Robert and Michelle King put the same thought-provoking warped perspective that makes "The Good Wife" and the "Wife" (reviewed) spinoff "The Good Fight" such wonderfully dark fun to good use as to S1 of the CBS psychological drama "Evil." The CBS Home Entertainment DVD of this first outing of this latest King-sized offering hits real and virtual store shelves on June 30, 2020.
IMDb does reviewers everywhere a solid during these Hell hound days of The Summer of 2020 by providing a perfect synopsis of the "Supernatural"/"X-Files" mash-up that is "Evil." "A skeptical female clinical psychologist joins a priest-in-training and a blue-collar contractor as they investigate supposed miracles, demonic possession, and other extraordinary occurrences to see if there's a scientific explanation or if something truly supernatural is at work." The frequent ambiguity as to this is one of many things that make "Evil" such a treat.
The series aptly examines the nature of evil; this includes whether it is the work of Satan and why some people turn to the dark side. We also get ample discussion of the extent to which someone invites that harmful element into his or her life.
The aforementioned shrink is Karen Bouchard, Ph.D. She goes down the rabbit hole in the pilot when her consulting for the NYC DA office has her evaluating a "baby" who has done a bad bad thing. This puts her on the radar of future man in black David and handyman Ben (the magnificent). Their common interest relates to whether the devil made the defendant do it.
The "excitable boy" playing a major role (with a little help from the not-so-good-son) in the final S1 episodes is one of many reasons that the 13 "Evil" S1 episodes are worthy of a marathon, but not binge, watching session. By George, you will want to keep the lights on for some of these episodes.
Many of the other episodes, including an exorcism apparently gone wrong, similarly involve story arcs. An awesome example of this is an evaluation of a purported prophet leading to an investigation of potent symbolism. This mission from the agents of God leads to a family reunion at a commune that practices what it preaches as to peace, free love, and understanding. Cosbying the sangria is a little more questionable.
The Halloween and Christmas specials are particularly awesome in that they are especially dark and have heavy elements of the highly entertaining impact of Karen often bringing her work home with her to the extent that she repeatedly must battle her personal demon. Halloween finds the annoying shrill and hyper four girls of Karen playing host to the weird neighbor kid, who is an especially bad influence. Christmas, which involves especially dark mass hypnosis by a Katy Perry clone, is a little more fun in that it is the one "Evil" episode that features the same type of animated music video that Team King does so well.
Michael Emerson puts his "Lost" training as a psycho-in-geek's clothing to excellent use as the yin to the yang of Karen; psychologist Leland Townsend really enjoys manipulating the weak-willed to do his bidding; revealing the boss of the Townsend agency is one of the best surprises of this series that is full of twists.
The S1 cliffhanger arguably is the most surprising moment in the series. At the very least, it sets the stage for Karen to present the arguably most interesting workers' compensation claim in real or reel history.
CBSHE first supplements this with deleted and extended scenes that indicate that Beelzebub was whispering in the ear of the editor who decide to exclude these moments. We also get the self-explanatory special features ""Evil: Season One: Genesis" and "Does Evil Exist?' The latter especially provides good material for water-cooler chatter if we ever return to our offices.
The best praise for the Universal Pictures Home Pictures Blu-ray-DVD-Digital pack release of "Brahms: The Boy II" on May 19, 2020 is that this sequel is better than the eerily entertaining (but more bizarre and slower paced) 2016 movie "The Boy" that spawns it. Part of this appeal is making "Brahms" more suspenseful and relatable than the first movie. One of the best bonus features in the BD-DVD pack is an eight-minute alternative ending that arguably is better than the satisfying conclusion in the theatrical version.
The good folks at UPHE also give us deleted scenes and other alternate scenes; these treats reinforce hope for a director's cut release.
The basic lore (and lure) of this franchise is that the titular Victorian-era plaything is possessed and turns the real live boy who owns it to the dark side; this culminates in a homicidal rage before moving onto the next pre-adolescent minion. Of course, all this has shades of the "Conjuring" franchise.
The appeal of "Brahms" includes well-presented exposition as to the nature of the menace associated with making the doll-with-something extra part of the family.
"Boy" revolves around a middle-aged British couple whose flesh-and-blood eight-year-old boy is the victim of a tragic childhood at their estate in the English countryside; they hire a young American woman to take charge of Brahms as if she is one of the family. she quickly becomes in charge of all his wrongs and his rights to her extreme detriment. That's how she becomes The Nanny.
"Brahms" opens in London in the wake of the events of the first film. Liza (Katie Holmes), her husband, and their young son Jude (Christorpher Convery of "Gotham" and "Stranger Things") are living a very happy existence until a series of unfortunate circumstance lead to severe PTSD in both Liza and Jude.
Six months later, the family temporarily rents the cheerful guest house near the gloomy mansion where all of the events of "Boy" occur. Of course, the happy young family is blissfully unaware of that history.
A still shell-shocked Jude soon finds Brahms and tells his parents of the importance of following the "Gremlins" style rules that "Pinocchio" has established. The suspense builds as Brahms increasingly acts out in proportion to the extent to which he strengthens his grip on Jude. Of course, Mom and Dad continue to not believe Jude when he blames wanton destruction and other acts of aggression "on the dog." The events themselves and the reactions of Holmes and Convery provide the rest of us great entertainment.
All of this leads to the aforementioned theatrical and alternative endings that nicely bring things home in every sense of the word.
The amusing coincidence regarding this is that perverse minds behind the "Boy" franchise show that you can go home again at a time that most of us are prevented from leaving our residences.
Virgil Films awesomely breaks out of its comfort zone by deviating from its pattern of mostly releasing family-friendly fare on home-video to bring a DVD of "Scream, Queen: My Nightmare on Elm Street" (2020) to small screen everywhere on March 3, 2020. This aptly camptastic documentary on the 1985 horror film "Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge" can be considered Mark's revenge.
This film chronicles the campaign of (still studly) then-closeted "2" star Mark Patton to get screenwriter David Chaskin to acknowledge that the material, rather than the leading man, is the basis for identifying "2" as the "gayest horror movie ever made." The comma between "Scream" and "Queen" in the documentary title reinforces the related observation that Patton is a member of the same sorority as Jamie Lee Curtis.
A "Queen" scene in which Chaskin states that he directed Patton to scream but never instructed him to do it like a girl provides a good sense of the dynamic between the two. "Queen" filmmakers Roman Chimienti and Tyler Jensen repeatedly inserting "distracting" "2" clips of an S&M shower scene that "aptly" likely is a favorite of Bryan Singer and footage of Patton separately in his well-packed tightie-whities and doing an awesome bump and jerk dance proves that those documentarians know their target audience very well.
Sadly, "Queen" omits a "Revenge" scene in which Patton get pantsed while wearing a jock strap. This memorable moment proves that he works his ass off to take one for the team.
The following trailer for "Queen" goes beyond highlighting the aforementioned style of both "Revenge" and "Queen" to address the accompanying substantial substance of the latter. Namely, the price that Patton pays for playing such a gay character in the not-so-enlightened '80s. This is on top of his having to sacrifice being fully true to himself by taking walks of shame in WeHo in pursuit of a star on the Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard.
"Queen" does an excellent job making Patton both the poster boy for closeted actors in the '80s and the comeback kid beginning with a 2010 "Never Sleep Again" event celebrating the "Nightmare" franchise.
Anyone with a heart will have it break on hearing Patton discuss literally and figuratively being kept out of the picture regarding a profile of his live-in partner "Dallas" stud Timothy Patrick Murphy. The "your little dog too" element of this shows that Mark is a good friend of Dorothy. "Distracting" clips of Murphy remind viewers of the extent to which Lucy Ewing love interest Mickey was so fine and blew our minds. Oh, Mickey.
The better news is that we also see Little Markie, happy at last in the present. His loving relationship is only the tip of the iceberg as to his happy life south of the border. He also is an icon among gay horror fans and is gracious as to returning their love.
The bottom (no pun intended) line as to all this is that "Queen" shows both that gay boys can deliver as well as breeders of both genders and that irrational fears and prejudices ruin careers and deprive folks all along the art versus commerce scale regarding entertainment. That is the real nightmare in this case.
Breaking Glass Pictures fully lives up to its reputation for edgy dark fare as to its its February 18, 2020 DVD release of the 2019 grindhouse-light film "Feedbacck."
