, is able to get out of her that she has an "imaginary" friend named Lania (Melissa Leone), who we know is the ghost girl, but both Dr. Loris or Annabelle have no idea. It soon becomes obvious to Dr. Loris that Lania is indeed real (he sees an image of her in his videotaped sessions with Sophie), so he and Annabelle do some research on the house (which has ugly gargoyle statues in nearly every room in the house, as well as outside it). They learn that a woman named Mrs. White, who lived in the house before Annabelle and Sophie, was a medium who lost her daughter under mysterious circumstances. Annabelle and Dr. Loris (who are now lovers!) contact a local medium named Mrs. Nills (Fiona Whitelaw), who conducts a seance (never a good thing) to contact Mrs. White and it doesn't go very well (no surprise there). Mrs. Nills tells Annabelle to bury the music box in the wooden box she found it in; the figure carved on the box is a symbol of protection from the evil supernatural forces. While Sophie is sleeping, Annabelle takes the music box and buries it, but the following morning, Sophie has the music box in her possession. Long story short, ghost girl Lania doesn't want to possess Sophie, she wants to murder her and make Annabelle her mother! That's what Lania wanted to do to Mrs. White, but she buried the box before Lania could finish her dastardly plan. The spirit of Mrs. White leads Annabelle to her hidden diary and inside it are directions for keeping Lania at bay. Can Annabelle stop Lania from killing Sophie and becoming a new ghost mother? What do you think? While not a complete failure, this film relies more on jump scares than real scares, which seems to be the going trend for supernatural films lately. There's only so many times Lania can appear unexpectedly (such as in Dr. Loris' office or in the house) before the jump scares don't make you jump at all. It becomes old hat (Screenplay by John Real and Adriana Marzagalli, his wife). I have to give props to Rachel Daigh's acting, as she impresses as the Aunt who has no idea how to take care of Sophie, yet she looks so much like Meryl Streep, I found myself believing I was actually watching Streep! And Cearl Pepper as Sophie also registers as a young girl who is a total bitch to Annabelle. When Sophie decides to talk again, she has a British accent so thick, it will take you aback (and reaching for the subtitles. Thanks Amazon Prime!).  Even though the film is one cliché after the next, it moves along at a brisk pace and I had no trouble watching it until the end. That's the best thing I can say about the film. I wasn't watching the clock and I wasn't bored, but the film still didn't impress me at all. I also see that John Real is trying to become the next Italian horror director, as his IMDb resumé is full of titles and TV series I never heard of. Here's hoping he makes something worthwhile and scary. He has the talent to do it, as long he doesn't keep falling back on cheap jump scares. A valiant try, but a failure nonetheless. Filmed in English (although it is obvious Antonio Lujak was dubbed by someone else) and available streaming on Amazon Prime. If you are not a Prime member, you can find it streaming for free on YouTube, on channel "Movie Central".

Bad DTV Genre Films  Part 28 (continued): INTO THE FOREST (2019). Why do I keep doing this to myself? After reading the synopsis for this film on Amazon Prime and deciding to give it a watch, knowing full well that it was a "found footage" film (a genre I despise, despite getting pulled-in by every synopsis I read) and then discovering that the "film" is a total waste of time, I decided that it was time to get a lobotomy, because only braindead people could enjoy crap like this. This shot-on-video disaster concerns three YouTubers who have their own paranormal channel and hope to have the A&E Network pick-up their series and thus make it to the "big time". They decide to explore a haunted forest, where people, usually children, end up missing and are never found, even though their parents can hear them calling from the woods. The forest is also supposed to be the home of a witch, who is said to be behind the string of disappearances. The trio rent a cabin in the middle the forest and weird things immediately begin to happen, like loud thumps being heard, but it turns out to be the drunk son of the man who rented then the cabin. The female of this trio, Amy (Kimberly Hough), who is the girlfriend of member Nick (Aaron Sherry), is an epileptic and is taking a new medication for her seizures (she has one as they are driving to the cabin). Third member, Chase (John Michael McDonald) is the "handsome' member of the trio and therefore the camera's main focus. He tells them that A&E picked up their series and what they are now shooting will be the pilot, so they buy an expensive HD camera and other goodies to make this entry look as professional as possible. They bring a father of one of the missing children to a section of the forest, hoping to catch his missing daughter call out his name, but after hours being there with nothing happening, the trio want to leave, but the father pulls out a gun and points it at his head, saying he wants to join his daughter. Amy is able to talk him down and they return to the cabin, but when Nick studies the footage they shot that night, he hears children laughing on the audio, something they all didn't hear when they were there. The trio then decide to walk hours into the forest and set up camp, but Amy realizes she didn't bring her pills with her, she left them at the cabin (Really? C'mon now!). Rather than walking back to get the pills, they decide to stay there and shoot their episode, based on Chase's recommendation that A&E would want them to. As you can imagine, creepy things begin to happen, but we see none of it, as Chase finally reveals that A&E never signed a contract like he said they did. Then the film "ends" at the 67 minute mark, revealing or resolving nothing, after promising a surprise ending in the synopsis! This shitstain of a film only gives us grade school acting, jerky camerawork and nothing that could be considered entertainment even in the minutest sense. The fact that it took two directors, Brendan Rudnicki & Josh Huffine (who also wrote the idea-starved screenplay), to make this insulting piece of cinematic sludge is quite frankly, astounding, as a dozen monkeys on typewriters and behind the camera could make something much better than this, even with their eyes closed (flinging their poop around would even make it more entertaining!). If you think you are going to catch a glimpse of the witch or any of the missing children, think again, there's nothing here that is the least bit scary, just jerky