FRIGHTENING FLIX BY KBATZ: Witches and Demons!

Witches and Demons, Oh My!

By Kristin Battestella

It’s always the right time to beware of witches, spirit boards, divinations, and demons!

The Covington Witches – These two 2019 episodes combine for over an hour and a half of funerals, candles, rituals, witches, and tarot in an African American infused Philadelphia ripe for a horror tale. Clearly, this is a shoestring production with a forgivable low budget, uneven sound, okay lighting, and some amateur performances. However, the extremely tight camerawork not just cuts the proverbial corners but crops out half the picture – heads are cut off and viewers are left looking at a wall while people talk outside the frame. Unnecessary editing and location notations for every scene contribute to the cluttered feeling, and the barren design somehow feels crowded, interfering with the naturalistic conversations about wrangling in reluctant family members with magic warnings. Ominous music adds to the natural banter – which is nice when we can see both people in the uninterrupted frame properly as more relatives end up dead thanks to mysterious boxes, tea readings, and suspect fires. Mourners dressed in black, cemetery scenes, and wide outdoor shots create much-needed scene-setting breathers alongside intriguing homemade voodoo dolls, teaching spells, incense, and goddess prayers. Purification charms and chants escalate as nieces ask if they are dark witches or do magic for light but aren’t afraid either way. The ladies are getting nasty with the evil spells, so why can’t the elder family just tell the ones who don’t know about all the witchcraft? Real estate runarounds and binding spells end up going too far with some penis removal magic, and that’s certainly more interesting than going to this house, then visiting that house, asking for coffee, and then leaving before the beverage is made. Why certain children don’t know they are witches and why one distant niece comes into wealth and property isn’t fully explained, and the pace is slow with redundant, roundabout scenes creating confusion. Are we missing an important piece of the puzzle or just left to wonder if a cryptic scene serves any purpose? Phone calls with nothing but “What does it all mean?” and “I don’t know” waste time before men who don’t know what they’re in for meet an abrupt end and leave us wanting the rest of the story. This is based on a self-published book series, and there isn’t a lot of information about whether this show is intended as an in house web series, one supersized book trailer, or a pilot to shop for something bigger – which it had the potential to be.

Wishmaster – I Dream of Jeannie spoiled us on the nature of granting wishes, and a malevolent, puckish Djinn runs amok in this 1997 Wes Craven produced dark fantasy starring Andrew Divoff (Air Force One) and Freddy Krueger Robert England with a cameo from Candyman Tony Todd. Opening scrolls telling of unholy potential immediately set a fiery mood alongside an 1127 Persia apothecary, potions, cauldrons, mystical gems, and alchemy. Present-day rock outs, tennis yuppies, and smarmy auctioneers are dated, yet there’s a frightfully fantastic mixing with modern industrial thanks to maze-like museums, living statues, and slimy cadavers. Some hokey effects also feel too eighties, but payphones and answering machines that say Pacific Bell and Bell South, whoa! Skeletons and more effective gore accent the too good to be true, “All you have to do is ask” tricks, leaving the regretful and maimed in our djinn’s wake. He’s not lying in saying he only bargains with what people give him – reminding viewers to speak carefully when wishing someone was dead or offering to sell one’s soul for a cigarette. Such suspense is fine on its own without circling zooms and crescendos, for we want to see the antagonist’s personality, interconnected visions, and growing powers. Ironically, we like Tammy Lauren (Homefront) less, but she isn’t stupid or made a bimbo while investigating the Zoroastrian myths. Although the escalating creepy crawlies are fun, the plot descends into set chases, explosions, and ineffective shootouts with some deus ex machina in outwitting the djinn. The ancient prologue, first act release, and collecting of restoring skingraphs or eyeballs are also similar to Dracula 2000 and The Mummy – evil flirts, shops, preys, leaving boils along the way. This girl power action horror pace feels like a precursor to more recent spectacles, and while we chuckle at the un-scary B movie fun, it’s pleasing to see the non-Western horror of this demented little cautionary tale.