This tale of a night of terror for an aging Chav who can be considered the UK answer to Howard Stern, can be thought of as a Blumhouse remake of the '70s com "WKRP in Cincinnati" about the zany staff at a struggling AM radio station. On a related note, one can only hope that Blumhouse does recreate the "WKRP" episode that revolves around a belief that turkeys can fly.
Outspoken Jarvis Dolan arrives at work bloodied but undeterred in the wake of a beatdown inspired by his strong opinions; his glee on throwing around his star status is short-lived when it soon becomes apparent that tonight is not like every other night. For on this night, some people die and others wish for that fate.
The terror for Jarvis and delight for the warped viewers who enjoy his torture begins with learning that his show has been hijacked and that the culprits are at least one step ahead of him. Things follow the standard course of Jarvis being warned against trying to get any help. He also discovers that he is his own captive audience.
Learning that the current "night in question" involves an earlier "night in question" with heavy shades of "WKRP" is far from the end of the story. Virgin feature-film writer/director Pedro C. Alonso does an excellent job keeping the twists coming in a manner that validates the theory that all memories are subjective.
Jarvis and his sidekick being forced to graphically confess their sins under incredible duress and in a highly public manner greatly contributes to the perverse fun of this one.
Alonso further shows his chops in the obligatory escape attempt scene. This one truly demonstrates sound and fury.
Of course, all this ends with the last men (if any) on both sides of the sadistic antics at the end of their ropes and thoroughly exhausted. The awesome thing this time is that all involved get exactly what they deserve,
Mill Creek Entertainment provides a chance to see a prequel done right as to the October 29, 2019 Blu-ray release of "The Thing" (2011), which is an awesome homage to the 1982 John Carpenter cult classic of the same name. As the "must-see" bonus feature "'The Thing' Evolves" clearly shows, the filmmakers meticulously follow the principle of the devil being in the details to the extent of recruiting actors in Norway to play the crew of the Norwegian research station around which this origin story is centered.
MCE deserves an even more hearty slap on the back for the expert job producing the BD. The panoramic opening shots of snow and ice are almost blinding, and the sound is so crisp that you will hear and feel every crack of ice. This is not to mention the depth of these and all other shots.
Our story begins with our modern-day Vikings searching for the source of a mysterious signal; discovering in one of the worst possible ways that a long-buried alien spaceship is the culprit figuratively (and almost literally) is the tip of the iceberg. These scientists learn that the last visitor from a distant planet to exit the craft left the door open.
Finding that careless individual encased in ice leads to paleontologist Kate Lloyd (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) coming to the great white north because she thinks that it is a beauty way to go. Her companions include boyfriend Adam Finch (Eric Christian Olsen) and his boss,
Jubilation soon turns to horror as our international group of friends soon become chum for the titular monster. Ala "The Invasion of the Body Snatchers," the ability of the brother from another planet to replicate and possess any living organism both creates reasonable paranoia and complicates the task of putting the genie back in the bottle,
Much of the rest of "Thing" takes on a perverse "Tom and Jerry" theme as the roles of hunter and hunter frequently shift. Inarguably the best scene in this film with award-worthy effects involves showing the extent to which the big bad is a karma chameleon. A still functional detached limb doing its thing at PRECISELY the right moment alone is worth "the price of admission."
This mayhem and increasingly frayed nerves related to it becoming increasingly clear that no one may be whom he or she seems to be leads to an inevitable "Alien" style showdown. The epilogue that plays out during the closing credits provides the missing link between the prequel and the main event.
The epilogue to this post is that the prequel provides valued closure more than 35 years after the release of the original. It also shows that classic scifi is timeless in style and substance.
The Breaking Glass Pictures DVD release of the 2017 Irish horror movie "Red Room" shows that former films about imprisoning 20-something women have barely broken the surface regarding the potential for the depth of depravity regarding this sub-genre. The essential theme is that the lasses who are guests of the state of terror stay chained up and brutalized as they await their close-up in the titular chamber.
The accolades for this creative success include Best Independent Feature Film and Special Jury Prize honors at the 2017 Underground Cinema Film Festival Awards.
"Room" centers around a single mother who pays a heavy price for a rare indulgence of her girls just wanna have fun side. This also relates to her learning that Mother does not always know best in that our future web star allows Gran to convince her to spend an evening at a club 10 minutes from their home.
Proving that no good deed goes unpunished, our new parent bends down to pick up an apparently lost mobile phone that is ringing on the ground in front of a white-panel van. This leads to the inevitable.
On arriving, the new girl meets her chum. The orientation includes a recitation of "Fight Club" rules.Of course, each guideline gets violated during the film.
The audience soon leans both that this for-profit and perverse fun enterprise is a father-son operation with Father (and Mother) remotely calling the shots and Son running a small crew from the house that serves as an operations center. The rest of the story is that the dark webmaster is a slave to his work.
An inventory control problem coinciding with an expansion of the business in a manner that should be a cautionary tale to every annoying toddler out there combine to make things a bad day at the office for father and son alike. One lesson here is that good help is hard to find.
Much of the appeal of "Room" relates to perverse pleasure associated with seeing how deranged some seemingly average people are and discovering the callous viciousness regarding the behavior of folks who are willing to meet the need of that segment of the public.
The copious DVD special features include behind-the-scenes interviews and a deleted scene that is roughly the same length as a typical Bugs Bunny short.
Breaking Glass Pictures provides horror fans a missing link regarding the recent DVD release of the 2016 film "Obsidian Curse." A fairly clever concept regarding an evil hex, adequate acting, and decent production values put this one many steps above the student-film quality of many lower-budget blood-and-gore movies.
"Curse" begins with a bit of a non-sequitur. Party girls are living it up while a demon who looks like something out of the "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" television series is feasting on a sacrificial lamb.
The action quickly shifts "One Year Later." Ex-con Blair Jensen is freshly sprung from the big house after serving a sentence on a drug charge. Baby daddy Roberto picks her up. His bad news for her is that new wife Yvonne is taking care of their daughter.
Blair having to go beyond being clean-and-sober extends to requiring that she obtain gainful employment. Desperation regarding a need for a job leads to trying to join the underground economy. That results in her obtaining the titular stigmatism, which makes her a babe-eater magnet.
The scene in which Blair meets the first member of her new fan club does a good job with many tried-and-true horror film cliches. A creature reaching out from under the bed and a comforter and sheet being pulled off a sleeping woman provides some sense of this portion of "Curse."
Blair going on the run sets the stage for other creatures of the night trying to get a piece of her; this results in her becoming the captive of an unexpected monster. Good dark and gory humor enters the picture in the form of "for tat" revenge for a betrayal.
All of this comes back somewhat full circle in that assistance comes from an unexpected source; this creates a sense of the lesser of two evils.
The middle-ground approach throughout "Curse" makes it fun for the whole family; you are spared chessy effects and deplorable performances.
Mill Creek Entertainment fully shows its range as to the recent DVD release of the 2019 horredy "Dead Don't Die in Dallas." This film is the latest project of auteur Israel Luna of "Ticked Off Trannies With Knives."
Luna assembles his "Knives" principals to espouse principles comparable to those in that film. William Belli stars as Beth-Anne Fetterman, a white-trash trannie who has fairly recently lost her husband.
The stock characters in this purposefully retro bargain-basement demon love-child of John Waters and Charles Busch include the stout in body and anorexic in mind southern preacher, his mousy wife, and his closet-case son. We also get a tough-as-nail pre-op woman who identifies as male, a cute blonde gay boy who essentially is homeless after his father kicks him out, and the car full of trannies who prove that boys just want to have fun. We also get the gay couple, who are quietly minding their own business until the outside world essentially crashes in on them.
We see tempers on both sides violently flare up ahead of a literally Sunday, bloody Sunday in which our man of God and his wife wonder where the flock their congregation has gone. The answer is that the faithful (as well as the not-so-faithful) are feeling the side effects of a miracle pill that literally cures every ailment known to man. These unintended consequences include becoming a maneater that is the lean and hungry type but does not only come out at night.
The usual equal parts guts and glory as our foes whose desperate times call for the desperate measure of uneasy bedfellows fight both internal and external demons. Clever use of a "broken" and "missing" reels greatly contribute to the retro vibe of the film.
