Saturday, December 31, 2011

Freakshow (2007)

It is hard to believe that 2011 is almost over, and with it my Naval career will come to an end. As I sat down last night reflecting on the past year and thinking about what my future holds as I prepare to start work at the Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics, I decided to watch something close to my heart. I love the weird, strange and odd; I love the side shows of the days gone by. With that in mind my selection was Freakshow from 2007.   

Plot/ This is the story of a group of criminals who chose to hide out by working security at a traveling circus. At first, they plot with an insider to steal the ticket sales, but the wily Lucy has bigger plans. She convinces the gang to let her seduce and marry the aging circus owner, Lon, in order to secure the entire circus fortune. The freaks are on to their scheme, however, and when the youngest of them is caught by the ruthless gang, they show no mercy to ensure her silence. When the circus folk find the child's remains, they swear vengeance, and no one is safe from their fury.

I honestly should have known that this movie was too good to be true (boasting being banned in 42 countries). I am usually all for movies and shows about the carnivals and the sideshows that travelled with them during that golden age of the freak show, unfortunately, this one did nothing to make me want to ever see it again. There was next to no gore (last 10-15 minutes), no character development, poor pacing and an uneven script with so-so acting.  Really, there was nothing here to keep me entertained, I just kept watching in hopes it would get better. I will admit, I at least liked the ending, but that was about it. Take my advice, stay clear!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Paranormal Entity (2009)

After somewhat enjoying the paranormal feel of the movies from last night, I decided to stay in a similar genre as I relaxed prior to my second interview at the Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics. My selection was 2009s Paranormal Entity from The Asylum.

Plot/ A family is tormented by the paranormal and have recorded the events. Now, after the entire family is gone the actual footage of the supernatural events leading up to the 2008 murder of Samantha Finley is released.

This flick was definitely a take-off of the surprise hit Paranormal Activity, featuring a similar storyline, film technique and structure. However, putting that aside, I found this movie somewhat entertaining and at times on par with that one. Unfortunately, there was nothing original in any way, the acting was so-so and honestly, the found footage idea is starting to be played out. Sure, there were some atmospheric moments, but in the end that was not enough to keep this afloat. Especially with the ending, which seemed rushed and almost forced and did not hold the same effect as the one in Paranormal Activity.  If you have not seen Paranormal Activity, go ahead and check this one out. If you have, watch this one only if you are a true paranormal fanatic.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

8213: Gacy House (2010)

After some decent Sci-Fi fun, I decided to venture into the world of the supernatural and paranormal. It is funny, many times during these holiday periods, these topics become great fodder for marathons, and I still cannot get enough. My choice for last evening was 8213: Gacy House from 2010.

Plot/ A group of paranormal investigators enter the abandoned home of pedophile and serial killer John Gacy, hoping to find evidence of paranormal activity. Upon entering the house they set-up cameras throughout the abandoned house while going room to room with hand-held cameras, performing séances and asking for John Gacy to come forward. As the evening progresses, it seems the investigators are not prepared for the horror still within the house.

Let me start by saying that this is far from the worst movie in this genre. As someone who has been part of paranormal investigations, there was some realism inside the storyline. Unfortunately, this story has become all too typical and nothing stood out. The acting was uneven, the pacing off, the characterization non-existent, and some of the elements inside the reality made little to no sense (especially Gacy’s spirit returning in the clown costume-wow). In the end, this was a decent entry from The Asylum. While I would not search it out or waste money on it, if you stumbled upon it for free it can at least help pass some time.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Lunopolis (2009)

Let me start this entry by saying Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to the readers of my blog. This year has been amazing and I have not only enjoyed sharing opinions on the movies I watch, I have gained a tremendous amount of appreciation for the opinions and feedback I have received from everyone who has read something here in The Ringmaster’s Realm. With my holiday break somewhat over, I decided to jump back into things with some Science Fiction in 2009s mockumentary Lunopolis.

Plot/ Two documentary filmmakers accidentally uncover the greatest moon secret the world has never known, and the powerful organization determined to keep it that way.

When I read the synopsis on Netflix, this definitely seemed like an interesting flick. What I found was even better. This mockumentary (or docudrama) does a great job of fusing classic Sci-Fi overtones with elements of conspiracy and religion. The storyline is solid and in many ways almost believable, the characterization is solid and overall it is well written and well conceived. Yes, there are some low-budget moments, and some of the ideas that are somewhat out there may turn off people. However, this movie must be seen by Sci-Fi and conspiracy fans, it is one of the best I have watched in a while.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Hatchet II (2010)

After watching Hatchet the other night and enjoying the graphic violence and gore, I decided to search out the sequel and see what Victor Crawley had in store. Luckily for me, Hatchet II was on one of my premium channels and I was able to DVR it.

