Archive for the 'modern horror' Category

Jul

Comments Off on The ABCs of Death

ABCs of Death

Not too long ago, I won a copy of The ABC’s of Death on Bluray from Magnet as part of a V/H/S/2 fan art contest and I finally got around to watching it. It had quite a bit of buzz surrounding it and the concept is quite interesting. Basically, each letter is a short film from a different director. Despite mixed reviews, I was still excited nonetheless (after all, isn’t the idea to see what I think about the film?). Rather than do a typical review, I thought I would try something a little different. Maybe something of a pun, if you will. So much like the film, I’m going to go through the alphabet, A-Z (in case you couldn’t figure that out) and give a word or two review on that particular letter, using the same letter. Afterwards, I’ll go back though and give more of an insight on the film experience. Alright, let’s start this mother!

A is for Alright, pretty rad!
B is for Boring.
C is for Condensed crap.
D is for Damn, downright dirty!
E is for Ehh…
F is for Frickin’ stupid.
G is for God, what a waste.
H is for Hella cool hound dog.
I is for Insomnia cure.
J is for Japan.
K is for Klassic Krap.
L is for Ludacris!
M is for Moronic.
N is for No thank you.
O is for Oh… kay…
P is for Pretty Lame.
Q is for Quack-tastic!
R is for Righteous and rowdy!
S is for Sadistically supercharged!
T is for Terrifying toilet trouble!
U is for Unseen killer.
V is for Visually mediocre.
W is for Whacky!
X is for X-tremely stupid.
Y is for Yeah, don’t lick little boy’s arse sweat.
Z is for Zoinks! Giant Nazi dong!

The ABC’s of Death goes beyond an anthology. The filmmakers are given even a shorter amount of time to tell their story and for the most part, lots of them are done pretty well. For some of them, like L and S, you can’t help but think how those segments would be if they were full length features, combining stylistic shots with unique stories. The ideas they had, even for a short, are incredible. At times, some of them felt a little too ambitious and it only felt like they were using blood and gore to grab your attention. Like C, it was if they didn’t trust their own storytelling ability and it shows. Other times, give O for example, was a very beautiful story to look at, but it didn’t feel like there was much of a story being told. Instead it’s just slow motion shots of very artistic images. It would be like if you gave a photographer a video camera. Of course, there were some really hilarious ones, H, T and Z especially. I don’t know if those segments would have worked as full length features, but they were entertaining and made me laugh.

ABCs of DeathFor all of its flaws (hey, it’s not going to be perfect), The ABC’s of Death feels like an interesting experimental piece and I’d have to say the experiment was a success! You get a mixture of action, horror, drama, science fiction, claymation, animation and comedy all rolled in to one. Unlike most anthologies, there is no underlining narrative to link all the stories together, so there is no connection between stories. Each one has its own beginning and end.

Although it has a handful of uninteresting (and some even downright lazy with their ideas or execution), overall it was very entertaining, sickening and even shocking at moments. You could say it’s a mixed bag, which it is, but the good outweighs the bad. Giving the restrictions each film maker had, most of them did a bang up job and with the recent announcement of a sequel; I say B is for Bring it on!

roadside attractions

  • Educational and gory!
  • Dog gone!
  • Japan.
  • Masterba-tory-overdose.
  • Toilet troubles.
  • Heroine fueled race with the Devil!
  • Vampire-cam.
  • Robots blowing up babies.
  • Nazis!
totals

9

blood

BLOOD

The root of every segment.

7

blood

BREASTS

The more poor segments tend to throw this more to keep your attention.

8

beast

BEASTS

Monsters, Devils, Furries, claymation toilets that eat people, spiders, serial killers, boogeymen, hookers and Nazis… there is something here for everyone!