camera work that shows us nothing. Do yourself a favor and skip this, the first film I have watched with a 2019 production date (believe me, it won't be the last). Don't believe the positive reviews you read on IMDb, because it is obvious they were written by people who worked on the film. This stinks worse than a field full of cow manure and that's being way too kind!; GAGS THE CLOWN (2019) is a found footage horror "comedy" film that sinks under its own mistake-filled screenplay and unfunny jokes. The city of Green Bay, Wisconsin is experiencing a rash of clown sightings the press has dubbed "Gags The Clown". The city is terrified of the clown, but the police refuse to do anything about it because the clown is breaking no laws (Really?). The film follows four groups of people: 1.) a male/female team of cops who reply to many Gags sightings that turn out to be false; 2.) a trio of teens (one of whom is the female cop's step-daughter) who dress as clowns and scare innocent bystanders; 3.) a podcaster named Charles Wright (Aaron Christensen) who, with his videographer, walks the streets with a handgun looking to put an end to Gags' life, since he is tired of hearing about the clown and the police are doing nothing to stop it; and 4.) a female reporter named Heather Duprey (Lauren Ashley Carter), who, along with her cameraman Dale Russell (Wyatt Kuether), look to scoop a rival female reporter and lift their news channel out of last place. Some of the stories here are interesting (especially the podcaster's), but the film is full of so many errors and cliches, it is very hard to like the film, nevermind enjoy it. First, there is Gags himself (herself?), a character so underwritten, it's hard to grasp what the clown's intentions are. We see him murdering some people in a parking garage in the film's opening minutes, but after that, the clown is nothing but a figurehead, a character without a reason for being scary at all. He has the the ability to appear (and disappear) anywhere at will; has black balloons that pop and spill some type of substance on people that make them gag (!) and turn them into clowns (!!); circus music plays from out of the sky when he is about to appear or disappear and it's even implied that he may be an alien (!), but none of it is ever explained. The finale of the film, where all the groups gather at an abandoned warehouse (Which reveals the biggest mistake of all: Why would an abandoned warehouse of fifteen years  still have working security cameras?), where inside is a circus big-top tent containing all of Gags' victims-turned-clowns and everyone dies incoherently, is one of the biggest letdowns of the film. Gags hands Heather a bunch of black ballons, which turn into one big balloon that looks like her and it explodes, killing her! I mean, WTF?!? It's only done so we can hear her rival female reporter say something "ironic" and "funny". Well, in both cases, it's not. The film is supposed to take place in a single (very long) night, so there's a lot of dark scenes to watch here while squinting and while the camerawork is not the usual shakey-cam stuff (utilizing dashcams on police cars, street cameras and building security cameras, as well as Dale's news camera,), it's still a found footage film, yet, we are never told who found the footage! Much of the acting is amateurish, especially by the teen group, the gore is nothing but throwing blood against walls and cars, the editing is bad and the film just slags along until the WTF finale. There's a reason why I hate most found footage flicks and this one contains every reason why I do. This is director/co-screenwriter Adam Krause's first feature film, based on his 2016 short film of the same name, and I hope he has learned his lesson here. Why do first-time filmmakers have to pick found footage flicks as their first feature? Yes, they are cheap to make, but they are also cheap to look at and have very little entertainment value. Even though I saw this streaming for free on Amazon Prime, I still felt that I was owed my time back from watching this piece of dreck. So will you. I'm done with killer clown movies. You just can't beat TERRIFIER (2016) when it comes to this genre.;  THE BUTCHER (2019) may be one of the most puerile and threadbare horror films that I have laid eyes on in quite some time. Basically a vanity project for director/producer/screenwritor/editor/star Michael Moutsatsos, a man so unusual looking (I don't want to be mean by calling him ugly, but his double chin is so prominent, it looks like a small face is trying escape from his real face!), you'll do constant double-takes. Moutsatsos plays Thaddeus Hyatt, a famous chef in 1995 Los Angeles who owns five restaurants. He also has Mad Cow Disease and is a serial killer, kidnapping foreign tourists, injecting them with his blood and then butchering them, serving their flesh to unsuspecting diners at his restaurants, infecting them all with Mad Cow. Helping him in his endeavors are Mr. Cremator (Noel Jason Scott) and "Slayer" (Sam Mason), who torture the tourists that Thaddeus captures, before slaughtering them for their meat. Some of the tortures include: using  a portable drill to bore holes in a man's head; using an electric knife to slice up a woman's torso and other implements used by butchers, while we watch stock footage of real butchers cutting up and preparing various meats. That's basically the entire plot. While the tortures are sickening to watch, we really don't see anything truly gory, as if Moutsatsos didn't have a budget for any type of physical effects. There's lots of blood to be seen, but it's always after the murders are committed. Also headache-inducing are the amped-up sound effects used whenever someone is hit over the head or beaten. The sound recording on this film is pretty poor, because a lot of it was shot using an iPhone 7, giving the film a very cheap digital feel and there was apparently no time or budget to fix the sound in ADR. Moutsatsos plays Thaddeus as a normal human being with a very normal voice, who is taunted by his dead mother, Beatrice (Maria Olsen), who appears as a decaying corpse several times in the film (the only use of practical effects in the film). How Thaddeus caught Mad Cow and why he hates foreign tourists is never explained, as the film is underwritten, edited with a trowel, photographed haphazardly (like a Found footage film) and sounds like it was sound recorded using two tin cans and a piece of string, so, of course, this won several awards at film festivals I never heard of. Films this bad aren't made, they escape and the viewer suffers for it. Do yourself a favor and avoid this 75-minute "film" like you would Mad Cow Disease. It's a jumbled mess that offers