Live Action Reviews! by Crystal Connor : The Field Guide to Evil

Plotline:

A feature-length anthology film. They are known as myths, lore, and folktales. Created to give logic to mankind’s darkest fears, these stories laid the foundation for what we now know as the horror genre.

Who would like it: People who love horror anthologies, foreign films, the dark side of folklore and horror shorts  

High Points: Diverse collection of stories from different parts of the world

Complaints: N/A

Overall: It’s really good, over all I am going to give it 4 ½ Stars!

Stars: By Segment…

DIE TRUD: A terrifying monster, known as the ‘Trud’, visits sinners in medieval Austria. In this female centric story, the sinner not only surrenders to (perceived) sin, but embraces the Trud.⠀3 Stars

AL KARISI: The shape-shifting demon mentioned in Armenian, Kurdish & Semitic folktales that appears in the form of an ugly old woman stealing newborn babies and haunting pregnant women in their nightmares. Specifically, women without a man by their side at night.⠀5 Stars

THE KINDLER AND THE VIRGIN: In the forest of Poland a kindler meets a ghost-like virgin. To thank him for the fact that he carried her to the village on his back she shares a secret on how to avoid the law. He must dig out 3 freshly buried bodies and eat their hearts and he will never be guilty. 3 ½ Stars

MELON HEADS: A Midwestern legend. Melon Heads is the name given to legendary beings and urban legends in parts of Michigan, Ohio, and Connecticut generally described as small humanoids with bulbous heads, theorized in the 1970s, who occasionally emerge from hiding places to attack people. 2.8 Stars

WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO PANAGAS THE PAGAN: The kallikantzaros is a malevolent goblin that dwells underground sawing the world tree all year so that it will collapse, along with the Earth. According to Greek folklore, when they are about to saw the final part, Christmas dawns and they are able to come to the surface to bring trouble to mortals. On January 6th, when the sun ceases its seasonal movement, they must return underground to continue sawing for the world tree has since healed itself. 4 Stars

PALACE OF HORRORS: A circus agent is lead to the depths of the jungles of Bengal to the ruins of an old palace where human curiosities were once kept. They try to convince the caretaker to sell them the malformed people.⠀2 ½ Stars

A NOCTURNAL BREATH: A brother and sister live in a remote area of Germany. Their livestock is infected with the plague, which is spread by a rat-like ‘drude’ that swaps between human hosts. 5 Stars

THE COBBLERS’ LOT: Loosely based on Hungarian folklore. It is originally known as ‘The Princess’ Curse’ and told here as the tale of fraternal shoemakers competing for the hand of the king’s daughter from a neighboring kingdom amid fetishism and the perils of the libido. 5 Stars (My personal favorite!)

Where I watched it: VOD

***

Master Imaginationist and Instagram photographer Crystal Connor is the Chief Imagineer working for the Department of Sleep Prevention’s Nightmare Division. A Washington State native she loves anything to do with monsters, bad guys (as in evil-geniuses & super-villains.  Not ‘those’ kind her mother warned her about), rogue scientific experiments, jewelry, sky-high high-heeled shoes & unreasonably priced handbags.

When she’s not terrorizing her fans and racking up frequent flyers miles by gallivanting all over the country attending fan conventions and writer’s conferences she reviews indie horror and science fiction films for both her personal blog and HorrorAddicts.net

She is also considering changing her professional title to dramatization specialist because it so much more theatrical than being a mere drama queen.

http://wordsmithcrystalconnor.com

http://www.facebook.com/notesfromtheauthor

Download your free copy of …And They All Lived Happily Ever After! from Podiobooks.com and see why the name Crystal Connor has become “A Trusted Name in Terror!” 

http://podiobooks.com/title/and-they-all-lived-happily-ever-after

Live Action Reviews! By Crystal Connor: Welcome to Mercy

 

Master Imaginationist and Instagram photographer Crystal Connor is the Chief Imagineer working for the Department of Sleep Prevention’s Nightmare Division. A Washington State native she loves anything to do with monsters, bad guys (as in evil-geniuses & super-villains.  Not ‘those’ kind her mother warned her about), rogue scientific experiments, jewelry, sky-high high-heeled shoes & unreasonably priced handbags.