8 OVERALL
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Jul

Comments Off on Fog Island

Welcome to Fog Island, your final resting place! Just by taking a glance at the cover, John Carpenter’s The Fog immediately comes to mind. However, fans of the Italian horror genre will notice that it bears a slight resemblance to Bay of Blood a.k.a. Twitch of the Death Nerve and why shouldn’t it? Fog Island is more than a subtle nod to the slasher genre, it’s more of an homage, borrowing heavily from Friday the 13th, but we all know who they borrowed from…

The movie starts in the right atmosphere; that magical hour right before the sun comes up over the ocean and the Earth is painted in dark blue hues, covered in a mist. The sounds of a victimized scream and a cartoony splat make for some ambience to provide exposition. The title smashes in big, bold and red, like something from a 70’s Grindhouse flick.

We cut to Nikki arriving by boat. She’s not flocking to Fog Island for their collectable, commemorative plates, no. Looking for a fresh start from a divorce, she also happens to be starting Fog Island’s very first radio station with her non-descript friend Michelle and a rag-tag bunch of DJ’s that will fill in the rest of the stereotypes. After all, this is exactly what an old time, creepy secluded island needs. I don’t foresee anything going wrong here.

Anyway, let me introduce you to your body count, I mean, characters! First we have the innocent Drew, the perverted comic relief Billy and a transvestite Tabitha, who is a bit of a drama queen (no pun intended). We even get to meet the creepy old cleaning lady, Lily. They kick off the radio station and it seems to be a hit. Well, at least that one lady they showed likes it. So everything is hunky-dory… or is it? Later in the evening, Nikki is awakened by a shadow figure knocking at her door. What does it want?

blackbagThe next day, this film’s Crazy Ralph, Mickey, warns Michelle that they need to leave because it’s not safe. Hey, what would a slasher flick be without a prophet of doom? Meanwhile, we catch glimpses of the shadow figure harassing Nikki, who dips into her flask of a liquid that is described as, “smelling like paint thinner.” Hey, a multipurpose liquor! Being that it’s Nikki’s first night on the air, this leaves the rest of the cast as open game, as the killer playfully gallops and trots, spying on the rest of the crew until he claims his first victim, Michelle… and steals her phone. Must be a jealous ex. The killer plays some creepy children’s music (honestly, is there another kind?) and lays down some lilies… ahem.

Concerned that she can’t reach Michelle, Lily reassures Nikki that it’s probably just diarrhea and shouldn’t worry. Come to think of it, Lily is the one who should worry since she has to clean the toilets in that place! Anyway, Lily tells Nikki of the dark and haunted history of the house and about the murder that took place there, a dark shadowed figure looming in the hallways… and this is when just as the crew is figuring out something is wrong with the place and the island, they get picked off one by one in automatic slasher fashion, but instead of resorting to off screen kills or slashes, there is some gore here. Aside from various stabs, there is a decapitation, a spearing through the bed (a nod to Friday the 13th) and even a shout out to The Burning when one of them is stabbed to death with garden shears and the killer jabs them into the tree. Heck, the killer is even wearing a pea coat and fedora much like Cropsy.

By now, the killer is calling the radio station, telling Nikki that she has been watched the whole time and the house doesn’t belong to her. She takes this relatively calm, but after spotting some flowers and hearing that music again, the killer comes into light, revealing their identity and motive, which turns out to be a very Pamela Voorhees inspired story. By the way, if you want to know the identity of the killer, I’ll drop you a hint: It’s the only character that isn’t dead.

blackbagFog Island is composed of the clichés that form your typical slasher flicks nowadays. Phones ringing and not being answered, but when they are answered it’s a deep, scratchy voice, the drunk prophet of doom, the geek, the slut, the comedian and the continuous asking of, “Hello?” as they chase after a shadowy figure, the creepy townsfolk (although this is only mentioned in dialogue). Speaking of, that’s a subplot that the film never really got into. You never really get to know the island, just the characters in the radio station. Although, this could be a good thing, giving us more personal time to know these characters. And with the characters, it never really goes into why Nikki is hiding the fact that she drinks. I’m assuming it’s because of the divorce, but it’s never really explained. Maybe she is trying to hide the fact that she secretly has the world’s last remaining Ecto Cooler and doesn’t want to share it.

