Archive for the 'New Releases' Category

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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Watch the trailer for “Fog Island”

trailers

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Jul

Comments Off on The Ghastly Love of Johnny X

suspiria

Ready for a far out science fiction adventure? Well, here’s something groovy you may want to check out, dig it? Ok, I promise I’ll lighten up on the all the hepcat slang. In the spirit of the 1950’s, The Ghastly Love of Johnny X is homage to the black and white beatnik flicks, absurdly silly sci-fi films like Plan 9 from Outer Space and even musicals, like Rocky Horror Picture Show. Normally mixing this many genres can make a film incoherent or confusing, but here it seems to all blends together… like nice, old fashioned milkshake.

Beginning in the science fiction element, our title character Johnny X, full name Jonathan Xavier, is banished from his home world for being too wild and reckless, like his role model, the reckless rock star (possibly in the vein of Elvis) Mickey O’Flynn, played by, in the oddest casting choice, Creed Bratton from The Office. So as a punishment from the head councilman (played by Kevin McCarthy in his final role), Johnny is sent to Earth, until he can do a selfless act. But with an attitude like Johnny’s, what do think is going to happen next?

One year later, a drop dead gorgeous woman named Bliss abruptly enters a diner in literally the middle of nowhere and seduces the young man behind the counter, Chip and the two are about to take off… that is, until Johnny and his gang, The Ghastly Ones, crash the party. This is where the film jumps genres from beatnik to musical, but does it casually. You go along with the musical number, snapping along, as the singing provides exposition, as Johnny uses what he calls the ‘Resurrection Suit’. This suit gives him the ability to control others, but Chip manages to pull off some heroics and saves Bliss as they flee into the desert.

HBTMOverhearing what is going on, a patron at the diner by the name of King Clayton (played by the always favorable Reggie Bannister) who just so happens to be the manager of Mickey O’Flynn, offers a deal with Johnny: Help him with his ‘situation’ with Mickey and in return, he will bring back the soda jerk Chip and Bliss. And what situation would that be? Well, it’s not that he didn’t show up for rehearsal as the news previously had reported… turns out, King Clayton is in deep with loan sharks to keep his theater open and Mickey was gonna pack the house and pay the debt, except that he croaked the night before the rehearsal. So the idea is to get the Resurrection Suit back to reanimate the recently departed Mickey to put on the show. Could this be that selfless act that gives Johnny the ticket to go home?

Well as luck would have it, King Clayton is Chip’s uncle and along with Bliss, they walk right into the lion’s den, so to speak. Putting all grudges aside, leaving Bliss for his new girl (and gang member) Bobbi Socks, Johnny gets ready for the show. However, the sluggishly oaf and appropriately named Sluggo, in an act of independence, sabotages the suit and flees with the now reanimated Mickey and kidnapping Bliss along the way. Recruiting Chip into the gang, baptizing him as ‘Soda’, the two put their differences aside and head off to save Bliss, who Sluggo is demanding in exchange for the Resurrection Suit. And so begins the final battle. Will Johnny defeat Sluggo and save the girl? Will he get home? Don’t worry. All of these questions are answered in the final act.

Overall, the movie is an entertaining romp that those with love of retro cinema and serials will love. It also has some silliness that brings the Lost Skeleton of Cadavra to mind. It not only has a sense of humor, but you a splash of love for everything that is the 50’s. Director Paul Bunnell brings all together fantastically to bring you something that shouldn’t be overlooked.

The Ghastly Love of Johnny X is a throwback to those beatnik romps with greasers, gangs, dames, slime balls, dweebs, thugs, Martians and weirdoes… all in the name of love. It’s an adventure, it’s a musical, and it’s groovy. Check this one out. Dig, Daddy-O (Oh come on, I had to end on some cool slang)?

You can purchase The Ghastly Love of Johnny X here!

roadside attractions

  • Devo hat.
  • Soda shake romp.
  • Hepcats and dames.
  • Rock-a-billy zombie Creed.
  • World domination… with science!
totals

4

blood

BLOOD

Nothing to really see hear, but that’s not what it’s about.

