Friday, October 24, 2014

Autumn Blood (DVD Review) - Arc Entertainment

Austria, USA/2013
Directed By: Markus Blunder
Written By: Stephen T. Barton, Markus Blunder
Starring: Sofia Lowe, Peter Stormare, Gustav Skarsgard
Color/100 Minutes/R
Region 1
Release Date: October 21, 2014

The Film
A few years after watching their father get murdered by the town's mayor, a 16 year old girl and her 10 year old brother mourn the loss of their mother in their mountain farm home. Afraid of being separated by protective services the girl tells nobody of their mother's death, hoping to continue to live in peace off the land and their farm. Those hopes come crashing down when a nasty group of hunters, including the mayor's son, rape the girl. Shortly after they return to kill off the children to keep being turned in but the girl tries to take a stand against them after a child welfare worker turns up for their protection too late.

AUTUMN BLOOD is a decent horror thriller in the vein of Straw Dogs. It features a strong performance from Sofia Lowe who shows that sometime the only person you can rely on is yourself. This film has very little dialogue, especially for a film that runs 100 minutes. It is gets awkward at times without anyone talking at all. I'd estimate that under 500 words are spoken from start to finish.

Even without much dialogue AUTUMN BLOOD could have been a stronger film with a tighter screenplay because the film does drag a bit with an abundance of running around in the woods. It is a sequence that simply goes on for too long. The supporting cast is solid as well but nobody really has a chance to shine with their limited lines. The film has a nice look to it and the direction is solid but it still suffers from a screenplay that should have been trimmed down a bit.

The Audio & Video
The DVD from Arc Entertainment has a good technical presentation with its 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. Colors are intentionally muted a bit but still look very good. Skin tones are fleshy and natural and overall picture quality is pretty sharp. The audio features a 5.1 Dolby track with a good mix job. The little dialogue is mixed well with the score. There is good clarity within the audio track without any background noise or distortions. 

The Extras
Bare bones.

The Bottom Line
AUTUMN BLOOD is worth a rental.

AUTUMN BLOOD is available HERE

Thursday, October 23, 2014

October Horror Challenge 2014 - Day 22

TO ALL A GOODNIGHT was a movie I have wanted to see for a long time and long before I had any idea that the great David Hess directed it. Once I found that little bit of information it jumped up my list even higher. Hess was a fantastic creative mind both in front of the camera while acting in such films as Last House On The Left, Swamp Thing and House On The Edge Of The Park and while creating beautiful music. Hess died a few years back at the age of 75 from a heart attack but has left a great legacy behind. I was excited to dig in to a part of that legacy I had not experienced so with the brand new Blu-ray in hand I finally found out what TO ALL A GOODNIGHT was all about. Unfortunately it wasn't the slasher masterpiece I was hoping for. This 1980 film may be the first slasher film where the killer wears a Santa Claus costume as according to IMDB it was released months ahead of another great Christmas horror film, Christmas Evil. The film has a basic plot of revenge on some teens that caused the death of a family member a couple years earlier. There's nothing exceptional about this film but that doesn't hold it back from being entertaining and a fun bit of campy horror. If you don't go in hoping for anything more than a decent slasher film you won't be let down.

The only other film for day 22 was FRAILTY. I haven't seen this one in quite a while, maybe a year or so after it was released in theaters. I was afraid that after such a long period between viewings, and becoming quite more versed in film (and a lot more jaded) that the film wouldn't hold up. I found that this Bill Paxton and Matthew McConaughey vehicle works pretty well a dozen or so years later. The story is good enough to hold the movie together but the acting really makes the film work and succeed to the level it does. This is possibly one of the better horror films of the early 21st century.

