THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter Eighteen: The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot

bigfootfiles

(Editor’s note: This review contains major spoilers.)

I don’t know if a movie could live up to a title like The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot, so I wasn’t too disappointed when it fell short. I expected an epic action film based on the trailer, but what I watched was a dramatic character study about an aging man grappling with his past.

the man who killed hitler

The 2018 movie was written and directed by Robert D. Krzykowski and starred Sam Elliott as the man of the title. Elliott plays the world-weary Calvin Barr, an honest but lonely codger when we meet him in the 1980s.

We learn in flashbacks how young Calvin (played by Aidan Turner) assassinated Hitler, and we meet a woman named Maxine who Calvin loved way back then. The flashbacks are efficient but lack emotional heft.

As an old man, Calvin lives a solitary existence with his dog and his regrets. Maxine’s absence is never really explained. Calvin visits his younger brother, a barber named Ed played by the affable Larry Miller. As a child, Ed gave Calvin his favorite toy dinosaur when Calvin left for military service. So, while the brothers aren’t close, we can tell Ed loves and respects Calvin.

The story picks up the pace when government agents appear at Calvin’s door one night. A Bigfoot is on the loose in Canada and carrying a “nightmare plague” with the potential to wipe out humanity. The agents explain that Calvin’s experience tracking Hitler and his immunity to the virus make him the only viable option to hunt and kill the Bigfoot.

The best part of the film is Calvin’s too-brief Bigfoot hunt. The Bigfoot is savage and one of the more realistic ones on film thanks to an awesome job by the costume designers and makeup department. I wanted a lot more Bigfoot, hoping for a twist of some kind. But no, the story is as straightforward as Calvin’s demeanor.

The movie maintained my interest through the end, but it felt incomplete. We learn about young Calvin as Hitler’s assassin and the woman he loved, and we experience old Calvin as the crusty, old-school Bigfoot hunter. And that’s it.

What’s missing is the middle to Calvin’s story, and I need the middle like I need the crème filling between my two Oreo wafers.  I would still recommend the film just like I would still eat the Oreo wafers minus the filling. It’s just not as sweet.

In his room, Calvin keeps a box under his bed that’s vitally important to him, but the contents are never revealed. Maybe it represents the part of someone that we never really know, the part that truly defines a person. After all, Calvin was not just the man who killed Hitler and Bigfoot. He was more, but we’re barely allowed a glimpse of that part.

For example, when Calvin returned Ed’s toy dinosaur to him near the end, the gesture let Ed know that his taciturn brother always loved him. It resonated emotionally. I needed more of those kinds of scenes.

In a film with Hitler and Bigfoot in the title, I thought how odd that the most powerful moment featured a tiny toy dinosaur.

 

NEXT UP: Chapter Nineteen: Sasquatch. I review the 2014 novel by K.T. Tomb.


Lionel Ray Green is a horror and fantasy writer, an award-winning newspaper journalist, and a U.S. Army gulf war veteran living in Alabama. His short stories have appeared in more than two dozen anthologies, magazines, and ezines, including The Best of Iron Faerie Publishing 2019; America’s Emerging Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers: Deep South; and Alabama’s Emerging Writers. His short story “Scarecrow Road” won the WriterWriter 2018 International Halloween Themed Writing Competition, All Hallows’ Prose. Drop by https://lionelraygreen.com/ and say hello.


MORE BIGFOOT MOVIE REVIEWS …

THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter Nine: Stomping Ground

THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter Eight: Abominable

THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter Seven: Willow Creek

THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter Six: Big Legend

THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter Six: Big Legend

bigfootfiles

(Editor’s note: This review contains major spoilers.)

The 2018 horror film Big Legend, written and directed by Justin Lee, is a no-frills creature feature, meaning diehard Bigfoot fans should enjoy the 89-minute ride. I know I did.

Big Legend

Set in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Big Legend opens with couple-in-love Tyler and Natalie about to embark on a camping trip. Tyler (Kevin Makely) is a former soldier and hopes to make the excursion extra special for sweet Natalie (Summer Spiro).

However, romance transforms into tragedy during the first night. Natalie hears wood knocks and guttural growls outside their tent. Tyler leaves to investigate, a decision he’ll regret for the rest of his life. Some kind of beast grabs the tent and drags it along with Natalie into the darkness where she disappears.

Twelve months later, Tyler is dealing with survivor’s guilt on his final day in a psychiatric ward. He tells psychiatrist Dr. Wheeler that he believes Natalie was attacked by a bear although her body has never been found. Amanda Wyss portrays Dr. Wheeler. You may remember her as the iconic Tina Gray in the body bag, Fred Krueger’s first victim in the 1984 horror film A Nightmare on Elm Street.

Tyler doesn’t really believe Natalie’s disappearance is bear-related, and the anguished soldier discusses his decision to search for Natalie with his mother Rita. It’s the most heartfelt scene in Big Legend. Rita is portrayed beautifully and too briefly by another horror icon, Adrienne Barbeau. You may remember her as radio DJ Stevie Wayne in the 1980 horror film The Fog.

The authorities drop off a box of items, including Natalie’s digital camera, left behind at the campsite after the attack a year ago. Tyler starts flicking through the photographs and stops at a random picture with a shadowy figure lurking in the background. That was my favorite moment in Big Legend. It was perfectly eerie.

His suspicions almost confirmed, Tyler loads up his gear and returns to the scene of the Bigfoot crime. During his search for answers, Tyler encounters another hunter named Eli, portrayed by character actor Todd A. Robinson.

Bigfoot is protective of his territory, and the human duo faces off against the beast in a tense showdown that had me flashing back to the 1987 sci-fi horror film Predator when Dutch (Arnold Schwarzenegger) tires of being the hunted and decides to challenge the alien.

The most important feature of a Bigfoot movie is the Bigfoot, and I’m pleased to report the makeup department of Angela Bulmer and Jill Colwell do a commendable job. Bigfoot looked suitably savage and realistic enough to me.

I recommend Big Legend to those of us who enjoy an outing with Bigfoot. It’s a gritty little movie with big aspirations. Seeing Wyss and Barbeau on the screen again after so many years was an unexpected delight. There’s even a cameo by horror icon Lance Henriksen (Pumpkinhead, Aliens) who drops by at the end to introduce an interesting twist to the story.

 

NEXT UP | Chapter Seven: Willow Creek. I review the 2013 horror film Willow Creek written and directed by Bobcat Goldthwait.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

LINKS TO PREVIOUS CHAPTERS OF THE BIGFOOT FILES:

THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter One: The Idea of Bigfoot

THE BIGFOOT FILES| Chapter Two: Dweller

THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter Three: Swamp Monster Massacre

THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter Four: The Road Best Not Taken

THE BIGFOOT FILES | Chapter Five: Wood Ape

 

Live Action Reviews! by Crystal Connor: Aterrados

 

liveaction

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.

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

 

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.

Movie Review: The Campus

The Campus delivers on chills while paying homage to the breadth of styles that horror has to offer.

After her estranged father’s death, Morgan (Rachel Amanda Bryant) returns home for his funeral. She holds more hostility than love for her family, having been cast out before her eighteenth birthday, and uses the opportunity to burglarize her father’s business. But when she breaks into the studio campus after hours, she finds herself with more to worry about than security and shadows. Morgan finds a fate that she never knew waited for her—a supernatural death warrant her father signed before she was born—and falls into a rabbit hole of terror. She must discover how to escape the cycle of violence before she loses not just her life, but every piece of her soul.

Not satisfied with settling for a single horror subgenre, director Jason Horton uses a unique premise to blend many into one coherent film. Monsters, gore, psychological terror—they all have their place in The Campus. Each new style plays off the others, creating an atmosphere where the next fright waits just around the corner, or just behind the door, or maybe within Morgan herself. The question isn’t if Morgan will die a grisly death, but in which way?

Morgan is far from likable at first—too brash to gain sympathy and too bold for her own safety—but when the reality of her situation sets in, so does true fear. As a uniquely self-aware heroine, Morgan seems to know the ins and outs of horror films and just how to play the system to maximize her changes of survival, not that it saves her from repeated, gruesome deaths. She’s a scream queen who makes all the right choices while confronting her demons, metaphorical and physical, and still can’t escape. It’s the inevitability of the situation that breaks her and brings the audience along for the ride.