nothing in the way of entertainment, just shot after shot of people screaming (or puking their guts out). My Aunt Minnie has home movies that are more entertaining than this (like her trip to the world's biggest elastic band ball in Kentucky!). Moutsatsos is threatening us with a sequel to be released sometime in 2021. If you must watch this, it's available streaming on Amazon Prime (At the time of this review).;   I applaud the makers of THE NIGHT SITTER (2019) for trying to make a film that's a tribute to Dario Argento's SUSPIRIA (1977), but that was already done in 2018, in the excellent "reimagining" of SUSPIRIA. This film has the look and feel of an Argento film, as it is bathed in bright neon colors, but the story falls apart long before the film ends, proving that excellent art direction and lighting aren't necessarily the elements needed to make a good film. Far from it, the story is the most important piece of the filmic pie and, in this film, that's where it falls apart, as there are too many convenient coincidences and bland plot ingredients to make the story palatable. The story is rather simple. Strange father Ted Hooper (Joe Walz), who is filthy rich and hopes to make the big time as a paranormal investigator, hires Amber (Elyse Dufour) to babysit his young son Kevin (Jack Champion) and his girlfriend Charlotte's (Deanna Meske) son Ronnie (Bailey Campbell) so they can have a date night. He takes Amber on a tour of his mansion, pointing to a locked door to his office, which he says is off-limits to everyone except him, as he has many valuable supernatural artifacts in there from his paranormal investigations. What Ted doesn't know is Amber is a thief and she plans to rob Ted blind. When Ted And Charlotte leave on their date, Amber phones her cohort in crime, Rod (Jermaine Rivers), and tells him to bring a truck over to the house, they hit the mother lode. While waiting for Rod to arrive, Amber must deal with the rambunctious Ronnie, who wants to find the key to Ted's office door so he can do some exploring. Amber and Kevin become quick friends because she doesn't treat Kevin as as a child; she talks to him like she would to an adult (which is refreshing for a change).  Ronnie finds the key and he and Kevin enter Ted's office, which is full of strange supernatural artifacts (I will give the film this, the office is very impressive and full of trinkets that horror film lovers will recognize from other films). Kevin is drawn to a book on his father's desk, which is titled "The Three Mothers" (that's right) and he cuts his finger on one of the pages, causing his blood to drip on the page, which is instantly absorbed, bringing the Three Witches to life and looking for sacrifices. They grab Ronnie, while Amber greets Rod outside, surprised to see that he brought ditzy girlfriend Lindsey (Amber Neukum, who is easy on the eyes) with him. Amber also has to deal with the arrival of Martin (J. Benedict Larmore), a nerdy guy who wants desperately to be Amber's boyfriend, but she wants nothing to do with him. Not only that, but nosey neighbor Vincent (Ben Barlow), who lives in his parent's garage, is watching every move Amber makes and pays unexpected visits every now and then (He will prove to be important to the film later on). Things get nasty when Kevin sees the Three Witches hang Ronnie by his feet and slit his throat while chanting. They also possess Lindsey, who tries to kill everyone she meets. Martin gets his head beaten in with a dumbell (a perfect weapon to use against him since he's as bright as a three watt lightbulb) until it's nothing but a bloody pulp. Amber then kills Lindsey by plunging a butcher knife into the back of her head until the blade exits out of her mouth (perhaps a little tribute to Lucio Fulci's HOUSE BY THE CEMETERY [1981]?). It is then that the film falls apart in such a dramatic fashion, you'll be hitting your head against a wall in disgust. When Ted and Charlotte come home, Ted is pleased to see everything is turning out just the way he thought it would. You see, he knew that Ronnie would find the key to his office and open it (Ted gave Ronnie a clue to where the key was hidden by telling him "X marks the spot" before he left on his date) , releasing the Three Witches into this realm. He hopes to film the events and become the world's greatest paranormal investigator, proving that the supernatural is, indeed, real! This leaves so many open questions, such as: How did Ted know that Kevin would cut his finger on the book, which is actually how the Three Witches were released? As well as all the unanswered questions you will have swirling around in your head, toss in a non-ending, leaving the film wide open for a sequel (For Christ's sake, I hate this ploy because it gives the film an unfinished look. When are filmmakers today going to learn to give their films a proper ending? It's not that hard! Sequels can still happen if a film has an actual finale. Just look at the horror films of the '80s as proof!). On the plus side, directors/screenwriters Abiel Bruhn & John Rocco toss-in some nice neon lighting, giving each room in the mansion its own primary color and the acting by the cast is better than this film deserves, especially by Elyse Dufour and the young Jack Champion, who really connect with the audience.  When Kevin is hiding under the bed in his father's room while playing a game of Hide & Seek, he sees Amber steal a wad of cash from his father's night table drawer. When he confronts her about it, Amber doesn't lie to him, explaining that his father is rich and she is poor, telling him it's like the story of Robin Hood. Kevin knows she is trying to soften the blow for him, he appreciates it and they then form a real connection that is palpable. On the negative side is the story, which is nothing but a series of bloody events, the gory killing nothing but an end to a means to get your mind off how random everything is. When Ted appears and says he expected all this to happen, you'll want to punch him in the face, as he doesn't care in the least for his girlfriend's son and he seems to care less about his own son; all he wants is fame for the footage he is filming. But he'll never be able to get credit for it as the Three Witches kill him almost immediately as he steps through the door. All in all, this is not a terrible film, not even a bad one when compared to the other films in this section. It's just an infuriating one, where they want you to ignore the plot and just go along for the ride. I couldn't do that, especially when they have the nerve to try to copy Dario Argento. Many have tried and many have failed, including the two directors here, for there is only one Argento. A good try, but still a failure.

