Saturday, October 29, 2011

Shorts and Trailers, Trailers and Shorts!

I have some fantastical trailers and shorts to share with you today kiddos! Happy Halloween Weekend!!

First off is a neat little short film called Slash-In-The-Box. Filmmaker Nick Everhart reached out to me via Twitter (isn't social media just the coolest, like Miles Davis pee your pants cool?) and asked if I'd check out his short. I obliged and was rewarded.

Pop goes the evil and the evil goes pop!

Slash-In-The-Box from Nick Everhart on Vimeo.


Next up, we have a zombie short from the land down under courtesy of filmmaker Cameron McCulloch. Home is about a woman trying to survive a zombie apocalypse while clinging to the memories of a life she once had. But it's revealed that she's harboring a secret that hits much too close to home and it could mean life or death.

"Home" - The Short Zombie Film from Cameron McCulloch on Vimeo.


From Fatal Pictures and Zach Green comes the teaser trailer for their next short film Familiar.This is a production company that you should keep your eyes out for as the folks that are behind it are extremely talented and they continually turn out quality genre films.

Starring the fantastic Robert Nolan (Worm), the film features a man who's plagued by negative impulses due to a series of tragic events. Not much else is known outside of these slim details but if the crazy snippet below is any indication, the folks at Fatal Pictures are going to deliver another solid slice of genre entertainment.

FATAL PICTURES presents FAMILIAR (2011) The Teaser from Zach Green on Vimeo.


Next, is the trailer for the indie slasher film Blood Was Everywhere. The thing that I dig about this trailer is the film feels a lot more gritty than your typical slasher film and has a 70's vibe about it. And I think that's just what the filmmakers were gunning for.

The film will be hitting the theater circuit soon. For more details about it, you can check out the film's website and Facebook pages.


And last but certainly not least, is the link to the latest trailer for Ti West's The Innkeepers. This is the only remaining flick on my list of most anticipated genre releases of the year which I have yet to see.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Skew (2011)

Fear 5/5
Gore 1/5
Entertainment 5/5
Creepiness 5/5

I'm going to declare 2011 the year of the found footage flick on this here interwebs page. I've seen and reviewed a total of 7. Not every film was released this year (and not all of them were good). But as the format has become all the rage, both older and newer films alike are gaining more notoriety and recognition. Enter Skew. A unique take on the sub-genre, it's a terrifying tale of the supernatural as one young man becomes a conduit for death.

A trio of young twenty somethings (Simon, Rich and Eva) set out on a much anticipated road trip. The group have long looked forward to it. It's a chance for them to get away for awhile and eventually, celebrate their pal's nuptials. Simon decides to record the trip and the events of the next few days with a camera he's recently purchased. What starts off as your average road trip with friends bantering and joking, enjoying the open road, soon becomes a case of the strange and inexplicable when Simon begins to see distorted images through his camera. More specifically, as they make stops along the way, he sees the distorted faces of folks that he comes into contact with. But when he plays back the video, the images look normal.

What is initially played off as an odd occurrence soon turns to full on paranoia for Simon when the hotel clerk is found dead. If that wasn't enough, a bus full of tourists meet a grisly demise when he turns the camera on them as the trio drive down a country road. But they read of the incident at a gas station in the local paper the next day. Simon becomes rattled but Rich shrugs it off as mere coincidence. It's not until a gas station attendant meets his demise and they're hauled into the local authorities office that they get to a point where they don't want Simon to film anything anymore.

In between the deaths and their stops along the way, Simon sees the people who've died through his lens as he continues to film. When he takes his eye off the camera, they're gone and neither Rich nor Eva can see what he sees: either with their bare eyes or through the same lens. One particular scare plays to great effect as Simon sees the hotel clerk in the corner of their room.

Despite pleas to stop from Rich and Eva, Simon continues to film everything as they continue to travel. At some point, they stop at a deserted gas station for a bathroom break. It's here where things escalate between all three. The events, although initially ignored by Rich and Eva, begin to wear on their psyche and Simon becomes completely unhinged. After a brutal attack is committed, the end to our film sees things go back in time as we learn why Simon's girlfriend did not accompany them on the trip. With the camera rolling, they both engage in an argument. As things get heated, she storms off and the camera pans around a room and stops at a bedside mirror. The reflection.....well, I'll just stop right here. Let's just say the ending will stay with you for days. Along with his impetus for why he chose to buy a camera in the first place (which is revealed during one of their hotel stops), you begin to piece things together. Although your interpretation of the film's chilling closing moments and what they mean in the context of the film may vary from mine.