The Campus is set largely within the combination film studio and house where Morgan grew up. It’s a paragon of Hollywood—the perfect home that is really just a set with the reality of the studio just out of shot. This plays well with the fragmented personality of the film, showing the disparate aspects of Morgan, her life, and her soul. The confusing layout and mix of professional and personal turns the campus into a labyrinth. It asks the question: which parts of Morgan’s personality are real and which are simply a production? As the movie progresses, the fronts that Morgan puts up are stripped away and we see more of her natural self.

The Campus is a solid horror flick, one that horror addicts will enjoy regardless of subgenre preferences. It takes a new look at horror, hitting on popular themes and ideas in a way that keeps them fresh. There are monsters, blood and gore, and plenty of twists and turns for viewers who want to keep guessing until the last second.

The Campus is available to watch NOW on Amazon Instant Video.

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.

Live Action Reviews! by Crystal Connor:Lavender

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’ kinds her mother warned her about), rogue scientific experiments, jewelry, sky-high high-heeled shoes & unreasonably priced handbags.

She is also the founder of CrystalCon, a symposium that brings both Science Fiction & Fantasy writers and STEM professions together to mix and mingle with fans, educators, and inventors in attempts to answer a new take on an age-old question … which came first, the science or the fiction?

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 is so much more theatrical than being a mere drama queen.

The Website

The Fanpage

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 Review! by Crystal Connor: All Girls Weekend

All Girls Weekend Facebook

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 ‘ kinds her mother warned her about), rogue scientific experiments, jewelry, sky-high high-heeled shoes & unreasonably priced handbags.

She is also the founder of CrystalCon, a symposium that brings both Science Fiction & Fantasy writers and STEM professions together to mix and mingle with fans, educators, and inventors in attempts to answer a new take on an age-old question … which came first, the science or the fiction?

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 is 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: Siren

Susanne L. Lambdin

Noel Saabye

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.

She is also the founder of CrystalCon, a symposium that brings both Science Fiction & Fantasy writers and STEM professions together to mix and mingle with fans, educators, and inventors in attempts to answer a new take on an age-old question … which came first, the science or the fiction?

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.

WordsmithCrystalConnor

http://www.facebook.com/notesfromtheauthor

@notesfromtheauthor

@Fromtheauthor

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!” 

And They All Lived Happily Ever After!

 

Guest Blog: Archer’s Review of The Blair Witch

I am taking a departure this week and reviewing a movie that is still in theaters.

First, a brief recap for those who haven’t seen the original. The first Blair Witch Project came out in 1999 and launched an entirely new genre of “found footage” films, which makes use of hand-held cameras, cell-phone videos, and other portable media to bring the action down to ground level and more fully immerse the audience in a first person point-of-view experience. The use of this medium tends to convey a grittier, shakier, and (presumably) more genuine feel to the film.

The original Blair Witch Project contained only three characters who become lost in the woods of Burkitsville, Maryland as they searched for clues to the existence of the Blair Witch, the ghost of a former town resident who had been murdered in the late 1700s for practicing witchcraft. The movie deftly played on our fears of the occult and the unknown without needing to travel much beyond our own imagination because even though we didn’t ever see the Witch, we were definitely privy to its supernatural presence and the havoc it could wreak. 

The Blair Witch Project was really a love-it-or-hate-it film. The novelty of having the entire movie made from stitching together footage found after the fact was a refreshing change of pace for many, though for some the shaky cinematography, frequent cutaway scenes, and often grainy imagery was a turn off for many. Personally, I really liked it. I especially liked what was missing from the movie: a sound track. Without a musical score to complement or set up the scenes, the viewer lacked an emotional compass and was left to process the movie in real-time alongside the characters, which I felt made the story more compelling (if not exhausting). 

Blair Witch (2016) picks up 22 years after the original film. It stars James Allen McCune as the brother of Heather Donahue (the shrill, teary-eyed, snot-dripping girl who got everyone in trouble in the first Blair Witch). James receives a previously unreleased video clip of the Burkitsville Woods from an anonymous source in which catches a fleeting glimpse of what he believes is his sister. Filled with a renewed sense of hope that his sister may still be alive, he enlists the help of three friends to help him track down the source and search for clues to his sister’s disappearance.

James McCune “James”

Callie Hernandez “Lisa”

The “anonymous source” turns out to be two trailer park redneck nerds who insist on coming along though their motives are not entirely clear. And I kinda felt like I needed them to have a plausible reason because, well really, why the hell would you want to accompany a group of college students into supposedly haunted woods? But whatever, I’m not a screenwriter or casting director and neither is anyone in the group of four so the trailer park kids end up being added to the potential victim pool ostensibly as guides and we’re off to the woods.

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corbin-reid

BW16 follows the same general formula as the original but with notably less success. Whereas the original Blair Witch relied on a couple of hand-held cameras of marginal quality, BW16 has at its disposal a dizzying array of video and electronic devices including earbud cameras (picture), walkie talkies, GPS positioning devices, and even a camera-mounted drone that can be operated by cell phone. 

All of this advanced technology seemed to have been included in an attempt to have the best of both worlds: the point-of-view perspective that are the hallmark of found footage films and the ubiquitous third-person omnipresence of mainstream productions. Unfortunately, this approach did not ever pan out. 

For one thing, the movie drifted away from what makes 1st-person films unique. Namely, the sense of helplessness that comes from being restricted to a very brief range of visual vantage points as the viewer navigates the story with little more than the landscape directly in front of the characters. Another shortcoming of the arsenal of devices in the beginning of the movie was that hardly any them were included in any meaningful way. I mean, these kids were equipped better than most SEAL teams. Certainly, the writers could have found a way to make use of at least some of that gear. I think including the aerial perspective of the forest from a drone could have opened up a world of possibilities. And are at least two dozen ways I can think of off the top of my head to incorporate GPS tracking in the movie (e.g., tracking any character – or part of a character – that goes missing). I mean what’s the point of teasing the viewer with all of this cool equipment if you’re not going to use it? 

But if the prospect of advanced technology was an attempt to drive the film in a new direction, a veritable minefield of horror movie clichés fought equally hard to anchor it in more familiar themes. So in addition to irritating characters squandering state-of-the-art equipment and making poor decisions in questionable circumstances, the writers decided to revert to some tried and true horror logic-defying flaws including but not limited to:

Cliché, faulty logic, or obvious plot device                                                                                               

  Frequency

Pulling on a door handle instead of turning the knob                                                        

 4

Flashlight winking out for no reason                                                                                      

13

Someone jumping unexpectedly into the scene out of ABSOLUTELY FUCKING NOWHERE                      

8

Character running off in a random direction searching for some other dipshit who got separated from the group                                                                                                                                                                              

  24

Some idiot screaming at the top of their lungs to locate their friends with no success                                  

  9

Let me take a moment to address this last point.

If you’re lost at night in woods that are purportedly haunted and you lose track of your friends, the one thing you absolutely DO NOT DO is fucking yell for them at the top of your lungs. That’s not going to help anyone and it’s probably going to end up getting you and everyone else in your group killed. Here’s why:

Scenario #1 – They can’t hear you. In this case yelling louder will only give your position away. If they’re hurt or helpless, there’s not much you can do for them anyway. Better to save yourself (to quote Darwin: “fuck ’em”). 

Scenario #2 – They can but are deliberately not responding because they fear doing so would give away their position. This usually means they are vulnerable and have likely either seen what it is that is trying to kill them or have witnessed what it is capable of (e.g., eviscerating other campers, skull-fucking a bear, etc.). The more you yell, the more likely it is this thing will find you and eviscerate and/or skull-fuck you.

Scenario #3 – They hear you but rather than being motivated by self-preservation, they actively want this hell-beast to kill you instead, which means that your “friend” is a selfish asshole who’s only looking out for him/herself and doesn’t give a shit about your well-being. In either scenario 2 or 3, your best course of action as the searching party should be to question the value of having such a friend in the first place and ultimately decide that you’re better off without them. 