Today's Rundown
To All A Goodnight - 6/10
Frailty - 7/10

Killer Mermaid (DVD Review) - Epic Pictures

Directed By: Milan Todorovic
Written By: Marko Backovic, Barry Keating
Starring: Kristina Klebe, Natalie Burn, Franco Nero
Color/96 Minutes/Not Rated
Region 1
Release Date: September 9, 2014

The Film
A pair of American girls visit their old college friend and his fiancee on a Mediterranean island for a relaxing and exciting vacation. They meet a local man who promises to show them a good time and some unusual scenery and brings them to some secluded and off limits areas where the group encounters the lair of a lethal Siren and her keeper who kills people to feed her.

KILLER MERMAID is a surprisingly decent horror film, heavy with slasher elements and an even more interesting monster in the form of the beautiful mermaid. I haven't seen many killer mermaid movies in my day, or ya know, any, but this one makes it seem like a damn cool idea that can be carried out to successful results. The production of the film was rather good, with competent direction, good performances, a fair bit of juicy gore and CGI effects that aren't cringe worthy as you may expect in a straight to video horror film. Straight to video horror movies have a stigma of being cheap, generic or just plain bad but sometimes one that rises above the rest slips through the cracks and KILLER MERMAID may not be an amazing piece of art but it is a decent horror movie that was quite a bit of fun to watch.

The Audio & Video
Epic Pictures brings KILLER MERMAID to DVD with a pretty standard but effective A/V presentation. The 16x9 widescreen transfer has good detail and clarity with the interesting seaside settings looking very nice. The 5.1 audio track sounds fine with a solid mix and no audible hiccups or annoyances. 

The Extras
-Behind the scenes featurette
-"Making of The Mermaid" featurette
-Bonus crowd funding promo

The Bottom Line
It's a pleasant surprise when a movie comes out of nowhere and exceeds your expectations. KILLER MERMAID did that. Horror fans really should give this a chance.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

October Horror Challenge 2014 - Day 21

The first film of day 21 was technically a first time viewing. I've seen THE WOLF MAN plenty of times but never with audio commentary. The film itself is phenomenal, a beautifully filmed, perfectly acted classic horror film. The commentary track was full of great stories, facts and bios on the talent involved and I recommend any fan of the film give it a watch with the commentary track.

Next was DEAD GIRLS, an anthology film based around the diaries of well, dead girls. There are three stories and I'll be reviewing the film in full this week so just hang tight for the full review.

THE SCRIBBLER was next, not fully a horror film but it does have horror elements early on. It ends up being a superhero origin story thriller that ends up being a lot better than most indie superhero films have any right to be. Luckily for you the full review is already posted and you can check it out HERE.

Finally, I revisited HORROR EXPRESS starring Christopher Lee and Pete Cushing. It wouldn't be a proper horror marathon without at least one appearance of that dynamic duo. HORROR EXPRESS follows the terror on board a train as a prehistoric beast man is terrorizing passengers along with other evils. While this isn't a Hammer production it is often mistaken for one and is just as high quality as Hammer's output. I highly recommend you check this one out if you've never seen it.

Today's Rundown
The Wolf Man w/ commentary - 9/10
Dead Girls - 4.5/10
The Scribbler - 6/10
Horror Express - 8/10

The Scribbler (DVD Review) - XLRator Media

Directed By: John Suits
Written By: Dan Schaffer
Starring: Katie Cassidy, Garrett Dillahunt, Michelle Trachtenberg
Color/90 Minutes/R
Region 1
Release Date: October 21, 2014

The Film
A young woman named Suki (Katie Cassidy) is suffering from multiple personalities and is committed to a mental hospital where she's subjected to an experimental treatment called Siamese Burn, which is designed to erase all of her personalities except her main one. After the treatment she is sent to a sketchy halfway house so her recovery can be monitored but while she's there other patients begin dying off in droves. Suki has to uncover the mystery before she becomes the next victim.

Without any background knowledge THE SCRIBBLER sounds like it could go any number of ways but a superhero origin story isn't one I'd even consider. Dan Schaffer wrote this screenplay based off of his own graphic novels and it is a highly original and engaging direction he took. Director John Suits had a tough task of creating this world on a budget that I'm sure wasn't easy to work with. As we see comic book films with budgets upwards of half a billion dollars THE SCRIBBLER succeeds with interesting characters portrayed by a great cast who is more than capable and don't phone it in which is a problem that plagues many lower budget productions. Suits spices things up with a stylish look in the lighting scheme and
design of the film.

