Drifter

I picked this film on a whim and was very surprised with just how much I enjoyed it. I found the visuals and music to be outstanding. Throw in the great acting and this film became a real treat. I wasn’t all that excited for the cannibals as I’ve grown used to the cliche. Which here they still are, but are also done in such a way that it becomes forgivable.

Drifter opens with Miles Pierce (Aria Emory) holding a gun to man. Who pulls a gun in turn on Miles. Miles brother Dominic (Drew Hardwood) bursts into the room the two fire. Resulting in Miles getting shot in the hand and the other man dead. The brothers then take off across the wasteland, on some vague vengeance ride. The pair get in a disagreement and Dominic storms out into the waste leaving Miles in the car. While away in the dessert having a moment to him self, Miles is beset by three highway men that proceed to beat Miles to steal the car. Dominic returns the car and kills the men saving his brother. Due the beating Miles received they stop in the small movie Demyl. They come across a man walking down the road and while asking him for directions to help he slashes one of their tires. Dominic attacks the man, who is saved by Vojah (Monique Rosario). She has the brothers follow her and gives them aid. Vojah warns them about the towns occupants, a warning the Dominic ignores going after the man again. This results in the towns cannibalistic inhabitants led by Doyle (James McCabe) killing Dominic and capturing Miles. Whom they set tormenting, torments that crescendos at a dinner where is Dominic is the main course…

What I liked most about Drifter was the visuals. As this is a very stunning film. I often found myself floored with how beautiful it was, while maintaining a heavy atmosphere. The visuals are only surpassed by the sound track, because as often I was blow away with the look and feel of the film. The music is compelling and ties in each scene together.

But being pretty and sounding great isn’t what its all about. Because what a film without actors and the actors here do an outstanding job. James McCabe makes an outstanding villain. One that started off feeling generic but quickly developed into a fun and devilish character. One that I simply love to hate.

Final thoughts, I enjoyed Drifter. Hell I’ll go as far as to say I loved it. Stunning through and through that suffered one from loose threads. What was the vengeance ride about? Did Miles ever get it? Does that matter? The answer is no, but what a ride. 9/10

The Devil’s Dolls

The reason I watched The Devil’s Dolls was simply because I enjoyed Brea Grant so much in Midnight Movie, even though she had such a small role, that I wanted to look into more of her films. Which lead me to the Devil’s Dolls. Though I was less impressed with The Devil’s Dolls than I was with Midnight Movie, I still enjoyed it. But it’s still flawed. Fortunately most of my issues with this film are minor, unfortunately one of them isn’t.

The Devil’s Dolls opens with a young woman barley escaping captivity from serial killer Henry (Matty Ferraro). Initially she seeks the aid of the most useless officer ever, to be finally rescued by Detective Matt (Christopher Wiehl). Who shoots and kills Henry. Matt and his partner Darcy (Kym Jackson) search Henry’s hideout and find his worry dolls. Collected with the rest of the evidence the dolls are left in the back of Matt’s car. The dolls are taken by Matt’s daughter Chloe (Kennedy Brice), which she fashions into jewelry that she sells at her mother Amy’s (Samantha Smith) shop. That night she becomes effected by the dolls, resulting in her attacking and killing the dog. Chloe then lapses into a coma. Similar things happen to those who purchased or wear the dolls. Attack and killing others, though each are killed shortly after. Including Amy’s friend Becca (Brea Grant), who is attacked and killed by her boyfriend after she gives him the doll as a gift to wear. Matt and Darcy link each of the events together eventually realizing the dolls and their connection to Henry go to see Della (Tina Lifford), the woman who raised Henry. She explains that the dolls were a gift to Henry as a child in an effort to heal is lost innocence. But the dolls became cursed by the sorrow and pain he felt, cursing those to know the levels of his pain. Though the pain they feel is entirely their own and that to save his daughter, Matt must collect all the dolls and bring them to her by sunrise…

My main issue with this film is Christopher Wiehl. He performance feels plastic. Rigged, inorganic and fake. It’s jarring against some of the other performances, mostly Kennedy Brice. Who does an admirable job, one a few in the film. Christopher Wiehl isn’t one of them.

