Thursday, October 31, 2013

House of Voices (2004)

I would like to wish a Happy Halloween to all of my readers, friends and family out there in the world. It is hard to imagine that three years ago, I went through my retirement ceremony from the Navy. Today, I went through another fun evening of Trick or Treating with three of my daughters. 

Markie, Jillian, and Jolene

While that was fun, it was another dreary Halloween, the second one in a row. To finish my viewing list from the past week, I decided to write-up House of Voices from 2004, although I should likely pass. 

Plot/ A young servant, Anna, arrives in Saint Ange Orphanage to work with Helena while the orphans moved to new families. Anna, who is secretly pregnant, meets the last orphan, Judith, left behind because of her mental problems; together they investigate trying to disclose the secret about the invisible children.

I guess I get what I deserve when I try to find an alternative to mainstream paranormal themed movies. This one was definitely the wrong choice for me. House of Voices (AKA Saint Ange) could have been something interesting, unfortunately, it went awry. Filled with cliché, uneven acting, miserable scripting and a lack of atmosphere, there was not much to enjoy. Sure it has a decent soundtrack, but even that did nothing to add scares or creepiness. In the end, I was extremely disappointed in this flick and should have gone a different direction. Unless you are absolutely out of options, stay away!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Solomon Kane (2009)

After attending the Uniontown Halloween Parade on Wednesday, it was time to find something to watch. For me, there is always something that I have not seen, or something that caught my eye and that was again the case. After an episode of Battlestar Galactica, it was time for a movie. My selection was the 2009 fantasy Solomon Kane.

Plot/ A ruthless mercenary renounces violence after learning his soul is bound for hell. When a young girl is kidnapped and her family slain by a sorcerer's murderous cult, he is forced to fight and seek his redemption slaying evil.

There is always something awesome about a flick that takes you to another time and place and this is a great example of that. Dark, atmospheric, bloody, this storyline is perfect for what this film is, a journey into redemption in the middle ages. The characterization works, as the overall feel of the film allows them to grow along the way. While some may feel that the movie has some odd or slow pacing, it could also be argued that it is perfect way to attain the feel or mood. Yes, some of it is unbelievable, and some head scratching moments appear, but those are expected from a rather low budget entry. In the end, this is one of the better dark fantasies out there and one that is worth watching. If you love history and a peek into another time, this is a great way to experience it. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Seven Below (2012)

With Halloween just two days away, I decided to kick back and relax and see what I could find on Netflix. There are some flicks that I have passed over in the past, but could slide in this week. Before I get to my review for 7 Below, I would be remiss if I did not mention the passing of former Velvet Underground front man, and punk poet Lou Reed. Reed was an inspiration for me, and his CD, The Raven, is a perfect soundtrack for Halloween. Here is a sample.

Plot/ a group of strangers are trapped in a time warp house where a terrible event transpired exactly 100 years prior.

Now I know why I had bypassed this flick for so long. This one was not really worth the time I invested in watching it. A thriller, this one suffers from some head scratching flaws. From poor scripting and dialogue, to terrible sound quality, to uneven performances, this one scuttles the small creativeness allowed for in the storyline before it can get started. More importantly, as a ghost story, it truly falls flat and produces nothing more than a slowly paced and boring thriller. If you are reading this stay away… Stay far away.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Silent Hill: Revelation 3D (2012)

After entering the world of Silent Hill, the daughters were amazed at the dark atmosphere in the original. As Halloween draws closer, it is becoming easier to create some scares and I decided to help force some small fears by pushing the heavy atmosphere and continuing a winding road into Silent Hill. After the original, it was time for Silent Hill: Revelation 3D (2012).

Plot/ When her father disappears, Heather Mason is drawn into a strange and terrifying alternate reality that holds answers to the horrific nightmares that have plagued her since childhood.

Sequels are always difficult to judge, as they can almost never live up to the expectations set by the original. That is definitely the case here, as even though there are some positives with it, it in no way lives up to the original. There was a lot to like; the acting was decent, the creatures interesting, and the storyline stayed true to the original ideas. Sure, the pacing was off, there were too many jump scares and the characterization was non-existent, but still it is nowhere near enough to totally sink this. In the end, this one could not generate the same atmosphere that made the original film and the video game awesome and it almost felt rushed. Sure, this one is not for everyone, as it does have some violence and gore, but it is entertaining. If you have not seen it, this one is not the original Silent Hill, but it is decent attempt at a sequel.