Movie Review: Within the Darkness

Movie Review: Within the Darkness

Within the Darkness is a horror movie written for those who love horror movies. It features a deeply rooted appreciation for the genre and uses the clichés to offer a fresh perspective interlaced with satisfying suspense. Horror Addicts will enjoy the scares, laughs, and twists. It is a special delight for those who are familiar with what has come before in the universe of haunted horror.

Something terrible happened at the Hewitt House. To this day, the ghostly inhabitants act out their tragic demises in an endless loop. For Austin (Dave Coyne), this provides the perfect opportunity.

Austin wants to make it big in Hollywood and he thinks he knows how to do it: a ghost hunting show. The Hewitt House provides the spooky backdrop, but Austin doesn’t believe anything will really happen, so he rigs the results, setting traps in the house to mimic a haunting. He’s helped by his girlfriend Lucy (Erin Nicole Cline) and a crew of skeptics.

But when a psychic medium, Meagan (Shanna Forrestall), arrives to help with the investigation, unexplainable things begin to happen. The crew descends into madness and the viewer asks: what’s really happening at the Hewitt House?

Within the Darkness is a self-aware horror film. The creators were familiar with the genre tropes and embraced them in order to use them in unexpected ways. From jump scares to psychological horror to paranormal events, they play the viewers expectations from start to finish. If you think you’ve seen it all in horror, Within the Darkness just might surprise you.

The Hewitt House has all the makings of a classic horror haunt, complete with long hallways, too many stairs, suspiciously creaky doors, and a lake dock just begging someone to come swim for all eternity. There’s no end to the shadows where danger lurks. Yet in the daylight, the house is a charming suburban fixture, seemingly too young to host anything evil. In a masterful understanding of the genre, Within the Darkness portrays the Hewitt House as quiet enough in the day to make the characters feel like they must have let their imaginations slip after dark.

The film’s central conflict is between ambitious and irreverent Austin and his girlfriend Lucy, who is more inclined to respect powers beyond her control. Their opposing opinions on the house and what exactly is going on inside tear a rift in the crew and amp up the tension as events escalate. Add in terrifying hallucinations and a host of spooky events and the crew stands all on edge.

While Within the Darkness employs a variety of disturbing imagery, one scene in particular stood out. Between excellent acting on the part of Jessie (Tonya Kay) and well-edited shots, Within the Darkness created a truly creepy illusion that stuck with me long after the movie ended.

At times, Within the Darkness takes comedic turns, barging into the territory of the absurd. This puts it in similar categories as Scary Movie, though without the cheap pop culture references. It shows a developed understanding of horror films and pokes fun at themes that are often overdone.

In general, I think of this as a parody movie that manages to sneak in some good suspense and horror between the satirical commentaries. Fans of horror who don’t take anything too seriously will enjoy this. It still has the spooky chops for those looking for a bit of fright in their night.

Movie Review: Apocalypsis

Movie Review: Apocalypsis

Welcome to a world where every conspiracy theory you’ve ever heard seems entirely real.

Apocalypsis introduces a world like our own, but which has followed a much darker path. The American government has implemented an ambitious project of surveillance and control. Most of the population is “chipped”—implanted with RFID devices that allow the government to monitor their activities. Cameras and drones are everywhere and AI tracks the population through facial recognition. Anyone who fights back is a target.

Evelyn and Michael are two such people.

Evelyn (Maria Bruun) is a deeply religious woman who draws her strength from her orthodox faith. She strives to help everyone in need, especially the downtrodden. In her quest for increased enlightenment, she experiences distressing apocalyptic visions while studying the book of Revelation. She sees the End Times in the world around her and becomes determined to act before it’s too late.

