FILM REVIEW: ALIEN COVENANT

By Nick Durham

WARNING: THIS ARTICLE IS FULL OF SPOILERS. IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE FILM YET, DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER.

Ridley Scott’s follow up to 2012’s mostly maligned Alien prequel Prometheus has finally been unleashed in the form of Alien: Covenant, and goddamn it I finally got around to seeing it. Before I get to my thoughts on the film, I just want to express that it feels good to finally see the Xenomorphs back on the big screen slaughtering people after 20 years since the last real installment of the franchise (no, I don’t count the Alien VS Predator abortions), so no matter how the film would end up turning out, at least I had that little nugget to tide myself over with. With that in mind, let’s dive right in and see if Ridley Scott made a gem of a film here, or if he pissed all over his own legacy, which I was very fearful of him doing in the past.

Alien: Covenant picks up about a decade or so after Prometheus ended with a ship called Covenant that features a terraforming crew and colonists aboard. We’re introduced to a synthetic named Walter (Michael Fassbender with an American accent), and after a tragic accident befalls the ship, we’re introduced to the surviving crew, including Daniels (Katherine Waterston), pilot Tennessee (Danny McBride), religious acting captain Christopher (Billy Crudup), and more. On their way to a habitable planet to begin new lives, the crew comes to realize that there is a never-before known planet in closer proximity that appears to be able to sustain human life. Upon investigating it they find unhinged synthetic David (Fassbender again), the only survivor of the Prometheus. As Daniels and co. begin to discover what horrific secrets lay in wait in this world, they also discover that David has been quite busy with some experiments; namely creating the Xenomorphs.

That revelation in itself is probably what my own personal biggest problem is with Alien: Covenant. The fact that the Xenomorphs aren’t an evolutionary step of a parasitic alien being, but rather are a race of creatures that through trial and error are engineered by David. If you’ve heard of people complaining that this is how Ridley Scott messes with the lore of the series, this is what they’re mainly talking about. This revelation raises so many questions about what we’ve been led to believe that it’s honestly kind of hard to digest. It’s something that I myself have wavered with trying not to make a big deal about, but part of me wants to shit all over this movie just because of that alone. Looking back on it, I honestly try not to think too much about this revelation, and instead focus on the rest of the film, which is actually pretty good.

First and foremost, Alien: Covenant is much more enjoyable than Prometheus was. The characters here are written better, even if a few of them suffer from the syndrome of being really smart yet do some really stupid things that lead to their gory deaths. And speaking of which, there are some balls-to-the-wall gore-drenched moments that will make any fan of the franchise stand up and cheer. The Xenomorphs, what little we see of them, are brilliant looking; even when CGI effects take over for them. The other creature effects are pretty good too, and are designed well enough that it would probably make H.R. Giger proud.

From a technical standpoint, Alien: Covenant is gorgeously shot, as it should be since this is a Ridley Scott film. Even with his worst directorial efforts, Scott’s films are sights to behold, and this film is no different. There’s a great deal of suspense and tension and dread permeating throughout the film, which is a massive plus and evokes the original film in terms of this as well. The acting is pretty good as well, and Fassbender is absolutely fucking dynamite in his dual role. The only saving grace for David being responsible for the creation of the Xenomorphs is that this practically guarantees Fassbender will be around for a while, and I’m very, very okay with that. Katherine Waterston is good as well as the heroic Daniels, although the Ripley-esque haircut is a little much. Danny McBride does pretty well being cast against type as our cowboy-hat wearing pilot, and the rest of the cast is alright as well. The ending stinger though you will see coming a mile away, which is fairly disappointing, meaning the whole film kind of ends on a bit of a whimper.

In closing, Alien: Covenant is a better film than Prometheus, and probably the best Alien film in the franchise since Aliens. Granted that isn’t saying too much when compared to Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrection, but you get the point. If for some reason you haven’t seen the film yet and continued to read this after the spoiler warning, I still recommend seeing it to form your own opinion, and judge for yourself if Ridley Scott redeemed himself for Prometheus or continued to piss on his own legacy. Either way, it looks like we’re getting more films in the series one way or another, so maybe the best (or the worst) is yet to come.

