Archive for the 'screeners' Category

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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Check out the trailer for “East Stackton”

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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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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Check out the trailer for “Blackbags”

trailers

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