Michael (Chris O’Leary), a man with no faith, fights the increasing government control using technology and activism. He seeks to enlighten the populace and save them from themselves if he can. However, Michael knows he’s a hunted man and he wavers between going off the grid to save himself and risking everything to free society.

The film explores the relationship between Evelyn and Michael and their differing approaches to changing the world. Their common goals bring them together, but fundamental differences and deep-seated paranoia threaten to rip the friends apart. All of this take place against a high stakes background that keeps the audience guessing what the heroes can really do and what the final stakes will be.

Apocalypsis takes place in New York, where there are a million places to hide, but no real assurance that any of them are safe. In the city, people are everywhere and it’s impossible to know which ones can be trusted. The setting suggests a near future, where America is a hairsbreadth from martial law and every conspiracy theory you’ve ever heard is taken as absolute fact. You are being watched. You are in danger. The stakes have never been higher.

Michael takes the audience into the nooks and crannies of the city, where he hides like a rat and thinks like one too—survival always foremost on his mind. He showcases the modern side of the city, the underground tunnels and back alleys where he hides from sight, always in the dark, using his computer to fight for him.

Evelyn walks the streets of the most needy, reaching out everywhere she can. The moments of peace that she encounters are within the walls of her orthodox church. There she finds solace in something bigger than herself, a divine benevolent ruler at odds with the paranoid government that rules her on Earth.

Director Eric Leiser takes an artistic approach with the camera. Flashing imagery and overlaying shots create a surreal atmosphere. Evelyn’s visions of the apocalypse are animated, casting a sharp contrast from the rest of the film and heightening the feeling that they are unlike anything that she has seen before.

Apocalypsis delves into the question of religion versus action and what really creates a “good” person. What role does faith play in motivating someone to take action? Evelyn has her faith and good intentions, but is that enough? Does Michael’s single-minded purpose blind him to harm that he may be causing with his zeal?

Apocalypsis is a horror think piece, delving into dystopian and science fiction genres. There isn’t any overt gore or jump scares. Rather, the horror manifests as a lingering sense of dread as you wait to see what happens to the characters and their world. All the while, you question how far Apocalypsis really is from our world right now.

Movie Review: Wastelander

In a post-apocalyptic world, what remains of the human race clings to life in a vast, desert wasteland. A rampant slave trade, gangs of cybernetic bandits, and sinister warlords plague the land. Rhyous (Brendan Guy Murphy), a lone fighter, searches for Eden, where the remnants of civilization are rumored to remain. Taunted by incomplete memories of pre-war society, Rhyous fights the urge to succumb to savagery and greed, even as he must fight to stay alive.

Wastelander follows Rhyous in his search for Eden and takes us through the last dregs of humanity. The movie is an action filled romp, a la Mad Max. The overarching theme about finding humanity—whether by returning to the old or blazing a new way—ties rival groups together and pushes them apart. Greed and survival fuel ganglands style wars where the price of any misstep is death. Still, slivers of humanity peek through scenes of violence, as Rhyous shows the kind of compassion that seems to have gone extinct.

Rhyous is paired with tough-as-nails Neve (Carol Cardenas), a former slave who doesn’t back down in the face of a fight. Neve humanizes Rhyous in a surprising way, bringing out a protective quality, when Neve isn’t exactly a damsel in distress.

The fight scenes are creative and well choreographed, blending seamlessly into the violent landscape. A mixture of weapon types and fighting styles ensure that no battle is quite like the others.

Creators designed a full and engaging world for Wastelander . Pop culture advertisements linger in the most unlikely places long after the end of the world had come and gone, giving a fascinating look into the time before the wastes. The story has some creative high points when examining what it might mean for humanity to lose all knowledge of the world from before (“What’s ‘years’?”). The costumes offer a glimpse of how humanity would make the best of what resources were left. The film had a clear aesthetic style with regard to post-apocalyptic fashion. Creators merged functional items with a unique style that set the stage without saying a word. They did a lot with seemingly very little, using details to distinguish from the everyday.