It's not very often that a horror film will stay with you for days along with rattling your nerves so bad that it'll be hard to sleep that night. And I love films that question particular notions. In the case of Skew, it's those notions of death which will strike a chord and linger.

The film can be currently viewed via Netflix streaming:  

Cortez the Killer

Saturday, October 22, 2011

I Didn't Come Here To Die (2010)

Fear 2/5
Gore 4/5
Entertainment 5/5
Creepiness 3/5

Now this is how you make a 'young kids go out into the middle of the woods' horror movie. Not this. Taking your standard conventions and twisting them to great effect, the film cuts through the clutter and delivers one hell of a horror comedy. Grab your friends, a 12 pack (or two), watch this as a double feature with Tucker and Dale vs. Evil, and you'll be having yourself a side splitting, gore soaked, good time.

Our story focuses on a group of six do-gooders: a goody two-shoes girl who sports a sailor mouth when drunk, a pussy whipped guy who's reluctant to leave his lady friend behind, a pair of mischief makers looking to get drunk and fuck, a soft spoken young man who's hiding a secret pain, and a hot gal who's guiding our group out into the middle of the woods to build a place for underprivileged kids. Awwwww, isn't that nice?

The kids head on out, stopping at a convenience store on the way (our mischief makers picking up some booze even though having it's a no-no) and eventually get to their destination and set-up camp. Our kids decide to get shitfaced that night and our young man with a sad past is ready to unleash his other pitched tent on the hot guide. But things go horribly wrong when Ms. Goody Two Shoes stumbles around drunk and has one of her eyes gouged out by a local tree branch. And so begins a string of bad accidents and really horrible decision making which is all made possible by the surrounding woods and the supernatural presence contained within. Simply put, these kids are fucked.

So our volunteer guide takes the wounded goody two shoes to the hospital and encourages the group to get started on work. While mischief maker boy and our secret pain harboring, hoping to bang the hot guide guy,  get started in on one area, mischief maker girl and pussy whipped boy get started on another. Mischief maker girl decides that it's a good idea to swing the chainsaw around and around like a toy with absolutely no regard for her surroundings. Big mistake. It catches a tree branch and the force sends her backwards, the saw dislodges and lands right smack in the middle of her face. Horrified, pussy whipped boy tries to remove the saw from her facehole but only makes the situation worse as the saw fires up and splits her head in two.

Pussy whipped boy becomes extremely traumatized by the whole event and despite the effort of the other two boys to calm him down, he does himself in as the horror he witnessed becomes too much to bear and the supernatural force at work in the woods royally freaks him out. He takes his own life by hanging himself in a nearby tree which sets one of our remaining two boys into a downward spiral of madness.Things conclude in a bad way for the rest of our group including the hot guide who's now come back for them. Continued bad judgement and incredible irrational behavior lead the remaining three down a path of no return and things get incredibly worse.

I Didn't Come Here to Die is insanely good fun. The atmosphere and cartoon-like insanity has an Evil Dead feel about it. And genre fans are starting to take note as its received incredible praise from the community in addition to mainstream sites and bloggers like yours truly. This is a classic folks.

For more information about the film, check out its website. As more news becomes available about an official release, keep your eyes peeled (but not gouged) on this here interwebs page.

Cortez the Killer

Monday, October 17, 2011

Ashes (2010)

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

Ashes is an interesting take on the infection/apocalyptic/end of the world scenario type of a film. While it contains the standard tropes associated with these types of films (something begins to infect mankind, people get sick, turn into something else and/or die, etc.) it's the notion behind it and the larger forces at play to make sure the whole of humanity is wiped out, that makes it so startling and stark. This isn't a happy one folks. There is no sunny outlook or Hollywood ending to be found.

Our story begins when a young boy finds a a group of jelly fish that have washed up on a local beach. Attempting to handle one of the creatures he's stung and falls to the ground. The next time we see him, he's in the care of a highly specialized doctor (Brian Krause) as the doc frantically tries to find out what it is that's caused this boy's comatose state.