Luna already makes it clear that he does not pull punches when we witness the most shocking scene in the entire film; the son of a preacher man has good cause to feel like our savior.
Of course, all this culminates with the zombies being (at least temporarily) being subdued with or without extreme prejudice, It is equally standard that the journey provides all the fun this time.
The proper destinations for this movie that puts a queer spin on walking dead films include any gathering in which all are welcome.
The Olive Films May 29, 2018 DVD release of the 1959 film "A Bucket of Blood" that Olive describes as a "black-comedy-beatnik-culture-horror film" by a man that Olive shares is known as "The Pop of Pop Culture" is a wonderfully perverse cult classic with great significance.
This film enhances the Corman films in the Olive catalog by joining "Gas-s-s-s," "The Wild Angels," and the recent Olive release of "The Trip" starring Peter Fonda. The bigger picture is that "Bucket" is a precursor to the better known 1969 Corman black comedy "The Little Shop of Horrors."
Both "Bucket" and "Shop" feature a total nerd giving into an awesomely dark bloodlust in a bid to win the hot chick at work. "Shop" florist employee Seymour Krelborn provides carnivorous plant Audrey II the desired sustenance in a bid to win the heart of the babe for whom he names the plant.
Walter Paisley is a used and abused busboy at The Yellow Door coffeehouse, which is a beatnik hangout, at the beginning of "Blood." The object of his affection is cool cat Carla.
The same type of accident that is happy for the born loser and unhappy from the perspective of society that sets Seymour on the path to success in "Shop" involves a sacrificial cat in "Bucket." The poor kitty who uses up his ninth life is the beloved pet of the landlady of Walter.
Walter stupidly but accidentally killing the pussy leads him to conclude that making art is the best course of action when life gives you a dead mouser. The very avant-garde sculpture "Dead Cat" brings Walter instant fame (and an unfair portion of fortune) at the coffee shop.
Undercover narc Lou Raby (Bert Convy) making the rookie mistake of bringing a gun to a skillet fight inspires the second (and more grotesque) work "Murdered Man." The neighborhood whore subsequent learns not to tease any repressed psycho even if he is not one in Mom's clothing. We further get a local resident paying for what he saw.
The overall beatnik culture contributes much of the fun in "Bucket." The king of the scene embracing Walter to the extent of literally placing him on a throne provides further good period-piece entertainment. This is not to mention seeing the extent to which greed and an equal lust for celebrity outweighs morality.
Corman does even better presenting the truth literally beginning to reveal itself and the surface-thin cool composure of Walter melting away until the mob wants him in an undesirable manner. This leads to enacting the Corman form of justice.
The bigger Corman picture is that this genius fully embraces every element of the B-movies of which he is a master. This includes (such as in "Shop" and "Blood") shooting in black-and-white when not opting for lurid vivid color, using low-budget effects, and figuratively sticking to the script each time. He further is set apart from the makers of other guilty pleasures in that he sets out to create trashlicious garbage each time and greatly succeeds. This (along with the obvious drug influences) makes him the one-man Sid and Marty Krofft of the silver screen.
[EDITOR'S NOTE: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this blog post. The opinions I share are my own.]
The WBHE September 10, 2019 separate DVD & BD releases of "Supernatural" S14 help keep the CW joy going strong ahead of the October 2019 season premieres of these fun-for-all-ages series. This run begins with the August 2019 releases of (reviewed) "Arrow" S7 and (reviewed) "Flash" S5.
The September 17, 2019 releases of "Supergirl" S4, and the September 24, 2019 releases of "Legends of Tomorrow" round out this run,
The blessing and the curse related to "Supernatural" S14 is that premature rumors of the death of this series result in episodes that awesomely cover all bases and leave fanboys wanting more but being content about where things stands in the season finale. The same is true as "Arrow" and "Flash." It is known that S15 will be the end for "Supernatural" and that Team Arrow has decided that eight is enough.
The following trailer for S14 shows that "Supernatural" has not lost any of its creepy edge in its adolescence. This promo being in perfectly clear standard def. reinforces that spending a few more bucks for the enhanced images and sound of Blu-ray is WELL worth that extra cost.
The last hurrah elements of S14 begins with grim brothers/expert monster hunters Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) Winchester back in our world after an S13 adventure in an alternate universe known as "Apocalypse World." One change is that their core group of the siblings and long-term literal angel Castiel (Misha Collins) now includes "Little Nicky"/"Cousin Oliver" Jack (Alexander Calvert). This new kid on the block is the two year-old son of Lucifer in the body of a late-teens boy.
"Mom" Mary Winchester and mentor/father figure Bobby Singer also are back with the band after extended death-related absences from the series.
Everything old is new again in that S14 commences with the "surviving" sibling dealing with the sacrifice of his brother at the end of the prior season. In this case, Sam has the aforementioned inner circle and his army of hunters desperately seeking Dean, who is the new meat suit for archangel Michael. This brings things back to the primary S5 story arc in which Michael and Lucifer want to respectively possess Dean and Sam in order to hold a death match.
S5 further rears its ugly head as to former Lucifer vessel Nick also being on Team Winchester. Subsequent events indicate that that former tenant has a lingering effect on his prior landlord.
The standard murder and mayhem result as to Michael having Dean do his bidding, Sam and Dean teaming up to evict that squatter, and the standard demons and numerous other creatures of the night preying on innocent and not-so-innocent humans. All of this occurs in the background of the latest plan of Michael to turn earth into his idea of paradise.
Meanwhile at the fortified bunker that the Winchesters call home, Jack faces his own personal crises. S13 events have robbed him of his grace that makes him different than other boys. He also faces a comparable crisis to one in which "cousin" Sam struggles in S6.
Staying alive requires that Jack sacrifice a portion of his soul; a few subsequent desperate times require that he resort to the desperate measure of giving up a little more of his soul to defeat a foe with extreme prejudice,
Team "Supernatural" does the series proud as to the milestone 300th episode "Lebanon" (a.k.a. "Winchester Family Reunion.") This one starts strong with our boys on a scavenger hunt that goes awry when a trio of slacker teens who at least suspect what goes on in the bunker temporarily (and hilariously) gets the better of their elders.
After dealing with the meddling kids, the Winchesters try black magic that does not work as intended. The compensation for not getting the desired wish fulfillment is the return of deceased family patriarch John Winchester (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). This resurrection allows the Winchester clan to once again be a relatively happy nuclear family. This also arguably is the happiest periods for the boys in the entire series.
The writers remain true to the entertainingly cynical nature of the series by not allowing the bros to be happy for long and by showing that magic has its price. Learning of the negative consequences of Dad coming back forces the boy to once again try to find a quick fix while contemplating a major sacrifice for the greater good.
"Leabanon" also is notable for providing INARGUABLY the best fodder for the gag reel that is a special feature. The Winchesters are having a very serious moment when a prop malfunction has Padalecki and Ackles literally rolling on the floor in laughter.
The aptly named "Mint Condition" Halloween episode is another season highlight; often angry and/or morose Dean is ecstatic as to a Shocker network marathon of classic slasher films and a real "job" that involves action figures and other memorabilia coming to life to attack a comic-book store employee. Usually more cheerful Sam is experiencing annual depression regarding this holiday.
This outing perfectly blends the well-produced horror and the dark humor that contributes to "Supernatural" being able to celebrate its Quincenera.
Humor fully takes center stage in a "Pleasantville" style outing in which a "job" brings Sam and Castiel to a real-life town that is straight out of a TV Land sitcom. All of us living through our current dystopian times can relate to the desire of the power-that-be behind this Utopia to want a more cheerful existence than our winter (and spring, summer, and fall) of discontent,
All of this culminates in a truly epic season-finale story-arc that involves the end of the world as we know it, Jack becoming an especially excitable boy leads to teen angst that leads to a "we need to talk about Jack" moment.
The inability of the Winchesters to properly parent their jinx of a ward leads to the "Dad" coming downstairs to put the kids in line. The climax to all this proves that the boss may not always be right but always is the boss. The other moral is that Hell literally has no fury like a powerful entity scorned; suffice to say that our existence is chucked.
Although the gag reel shows that boys just wanna have fun, the other special features demonstrate the love of the game that comes through in each episode. You will not believe in angels, demons, and the stuff of "Scooby-doo" episodes but will believe that the folks in front of and behind the camera do believe in spooks.