Rating: 3.5/5

FILM REVIEW: THE BURNINGMOORE DEATHS

BY AMY MEAD

The Burningmoore Deaths

The Burningmoore Deaths

Directed by Jonathan Williams

Written by James A. Colletti and Jonathan WIlliams

Starring Geoff Tate, Tony Guida and James Doheny



James Parrish was a quiet family man who never exhibited any signs of mental illness or committed any crimes. All that changed when his wife and three children were found brutally murdered on a cold winter night in early 2010. All evidence pointed to James. Although police officials conducted a nationwide manhunt for the loving family man turned killer, he was somehow able to avoid capture and was not seen or heard from those who knew him again. 

Five long years after the heinous crimes, the Parrish family home is purchased by a man looking to turn it into a bed and breakfast while filming the first episode of his home improvement show, Let’s Get Hammered. Unfortunately for the film crew, James is back and he is very unhappy about their presence in his home. What was supposed to be a 30 day shoot ends tragically in just one day as the cameras capture the murders of the film crew…

 

First announced in 2010, and supposedly based on true events, The Burningmoore Deaths (Also known as The Burningmoore Incident or Reality Kills) which features former Queensryche frontman, Geoff Tate in his acting debut, has been quite a few years in the making.

Having been a longtime Queensryche fan since my early teens AND a complete sucker for found footage films, I naturally HAD to watch this after discovering that it was finally available. After seeing Geoff Tate perform on stage many times, I was eager to see what he was capable of when it came to acting. Unfortunately, I was sorely disappointed. There was a lot of potential with this role but he never speaks a word (other than the films narration) and all we really get to see of him are some occasional menacing looks that are caught on  the film crew cameras. There’s nothing spectacular about this role, or his performance in it. What could have been a breakout role for him just sort of falls flat. And it’s a damn shame.

Sadly, despite some great ideas and what could have been a great film, The Burningmoore Deaths falls short. Really short. Most of the murders take place in dark areas and are only seen through grainy camera shots. What could have been some rather brutal and bloody kill scenes are unfortunately lackluster and diluted by the way they are presented and the audience is left wanting more. Much more.

My biggest problem with this film is the almost complete lack of back story. There is very little character introduction with James Parrish and we have no idea why he up and  lost it and killed his family seemingly out of nowhere. There’s a rather weak mention of how he got a tattoo of the word “MOROS”, which roughly translates into “God” or “Diety”, just before committing the murders but nothing more than that.

The Burningmoore Deaths is like a mash up of Extreme Home Makeover and a true crime documentary, which I would normally be all about, but unfortunately the action is far too low key for a film of this nature. What could have been a fairy decent film as far as found footage goes, is just disappointing, boring, and dull. I was left wanting both my time and money back. Save yourself the grief and skip this one, you won’t be missing much.

FILM REVIEW: ANTIBIRTH (2016)

BY AMY MEAD 

Antibirth poster

ANTIBIRTH

Written and Directed by Danny Perez

Starring Natasha Lyonne, Chloe Sevigny, and Meg Tilly


Lou, a girl from a small Michigan town where girls are known to come up missing, loves to party. And she does so often. Pills, booze, cocaine, weed -you name it, she’ll do it.

After one particularly hazy drunken night, she wakes up in an abandoned warehouse with no memory of how she got there, or what happened the night before.

Almost immediately, she begins to experience symptoms of pregnancy. She has no memory of sleeping with anyone in months, so she quickly laughs the idea off when her friend suggests that she might be pregnant.

Very quickly, the symptoms progress into some pretty profound and alarming changes and within days, she looks like she’s halfway through an otherwise normal pregnancy. Her “due date” seems to be rapidly approaching. By the time she finally accepts it, it’s too late to terminate the mysterious “pregnancy”.

Through investigative work and hazy memories, Lou pieces events together and discovers some shocking revelations. It would appear that not only was she was someone’s unwitting guinea pig for the newest trendy drug on the street, she was sold out by her best friend.

And unfortunately, what is inside her is far from normal…

 

If you are familiar with IFC Films, you already know that we see some pretty wild films come out IFC Midnight. Antibirth is no exception to that.

It is one truly bizarre film. Scenes are often weirdly disjointed and superimposed and at times it’s pace is all over the place. We never really know where Danny Perez will take us next with his direction and presentation of the scenes. And that’s a huge part of what makes this film work.

