Friday, March 30, 2012

Start Your Weekend Off Right With A Little Punk Infused Demonic Mayhem!

The fun and ghoulish punk rock short, aptly titled Night of The Punks, is now online and FREE to view. Start your weekend off right and get in the pit. Oi! oi! oi!


NIGHT OF THE PUNKS (2010) from DAN RIESSER / IRRATIONAL FILMS on Vimeo.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Top 5 Films That Will Not Play Well In Mixed Company

The most ardent of horror fans will tell you that they've been in this situation before: a group of friends come over for the night, the agenda being copious amounts of adult beverages, films, and of course, a good time. Sometimes, the selection for that evening's entertainment turns toward the more macabre and they immediately turn to you, the resident expert and aficionado. They may say something like 'I want to see the most messed up thing you've got, something really nasty.' And you may think to yourself or say aloud, 'Um, no you don't.' They may press and say 'No film can be that bad' and you assure them that they can, trying not to get into specifics so that you don't reveal yourself for the true freak you are. You instead steer them to something that's more palatable, something that's both fun and scary but has hardly the chance to shatter a soul or make one search for the nearest bottle of bleach to wash out their eyeballs.

But if they begin to make headway, if they inch you closer to making you say 'Alright already, shut the fuck up, I'll put something on', here are the top 5 films you should think twice about. Trust me, just reach for your copy of Halloween, A Nightmare on Elm Street, or The Evil Dead and pop one of those in instead. You'll be better off.

Warning: this list may contain spoilers.

5. Martyrs- You just might be able to get by with this one because there is an existential and thoughtful nature to it. Oh who the hell am I kidding? Within the first part of the film there is a shotgun slaughtering of a family. From then, a gruesome discovery of a fucked up house of horrors complete with women who've had their orifices sewn shut. To top it all off, one of our leading ladies is tortured and sees the outer layer of skin removed from almost her entire body.


4. Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom- Torture: check. Sodomy: check. Forced feast of fecal matter: check. Branding, scalping, tongues and eyeballs removed: discount double check. Four Italian powers that be kidnap 18 men and women. Along with a handful of prostitutes, they are forced to do or partake in the above shameful things and more. Artistic merits aside, this is not a film for average Joe Friday movie goer.


3. The Bunny Game- While I find this to be a fantastic piece of art and a rewarding film experience, your average film going, 'I love explosions go BOOM' Michael Bay loving friends more than likely won't. In fact, they probably won't get through the first 15 minutes. A prostitute in Los Angeles gets tossed around from client to client like a used hypodermic needle: from forceful fellatio to rough, almost rape-like sex, all is displayed in its gory glory. It's also her lucky day as she eventually runs into a truck driver who takes her out to the California desert where a never ending barrage of torture occurs over the course of a few days.


2. Family Portraits: A Trilogy of America- This is the most fucked up anthology I've ever seen. All of the stories are character studies about people who are hiding from painful pasts or dealing with current existences that are particularly difficult. The most messed up of which, a woman who's husband has lost all affection and sexual lust for her, goes to great lengths just to get him to pay attention to her. She goes off the deep end one day when she finds out what he's doing with their son. The coup de grace? She takes a pair of scissors to her lips, in his guilt, the husband has sex with her blood smeared body and mid-orgasm, he takes a pair of garden sheers, cuts of her nipples and then his own penis. AND THAT'S ONLY THE FIRST 1/3 OF THE FILM.


1. Cannibal Holocaust- There just might be one of your friends that says 'Hey, I heard the whole found footage thing kind of started with this flick. I want to see it.' Just show this asshole the film when your other friends aren't around and save him the embarrassment of being in the fetal position on the couch for the vast majority of it. What is there to say about this film that hasn't already been said or barfed into a trash receptacle? The phallic shaped stone rape and bludgeon scene as well as the final one of the film team being torn apart are forever seared into my brain.


Cortez the Killer

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Oregonian (2011)

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

Holy mighty mindfuck Batman! The Oregonian is one wild, acid trip of a ride. I can only recommend this film to those who enjoy more experimental, art house type of fare. Whereas a lot of films of this nature are mired in way too much abstract imagery, there is somewhat of an intelligible narrative here, no matter how bizarre and fucked up it is.

Lindsay Pulsipher plays our title character, a woman who seems to be on the outs with someone in her life. Living in rural Oregon, she comes upon this man (we're not quite sure if it's husband, boyfriend or father), drunk and passed out in a barn which neighbors (presumably) the farmhouse they live in. One look of disgust and a hop into the car later, we're quickly taken to the scene of an accident no far from the home. And it's balls to the wall crazy form here on out.