In the end, there were just too many competing priorities by everyone involved in the making of the film but there was no unifying vision of what the end product was supposed to be, which left Blair Witch feeling heavy on ambition but light on substance. Perhaps if they had just stayed true to their roots, it would have been a much better experience.

Get it? Roots? Because the movie takes place in a forest with trees that have…aw, forget it.  

Darling Movie Review by Archer

Darling (2016)

Synopsis: A lonely girl finds work caring for an old mansion, but the shadow of suicide and a mysterious locked door drag her into a whirlpool of darkness.

Anyway, the movie opens with our heroin greeted by the Madame (Sean Young of Blade Runnerfame) and given a curt overview of the mansion. The Madame hints at a sinister past. Well, maybe “hints” isn’t the right word. She shares that her predecessor met her own gruesome demise right there on the property, though she stops short of providing too many grisly details lest it creep out the help before she’s even started.

And that’s the end of Sean Young’s physical appearance in the film. Although she shares top credits with Carter, Young quite literally phoned in the majority of her lines by calling in periodically to check on the meek but increasingly bold (disturbed? disturbing?) Darling.

Meandering the hallways of the estate she comes across a mysterious locked room on the top floor (which the Madame, in one of her limited AT&T-sponsored audio scenes, both reassures Darling is nothing to worry about and gravely warns her to keep locked). Now I don’t know about you, but there’s no way in Hell I’d be wandering around a creepy-ass place like this without some sort of weapon or at least decent lighting. I mean look at that picture to the left. Does that hallway look anything other than sketchy as all get-out? Anyway, she – of course – tries to open the door and although she doesn’t get in she shortly thereafter starts to have violent visions both inside the house and out. Whether they are communications from the house, recollections from her past, or premonitions of something that will happen in the future is not clear. Yet.

There is a vaguely voyeuristic aura to the movie, an eerie ambiance that is amplified by the fact that Darling is filmed in black-and-white. I probably should have mentioned that before, as I’m sure some people might consider the style overly artsy if not outright pretentious. But the absence of color keeps the focus on our heroine and blurs the line between her and the mansion itself.

It also adds to the underlying uneasiness of the atmosphere, which is accomplished as much by what is shown and told to the viewer as what is not. The way Darling describes her previous employment kinda gives you the sense that she may not have actually ever worked for anyone else at all; that maybe that is more of a fantasy of her own. And there’s something decidedly worrisome to me about her evasiveness. Also, although the mansion is clean and well-kept, it’s sketch-as-fuck in how clean and well-kept it is. Seriously. It’s decidedly Spartan with seemingly zero unnecessary items in any given room. It’s as if the set director went through each scene and plucked out anything that could possibly distract from it: “What is that? A poinsettia? What the fuck is a poinsettia doing in this room? It’s not Christmas. The owner isn’t a goddamn gardener! She isn’t, is she? No? Well then take it out! I don’t care if you think it ‘adds character to the room’ you dizzy ingrate. The focus is on Darling and the creepy ass fucking mansion, get it? That’s why the movie is called ‘Darling’ and it’s filmed in black-and-white! ‘Cause it makes it creepier than fuck. Now get that fucking plant out of here!!”

Don’t worry, I’m not going to give you a blow-by-blow replay of the movie. Sufficed to say her discovery of an upside-down cross necklace and some frantically scrawled Latin on the side of a dresser (presumably by the previous caretaker) help push the story further down the spiral.

Though the majority of the story takes place within the residence itself, there is one pivotal scene in which Darling ventures to the outside world and finds herself in an upscale lounge where she is approached by a stereotypical Wall Street yuppie whose lame pickup attempts are rather transparent. Surprisingly, Darling doesn’t seem all that put off. In large part this is because her previously passive disposition has become tainted and quietly dark, her character approaching a mix between Ursa (the hottie villain from Superman 2) and Tiffany from Bride of Chucky.

She reminded me of the kind of vaguely menacing harpy you typically come across on OK Cupid with whom you have an 87% match with despite her having a severed foot fetish, limited command of the English language, and being a man. At least, that’s been my experience with OK Cupid.

Where was I going with this? Oh yeah, the guy she picks up at the lounge. She reluctantly engages in meaningless small talk with him in a way that suggests she learned about human conversation and sexual attraction from an Asperger’s convention. She seems both out of her element and chillingly disconnected as she pinballs through the conversation like a brain injured hamster experimenting with ecstasy. If it were me she was trying to pick up, this presentation would have had me slipping away to the bathroom, climbing out the window, and fleeing the establishment on foot. But the clouded judgment of lust-induced brain freeze and several shots of gin are all it takes to set the hook on this poor sap and lure him back to the house.

Back at the mansion, he tells her about how someone tried to conjure the devil there “They have got to tell you this sort of thing before you move in, right??” and her actions become decidedly less subtle and rather shockingly violent. Perhaps she learned some tricks from her previous tryst with the pharmaceutical CEO (see paragraph 2 above). Oh, and if I may offer a word of advice: Don’t go provoking seemingly docile autistic spinsters who live in reputedly haunted/demon-conjuring mansions if you want to maintain the structural integrity of your anatomy (asshole – serves you right).

Anyway, she enlists his help in a little impromptu redecorating of the bathroom and although Baskin (2016) would have won the Academy Award for Most Hauntingly Creative Use of Trash Bags In A Subtitled Movie Or Horror Film, the bathroom scene in Chapter 4 (“Demon”) warranted at least a nod in that category.

Darling makes smart use of elements that are reminiscent of a number of horror and suspense movies without overtly borrowing from them. There are subtle echoes of Angel Heart, Jacob’s Ladder, and The Shining scattered throughout and the pace of the movie is defined by the discord between the predictable ticking of a grandfather clock and the frenetic convulsions of screeching violins as we are privy to ever more frequent glimpses of Darling’s descent into madness and violence.

Live Action Reviews! by Crystal Connor: Never Tear Us Apart

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.

She is also the founder of CrystalCon, a symposium that brings both Science Fiction & Fantasy writers and STEM professions together to mix and mingle with fans, educators, and inventors in attempts to answer a new take on an age-old question … which came first, the science or the fiction?

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.

Download your free copy of …And They All Lived Happily Ever After! audiobook 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

pic 3 poster

Live Action Reviews! By Crystal Connor: H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival Best of 2015

 

 

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.

She is also the founder of CrystalCon, a symposium that brings both Science Fiction & Fantasy writers and STEM professions together to mix and mingle with fans, educators, and inventors in attempts to answer a new take on an age-old question … which came first, the science or the fiction?

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.

Download your free copy of …And They All Lived Happily Ever After! audiobook 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

crystalconnor

Live Action Reviews! By Crystal Connor: The Victorville Massacre

At 11pm on the night of March 28th 2016, Crystal Connor, sat down to watch a slasher film that used a small California town located in the Mojave Desert as a back drop. With the coffee table piled high with popcorn and snacks, with her small dog nestled by her side she picked up her remote and pressed play.

This is the unedited journal chronicling the harrowing experience of her screaming, crying, and expletive outburst that her neighbors were forced to endure as she watched Riley Woods 2011 The Victorville Massacre.

Reader discretion is Advised

Movie Poster 2Victorville

Entry 1: Last line of the movie: “Never had a serial killer in this town.” Ummm…

Complaints: I think watching horror movies should be an ‘interactive’ activity (which is why I watch them alone) and the more I yell at the people on the screen the more fun I’m having. I’m a tough customer and I can be pretty unforgiving when it comes to the myopic way in which I prefer to be entertained.

For those of you who follow my reviews, as you can see, I didn’t particularly enjoy this one.

Let’s me just start off by saying that while I was born in the state of Washington, the high deserts of California is where I grew up. I went to Bender (Harold H.) Elementary for the 5th and 6th grades. I spent a significant amount of time serving after school detention at Hook Jr. and ran track, ditched school, spent my Friday nights, and graduated from Victor Valley Senior High. So I was super excited to see a horror movie set in basically my home town, but …

Complaint #1: The lack of research

I am extremely forgiving when it comes to indie movies. I love the low budget, campy, sometimes cheesiness, oftentimes ambitious glorious efforts and labors of love that makes independent films rocks which is what keeps me, you, all of us coming back for more. However that generosity comes to a screeching halt when it becomes apparent that little or no research was done in regards to the subject matter.