All involved share their perspectives and devotion in "Exploring Episode 300," the even more series-encompassing "The Choices We Make," and the 2018 Comic-Con panel that will make you mourn the 2019 panel likely being the end times for that event at that Con.
[EDITOR'S NOTE: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Blog Post. The opinions that I share are my own,]
The proper perspective regarding the Warner Bros. Home Entertainment August 27, 2019 Blu-ray/DVD combo. pack and separate DVD releases of the 2019 horredy film "The Banana Splits Show" is context. The first example is that setting a gorefest at the modern taping of a real live-action kids' show from the late '60s arguably is better suited to the '90s.
The Clinton years is when wholesome fare such as the "Splits" series and "The Brady Bunch" enjoys renewed popularity under the very flimsy guise that hipsters like such entertainment ironically, A common aspect of this is putting a dark twist on a childhood favorite ala the big-screen "Brady" films.
This is from the perspective of a guy who has had his Google home assistant repeatedly play the infectious "Splits" theme since learning of "Movie" several weeks ago. Whether this also prompts doing the spastic "Splits" dance requires pleading the Fifth.
The press materials for the film perfectly convey the above by describing "Movie" as "get nostalgic and horrified all at the same time while watching the trippy '60s characters in this all-new tale about fear, power, and an oversized puppet rock-band."
The following trailer for "Movie" further illustrates the nature of this creative take on a classic.
The next bit of context is that ANY mashing up of two disparate genres is almost certain to result in a compromise in the form of everyone getting something that he or she wants but hopes for more. A brighter aspect of this is that "Splits" fans get their first new material in decades.
"Brady" further plays into "Movie" by contributing to a more ideal premise than the one used.
Young and obliviously dorky Harley seems to literally be the biggest fan of "Splits" 50 years into their run. It is indisputable that he is in for misery (not to mention much more agony than ecstasy) when mom Beth sets him and the rest of the family on the road to Hell via her good intentions as to buying tickets to a taping of "Splits" as a birthday present for Harley.
The rest of the clan is 19 year-old slacker/loving half-brother Austin, and Harley dad/Austin step-dad Mitch. The one friend of Harley calling in sick leads to young girl Zoe being drafted to round out the group,
All of this turns out to be a textbook example of being at the wrong place at the wrong time. The animatronic American Idols already are turning evil thanks to reprogramming when sudden news of an imminent cancellation of their series fully triggers their homicidal instincts and related Cylon-caliber glowing red eyes. A kinder and gentler version of this is the hilarious leaked photos of real Disney "cast members" engaged in adult behaviors while wearing the costumes of the characters whom they portray.
It seems that a "Brady" episode in which the bunch encounters the Splits and other Hanna-Barbera characters while at the King's Island amusement park in Cincinnati provides a no-brainer basis for "Movie." Even if the folks at the ironically named Blue Ribbon Content production company that makes this film could not get license right to use the Bradys, it seems that a "Westworld" tale (ala the Simpsons at Itchy and Scratchyland) of an all-American family having to flee the rampaging Splits at a theme park would provide perverse entertainment.
Although it would slightly distort "Brady" lore, many folks would perversely delight in seeing Cousin Oliver suffocate from having his head shoved in a cotton-candy machine. That, and his being why the family goes on the trip in the first place, would remove any doubt as to his being a jinx.
Returning to our actual movie, this Willy Wonka style adventure starts on a happy note both for our family and a self-proclaimed influencer and his girlfriend. Things are slightly less happy for the young daughter of the stage father, who is obsessed with using the taping to get his Honey Boo Boo discovered. Fans of "Wonka" can guess how things end for the folks who are not pure of heart and/or deed both in the audience and on the production team.
The creepy backstage area fully becomes the killing fields of our literally dead-eye murderers; highlights include an obstacle course of death and using a lollipop as a deadly weapon. This is not to mention a macabre banana split that costs an arm and a leg.
The rest of this plan involves providing a captive audience of children an endless show while the adults wait in the wings.
The most unintentionally amusing aspect of all this is that ignoring the elephant in the room allows keeping the body count from further escalating.
The DVD and Blu-ray extras include two "making-of" features; a memorable scene in those is seeing the actual guys in the costumes and hearing their tales of trying to navigate while dressed that way. An amusing fake news report can be considered a highlight reel.
The final act to all this is not a "rock out." it is a reminder that "Movie" should be judged in the context of entertainment in the form of distorting something sweet into something acidic for the sick pleasure of those who find such twists entertaining,
The Warner Archive August 27, 2019 DVD release of the 1981 Michael Caine thriller "The Hand" is the latest in a string of neo-noir thrillers in the Archive catalog. The 1981 Rachel Ward slasher flick "Night School" is a prime example of this.
The cred. of this one includes a screenplay by Oliver Stone, who provides an audio commentary,
The general concept of these lurid psychological dramas is that the monster is the beast within; they also typically have moderate production values that contribute to the guilty fun of the viewers. The 1980 Michael Caine film "Dressed to Kill" epitomizes this.
Caine plays successful cartoonist Jonathan Lansdale, who is living the fairly good life in Vermont with moderately loving wife Anne Lansdale (Andrea Marcovicci) and slightly more adoring (aptly named) young daughter Lizzie.
The game-changer occurs when Anne breaks the rule against driving while angry; her act of road rage while arguing with Jonathan makes his titular appendage collateral damage in the ensuing accident.
A half-hearted effort by Anne to recover the severed projectile fails, leaving Jonathan with a stump a the end of his wrist and early retirement from drawing his strip. The rest of this portion of the story is that the zombie-like hand minimally has an imagined afterlife of its own comparable to Thing from "The Addams Family," which amusingly begins life as a comic.
Our action shifts to New York, where a highly reluctant Jonathan moves to facilitate Anne in her quest for what he hopes only is psychological fulfillment. Artistic differences with extreme prejudice regarding the young Turk brought in to take over drawing the strip further fuel the fire.
The body count mounts as the emotional stability of Jonathan lessens, The question is whether the hand has surprising mobility or Jonathan is raising Cain while in a trance-like state.
All of this leads to Jonathan being just as unlucky at extra-marital love as he is regarding his wife. Of course, this causes an even further breakdown and more innocents feeling his direct or indirect wrath.
The beginning of the climax is predictable in that Jonathan gets to the root of the problem; things take an unexpected (and even more psychological) turn. Of course, the truth ultimately comes out and justice arguably is served.
The fun of all this includes the twist on the horror staple of a cursed body part that gets attached to someone who is a victim of being at the wrong place at the wrong time. The hand coming from Jonathan is as symbolic as his extreme midlife crisis is to folks who reach their limits as they enter the second half of their lives; these two events coinciding is a perfect storm.
The Warner Archive August 27, 2019 rerelrease of its January 2015 Blu-ray of the 1981 Albert Finney horror film "Wolfen" provides another bite of the apple (no pun intended) as to this urban neo-horror film.
A highlight of this release is Blu-ray greatly enhancing the innovative cinematography of a surprisingly bright and sunny New York. Archive builds on this in a back-cover liner note that discusses what primarily distinguishes this movie from similar fare of the same era. "Using a steadicam camera and Louma crane to simulate the predators' perspectives, director Michael Wadleigh ("Woodstock") achieves a remarkable blend of New York City mystery and menace not captured on film before."
The following standard-def theatrical trailer for "Wolfen" includes a look at the aforementioned artistic POV while highlighting the early '80s horror-film vibe of the movie.
The concept of a man in wolf's clothing ripping apart an over-privileged and over-coked '80s Manhattan stereotype appeals to the primal aspect of each of us.
We also understand the psyche of alcoholic disgraced police detective Dewey Wilson (Finney) being called in because he has the right stuff to crack this high-profile tough case. We further are not surprised when he is teamed up with brilliant and emotionally stable police psychologist Rebecca Neff (Diane Venora) and ends up in her bed.
Ironically, the still enjoyable and creative "Wolfen" stumbles in its execution, There are too many (and too long) scenes of the titular creature stalking his prey. On top of that, this one is a bit too talky and stoic for this genre, No one seems to be especially emotionally involved in figuring out whatdunit,
Much of this likely is due to "Wolfen" literally playing to an audience raised on "wolfing out" involving more frantic pursuits and general mayhem. The typically lower production values of those films also contribute to that fun.