I think American audiences won’t know whether or not this is supposed to directly be a horror-comedy or not… I surely didn’t. Fog Island is a funny film, but like I said, I don’t know if it’s intentional. However, the film’s certainly aware of the films it’s mimicking and has fun with it. Most of these aren’t being shoved in your face though, although they aren’t quite subtle to the horror film aficionado. Since I mentioned having fun, a majority of the dialogue was improvised, which is actually quite interesting. It does make for more natural conversation, however at times it can be seen that the actors are waiting for the other to finish speaking so they can spit out their line of dialogue and this causes them to trip over each other’s lines.

This one is a really interesting and quite unique little diddy. All the nods and tributes to some of the classic slasher flicks of the 70’s and 80’s will keep you entertained. Fog Island was made with no budget and all love for old school horror flicks. It packs in some gore and plenty of laughs, making it worth the adventure to see.

roadside attractions

  • Take a shot everytime you recognize something from another film.
  • Cliche central.
  • Naked Nikki.
  • The very mention of diarrhea.
  • Tranny troubles.
  • Crocodile Dundee reference.
totals

5

blood

BLOOD

You’re treated to some splats, squirts, decaps and stabbings.

8

blood

BREASTS

Nikki bears ’em both and they are magnificent.

6

beast

BEASTS

If Cropsy, the dude from Torso and The Driller Killer had a baby with Pamela Voorhees.

6.3 OVERALL
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Jun

Comments Off on Slink

necronomicon

Women, am I right? They always be shopping! I mean, how many purses do you need, lady? I have one wallet and that works just fine. But I guess it’s the consumer mentality of having the latest and greatest. In Slink, it’s these fabulous designer handbags that people are just dying to get their hands on!

Meet Dale, who runs the local tanning salon. Only at this place, the only memberships they have are lifetime… which isn’t very long! After a patron shows interest in applying for a job, Dale talks it over with his wife Joan, who decides it’s probably best to murder her instead. “We could offer her a free tan first!” exclaims Dale, before her head is belted in with a hammer, showcasing the film’s subtle dark humor.

Cut to our protagonist Kayla, discussing with her friend Lindsay that Lindsay’s sister has the hots for Kayla (sounds like that would be quite an interesting sub plot…). Further in the discussion, we learn that Kayla’s uncle Arlo has recently passed and she travels to the small town of Wickenhaven to gather Arlo’s ashes from probably the most odd funeral home directors who seemed like they escaped of the set of Twin Peaks. Upon inquiring where she could buy a charming local gift (damn Yankees), she is told to try the nearby Virgin Leathers, which happens to be owned by Joan and I’m sure you can guess what kind of material those purses are made from…

brainstormKayla, along with her dope smoking friend Courtney, arrive at Uncle Arlo’s only to find that someone else is there… someone claiming to be their Aunt May, who looks might fine for being an Aunt (Peter Parker, eat your heart out!). Trying to connect with the girls, Aunt May reveals that Uncle Arlo may not have died from natural causes, but instead he was murdered. Now it was at this point, I noticed that the characters all talk with that ‘Valley Girl’ accent, which I found to be a bit annoying, but not distracting. Just a personal opinion, but not one to hinder my viewing experience.

Anyway, this is when Kayla heads over to the tanning salon, where Dale, who just killed a young girl and cleaned it up just in time, is friendly enough to let her tan for free. Of course, I’m sure she wouldn’t have agreed to it if she had known he’s in the backroom taping the sessions and giggling to himself. Always read the fine print, sister. This is when Courtney gets a phone call from her father who tells her that they don’t have an Aunt May and he’s coming to get to the bottom of everything! It doesn’t take long for him to arrive and confront her, but his accusations may be premature and Aunt May tells him that she is Arlo’s half sister (uh, you buying that?). Well this is when all the crazies come out, as Aunt May calls Dale and talks about a “big surprise” for the girls.