Bad DTV Genre Films  Part 29 (continued):   I was expecting a lot from THE CURSE OF LA LLORONA (2019), but came away bitterly disappointed, as the film is nothing but a bunch of jump scares and very little else. This film is predictable from the very beginning, something a horror film should never be. I knew everything that was going to happen later in the film thanks to a cliched plot. As someone who subscribes to many YouTube paranormal channels, I knew all about La Llorona, the "Crying (0r 'Weeping') Woman", who killed her children by drowning them to teach her husband a lesson when she learned he was having an affair with another woman. After realizing what she did, La Llorona killed herself in the very same river where she murdered her children and now she roams the Earth looking for her children, crying loudly and  stealing other children, killing them when she discovers they aren't hers. Legend has it that whenever someone catches sight of La Llorona, they will die very shortly. The movie opens with La Llorona (Marisol Ramirez; RIGHT AT YOUR DOOR - 2006) killing her children sometime in the late 1600s and then we are in 1973 Los Angeles, where widowed Child Services social worker Anna (Linda Cardellini; SCOOBY-DOO - 2002) is assigned to check up on Patricia Alvarez (Patricia Velasquez; THE MUMMY - 1999) and her two young boys, who are getting into fights at school. Anna has dealt with Patricia before and is assigned a police officer to go along with her, "just in case." When Anna arrives at Patricia's apartment, she can see something is wrong and asks to come inside. Patricia says Anna can come in, but not the police officer. Inside Patricia's apartment there are hundreds of lit candles, but Anna can't locate her boys, asking Patricia where they are, but getting no answer. She then finds a closet door with a padlock on it and asks Patricia for the key. Patricia goes crazy on Anna, telling her not to open the door. The police officer arrests Patricia, and when Anna opens the closet door, she finds the two young boys, scared out of their wits. Long story short, the boys are taken away from Patricia and placed in a group home. The first night they are there, La Llorona kills the two boys by throwing them out of their window, falling to the pavement below. Anna, whose husband, a police officer, was shot and killed a short time ago, leaving her with two young children, Chris (Roman Christou) and Samantha (Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen), to love and support, gets a phone call in the middle of the night from her cop friend Detective Cooper (Sean Patrick Thomas; THE BURROWERS - 2008), telling her to come to the group home immediately. Anna has no choice but to bring Chris and Samantha with her, telling them to stay in the car while she talks to Detective Cooper. Of course, kids being kids, Chris decides to spy on Mom looking at the two boys' dead bodies, but he then hears a woman crying and goes to investigate. La Llorona grabs Chris by the wrist, her touch burning his arm, but he escapes and goes back to the car, where La Llorona tries to open the car windows with her magic, scaring the shit outta Chris and Samantha. When Mom comes back to the car and sees how frightened her children are, she asks them what is wrong. Not wanting to tell her that he left the car, Chris said it was a bad nightmare he had when sleeping in the car. I guess we can all see what's going to happen next. Anna and her children are next on La Llorona's list of victims, but a priest, Father Perez (Tony Amendola; playing the same character he did in ANNABELLE - 2014), gives Anna the name of a former priest-turned-La Llorona hunter, Rafael (Raymond Cruz; TV's MAJOR CRIMES [2012-2018]; the best thing about this third rate film), to help her battle La Llorona. That's basically the whole film in a nutshell, the rest of the film is nothing but jump scare after jump scare, with no real horror to speak of. Father Perez also places this film in THE CONJURING universe, by telling her about Annabelle (we see a brief shot of the doll and that's as far as the "universe" goes!). I have to say I did laugh by Rafael's comment after defeating La Llorona in the finale, but I know you will want to watch this film for yourself, so I'll let you discover what it is. The special visual effects in this film are pretty rote (just look at the "steam" that comes off a coffee cup and the "umbrella" scene) and director Michael Chaves (his first feature film) ladles on cliché after cliché, thanks to  Mikki Daughtry & Tobias Iaconis' uninspired screenplay, until you will be looking at your watch, waiting for it to end. When it does, you'll see that it is left wide-open for a sequel, just like all the films in this "universe" and since it was made on a nine million dollar budget and grossed $122 million around the world, I think it will happen, don't you? Some of you may like this film more than I did, but it could have been so much better than it turned out. You don't need a crystal ball to predict every chichéd plot point that happens in this film, like Anna being investigated for child abuse when Chris and Samantha have the same burn marks on their arms. I knew that was going to happen as soon as La Llorona grabbed Chris' wrist. Even though this film is Rated R, it's a very soft-R, as the violence is rather restrained, when it should be gory and bloody. This isn't much of a horror film; the Mexican film industry has been making La Llorona films since the early-1930s and nearly all of them are better than this (Check out CURSE OF THE CRYING WOMAN - 1961). This isn't the worst horror film I have ever seen, but it's still bad enough to be put in this category.;   I almost put ITSY BITSY (2019) in the good category due to the excellent acting, but the story dragged on-and-on until all I could do is look at the clock, waiting for it to end. I should also admit that I have a deadly fear of spiders, not the large furry ones (I would let them crawl on me without flinching), but the small, tiny ones. My fear started in the mid-1980s when I was bitten by a small spider on the inside of my elbow while