Saturday, August 31, 2013

Pawn Shop Chronicles (2013)

After watching Ghoul last night, I decided to kick back and watch something very different. Of course, that is usually a challenge, as I do not have that type of movie readily available. However, last night was different as we had a movie here on hand. That flick was the 2013 action comedy Pawn Shop Chronicles.

Plot/ A missing wedding ring leads to a wild-goose chase involving meth addicts, skinheads and an Elvis impersonator.

This is definitely not my usual selection, but I was in the mood for a comedy and this one fit the bill. Like a low-budget clone of the classic Pulp Fiction, this one was extremely disjointed with just enough incoherent related moments to somewhat pull it all together. The most impressive thing was that while it had some head scratching moments, the acting was solid and it was funny, disturbing and entertaining. It was far from perfect, as the scripting was uneven and the entire storyline spiraled downward in some bizarre manner as the film wore on. In the end, this one is not for everyone. Yes, will help pass some time and put a smile a face, but it will also turn some people off in a big way. If you want to see a low budget disjointed comedy, check it out!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Ghoul (2012)

Tonight three of the daughters had their acting final performances and the fourth started the high school band season with a trumpet solo in Jesus Christ Superstar during halftime; truly an awesome night. Now that I am home, I decided to watch something somewhat tame, as it was early. My choice for the evening is the 2012 thriller Ghoul.

Plot/ Centers on a group of friends who risk their lives to stop who, or what, is behind a rash of disappearances in their town.

This made for TV adaptation of the Brian Keene story does not do it justice. Not a typical horror movie by any sense, this is a deep, complex drama that tackles a much more pervasive problem in society, child abuse. As a parent, it pains me to watch the news and hear some of the stories about abuse, there is no place for that in society. This movie is interesting, with decent acting, some solid cinematic effects, and a tremendous storyline. Honestly, it would have been an awesome film to see have a bigger budget. Of course, not all the decisions were perfect, as some of the dialogue was flat, there were predictable moments and there were some missed opportunities. In the end, this was an entertaining flick and one that provides some deep social commentary. Is it for everyone? No, its not, but it is a solid flick and one that will make you think about whom the real ghouls are.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Kiss the Abyss (2012)

After spending another evening at the softball field, it was a relaxing evening with some decent horror flicks. During that time, it was hard not to think that not only do three of the daughters return to school in the morning, but also the twins turn 11; crazy, very crazy. My movie for this thought provoking moment, the 2012 indie flick Kiss the Abyss.

Plot/ When a young woman is brutally killed by an intruder, her husband and estranged father conspire to bring her back from the dead with the help of a mysterious desert dweller. Soon after she awakens, she begins to realize that something is horribly wrong.

As usual, I had very low expectations when I picked this one up. Yes, I know that is typical when I randomly grab something, but hey, it is honest. Fortunately, those expectations were quickly turned around. This flick had a strange, thought provoking premise, interesting characterization and an entertaining feel. Sure, some of the acting was over-the-top and uneven and the effects were just OK, but that did little to bring this one down. In the end, this indie flick was a lot better than some options out there and is truly a complex endeavor. If you are like me and love weid movies, you should like this one.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Alien Autopsy: Fact or Fiction? (1995)

Documentaries always seem to pop up into my viewing rotation, as I love researching different aspects of the outer edges of reality. For me, this is just a commonality and part of what we all should be doing on a regular basis. Research is fun, especially research on the topic of Aliens and UFOs, as there is so much information out there that fact that governments refuse to disclose the truth is laughable. My flick for the evening was the controversial 1995 documentary Alien Autopsy: Fact or Fiction?

Plot/ This provocative FOX Network television special investigates the purported Alien Autopsy footage that was allegedly filmed by the United States military after the legendary UFO crash near Roswell, New Mexico in 1947.

Documentaries are always fun and interesting, especially those that stir debate and that was the case with this one after it aired in 1995. While it has now been an admitted hoax (although there are still lingering questions with the 50-year old film), in many ways this one re-ignited the Roswell Crash Investigation for many investigators. While there was nothing new from a research perspective of the famous UFO crash, the documentary went through expert commentary for the validity of the autopsy footage while showing the different aspects of the autopsy. Honestly, it was extremely believable when released and still holds some merit today. Not for everyone, this is a great documentary for anyone interested in researching the Roswell UFO incident.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Day of the Dead (1985)

Continuing with somewhat of a Pennsylvania theme, I chose my next flick. While it was not based in the Keystone state, it was once considered the conclusion of the original George Romero zombie trilogy that will forever be linked to South Western Pennsylvania. My choice for the morning is the Romero classic Day of the Dead from 1985.

Plot/ A small group of military officers and scientists dwell in an underground bunker as the world above is overrun by zombies.

I remember watching this when in came out in 1985. At 13-years old, this movie was dark and extremely complex in comparison to the mindless zombie flicks that had become the rage in that era. Today, looking back at it, it was way ahead of its time. More importantly, it demonstrated what could be done on a limited budget, especially if the right people are working on it. The effects by Tom Savini are some of the best seen and the gore factor takes it to a new level. Yes, the soundtrack has some uneven moments, some of the acting was too over-the-top, and the storyline was a touch disjointed in places, but not of that brought the film down. In the end, this may be one of the more impressive entries from the mind of Romero and could possibly be his best work in the zombie genre. With the extreme amount of gore, it is not for everyone, but it is a must see for fans of the zombie genre. 