Exiting the car and bleeding profusely from her head, the car blaring to the sounds of Pomp and Circumstance via the radio, she comes upon a man and what appears to be his young son, dead and only feet away from her smashed front end. Clearly dazed and with a look of shock, she walks off and heads down the road which is lined with trees on either side, stretching for as far as the eye can see.


She eventually makes her way into town and meets a strange man who has a penchant for stopping off, getting out of his rape van, and pissing all the colors of the Skittles rainbow. Seriously. He offers her a ride and then stops to pee and the scene plays out what feels like forever as different colors are spewed out of his peehole.

He then takes her back to his place where it's revealed that he has a love for omelets. And I can only describe that what transpires next as a complete acid trip as the woman moves from place to place and comes into contact with a masturbating guy in a fat Gumby outfit, a gang of hippies that look creepy as fuck and like to make daiquiris with gasoline, with interspersing flashback scenes of trouble at home which further paint the picture of a life in turmoil and a girl looking to get out. Has your head exploded yet?


Despite the weird, difficult to make sense of interactions, it's the imagery and sounds that you piece together which ultimately gives the film somewhat of a coherent point. The blaring of the car radio at the beginning coupled with the leaving of her home suggests the start of something new. The omelet obsessed, weird peeing guy, cracks some eggs and discards the shells, with prolonged attention being paid to them. This signifying (in my mind) that in order to start anew, well, sometimes you've gotta crack some eggs. The Gumby outfit guy and the gang of daiquiri loving hippies and their purpose is anyone's guess. Maybe they're just a part of the nightmare of trying to get out of her rough and tumble life or represents the chaos that comes with uprooting things. What to make of the man and son at the beginning, well, like other aspects, it's anyone's guess.

Again, I can only recommend this to folks that like their horror left of center with a heaping scoop of crazy. For me, it works (for the most part) because of the fact that it's just coherent enough to have a purpose without being completely mired in abstract imagery which leaves you feeling cheated or that it serves no purpose. For those that have seen it, what say yous?

Cortez the Killer

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Controversial Horror Masterpiece 'The Bunny Game' Has Finally Found A Home!

The controversial horror feature The Bunny Game was recently picked up by Autonomy Pictures for distribution. The film was banned in the UK last year and overall, it has traveled a long and winding road in finding the right (and open minded) company to distribute it.

The film itself focuses on a prostitute as she works the busy and mean streets of Los Angeles. It's a sort of 'day in the life of' beginning to our story that's very chaotic as she takes jobs, does drugs, and stops just long enough to inhale some food before starting all over again. Enter a stranger, a truck driver who appears to be nice enough at first but then reveals other intentions as he subdues her and takes her out to the California desert where he tortures and humiliates her over the course of a couple of days. But all of his actions are not without a purpose.

This shocking piece of cinema made its way onto my best of list for 2011 and it will become a favorite of those who enjoy more experimental and challenging horror fare. It's one of the most soul crushing film experiences I've ever had but an ultimately redeeming one as the entire ordeal plays out onscreen and comes to a shocking and purposeful climax. This isn't needless violence for the sake of needless violence.

Check out The Bunny Game when it's released through Autonomy Pictures in July, completely uncut. It is an experience like no other. Watch it. I dare you.

P.S. the trailer below is NSFW. For more information about the film, you can also check out the distributor's website: http://www.autonomypics.com/

Cortez the Killer


Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Gruesome Death of Tommy Pistol (2010)

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

I really don't understand how some filmmakers, when everything is said and done, can't objectively step back from their work and see it for what it is and decide not to release it upon an unsuspecting public. Of course, I'm talking about a work that is an exceptional piece of shit. For the life of me, I don't understand how films like this are conceived and so ill produced. This is the kind of film that makes me want to stop watching horror altogether and give up writing a blog. Jesus Christ this is a monumental achievement in idiocy and total ineptness. If someone tells me 'Well that's how it's supposed to be' or that I didn't 'get' it or some other lazy, bullshit cop out excuse, my head will explode.

Writing a review for this travesty will be just as much of a chore as sitting through it. Tommy is a loser. He wants to really be an actor. His girlfriend tells him he's a good for nothing, broke joke, and that she's leaving him for good. But he'll be damned if he listens to her and sets out to 'make it big.' Within the first 10 minutes of this film you are already incredibly annoyed by the poor dialogue, over the top delivery, and the 'I want to put my fist through them' stupid characters.