We come to learn that the doc is highly regarded in his field. Along with being the head physician and with the aide of his trusted lab geek (Kadeem Hardison, yes that Kadeem Hardison), he's developed a serum which has seen great success in reversing the affects of AIDS. A patient who frequents the hospital, has seen a near complete reversal of his symptoms. And because of the work that's been done, the government has now taken a strong interest in his work.

The all-out, god-like nature of the doctor becomes his undoing as he thinks his serum is a cure-all and injects the boy with it. After a brief reaction and subsequent biting of the doctor's arm, the boy falls back to his bed and expires. The doctor covers up the incident but his patient doesn't stay dead for long.

Along with the boy, our full-on obsessive doctor becomes something else. In between trying to perfect on his serum and finding out what it is that's infected the boy, his bite grows worse and we eventually see him turn into a flesh hungry shell of his former self.  If that wasn't enough, he's brought his infection home and his wife has now inherited the same penchant.

Here is where things get interesting: the interfering government and the man who's sent to take over the doctor's work reveals his true intentions. I won't play the spoils here but the rationale is interesting without getting too heavy-handed. Along with that is the notion of a virus instigated by nature which makes story altogether more enjoyable than your typical end of the world fare.

Ashes is still making festival rounds but keep your eyes peeled. It's a unique and intense infection film that is well worth your time.

You can check the trailer out via the film's website:

Cortez the Killer

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Undocumented (2010)

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

Undocumented is part cinema verite and part live action. And all too close for comfort. It's the type of film that makes you think 'Hey, this isn't that far off from reality.' And this thought which makes you sick. Like pit of your stomach sick. A type of sickness that can't be achieved by a monster, zombie or other supernatural force. This is gut punching realism at its finest.

Our film follows the progress of four students and a guide as they set out to document the perilous trek of a group of Mexicans as they attempt to cross the border, risking their lives for the hope of a better one. They meet up with a man and board a bus and are taken to an area where the entrance to an underground tunnel resides. The group make their way through and to the other side and meet up with their transport. Their ride is a moving truck which is supposed to drive them into the heart of Texas. But just when they think they're well on their way to freedom, things get derailed when someone hijacks the truck.

The truck pulls up to a compound, the back of it opened up and immediately, the group is hit by spotlights. A voice comes over the speaker and demands that all strip down naked. The group of students and their guide call out, telling anyone who will listen that they are American. They are then taken into separate interrogation rooms and quizzed about their backgrounds along with being asked about the purpose behind the documentary. Travis, the head of the film crew, strikes a deal with the masked men. The crew is to film the group who runs the compound, documenting their actions and their guiding philosophies and principles. Little does he know that he (and the group) are going to get a lot more than they bargained for.

Things start off seemingly justifiable as the masked men talk about ridding the U.S. of the vermin who cross the boarder with drugs. They bind and torture a man who's revealed to be one such smuggler, going down a laundry list of his crimes. But it soon becomes apparent that no one is safe within the group not even the innocent. The sickest moment coming when a man is strapped to a chair and asked to answer questions about American history. For every wrong answer, his wife, attached to a drawn and quartering device, is stretched out inch by inch. Even the students aren't without consequence as they're killed when they attempt to help out members of the illegal immigrant group.

Things come to a head (literally) when Travis, who's heavily sedated, is forced to swing a bat adorned with nails into a pinata. The only problem? The pinata is filled with one of his friends. It's brutal and absolutely sickening. When he comes to and realizes what it is that he's done, he makes a last ditch effort with the surviving members of the crew to break free and get out.

This one is hard to stomach and get through folks. It feels like a ripped from the pages type of a story. Next to the psychological, this is the other type of genre film that gets to me the most. Steeped in realism, Undocumented will shake your core.

Cortez the Killer

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Kids Go To The Woods...Kids Get Dead (2009)

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

The title pretty much says it all. Laden with genre tropes and unbearably awful dialogue, the film falls flat on every level and begs the question: 'Do we REALLY need more films like this?' This isn't even fun in an oh so good it's bad way. It's not even the type of film that you can say is an admirable effort because the creators appear to wear their influences on their sleeves or are true fans of the genre. I'm not making judgements here and I'm sure they are (the title cards, credits and artwork are reminiscent of Friday the 13th). This film is just painfully dull and boring. It's paint by numbers horror and it's insulting.