Another large part of the film’s success is the extremely talented cast.

Natasha Lyonne’s portrayal of lead chracter Lou is absolutely fantastic. There aren’t many likable characters and Lou is the least likable of all. She is vulgar, rude and crass. She guzzles down tequila and chain smokes like nobody’s business. Lou is the epitome of white trash. We despise her, yet somehow you get sucked into her world and can’t help but keep watching and witnessing the train wreck unfolding on the screen.

Lyonne makes us care about the character enough to find out how this all culminates for her with ease. She is a true talent and this role really highlights her skill. It makes me wish we’d see more of her in films.

The supporting cast, which includes the likes of Chloe Sevigny and Meg Tilly also does a great deal for the film’s success. While their parts are not huge they are an integral part of Lou’s story and each of them bring something to the film with their talents.

I would have liked to see Meg Tilly’s character, Lorna fleshed out a bit more. Unfortunately, she isn’t really utilized to the fullest potential that the character carries and it almost seems like like something vital to the film is missing.Thankfully, with Perez’s direction and Lyonne’s acting, it doesn’t matter much.

Antibirth is original and weird. Really fucking weird. And for that alone I really enjoyed it.

It’s a bit like watching someone else’s acid trip. It feels like a descent into madness and depravity – and it’s one hell of a ride. Danny Perez has done an outstanding job with his feature debut.

Overall, it’s an excellent film to watch on a lazy afternoon. If you are looking for something a little off the beaten path, I recommend checking it out for yourself.

 

FILM REVIEW: THE AUTOPSY OF JANE DOE

Review by Amy Mead

 

The Autopsy of Jane Doe

The Autopsy of Jane Doe

Directed by Andre Overdal

Starring Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch


Tommy and Austin Tildon, respectively played by Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch, are a father and son who run a local mortuary. Just as they are about to call it a day, they receive the corpse of an unidentified young woman. Right away, something seems off with the girls body. It is mysteriously unmarred and has no outward appearance of a violent death. Due to the extremely strange nature of the brutal crime scene the corpse was discovered at, the local sheriff asks them to put a rush on things and try find the cause of death by morning.

The father and son team soon set to work on the girl. Upon their examination of the corpse, they so begin to find one disturbing thing after another. Her ankles  and wrists have been shattered, her tongue has been cut out and all her injuries have made no outward appearance on the young girls body.

With each bizarre discovery, things become more unsettling and ominous as they get closer to uncovering Jane Doe’s terrifying secrets. And her frightening capabilities.

 

 

The Autopsy of Jane Doe 2

 

Having been a massive fan of director Andre Overdal’s 2010 film TROLLHUNTER, I had been anxiously awaiting this film for quite some time. I am very happy to report  that this was one of the rare instances that I was not disappointed when finally viewing a film I had been this eager to see.

Once in a while, a film comes along that makes all the shitty ones you’ve suffered through while trying to find something truly entertaining worth it. The Autopsy of Jane Doe is that film.

While the film does have a few very minor flaws, the first half of the film is beyond creepy and the delivery of the scares is beautifully crafted. Overdal takes he audience on a very tense and terrifyingly relentless ride that must be experienced firsthand.

He works beyond the budgetary limits of the film and uses them to his advantage with dramatic camera angles, lighting, and he delivers a very strong sense of dread with a slow, methodic pace that never gets boring. The film is set in confined space and Overdal makes the most of it, using the already existing creepiness of the set design to his full advantage.

 

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That being said, Overdal’s talents are not enough to completely sell the film. The film features knockout performances by both Cox and Hirsch, which do a great deal in making the film the success that it is. Their portrayals of these characters really deliver, providing the film with the strength, depth, and emotional backbone that it needs.

The Autopsy of Jane Doe is one of the best films in the last year, hands down. Although unexpected, it was a much needed breath of fresh air in horror. If you haven’t seen it yet, I suggest that you do so as soon as possible. The film is damn near perfect. See it. Today.