Silent Hill (2006)

Now that Hamlet is in the rearview, it was nice to be able to watch some decent horror flicks last night with the daughters. What did we decide on? Well, since the Paranormal Activity franchise has because laughable even to them, I decided to let them venture into another franchise, one that may be a little darker, the realm of Silent Hill.

Plot/ Based on the video game, a woman goes in search for her daughter, within the confines of a strange, desolate town called Silent Hill.

Inspiration for movies can come from anywhere, and Silent Hill proved that the transition from video game to cinematic experience can be accomplished in a well done manner. Yes, it is not a perfect flick, but it is dark and atmospheric, everything that one would expect. The storyline is interesting, the gore and effects work, and the performances are on the money. More importantly, for the gamers, there are a lot of similarities in scenery and creatures between the movie and game. Of course, there are some head scratching moments and some minor pacing issues, but that is not a huge hold-up with the movie. In the end, this is a creepy flick that is perfect for the dreary wintery nights that are on the horizon. If you have not watched it, check it out.

Vampire Whores From Outer Space (2005)

Now that my time as a narrator has come to an end, maybe I can get back to writing or watching some interesting flicks. Now, what I would love would be to find someone that is interested in making a no-budget horror flick and offering a script. One can only hope. Now, next up on my review agenda is another horror comedy, the 2005 no-budget flick Vampire Whores From Outer Space.

Plot/ When their spaceship makes a crash-landing, the vampire whores from outer space begin sucking a small town dry in more ways than one. It's up to a pair of high-school sweethearts, back-alley abortionists, and the inept local law enforcement to stop them.

When I saw this on Screambox, I had to watch it and I am glad that I did. Yes, technically, there is nothing to write home about in this movie, as it suffers from every problem that plagues no-budget indie cinema, but it is entertaining and funny. A mash-up of Sci-Fi, Horror, and Comedy, this one is far from perfect with uneven to bad acting, poor dialogue, cheesy effects and some just weird moments. However, these flaws are just part of the charm and draw to the movie, as everyone embraced these flaws within the cheesiness and built upon them. Not for everyone, this cheesefest is entertaining and should be enjoyed by fans on no-budget cinema.    

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Cockneys vs Zombies (2012)

Now, it is finally time to catch-up on one of the last flicks from last weekend that I have yet to review. Having been swamped with Hamlet practice all week for today’s performance, it became harder and harder to focus on stuff as the week progressed. So without further delay, the 2012 zombie comedy Cockneys vs. Zombies.

Plot/ A gang of bank robbers fight their way out of a zombie-infested London.

When I heard of this, I had hoped for something fun with some blood and violence. Guess what, that is exactly what this was, a fun zombie flick with some comedic dialogue and characterizations. Sure, the gore and make-up was hit and miss, but overall, it worked well within the storyline and script. On a down side, some of the performances were flat and there were some holes inside the storyline, but that only detracts a little. In the end, this movie may not have the appeal of Shaun of the Dead, but it is extremely fun and entertaining. Sure, it is not for everyone, but those who get it will enjoy it.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Lurking Fear (1994)

One of the best things I have done during this Halloween season, especially as I am swamped with hamlet practice at the Phoenix Arts Center (I am the narrator), was sign up for ScreamBox on YouTube. It is so nice being able to pop in an obscure low-budget horror flick as the kids are practicing. One such movie is my next select, the 1994 entry Lurking Fear from Full Moon Entertainment.

Plot/ The town of Leffert's Corners has been plagued by unearthly beings for decades, and now there is only a few people left, including the local priest and a woman traumatized by the death of her sister. But when John Martense turns up to claim his illicit family fortune, with bad guys in pursuit, the last stand had become a lot more complicated.