7

blood

BREASTS

Plenty of busty dames to oogle at.

8

beast

BEASTS

Sluggo and a zombie Mickey O’Flynn. Even the girls are deadly.

6.3 OVERALL
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Watch the trailer here!

trailers

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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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Watch the trailer for Slink!

trailers

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May

Comments Off on Sins of the Dragon

Usually I get swamped with short horror films, gore-fests and Troma wannabe’s and most recently, Asian erotic thrillers (don’t get me wrong, these are good things and I love stuff like that). Then out of nowhere, I received something a little different: A martial arts film that wasn’t a Godfrey Ho cut and paste movie or a Bruce-sploitation flick. So I got curious and checked out the trailer for a little short indy flick called Sins of the Dragon and let me tell you something… I was not expecting to see the awesomeness that I saw. (Editor’s note: I’m totally surprised to see that awesomeness is a word. That squiggly red line didn’t appear under it when I typed it)

Sins of the Dragon isn’t your straight forward martial arts flick. It’s also a fantasy film, so it doesn’t take place at any specific time in history or in the future. Hell, maybe not even this world. But where and when never come into question. Right from the get-go, they explain what you need to know: There are four separate territories and each is ruled by a dragon. Well, the dragon is actually a martial arts master that possesses superhuman abilities. So what do you think if, for example, someone decides they are going to kill the other dragons and gain their powers? They would rule the world, duh!

And it just so happens that someone is doing exactly that. He goes by the name Caligo and wears like this half Jason mask on the bottom half of his face. This is where the movie opens up at actually. We see Caligo fighting Master Sozen, who looks kinda like Raiden from Mortal Kombat (well, actually he is wearing the same hat, but to be honest, I forgot what those were called, so I knew you would be able to follow along if I made that reference). Caligo informs the Master Sozen, and the audience, that he has already killed two of the dragons and is about to make it three.

sotdSins of the Dragon does actually build up their characters and makes sympathetic. Cunri lives with an almost uncontrollable rage, due to his village being slaughtered by Caligo during his quest to kill the other dragons. Thus, it orphaned Cunri, but as fate would have it, he is trained by Master Shaw and met Kaia. See, not all bad, right? Lose your family, gain awesome martial arts skills. Even Steven?

All of this boils down to the final showdown between Cunri and Caligo, after he and Kaia are attacked and exhausted by a group of ninjas. Cunri must use all of his skill to defeat the now almost invincible Caligo. But what of Kaia? What about her fate? Everything rests on this battle!

You’ve probably been seeing the phrase ‘martial arts’ a bit in this review and you must be wondering, “Is there actually any martial arts and is it any good?” To answer it simply: Yes. Oh lord, yes. Sins of the Dragon has more impressive fight choreography than any other big budget movie in the past few years. It’s actually very impressive.

The plot itself is also quite impressive. The characters have an anime vibe to them; Cunri being the brooding protagonist with his smart-arse she-sidekick as they encounter a group of buffoonish thieves; one who is the ‘brain’, one who gets lost in his own metaphors and the third is the silent type all on a quest to stop an evil villain. Sins of the Dragon definitely sets up a fantasy world and invites you in without overwhelming you with complicated mythos or an overabundance of unnecessary back story. It also has its share of special effects that are pretty decent considering the budget and type of film it is, but it’s not what it’s about and you won’t be paying any attention to it once they start roundhouse kicking everyone. It’s an easy film to sit down, watch and enjoy some major butt kicking!

Running in at just under half an hour, everything is well developed and fleshed out, you’ll feel like you watched an episode of some new anime and you want to see what happens next to these characters and you want to see where they go. In a short amount of time, you do feel attached to these characters and at times, you’ll wish there was a more fortunate path for them.

