Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Haunted Casino (2007)

Fear 0/5
Gore 2/5
Entertainment 0/5
Creepiness 0/5

Why do I continually do this to myself? Why do I watch screeners which instinctively tell me there's a very high likelihood of it being a platter of poop sandwiches? Granted, Full Moon Features' output is more miss than hit. But there are a handful (I think) of titles that are charming and actually fun. I couldn't get all the way through this one and that's saying a lot since I've watched some really terrible films (*cough, Nightmare Alley, cough*).

A college age guy learns that he's inherited an old casino that's off the beaten path of the Vegas strip. I think it's from an uncle or something. He convinces his girlfriend and his group of douchey friends to make the trip out but really he's setting them up to help him renovate the place. Gee what a great friend!

Once they arrive, they see it's in total disrepair and a complete shithole. And it's not long before supernatural occurrences take place and we're introduced to the residents of the joint. Basically, some claymation-styled demons which is your standard order of the day when it comes to Full Moon's features.

Getting top billing in this film are Sid Haig and Michael Berryman but they don't show up until we're at least a good 30min. into our run time. And only then it's for brief spurts.

Hi, we're here to collect a paycheck.

Apparently, the dude's uncle, grandfather, whatever, owed them money years ago. How they became ghosts and how other residents got trapped there is never really explained. OK, maybe it is but I didn't catch on because by this point, I was drifting in and out of consciousness. This movie is flat out boring. Totally unfunny and not interesting in the slightest. And our aforementioned 'stars' go through the motions without any sort of commitment to their characters. Our douchey kids then get into a life or death gambling game with the residents of the casino which also serve as the dealers. I don't know what happens next as I turned off the film and did something more productive: sleep.

Boring, lifeless and completely unnecessary, The Haunted Casino is the prime example of what our beloved genre needs less of. Hope the paycheck was good boys. Oh, and apparently this used to be entitled Dead Man's Hand. I don't know why they preferred this shitty title over the original but there you go.

Cortez the Killer

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Ninjas Vs. Zombies/ Ninjas Vs. Vampires (2008 & 2010)

Fear 0/5
Gore 3/5
Entertainment 1/5
Creepiness 0/5

Hey kids, guess what? You're going to get TWO craptastic reviews for the price of one. How's that for a bargain? Since both of these films feature interchangeable characters, premises and plots (I use that last term as loosely as a prostitute's vajay jay hangs low), why not? And to save you from gouging your eyeholes out and doing that thing most people nowadays can't be bothered to do anymore (read) it's also going to be one of the shortest reviews I've ever written. You get two reviews AND brevity. So you can go back to doing whatever it is you were doing before you checked out this review. Don't say I never did anything for you. Ready?

Zombies/vampires invade a town. Friends band together. They become ninjas (when I say ninjas I mean dress up in pajamas and flail about). They have to save the world. Some sacred amulet or mystic portal may or may not be involved. Vague dialogue about what their purpose is adds an air of 'mystery' to the proceedings. It tries to be funny but isn't (every joke falls flat and there is no sense of comedic timing). The ninjas fight the zombies/vampires. They save the world. The end.

Boring, dull, and not at all good in an 'oh so bad its good way', neither one of these films should be watched. Under any circumstances. Whatsoever. It's films like these that make me want to swear off receiving movie screeners altogether.

Cortez the Killer

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

News You Can Use!

Our favorite genre festival on the left coast, Bleedfest, is back at it. This time, along with their short film offerings, they're set to premier the documentary I Am Nancy, the labor of love of one Mrs. Heather Langenkamp. Along with the film's director Arlene Marechal, she will not only be there to screen the film but to also sign and sell limited edition copies of it.

Also on hand will be Lucky McKee to talk about his controversial feature The Woman. I've been anxious to check this one out after learning about the notorious receptions it's received (click here if you're not familiar). He'll be available to answer questions about the film which will be released in theaters this fall.

The event is taking place on Sunday, June 11th. For more information about the event, including a full festival line-up, click over yonder: http://bleedfest.com/schedule/

IAN from Heather Anderson on Vimeo.


Last year, I had the honor and privilege of presenting two indie horror films at the Crypticon horror convention in Seattle. I had a blast and I wish I had the time to make it out there this year.

But I've remained in touch with the festival's director and this year is poised to be even bigger and badder than last! If you're in the Seattle area this weekend, check it out. A guaranteed good time.