Having said that, Finney and a cast that includes Gregory Hines as a dedicated coroner all play their roles well. They never go to the other extreme in terms of over-emoting.
Related depth and commentary nicely provide relevant framework for all this. The yuppie scum (who pays the ultimate price for not having a chance to see the original "Poltergeist" movie) with roots that seem to date back to New Amsterdam days is most likely targeted due to a planned development on land of importance to the descendants of the folks who sold the island for $24 and a handful of beads.
We also are reminded that Native American culture has a long history that emphasizes the close relationship between man and beast. This is especially so in arguably the best scene of "Wolfen." One spoiler is that Wilson likely regrets not having a rolled-up newspaper and or a snausage with him.
The well-executed (and believable in context) climax is another highlight. Wilson and Neff have returned to the real scene of the crime and are about to become Alpo. Quick thinking in the form of a symbolic act provides a possible out; the lack of a sequel makes it possible that that gesture is too little too late.
As the above musings indicate, the tricky balancing act that "Wolfen" attempts is a modern werewolf tale in the context of a more traditional '80s murder thriller. The result is the film reflecting the principle of compromise in that everyone gets enough to be happy but not enough to be ecstatic.
The Breaking Glass Pictures DVD release of the 2018 micro-budget horror film "Epidemic" contributes to the proof both that Breaking has good instincts for edgy art-house fare and that there are seemingly endless variations of the deadly plague sub-genre of fright flicks. The additional fun of dysfunctional relationships in this on-location movie filmed in Allentown, Pa. provide the best entertainment.
The following YouTube clip of a SPOILER-LADEN trailer for "Epidemic" highlights the aforementioned aspects of the film.
The upcoming 30th birthday party of everymillennial Dana provides the main arena for the carnage in which far few who enter leave. Concluding that inviting remarried alcoholic father Rufus regarding whom Dana has a long-term estrangement makes sense is the most puzzling and unbelievable aspects of the film.
An amusingly unlikely coincidence that sets the primary action in motion involves the preparation of gal pal Mandi for celebrating Dana reaching an age that she no longer can be trusted leading to discovering a not-so-concealed secret room. The exploration of Mandi leads to a mishap that equally can be considered letting the genie out of the bottle and opening Pandora's box.
The secret room also requires a brief detour into Blogland. Videos of people discovering a door in a floor, a secret passage, etc. in their homes are catching up with footage of frolicking felines on YouTube. A personal experience somewhat validates the authenticity of such assertions and includes the bonus of potential creepiness regarding buying a house.
The seller of my current house being tremendously supportive regarding a move to unfamiliar territory had the side effect of learning that he was obsessed with this dwelling to the extent of going out of his way to drive past it after the sale; he likely continues doing so more than three years later. This validates the decision independent of this to change the locks and the alarm code within a few days of moving.
The seller repeatedly referred to leaving a time capsule and bragging that I never would find it. Concluding that it merely was buried in the yard, I was inadequately intrigued to undergo a treasure hunt.
A leaky pipe a year after moving led to opening up a drop-down basement ceiling; that led to discovering a creepy cache of report cards, old newspaper articles, photos, and other family treasures but nothing of monetary value. The spoiler this time is that one man's treasured mementos are another man;s trash. A related amusing part of this is that the layout of the cellar and finding several niches down there had already earned it the title of "serial killer basement."
Returning to our main topic, Mandi having an immediate and severe reaction to exposure to a substance in the previously sealed room does not deter her from attending the party. This leads to predictably infecting the people who are most near and dear to her by spewing all over them. This, in turn, leads to spreading the love.
Rufus indulging in liquid courage before arriving at Ground Zero makes him literally late to the party. This, in turn, proves that stupid is as stupid does. Rather than try to help the party goers or report the incident, this concerned father grabs the ailing birthday girl and brings her to the sterile environment of a no-tell motel. The feverish Dana makes it a literal hot-sheets lodging establishment.
Although everything largely plays out predictably, ambiguity regarding whether horrific visions and a semblance of a happy ending are real or Memorex keeps things interesting. The bigger picture is that justified paranoia regarding the spread of a literal or figurative plague adds an iota of credibility that keeps things interesting.
Breaking excels just as well regarding the extras that most of its releases include. These include a lively and amusingly self-deprecating interviewer with Rufus portrayor/Breaking insider Andrew Hunsicker. We also get outtakes from this film about an outbreak.
The Warner Archive April 9, 2019 pristine Blu-ray release of the black-and-white 1958 CinemaScope cult classic "Frankenstein 1970" evokes strong thoughts of the similarly off-beat 1994 film "Ed Wood." This quirky tale also will bring the 1974 Mel Brooks film "Young Frankenstein" to mind.
This meta film opens with the titular monster pursuing the lady in the lake; we soon learn that this merely is a scene in a Golden Age of Television production of the classic tale. This commentary on the small-screen taking over the silver screen is contrary to "1970" using the relatively new CinemaScope film format for the production.
The Scooby gang that is making the movie-of-the-week consists of all the stock characters. Brave and bold director "Fred" is doing his best to maintain order; young blonde starlet "Daphne" is dreaming of stardom; more down-to-earth and brainier secretary "Velma" is trying to do her job while fighting off not entirely unwelcome advances. Goofy cameraman "Shaggy" rounds out the group. The overlapping personal and professional histories of the group members add a particularly Hollywood touch to the story.
The original "Frankenstein" story more fully enters the picture regarding the same-old story of house-rich and cash-poor Baron Victor von Frankenstein (Karloff) temporarily sharing the infamous castle where it all went down with "those meddling kids." An awesome 50s B-movie element enters in the form of Frankenstein using his Air B-n-B money to buy a nuclear reactor for use in his quest to restart the family business. The rest of this aspect of the story is that forced research for the Nazis has negatively impacted the mind of our mad scientist.
Another amusing aspect of this is that the baron has aspirations of obtaining a trophy bride of Frankenstein. This tie-in with "Dracula" extends to the baron being a skilled hypnotist whose lack of an uncle may be why he has never learned that with great power comes great responsibility.
A combination of classic farce and traditional horror film combine to amp up the body count as the Baron seeks to put his new chums to use. A scene in which an oblivious "Daphne" repeatedly narrowly avoids being grabbed by the major-domo turned robotic stooge. This fully bandaged shuffling creature still managing to capture prey evokes good thoughts of "The Mummy."
Of course, the law eventually begins closing in on the baron. This equally predictably leads to a grand confrontation that shows both that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it and that every family business suffers from each generation lacking the same level of mad skills as the one that precedes it.
Archive keeps the fun going with a DVD extra in the form of a '50s-era TV spot.
The Wild Eye Releasing January 22, 2019 DVD release of the 2016 comedy-horror "Caroushell" is a prime example of the good that can come from friends contributing their individual talents to a minimal budget movie that is equal parts camp and scare. Learning the origin story of the film from co-writer Aleen Isley in the 45-minute interview reel on the DVD greatly enhances the entertainment value of this future cult classic.
The following YouTube clip of the official "Caroushell" trailer highlights all of the well-presented lowest-common-denominator elements discussed above that justify adding this one to the guilty pleasure section of your home-video collection.
The first of several clever twists comes very early in the film when we learn that the disgruntled amusement-park employee who is lamenting that he don't get no respect is Duke the plastic carousel unicorn. Do NOT call him a horse.
The action then shifts to the working-girl class home of late-teens Laurie, her tween brother Larry (a.ka. Lunchbox), and their single mother. The family casually talking about needing Laurie to watch Larry while Mom dances at a bachelor party provides good humor. A delusion regarding the absence of Dad is the icing on the cake.
Of course, these two worlds quickly collide. Laurie and Larry go the park where the latter rides Duke in a manner that proves his ability to join the family business in a few years. Although Duke has been suffering in relative silence, Larry pushes him to break free of the carousel and get his revenge on the boy. This initially leads to a few wonderfully low-budget slayings.
The action kicks into high gear as Duke tracks the siblings to a parents out of town party (complete with very amusing foreign students) that newly out bronicorn Preston is hosting. Writer/producer Steve Rudzinski steals the show as uptight, clueless, and frustrated pizza guy Joe. This holder of a classic McJob also is the surprising voice of reason in the film,
Duke gaining entrance into the house allows him to increase the body count before enjoying his role in what can be considered a Tijuana production of "Equus." He then eliminates the clutter before zeroing in on his primary prey.