The cinematography in Wastelander  fits well with the grim world it portrays. The desert landscape and lighting create a vision of stark lights and darks, much like the ‘rule or be ruled’ morality of the world portrayed. Any escape from the environment brings danger because if any resource is available, survivors can bet that someone else found it first. The film makes creative use of sets and props to find interesting ways to show characters interacting with their world.

Wastelander is a great blend of the action and science fiction genres, with elements of horror throughout. It has a violent edge, so it may not be for all viewers, but the concept and world building are worth experiencing.

Kidnapped Week! Top 5 Favorite B-Rated Horror Movies

 

Horror is one of the very few genres of movies that can encompass almost all other genres. While some horror movies are a classic in their own right, there are thousands of cheesy horror movies that I just can’t get enough of. Today, I’ll be listing my top 5 favorite B-Horror rated movies. If you don’t know what a B-rated horror movie is, it is horror movies that are straight to DVD, that are so bad its good, and leaves you laughing more than frightened. A few examples are Sharknado, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, and other funny-scary movies such as these.

Now, this list is just my opinion, so if you have other favorites, feel free to let me know!

#5 – Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988).

I absolutely adore this movie! I fell in love with it when I was around ten years old. I was spending the night with one of my friends and we ended up watching it. I personally have never been afraid of clowns so I knew going into this movie that it wouldn’t be scary to me. If you love aliens, clowns, people being killed by cotton candy, then you’ll love this flick!

#4 – Slither (2006).

I remember seeing this movie my freshman year of high school in theater. At first watch, I was super confused and didn’t like it. When I re-watched it a few years ago, I regretted my earlier sentiment. This movie is balls-to-the-wall funny, crazy, and just an all around good time.

#3 – My Name Is Bruce (2007).

This movie is very groovy. I will watch anything Bruce Campbell makes, no matter how stupid it is. I fell in love with Bruce when I watched Evil Dead (1981). Yes, that’s technically a B-rated horror movie as well but I am focusing on funny-stupid movies for this list. If you love Evil Dead, Bruce Campbell, or neither, it doesn’t matter. you’ll love this movie.

#2 – Leprechaun in the Hood (2000).

It’s sassy, gangster, and fantastic. If you love any Leprechaun, Jason, Freddy, or any other “classic” horror movies that have so many sequels that you can’t keep up, I’d start with this one. This is my favorite of the entire series. After you watch it, trust me, it’ll be yours too.

#1 – Thankskilling (2009).

If you thought that Thanksgiving (American) was a safe time of year, think again! A turkey has decided it is tired of its fellow turkey is getting slaughtered and takes matters into its own hands. Or, should I say, wings. This movie if so stupid, its great. It is my go-to Thanksgiving movie and I watch it every year to bring in the holiday season.

Thanks for reading, guys! Please let me know your favorite B-rated horror movie. Let’s get a discussion going.

Until next time, stay scared.

Kenzie

 

********

 Kenzie is a young author who strives to create truly scary stories. Kenzie has been obsessed with the horror genre for as long as she’s been able to read. She has written numerous short stories as well as working on a novel.  She can be found watching horror movies with her pup. To find out more, go to: kenziekordic.comtwitter.com/kenziekordic, or facebook.com/kenziekordic.

Archer’s Review

Leaving D.C. (2012)

I’ve always been a sucker for found footage films. Ever since success of The Blair Witch Project in 1999, this previously unknown genre of movie has exploded into something of a cabin industry for aspiring filmmakers. The medium allows for a compelling, engaging, and even frightening story to be told on a shoestring budget with a skeleton crew of characters. The production values don’t really matter because our expectations are already lowered given the premise that the footage has been cobbled together from mass produced, portable media that are almost as ubiquitous as Masters Degrees.

That doesn’t mean that they are always of lower quality. Cloverfield, Troll Hunter, V/H/S, and Grave Encounters are all proof that you don’t need the backing of a big Hollywood studio to create a visually compelling, high quality movie. 