This is where the movie throws in some real dirty, but welcomed, sleaze. While Courtney is sleeping, Aunt May, barely dressed, climbs on top of her and suffocates her with a bag. There goes the film’s only stoner. But the intensity doesn’t stop there. Kayla goes back to the tanning salon the next morning for another session. He tricks her into rubbing this poison all over herself by telling her it’s a new tanning oil, which I’m sure something like that in no way smells viciously toxic. Once Kayla passes out, she is handed off to the skilled Aaron, in charge of skinning all the girls. By now you’re beginning to see this family come together and true characteristics shine, reminding one of the Sawyer’s from Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Well if you’re going to be a villain, you should damn well play it good. Aunt May stops by the house in the morning, telling the girl’s father that they turned Arlo into a purse. Then what ensues is a silly, but short fight, resulting in him getting stabbed. But what of Kayla? She wakes up in time, saving her own skin right before she is, um… skinned. Fighting for her survival, she runs from Aaron, who puts up a pretty good chase and I have to say, it looks like both actors take some abuse during this chase. Will she escape? Will she survive?

This brings the film into its finale, which I have to say kind of ends abruptly. It doesn’t exactly resolve itself, but instead sets itself up for a sequel or it just ends with no intention of concluding or continuing. Or perhaps the filmmakers wanted to intentionally leave it that open for the sake of ‘just because’ and instead make the viewer think that true evil is always out there.

Slink is without a doubt one of the better independent films out there. It’s dark and violent, with a little bit of humor, but not too much to make it come off as silly. The music is very well done and pretty catchy. There are solo, creepy synths, dance-pop and almost orchestral music. However, as nice as these songs are all done, at times certain types of music don’t seem to fit. But, that’s a minor gripe and in no way will remove you from the movie.

If you are looking for a film with that 80’s sleazy video store rental vibe to it, then Slink is for you. Everything from the dialogue, drug use, bizarre characters, sexual overtones, T & A and even the premise is never too much or overbearing and distracting. You’ll feel reminiscent of smaller films like Unhinged or Deranged. Even with a few flaws, Slink is greatly entertaining for the 80 minute runtime. So, watch this throwback that I dare call a ‘modern day grindhouse.’

Be sure to check out director Jared Masters other work at the official Frolic Pictures website!

roadside attractions

  • Hammer time.
  • Bag Hag.
  • Comb-over Creep.
  • T & A Buffet!
  • Swinging Sounds of Survival.
  • Tanning Tape Sessions.
  • The Skinning Son.
totals

6

blood

BLOOD

Plenty of victims filleted.

9

blood

BREASTS

Plenty! Whether they are breathing or not is another story.

8

beast

BEASTS

It’s like a Bevery Hills version of The Manson Family.

7.7 OVERALL
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May

Comments Off on East Stackton

Welcome to the small town of East Stackton, a town loonier than the inhabitants of Summerisle. Of course that isn’t something that they openly promote. Sure they aren’t the friendliest folks to welcome city folk with open arms, but dammit, they know how to throw a surprise party, although you may not want to be the guest of honor…

And this is where our main man Carol comes in (hey, Carol can be a guy’s name too). You see, Carol is nosing around in these parts for his company, House and Home. They send him to all the locations to see if their stores are profitable. Not wanting to stick out like a sore thumb, Carol slaps on novelty state-shaped belt buckle and does his best to blend in. It’s that mentality that most city folk have; thinking that by slapping on a cowboy hat, people will believe you are actually from Texas. Inside the store, he meets with the manager Ned and all seems well. Carol steps outside to chain smoke and briefly eyes a pickup truck carrying a large ornament of some kind on the bed. He thinks nothing of it and continues to smoke his non-name brand cigarette, his favorite kind.

Bored of staying in his hotel room, Carol sets out to grab a beer with the good ol’ rednecks of… whatever state East Stackton is in. Everyone stares at him as he enters, no doubt blending in with that authentic belt buckle of his (man that keeps coming up. I wonder if it will play a part later?). He’s quick to make friends with the bartender, Kelly. She shares an awful lot of information with him about her dad’s hardwood store being run out of town and him dying. I’m sure this will in no way come back in the movie, so let’s move on. Carol is rushed out of the bar by the brute, chest thumping Cody and back to his hotel where he finds the bloody corpse of a possum nailed to the door, surely a welcoming basket from the community.