 

Witchboard – A Ouija board and one bad yuppie party leads to the release of a malevolent spirit in this 1987 scarefest. Granted, it doesn’t say much when Tawny Kitaen (The Perils of Gwendoline in the Land of Yik-Yak) does the best acting here as both her rival male suitors are lame and full of their own bromance, manpain, and perhaps a whiff of latent innuendo. There’s unintentional comedy, too, with heaps of eighties fun including wild hair, punk styles, one earring, and waterbeds. I mean, you don’t see rainbow colored mohawks every day! Old technology such as microfilm, payphones, and cool Cobra cars are pleasing as well despite a lingering hokey, dated Valley lingo, laughably bad special effects, and contrived leaps to advance the plot. Fortunately, eerie hospitals, cemeteries, and foggy dreams add atmosphere while askew wide lenses and overhead whooshes provide a poltergeist perspective. Creepy Ouija movements, solo reading sessions, and freaky séances build suspense alongside pregnancy twists, zany psychics, and violent ghostly attacks. Who knew just spelling out with the planchette was so intense! Lovely architecture and retro styles feel eighties does forties, and there’s a reason for this throwback tone. The spirits also remain mostly unseen – except when the evil is ax happy that is. Because ghosts can wield axes, FYI. There is brief nudity and language, but this simple story does a lot without resorting to bimbo extremes or cheap fouls. Dockside mishaps and shower perils top of a goofy but fitting finale, and though of its time, this remains fun and entertaining.

Skip It

Salem – 1685 stocks, brandings, church bells, and cries for mercy open this 2014 thirteen-episode debut before pregnancies, torches, forest rituals, hooting owls, and promises of power. By 1692 Salem is swept with witch fever as bodies hang and rhetoric warns the devil is in town. Screaming girls are tied down over claims that a hag is terrorizing them – and there is indeed an unseen succubus leaping upon the helpless. Preachers insist they must save their promised land from this insidious invisible hell as sermons and town hall meetings become one and the same. Suspect midwives, old witnesses, and secrets intensify the witch hunt debates as families recall the original English hysteria and proud witchfinder ancestry. Although arguments about a girl not being possessed just touched in the head and in need of a doctor seem recent, it’s nice to see the reverse of typical exorcism stories where confounded doctors come before prayer interventions. Chants, contortions, and taxidermy lead to full moon dancing rituals, animal head masks, fiery circles, baby skull offerings, sacrifices, effigies, and entrails. Unfortunately, nobody notices witches talking openly in the town square nor minds a woman taking charge when she has no rights but through her husband. Ladies speaking out over their exploitation is far too contemporary – along with out of place comeback quips and jarring modern sarcasm. Instead of real tribe names, talk of savages and conflated French and Indian War references pepper speeches about saving the country when we weren’t even one yet. Killing innocents goals and grand rites achievements are reduced to the coven wanting to get rid of the Puritans so Salem can be theirs even though they are already in power behind the scenes and getting on their forest sabbaths. The witches versus ministry conflict with some pretending to be the other is drama enough without Shane West’s (Dracula 2000) millennial grandstanding compromising Janet Montgomery’s (Merlin) Mary Sibley. Is this about the falsely accused, misunderstood, and lovelorn or the naked, ethereal witches taking the devil’s power for their spellbound husbands and familiar frogs? Revealing the supernatural at work creates an uneven back and forth that goes directly against the witches’ motivations. Stay in their point of view or play it straight on the devil or innocent and let the audience decide which side we’re on – attempting both evil and romance is far too busy and binds in name only historical figures and potentially juicy characters with weak, pedestrian male trappings. Hypocrite ministers terrorize the congregation when not cowering at torturing witches or having sex at the Puritan brothel like this is Game of Thrones. After bamboozling EnterpriseI was already leery of creator Brannon Braga, and an old hat, run of the mill tone hampers the writing team. In addition to rotating directors, there are only a few women behind the scenes, and weird Marilyn Manson music provides a trying to be hip that’s more CW than BBC. Wealthy lace and tavern drab visually divide our neighbors amid period woodwork, forges, and rustic chimneys while gothic arches and heavy beams add colonial mood. Churches and cemeteries contrast dark woods, glimpses of horned and hoofed figures, skeleton keys, and spooky lanterns however the blue gradient is too obviously modern. Pretty windows and latticework are too polished, and clean streets give away the Louisiana set town rather than on location imbued. Superficial costuming is noticeably inaccurate, and once I saw a Victorian filigree necklace I got at Hot Topic, well, that was pretty much it for this show.