My other issue is with the pacing. The film has a slow and arduous at times, saved only by the short moments of violence. That and the occasion moment that drives the dread forward. The Devil’s Dolls starts strong and gets progressively weaker, ending in an ending that is both flat and predictable.

Final thoughts, the mood and story are good. If not easily anticipated. The horror aspect plays on the fear of possession and of on our own fears getting the best us. The worry doll’s are only lightly explained and their ability to cleanse the soul is left mostly unexplained beyond magic tree. Which I suppose is all the film really needs, but lacks any sense of origin that made them feel real. An okay film in the end, with some memorable moments and visuals. But lacks enough strength of character to be a truly be good. 6/10

Puppet Master

I have some very fond memories of this franchise. Not this film in particular mind, but the Puppet Master series as a whole. This is the film that fostered my love for Full Moon Entertainment. Many of the puppets being as nostalgic and memorable horror creatures for me as Frankenstein or Jason. I remember renting it at the local video store and for years my only take away was the puppets. Which honestly are the best part.

The film opens with Andre Toulon (William Hickey) is in hiding from the Nazis in Bodega Bay. He’s warned of his discovery by one of his living puppets Blade, as Toulon has stolen the secret of creating life. He hides Blade and his other puppets inside a chest inside the wall before committing suicide before the Nazi agents could arrive. Flash forward to 1989, a group of psychics consisting of Alex Whitaker (Paul Le Mat), Dana Hadley (Irene Miracle), Carissa Stamford (Kathryn O’Reilly) and Frank Forester (Matt Roe) are invited to go see their associate Neil Gallagher (Jimmie F. Skaggs) and his wife Megan (Robin Franks) at the Bodega Bay Inn where they live. The group thinks that Neil may have found Toulon’s secret hidden there. But when they get there, they learn from Megan that Neil has committed suicide. Even showing them his body, which is prepared for his funeral. Though things are not all well at this mysterious wake. As the psychics have visions of violence and their impending deaths. Visions that quickly become to real when they start being hunted by Toulon’s puppets…

The actual plot of this film isn’t the best. Even the characters aren’t memorable, bleeding into on another. Until they feel less than compelling. The acting is mediocre at best to lazy at worst and maybe the biggest down fall of this film is the villain. Once it’s revealed who’s reanimated the puppets and set them to kill, it’s a bit underwhelming. As are his reason.

The best part is by far the puppets, Blade, Pinhead, Tunneler and Leach Woman to name a couple. Each one is distinct both visually and by mannerism. Out of all of them my favorite is probably Blade, but Pinhead is a very strong contender.

The dread location of a old Inn works great. It always for a depth of atmosphere and plenty of crannies for the puppets to hide in. The old building gives the film an absolute ton character.

Final thoughts, not my favorite in the series. But, it’s still good and for me personally this entry is among the best. Puppete Master s its puppets, which are memorable and at times unsettling. 9/10

Re-Kill

I can honestly say I did not enjoy this movie. I like the idea behind it, but the execution was way off. The idea of reality tv in a zombie apocalypse about those that are hunting down and eliminating what’s left of the zombie threat. Though I will admit that this film isn’t completely without merit. While it was unable to capitalize on it, Re-Kill does actually have a really good concept and some of the characters are interesting. But just some of them.

Re-Kill is reality tv show that follows Division 6, a group of soldiers tasked with handling the zombie threat. The group consists of Nyguyen (Yo Santhaveesuk), Omar Hernandez (Jesse Garcia), Winston (Bruce Payne), “Grizzly” Adams (Dimiter Doichinov), Trent Parker (Scott Adkins), Tom (Layke Anderson), and Rose Mathews (Daniella Alonso), who are all led by Sarge (Roger Cross). To film and narrate the show drops in Jimmy (Aaron Jay Rome) and Bobby (Owen Davis). The show follows their exploits, which eventually leads them into a walled-off section of New York known as The Zone an a highly dangerous mission. The group responded negativity to the orders as almost no one comes back from The Zone…

My main issue with Re-Kill is that it has commercials for this zombie apocalypse during “the show”. I get that it should make it feel more immersive. But it doesn’t its jarring and ruins the films pacing and delivery. It also steals away valuable time that should be used on developing the characters. Something this film desperately needed. As a lot of the characters feel like cardboard cut outs. From the religious solider to the scared camera guys, everyone felt incredibly shallow. Which sucks because the interview parts were among the best because you get learn about the characters and this hell world they live in.