But for every good found footage movie, there are dozens of catastrophic flops at the opposite end of the spectrum – bottom dwelling parasites that feed off the success of fish that don’t belong in the same ocean. Like a lamprey attacking a hamster. These include such disasters as Unaware, Archivo 253, andThe Presence, a movie whose characters were so thoroughly stupid, annoying, and unlikeable that I seriously considered ordering Rosetta Stone – German just so I could travel to Lichtenstein and murder everyone involved in its production without attracting undue attention to myself as a foreigner and non-native speaker. 

When I came across Leaving D.C., I almost passed it up, the thumbnail for this movie was of such low quality. The cover photo looked like it might have been snapped with a first generation flip phone and edited on a Commodore 64. If this (click here) was all the marketing effort that was put into the visual click bait, I couldn’t imagine how bad the footage was going to be. To this day, I still don’t know why I gave it a chance. 

I needn’t have worried. From the beginning, the movie held promise of something special. The opening scene consists of the main (and really, only) character driving up a country road in the middle of the night looking for a house he had rented. His narration of his journey is relatively mundane – he wonders aloud if he has missed a turn, reassures himself that he must be on the right track since there are still power lines following the road, and talks the viewer through his observations as he eventually tracks the place down. Sound super boring, I know. You’re probably thinking, “What was noteworthy about that? If that’s your idea of gripping commentary or a compelling premise, I can’t imagine what the rest of this snoozer will be like.” But that’s just the thing. The writing in this movie is actually very good for what it is trying to convey: the real-time thought processes of a middle-aged telecommuting professional who has escaped the over stimulating city life of the nation’s capital (hence, the title) and is documenting his first (and last?) days settling in to his new home in the country.

There is something genuinely likeable about the main character. He’s someone we all know. He’s the 40-something coworker who asks you about your weekend in the break room and secretly hopes you’ll reciprocate by being genuinely interested in how his weekend was. He’s not in great shape, but then who in their mid-40s is? He lives a routine existence as a technical writer with the personality to prove it. 

It is through the lens of this rather avuncular guide that our story unfolds. The protagonist, Mark Klein, keeps a video journal of his new adventure and sends installments to his OCD-support group back in the city. The whole OCD angle does not ever get much traction and is not worked into the story in any way other than as a vehicle through which our hero’s footage is “found.” Given that most people with middle-of-the-road-OCD live relatively normal lives, this didn’t bother me but it seemed like an unnecessary detail. 

Mark gives a walking tour of the inside of his new residence, a sprawling two-story country home that has been on the market for over a year and a half for what we come to learn are ominous circumstances regarding the previous occupants’ mental illness and possible suicide. There’s nothing particularly ominous or unsettling about the house, but on his first foray into the woods around his property, we start to get hints that maybe he is not as secluded as he had imagined. 

Anyway, he finds himself awakened in the night by an inhuman scream and upon failing to find what made the sound after an exhaustive internet search, he decides to leave a digital recorder on his windowsill to capture the sound in the event that it happens again. 

The tension of the movie builds up as Mark routinely starts each day by downloading the previous night’s recordings onto his computer and going through – in real time – the occasional peaks that occur among the cicadas, crickets, rainfall, planes, and other sounds of nature that comprise his new world. 

Mark continues to try to get to the bottom of what is happening on and around his property, going so far as to purchase motion-detector cameras and even inviting a potential crush – a fellow OCD support group member named Claire – to spend a couple of nights with him (GO MARK!! If this secluded country house with a questionable past is rockin’ don’t come a-knockin’!). 

Claire’s not much help, but the cameras are able to capture…well…something. It’s not ever really clear what some of the images are, but that’s in keeping with the ambiguities of the audio recordings, so it keeps the plot line moving along as the viewer wonders just what the hell is going on – particularly when the (outside) cameras start taking pictures in places they shouldn’t be. Add to that the introduction of music coming from somewhere in the woods and the sense that this is a more human or humanoid entity increases the apprehension and anticipation.