I was immediately turned off by the stereotypical Barney and Fife portrayal of cops in small towns. This isn’t the 1960s and a lot has changed since then.

After the killing of the rookie officer, the suggestion is made that this may be the work of a serial killer, an idea that the chief and the surviving cop dismisses out of hand. Smfh, 1st off Victorville is too big a city, a host to complex criminal elements to be policed by small town cops willing to bend the rules and turn the other cheek in the name of retribution. And besides that the stretch of highway between Victorville and Vegas in a basically a dumping ground. Has been for years, they are always digging up remains or finding decomposing bodies discovered by drifting sands and circling carrion. The very last thing that would be ignored is the evidence presenting a serial killer.

Complaint #2: The lack of research

Normally when you have a site specific location the movie is based upon the foundation of that area’s urban legends. With a group of young adults spending the weekend partying in Victorville I was expecting for the house to be located on or off either Jicarilla or El Evado Roads, both of which are haunted. But no. Maybe then, after hours of binge drinking and gratuitous sex they would have the bright idea to break into the abandoned and consumed facilities that used to be George Air Force Base, which is also haunted. But no. There is nothing, absolutely nothing that ties this movie with Victorville or the small surrounding towns that make up what’s known to us desert rats as ‘up the hill.’

Complaint #3:

Like the title suggests, what happened in the movie was a massacre, yet the law enforcement officers all kept referring to it as a serial killing. Which brings me back to the very first cop who told the chief he thought it was the work of a serial killer. This is something that, in light of how things unfolded, is completely out of the realm of possibilities as there is no reference to a pattern in regards to previous killings that could have tied this crime to an individual who had killed several times before.

Complaint #4:

Dudes. This movie had so much potential. And this for me was the worst part. Once I saw what going on I was thought the story was a really good idea and I could totally see how someone would be really excited to make this movie. But I couldn’t understand why, besides the complete and total absence of research, Massacre, at times seemed so awkward. I mean to the point of being absurd. One of the tags on IMDb is comedy, which kinda explains things, but the jests fell flat. It was as if they were inside jokes, funny only to the cast and crew.

Again. I am not easy to please, and I can admit that because I was expecting this movie to be about or in my home town, I watched this movie with a sharper critical eye, so I must implore you, if this was a movie that was on your to-watch-list, please do not removed it because this could very well be a its-not-you-its-me situation. And if you’ve seen The Victorville Massacre and liked/loved it … please, please, pretty please with a cherry on top leave the link to your review or tell everyone why you thought this movie rocks in the comments.

Where I watched it: VOD

crystalconnor

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 Connor’s Official Blog

Crystal Connor’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!” 

And They All Lived Happily Ever After! Audio

 

Movie Review: Krampus

Krampus-Movie-PosterReview by Stacy Rich

 

Movie: Krampus
Cast:  Adam Scott, Toni Collette, David Koechner
Director: Michael Doughtery

 

Plot Summary:
Max, a young boy, loses the spirit of Christmas when his family comes to visit from out of state. He sees how everyone is more distant each year. After his letter is read at family dinner, Max rips up his letter to Santa and throws it out of the window losing the spirit of Christmas. The next morning, instead of opening gifts from Santa, he and his family are greeted with an abnormal blizzard soon fighting for their lives Krampus has come to take.

 

This movie reminds you to remember what you wish for because you might get it, and you should always believe in something with your heart.  I was delighted with a few things in the movie, but it didn’t deliver the anticipation this horror addict would want for the holidays. The scariest part of the movie was really the scene of Friday after Thanksgiving shopping. The use of real puppets made the centuries old beast of Krampus and his elves more believable and the creativity to trap their target was a great bonus.

 

All in all, it is a sweet movie for the holidays, but wait for it to come out on to DVD. It gives you a bit of a scare in the holidays, but it doesn’t quite live up to the fable’s lesson.

Live Action Reviews! by Crystal Connor : Inhuman Resources

At four o’clock in the afternoon on Oct 17th, 2015, Crystal Connor, climbed into her sleeping bag on the couch with a large plate of nachos and picked up her remote. For the next hour and a half her poor little dog and neighbors were subjected to screaming, crying, and expletive outburst…

This is the unedited journal chronicling the harrowing experience her neighbors were forced to endure as she watched, Daniel Krige’s 2012 Inhuman Resources

Redd-inc-poster

Reader discretion is Advised

Entry 1: How did he get in?

Entry 2: He doesn’t look dead to me

Entry 3: No you won’t

Entry 4: And that’s exactly what he’s doing to!

Entry 5: Please don’t try anything stupid

Entry 6: What did I just say to you?!

Entry 7: What a twist! Love it!

Entry 8: Your supposed to uphold the law but you sent him there anyway? Really!!

Entry 9: Duh, your just now getting this? Dumb ass

Entry 10: I’m so tired of her

Entry 11: She’s a fraud she’s going to get every last one of you killed.

Entry 12: OMG, he might actually be telling the truth

Entry 13: Yep, the chloroform rag pretty much solves everything!

Entry 14: Don’t you dare scream…

Entry 15: Maybe you were but your not anymore

Entry 16: Ummm, dude yes. Yes you really are that bad

Entry 17: STFU

Entry 18: lol…that was fun!

Plotline: Six captive office workers are literally chained to their desks by a demented, escaped serial killer; former regional manager Thomas Reddmann (Redd). He assigns his ‘human resources’ the impossible task of proving his innocence or suffering gruesome consequences.

Who would like it: Gorehounds, fans of isolated/trapped environments, people who like mysteries and dark comedy.

Horror Level: 3

High Points: With everyone waking up in a locked room and chained to their desk you feel like you’re getting ready to watch a knock off movie from the Saw franchise and though it borrows some elements from those movies, that Déjà vu feeling that you’ve seen this before quickly changes which allows this movie a space of its own.

Like in Saw the demented boss Thomas Reddman believes the staff before him as done this to themselves and as the movie unfolds itself you begin to agree that they did. Mr. Reddman was committed of a crime and sentenced to death and every single person assembled played a role in conviction.

Mr. Reddman’s complain is if everyone had simply done their jobs he would have never been convicted in the 1st place.

Complaints: I’m not a gore hound and unless it is absolutely necessary it just annoys me. It’s a dark comedy but some of the lines fall flat and end up sounding cheesy and corny but whatya gonna do. There are some ‘staff members’ who are far more culpable than the others so I thought it wasn’t fair that everyone received the same level of corrective actions…lol

Overall: Despite my complaints this was really a fun, smart and at times funny movie and the comedic elements makes this a safe one to watch with your friends who like the lighter side of horror.

Stars: 4 Stars

Where I watched it: Netflix

Books

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:

http://wordsmithcrystalconnor.com

http://www.facebook.com/notesfromtheauthor

Download your free copy of …And They All Lived Happily Ever After! audiobook 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: Xmoor

In the wee hours of the morning of Sept 4th, 2015, Crystal Connor, took a break from her writing and watch a movie to help her wind down and get ready for bed.  For the next two hours her neighbors were subjected to screaming, crying, and expletive outburst…

This is the unedited journal chronicling the harrowing experience her neighbors were forced to endure as she watched, Luke Hyams 2014 X Moor

6157w-DTnTL._SX940_

Reader discretion is Advised

Entry 1: He’s probably right

Entry 2: That’s a HUGE you are not welcome sign – please heed it.

Entry 3: When no one answers your hello it doesn’t mean you get to automatically go in Entry 4: warning #2

Entry 5: What the hell, is he like the comedic sidekick? You knew what you went there to do so why are you complaining?

Entry 6: A gun like that for hunting…I think not, I’mma go head and say he’s with the IRA

Entry 7: It’s a sacrificial mound

Entry 8: Ummm, excuse me! You’re the one who charged off blindingly into the dark and now you wanna demand a compass

Entry 9: Whatya mean now, you couldn’t do shit before

Entry 10: What an idiot

Entry 11: They are both starting to get on my nerves

Entry 12: They just walked right past him

Entry 13: OMFG this guy is as useful as a half a penny

Entry 14: This woman is unbelievably stupid.