The other issues I have aren’t as major. The lack of a strong dread location being one of them. The Zone feels incredibly generic and offers nothing in the memorability. I enjoy zombies films that have solid dread locations, farm houses, shopping malls, Bill Murray’s house, ect. But here the best they got is a grey, dark, industrial complex.

The pacing is also awful. But this is related again to the commercials. As any time that Re-Kill starts to build its tension it cuts to a commercials. Which brings the movie to sudden stop, while providing little to the plot.

Final thoughts, it just wasn’t that good. Re-Kill is a bunch of standard zombie tropes and ideas thrown together with a pretty neat concept. Because like I said I do like the concept. But that alone is about the extent of what I do like. The characters are shallow, the location is boring and the zombies are never really explored beyond zombies. Not a film that I plan on watching again. 3/10

Midnight Movie

While doing some research in preparation of a second season of Slasher Series, I came across this 2008 slasher gem. Though unable to make the time to a proper video review, I decided to review it all the same. Those that read this blog should be well aware of my deep fondness for Slasher films. I can say that Midnight Movie is a decent slasher, with a large victim pool and memorable dread location. Though the killer leaves something to be desired, as do the kills.

Midnight Movie opens with a psychiatrist, trying to help one of his patients Ted Radford (Arthur Roberts), who has suffered a mental breakdown and thinks he’s the killer from his film The Dark Beneath that he made forty years prior. The psychiatrist has Radford watch his film in hopes that it will allow him to come to terms with what ever. This decision is contested by another psychiatrist Dr. Wayne (Michael Swan), but his objections are ignored and he leaves for the night. When he returns later he finds signs of a massacre  with no bodies ever being found. Five years later, A small local theater is showing The Dark Beneath as a midnight special for the first time since the massacre at the psychiatric hospital. The manger Bridget (Rebekah Brandes) along with two employees Kenny (Shaun Ausmus) and Rachael (Brea Grant) prepare the theater and welcome the small group of attendees. Including a biker couple Harley (Stan Ellsworth) and Babe (Melissa Steach), Bridget’s boyfriend Josh (Daniel Bonjour), Josh’s friend Mario (Greg Cirulnick) and Mario’s girlfriend Samantha (Mandell Maughan). Tagging along is their awkward friend and horror buff Sully (Michael Schwartz). Also in attendance is Dr. Wayne and Detective Barrons (Jon Briddell), who both believe that Radford will make an appearance since this is first time in years that his film has been played and lastly Bridget’s little brother Timmy (Justin Baric), who sneaked in. As the film plays those attending notice strange occurrences such as the killer attacking those in the building. When they go to investigate they learn that the killer can leave the film and take his victims back with inside it with him. When the frightened survivors try to flee the theater they realize that what ever power has allowed the killer to escape his film has trapped them inside with him…

I love the set up for this film, and the split dread locations. The idea the killer can leave his film and also take others back with him is interesting to say the least. The fact that the film is Slasher adds a great element of a Slasher within a Slasher that I greatly enjoyed. I might of actually enjoyed The Dread Beneath more than Midnight Movie itself.  The old, colorful theater plays wonderfully against the black and white world of the Dread Beneath. Creating a great visual contrast.

The victim pool was less amazing. I loved a small handful of the characters, Harley and Babe mostly. But Rachael and Timmy were also fun, if short-lived in Rachael’s case. I also love how the film sets up Bridget up as more of victim-hero over the standard final girl trope by giving her a darker back story filled with abuse at the hands of her father.

Though not all of Midnight Movie was great in my opinion. It has a number of weak spots that are glaring if you watch enough Slasher films. The killer Radford’s motives are never clearly defined. He just kills for the sake of killing, which ruins the inciting incident. He has no reason to go all murder happy, he’s just evil. Much in the same vein that Michael Myers is just murder happy. But Michael Myers still had a goal, to murder his sister providing some idea of intent or design. Here he just kills.

The weapon of choice wasn’t the greatest either. A spiral knife… thing, while it looks cool is never seen in use as the most of the violence with it is hidden or happens off-screen. But most of kills are with said weapon causing a lot of kills to feel old hat and uninventive. I would have liked to see more variety and creativity in the killers methods.