There's more than enough action to keep the viewer entertained but this isn't just about the fight scenes and special effects. THE SCRIBBLER is a more grown up superhero and I'm interested in finding out more about the character based on this film.

The Audio & Video
XLRator Media delivers THE SCRIBBLER on DVD with a 16x9 anamorphic widescreen transfer that looks good. Darker scenes are handled competently without blocking issues, and the very deliberate color palette and stylish special effects come across looking good. The 5.1 Dolby audio track is crisp and clear with a good mix between soundtrack and dialogue. There's no audible hiccups, or distracting background noise to speak of.

The Extras
A trailer is the lone extra.

The Bottom Line
THE SCRIBBLER is a cool movie whether you know about the graphic novels or not. It works as an action thriller with horror elements along with the origins story it is. If you're looking for something different when it comes to superheroes and comic book movies you should give THE SCRIBBLER a look.


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

October Horror Chalenge 2014 - Day 20

THE LIVING CORPSE is the first Pakistani film to receive an X rating. Now don't rush to judgement thinking this is filled with all sorts of obscenities, hardcore sex, and whatever else you've come to expect from that rating as this is the Middle East we're talking about, a much more conservative region of the world. In fact there's not much in the way of anything violent, offensive or material that could be viewed as morally obscene in any way. Hell, there's more than a single song and dance routine that don't fit the film at all. It's a totally boring vampire film based on Bram Stoker's Dracula and unless you really want to experience horror cinema from all over the world I suggest you find something better. But at least it wasn't the next film on the list...

WRONG TURN 6.... what a piece of shit. Such a piece of shit that the only positives I could come up with the tits from every attractive woman in the cast. If you want to see me rip it apart a bit more and learn about the full Blu-ray release check back in a couple days as I'll be posting a full disc review.

Then came SEE NO EVIL 2, and I can say this- at least it wasn't WRONG TURN 6. SEE NO EVIL 2 isn't very good at all. Kane is a terrible actor, the Soska sisters pretty much only make awful films and despite Danielle Harris giving a decent performance and Katherine Isabelle being sexy as hell there's not much worth while going on here. It drags on, it looks cheap and there's glaring continuity errors that are just plain lazy.

The day ended with MONKEY SHINES, or as my friend and I came to call it "Munkin Shines". This is a George Romero film I've wanted to see for a while and simply never got around to it before last night. A paralyzed man gets a helper monkey to assist him with normal tasks but this monkey has been subjected to genetic testing and experiments and quickly begins learning at a very fast rate and becomes highly intelligent. On top of that he has a telepathic link to his owner and a bit of a murderous side as well. MONKEY SHINES has a really good idea but suffers from slow pacing, moments of overacting and too much unintentional (or perhaps it was intentional which would make it even worse) silliness. It was the best movie of the day but that doesn't say much.

Today's Rundown
The Living Corpse - 4/10
Wrong Turn 6 - 2/10
See No Evil 2 - 3.5/10
Monkey Shines - 5/10

Monday, October 20, 2014

October Horror Challenge 2014 - Day 19

DEMONS 2 is not the classic that Demons is but it is a very fun piece of Italian splatter. The special effects remain great, the soundtrack is a bit more to the pop side which lends a fun vibe to the film, Bobby Rhodes is back again, this time as the badass personal trainer and it is still over the top. No, DEMONS 2 isn't as good as the first but I still really like it.

CRIMES OF THE BLACK CAT is an average giallo in just about every way. That doesn't make it a bad film, it just is not exceptional in any way. There is one scene toward the end of the film that is among the most viciously brutal acts of violence I've seen in any giallo which is the stand out moment of the film.

Today's Rundown
Demons 2 - 7/10
Crimes Of The Black Cat - 5.5/10