FILM REVIEW: BLEED (2016)

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By Nick Durham

Wanna watch some shit? You know that you do. Another one of those little-known pieces of dreck you can find in the nooks and crannies of Netflix, I gave Bleed a try for no good reason, and about halfway through its running time, I started to hate myself. I once stole candy from a little kid and threw his bike off a bridge and never hated myself once for it. I wasted 80 minutes of my life watching Bleed and I can’t bear to look myself in the mirror. Who am I here? What the fuck is wrong with me? Fucking Bleed man, it’ll make you question yourself and why you decided to watch it.

 

The story, and I use that term very loosely, of Bleed revolves around the pregnant Sarah (Chelsey Crisp) and her hipster douche bag husband Matt (Michael Steger). Our couple just moved out to hillbilly heaven, and plan on having a small party involving some friends, which also includes Sarah’s douche bag twin brother Eric (Riley Smith) who also happens to be kind of a ghost hunter. Apparently there’s some hauntings going on and such, and crooked cops, and buried secrets, and some kind of shit going on with birthmarks and ritual sacrifice and filmmakers enjoying the smell of their own farts. Naturally things don’t go well, stupid people do stupid things, and a bunch of nonsensical things happen that literally leave you scratching your head.

 

I can forgive Bleed for being a bad movie, because I love bad movies; bad movies make me happy and help give my life meaning. Bleed is so bad it takes the meaning away from my life. There’s so much in this movie that makes zero sense, and the supposed interlocking subplots involving crooked cops and cults and a cannibal serial killer that’s now a powerful ghost but had a soft spot for a little girl that was supposed to be used for a sacrifice or some shit (yes you read that right) that all of it combined will make your head spin. The film’s tone is all over the place as well, shifting between trying (and failing) to have an eerie atmosphere to having its tongue planted in its cheek. Not to mention the fact that the characters themselves are mostly stock types (spoiler alert: black dude gets killed first) and make ludicrous decisions. An example: douche bag twin brother is stabbed by his girlfriend after she hallucinates him being the previously mentioned cannibal killer during sex in a creepy basement compound (a great place for fucking). He survives the stabbing and upon exiting said compound wants to return to it. Why you ask? Because in his words: “something’s down there and wants to be heard”…

 

You read that quote right? I’m not joking. That line actually gets said. Well, I may be paraphrasing it a bit, but I refuse to watch the fucking movie again to get it down verbatim.

 

If I’m ever stabbed while trying to have unprotected coitus in a creepy basement because my partner thinks I’m a cannibal serial killer, the last thing I’ll do is go back to the fucking place because “something wants to be heard”…although I will go back if getting stabbed means guaranteed unprotected coitus.  Don’t you fucking judge me, I watched this movie. Send me your prayers please.

 

Now I know it sounds like I’m being overly harsh, and maybe I am. You know what though? I have a right to be overly harsh, because I watched this piece of shit. Bleed is a nonsensical waste of time that neither entertains or is interesting enough to warrant your attention. Don’t watch this piece of shit. You’ll be better off watching 2 Girls, 1 Cup on repeat in 3D smell-o-vision. At least that can justify itself by being shit because it features real shit and (somehow) has an audience to appeal to. Bleed doesn’t, it’s nothing more than a gleaming cinematic turd. If you’re bored on Netflix, watch something else.

 

Rating: 0/5

FILM REVIEW: THE CONJURING 2

By Amy Mead

 

The Conjuring 2

the-conjuring-2-poster

Directed by James Wan

Starring Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Frances O’ Connor, Lauren Esposito and Madison Wolfe


Set a decade after the events of the first film in the series, James Wan’s The Conjuring 2 gives the audience a further look into the real case files of Ed and Lorraine Warren, who are coming down off a huge wave of notoriety from their association with the famed Amityville case in 1976.

In this stand alone installment of the film series, the story of the Hodgson family and the events that led to The Warren’s involvement in the case that became known as The Enfield Poltergeist, is told.

London, England 1977.

After her daughter Janet’s bright, fun loving nature suddenly becomes very erratic, aggressive and unpredictably violent, single mother Peggy Hodgson becomes increasingly worried about her daughter’s well being. Janet begins sleepwalking and talking in her sleep, her behavior becoming even more erratic and violent. Before long, the whole family is witnessing paranormal occurrences.  Things continue to escalate, becoming more terrifying every day.