sleeping, my automatic reflex swatting and killing said spider (it's how I knew I was bitten by a spider). Within just a few hours, the bite swelled to the size of a grapefruit, which resulted in me not being able to bend my left arm (and it was painful like a bitch!). I had to go to a doctor to have it drained, but within a day or two it would swell up again. I finally had to go to a hospital emergency room to have an operation, which was worse than the spider bite, as I was unable to use my left arm at all for almost four weeks. Ever since that day, whenever I see a small spider, my heart races and I think back to the day I was bitten. It still goes on to this day. Okay, enough personal drama, let's get to the film. It opens with a tribe of South American natives sealing a thick web of something into a "Black Egg", which the tribe worships (according to legend it contains the trapped soul of a Spider Queen). Apparently, some Indiana Jones-like characters steal the black egg which results in one of them getting a blood-gushing wound on his leg, resulting in another member shooting him in the head (offscreen). We then switch to Kara Spencer (Elizabeth Roberts) driving her children, 13-year-old Jesse (Arman Darbo) and very young Cambria (Chloe Perrin) from New York City to an unnamed place in the country to be a full-time nurse to Walter Clark (an excellent Bruce Davison; WILLARD - 1971), a former tomb raider who suffers from multiple sclerosis. Before Kara and her children arrive to live in a home next to Walter's, Walter is visited by old, crooked business partner Ahkeeba (Treva Etienne), who gives Walter the Black Egg and wants something in return, but Walter says he doesn't believe in the Spider Queen of South America and tells him to get out of his house. Long story short, Ahkeeba sneaks back into the house while Kara is there, smashes the Black Egg on the floor and releases the Spider Queen, which bites Ahkeeba (offscreen) and sends him escaping the house, driving away and crashing inhto a ditch, where he dies of the spider bite. A rather large spider (the size of a small dog) is now on the loose, but it keeps itself hidden from everyone else, laying eggs in the attic of the home Kara and the kids now sleep in. It also turns out Kara is a lousy mother; she's a pill-popping drug addict who got fired from her nursing job in NYC for drugging it up. She also depends (too much) on Jesse taking care of his young sister, thereby taking away Jesse's childhood (Jesse acts more like a father to Cambria than a brother). When Kara runs out of her pain pills, she takes to stealing pills from Walter's medicine cabinet, but he catches her and tells her to get out of his house (Walter is able to figure out that Kara is a drug addict and not much of a mother to her children just by the power of observation). When Jesse hears his mother talking to Walter over a baby monitor (it is a way for Kara and Walter to talk to each other when he needs help), saying that having kids to take care of is a drag (really???) and takes up far too much of her time, Jesse smashes the baby monitor. It turns out this is the night that Walter will need it, as the spider bites a chunk out of Walter's foot and then rips out both of his eyes (all offscreen). I have to admit that once Bruce Davison died, I lost all interest in the film because I knew exactly how it would end and I was 100% right. It's far too predictable. That's right, Kara becomes a good mother by protecting her children and fighting the spider with her bare hands, ripping its mandibles off and throwing it to the floor, dead. The film ends with a drug-free Kara and the kids leaving for points unknown, but at least they are happy. Stay tuned after the end credits are done for a final stinger that goes nowhere, but sets the film up for a sequel. More a family drama than a horror film, there are some good practical effects but the spider attacks take forever to come to the screen and when they do, all the kills are offscreen. It is better acted than most genre films and both Bruce Davison and Arman Darbo are excellent in their roles. There's a subplot about Kara losing another child named Stevie in a car accident when she was high on pain pills, but it goes nowhere; it's only there to bring a tear to viewer's eyes during the finale (but it fails). Denise Crosby (MORTUARY - 2005) also appears as the town Sheriff, but it's a wasted role that amounts to nothing. Freshman feature film director/producer/co-screenwriter Micah Gallo (who is usually a [what else?] visual effects technician on films such as HATCHET [2007], UNDER THE BED [2012] and this film) spends far too much time on the family drama and far too little time on the horror, especially when it comes to the kills, which are all offscreen. He does show some talent when it comes to camera placement (Check out the before-and-after scene of Kara in Walter's bathroom, which is shot from above), but a couple of well-photographed scenes don't make for a good horror film. It's not a terrible film, just an ordinary one and that's enough for me to put it in this category. Others may disagree and I understand why, but this was just not enough for me.; I don't mind horror films taking place during Halloween because, hell, it's the perfect setting for a horror flick (John Carpenter proved that way back in 1978). What I do mind is a horror film that advertises itself as a new Halloween tradition; a film that will replace all the other films you traditionally watch during the end of October. One such recent film is CANDY CORN (2019), a film with a great cast and a very lackluster story; one that you have seen done a thousand times and done a hundred times better. In a sleepy little Ohio town during Halloween, a quartet of overage teenagers decide to pull a prank on retarded teen Jacob Atkins (Nate Chaney), by pantsing him at a traveling carnival that has stopped in town. What these teens don't know is that diminutive leader of the carnival and the main freakshow attraction, "Dr. Death", a.k.a. Lester (a very good Pancho Moler; Rob Zombie's 3 FROM HELL - 2019) has hired Jacob and accepts him as "one of their own". When the four punks confront Jacob at the carnival, he fights back, which causes the foursome to pummel Jacob relentlessly, killing him. After the punks run away, Lester tells his workers (including an eyepatch-wearing Tony Todd; HATCHET [2007] and its sequels. He is also an Executive Producer here and is wasted in a nothing role) to put Jacob's dead body in his trailer, where he performs a voodoo ritual over Jacob's body, returning him to life as a rotting corpse (It makes no sense that Jacob's face should decay so fast (it looks like a rubber mask), as his hands and the rest of his exposed body looks normal!). Jacob then begins killing the quartet of punks who killed him in various bloody ways and finishes with stuffing an enormous amount of candy corn (Jacob's favorite food) down their throats. One of the punks happens to be the son of Sheriff Sam Bramford (a nearly unrecognizable Courtney Gains, who is no stranger to corn, starring in the original CHILDREN OF THE CORN [1984] as "Malachi", his first film role),  who patrols this sleepy little town without even carrying a gun, because "nothing ever happens here." He's in for a big surprise, as the gruesome murders are discovered  and his deputies can't handle all the blood and gore on view. Sam tries to talk to Lester, but the dwarf has a major distrust of the police and talks to Sam as if he were the enemy, taunting him. As you can guess, Jacob saves Sam's son for his last victim, but can Sam stop him? The answer is no, as Sam's head ends up as a hood ornament on his cop car and Jacob rips off his son's arms before killing him. That's the problem with this whole film; there's no one to root for, as nearly everyone ends up dead or are intolerable people (especially Sam's son). The film also features P.J. Soles (HALLOWEEN - 1978) as Marcy Taylor, who works at the police station and has a thing for Sam, but like everything in this film, it goes nowhere (She is good, though). The violence is rather restrained for a film with no rating, as most of it is seen after the fact or shown with overamped sound effects (Listen to the scene where Jacob rips out one punk's spinal cord). Director/screenwriter/editor/music composer Josh Hasty (HONEYSPIDER - 2014) bit off a little too much than he could chew, as he forgot one major ingredient for a horror film: the horror. It's not a badly-made film and some of the acting is better than it deserves to be, but it's still a bitter disappointment. It will not replace my #1 Halloween horror film, PHANTASM (1979), and I doubt any film will ever make me replace it. I caught this streaming on my Showtime Anytime app if you should be interested in viewing it. It is also available on most streaming sites, but not for free. If you have to pay to see this, prepare to be dissatisfied and frustrated.;    THE TOMBS (2019) is an annoying British slasher film with minimal slashing and a lot of bad histrionics. Taking place in the real London Tombs scare attraction located underneath the London Bridge tourist site, this film has a bunch of minor celebrities gather to try and survive a trip down to the Tombs. Yes, it's another reality show-based horror flick under the guise of of a publicity stunt to advertise the sequel to a fictitious film called The Tombs, which was very popular in the U.K. The star of the first film and the"final girl", Piper (Jessica Ann Brownlie, the director's wife), is joined by five other cliched people, including a psychic, a blogger, a spoiled starlet, a claustrophobic man and a veteran reality show producer, to take a tour through the scarehouse-type attraction, which is live streamed on the Internet, the first one finding an important skull being the "winner". They don't know that blood from the cut hand of a worker has brought back to life a hulking supernatural killer, who looks like the Elephant Man carrying an axe. When the power goes out and the live stream is no longer working, the killer begins dispatching the celebrities, using his axe to do the dirty deed. Unfortunately, we never see the kills, which makes this film a loser of the first degree. What's a slasher film without the bloody kills? If you want to know, then watch this film and learn how to never make a slasher flick. The acting is generally one note and annoying and the gore is practically non-existant, making this 79-minute film a really long slog to get through. Directed by Dan Brownlie in 2014 and then finished by crowdfunding in 2015, it wasn't released until 2019, which gives you an idea how really bad this film is. There's not one good thing in this film that I can recommend, nothing. Do yourself a favor and skip this without hesitation. If you don't you will never get those 79 minutes back. Believe me, you'll want to after watching this dreck.;    I was never a fan of the 1989 original and 2019's PET SEMATARY is no exception. It tries to mix things up with some extreme blood and gore and gender reversals, but it all still rings rather hollow and unexceptional, which is sad considering the talent in front of the screen. We all know the story: ER doctor Louis Creed (Jason Clarke) and his wife Rachel (Amy Seimetz) move to a house in Maine with their two children, young daughter Ellie (Jeté Laurence) and even younger son Gage (played by twins Hugo & Lucas Lavoie, who look almost identical to the original's Miko Hughes, so much so that it couldn't be a coincidence). Also along for the move is Ellie's cat Church (named after Winston Churchill). The house has a lot of property in the woods, including the mysterious "Pet Sematary", where animals are buried and come back to life, only they are now evil and extremely violent. The Creed's neighbor is Jud Crandall (John Lithgow, replacing the late Fred Gwynne), whom Ellie takes a shine to and the Creed family grow to like and trust him. One day, at the hospital, a patient named Victor Pascow (Obssa Ahmed) comes to the ER, a victim of a horrendous accident (One of the nurses screams, "I can see his brains!") and he dies right in front of Louis before he can treat him. The torn-apart Victor will become Louis' guide to the afterlife, appearing in front of him (only Louis can see him) to warn him about what he is about to do. When Jud finds Church dead on the road, a road in which eighteen-wheelers race down without looking (a direct steal from the first film and Stephen King's novel), he tells Louis to bury it in the Pet Sematary, knowing how much Ellie loved it (only a family member can bury the body if they want it to return from the dead, something Louis doesn't believe, but he soon will be converted). The next day, Church shows up at the house, meaner and violent than he ever was, so much so that it attacks Louis every chance it gets (yet it still loves Ellie).  