For More Witchy, Revisit:

Witches and Bayous

Witches of East End 

Teen Witch

Movie Review: RED EYE

“Red Eye” is a legend Gage Barker use to be told as a kid. When he found out there was some truth behind this legend he gathered a group of friends to hike in the backwoods of Black Creek, WV to help him use this as the basis for his first film project. To what extent will they go to make this project a reality? Will their passion bleed through? Or cross the line?

 

Details

Country: USA

Language: English

Release Date: 2017 (USA)

Filming Locations: Kentucky, USA

Box Office

Budget:$10,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co: Cyfuno Ventures

Technical Specs

Runtime: 73 min

 

Going into the movie, I knew right away this was a low budget film. With that said, I was pleasantly surprised at the Special FX. I love when they get creative and it looks good on film. Thumbs up to them and their FX persona for a job well done.

I was a little put off at first at the chemistry between actors in the very beginning. Everything seemed a little disjointed until the actors got comfortable with each other. I’ve seen worse, but it made the first few minutes of the film a little slow in my opinion.

Once the movie began to pick up, it wasn’t half bad at all. I take low-budget horror movies with a grain of salt because it’s not how much money you have, but what you can do with it. The story of RED EYE was an urban legend Gage Barker had been told growing up. He and one of his friends, loving horror and wanting to document it on film, decide to take along two female friends to give the documentary a little more drama. The opening of the movie discloses a secret love triangle and we know this is going to be all bad as the film plays out.

While I appreciate well-thought out and fleshed out back stories, I did feel it went a little overboard. You know that person you just meet, who gives you their whole life story? Yeah, that’s kind of the feeling you get sometimes with this film. I would’ve preferred they went back to the legend … speaking of the legend … my only gripe about this film was the conclusion.

SPOILER ALERT BELOW!! DO NOT CONTINUE IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THIS MOVIE OR DO NOT ENJOY SPOILERS

In the conclusion of the film we discover Gage brought his friends out to the remote spot and was “improvising” so he had an “authentic” film. Plot twists are cool, but I feel there was a complete disconnect here. Maybe less attention to the Urban Legend, especially in the title? I am not sure how I’d personally handle it, because I’m not a film maker, I’m only the audience. To me it felt like a build up with a fizzle. I kind of felt something was up because of the type of killing and violence against the teens. It didn’t match up with the legend.

Anyway, that all being said, I didn’t hate the movie, but I feel with a little more experience, Director and Writer, Tristan Clay will go further in his career. I hope to see more from him and his team.

Movie Review: Caller ID Entity

The messages are real.

Caller ID Entity is a modern horror think piece, capitalizing on a form of reality driven fear that has become increasingly popular lately. The movie derives from actual messages and testimonials of people claiming to have been the victims of mind-control experiments. While the messages themselves are harrowing, creator Eric Zimmerman transforms them into more than the crazed ravings of deranged individuals. The film asks: whom can you trust when you can’t trust yourself?

Caller ID Entity follows four young men—Dale (Denny Kirkwood), Miles (James Duval), Noah (Nathan Bexton), and Tristan (Triton B. King)—after they enroll in an unusual graduate study program run by Dr. Adam Whitney (Douchan Gersi). At the beginning, they all believe the goal of their research is to understand the causes of psychopathy, but, as the practicalities of their studies grow increasingly disturbing, the men realize that they’re into something far more sinister than they could have imagined. They are the latest victims in a mind-control experiment that challenges the very basis of humanity. The film follows them as they spiral deeper into madness and discover a network of survivors trying to expose the people who used them. They must separate truth from paranoia and find justice before time runs out.

Set in urban Los Angeles, Caller ID Entity capitalizes on the masses of humanity to reinforce the movie’s themes. People are portrayed as pawns—easily disposed and forgotten. Cellphones and cameras are everywhere in the city. When that technology can be used to hijack the mind, the threat is everywhere.