The Conjuring 2

Peggy comes to the realization that there is something sinister at hand. Something that could quite possibly be demonic. And it has made it cleas that it does not want them here. Her whole family is in very real danger. She begins to fear for their safety and turns to both the media and church for help.

As Janet begins to show more signs of demonic possession, The Warrens are asked by the church to get involved in the investigation. They travel to the family’s home in England and their involvement in the case soon gets them targeted by the entity. A battle begins to not only save Janet and the rest of Hodgson clan, but to save Ed’s soul from the demon Valak as well…

This installment of the franchise is more elaborate and dramatic than it’s predecessor, filled with twice as many hair-raising scenes and chilling visual effects. There is a constant sense of  darkness, foreboding, and underlying dread, even in the less action packed moments of the film. There is a great deal of tension, which really lends itself to the overall atmosphere of the film.

the-conjuring-2-janet-possessed

While Wan kills it with his direction, the film would be nothing without Madison Wolfe’s portrayal of young Janet Hodgson. When the entity takes over, she is one seriously creepy child. Her performance when taken over by the entity is truly unsettling.

Vera Farmiga and Patrick Wilson also once again shine in their roles as Ed and Lorraine Warren. Their performances as they get to further develop these characters are nothing short of outstanding. I hope this isn’t the last we see of these characters at work.

Although a bit slow to really get rolling, once it does, it is relentless. The Conjuring 2 may very well be James Wan’s finest contribution to the horror genre yet. The way the multitude of scares are presented to the audience keeps them on the edge of their seat and wanting more while simultaneously making them dread it. There is never a dull moment.

As far as sequels go, The Conjuring 2 not only lives up to the original, but it delivers a truly frightful stand alone story that is sure to creep its audiences out. This could very well be one of the best sequels to be released in the genre in quite some time.

If you are looking for gore, you are in the wrong place. There’s not much of that to be had here. What it does have throughout its entire run is suspense and apprehension, delivered through a skilled mix of jump scares, sound, and cinematography.

I am happy to say that The Conjuring 2 was a nice little break from the slasher films I normally go for, and in my humble opinion there need to be more movies like this. It was the first time in a long time I actually experienced genuine fear and apprehension while watching a film and it left me wanting more.

Wan is a true master of fear who knows how the deliver the scares. I can’t sing his praises enough. I have yet to be disappointed in one of his films. Say what you will about some of the more recent fare that mainstream horror has had to offer, but this man’s work is entertaining, fresh, and it genuinely scares me. I’ll recommend (and watch it) it any day of the week.

FILM REVIEW: PHANTASM RAVAGER

phantasm-v-ravager-poster1

By Nick Durham

The fact that Phantasm: Ravager even exists is a miracle in itself. It’s no exaggeration that by all rights and purposes, this film shouldn’t exist at all, but here we are. We’ve been waiting for another Phantasm film for close to 20 years, and during all that time we’ve had brief teases from Don Coscarelli and co. that one day the unlikely franchise would return for at least one more round. After numerous rumors, false starts, and flat out confusion over whether the film would ever see the light of day, here we are in 2016 with the long awaited, and more than likely final, installment in the Phantasm series. Was it worth the wait? Well, that’s hard to say really.

 

Phantasm: Ravager picks up with Reggie (Reggie Bannister) walking along a desert road with the spheres of the Tall Man (Angus Scrimm) in pursuit. Things go about as well for Reggie as one would expect, with everyone he comes across meeting a grisly demise. Thing is though that Reggie isn’t exactly sure what’s real these days, as he finds himself drifting between a world in chaos ravaged by the Tall Man, and a world where he’s an old man in a home suffering from dementia that gets visited by Mike (A. Michael Baldwin) occasionally. Of course things aren’t what they seem, this is a fucking Phantasm movie after all, and it isn’t long before shit hits the fan.

 

Now without a doubt, the biggest problem with Phantasm: Ravager is the same issue that you’ll no doubt hear from a lot of people that view it: there is literally barely any cohesion to the film’s overall narrative. The film spends so much time jumping back and forth between realities that it seriously gets lost up its own asshole. This is mostly due to the fact that many scenes were shot literally years ago with the proposal of a possible webisode series starring Reggie that never really took off, so more often than not, the film feels pretty damn uneven. I say that with utmost disappointment, BUT despite that major flaw, the film still manages to be an absolute blast. Newcomers to the franchise will be extremely confused of course, but for the rest of us that still have a clue what the hell is going on here will look past the film’s flaws.