Louis takes Church, drives a very long distance away and lets Church go free, thinking it will never find its way back to the house and he can tell Ellie that cats sometimes decide to run away. At Ellie's birthday party, Ellie sees Church walking down the road and runs to meet it, with an unwatched Gage following her. We then see an eighteen-wheeler barreling down the road and about to hit Gage, when Louis pulls him out of the way just in the nick of time. Only Ellie is not so lucky, as the truck jack-knives and the trailer slides into Ellie, killing her instantly (in my opinion, the best scene in the film). Heartbroken after Ellie's funeral, Rachel goes to live with her parents for a short time, while Louis is left alone to ponder what to do next. Care to guess what that is? Even though Jud tells him not to do it (Saying matter-of-factly, "Sometimes, dead is better", but not the same way Fred Gwynne said it, the only line which made the original so memorable), Louis digs up Ellie and buries her in the Pet Sematary. What happens next is the same old, same old, as Ellie comes back to life meaner and more evil than any little girl should be. I'm not going to say any more just in case someone has never seen the original or hasn't read Stephen King's novel (which is a hundred times better than any of the films, also taking PET SEMATARY TWO [1992] into consideration). It took two people to direct this, Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer, who both co-directed the rather good horror/fantasy STARRY EYES (2014), as well as episodes of SCREAM: THE TV SERIES (2016-2019). Unfortunately, screenwriters Matt Greenberg and Jeff Buhler offer nothing different from the original film (Except for the religious aspect to this film, which seems to be a parable about whether God exists or not). Their idea of "different" is to reverse gender roles and call it a "new idea". It's not and anyone with an ounce of intelligence can see right through their trickery. This isn't a total disaster, thanks to the acting talents of John Lithgow and Jason Clarke, as well as some extreme gore, but it is just not enough for me to recommend it. There's nothing on screen that screams out, "Watch me!",  so this gets a failing grade from me.;    I'll give VIVARIUM (2019) this, it's weird, but weirdness doesn't necessarily translate into a good film. I will say this, though, it made me think about it long after it ended, but it still gets a failing grade from me, for reasons I'll explain. Kindergarten teacher Gemma (Imogen Poots) and her boyfriend Tom (Jesse Eisenberg) are looking for a house to live in when they get married and find a company that looks like the perfect fit for them, as they are showing homes in a new neighborhood called Yonder, it's motto being "You're Home. Right Now", but the young couple are about to discover that Yonder's real motto is "You're Home. Forever". Tom and Gemma follow very strange realtor Martin (Jonathan Aris) to Yonder in their car, only to discover that this is a neighborhood like no other. All the houses look exactly the same. Same sickly green color, same front and back yard, same everything, right down to the smallest details. Martin takes them to the model home, Number 9, and gives them the grand tour, only he disappears and never returns, forcing Tom and Gemma to hop in their car to find their way out of Yonder. Easier said then done, for no matter what direction they drive, they always end up at House Number 9. After trying to find their way out by driving all day and night with no luck, their car runs out of gas, so they decide to stay in House Number 9 for the night, thinking someone will come the next morning to show them the way out. Unfortunately, that never happens and it becomes very clear that they were never meant to leave Yonder, as boxes of food and necessities show up at their door every morning, so they can survive. They even try burning down the house, thinking the fire and smoke will alert authorities, but as they watch across the street as House Number 9 burns, they fall asleep and when they wake up, House Number 9 is still standing, as if it was never on fire. They then realize that they are trapped in some kind of nightmare, but why? It doesn't take a genius to discover why, as the trip this couple take should be memorable, but the film falters during the second half, as everything becomes the same old, same old, repeated ad nauseum. They find a box containing a baby at their front door and they raise him to be a young, extremely strange boy (Senan Jennings, in the film's most affecting performance), but they refuse to give him a name because as Gemma says to him often, "I'm not your mother!". This Young Boy can mimick Tom and Gemma perfectly, waking them up every morning by screaming at the top of his lungs and then mimicking what the couple said the previous night (a lot of what is repeated should never be said by a boy his age!). The Young Boy also screams every morning until Tom and Gemma make him a bowl of cereal. Tom hates the boy, while Gemma just raises him because she has no other choice. The rest of the film is just rinse and repeat, as Tom thinks he hears something when he puts his ear to the ground in  the house's front yard, so he begins digging a hole until it is so deep, he needs a ladder to get in and out. The Young Boy likes to watch TV when it is nothing but a series of patterns and strange symbols (otherwise the TV doesn't work) and Gemma realizes the Young Boy knows more than