Riddle (2013)

After watching the Pittsburgh Steelers fall in overtime (great call Andy Reid), it was time to kick back and watch something dark. Yes, yes, the Steelers preseason has been rather bleak, but it is still entertaining and there have been some bright spots. My movie choice for the evening is another one based in Pennsylvania, and filmed here in Fayette County (Brownsville), the 2013 thriller Riddle.

Plot/ A college student is drawn to the mysterious small town of Riddle, Pennsylvania in search of her missing brother. Against the will of the local Sheriff, she begins to unravel a mystery connected to an abandoned psychiatric hospital on the edge of town, uncovering a terrifying past the town is determined to keep hidden.

This one was a bit uneven for me, as there were some parts that I really liked, and others that left me a bit disappointed. On one hand, this had a lot better quality than some films in this budget range it showed. The sound track worked, the acting was somewhat uneven, but for the most part worked and the setting was perfect for this type of entry. Unfortunately, there were some head scratching moments within the storyline that definitely left the viewer frustrated. On top of that, it featured some choppy editing, strange characterization points, and a somewhat disappointing amount of slow pacing. In the end, it was not terrible, but it was not great. Yes, there were some entertaining moments, but not enough to make it truly worthwhile. It may help  pass some time, but it is definitely not for everyone. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Bates Haunting (2012)

Every once in a while when I am at Family Video, I decide to grab something that appears to be just mindless entertainment and that was the case tonight. While looking around, I knew that this selection would trend down a spiral, but decided to venture into it anyway. Me selection for tonight was, The Bates Haunting from 2012.

Plot/ After a year of obsessing over a murder investigation everyone else thinks is open and shut, Agnes goes to work at the Haunt in an attempt confront her trauma. Horrific events begin to claim the lives of her coworkers and Agnes must figure out what is behind all of the "accidents" before more people die.

I had a feeling going into this flick that it was not going to be anything special, and I was right. This is the typical low budget slasher. With that being said, it comes complete with the typical failings of the flicks of that ilk. The acting is amateurish and uneven; the storyline riddled with cliché, and the scripting was at best so-so. While this flick did seem to have some potential, it definitely did not come through with any type of what if moment or any type of scare. In the end, while the premise was there, this did nothing for the slasher genre. In fact, the Bates Motel and Haunted Hayride in Glens Mills, Pennsylvania that shares the backdrop may actually provide more realistic scares and a much better alternative to spend 90 minutes of your life. If you are a fan of slashers and have no other options, check it out. If there is something else available, it may be more entertaining.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Something Lovecraftian from my book Walking Before Dawn- The Man By The Sea


He stands before the depths
Staring at the crossroads ahead
Deciding what bed to lay
To his right, the teeth of leviathan
Glistening in the murky underbelly of existence
To his left, only dismay and destruction
The great chasm lies ahead
Decisions at hand

His path is his path
He must face reality
Yes or no
North or south
Left or right
Good or evil
Around any corner could be salvation
Waiting to be captured

His heart pounds
Pulling toward the despair
But, his head
His eyes
Feel one with leviathan’s lair

Should he venture into the unknown?
Does he have a choice?
Standing on deck
Searching for the clarity
The answers
An empty soul being taken against his will
The sun sets
Tears fall
Is his last breath near?

The unquiet battle rages on
Turmoil grows
The voices cry out
Screams and laughter haunt his mind
His lifeless shell stands alone
The sea?
He steps toward the destruction and dismay
His last whisper
Goodbye my friend
Leviathan mourns

From Walking Before Dawn

Exorcist Chronicles (2013)

Every once in a while I am drawn to flicks for some unknown reason. It could be the premise or it could be the look, honestly, at times, I just enjoy some randomness. Today was a prime example of that. While I spent a good bit of time reflecting on Lovecraft and was in that type of mood, I decided to watch something in a very different vein. My selection for the evening is the 2013 British flick, Exorcist Chronicles.

Plot/ Across the world, demonic possessions are on the increase. Two specialists are brought in and uncover a dark and terrifying worldwide plot.

OK, I was due for a bad one, and I definitely found it here. While this flick sounded like a great premise and looked like it would have potential (and it did), the overall product in this found footage entry fell short. Yes, this was definitely a low budget attempt, and I kept that in mind throughout, but some of it was just discordant. As with most low budget flicks, it suffers from uneven acting, poor dialogue, terrible sound quality and incoherent editing. Sure, those flaws are expected, but when these are found in a found footage setting, it comes across as very laughable. Now, this movie is not all bad, and did have some redeeming qualities, such as an ample amount of nudity and boob action, but honestly, that could only raise it up a small notch. In the end, I was somewhat entertained and I have seen worse, but I really cannot recommend this to anyone that is searching for a good movie. If you like no-budget indie flicks, you may enjoy it as I did, but be warned.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Happy Birthday H.P. Lovecraft

Today was an interesting day. While my class was going over some practice solder boards prior to building their fiber optic voice link, I was reminded that it was H.P. Lovecraft’s birthday. Next to Edgar Allan Poe, Lovecraft is one of my biggest influences in my creative process and is a literary genius. While some of the adaptations of his movies have not been great, his influence can be seen all over horror cinema.