Festival events and guests esta aqui: http://www.crypticonseattle.com/index.html


Last but not least: I know I've been pimping this film forever and a day but it's worth mentioning again. I'll talk about it until I'm blue in the face people. Each and every one of you needs to check this film out. For every bitch, moan and gripe that has been thrown in the direction of our beloved genre the past few years, a film is being released this June that is the perfect antidote to all that is stale, boring, remade and rehashed. That film is called Dawning and it's a film I'm inclined to stake my reputation on. Yes, it's that amazing. As my friend Mike said over at All Things Horror 'If someone were to tell me they didn’t like Dawning, I’d immediately think less of them as a person.' I couldn't have said it better myself.

You can pre-order the film through the distributors website now. Information contained herein: http://www.shop.breakingglasspictures.com/Dawning-853937002674.htm

It will also be available for rent via VOD and other channels. If you're not inclined to takes risks on your film purchases and would rather rent, more info about specific channels is forthcoming.

Dawning Movie Trailer from Gregg Holtgrewe on Vimeo.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Heartless (2009)

Fear 3/5
Gore 3/5
Entertainment 3/5
Creepiness 2/5

Heartless is a thought provoking yet absolutely disjointed piece of work. It starts off by being dark and sinister but ultimately (and awkwardly) it ends up being redeeming without any regard for the actions of the main character. Read on.

The beginning of our story finds us being introduced to a young twenty something, an aspiring photographer who's birthmark is something that hinders him from being self-confident and having the types of relationships he's always wanted. Namely, that of a trusted and look-past-his -face true love. You see, he has a large birthmark on the right side of his face which looks much like a heart and covers the vast majority of it. Aside from his family who's accepted him, he longs for the relationship of a woman that will set him free. On top of that, he has to contend with the rising violence in his London suburb.

The perpetrators are kids who are running wild in the streets. Killing people at random and setting fires to buildings, terrorizing the neighborhood and making it unsafe to go out at night. Our aspiring photographer catches glimpses of these roving groups of sweatshirt hooded teens but instead of thuggish kids, he sees them taking the form of demons. And one day, as he visits the grave site of his father he lost a couple years prior with his mother, he's attacked by such a group, his mother falling victim. This turns his world upside down and he contemplates if he should go on living.

Just before he's quite literally ready to do himself in, he visits with a strange Lucifer-like man who tells him he has the cure for what ails him. He tells him that he'll take away his birthmark and that he'll live the life he's always wanted if he does one thing for him and one thing only: spray graffiti on walls to add to the chaos that's already enveloped the city. It's definitely something that's not as consequential as killing someone. He agrees and he's born again as a new man with a new face.

So with a new lease on life he asks a girl out that he's secretly infatuated with. They begin a hot romance but it's not too long thereafter when the piper knocks on his front door to make him fulfill his end of the bargain. But it's not what was originally intentioned. His deal is altered and he must go on a killing spree to maintain his looks and the love he's now built. He does so and in doing so, he becomes a shell of his former self.

As we head into our final act, things take a turn for the worse as we find that all is not what it seems. Not only with his new found relationship but also with his family. Furthermore, perceptions change and we begin to question did all of this really happen to the birth marked young man? Did he really make a deal with the devil or did people actually begin to accept him for who he was?

For me, the problem lied both within the dialogue and resolution. With the dialogue, it was oftentimes clunky and it never really painted a picture of someone in true peril or strife. So when our young man makes his deal, you never really feel like he did so out of sincere desperation. And the love scenes between him and his new found gal pal was Anakin and Padme in the fields of Naboo awkward. As for the ending, without giving too much away, I believe it should have ended on a much more sour note and not been quite as redemptive.

Regardless, the film is a lot more involving than your typical horror fare. It's definitely worth a watch. For anyone who's seen it, what did you think?

You can watch the film via Netflix streaming: http://movies.netflix.com/WiMovie/Heartless/70122643?trkid=2361637#height1832

Cortez the Killer

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Ghost Ship (2002)

Fear 0/5
Gore 3/5
Entertainment 5/5 -
For the 1st 5 min.; 0/5 for the rest
Creepiness 2/5

Has any one film in the history of films taken a greater nosedive after such an awesomely epic opener as this one? I think not.

To begin our story, we see a group of sea traveling pretentious rich folk circa 1930 aboard a large ocean cruise liner. They're drinking, dancing and most likely, they'll be banging some head boards later that night. A young girl (apparently the only kid on the entire cruise) is taken to the dance floor by an old man as he realizes she's insanely bored. A foul plot is afoot as someone does some tinkering with the controls on the ship and the wires which hang the lighting from the boat's masts unravel. A slice & dice-o-rama then ensues with body parts and innards being strewn about.