 

It should also be noted that franchise creator Don Coscarelli isn’t in the director’s chair here, instead serving as writer/producer, with David Hartman directing the film. Hartman has an extensive background in directing animation, and it shows with the numerous computer-animated sequences, which range from jarringly awful to modestly acceptable. Now I know I’ve seemed to list more flaws with the film than good qualities so far, but believe me when I say that the film is incredibly enjoyable for long time fans of the franchise. Bannister, Scrimm, and everyone else here is having a blast, and it shows. Even the filmmakers themselves have their hearts in the right places. There’s so many call backs and odes to the previous films in the franchise that it’s hard not to see how much fan service was put into Phantasm: Ravager, and that helps make it as absurdly enjoyable as it is.

 

Like I said at the beginning of this review, the fact that this film even exists is a small miracle. I bitch and moan about its flaws because I’ve been such a diehard fan of the series for so long that from the moment I heard Phantasm: Ravager would be a reality, my expectations shot through the roof like a celestial ejaculate. That may have been my own fault for not having realistic expectations, but looking back on it now, I can easily forgive the flaws of this film just based on the fact that the film exists, is more enjoyable than it has any right to be, and wraps the franchise up with a sense of finality that we’d never gotten before with any of the other films. It’s not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, and it’s not geared towards newcomers to the series one fucking bit, but for those of us that have stuck by this franchise, this is the best we could probably hope for. Fuck it, let’s take it.

 

Rating: 3.5/5

FILM REVIEW: ROB ZOMBIE’S 31

By Amy Mead

Rob Zombie's 31

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Written and directed by Rob Zombie

Starring Sheri Moon Zombie, Meg Foster, Malcom McDowell, Jeff Daniel Phillips, Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs, Richard Brake, E.G. Daily, Lew Temple and many more.

 


The night before Halloween, a group of carnival workers on their way to the next midway hit a bizarre roadblock of voodoo type scarecrows. A few of the group decide to investigate and before they know it they are overtaken by a gang costumed figures. Only five of them survive the attack. The survivors (Charly, Roscoe, Panda, Venus and Levon) are bound and gagged, and then driven to a large compound where they are told that they are now contestants in a game called “31”. It is revealed that they are up against a group of homicidal maniacs and must fight for their lives. They have no choice.

One by one, the group begins to meet up with their adversaries, the “Heads”. They have 12 hours to play. And survive. It’s fight or die.

Well, here we go again. Another Rob Zombie film. 

Most of Zombie’s films seem to be either hit or miss with most horror fans (myself included). And 31 Is no exception to that. With 31, Zombie has once again given us another film where the fans and critics alike are most likely either going to love it or flat out hate it.

Much like his 2012 effort, The Lords of Salem (which is considered by many to be his best film but sadly bombed at the box office) there doesn’t seem to be much of an in between with 31. The reception has been mixed thus far and once again, fans seem to either love it or hate it. 

For me, the jury is still out on this one. I don’t love it or hate it but I will say this: There are as many things to love about 31 as there are to hate about it. But admittedly, this seems to be the norm for me when it comes to Rob Zombie’s film efforts.

One of this biggest issues with 31 is that right from the start, there is very little character introduction to be had and the film suffers a bit because of that. There is minimal attachment to any of the films protagonists. No one’s death really makes much of an impact or feels like much of a loss in the grand scheme of things. I did kinda fall in love with Lawrence Hiton-Jacobs’ (of Welcome Back, Kotter fame) character Panda however. 

Sheri Moon Zombie’s character, Charly,  comes off as a self centered, vulgar asshole almost immediately. She has almost zero likability and it’s hard to care about what happens to her or those in the group with her. Sheri Moon Zombie’s acting (once again) does what could have been a standout role  for her absolutely no justice. But let’s face it: At this point does that really come as a surprise anymore? 

Unfortunately, we’ve seen most of these characters several times over in Zombie’s various other films. Because of that, I found myself actually routing for the “Heads”. Richard Brakes’s “Doom-Head” to be more specific. There is a standout performance in 31 and he is definitely it. 