Well, the next morning isn’t any better for Carol. He finds that his car is missing and this is also what starts my favorite Carol characteristic in the movie: Cursing to himself under his breath. It seriously is funny every time he does this. Only thing he can do is call the Sheriff, who is on his way once he is done washing his squad car. You gotta have priorities. And as you can guess, the Sheriff and Carol don’t seem to agree with one another and we have ourselves a classic case of small town Sheriff vs. the city slicker. It’s an old fashioned duel, but always seems fresh when you see it.

On his second visit to the store, again stepping outside to chain smoke, Carol has a more eventful day. Following a trail of blood like a one man Scooby gang, he follows it to a dumpster to find the corpse of Cody with a hammer lodged in his forehead. I guess they won’t be able to make up over some drinks any time soon. He tells Sheriff Charlie all about it and in typical fashion, the Sheriff takes him downtown, leaving the clean up to Ned. Yep, Ned also happens to be a deputy. Hey, everyone is holding down at least two jobs now-a-days. Times are tough.

blackbagSheriff Charlie isn’t pulling the wool over Carol’s eyes, no sir. Carol is starting to seem suspicious of the town, as he spots the mean mugging mayor. This guy looks like he’s in a nasty mood and talks to the Sheriff about a ceremony that everyone is expecting Carol to be at. They tell him how excited they are to see him there later, which naturally, creeps Carol the hell out. Feeling like he’s losing his mind, Carol wanders out into traffic to almost get hit by a truck, but Kelly pulls him out of harm’s way. The two go back to her place for coffee and a chat about House and Home being the worst thing to happen to the town, but it’s cut short by the Sheriff taking Carol back down for more questioning… even though Sheriff Charlie never asked him any questions before (Carol does point this out).

This is where the film gets darker real quick. The Sheriff pushes him out of the squad car in front of all the town folk, where they welcome him and chloroform him. Jeez, they went from friendly to hostile in about a second flat. He wakes up to a stage, seeing two large wooden X’s (ah, so that’s what was on the truck) with a man hanging upside down on one. The mayor, dressed like Lord Sadler from Resident Evil 4, cuts the man’s throat during some chanting. His blood spills on the ground opening a gateway to Hell, and I kid you not, Satan appears! Yes, Satan makes an appearance in this film! Carol manages to cut himself free with his belt buckle (so I guess it did come in handy after all) and escapes to be rescued by Kelly. Turns out she was on to the town’s plan of raising the Devil, which I hope she would after living there for several years! Not like it’s a huge secret around there. The film doesn’t end there though. Kelly stops the truck and reveals her ulterior motive…

For running under thirty minutes, I had a good time watching East Stackton. For starters, it’s beautiful to look at. The cinematography is excellent, using good depth between the characters and the background, allowing them to stick out. Speaking of the characters, these actors are top notch. Short films usually make the mistake of either trying to cram too much character background in a short amount of time or not enough. Think of it like The Three Bears story. East Stackton is Baby Bear; it’s just right. Carol, of course, sticks out as the best since the camera is constantly on him. He’s written with humor, so instead of watching him mindlessly putter around, he makes snide comments or exclaims profanity. It’s hysterical. You feel bad for all these things that are happening to him, since he’s innocent, but he never comes off as pathetic. There is some gore, since I know you’ve been wondering, and it’s done very well. There isn’t a lot of it, but when there is, it’s pretty to look at. Speaking of pretty, the Satan effect is done well. I think it was a mix of puppet and CG, but it’s not on the screen for very long. And although this seems like a plot you’re familiar (Wickerman, anyone?), it’s one that is still enjoyable and even if you’ve seen this kind of film before, you want to see where they are going with it.

East Stackton is available for digital download at their website for only $5. It’s worth every penny. So, mosey on down to them parts and give it a watch, ya hear?

roadside attractions

  • -Playing possum.
  • -Belt Buckle Bonanza.
  • -Slippery Sheriff!
  • -Mayor Mayhem!
totals

7

blood

BLOOD

Splatters, a throat cut and a ‘hammered’ body.

5

blood

BREASTS

You get come nice cleavage, plus Carol has his shirt buttoned down just enough, ladies.