The bro and the ho then literally run for their lives as the animated carnival ride zeros in for the final kill. The fun of this is that the filmmakers do not even try to make this absurd set-up very suspenseful.
All of this amounts to roughly 70-minutes of mindless fun that shows good instincts regarding when to end the party and send everyone home.
The DVD extend well beyond the aforementioned interviews. Wild Eye also includes a blooper reel, deleted scenes, and two trailers.
Warner Archive further shows ts range and the related seemingly bottomless nature of its catalog regarding two March 19, 2019 DVD releases of the 2001-02 Kids' WB anthology series "The Nightmare Room." "The Nightmare Room: Scareful What You Wish For" is our current topic; "The Nightmare Room: Camp Nowhere" is the companion DVD.
The valued review-writing shortcut this time cones courtesy of the mouth of the horse, The DVD bonus feature "The Nightmare Files" is an interview with Stephen King of the Clearasil set R.L. Stine, whose horror stories provide much of the fodder for "Room" episodes. The numerous insights that Stine shares includes describing the series as "The Twilight Zone" for kids.
"Room" also evokes thoughts of the 1991-93 kid comedy "Eerie, Indiana." This one has two tween boys investigating the regular weird occurrences in the titular town that they call home. Of course, "Supernatural" is the epitome of this type of series.
The titular tale stars former Disney Channel star/current highly damaged man Shia LaBeouf as excitable boy Dylan in a tale that can be considered a perverse version of "Toy Story." The growing pains of this lad who is graduating middle-school include having a life-size Buddy doll (fellow Disney Channel star Dylan "Zack" Sprouse) who is a real-live boy stalk him and demand fulfillment of a childhood pledge that the two be best friends forever.
Much of the fun of this one is the increasingly erratic behavior of Dylan not helping his efforts to convince friends and family that his new friend is not imaginary. This tale and the others not having a fairy-tale ending is very refreshing regarding children's fare.
The more amusing "Tangled Web" stars Justin Berfield of "Malcolm in the Middle" as a chronically lying teen. This notable one is a true fable.
Truth-impaired Josh has a strong track record of making up stories to avoid facing the consequences of his negligence. "Kung Fu" star David Carradine plays to type as a substitute teacher who schools Josh. This comes via making everything that Josh says come true.
Our prevaricator soon finds himself confronted by a psychotic version of juvenile delinquent Francis of "Malcolm," ninjas, escaped prisoners who are real Bozos, and other foes that his adolescent mind conjures. These include a very special guest star from a teen-boy perspective,
A personal fave in the set is "early" episode "My Name Is Evil." This story of teen angst has good-natured Morgan spending his birthday being the victim of a mean girl and having a carnival gypsy declare him to be a bad seed, The morning after finds a good friend of Morgan violating the bros before hos rule and said bitch convincing the entire school that Morgan is a much bigger jinx than Cousin Oliver.
This an episode in which you come for the teen drama and stay for the wonderful climatic twists.
The numerous extras extend beyond the Stine interview; a key to winning the interactive "The Nightmare Is Yours: Haunted Cave" game is to realize that Mike is a fucking idiot.
The appeal of "Room" to the target audience is that it makes them feel cool and does not talk down to them. The appeal to those of us who have not needed zit cream for years is that the stories are entertaining and feature child stars from our more youthful days.
The Warner Archive January 28, 2019 DVD release of the 1986 Wes Craven film "Deadly Friend" literally has everything (and more) for which you could hope from a teen movie. The treats include a scene straight out of the Craven "Nightmare on Elm Street" franchise. '80stastic campy gore, and strong intentional and unintentional humor. The homoerotic undertones are a bonus.
Matthew Labyorteaux ("Little House on the Prairie") plays whiz kid Paul Conway, who uses weird science to transform very recently deceased girl next door Samantha "Sam" Pringle (a pre-"Mannequin" sequel Kristy Swanson) into a not-so-small wonder (a.k.a. Bride of Frankenteen). One spoiler is that this dream sexbot turns into the worst nightmare of her creator.
The "special relationship" between Paul and a friend with whom he seemingly would like to enjoy benefits adds an amusing but enlightened element to "Friend." (Not that there is anything wrong with that.)
Paul meets fellow mid-teens dude Tom soon after the new boy in town begins his university studies on the working of the human brain. Tom quickly awkwardly asking Paul if he is in the 10th grade and seeming disappointed on being told no is that first sign that Tom likes other boys "in that way."
Paul soon asking Tom what he likes to do and if he has a girlfriend is an early indication that the interest is mutual. Tom replying that he does not have a girlfriend and that all the local girls are stuck up provides further evidence of interest in doing more than grabbing some Micky Dees with Paul.
Several scenes throughout "Friend" further show that Tom wants to be the "buddy" of Paul, The many references to keeping their mutual secret is one example.
Non-Craven creepiness enters the picture in a couple of scenes with the single mother of Paul. The first one has our mad scientist Cosby Mom so that she will sleep through his sneaking to the hospital to steal the corpse of Sam in order to reanimate her. Paul and Tom exchanging broad grins as Paul spikes the coffee of his mother is very Menendez brothers.
Another eeewww moment has Paul tightly hug his mother in the middle of the night in an effort to conceal that he has a dead girl in the house. Mom responding "that's worth waking up for" is cringe-worthy.
On a lighter note, well-known '80s psychotically grumpy old woman Anne Ramsey ("Throw Momma From the Train") plays a stereotypical nasty old bitch neighbor. Her confiscating the rock that the teens use to play hoops allows her to have three balls.
The Craven terror begins with the BB (sans 8) prototype robot that is the creation of Paul becoming an increasing threat as it develops a great degree of independent thought.
History repeats itself with extreme prejudice when Sam 2.0 goes on a killing spree that is directed against those who dun her wrong during her life. Her scene with Ramsey is priceless. Of course, this prompts Paul to urge Tom to not reveal their secret,
All of this climaxes when Sam goes completely off the rails in a manner that arguably includes a jealous rage. We learn that Hell hath no fury like a Cylon scorned.
The bigger picture is that Labytorteaux and Swanson both play their parts well and avoid camping it up with the possible exception of Swanson doing the robot. The Paul and Tom spark explains the limited on-screen chemistry between the leads.
The numerous indie horror films in the Wild Eye Releasing catalog nicely reflect a sentiment in the series finale of the Garry Shandling sitcom "The Larry Sanders Show." Shandling remarks during the final broadcast of the late-night talk show that he hosts in the Sanders persona that sometimes you get the '80s failedcom "The Ropers" and sometimes you get something much better. The Eye February 12, 2019 DVD release of the 2019 Debbie Rochon film "Doom Room" is a case of getting the original "Tick" sitcom. "Doom" is unique and has a well-executed clever concept. Rochon rocks as always.
The following YouTube clip of a trailer for "Doom" highlights the supernatural eeriness that evokes thoughts of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and the teen girls tormented while held captive film "Split."
Our story begins with Jane Doe having a Panic at the Disco nightmare; she then awakens in the mother of all morning after rooms. It is a a horrific dark chamber with a heavy metal door. Her orientation courtesy of her creepy roommate includes an order to not open the door in response to a loud banging. Doe further learns that "he" freely comes and goes as he pleases.
The story that quickly emerges is that Doe is a slut who is being punished for her wanton ways; this largely comes in the form of "visitors," who inflict physical and emotional torture on our bad girl. Rochon joining in with her trademark evil grin is far more than half the fun.
The cleverness literally enters the picture as Doe begins to remember the events that bring her to this state; at the outset, this reflects that we are the makers of our own Hell.
Things make more sense in a manner that I know I know is serious as the details come into focus. We learn that this path to destruction begins with Doe defying her mother by wanting to be dirty. This fallen woman falling in with a bad crowd is only the tip of the iceberg. Another relevant truism is the "don't talk to strangers" principle.
Revealing every detail shows that the course of events make sense. This development also puts the Rochon character in perfect context and allows her to take her well-deserved prominent role.
The bigger picture is that "Doom" proves that psychological alone can be thrilling and that a sinister countenance can be worth a thousand screams.
Wild Eye further delivers regarding the DD extras, Thee include cast and crew interviews and a making-of featurette.