I also really enjoyed Lew Temple’s humorous take on Psycho-Head, and I would have loved to see more of these two homicidal, yet humorous maniacs in action.

Another big issue I had with 31 is the mystique about the captors themselves. There is little explanation as to who these people are or what exactly the rules are here. What happens if our protagonist actually make it the 12 hours? What then? And how have these people never been caught? All we really know for sure is that this “event” seems to be an annual thing for these sickos.

There are many flaws in 31 but there is a saving grace here: Zombie’s eye for detail. The sound, the lighting and the brilliant use of quality practical effects are all amazing and do absolute wonders for the film. There are many things that Rob Zombie falls a bit short on with his writing and character development at times, but he does do stunning visual and audio work on all of his films.

All in all, 31 is worth checking out. It’s fun, it’s delightfully twisted at times (Thank you, Malcolm McDowell) and it’s got some good gore happening throughout it’s run. The ending though? Brace yourselves for disappointment. 

 

FILM REVIEW: BLAIR WITCH

By: Amy Mead 

blair witch callie-hernandez

BLAIR WITCH

 

Directed by Adam Wingard

Written by Simon Barrett

Starring Callie Hernandez, James Allen McCune, Corbin Reid, Brandon Scott, Valorie Curry and Wes Robinson


When James Donohue was just four years old, his sister Heather went off into the Black Hills of Maryland to shoot a documentary about local legend, The Blair Witch. Heather along with fellow filmmakers, Joshua Leonard and Mike Williams all disappeared. They seemingly vanished, leaving behind nothing but their footage and a slew of unanswered questions. None of them were seen alive again.

For 17 years, James has been in turmoil. Often wondering what happened to Heather, he has been seeking answers regarding her disappearance anywhere he can. He stumbles upon a video that someone uploaded to youtube that was supposedly found in the woods where the three filmmakers disappeared. Upon close examination of the video, James becomes convinced that sees his sister. Hoping to find some sort of evidence that will get the local police to reopen the case, he is compelled to further investigate the area where the tape was found. He enlists the help of some friends, Peter, Ashley and Lisa (who wants to document the search for her film thesis) to go on a search and upon their arrival they are joined by locals, Lane and Talia and head off into Blair Witch territory…

 

 

In 1999, relative unknowns Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez burst onto the scene with The Blair Witch Project. It was made on an almost nonexistent budget and was one of the first films in the found footage sub-genre to gain popularity. The film garnered all sorts of unexpected acclaim from fans and critics alike, igniting a media frenzy. Word got out and the film began raking in some serious cash at the box office. To the tune of over $248 million worldwide. 

In 2000 fans were given a horribly lackluster sequel to the hit film when Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2, directed by Joe Berlingerhit the theaters. Although it was met with moderate  financial success, the plot had little to do with the first film and many of the original films fans were disappointed and left wanting more. 

Flash forward about 17 years or so to 2016 and the theatrical release of a direct sequel to the first film, Blair Witch. This installment is helmed by Adam Wingard (You’re Next, The Guest) and was written by Wingard’s frequent collaborator, Simon Barrett (also of You’re Next, The Guest fame). Many believed he was working on an unrelated film called The Woods, until it was announced that it was in fact a direct sequel to the 1999 film shortly before the films September 16th release. 

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What Wingard and Barrett have given us with this installment is the sequel fans wanted back in 2000 when the atrocity that is Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 hit the screens. A sequel that the original film, and the mythology of The Blair Witch, deserved. 

Presented with an almost ear splitting emphasis on sudden loud noises paired with numerous jump scares, the first half of the film is often humorous and it’s almost as if Wingard is attempting to lull the audience into a false sense of security and make them feel at ease,  just to scare the shit out of them later in the last half of the film, primarily with the films climactic conclusion. That being said, he almost relies a bit too heavily on the jump scares at times. 

One way the film is raging success is the way in which it seeps under the audiences skin and in that respect it is much like the first film. Not only that, but most of the key elements are here. The sound of snapping branches off in the distance, mysterious stick figures and the piles of rocks – all building the sense of anticipation, anxiety and fear. And the last 15-20 minutes of the film? Whoa! Very intense. The audience gets a glimpse of something that just raises more questions and adds a whole new level to the mythology of the witch. 