So Tommy sets out, taking a train trip, and taking up momentary residence in a seedy motel that's run by a middle eastern guy. Played by an actor painted in black face and with someone's shaved pubes affixed to his face, the performance is both irritating and highly offensive. Obviously, I can take gross humor and it takes a lot to offend me (I mean I DO write for a horror blog) but this was just completely unfunny in every way possible. A particular scene where the middle eastern proprietor and Tommy interact and he spouts off gay jokes is insulting and it completely encapsulates the entirety of the film. This film is a complete insult to viewers and horror fans everywhere. I digress.

Tommy responds to the ad the next day and thinks he's going to get the gig and be the star of the film. He's going to be the star alright. The star of an S&M styled porn flick but one that also incorporates a bit of snuff. Tommy gives an impassioned speech (read: insanely retarded) about how he's been waiting for this opportunity for a starring role his entire life. He's then shuffled off to a room where a woman is strapped to a gurney. The next scenes include deaths and mutilation by cheese graters and slap chops while some woman wails at irritating, ear drum piercing levels.It's like a 2nd rate A Serbian Film if that makes any sense whatsoever.


After feeling guilty, or wanting to get out of the 'biz (who the fuck knows at this point), Tommy decides to get a real honest gig, following around and being an assistant to actors on the set. And who does he have to be an errand running bitch to? One Mr. Arnold Schwarzenegger . I know what you might be thinking. Torture porn, death by appliances, and a celebrity impersonator of one of the greatest action stars of our generation, running around, and yukking it up for the camera. How can this NOT be good? Trust me please, it's not. If you don't believe me, I'll happily send you my screener copy of the film, FREE of charge and you can come back here and tell me that I'm elitist asshole who's wrong. Leave a comment with your info and I'll send you this not even worthy of a beer coaster film. But is this all a dream? Is this all really happening? Whoopty fucking do. Who cares?

I implore you, avoid this at all costs. Unless you want a case of tourette's and a strong need to punch a puppy.

*Planet of Terror in no way condones or supports animal cruelty. This is the feeling you'll get when you watch this film. It will drive you to want to hurt poor, defenseless, cute animals. I love dogs. And animals. I give on the regular to my local shelter.

Cortez the Killer

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Dead (2010)

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

There's a reason why I don't watch many zombie films: there's a glut of them and most are pretty mediocre. That's not to say I'm completely against the atrophied, feet shuffling, minions of the undead. There just hasn't been a whole lot to get excited about in recent years with regards to the sub-genre (outside of a little show called The Walking Dead). Enter The Dead, a film that promises to offer more and thoroughly deliver on that promise. While it contains some of the best cinematography and effects to ever grace a horror film, sadly, it's plagued by extremely thin characterizations. The film is also much too drawn out and repetitive.

Our film focuses much of its attention on a U.S. Air Force engineer and lieutenant who's involved with a peace keeping mission of sorts. He's also the sole survivor of recent airplane crash. You see, the plane along with the crew were trying to get the holy hell out of dodge when they came under the attack of a man who'd been bitten by, of course, a zombie. In the ensuing chaos, the plane lost control and crashed just off the coast of Africa.


Making his way back to shore after the crash, our lieutenant comes face to face with many a rotting limb-ed creature, fighting his way through and finding some arms and ammunition from dead soldiers and the cargo that had been jettisoned during the crash. It's in this initial encounter with the undead that we see just how incredible the makeup and practical effects are and it sets the stage for what we'll experience throughout. The 'look' of the zombies is nailed to perfection and they're some of the better ones to grace the home theater screen in recent memory.

Continuing on and then coming upon a ravaged village, he finds an old truck which he rigs and uses to make his way across the African desert. His destination isn't clear at first but it takes shape once he comes into contact with an African soldier. The background of the soldier isn't revealed (with regards to what side he sits on in this worn torn region) but his purpose is singular: to get to a ompound where his young son was supposedly taken to. From here on out our story repeats and repeats itself again as our two men stop to check out various locales along the way, first to explore an abandoned house and then a deserted outpost before eventually making their way to the place where the son is being safeguarded. As you can imagine, at each stop they run into an undead threat, have to fend it off, and quickly jump into their vehicle and head back out.

It is in these moments of traveling from one destination to the next where the film could have really benefited from giving the characters more depth. Some internal monologue or a prolonged conversation between the two men would have worked wonders. Something, anything that would reveal how they were feeling or what sense they were trying to make of the whole situation. There were some flashbacks about the life the lieutenant was hoping to get back to at home but outside of that, we don't know much more about these men or how the events were affecting their mental state.

Still, the film is worth a watch and if you are needing a zombie flick fix, you could do a lot worse. It's just not one that I'd revisit anytime soon despite its technical achievements which are truly incredible. I really wish there was more depth of character here and not so much of a repetitious nature to the proceedings.