The cinematography reinforces this further. Caller ID Entity pulls from a variety of genres, using filming styles from documentaries, reality television, and experimental film. The result is a story that feels as if it takes place just on the fringe of reality. It walks the edge between life and fiction, between the belief that it could be true and the conviction that it is too crazy to be so.

Flashbacks, flash-forwards, and interviews break up the narrative, creating a looming sense of doom. We suspect throughout that there is no happy conclusion for the characters, yet we cannot turn away from their downfall. We are kept in suspense, hoping for any outcome other than the one we’ve glimpsed and wondering how anyone could fall so far.

The story has more than one basis in reality. A psychology experiment in the 1960’s found that people are willing to commit atrocities if pressured by an authority figure (interested? Look into the Milgram Experiments). This premise finds new life in Caller ID Entity, where the four young men find themselves involved in increasingly sinister experiments, spurred on by Dr. Whitney with encouragement that it is all for the betterment of mankind. While we may sit back and say we would never do anything so twisted, science says otherwise.

Caller ID Entity does not employ jump scares or extreme gore, but if you’re looking for a form of speculative science fiction or experimental horror that piggybacks off the everyday, this film is for you.

Press Release: Holy Terror

57cf40af81587f91801602bcea55The riveting first official teaser trailer for the new supernatural horror film HOLY TERROR was just released. This film is in post production via Cineridge Entertainment from the award-winning team who previously brought us SAMURAI COP 2: DEADLY VENGEANCE.

Written and directed by Rich Mallery (SOCIOPATHIA) and executive-produced by Gregory Hatanaka (who helmed SAMURAI COP 2 from a script co-written by Mallery), HOLY TERROR stars MEATBALLS’ Kristine DeBell, Bruce Lee’s GAME OF DEATH’s Mel Novak, Lisa London  (H.O.T.S., PRIVATE RESORT), Kelly Reiter (The Z Virus), Jesse Hlubik (MAY, ALL CHEERLEADERS DIE), Nicole Olson, Scott Butler (WIENER DOG INTERNATIONALS), and Vida Ghaffari (THE MINDY PROJECT, JIMMY KIMMEL LIVE).

Believing the strange disturbances in their home are their deceased son reaching out from the other side, Molly [Reiter] and Tom [Hlubik] ask a medium [London] to make contact. But instead of their child, the three accidentally invite a vengeful demon to cross over. After the demon violently possesses Molly’s younger sister [Olson], the couple enlists the help of a disgraced priest [Butler] and his mentor Sister Catherine [DeBell] to attempt a dangerous exorcism.

“There has been a resurgence of exorcism/possession-type movies, so it’s a little challenging to give audiences something they haven’t seen before. But we have a few tricks up our sleeve that are going to make HOLY TERROR stand apart from the crowd. Plus, we’re going for a real late-’70s/early-’80s feel. Films like THE CHANGELING, THE AMITYVILLE HORROR and of course the original EXORCIST are huge influences on this project,” said Mallery.

“I’m really excited to be partnering with Gregory Hatanaka again; this is the fourth film we’ve worked on together,” Mallery continues. “It’s a little strange this time around, since usually he’s directing and I’m the writer/AD, and this time I’m directing and he’s the DP, but we’re totally in sync when it comes to the vision, so we’re like a well-oiled machine. We’ve brought back a lot of the cast of SAMURAI COP 2—Jesse Hlubik, Lisa London, Mel Novak, Kristine DeBell and Nicole Olson—and although this is a completely different type of film, it’s great to have a lot of familiar faces who are used to the way Gregory and I work. We’re both slightly insane, so it’s amazing to be surrounded by people who support our vision.”

“As Rich and I are both rabid fans of 70s AIP and New World horror pics,” Hatanaka adds, “it was only a matter of time before we teamed up to do a film in that tradition. HOLY TERROR works on deep psychological levels, and has an otherworldly, TWILIGHT ZONE-ish kind of feel.”

Holy Terror will be premiering this April on Amazon Prime.

More info at:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5924114/?ref_=fn_al_tt_2

Please join their facebook fan page for updates:

https://www.facebook.com/holyterrormovie/

Live Action Reviews! By Crystal Connor: Lung II

Please read the review for Flowers before reading the review for L
ung II. Thanks!