Plot/ Marybeth escapes the clutches of the bayou-butcher Victor Crowley and returns to the swamp with an army of hunters and gunmen, determined to end Crowley's reign of horror once and for all.

Sequels are usually a mixed bag, some are successful at capturing the momentum of the original and some come up way short. This flick had some hits and misses when comparing it to the original. The gore in this one was graphic, intense and truly was a highlight and the storyline and character development was outstanding. While by and large the acting was solid, especially Kane Hodder’s dual role, some of the casting decisions (like changing out Marybeth) took something away from the original, not to mention lacking the great comedy that was a blast in the first one. Overall, this was definitely a decent sequel and a horror movie that is worth watching (especially if you enjoyed the original).

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Hatchet (2006)

After a couple of days away from the blog recovering from my interview at the Pittsburgh Institute of Aeronautics, it was time to settle in and watch something after the finale of American Horror Story. My choice was the gory slasher entry Hatchet from 2006.

Plot/ When a group of tourists on a New Orleans haunted swamp tour find themselves stranded in the wilderness, their evening of fun and spooks turns into a horrific nightmare.

Being a child of the 1980s, slashers played a huge role in developing what I love in horror movies. Unfortunately, those days are long gone, replaced by teen-driven franchises and censored horror. That is where Hatchet succeeds, paying homage to those classic days with a tremendous mixture of gore, violence and just enough comic interludes. The storyline is solid and the acting is decent, but it is the graphic violence (and nudity) that set it apart from others in the genre. In the end, this one is an entertaining endeavor and one definitely made for true gore hounds and horror fans.  

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Suicide Girls Must Die! (2010)

Last night was a bit of a challenge. After enjoying an evening of bingo with my daughter Genesis, I unfortunately had to suffer through the end of the Steelers game, all-the-while stressing over my job interview that I had scheduled for this morning in Pittsburgh. To clear my mind, I decided to watch slasher that is a bit more provocative than usual. My choice was the 2010 entry, Suicide Girls Must Die!

Plot/ When twelve nude models for the infamous begin disappearing from a remote cabin, the calendar video they are shooting becomes the first reality horror movie.

This movie definitely hit the spot for the mood I was in. Yes, it was cliché, the pacing was off, some of the acting was just bad and the personalities were turn offs, but, all-in-all it was a fun romp in the woods with some beautiful women in different stages of undress. Honestly, who doesn’t love watching tattooed and pierced women shooting a sexy calendar? I know I do!  And that is truly the heart of the flick. This was a horror-spoof shot to publicize the Suicide Girls, and you know what, they actually crafted a decent looking movie in the process. I enjoyed it and would recommend it to a certain crowd. This one is definitely not for everyone, and people who take issue with and cannot see the beauty behind tattoos, piercings, or alternative looks and lifestyles should definitely stay away.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Exorcismus (2010)

I have been attracted to films about possession ever since the first time I witnessed The Exorcist as a teenager in the 1980s, and it has been a while since I found a film in that genre that truly stood out. To me, many of the films in that category try too hard to reach the look, feel and tension created in that classic, just to fall flat. Hopefully, Exorcismus does not fall into that same trap.

Plot/ Fifteen-year-old Emma is going through the growing pains of teen life, believing her parents don't understand her and longing for the independence that's still a few years away. When Emma falls prey to a series of seizures that leave doctors and psychologists baffled, her parents summon a priest to help the girl. But what lurks inside Emma is far more dangerous than they could have ever imagined.

Not knowing what to expect when I put this on, I will admit that I am glad I chose this one. Sure, the movie started with the typical possession cliché’s, but it also offered some outstanding dark and disturbing takes. The acting was solid, the cinematography above-the-line, and the characterization was tremendous. However, it was the dark and tense atmosphere and the wisely placed and well done effects which truly made this flick stand out. Yes, this one is not perfect, but it is absolutely one of the best possession themed films that has been released in some time and definitely worth checking out.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

YellowBrickRoad (2010)

After taking a few days off and actually getting back into some of the sports writing that started my journalistic aspirations, I decided to jump back into my comfort zone. I love horror, and honestly, I love working on my blog here at The Ringmaster’s Realm, I would not change it for anything. Although, now that I am retired, I look to expand it more with some paranormal related trips, cryptid investigations, convention reports and hopefully, even a horror movie show. Until then though, I will focus on movies. Tonight’s entry is YellowBrickRoad from the guys at Bloody-Disgusting. 

Plot/ 1940: the entire population of Friar, New Hampshire walked up a winding mountain trail, leaving everything behind. 2008: the first official expedition into the wilderness attempts to solve the mystery of the lost citizens of Friar.