This is the best part of the film (at only about 5 min. in) and the ONLY part of the film you need to see. Really. How a film that kicks off so grandly could devolve into complete and utter shit is beyond me.

OK, I owe a full review but I'll save you a ton of trouble (and reading): a man (one of the detective guys from Dexter; I'm too lazy to look up his name) tracks down a group of people who specialize in finding ships and other artifacts that have been lost at sea. Led by Gabriel Byrne's perpetual look of deer in the headlights....

....our group heads out in their exploratory vessel. They find the boat and somehow, it magically surfaced from its previous home on the ocean floor. They board it, the film begins to drag as they explore the ship, paranormal shenanigans eventually ensues, they find some lost treasure on the ship, some more paranormal hijinks take place (including sex with a ghost, I'm not kidding) and detective dude from Dexter reveals he's a soul sucking demon and he's led them there so that he can replenish his demon fuel. Or some shit like that. And we get more dumbfounded looks from Mr. Byrne:

Jesus fuck me in the ear this film is awful. But goddamn if those first few minutes aren't amazing. Here, I'll show you. And you're welcome.

Cortez the Killer

Thursday, May 12, 2011

To Let -- AKA Para Entrar A Vivir (2006)

Fear 4/5
Gore 3/5
Entertainment 5/5
Creepiness 4/5

The 2nd feature I've watched from the Spanish series 6 Films to Keep You Awake, To Let will keep you on edge throughout with its frenetic pacing. And after having checked out two films in the series, I can say it's already better than most horror series out there (I'm looking at you 8 Films To Die For).

Our film begins with a husband as he picks his wife up from the hospital as she's expecting and just paid a visit to her doc. The husband is holding an ad which he picked out of their mailbox about a reasonably priced new apartment and he convinces his wife to make a drive out to the neighborhood where the apartment is located. Upon arrival, the rundown building and surrounding area is met with disdain by his wife but he convinces her to give it a shot anyways.

The landlady immediately greets them and guides them inside, up the stairs and through the hallway which (hopefully) leads them to their new home. But on our trip upstairs, we take note of the shoddy condition of the joint and see the disapproving looks of a wife who's already written off the housing prospect.

Stepping inside the apartment, we see the insides and the additional accommodations don't really save the day. The apartment is worn down, leaking and having mechanical issues within the kitchen. Simply put: its a dump. The wife cuts off the landlady mid sentence and prepares herself to exit stage left with her husband. But before they can do so, she momentarily falls ill and the landlady advises her to take rest in a nearby room. After she tells her to lie down in her 'condition', making the young couple aware of the fact that she knows the couple is expecting (even thought the wife is barely showing), we begin to suspect that our landlady has no intentions of letting them leave. When the husband exits the room to question the landlady, she clobbers him over the head with a hallway decoration which knocks him unconscious.

Our expectant mother rushes out of the apartment and finds her way into another one thinking that other folks who live there could help her out. As she winds her way through the apartment, she sees a dressed up mannequin positioned in front of a blaring TV. She also finds a baby's play pen where it looks like a little tyke took residence not so long ago. Making her way into the bathroom, she finds a woman, alive, handcuffed and chained to the wash basin, made to look like a happy resident who's starting off her day. Our demented landlady finds her and takes a cattle prod to her and drags her back up to the apartment.

After being tied up, our scheming landlady reveals why she's chosen the young couple, talking about the fate of her beloved building and business if she doesn't bring in new tenants. This revelation sent shivers down my spine. I'm sure we can all relate to having a nutty landlord at some point in our lives. The young mom-to-be escapes from being tied to a chair and it's a cat and mouse game all the way to the end as she helps free our attached to a sink woman and they encounter the fucked up landlady's mongoloid son. Does she escape or become a permanent resident?

Brought to you by one half of the dynamic duo behind the [REC] series, To Let is unrelenting and terrifying. And it also has one of the best dismemberments by way of garbage disposal ever committed to film.

Cortez the Killer

Monday, May 9, 2011

Pre-Order Fugue Today!

Fugue is a film firmly planted within my top list of 2011. Pretty bold to say, considering we aren't even halfway through the year yet. It really is that good.

It interweaves instances of the supernatural alongside its tale of one being wronged. Think Poltergeist meets Inside. That sounds weird, I know. But it works. Enough of my blabbering, here's the synopsis from the film's official site:

When you can't trust your own mind, how do you know what's real?

A young woman (newcomer Abigail Mittel) moves in with her boyfriend (Richard Gunn, "Dexter"), and becomes convinced her new home is haunted. But when she discovers the last eight months have been erased from her memory, she must uncover what caused the condition...before the past destroys her present.