'Elves' DVD: Holiday Horror Combines 'Child's Play,’ 'Truth or Dare,' 'The List of Adrian Messenger’, & 'Gilligan's Island'
Uncork'd Entertainment fully embraces the spirit of holiday horror with the recent DVD release of the (reviewed) "Krampus Origins" and "Elves, which is our topic du jour. Both films provide an incentive to qualify for the nice list of Santa, Stating that there is Hell to pay for placement on the naughty list is not an exaggeration.
"Elves," which is a sequel to the Uncork'd 2017 film "The Elf," sets the tone early on with two young brothers who are snooping around in the period before Christmas leading to one boy finding one of the titular dolls. This leads to a "Hansel and Gretel" moment.
The film follows the horror tradition of quickly shifting the narrative to another setting and (presumably) years after the incidents in the cold open. A group of slackers/recent high-school graduates is gathered in an abandoned warehouse. This party starts to go out of bounds when one of the women gets her friends to play a game that involves the guilty among them putting their names on a naughty list and admitting their sins.
The explained lore is that the actual event long ago and far away is that there are seven visitors to the hay-filled maternity ward where Jesus is born; the rest of the story is that each of these admirers brings a gift that represents one of the deadly sins. This is akin to the theory that each "stranded" castaway on Gilligan's Isle represents one of these vices.
The awesome mix of humor and horror begins with an elf doll popping up in front of the first victim. A peer aptly comments that the requirement that the current occupant of the hot seat either commit the heinous act that Santa's little helper orders or die is akin to the film "Truth or Dare" that revolves around the policy that you do the dare or the dare does you.
This woman faces the dilemma of either running down a pedestrian or ending her life before life provides her a chance to appear on "Jerry Springer." She soon learns the lesson of the CW drama series "Supernatural" that evil entities are dicks.
This prompts the gang to act in a manner akin to the campaign in the classic murder-mystery film "The List of Adrian Messenger." That film revolves around a combined effort to capture a killer who is targeting the men on the titular inventory and to save the surviving members of that group from a fate equal to death. Once again, discovering that the big bad at the heart of this carnage does not play by the rules complicates matters.
All of this culminates in a North Pole standoff that does not succeed in stopping the madness.
The bonus features include two entertaining cast interviews complete with a magic show and references to the making of this one and "Elf."
The neo-modern Christmas story ending this time is that "Elves" is a movie by Millennials for Millennials and anyone else who enjoys his or her horror with a heavy dose of awesomely perverse dark humor.
Uncork'd Entertainment puts its awesomely twisted slant on Christmas films with two recent DVD releases of holiday-themed horror films. The current topic is "Krampus Origins," which tells the tale of how Anti-Santa gets his groove back. The companion release "Elves" is a wonderful variation of "Truth or Dare" with the "Krampus" element of punishing bad post-adolescent boys and girls. A review of that one is pending.
Both films are delightfully low-budget and quirky. They also show both that there is no shame in appealing to the lowest common denominator and that trash heaps can conceal semi=precious stones.
This story that can be considered a lost tale from the crypt opens during a raging WWI battle; a German officer is attempting to summon help in the form of the titular monster who is best known for carrying off naughty children. Doughboys interrupt this ritual with extreme prejudice before the guest-of-honor fully materializes.
The action then shifts to a stateside Catholic orphanage that a nunzilla governs with an iron ruler. The early 20th-century Goth girl, a couple of horny teen boy bullies, an awkward lad, and a handful of everykids who live there show that things have not changed much in 100 years, This is not to mention the elderly alcoholic priest living out his remaining days purely as a figurehead.
The arrival of a pretty young teacher provides the catalyst for the ensuing mayhem; circumstances beyond her control put her in possession of the book that includes the ritual that frees Krampus from his unfortunate incarceration as a guest of the fairies.
This book falling in the wrong curious hands frees the beast and leads to children disappearing. Once again, a little child leads them by informing the teacher of the inconvenient truth. This leads to a surprisingly civil discourse between beauty and the beast. This conversation also reveals that the reason for taking children extends beyond not-so-divine retribution.
All of this leads to a solution that shows that the personification of evil is not the sharpest #2 in the evil pencil box.
The fun of all this is that you will laugh and may cry. You further will learn that you should not leave Satanic tomes where children can get them.
'High Voltage' DVD + Blu-Ray + Digital: Horror-Comedy About Rock Band Paying Shockingly High Price for Year at the Top
Sony Pictures delivers a nightmare before Christmas regarding the November 20, 2018 Blu-ray + DVD + Digital release of the horror-comedy film "High Voltage." This homage to cynically dark-humored films of the '80s provides the bonus of commentary on the current state of the career of star David Arquette (a.k.a. former Mr. Courtney Cox).
Arquette displays great self-effacing humor as has-been former rock god Jimmy. His opening narration provides the best line in the film in which he states that he is celebrating his 50th birthday for the third time, This leading to an unwelcome reminder of his former glory is another highlight.
That "Groundhog Day" style celebration sets the stage for the remainder of "Voltage." Thirty-four year-old musician/family guy Scott and 23 year-old singer Rachel crash the party. This pair showing Jimmy what they have leads to forming a band.
Arquette shows more shameless humor regarding his effort to launch his new effort. He must pay for his past sins by kowtowing to Rick (Luke Wilson), who is the son of the former promoter of the old band of Jimmy. Jimmy must play nice and make up for his prior sin of not treating Rick well back in the day.
The following YouTube clip of a trailer for "Voltage" nicely conveys the style and the spirit of the film.
The first gig of the band is the night that changes everything. Then-insecure Rachel having a not-so-great debut prompts an impromptu band meeting regarding where to go from there. The car in which Rachel is riding sans boys being struck by lightening as she is leaving gives her both an entirely new perspective and "Static Shock" style power to harness electrical power.
This leads to Rachel not demonstrating such great responsibility regarding her great new power. The good aspect of this is using her new-found ability to get the band on the road to success; the evil aspect of this is that this electricity comes at the cost of frying not-so-innocent men. The oft-presented and almost never heeded moral of this is that the hot chick who shows interest in you most likely lacks pure intentions. The rest of the story is that you pay dearly for what at most is an hour-or-so of pleasure.
This leads to Jimmy and Scott having to decide the extent to which they can condone the behavior that is granting them fame and fortune. Being an older former teen idol prompts Jimmy to repeatedly remind Scott that he should be careful about abandoning his one-shot at stardom.
Of course, all this climaxes after Rachel gets fully high on her own supply; any harm to the boys is collateral damage.
An unintentionally amusing aspect of "Voltage" is that it is similar to the 1977 six-episode failedcom "A Year at the Top." The concept of this one is that aspiring rockers Greg (Greg Evigan) and Paul (Paul Shaffer) sell their souls for the titular 12 months of stardom.
The bigger picture is that "Voltage" reflects the nature of fame. The reel and real lives of Arquette show how popularity can ebb and flow; the nature of the current (no pun intended) high shows that any short cuts come with prices that can range from a lack of integrity to a more costly compensation.
Warner Archive goes all-out Nightmare Before Christmas in releasing a series of Christopher Lee Dracula horror films from Hammer Studios on Blu-ray in this period of Santa and candy canes. These include "The Satanic Rites of Dracula" and "Horror of Dracula."
The Archive Blu-ray release of "Dracula A.D. 1972" from 1972 is our current topic. The moderately well-known spectacular film chemistry between Lee and co-star Peter Cushing in all their joint projects is the tip of the wooden stake regarding the quality of this one.
Virgins in the context of "1972" are in for an exceptional treat regarding this film far exceeding all expectations. Anticipating an entertaining low-budget production that is equal parts cheese and camp leads to sheer delight in finding a well-crafted film with performances that range from good to excellent and a compelling story that makes sense in the context of Dracula lore. The one exception regarding the production values is a spurting blood scene that is reminiscent of a volcano that is a school science-fair project.
The jazzy soundtrack adds an element of unintended humor; this fast-paced music and the strong early '70s vibe of the film create an expectation of the words "A Quinn Martin Production" appearing on the screen.
The bigger picture (pun intended) is that the usual expert Archive resurrection of classic and cult-classic films for Blu-ray releases makes "1972" seem as if it has risen from the grave and been entirely reborn. It truly looks and sounds mahvelous, simply mahvelous.