Now given how much I’ve been pumping this movie up about the character, dialogue, and buildup of tension, you may be wondering why not a higher recommendation? Well, as the movie progressed, I realized that I still didn’t have any real idea of what was going on (as of the last paragraph we were at about minute 65 of the total 77 minute movie length) and I started to get a little panicky. In fact, with each passing minute I found myself pausing the movie to check the time stamp, hoping for some sort of crescendo or climax. But it just didn’t happen. Here’s the sequence of my conversation with the television during the final ten minutes of the movie:

1:06:15 – “Come on, let’s get a move on! Something needs to happen soon!”

1:08:06 – “Seriously, now! We don’t have a hell of a lot of time left.”

1:10:01 – “Yes, yes. I know! Very spooky and mysterious – now get to the point. What

                  the fuck IS it?!!”

1:11:42 – “Heloooooo???? Movie!!! I’m over here! When are you gonna reveal what’s

                 going on?”

1:12:52 – “Jesus FUCK!! You’ve got like four minutes left!”

1:12:59 – “And that doesn’t include credits! AAAAGGGGHHHH!!!”

1:14:04 – “There’s no way any ending is going to be good enough to justify this much of                    a wait. Please, God. Please, don’t let it suck.”

1:16:06 – “No! No NO NONONONONONONOOOOO!!! Are you fucking kidding me?!!”

1:16:20 – [Stunned silence as credits roll]

Not since No Country For Old Men have I witnessed such an anticlimactic ending. And while NCFOMcould be forgiven because the rest of the movie was so fantastic and provided enough back story and character development to buoy its rather abrupt conclusion, Leaving D.C. does not have that luxury. It lost at least two bloody cleaver ratings for that downer of a finish and I can’t say I wasn’t disappointed by the end, but I refuse to let that take away from my overall positive response prior to that. It had an engaging story line and a likeable protagonist who was thoughtful and deliberate in his approach to understanding his situation without doing anything remarkably stupid or reckless. The tension and mystery built reliably over the course of the film and despite its lack of action, it wasn’t boring. 

I may give another movie by Leaving’s director Joshua Criss another shot, but only if I can verify that he has taken some courses in the concept of Meaningful Closure from an accredited film school. 

Rating: 4.5/10

Troll Hunter

V/H/S

Grave Encounters

He is the harmless filler material of American life, talking us through his tour of his new house and property with the same candid enthusiasm he would use to narrate his vacation to The Parthenon in Greece or a visit to the National Mustard Museum in Middleton, Wisconsin. If he were a dog, he would be a Golden Retriever who dreamed of being a Bank of America branch manager. 

Encountering a cat skull nailed to a tree with some markings carved into the bark above it, he jokingly muses that any disruption in his schedule of sending video feeds might mean that he has ended up nailed to a tree himself. He’s a trooper, this Mark guy. Not blessed with a particularly poignant sense of humor, but a pragmatic optimist. A guy whose glass is half full with something he doesn’t really want – like Diet Mountain Dew, perhaps. Or Sweet Tea. 

Cat skull(?)

Three things to note here: (1) There are very few definitive sounds occurring on the recordings. What you hear on them is interpreted by Mark about as well as you yourself could interpret them. They are not supernatural sounds, but it’s unclear what is causing them, which nicely adds to the realism. (2) The sounds occur at roughly the same time each evening, which lends to them a sense of purpose and possibly intelligence. (3) The sounds are all experienced after the fact as none were loud enough to wake our main character and had already occurred hours earlier by the time we are introduced to them. This was one of the more spooky elements of the movie to me because whatever caused the sounds obviously has more than enough time to get closer, survey, plan, and attack undetected if it ever chose to.

No Trailer Available

You can only find this movie on Amazon Prime right now. If you can track down a trailer, send it to me. I’ll credit you in the review!