Lastly the gore leaves a lot to be desired. Midnight Movie feels incredibly tame in this regard, much like a PG-13 horror film might be. Even though it’s rated R it never really uses the rating. Giving the film a bit of a soft feeling. When you do see gore it looks fake and even comical, which is fine but doesn’t fit with rest of the films tone.

Final thoughts, I liked it. It had been a while since I watched a Slasher and it was great to get back to seeing the kind of films I love to watch. But the weak kills and a slow pace also made Midnight Movie a bit of slog to get through at times and with the uninventive kills gets even a tad monotonous. If your fan of the genre I would recommend it, if you’re looking to get  into the genre there is defiantly better places to start. 7/10

OMBC – Thor

Thor is a good book about a good dog. Also a werewolf is in there, but that’s kind of tertiary. I enjoyed this book for is use of the perspective. As having a dog as the lead protagonist is a great idea that payed of wonderfully. I learned about this novel through a review of Bad Moon, the film adaptation. Even without seeing the film, I know I like the book better. Thor was a fun read that didn’t take so long as to lose the momentum and while a horror novel, Thor has a few funny moments. As well as a few touching ones.

That’s all for this month. Next month Ill be reading The Oath by Frank Peretti, as it was suggested to me by a coworker and I’ve been feeling the need to branch out to different authors. Until next month, keep reading.

Train to Busan

It was super refreshing as a fan of zombies movies to see this film. It’s a great example of a great zombie film, as it makes the characters feel relatable. It was well written, well acted and well shot. So if you haven’t seen this film because that it’s subtitled. Then you are doing yourself a disservice. I’ve loved the horror films that I’ve seen come out of South Korea for all the same reasons. Reasons I’ll go more into depth about shortly.

Train to Busan opens with Seok-woo (Yoo Gong) a workaholic, who’s recently separated for his wife and has custody of their young daughter Soo-an (Soo-an Kim). Seok-woo wants to be a good father, but due to his job is unable to find the time to relate with his daughter. For her birthday Soo-an wants to go to Busan to see her mother. Seok-woo agrees to take her by train the next day. After boarding the train a zombie outbreak sweeps the nation. With an infected woman getting on board, turning and attacking. Further spreading the infection of the high speed train. Eventually the passengers who have manged to flee to the front of train notice that the infected are stupied and wont try to attack if they don’t see you.  The other survivors include, husband and wife Sang-hwa (Dong-seok Ma) and Seong-kyeong (Yu-mi Jung), sisters In-gil (Soo-jung Ye) and Jong-gil (Myung-sin Park), Yon-suk (Kim Eui-sung) a rich CEO, teenagers Yong-guk (Choi Woo-shik) and Jin-hee (Ahn So-hee). The train tries to stop at the next station only to see that it is overrun. It continues on until it reaches a city that its told is safe. Seok-woo learns the city is quarinteened and makes plans through his contacts at work to be evacuated there with his daughter. But that station too is overrun and the survivors barely make it back, while many of the other do not. But in the race to reach the train Seok-woo, Sang-hwa, Yong-guk are separated from the others and must fight the their way to them through infected filled train cars as the train races for the last open city… Busan.

So the things I loved. First was the dread location, putting this film on a train was great. The claustrophobic atmosphere was great and it made for some very intense action scenes. I also liked the sense of finality that the train brought, as it has a destination, at the very least the tracks have to end somewhere. Keeping the thought of hope and rescue alive. Only to squash it.

The acting was also pretty fantastic. I’m not as knowledgeable in South Korean films to identify the actors or reference their past work against this one. But they all do a great job, making for a very strong ensemble. My person favorite was Dong-seok as MaSang-hwa.

I also loved the effects, as the infected are just great. The gore while minimal is visceral keeping the threat and terror more real and closer to home. There’s plenty of blood and people being attacked, but the gore is never the show case and often times feels a little played down for the sake of tone.

Final thoughts, I loved this movie. Easily one of if not thee best zombie film I’ve seen in a while. Maybe since The Battery. It’s just that good. Train to Busan is worth all of the praise that it receives and I feel is a must watch for the zombie fans out there. As its great zombie film with more than a few touching moments. 10/10