he is telling. (The film's only real effective scene comes when Gemma tricks the Young Boy into mimicking a man the boy says he talked to, but can't say any more. What the boy turns into is really shocking and is the main clue why this couple is trapped). While the film would ideally be better as an episode of THE TWILIGHT ZONE, it runs much too long and would have worked better as a thirty minute short. But there are still some good bits in the film, such as Tom painting "HELP" on the roof of the house, hoping someone flying overhead will see it, but it is obvious they are living in an enclosed environment, as no planes are ever seen in the sky (as a matter of fact, all the clouds look exactly the same and there's a scene where Gemma and the Young Boy are lying on the ground looking at the clouds. Gemma then says that these clouds look like nothing but clouds; none of them look like anything else, like they do in the "real world"). After realizing that there is no hope for rescue, Tom paints a distinctly different message on the roof, which did make me laugh. Unfortunately, director Lorcan Finnegan doesn't infuse enough imagination into this Ireland/Denmark/Belgium/UK co-production, for if it contained some more imagination like the roof bits, it would be a film to contend with. I get why people and critics love this film; it's pure nightmare fodder, but it just plods along until the finale, where we learn why the Young Boy, now an adult (Eanna Hardwicke), was put in the care of Gemma and Tom (I won't spoil it for you), as Gemma learns why she is trapped in the house (the curb is able to be lifted by hand [!] and Gemma takes a trip under it she won't soon forget, seeing things that explain everything, or nearly everything). As I said, this film is weird, but when people live their lives the same exact way day after day, month after month, year after year, it can become boring, not only for the young couple, but also for the viewer. It's a well made film, but I expected a little more. You may like it a lot more than I did and I can understand why. It's well acted and photographed, but some of the visual effects just don't make the grade and if you can look beyond that, you may enjoy this. The more I think about this film, the more disappointed I become.;   Sure, DEVIL'S REVENGE (2019) stars both William Shatner and Jeri Ryan, so there's a STAR TREK Universe connection there, but this straight-to-DTV flick is as bad as they come. It's a horror film that makes absolutely no sense at all and when it begins to make a little sense, it defies its own twisted logic and then goes into WTF?!? territory again. And I don't mean good WTF?!? territory, but mind-numbingly bad WTF??? territory. It also doesn't help that Shatner (whose production company partially financed this film) plays a father so mean and pathetic, you want to kick him in the nuts and send him into outer space. The story deals with the married with two college kids John (a simply awful Jason Brooks) searching for an ancient artifact in a cave with two of his closest friends. The artifact has cursed his family for generations and his father, Hayes (William Shatner), won't stop putting down his son until he finds the artifact and destroys it (Really, he's a major prick to his son, vying for worst father of the century!). John finds the artifact, touches it and it disappears. Apparently it awakens the Devil, whose minions murder one of his friends in the cave (offscreen) and turns his other closest friend against him. Now his father really says things to John that no father should say to their son, calling him a "coward" and a "pussy" for losing sight of the artifact and bringing the Devil to Earth, demanding that he look and find the artifact and destroy it before it's too late. Not only does John put his life in danger, he also puts his wife Susan (Jeri Ryan) and teenage kids Eric (Robert Scott Wilson) and Dana (Ciara Hanna) in mortal danger when they demand to go with him to find the artifact. Before they go, John begins to hallucinate, seeing people act the exact opposite of what they really are (he sees a nice kid as a punk and a store clerk as drug dealer) and everyone he comes in contact with are killed by the Devil and his minions (usually offscreen). That's basically the whole film in a nutshell, except when John gets his hands on the artifact and destroys it, it doesn't stop the family curse and the film ends with the Devil winning. See what I mean? It doesn't even follow its own rules and there's a comical scene where Hayes goes into the cave with a grenade launcher and fires it at the Devil and his minions who are only a few feet away, yet Hayes is no worse for wear (one of the minions knocks him down and it's an obvious stunt double, as Shatner was 88-years-old at the time!), when he also should have been blown to pieces. Where should I start to describe how bad this film really is? First of all, the location of the cave changes from scene-to-scene. It takes John and his family a long time to get to it (traveling in a canoe to access to it and that's only a partial trip), yet Hays drives an ATV to it with no problem! Even though the Devil and his minions are portrayed by men in full body makeup (Makeup effects by Vincent J. Guastini and his crew), this film has the need to goose-up the effects with terribly bad CGI, destroying whatever originality this film had. All of the explosions and muzzle flashes are also CGI, as is the blood that is spilled (CGI blood has yet to become realistic, especially in low budget flicks like this), making this film very hard to watch. Director Jared Cohn (a graduate of The Asylum school of filmmaking, which is never a good thing) has basically made a boring TV movie spiced up with a few swear words and a dollop of blood. This is not worth you precious time unless you want to see William Shatner play the father from Hell. Shatner has been in a few hoary movies, but this is probably the hoariest of all. Shot in Louisville, Kentucky, close to Shatner's ranch and stable of horses (which are displayed in the film).


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