Cortez the Killer

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Check Out The All Things Horror Podcast!

Fellow champions of independent horror, All Things Horror, have recently posted their first podcast which just so happens to include yours truly. In it, we talk about the absolute mind fuck of a feature, the fantastic British thriller Kill List. Combining elements of crime drama and horror, it's a unique feature which will stick with you for days.

Check out the podcast over yonder (and follow these fines dudes if you don't already):

http://www.allthingshorroronline.net/2012/03/hey-kids-its-all-things-horror-podcast.html

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Nailbiter (2012)

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

Nailbiter is a hearken back to the monster movie. Not the Roger Corman goofy, man in a suit movie mind you, as this one is anything but. Rather, the type of monster film that is actually scary.There is real fear here, one that starts with the threat of mother nature but ends with another. Ironically, it's conceived by mother nature but it is something far more pervasive than a passing storm. And in the center of it all, is an innocent family which is completely undeserving of the brutal horrors it is set to encounter.

Our film begins with an introduction the Maguire family. Mom's a recovering alcoholic, currently caring and providing for her three daughters all of which are fairly close in age. Mom doesn't know how she'll readjust to a new life as dad is coming home soon from an overseas deployment. She's presently lived a life giving off the perception that all is well when in fact she's dealing with personal demons and attending AA meetings. She's anxious to see her husband but afraid of what he might make of his wife who is anything but perfect.

The four set out on a trip into town to pick up dear ol' dad despite news warnings of a strong storm set to roll through. Stopping for gas along the way, the newest deputy in town advises them to take shelter, that this storm is so fast approaching that they won't be able to turn around and make it back home in time. Mom doesn't pay heed to his plea and she sets back out onto the country road. Sure enough, the storm catches up and they're forced off, exiting stage left from the motor vehicle, and running for cover. They soon come upon what appears to be an abandoned house. Mom pries the lock off the basement door and the family promptly makes their way inside.


As the storm passes through, a tree is uprooted and strewn across the basement door, trapping the family inside. Cell phone calls can't be made and a bit of panic sets in. More alarming, are the rustling sounds from upstairs and the strong sense that whatever is above them doesn't want them to leave. Even more troubling, are the strange animal-like noises coming from inside the basement. When one of the daughters tries to climb out through a small block window, she's immediately attacked by some sort of creature. The perceived threat is now actually very real and whatever it is that doesn't want them out really doesn't want them out as the only remaining exit is quickly boarded up.

A little more light is shed on the home and it's inhabitants as the deputy in town surveys the area after the storm and finds the family's abandoned car. He makes his way to the home and knocks on the door, being familiarly greeted by the head of the household. An old woman let's him in and they start a bit of informal chit chat until the deputy turns the subject to the abandoned car and missing family. The woman plays dumb and just when the deputy is about to press a little more, the sheriff shows up to the house and instructs him to go on and keep surveying the area. A chilling scene follows as the old woman talks to the sheriff about the 'nice' family and it's a 'shame' that they'll be disposed of shortly. It is then that we get a glimpse of our monsters, ugly mutant-like creatures that are heavily aroused by the rumblings of another oncoming storm.


Our family in the basement soon comes face to face with the monsters themselves and it's a mad fight for survival to fend off the flesh hungry beasts. A final standoff ensues with the home's inhabitants when they make their way out. And just when they think they're in the clear, a startling realization comes as they see that threat expands well beyond the boarders of the secluded home.

Nailbiter is a unique monster film that does a phenomenal job of balancing the monster that mother nature can be with that which can be very real or physical. The build to the monster's reveal is fantastic, preying on the mind of the viewer with every grunt, rustle and clawing sound which is wonderfully pulled off in the sound design. My only gripe with the film is the soundtrack which is deployed in excess and cuts through some of the atmosphere and tension building moments.

Minor quibbles aside, Nailbiter is everything a solid horror film should be: scary, bloody, and downright horrifying. Keep your peepers peeled for this one.

P.S. What is it about the National Weather Service radio broadcast that is just so damn creepy? Check out the trailer if you have no idea what I'm talking about.

For more information about the film, check out its website: http://www.nailbitermovie.com/

Cortez the Killer

Monday, March 5, 2012

ATM (2012)

Fear 2/5
Gore 1/5
Entertainment 2/5
Creepiness 1/5

I should have known better. All the warning signs were there: young, white, douchey, twenty-somethings, find themselves trapped by a masked killer, making dumb decision after dumb decision. I have only myself to blame. But long-time followers know my penchant for watching really terrible slashers and loving the holy hell out of them. Alas, they are my kryptonite. But this one, while the premise is pulled off decently enough (I mean really, who gets trapped in an ATM?), the film asks way too much of the viewer to accept. Not to mention it completely throws all sense and rationale out the window.