9

beast

BEASTS

East Stackton itself is a beast, plus they raise the Devil.

7 OVERALL
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May

posted by admin | May 15, 2013 | modern horror, Reviews by the Goon, screeners

Comments Off on Blackbags

When I decided I would take over full responsibilities for reviewing screeners, apparently I had no idea what I was getting myself in to. I thought I could sit here comfortably as the movies either came to mailbox or my links would be sent to my email and I would watch whatever creation young filmmakers were trying to bring to life.

This is where Blackbags comes in. I hadn’t heard about it before, which is fine. A lot of good stuff is usually below our radars. But this… this is something else altogether. It’s a short film, running just under the twenty minute mark and that’s where my first personal issue with the film is: I’m not sure if I would call it a film, really. Blackbags gives you that impression you’re watching something your friends shot and cut together in one night while they were drunk and they thought it would be funny.

Before we go any further into detail, does Blackbags have any substance? Well, kinda. It does have a plot. The story centers on the cleverly named Ski Mask Guy, who literally grunts every word of dialogue while gritting his teeth (I have to admit, this is pretty hilarious). This is about how high the comedy gets. Speaking of getting high, his chronic smoking chronie, Meathead, who speaks like he has a distortion box over his voice, is bringing down all kinds of heat on them. You see, he can’t control himself, whether it’s drug abuse or killing hookers. And the hookers in this movie (there are only two, so don’t worry about losing track) are played by the same actress. So maybe it’s the hooker’s twin? Couldn’t they have at least changed her hair style? I don’t know and consistency doesn’t really matter here.

But that’s not all. The cops in this town, or at least just one who is dressed like a kid who is dressing up in his dad’s suit and fedora playing detective, are breathing down Ski Mask Guy’s neck to get a fix and if he don’t he gonna end up in the clink, see? Is that how the kid’s say it? Anyway, this is all getting out of hand apparently, so Ski Mask Guy thinks of a plan to fix it all that is so crazy that it just might work…

blackbagI could go ahead and spoil it for you, but I won’t. I’m trying to be a better person and not do that. Now is it the most original and thought out plan? No. Does it work? Yes, actually it does. For this run time, the film tells a story and wraps it up. But by now, I know what’s on your mind: There must be more to it than that in twenty minutes. Nope. At least not from a story telling point of view and I know this is where you might be thinking I’m being over critical and you would be right. It’s just an independent short film with little to no budget. Alright then, let’s talk about the technical aspects. Right from the start, you’ll notice something very distracting and ugly about Blackbags. A grainy, pixilated filter runs over the entire course of the film. That’s right, it looks like you’re watching early 90’s security footage or playing a Sega CD game on a small black and white TV. It can be distracting and turn you off from the movie. But this isn’t the only visual distraction. During the film’s more intense moments, it begins to do this throbbing effect, similar to a heartbeat and quickly zooming in and out of the scene, only it’s done digitally and not optically, so it can become a bit distracting. Although, this technique happens during heightened or stressful situations, so it does add to the effect.

But maybe that’s where the charm is in this film. I know it sounded like I was beating this film down and I was being harsh, but it’s a different kind of breed then what we’ve been conditioned to view as to what is a ‘film’. Sure, this wasn’t in 1080p, wasn’t running 24fps and more than likely wasn’t shot on a DSLR or an entry level professional camcorder. But this is the sort of film where you can recognize the heart behind it. It’s a group of friends with a desire to make something with a basic idea, regardless of technical limitations and sometimes that’s all it takes. Now Blackbags isn’t for everyone and some may find the video and audio off-putting, but behind it is actually a hilarious get-together of friends.

roadside attractions

  • -Grit yo’ teeth!
  • -Dress up Detective
  • -Sega CD Security
  • -Heartbeat nausea
totals

2

blood

BLOOD

None! Can you believe it? Other violence happens though.

0

blood

BREASTS

Again, none! Unless you count that cop.

5

beast

BEASTS

Ski Mask Guy and Meathead are beastly!

3.7 OVERALL
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About the Highway

Lost Highway is your satirical detour down the twisted back roads of b-movies and cult films reviews. learn more >>