Live Action Reviews! by Crystal Connor: Flowers

At 10:45 pm on April 6th 2016, Crystal Connor, began her weekend by watching the second movie that was sent to her curiosity of Borderline Cinema

This is the unedited journal chronicles the harrowing experience that her neighbors endured for hours as she screamed, cried, and shouted expletive obscenities at her television as she watched Phil Stevens indie horror film Lung II…

Lung2

Reader discretion is Advised

Entry 1: He’s back

Entry 2: You might wanna invest in some quality knives

Entry 3: That’s a nice stroller

Entry 4: Wait, they know each other?

Entry 5: When did he put on gloves?

Entry 6: How would he know that?

Entry 7: How does that not hurt?!

Entry 8: Really, LOL GTFOH

Entry 9: So they do know each other?

Entry 10: Fucking A! No one fucking listens

Entry 11: What kinda hotel just lets you check in with blood all over your shirt?

Entry 12: Really?!  Your masculinity is that fragile, probably why she left you for a woman.

Entry 13: What the fuck did he do?

Entry 14: What  did I just watch?

Plotline: A nameless man wanders the city, littered with necrotic artifacts and a trail of corpses. Are his grotesque hallucinations clues to a violent past? Or are they premonitions?

Overall / High Points: Like Flowers, Lung II has no dialogue but in comparing both films, Flowers is the stronger of the two in regards of giving you more to work with in telling a complete story. The incident which drives our lead over the edge seems to be blown out of portion in the way he responds to it without knowing more of the back story.

Lung II is beautifully shot, a non-ending, all you can eat buffet for those who are fascinated with morbid images and buildings in ruin. And it’s even more Hitchockian than Flowers because the entire film is shot in black and white. Just stunning.

You do not have to watch both films, but I hope that you do. Even if you don’t I think the conclusion would still be that this isn’t the older guys first time at the rodeo, and I just can’t shake the feeling that he ended up being a victim of the older guy. There is a scene which is almost identical in both movies which makes me believe that he was killed even before the women and it was his corpse that we see in the bathtub in Flowers.

My favorite scene is when he fights his demon in the bathroom. Still not sure who won.

Gore Factor: Lung II isn’t as much as Flowers though the sex scene in the refrigerator is odd. But if you’ve seen an adult film or five, you should be just fine.

Scariness Factor: Zero.

Complaints: N/A

Stars: 5

Where I watched it: Advance viewing copy

 My Thank You video for the director

crystalconnor.png

Washington State native Crystal Connor has been terrorizing readers since before Jr. high School and loves anything to do with monsters, bad guys, rogue scientific experiments, jewelry, sky-high high heel shoes & unreasonably priced hang bags. She is also considering changing her professional title to ‘dramatization specialist’ because it’s so much more theatrical than being just a mere drama queen. Crystal’s latest projects can be found both on her blog and Facebook fan page at:

Crystal’s blog

Crystal’s Facebook

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!” 

Download Crystal’s Book here!

Press Release: Dead Kansas on Amazon.

DEAD KANSAS is now on AMAZON INSTANT VIDEO!   
 
To read the horroraddicts.net review of Dead Kansas click here!
 
10556398_802536663119003_5896889679151935740_nDEAD KANSAS is a 2013 award winning independent horror film, directed by Aaron K. Carter. It features a talented cast of fresh new actors, along with several veteran actors including, Ben Woolf (American Horror Story: Freakshow), Irwin Keyes (House Of 1000 Corpses) Joe McQueen (Confessions Of A SuperHero) and Juliette Danielle (The Room).  Sadly, Ben Woolf was recently struck and killed by a vehicle while crossing a busy street in Hollywood, CA.  He will be missed.
 
DEAD KANSAS has also won several awards from various film festivals.  
Recently, it won Best Zombie Film @ The FANtastic Horror Film Festival (San Diego, CA) – Oct, 2014.

SYNOPSIS: In a post-apocalyptic land consumed by “Rottens”, a simple farmer and his teenage daughter struggle to survive. Meanwhile, an unruly gang make a plan to kidnap and sell the daughter for their own selfish profit. With the farmer/gang confrontation, a wicked tornado approaching, and “Rottens” everywhere – who will get out alive?
 
 
 
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