An edgy, unique update on the classic ghost tale, FUGUE features stellar performances and stomach-churning scares. The film takes viewers on a mind-bending, terrifying journey that culminates in a shattering climactic twist.

For more information about the film and how you can pre-order a copy, check out the film's site:


Cortez the Killer

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Bleeding House (2010)

Fear 4/5
Gore 3/5
Entertainment 5/5
Creepiness 4/5

Floored. I was absolutely floored after having watched this film. And I couldn't believe I hadn't heard of it before I decided to randomly check out the trailer and rent it through an online streaming video service (check out Vudu, it's fantastic). The film is powerful, riveting, dark and brutal. And it features the best performances I've witnessed this year, horror film or not. This nasty little indie gem will keep you on the edge of your seat throughout and it'll stay with you long after the credits roll.

At the onset of our film, we're introduced to a family of four and almost right away, we take notice of just how odd they are. The teenage daughter doesn't respond to her given name, only Blackbird. She has an entomological collection in her room and has a space outside where she keeps certain artifacts that she wishes to keep hidden from mom and dad. Mom anxiously cooks dinner, washes the knives and puts them back in the draw, locking it with a padlock quickly after doing so. Dad can't seem to catch a break in the new town, trying to land a job as a lawyer. It seems the townsfolk are well aware of the family's notorious history. The older son lashes out at the dinner table that night about the freakish nature of it all and expresses his desire to get out. This is clearly a family with some issues.

Before the family can finish dinner, the son tears out of the house with dad in pursuit. But before he can catch up, he bumps into a man out front, dressed from head to toe in a white suit, sporting a similarly colored hat, and carrying an aged leather duffel bag. A slender man with a southern drawl, he tells him that his car has broken down and it's very unlikely that someone will be out that night to come fix it. He instantly charms the pants off of the man of the house as he recounts his cross country trip and his desire to take the more 'scenic route.' The husband, who's initially nervous and cautious, agrees to let him stay but not before he checks with his wife first. She immediately tells him no but when she catches a glimpse of him and is introduced to his charm, she relents and agrees to let him stay.

Over dinner, our traveling gentleman talks about his profession as a surgeon. When the topic of family is brought up, he tells the family the terrible story of how his wife and kids were murdered. Changing the subject of conversation towards the antisocial daughter, he immediately displays a fondness for her. Mom and dad send her off so they could talk about more adult things and our ivory dressed man glares at her as she walks away. When adult talk time is up, he makes his way upstairs and stops by the girl's bedroom. After a bit of a chat, mom comes into her room and finds that she's hiding a live bird she captured outside. We are informed that she's been given strict instructions to never keep live animals in the house. Defiantly, she snaps the bird's neck and hands the lifeless body over to mom. Mom locks her in her room and apologizes to our house guest.

After showing him to his room, he sets down his things and then joins her for a tour of the house. She takes him into the attic which serves as her sanctuary and space to practice arts and crafts. They chat for a bit but we know at this point that our house guest has anything but good intentions. He proceeds to bludgeon her with one of her pieces and heads downstairs to also incapacitate dad. When they both come to, they find themselves hooked up to a crude dialysis machine, their blood being pumped into plastic jugs. But why is he doing what he's doing? You see, there is something really wrong with the daughter and he's there to encourage her to embrace her true self. What is it exactly? I won't spoil it but the dark secret of our family is revealed and through some heinous acts, the true monster that is this well mannered, polite man is also brought to light.

Disturbing, brutal and wholly original, The Bleeding House will leave you breathless. The film originally came out in 2010 but saw a larger premiere at this year's Tribeca Film Festival. It is now on various VOD services including Vudu, Amazon and iTunes. I promise you, you will not find a better genre film this year. The pairing of an incredible first time outing by director Philip Gelatt and the phenomenal performance of Patrick Breen (who plays our traveling white clad surgeon), makes the film the terrifying masterpiece that it is.

For more information, check out the film's Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Bleeding-House/131601586880397

And for the uber lazy, here are the links to the spots where you can rent the film:

Vudu: http://www.vudu.com/movies/Movies.html#ContentDefaultPlace:194257

Amazon Instant Video: http://www.amazon.com/Bleeding-House-2011-Festival-Premiere/dp/B004WOZ1MC/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1304387117&sr=8-1

iTunes: http://itunes.apple.com/us/movie/the-bleeding-house/id425647042?ign-mpt=uo%3D2

Cortez the Killer