Tweedledee and Tweedledum (Corey and David) are two investor banking buddies. Corey is the requisite douchebag extreme and David is the good guy but still annoying as all get-out. David and Corey talk about that night's festivities, an office Christmas party at a co-worker's house. Corey tells David it's time to grow a pair and ask the office assistant he's been ogling over the past few months out as 1) she's leaving for a new job soon and 2) everyone gets smashed at work X-mas parties so it's perfect timing for acting stupid and trying to get into her knickers.


So party time commences that night and after mingling with some more douchey whiteys (apparently people of other ethnic origin are not hired at their place of employment, either that or janitors weren't welcome to the party), David decides to leave. On the way out, he thinks it the perfect opportunity to ask the office assistant if she needs a ride home and she happily obliges. But he's stuck with also giving Corey McDoucheypants a ride home too because he's way too smashed to drive himself.

Our trio of ridiculously good looking white kids head out into the late night but Corey soon pleads for a midnight snack before he's dropped off. He convinces David to stop at a local pizza joint but before they do so, he needs to stop at an ATM to pull out an Andrew Jackson. Hence the impetus behind our triple threat of idiots being trapped, stalked, and terrorized by a parka sporting killer.


But just how they get themselves (all 3 mind you as it's just Corey who needs to get some dough) stuck in the ATM is just altogether silly. Corey, still drunk coaxes David into coming inside. Seems his magnetic strip (which mysteriously got him into the ATM booth in the first place) is not working and he needs David to pull out some dinero. Ditzy McGee decides she doesn't want to stay in the car and heads inside the ATM to find Tweedledee and Tweedledum squabbling like school kids. Money is pulled out and just as they leave, they see the figure which will serve as their nightmare for the next few hours.

And from here on out it's pretty much a cat and mouse game as they try to escape the confines of the now freezing ATM. People get killed along the way (first a passerby and then a mall cop) and it leads to one big finale where way too much is asked of the viewer to accept with it's 'shocking' conclusion. I won't play the spoils here. Just trust me. And oh boy, the random, laughable, love scene in the middle of all the madness was Anakin on Naboo funny.

Cortez the Killer

Friday, March 2, 2012

Take Shelter (2011)

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

Take Shelter is the most emotionally moving film watching experience I've had thus far this year. While not technically a horror film (it does have some scares and some genuinely terrifying moments), I do like to bring attention to some different films every now and then. This gripping story will keep you glued and anxiety riddled for much of its run time as you question the mental conditions of the central character and if he is, in fact, going completely out of his mind.

Curtis is a simple, blue collar family man. He has a loving wife and a special needs daughter, both of which adore him immensely. Despite the drain of being the sole provider, he doesn't complain about it despite comments from a co-worker who wonders aloud how he does it: manual labor at an essentially thankless job, being a loving husband and a caring father to a girl who needs special attention. None of that really seems to phase him and it becomes apparent that he is just as content as content can be with the life he is leading.


But things grow worrisome for him as he has recurring nightmares of a storm of the century, rolling through town, and creating havoc. In one of his dreams, he envisions his dog attacking him. Things start off subtly with regards to his metal faculties as he builds a fence enclosure and places the dog inside it along with a doghouse. At first, the wife questions it but doesn't worry too much when he claims it's just a dog and dogs belong outside. However, with his dreams growing in number and his night terrors becoming more violent (including instances of wetting the bed) his wife grows rightfully more concerned.

Despite advice from a doc to travel out of town to see a shrink, he instead visits a local counselor who doesn't do much to ease his mind. He later makes a trip out to his elderly mother who's living in an assisted living facility. Upon visiting her, we are painted a much bigger picture. One of mental illness and fears that he himself may be headed down the same path that claimed his mother.


Things come to a boiling point when he takes out a loan against his home to improve his storm shelter out back, tricking it up and putting all of the necessary safety features in place that will ensure the protection of his family should the 'big' one hit. Just when the townspeople have all called him crazy and his wife is at her wits end, a storm rolls through town and he thinks this is it. They take refuge in the shelter and despite his insistence that the big one is rolling through creating havoc, it is nowhere near as decimating as his mind had conceived. However, shortly thereafter, things come to a heartbreaking yet beautiful end. I won't say how but I will say that it will leave you in complete awe.

With fine acting propelling this feature, it really should have received some more notoriety within the film awards community. Anchored by wonderful performances from Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain, Take Shelter is an intense and gripping dramatic thriller. This is one to be celebrated and watched time and time again.

Cortez the Killer