Entry 15: Yeah, what the hell are you doing?

Entry 16: lol, of course

Plotline: A reward offered by a local newspaper brings documentary makers Matt and his girlfriend Georgia to the remote North Devon moor in a bid to capture the fabled Beast purported to be a wild cat, like a panther or a puma on film.

Who would like it: Monster hunter fans, people who love slasher and lost in the middle of the woods films.

Horror Level: 3

High Points: It starts off being about an American cryptozoologist who travels to Europe with her boyfriend in search of a big cat but quickly turns into something else as they realize there is a monster up there in the woods but just not the one they thought.

Complaints: The whole arrogant America aboard troupe rubs me the wrong way, it was a reoccurring theme throughout the movie, and the more it happened the more annoyed I became. I completely understand that when you’re tired, scared, and stressed its far to say you’re not thinking straight but even under those conditions but even still the choices they were making didn’t make any sense and just served to make things worse. The ending felted rushed and unfinished which made the ending unrealistic. In all honesty X Moor should have ended differently.

Overall: It has its ups and downs but this one just didn’t work for me

Stars: Almost 3

Where I watched it: Amazon Prime

Books

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:

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

Movie Review: The Calling

Live Action Reviews!

by Crystal Connor

At 1pm on Aug 30th , 2014, Crystal Connor, wrapped in a fleece blanket, with a giant mug of chicken noodle soup scrolled thru the movie menu, made a selection, picked up her remote and clicked play.  For the next two hours her neighbors were subjected to screaming, crying, and expletive outburst…

This is the unedited journal chronicling the harrowing experience her neighbors were forced to endure as she watched, Jason Stone’s 2014 The Calling

Reader discretion is Advised

downloadEntry 1: Call for back up

Entry 2: Seriously? You guys need help

Entry 3: Your way too trusting

Entry 4: You guys need help

Entry 5: No! Don’t even second guess yourself, that voice in your head is screaming for a reason

Entry 6: What are you doing?! Nobody knows where the fuck you are

Entry 7: Way to go, now none of that is inadmissible because you don’t have a warrant

Entry 8: Wait for back up!!!

Entry 9: Are you happy now.

Entry 10: There goes your pension

Entry 11: And your still drinking…yep that’s the best thing to do

Entry 12: Oh my fucking God you’re a goddamned priest! You fucking know better! How dare you allow something like this to happen. You fucked it up for everybody and for that you will burn!

Entry 13: For the love…

Entry 14: Whoa didn’t see that coming.

Entry 15: get up, get up, get up

Entry 16: No, what are you doing…run

Entry 17: I SAID RUN

Entry 18: Oh, Sweet Jesus save us all

Entry 19: I’m buying the book.

 

 

Plotline: Detective Hazel Micallef hasn’t had much to worry about in the sleepy town of Port Dundas until a string of gruesome murders in the surrounding countryside brings her face to face with a serial killer driven by a higher calling.

Scariness Factor: There were some really good suspenseful scenes, especially with the serial killer and the little girl  (yikes)

Gross-out Factor:  N/A

High Points: I really liked that the movie has mature cast and a plausible storyline, the group of five half naked highschool/college kids breaking into a building to play with a ouiji board gets old pretty quick. It didn’t end the way I thought it would so the fact that it wasn’t predictable is a huge plus for me. I loved the motivation of the killer, how he stages the bodies, and the dark tones of the religious undercurrent really helped build the suspense of the movie.

Complaints: My biggest complaint about this movie is the main character.

I’ve seen some reviews say that The Calling is a Fargo knockoff, it’s not. Both movies have a female cops in the lead role trying to solve a crime in the middle of the winter but that’s where the similarities stop. Police chief Marge Gunderson is a much stronger character than Detective Hazel Micallef.

The new trend seems to be that in order to have a ‘strong female lead’ she had to be damaged in some way in order to gain her strength, our Det. Micallef is a functioning drunk and addicted to pain killers. She’s rude, annoying, petty, and shallow and she is not fit for duty. Another thing that bothered me about her addiction is that everyone in the town knows about it but no one says or does anything, even after her impaired judgment endangered other officers. And if that’s not bad enough she’s driving around town like nobody’s business.

Overall: I think watching horror movies should be an ‘interactive’ activity (which is why I watch them alone) and the more I yell at the people on the screen the more fun I’m having. I’m a tough customer and I can be pretty unforgiving when it comes to the myopic way in which I prefer to be entertained. And even though The Calling had me screaming at the characters for almost the entire movie the character of Det. Micallef is too flawed to be believable.

There is so much depth to the religious back story and the motivation of killer but they just skim it because it’s a crime story with the focus on of Det. Micallef. I think it would have been much more frightening if it had been the other way around.

Stars: Even with my complaints The Calling is a descent chiller/thriller and I would recommend it so I am going to give it 3 stars

Where I watched it : Movies on demand

1795961_803788772983725_1553304502_oWashington 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:

http://wordsmithcrystalconnor.blogspot.com


http://www.facebook.com/notesfromtheauthor

Movie Review: Repentance

Live Action Reviews!

by Crystal Connor

At 2:42 am on Aug 17th, 2014, Crystal Connor, wrapped in a fleece blanket, seated in front of the fireplace picked up her remote and clicked play.  For the next two hours her neighbors were subjected to screaming, crying, and expletive outburst…

This is the unedited journal chronicling the harrowing experience her neighbors were forced to endure as she watched, Philippe Caland 2013 Repentance

Reader discretion is Advised


imagesEntry 1: Did they hit someone?

Entry 2: I want a harp at my book signing

Entry 3: No! When someone says ‘I hear something’ get your ass up and go look.

Entry 4: Get out!

Entry 5: At $300/hr your only helping yourself

Entry 6: What the fuck is wrong w/you? He said he can’t.

Entry 7: If I tell you I’m afraid of the river and you stand up and start rocking the boat I would beat you to death with an oar.

Entry 8: This therapist is a crack-pot

Entry 9: A motha fucking séance? Oh hell no!

Entry 10: Yep. You should be scared

Entry 11: No she’s not!

Entry 12: You show up asking for money and when he offers it to you tell him to go fuck himself because you can’t be bought. Hmmm

Entry 13: You’re in a fucking bomb shelter, no one can hear you.

Entry 14: Once your tied up, the time for negotiation has passed

Entry 15: This Negro here.

Entry 16: “Your making things very hard on yourself.” The very last thing you want to hear from the man holding you hostage in his bomb shelter.

Entry 17: Your lying

Entry 18: You read/saw Misery just like the rest of us, you know that’s going to be that easy.

Entry 19: I told you

Entry 20: Sweet Jesus

Entry 21: So your husband is missing and its just biz as usual for you?

Entry 22: That’s a trap

Entry 23: In what world is that the reasonable choice?

Plotline: Successful author and spiritual advisor Tommy Carter takes on a troubled man as a client, completely unaware that the man’s fixation on his mother’s death will soon put his life in jeopardy.

Scariness Factor: There are a few good jump scares but its more startling than it is scary. From 1 – 5 we’ll give it a 2 ½

Gross-out Factor:  N/A

High Points: It was kind of exciting to watch a movie where the entire cast looked like me. None of the people on screen are there to fill in or reinforce the negative stereotypes, or to be the 1st one to die that we so often see when POC are in a movie or TV show. The setting and the soundtrack are amazing. Every time I see images of Louisiana it makes me want to book flight.

Complaints: Ok, so Ben, Tommy’s little brother is supposed to be a hardened criminal newly released from prison for the umpteenth time. His cussing and using all of this urban language but he doesn’t sound or look authentic. It’s jarring, and because of this he ends up looking like a whiney, it’s always-someone-else’s-fault little boy in a grown man’s body.

This movie had so much potential, but the entire movie is carried by just one actor: Forest Whitaker. These are all A-list actors so  I don’t understand the less than stellar performances.

With about  3rd left to go, you start to see, at least in part, how this movie will end.