Wow, this was an interesting flick, which had just enough of everything to keep me interested.  The characters, while not perfect, were believable, the plot has some strange twists, the atmosphere is dark and heavy and the acting is solid. More of a psychological thriller than horror movie, this one did a very good job at creating the realism that can happen when the world around them change when faced with unknown. Having investigated some abandoned ruins in Connecticut and having some small confusing moments when we lost our way at night, I can definitely relate. Sure, it is not perfect. While there is blood and some violent moments, there is no gore. In addition, the ending is a bit of a challenge and I am sure does not work for everyone. , However, in the end, this is a decent movie with some great scenery and just enough weirdness to let it creep under your skin. Yes, it is not for everyone (especially not gore hounds) but it you like psychological movies that make you think, give it a chance.

For more films from Bloody-Disgusting like this or the horror comedy Chop, check out their website at

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Bag of Bones (2011)

I love a chance to watch something different, especially when there is nothing on television. After finishing my first article for last night, I decided to finish watching the A&E mini-series Bag of Bones based on the work of famed horror maestro Stephen King.

Plot/ Best-selling novelist Mike Noonan cannot stop grieving after his wife Jo's and their unborn child's sudden death. Writer's block and nightmares force him to return to the couple's former summer home beside a lake in western Maine. Once there, his ability to write quickly returns, in addition to more nightmares. At the house, he continually gets visits from the spirit of a blues singer, Sarah Tidwell. Through her visits, his nightmarish dreams, and clues hidden in his previously unpublished work, he learns truths about himself and the town.

When I saw the preview for this, I did not know what to expect. It is no secret that for whatever reason Stephen King novels rarely translate onto film. That is not saying that they are not entertaining, because most are, they just lose something in the translation. I had never read Bag of Bones, so in watching it, I had no comparison and I actually liked what I saw. Yes, there were some flaws, the acting was uneven, the cinematography/direction so-so, and it is chalked full of cliché moments, but overall it was entertaining. For me, the plot kept me interested and there was some violence and gore.  In the end, I felt this was a decent mini-series, I would not run out and buy it when it finally hits DVD, but I would watch it for free if it was on.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Event Horizon (1997)

I love dark and atmospheric horror. I honestly prefer atmosphere to gore when viewing something. A flick featuring a creepy and eerie feel can make it easier to overlook some flaws. One of the better examples of dark and creepiness is Event Horizon from 1997.

Plot/ A rescue crew investigates a spaceship that disappeared into a black hole and has now returned...with someone or something new on-board.

Sci-Fi / Horror combos are always a mixed bag. Sometimes, these films can be a mess, struggling to determine exactly which direct to move. Fortunately, this film does a great job at marrying the two and never loses focus. This one has a lot going for it, solid acting, interesting story and some decent gore. More than anything this flick boasts some of the best atmospheric horror elements I have seen, creating a very dark, creepy and depressing feeling. Sure, the character development is lacking and there are some small pacing flaws, but those really do not hurt the film. In the end, this complex and dark Sci-Fi / Horror often gets overlooked and is one of the more underrated gems in this genre.  Check it out!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Final Destination (2009)

After watching the dark trip into the mind of serial killer John Wayne Gacy, I decided to venture into something different with some 3D action. My selection for the late night was The Final Destination from 2009.

Plot/ After a young man's premonition of a deadly race-car crash helps saves the lives of his peers, Death sets out to collect those who evaded their end.

This 3D horror sequel definitely took its 3D billing seriously. Hell, even in 2D, you can see the 3D design with everything.  However, that may be the best part of the movie, as the acting is so-so, the storyline cliché and at 80 minutes it never truly dives into the discussions of death that made the other movies in the franchise at least interesting. In the end, yes, the pacing is good, some of the effects are decent and there are even a few interesting deaths, but that is nowhere near enough to make it a good flick. Sure, it is somewhat entertaining, but unless you are a serious fan of this horror franchise, I would recommend you stay away (I am sure you can find something more interesting).

Friday, December 9, 2011

Dear Mr. Gacy (2010)

After a few days away from my blog, suffering with the anxiety of another Steelers game (man, I hate when they play down to their competition), I decided to get back at it and try to close out the year on a strong note. My selection for the evening is a bit different from usual, the 2010 based on a true story docudrama, Dear Mr. Gacy.

Plot/ This is a chronicle of the interaction between college student Jason Moss and the object of his obsession, notorious serial killer John Wayne Gacy.

As I have stated on this blog over the last two years, I like to read about and research elements of true crime. Serial killers such as Jack the Ripper fascinate me, as their legends have taken on lives of their own. This docudrama started rather bland, but soon too on a life of its own.  Based on a true story, the direction and script created a provocative and uncomfortable portrait of the psychopath. The characterization was just right, the acting solid and the cinematography truly backed the dark atmosphere of the flick. In the end, this is one of the better docudrama’s on serial killers I have seen and is definitely worth watching.