The following YouTube clip of a trailer for "1972" is notable for the opposite reason that the film is must-see. This promo. inexplicably underplays the quality of the movie. The narration is thoroughly cheesy and does not properly showcase the production values; it does include a good sense of the plot and the "Clockwork Orange" aspect of the production.
Our story begins in 1872 as a spokesperson narrates a battle between Dracula (Lee) and Lawrence Van Helsing; this high-stakes confrontation concludes with the defeat of Dracula.
We quickly jump ahead a century as a group of uninvited hippies are throwing a wild party in the home of a wealthy woman in London; the planning and the execution of the exit strategy of the young people provides good humor.
The plot begins to thicken on group leader/minor league Manson Johnny Alucard convincing the group to participate in a Satanic ritual at an abandoned church. The naivety of the gang prompts them to go along with this plan for what they think is innocent fun.
Young unwitting Jessica Van Helsing (Stephanie Beacham of "Dynasty") is unaware both that the rite of passage is intended to raise Dracula and that she is his bride in an arranged marriage courtesy of Johnny. Her rude awakening comes when everything gets very real.
Other good humor enters the picture when Dracula acts like an ungrateful genie freed from a bottle; Johnny expects a major pat on the head and barely avoids a kick in the pants. Dracula finding that his fiancee is not his intended does not help matters.
Current Van Helsing patriarch Lorrimer (Peter Cushing) enters the picture on Jessica acting oddly and expressing an interest in the occult. The police soon coming knocking after finding the mangled body of the most recent Countess Dracula provides the final piece of the puzzle.
Hilarity and horror ensue as Lorrimer confirms to Johnny that you cannot trust anyone over 30. The relentless manner in which the man attacks the boy is highly cathartic for all of us who must deal with Millennials. We also a "Batman '66" style battle as Jessica is lured into a fiendish trap that is designed to get her to the church on time.
All of this culminates in the predicted battle royale between Lorrimer and Dracula that brings the film full circle back to the beginning.
All of the aforementioned aspects of this unexpectedly good film provide a good reminder that horror need not be unduly graphic, exploitive, or otherwise excessively perverse. You simply need good source material and adequate talent on both sides of the camera that can make the story seem plausible.
The Monarch Home Entertainment October 9, 2018 DVD release of the 2017 horror film "3rd Night" provides a good chance to add diversity to your horror films collection. One notable element is aptly named writer/director Adam Gravely engaging in laudable nepotism regarding casting. This is not to mention Gravely putting his skill as a master of shadows to good use.
The underlying concept succeeds because it reflects relatable fears and stereotypes. This includes reflecting how anyone who has bought or sold a house feels about realtors. One hint is that this scum-of-the-earth makes used-car dealers seem like model citizens.
"Night" opens with (presumably) urban transplants Meagan and Jonathan Reid moving to an apple orchard in rural Australia. Their relationship already being strained meets one prerequisite for this type of film. Their beloved cat Nook quickly going missing checks another box.
Veterans of this type of horror film (and of "Scooby-Doo") can deduce that creepy local Cambo is not the one actively menacing the outwardly nice young couple. Abused young-teen Cambo son Rex adds an interesting element to the film.
As typically is the case, Meagan recognizes the danger that the couple is facing more quickly than Jonathan. This includes repeatedly believing that someone is watching them from their yard. The first creepy (and prophetic) note help make the man of the house a believer.
As the title suggests, all Hell breaks loose on the third night that the Reids are in their new home. Of course, this involves Cambo getting the worst of it in a few ways and at least one Reid being knocked unconscious. The surprises come with nice variations on the old psycho killer in the back seat trick. We also get good humor related to the tech. in the SUV of the couple.
As indicated above, the effectiveness of "Night" includes centering the movie around real fears. This starts with rarely knowing the history of your new home when you buy a house. An aspect of this is having little (if any) way of knowing the extent to which someone is obsessed with the property or (in rarer cases) is still living there,
Currently owning a house that the seller still drives by to check out things years later and repeatedly refers to a "time capsule" that he states that I will never find provides personal perspective regarding this. A spoiler is that needing to replace a drop-down ceiling in the basement revealed the family papers (now landfill) that comprise the capsule.
Graveley ups his game by including the element of the conflict associated with city slickers invading the territory of hicks; this concept is the stuff of which countless television and film comedies and dramas are made. Putting people from vastly different environments in the same space has plenty of potential minimally for tears and recriminations.
The third element of this concept is anyone living in an isolated environment. Once again, reel and real-life repeatedly prove that folks whom no one would hear scream are particularly easy prey who literally or figuratively kill people just to see them die.
Also as mentioned above, this blending of horror elements makes it a good choice for inclusion of an indie psychological thriller to your scary movie marathon.
'Nightwing' & 'Shadow of the Hawk' Blu-ray Double Feature: '70slicious Tales of Terror on Indian Reservations
Mill Creek Entertainment embraces the true Halloween spirit regarding the October 23, 2018 Blu-ray double-feature release "Nightwing" (1979) and "Shadow of the Hawk" (1976). The common theme of both is terror on American Indian reservations. The other shared element is both shoot-on-location films greatly benefiting from the crystal-clear BD images showcasing the beauty of the Southwest and the the Pacific Northwest respectively.
"Nightwing" awesomely melds old-school horror with social commentary that remains relevant nearly 40 years after its theatrical release. The surprisingly strong pedigree of this entertaining B-movie includes director Arthur Hiller ("Love Story"), prolific composer Henry Mancini (original "Pink Panther" films), and star NIck Mancuso. The A-list continues with the film being based on a story by well-known thriller noveilst Martin Cruz Smith, who additionally is a "Nightwing" screenwriter.
The IMDb description "killer bats plague an Indian reservation in New Mexico" reflects the traditional "animals gone wild" element of "Nightwing." Hiller and Smith stick to the script by having the horror begin with discovering mutilated horses with mysterious wounds. That brings reservation lawman Youngman Duran (Mancuso) literally and figuratively into the picture,
The tried-and-true continues with scientist Phillip Payne (David Warner) arriving on the trail of the aforementioned air-borne threat. He has been tracking the caravan of that threat to homeland security from south of the border and has dire news for the locals. The immediate potential for harm extends to two-legged animals; the bigger picture is that this swarm is using the area to fuel up before going to more populated feeding grounds.
Of course, even Duran does not initially believe Payne but changes his tune after a comically campy attack on a group of not-so-good Christians. It is equally predictable that the rest of the population remains skeptical,
The climax regarding this comes down to Duran going on a risky mission that runs the dual risks of his becoming a bride of Dracula and having his plan blow up in his face. The one certainty is that he is in deep guano.
The new-school elements revolve around issues related to tribal politics; relative traditionalist Duran already is at odds with the leader of a more prosperous neighboring tribe that our hero believes has sold out to the white man. Discovering a valuable natural resource on the land of the tribe of Duran at the same time that the bats show up further complicates matters.
The fun of "Nightwing" relates to the variation on man v. weaponized spiders, or bees, etc. These films provide plenty of thrills and chills while making us wonder if mosquitoes ever will become more of a threat than being a highly annoying insect.
"Hawk" has a more eerie feel. Jan-Michael Vincent stars as fully assimilated American Indian Mike who is enjoying an office job and good lifestyle when his grandfather Old Man Hawk (Chief Dan George) literally goes off the reservation to track down Mike and convince him to return to his roots. The rest of the story is that Hawk is tasked with keeping a legendary witch and her "monkeys" at bay; Hawk being convinced that he is about to die prompts a mission to get Mike to take his place regarding this effort.
This reunion leads to Mike abruptly leaving a swinging bash at his bachelor pad to escort his grandfather home. The aforementioned minions are in hot pursuit and drive the pair (as well as the love interest who largely is along for the ride) off the road and into the woods.
The eerie moments include Hawk and Mike each having several disturbing visions; we further get Mike engaging in a highly symbolic mission that culminates in an equally symbolic battle.
The fun of "Hawk" begins with the generation gap that the roughly 50-year age difference and greatly divergent world views exaggerates. The extra enjoyment relates to the American Indian beliefs/superstitions. This is not to mention the '70slicious fight scenes.
The bottom line is that they do not make 'em like these anymore. The cast and crew all know their stuff; the premises are entertaining, and the gore is minimally,