Sins of the Dragon shouldn’t be missed, whether you are looking for a martial arts film or something with some fantasy, it shows how far you can go with a little imagination. Now, run away to Platypus Underground’s website to watch it (there is also an extended cut available)… before Caligo destroys you!

roadside attractions

  • -Ninja Overload!
  • -Ken Masters Stunt Double.
  • -Everyone really does want Kung-fu fighting.
  • -Half Jason/Half Vader
totals

7

blood

BLOOD

Sprays, splatters and even a decapitation!.

5

blood

BREASTS

In its place, I offer you ninjas.

9

beast

BEASTS

Did I mention ninjas? Oh and an evil ninja?

7 OVERALL
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Check out the trailer for “Sins of the Dragon”

trailers

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Apr

posted by General Relativity | April 19, 2013 | Action, New Releases, Reviews by General Relativity

Comments Off on Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning

universal Solider Day of Reckoning

One of the weirdest action movies of the 2010s is an obscure almost-straight-to-dvd sequel to a little-loved 90s Van Damme/Dolph Lundgren conflagration. There have been five sequels to “Universal Soldier,” and outside of the original, which is mostly notable for being one of the few JCVD movies where our hero does not sport a mullet, I have only seen this one, and its not what you think…

universal Solider Day of ReckoningIt is true I saw this movie on altering substances, probably Tek or Snow Crash (it was a crazy night), but either way it was a grim experience that lingered for days. The best one sentence description would be: David Lynch and David Cronenberg decide to co-direct Philip K. Dick’s “The Bourne Identity,” as adapted by Ingmar Bergman, after a weekend of binge-watching “Last Year at Marienbad” on mushrooms and peyote. Obviously this movie is mandatory for all you knuckleheads.

It is strange that it took so long for the direct-to-dvd action genre, with its limited budgets and limited revenue potential, to turn out something this experimental and pretentious. And yet here we are presented with artist John Hyams, son of 80s b-giant Peter Hyams (he of “2010: The Year We Make Contact” and “The Relic” fame), who through some twisted genius and ambition decided to make a pulp horror film with nigh-unrivaled action sequences for our on-demand age.

Although JCVD and Dolph get top billing, the main character is Australian upstart Scott Adkins. Scott wakes from a sleep to witness his family slaughtered and his brains beat in. Did I mention that this sequence is filmed in the first-person perspective? Did I mention the seizure-inducing strobes? Scott emerges from a coma and decides to avenge his universal Solider Day of Reckoningfamily, descending into a Hieronymus Bosch netherworld governed by a psychotic Dolph Lundgren and some kind of Bizarro Van Damme from Hell. Both heroes have never been more deranged, perhaps because in spite of their top billing they obviously spent 2 hours filming their scenes before cashing out and rolling over for brunch at Spago.

This movie has visceral action. This is not the place for wimpy dance-fighting where actors flutter like delightful sprites while barely grazing each other with soft slaps. The fight scene in the sporting goods store must be seen to be believed.

The Lessons from “Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning”:

-Are you an automaton or do you have free will?
-Is religion the path to truth or the means of control?
-Is the ideal goal of humanity an Übermensch or “die Letzte Mensch”? And if I am a “last man” what is so wrong with that, sometimes it gets cold and I like to cuddle in a quilt with my dog and watch Point Break, and who cares what some syphilitic German thinks about that anyway?
-What is even going on in this movie?
-WTF?!?!

roadside attractions

  • Pretentious art films starring Jean-Claude Van Damme
  • Dolph Lundgren, Renaissance Man
  • Kabuki warpaint
  • Baseball bat swordfights
  • Nausea
  • Strobelights
  • Incoherent non-linear narrative
totals

10

blood

BLOOD

Um. Don’t worry about that.

8

blood

BREASTS

Yeah, that happens, but I didn’t feel very clean about it.

10

beast

BEASTS

Jean Claude Van Damme as Kurtz in Apocalypse Now. Bald, insane, babbling, sweaty. Also, whoever that dude with the beard is, he is pretty awesome

9 OVERALL
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Check out the trailer for “Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoninge”

trailers

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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 >>