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There are also a few new elements going on with this one and they are enjoyable to say the least. There is the addition of the whole paradox thing that seems to be going on in the woods, and even a little bit of body horror when Ashley slices her foot open crossing Tappy East Creek of all places. 

One major thing that Blair Witch has going against it is that the viral marketing campaign and resulting media frenzy that happened with the first film can never be replicated. There is no mystery this time around as to whether the myth is true or not. We all know now that it was just a movie, and it would appear that box office numbers are a reflection of that. I saw the film in the theaters twice, and on both occasions we were the only ones in the theater. 

Despite being panned by many critics and reviewers, I would definitely recommend checking this film out. All in all, Blair Witch is a worthy follow up to one of the most well known found footage films of all time. If you are a fan of the mythology, it is something you should see for yourself. 

 

FILM REVIEW: CHAOS (2005)

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By Nick Durham

I’m going to say this right here and now that the only reason I’m even talking about Chaos is because it got brought up recently when I was reading a thread about shocking films and hardcore horror, etc. Now I want to say right off the bat that I’ve seen some shit in my day in terms of horror films, some of which I’d rather not admit having watched. That being said, there’s also some films that I’ll never watch for a variety of reasons (hello A Serbian Film, which I’ve never seen the whole thing and flat out refuse to) and other films which I’ve seen all the way through once and never will again (hello Salo). 2005’s Chaos falls into the latter category, having seen it once quite some time ago, but despite that, it left an impression on me, and not in a good way. Fuck this movie.

 

In case you can’t tell by looking at the design of that film poster, Chaos is derived from Wes Craven’s Last House on the Left. Actually, derived isn’t the word that should be used here: Chaos actually is pretty much a straight up remake of Last House on the Left (predating the actual studio-produced remake of the film by four years) only with different character names and a different ending…and much more graphic murder, torture, and rape scenes. Sounds like a great old time right? No, no there is no fun to be had here. The story is basically the same: two teenage girls get captured by a crew of evil fucks, led by Chaos (Kevin Gage, who you’ll recognize from being the serial killer from Michael Mann’s crime classic Heat with Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro). Chaos and his crew (which also includes Sage Stallone, yes the son of Sylvester, in one of his final appearances before his untimely death) proceed to rape, torture, mutilate, and murder the teens before inadvertently finding refuge at the home of one of the girl’s parents. Other than the film’s darker ending, the story remains the same, what little of it there is. Fuck this movie.

 

Now I won’t bullshit here: I’ve never been much of a fan of Wes Craven’s Last House on the Left. I’ve never liked the film, but I respect the impact that it ended up having on the genre and it put Craven on the map as the beginning of a legendary career. Not to mention the fact that despite that film’s flaws, it showcased that Craven had some degree of talent as a filmmaker. Chaos does no such things. It is a reprehensible, abhorrent, piece of fucking shit that has no redeeming value whatsoever. There are no good qualities about this film: it’s pure shit from beginning to end and only shocks the viewer just to shock the viewer. Say whatever you want about A Serbian Film, but at least there’s some degree of artistic merit to it (barely, but there is). That’s the thing with extreme horror, it’s only meant to shock the viewer in terms of on-screen carnage, and that’s all well and good I guess if you’re into that kind of shit, but Chaos is a film that’s only mission is to repulse the viewer, and it does such a shitty job in terms of delivering shocks that it becomes practically boring. Shocks for the sake of shocks don’t make a watchable film, no matter how badly you’re looking to get grossed out or freaked out. Fuck this movie.

 

There’s no good qualities about Chaos, there really aren’t. This film is reprehensible, unenjoyable garbage that offers no kind of enjoyment to even the most jaded horror viewer. You may think I’m being too harsh here, but I think I’m actually going too easy on this fucking piece of dogshit. Did I mention fuck this movie yet? I did? A lot? You know what? I take it back, don’t fuck this movie. Don’t let your friends or family or pets fuck this movie. It’s un-fuckworthy and not worth your time unless you’re going to find a copy of the film and take a huge steaming shit on it. The turd that finds its way out of your ass has more merit and originality than this fucking cinematic abortion.

 

I said fuck this movie right?

 

Rating: 0/5