During the viewing of The Thing (2011) for my last review, I was reminded of that influence, as many of the creatures depicted in that film had many Lovecraftian traits. Honestly, I would prefer the aliens in this world being more Reptilian than Lovecraftian, as we would have a chance against the Reptilians.

Of course, the realm of Cthulhu is one of many different paths, and the ancients of the mythos are some of the most interesting ever created. But, were they created, or did they come from some lost part of history? Could Cthulhu be the ancients legends talk about from Planet X? Yes, that may be a stretch, but the fact that the Necronomicon made its first modern appearance in the works of Lovecraft, may be an insight to some other power and understanding at work.

Sure, I am speculating with this thought, but there is truly so much that we do not understand with history and science, that links are sometimes ignored that should be seen differently.

Now I can move onto one other topic that came up in class, a recent UFO sighting near Pittsburgh. One of my students captured an interesting red glowing orb moving erratically in the sky on Sunday night and captured a couple of images. While there is not a ton of detail, the fact that these sightings are on a semi-regular basis, does add some evidential proof. Couple that with the fact that this is a student at an aviation school, and the notion of a mistaken craft identity can be somewhat dismissed as well.

While the idea of UFOs and H.P. Lovecraft may be somewhat unrelated to most observers, to me, both have origins that lie at the heart of what is most likely Forbidden History.   

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Thing (2011)

I have been on an alien / UFO kick this weekend and for the most part kept it to documentaries. Between Ancient Aliens, UFO Files and some interesting biblical stuff that connects the topic, I have burnt up Direct TV on the subject. That was until earlier tonight when the 2011 prequel of The Thing was on…

Plot/ Deep below the Arctic ice, scientists discover an alien spacecraft and the remains of the occupant. The scientists cut it out of the ice and take it back to their camp. Unfortunately, as the ice melts, the creature reanimates and the terror begins.

I have stayed clear of this flick for some time, as I was a huge fan of the first remake from John Carpenter. But, having been in an alien type mood, I decided to venture into this prequel. Now I understand why. On its own merits there are some interesting facets to this flick that make it entertaining, unfortunately, in comparison to the earlier masterpiece it is overshadowed. The creature design is awesome, I just wish they would have stayed away from so much of the CGI, Yes, they are interesting, but still CGI dampens some of it. The acting is solid, storyline interesting, and atmosphere is ok; as I said entertaining in its own right. The problem is that much of the premise is shared from the Carpenter classic and there is nothing new in this flick to make it very memorable on its own. Yes, this one is entertaining and has some moments of tension, Is it perfect, no, but it is interesting to watch, especially if you know little of the Carpenter flick from 1982. 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Parasomnia (2008)

I was walking through Family Video last night and wanted to find some interesting movies for the weekend. With my creative endeavors somewhat on hold as I decide what to work on next, I can always find clarity inside the dark depths of horror and here in my blog. While walking around, I decided upon the 2008 flick Parasomnia to help take some time away over the weekend.

Plot/ Laura Baxter is a young woman suffering from parasomnia, or a condition which she sleeps her life away. Once she escapes from her hospital prison, she discovers something more sinister on the horizon.

Not knowing much about this flick, I have to admit that it was nothing that I expected when I picked it up. This interesting, and somewhat demented love story has a lot of potential. Sure, it is somewhat cliché in it overall story, the intriguing visuals help bring something different to the screen. Yes, it is a bit incoherent and some of the acting is uneven, but there is strangeness to this flick that makes it work. On top of that, Jeffrey Combs makes an appearance, something that is always fun. In the end, this is far from a cohesive low-budget flick, but it is not terrible; it does have some entertaining moments. Yes, it has some shortcomings, but I have watched a lot worse.

The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh (2012)

While I was fighting with the computer and internet service trying to post an article to, I decided to kick back and absorb something that is hopefully somewhat haunting. Although, after watching Ancient Aliens early, a UFO flick would work. In the end, I decided on the 2012 entry The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh.

Plot/ An antiques collector inherits a house from his estranged mother only to discover that she had been living in a shrine devoted to a mysterious cult. Soon, he comes to suspect that his mother's oppressive spirit still lingers within her home and is using items in the house to contact him with an urgent message.

This was a difficult flick to review. Not because it was terrible, Hell, it was good. Yet, there was something holding it back. Maybe it was the short length or maybe the lack of characters; I just cannot put my finger on it. This movie was good, featuring brilliant sets, a haunting atmosphere, and an interesting story line. Unfortunately, it does not fully reach its potential. In the end, this debut flick from Rue Morgue Magazine editor & President Rodrigo Gudino is interesting and relatively entertaining. Yes, there are flaws with pacing and sound, but I have seen worse.