Do I really need to get into a synopsis? I mean the title says it all, right? OK, if I must for some sort of reviewer integrity. A group of kids (cliche riddled to the bone) head out to the woods. They party, drink and have sex. A killer is stalking them. He sounds like Darth Vader and looks like the killer from My Bloody Valentine. A 'twist' is introduced which is supposed to be inventive, I guess, but it just comes off as lazy and contrived (much like the entire effort).

And really that's all I can muster with regards to plot. The sex, dick and fart jokes aren't funny in the least. And curse words are thrown around like a middle schooler thinking it's neat-o. As a matter of fact, I'm pretty sure a middle schooler (or someone that didn't progress past the 5th grade) wrote the dialogue and script.

Look, you know I love a good cheese and sleaze fest. But when are filmmakers going to learn that throwing together these types of tropes and not even paying mind to things like witty dialogue or interesting kills (the film can't even get that right) is an instant recipe for disaster? And I don't even want to hear the recent argument of 'Well it's a --insert genre staple here________-- movie. What did you expect?' This is becoming a prevalent cop-out and ignores one simple film making truth: you should still strive to make a decent film.

If you're feeling masochistic, you can check the film out for free through the end of the month via its website. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Horrible Way To Die (2010)

Fear 3/5
Gore 3/5
Entertainment 4/5
Creepiness 2/5

A Horrible Way to Die is an interesting character study. Our main characters are a serial killer who's escaped police custody and his girlfriend, a recovering alcoholic who's frailty becomes her own undoing. But before I get into the specifics, based on the title alone and what folks may perceive, there isn't a whole lot of blood and guts here (at least not until the end). This is a film squarely focused on its characters rather than the gore and grue. So if you go in expecting a full on splatterfest, you're going to be severely disappointed.

Still with me? Said serial killer (played by my favorite genre actor working today, AJ Bowen), is introduced at the onset of our film. He's kidnapped a girl and taken her out to the countryside where she is strangled. He takes off in her car and for the vast majority of the rest of the film, we see him as he narrowly escapes being caught by police (which are now involved in an all-out manhunt) and various flashbacks that fill in the pieces from his previous life.

We are then introduced to Sarah, at first a quiet and reserved early 30's woman who's battling a severe addiction to alcohol. It takes awhile for her to get warmed to the idea of revealing details about her life during her AA meetings. Helping to kind of prod her along, is another man in the group which is obviously fond of her. It becomes apparent that she can not take care of herself and she eventually latches on to him.

They then begin to form a relationship and soon gain one another's trust. She tells him about her former boyfriend and how she came to find out who he really was. Before this, in our flashback sequences (the film jumps all over in terms of timelines), we see this normal, everyday couple on display although Sarah is more oftentimes than not, drunk. It's not until Sarah catches her boyfriend wandering out late at night (usually she's passed out, not even knowing that he's gone) that she becomes a little suspicious. One night, she follows him out and stops at a storage unit. What she finds is terrifying and ultimately, she's the one that reveals his dark secret and does him in.

Along his way, our killer can't stop himself from killing, even with the threat of police nearby. Things come to a head when Sarah learns that her coworker is dead and finally catches on to reports of her escaped ex. Her AA friend now turned lover offers a place to stay at his parent's cabin in the woods. She obliges and they both travel out. But we soon learn things are not as they seem and our film does a complete 180 from the course you think it's set for.

As mentioned, the film is a unique character study. Both of our main characters have addictions and the parallels are hard to miss. One is a killer, so compelled by his constant craving of the kill. The other, brought to constant struggle with a need for just one more drink, one more piece of relief. The ending may leave some folks puzzled but I thought it was an interesting twist. Regardless, if you are looking for something different than your average genre fare, you can't go wrong with A Horrible Way to Die.

Cortez the Killer

Monday, October 3, 2011

Episode 6 Of The Podcast Is All Up In Yo' Earhole!

In this episode of the podcast, I chat with writer/director Matt Osterman, the fantastic talent behind the independent thriller Phasma Ex Machina aka Ghost From The Machine. The film centers on a grieving you man who becomes obsessed with building a contraption which will hopefully bring back his dead parents. His at-all-costs focus is to his own detriment as he loses the respect and companionship of those around him. When a certain end is achieved, he learns that not everyone is meant to come back and there are some things you should leave well alone.

We talk about the idea behind the film and his fascination with the paranormal, his 'big' call from Hollywood, and we shoot the breeze on recent flicks we've watched.