Overall: I was so super excited to watch Repentance, but just like Colin Theys’ 2014 Deep Into The Darkness, what could have been something truly terrifying ends up being nothing more than a made for TV melodrama

Stars: I think watching horror movies should be an ‘interactive’ activity (which is why I watch them alone) and the more I yell at the people on the screen the more fun I’m having. I’m a tough customer and I can be pretty unforgiving when it comes to the myopic way in which I prefer to be entertained.

This movie is classified as horror, but maybe a better tagging would be horror light. I would recommend Repentance as a good movie to show for a pre-teen slumber party or for someone who has a low tolerance for terror.

So despite 23 entries, I am going to give this one a 2 ¾ stars.

Where I watched it : Streaming

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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: http://wordsmithcrystalconnor.blogspot.com & http://www.facebook.com/notesfromtheauthor

 

The Sad Cafe review by C.A. Milson

sadcafe01-225x300The Sad Cafe

Movie review by C. A. Milson

Stars: Bradley Fowler, Katie Lanigan, John LaFlambo

Directed by: Bennie Woodell

IMDB Rating: 7.0 out of 10

Plot: The Sad Cafe, brings to life the gritty world where cause and effect, life and death, love and hatred play out a delicate balance. A place where unrequited love is the driving force behind closing ourselves off from the world, and is the cause of unrelenting bitterness to the happiness that was taken from us, the happiness we long for. The Sad Cafe is, at its core, a love story…a romance tragic in all aspects. A testimony to the pain people endure in their pursuit for love and companionship.

My Tagline: Inner monologues, double dipping hitmen, and Carl Grissom….

Review: When you are enlisted to be a hit-man, there are certain things that ring true. 1. The life you once knew will be gone, and 2. Personal relationships are expendable.

This film, produced on a modest budget of $8,000 hit the mark in telling the story of one hit-man who goes from a street-kid to a crime boss’ number one guy.

Bradley Fowler plays the role of Jack. A former street kid taken in by a crime-boss and is now an elite hit-man. No hit is too big for Jack. He is given an assignment and he carries it out to the letter. That is until he is given an assignment to kill his new girlfriends’ father (who he first meets in a restaurant with Rose later that day). Knowing that he is torn between the devotion he has for Rose and his loyalty to the mob, Jack needs to make a decision that will end badly, no matter which way he looks at it. Kill the girlfriends’ dad or betray the mob? Not an easy decision to live with and one that will have consequences in the short term.

As it turns out, the daughter of our crime-boss (Selena – played by Liz Davis) has a thing for Jack, and no girl is going to stand in the way of her getting the guy she wants (Bloody princess bitch she is.  )

I will not say too much of how things play out in this film, but I will say that even some hit-men have a sense of humanity, and Bradley Fowler shows that he is actor to keep an eye on in future films.

There were some moments which did remind me of James Spader’s character (Red) in The Blacklist, which can only be a good thing 

If you like The Blacklist or The Untouchables, then watch this by all means.

VerdictThis guy is Untouchable

My Rating: 7 out of 10.

C.A.Milson is an award winning horror author of 4 books (and counting); Founder of ASJ Publishing, and seldom film producer. He resides in Melbourne, Australia and likes to spend his time in his backyard hobbyfarm of 13 chooks, and draws inspiration from the horrors that lay in wait in the darkness. C.A.Milson can be found at: www.asjpublishing.com and: www.facebook.com/C.A.Milson.Author

 

Dating A Zombie Review by C.A. Milson

dating-a-zombie

Dating A Zombie

Movie review by C.A. Milson

Stars: Jack Abele, Claudia Andrejuk, Glenn Balli

Directed by: Jack Abele

IMDB Rating: N/A

Plot: Clarence operates a Zombie termination service in Zombie Town. Believing true love can never be found he feels no remorse when he dates Zombies. To him Zombies never complain, don’t nag or talk back and are extremely happy with the way you are. Of course Clarence’s biggest love interest is Princess Betty the owner of a pet cemetery now accepting humans at discount prices. In between his romances Clarence finds time to hunt and eliminate nuisance Zombies called A-Listers. This is a hobby he thoroughly enjoys because he gets to chop the Zombie bodies up in his kitchen and sell the meat as a sideline. The action and humor keep coming as Clarence and his assistant Doofus chase and “pop” Zombies while riding around in their golf cart. You just can’t have too many Zombies running around Zombie Town when the government keeps failing to pass a Zombie retirement plan!

IMDB Tagline: A Zombie Termination Specialist tries to find true love in Zombie Town

My Tagline: Carry On Zombies…

Review: I really do not know where to start on this. For one, I do enjoy a comedy horror/spoof if it is done right. Some films of the genre do seem to break the mold when it comes to defining comedy. Other films miss the mark completely. In this case, Abele has tried to shoot for a horror comedy and missed the whole meaning of the genre “comedy”.

The film starts off, in a town riddled with Zombies. It seems that from the premise of the film, some keep zombies as pets, others just dump off the recently deceased at a fly-by-night pet cemetery-cum –funeral home.

As the plot suggests, Clarence operates an extermination company, focusing on extermination of zombies at random, and trying to get laid with every woman he comes across, living or dead. In his spare time (which he seems to have a lot of) he delivers zombie meat in pizza boxes to unaffected humans (wouldn’t the meat be contaminated?), and again, off he goes to try and get laid, with cheesy one-liners that were taken from every bad pick-up line ever.

Romance? If one defines romance as a person desperate to get laid and carrying on like a testosterone filled teen with blue-ball syndrome, then this hit the mark with that. Other than that, this flick was absolute rubbish. I could feel myself slipping into a coma watching this.

The characters were very one-dimensional at best, the props (arms, legs, and whatever else) were very amateur, and the acting? The only thing I can say about the acting is that it was obvious that the actors had very little to go on, judging by how poor of a performance they were putting on.

This film could have been a lot better for the reportedly $85,000 they spent on production.

VerdictWatch Evil Dead 3 instead

My Rating: -5 out of 10

**************


C.A.Milson is an award winning horror author of 4 books (and counting); Founder of ASJ Publishing, and seldom film producer. He resides in Melbourne, Australia and likes to spend his time in his backyard hobbyfarm of 13 chooks, and draws inspiration from the horrors that lay in wait in the darkness. C.A.Milson can be found at: www.asjpublishing.com and: www.facebook.com/C.A.Milson.Author

Live Action Reviews by Crystal Connor: Devil

Live Action Reviews

by Crystal Connor

Devil

 

PDevil_film_posterlotline: Five strangers trapped in an elevator realize that one of them is the Devil in this thriller from director John E. Dowdle (Quarantine) and screenwriter Brian Nelson (Hard Candy, 30 Days of Night). The first installment of “The Night Chronicles,” a film series in which up-and-coming filmmakers bring to life stories conceived by M. Night Shyamalan, Devil opens to find five Philadelphia office workers filing into the elevator of an inner-city office building. But a typical day at the office takes a  sudden detour into terror when the elevator becomes stuck between floors, and the passengers discover that the Devil does exist, and he’s standing right before them. As emergency workers work frantically to free them, secrets are revealed and the passengers realize their only hope for survival is to confront their darkest sins in front of the others. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi for Rotten Tomatoes

Scariness Factor: One a scale of 1 to 5 I would say 3. They’re mostly jump scares and for a connoisseur of all things horror, I can usually see them coming

Gross-out Factor:  N/A.

High Points: I am a huge fan of religious themed horror entertainment. I love all the hidden-in-plain-sight symbolism and the deliberate use of words. This was the 2nd time watching Devil and it was way more fun because I saw all the stuff  I missed when I 1st saw it.

One of the things I really liked was the scenes shot in total darkness. Just like those trapped in the elevator you can see anything but you can hear what’s going on which adds to the tension. I also loved the way the spoken narrative was woven into the movie

Complaints: Shyamalan takes us all the way to the edge but then kinda phones in the ending to give us a somewhat happy one. So instead of it being a thoroughly terrifying experience it’s just a highly startling one.

Overall: I think watching horror movies should be an ‘interactive’ activity (which is why I watch them alone) and the more I yell at the people on the screen the more fun I’m having and Devil is really fun, like being on a roller coaster. Watching it again was like hanging out with an old friend I haven’t seen in a while.

Stars: 3 ½ Stars

~~~Diary Entries~~~

 

At 1:30 am on Aug 15th, 2014, Crystal Connor, wrapped in a fleece blanket, seated in front of the fireplace picked up her remote and clicked play.  For the next two hours her neighbors were subjected to screaming, crying, and expletive outburst…

 

This is the unedited journal chronicling the harrowing experience her neighbors were forced to endure as she watched, for the 2nd time M.Night Shyamalan’s 2010 Devil

 

Reader discretion is Advised

 

Entry 1: And they’re trapped.

 

Entry 2: Clearly he’s claustrophobic

 

Entry 3: Why does the engineer always look like that? We don’t look like that in real life. Come on!

 

Entry 4: HOLY SHIT! Lol that scared the shit outta me.

 

Entry 5: I told you, he’s claustrophobic

 

Entry 6: lol, a captive audience

 

Entry 7: What the fuck? You know better. See! Dumb ass

 

Entry 8: They’re already there

 

Entry 9: No its not and that’s not Jesus

 

Entry 10: What the fuck?

 

Entry 11: LOL

 

Entry 12: Fine then, don’t listen to him

 

Entry 13: Yeah you are cus your not listening

 

Entry 14: Stay your ass where you are!

 

Entry 15: No engineering in their right mind would do that without safety gear! Serously?!

 

Entry 16: And that’s why.

 

Entry 17: My dog is growling at the TV, even she knows better

 

Entry 18: The last thing I would want to hear at that moment would be prayers uttered in Latin

 

Entry 19: Oh my God the fire dept is tearing shit up

 

Entry 20: Oh for fucks sake!

 

Entry 21: Are you trained to do that? Then leave it alone.

 

Entry 22: DON’T!

 

Entry 23: I fucking told you.

 

Entry 24: Excuse me Captain-save-a-hoe but that’s not your job

 

Entry 25: You don’t.

 

Entry 26: Sweet Jesus

 

Entry 27: OMG that’s right!

 

Entry 28: That bitch didn’t just fix her hair.

 

Entry 29: And M. Night for the win

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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:

http://wordsmithcrystalconnor.blogspot.com

http://www.facebook.com/notesfromtheauthor

 

The Last Road

Live Action Reviews

by Crystal Connor 

The Last Road

download

Plotline: Story of a fighter down on his luck, who loses his life in the ring. The movie then takes us into the afterlife, where Toby meets a stranger that seems to know everything about him and he has to make the right choices to which road to take… Heaven or Hell… with no initial help or clues. He meets many other souls on his journey who could take him down many different paths. Coming to his final heart wrenching decision… There are many cruel, sometimes disturbing, but also emotional twist and turns.

– Synopsis written by Laurence Williams for IMDb

Scariness Factor: This film isn’t scary its atmospheric and haunting

Gross-out Factor:  N/A.

High Points: Visually this film is stunning with a capital S. The Last Road was filmed in the Salisbury Plain located in England, in the valley of the Bratton White Horse. The surrounding landscape becomes a character because this is John Wheeler’s vision of hell. The problem is that these people are wandering around this beautiful place with absolutely nothing to do,  I really liked that because as you know being bored is a kind of hell in and of itself.

Complaints: Toby. After the opening scene I really didn’t like him and then watching the way he interacted with his mother … just eight minutes in and I was completely disconnected  from this character.  Maybe he was written that way in order to justify the reasons for him going to hell.

The film is very well acted but there seems to be huge pieces of the story missing, like it was a film adapted from a book. For instance the flash backs on Toby’s childhood life and the one ‘incident’ with his father aren’t horrible enough to excuse the way he acted and the choices as an adult. If this was based on a novel I couldn’t find it, and trust me I looked.

Overall: I think watching horror movies should be an ‘interactive’ activity (which is why I watch them alone) and the more I yell at the people on the screen the more fun I’m having. Now there are only eight entries for The Last Road, and compared to my other reviews that’s not that many but that doesn’t necessarily mean The Last Road wasn’t a good film.

For one it’s not a horror movie but because of the cinematography it is a haunting one. I spent quite a bit of time pausing and rewinding trying to connect the dots, to better understand why the things that were happening happened. That along with what’s listed above The Last Road just didn’t work for me. Like I’ve said before I am a tough customer and I can be pretty unforgiving when it comes to the myopic way in which I prefer to be entertained. But if you were planning on watching The Last Road my advice would be I think that you should.

Stars: 2 ½ Stars

~~~~Diary Entry~~~ 

Late in the afternoon on Aug  5th, 2014, Crystal Connor, with a bowl of popcorn and a coke,  settled down in to watch a movie. For the next two hours her neighbors were subjected to screaming, crying, and expletive outburst…

 

This is the unedited journal chronicling the harrowing experience her neighbors were forced to endure as she viewed John Wheeler’s 2012 The Last Road

 

Reader discretion is Advised


Entry 1: When you’re standing before St. Peter, or in this case his asst. you pretty much already know where you’re going.

 

Entry 2: Leave shit alone!

 

Entry 3: Wow, even the dog went to hell.

 

Entry 4: Queue the naked and underdressed women.

 

Entry 5: Ok, don’t listen to him…

 

Entry 6: Really?!

 

Entry 7: Wait a minute, he just got to hell and just like that he has the rank/power/knowledge to torture and torment others?

 

Entry 8: Wait … what?

 

1795961_803788772983725_1553304502_oWashington 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:

http://wordsmithcrystalconnor.blogspot.com

http://www.facebook.com/notesfromtheauthor


			

Cheesy Movie Review: Sideshow

SIDEDVD_sideshowEver since I got on staff at horroraddicts.net, I wanted to review a cheesy horror movie. So I finally decided to make my dream come true and pick a good(or you could argue bad) horror film to review. I love cheesy horror flicks and it wasn’t an easy task to pick one to talk about; but after I thought about it awhile, the perfect movie came to mind. That movie came out in 2000 and is called Sideshow.

I rented this movie on video when it first came out for a couple of reasons. Number 1: I love books and movies that include sideshows, carnivals, theme parks or circuses. Something about horror in one of these settings makes it a must have. Number 2: This movie was produced by Charles Band, directed by Fred Olen Ray and was released by Full Moon. If you’re not familiar with Full Moon they released such epic unforgettable award-winning films such as: Puppetmaster, Killjoy, Head Of Family, Subspecies, The Gingerbreadman and Evil Bong. Ok maybe I’m stretching the truth when I say how great Full Moon is, but their movies are at least a lot of fun. To me these are the perfect type of movie to watch at the end of a hard day.

sideshow_shot1lThe story for Sideshow is simple. Two women and three guys go to a traveling sideshow and manage to upset the man in charge. They then have their worst fears or insecurities turned into reality as they try to escape the sideshow. The movie begins with the five teenagers walking around the sideshow grounds when they come across Abbot Graves who is the head of the sideshow. Abbot Graves is played by Phil Fondacaro who has been in several TV shows and movies and gives a good performance here. The teenagers harass Graves who then gives them free tickets to the sideshow to get them to stop. The five sideshow customers think they’re in for a good time but I guess they forgot that they made Abbot Graves angry and now they have to pay the price.

001585_25The sideshow freaks have their revenge and the five teenagers get what they always wanted but find that sometimes getting what you want is not always a good thing. This movie has some interesting freaks, we have Hilda The faceless girl, The inside out girl, Morganna the Love Doll, Squeakie, the human canary and my favorite Digestina who lives in a pool of stomach acid. This movie had a limited budget but they put a lot of work into the sideshow freaks make up and because they look so good, your able to get past the bad acting and horrible dialogue.

imagesWhile I do admit that this isn’t a good movie, I did enjoy it. The background music is good and the special effects aren’t half bad. Whenever I watch a Full Moon movie I get the impression that the people making it are more interested in having a good time and making sure their audience has a good time rather than making a great movie.  This is the kind of movie that’s fun to sit back and make fun of and I think the people making it know that’s what your going to be doing. This movie may be hard to find but if you ever come across it, give it a chance, and remember sometimes bad horror films can be just as much fun as good horror films.

KBatz: Underworld Rise of the Lycans

Mixed Bag with Underworld Rise of the Lycans

By Kristin Battestella

As opposed to rushing to the theater for Underworld: Evolution, my anticipation of the 2009 prequel Underworld: Rise of the Lycans was meh. When I finally took a chance on the bluray, however, my feeling was, well, meh.  While it’s wonderful to see a complete, complex storyline come to fruition, an abundance of ill effects and darkness undoes Rise of the Lycans.

Elder vampire Viktor (Billy Nighy) takes in a werewolf servant Lucian (Michael Sheen) and raises him along side his daughter Sonja (Rhona Mitra). Lucian is able to control his Lycan urges and remain in human form; and over time, he and Sonja fall in love.  Unfortunately, this upsets Viktor’s plan for establishing an entire class of werewolf guardians, along with his domination of local human nobles.  Viktor and his vampire Death Dealers protect the populations from wild, ruthless Lycans; but when the Lycans bow to Lucian as their leader, both he and Sonja are subject to Viktor’s wrath.

Cinema today is somewhat bizarre.  We have franchises that play out and go for far too long while others are butchered, cut short, and cease to realize their full potential.  For Rise of the Lycans and the Underworld franchise, it seems they’ve suffered both.  On one hand, it’s a delight that house writers Danny McBride, Len Wiseman, and Robert Orr along with Dirk Blackman and Howard McCain (Outlander) (whew) are able to bring their entire vision to the screen.  Through the first and second films, we get tantalizing pieces of this complex back-story.  It may seem a slim Romeo and Juliet knock off in some spots, but Rise of the Lycans serves its purpose for fans who want all the ins and outs of this universe.

Then again, Rise of the Lycans is a little bit of a downer against its precursor successors. Yes, it lays the foundation for what is to come, but this picture is too different from the others.  A period piece following hot black leather-Rise of the Lycans reeks of that sub par, unloved third film that just goes too far.  We loved the Ewoks as kids, of course, but now…Not so much.

As with most action films, regardless of what format or setup you have, the voices are always too damn soft and the action is too freaking loud.  Unfortunately, Rise of the Lycans’ effects aren’t that good, either.  Even though Underworld mated film, comics, and CGI before 300, Rise of the Lycans looks distinctly ‘300ified’.  So many layers of repeated werewolf action in dark, nondescript forest settings; over and over, you can’t tell who is who unless it’s a slow motion panoramic Lycan up on his hind legs for a roar.  Even the fights are unoriginal.  Sure, it’s cool the first time, but after a dozen chops of the wolf’s head in half through the jaw, it’s not impressive.  Modern Underworld fans liked the slick black leather and vampire gunnery, so I’m not even sure that such an audience would go for a film with swords, crossbows, and castle sieges.  For whom then, is Rise of the Lycans made?

I’m sure there are documents out there clarifying who is who and when and where all this takes place, but the castle could have been any old castle, the vampire chicks wear sassy modern stuff, and Rhona Mitra looks just like she did in the futuristic Beowulf.  Mitra is pretty, sweet Jesus of course; but her lips are kind of big, her hair is always in her face, and though skilled, she does not have the presence or appeal of Kate Beckinsale’s Selene.  Her look and critical scenes match the Underworld flashback snips we received previously, fortunately.  We hear time and again how Viktor adores Selene because of her kinship to Sonja, but I think it would have been too over the top to have Beckinsale portray both.  Mitra’s dialogue and delivery are just right-I think it’s the film’s ill balance between romance and action that hinders Sonja.  Rise of the Lycans is too short for any real love to develop, but its overlong in its action.

Confusing nighttime action also takes away from the fine performances of Brit A-listers Michael Sheen (The Queen, Frost/Nixon) and Billy Nighy (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Pirates of the Caribbean). The battle of words and wits between them is wordy and confusing, yet not nearly enough.  I’d love to see these two men at odds again in a straightforward dramatic piece-a film that allows them to sit opposite each other and debate.  In Rise of the Lycans, it doesn’t seem like they have any time together.  Again, the mix of action trying to be period piece hinders what talent and maturity it has.  Sheen and Nighy could certainly handle a solid, gothic picture; but would Underworld fans watch that? No.

Going by the title, Rise of the Lycans is definitely pro werewolf.  There are werefans out there who will eat up all the bad CGI wolves and cheer when these dogs get there day.  The re-invigorated vampire audiences created by the first two films, are however, left by the wayside.  Outside of a few lines ala ‘They are vampires!’ there is no evidence of vampirism.  They have cool eyes, pale skin, and fangs, big deal.  Not that the first two films gave us traditional bloodsuckers by any means, but after Rise of the Lycans, I realized how unscary and technically not horror this franchise is.  Was I scared out of my werewatching wits like Silver Bullet or creeped out like An American Werewolf in London? No.

Although the bluray disc was easy to navigate, there were only the usual behind the scenes features. What, no deleted scenes- it seemed like there should have been more than the feature proper. Honestly, this wasn’t the best bluray transfer I’ve seen, either.  In comparison with The Dark Knight’s multilayered and detailed nighttime streets and black on black costumes and gear, Rise of the Lycans is a blur.  Everything is so dang dark.  Was this cinematography error or bad bluray?  Perhaps it is a bit of both.

Fans of the series no doubt love Rise of the Lycans and accept it for its story despite its flaws.  Fans of the cast and collectors of course own the DVD, but casual viewers will be left out in the cold.  Already confused with a fine story but poor action, Rise of the Lycans biggest fault is that you have to be intimate with the first two pictures to appreciate the plot or even care about the characters.  General werewolf fans or vampire lovers should definitely wait for lower prices, rentals, or other viewing options before taking the plunge with Underworld: Rise of the Lycans.  And while you wait, feast of the first two Underworlds.

#42 Skinwalkers Movie Review

A boy is about to go from a young boy to a young man as he approaches that lucky first teen year of thirteen.  Well, in actuality there is a reason that the number thirteen is seen as an unlucky number and this young boy, Timothy, is about to find out why as that magical day approaches. 

The film Skinwalkers introduces us to a Native American myth were people have the ability to take the form of an animal.  The Native Americans saw this gift as a great prize, but as any gift, it holds a dark side.  Those who choose to eat the flesh and thirst for blood crave power.  There are others who just suffer with the curse and they want the curse end. 

Skinwalkers follows the urgency of a band of werewolves lead by the evil Varek who are trying to find and kill Timothy.  They are thwarted on this campaign by Timothy’s Uncle Jonas and a loyal band of friends and family.   The problem is that neither Timothy or his mother, Rachel, have any idea what is going on and why the evil werewolves want Timothy.

So, what makes Timothy so special? Well, it is the fact that Timothy is a half breed as his father was a Skinwalker and his mother was a normal woman.  This is the reason that Uncle Jonas and friends will give their life to protect Timothy and his mother.  The problem is that they have kept Timothy’s secret from his mother as well.

As his thirteenth birthday approaches, the moon begins to turn red as the prophecy of old is becomes true.  Timothy is stricken with sickness due to this change approaching and those around him have to be more and more careful about ensuring they are well tied down at night. Varek and his band however, are on a murderous rampage trying to find the boy and upon learning his location, do not hesitate to ride into town.

There are some moments of humor and loss through this film and there is a great shoot out scene that takes place in a small town.  Afterall, who cannot help but love it when an elderly woman picks a gun out of her purse and starts tossing lead around. You just have to laugh at scenes such as this and hopefully you will. 

The look of the werewolves was assisted by the makeup of Stan Winston Studios which many horror fans should know.  Winston’s creature affects have been seen horror films such as, Lake Placid, Wrong Turn, Aliens, and many other films.  Thus, the werewolves in the film are primarily real makeup affects and less dependent on CGI.  This helps add some realism to the film that will draw the viewer in.  The larger use of CGI was in the background looks of the film especially in the red moon that becomes very prevalent as Timothy gets closer to his birthday.

The actors aren’t well-known to many, but there are some great performances.  Many will recognize Rhona Mitra (Rachel) who was in the last Underwold movie and Doomsday.  Elias Koteas (Uncle Jonas) has been in many horror films as well.

There is another way to look at the films central plot.  It may not just be a tale of people searching for a boy, but a tale of brother versus brother.  This type of plot has been seen in literature and film for decades and to find out who the brothers are, you will need to watch the film.