When this is advertised as an H.P. Lovecraft adaptation I had to watch. Unfortunately, I also laughed. To say this one is even loosely based may honestly be a stretch. From the archives of Full Moon, this low budget entry is not for everyone, as it suffers through the same elements that haunt these flicks. While this did have an interesting idea, the execution fell flat. There were some positives with the creatures, and some of the performances (Jeffrey Combs), but that is about it. The editing was choppy, the cinematography all over and the characterizations were not a hit. More importantly, it stagnated throughout and felt extremely forced. In the end, this entry from Full Moon did not age well and will not appeal to any true Lovecraft fan. Yes, as a straight horror flick, it does have a minimal appeal, but not one that can be more than minimally watch able.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


As I stare off into the unknown, my perceptions waver
Until your beauty appears before me
Haunting my dismal view of the world
Tempting me with fantasies of your warm depths
Complicating my reality

There are times I can feel you near
Your gentle hands caressing my emptiness
Your soft voice breaking the silence of my thoughts
Alone I wake to face another day
Longing evermore for you

The embers of your passion come to life in my heart
Scorching forbidden desires into my soul
In my mind I can picture the ecstasy
The pleasures of our flesh as we touch
The fulfillment of everything ever unspoken between us

This sacred bond we share keeps me true
Alive to face the unsettling despair of loneliness
Wandering the damp corridors of darkness
Imagining my view from your thighs
Longing evermore for you

There are times that I stare off into the horizon
Dissecting the white patchwork splendor
All for just a glimpse of your unmatched pale beauty
For a moment, my reverie overtook reality
For a brief second you were near

There are times I stare off into the horizon
Dissecting the mysterious shadows
All for just a glance at your ravenous womb
For a moment the conduit was clear
Longing evermore for you

Your eyes entice me
Urging me to take control
To finally grasp what I yearn for
Now and forever holding your heart in my palm
Yet, one for eternity may never be enough

Your hands caress my every move
Easing into my dreams, harnessing all that I am
Finally our path is clear, our destiny in tune
One for eternity
Longing evermore 

Creep Van (2012)

After some paranormal flicks over the weekend, I decided it was time to venture into something tremendously different. While this time of year is great for the supernatural, and even witchcraft type material, there is no substitute for a good slasher. Hoping to find an interesting one, I decided upon the 2012 indie flick Creep Van.  

Plot/ Life without a car can be murder. Nobody is going to learn that lesson faster than Campbell Jackson. Forced to take a dead-end position at a local car wash, Campbell sees a dilapidated 1970s van for sale. Little does he know it is the Creep Van.

This was a awesome low budget slasher with some comic element tucked inside. Sure, it was not a perfect film, but it also did not portray itself in that manner. Overall, there was a lot to like within the low budget persona. The storyline works, the gore is decent, and the decision to use traditional special effects instead of CGI is commendable. On top of that, the topless scenes and creative sexuality aspects were a surprise. Yes, there is some odd pacing, the acting is uneven and some of the characterizations are off, but that is somewhat expected. In the end, this took me back to the 1980s and the low budget slasher that populated the local video stores. Is it for everyone? No, but neither is Titanic.

Monday, October 21, 2013

An American Ghost Story (2012)

As I have said many times over this past month, I love Halloween and the creepiness that goes along with this season. What makes it even better is the fact that there is always some good cinema available. One thing that is even better is the fact that there is a ton of no-budget horror or supernatural related flicks that pop up. My next selection is one of those, the 2012 no-budget indie flick An American Ghost Story.

Plot/ When Paul, an unemployed writer, decides to rent and live in a house that's rumored to be haunted, he puts his life and his relationships in grave danger as he obsessively attempts to get the story that will finally make his career.

Also known as Revenant, the no-budget indie flick was much better than some films of equal budgets and had an interesting storyline. Yes, it did suffer from some of the normal flaws, with a lack of characterization, poor dialogue, major plot holes and some off pacing (OK slow pacing), but those are expected. The performances were not bad, the soundscape was solid and it was a good idea. Sure, some of the execution was off, but that same flaw can be pointed out on films with huge budgets. In the end, this one is not for everyone as there is no gore and the haunting is somewhat tame, but it is worth watching on a dark dreary night with all the lights out. More importantly, no-budget filmmakers need support and we should be all help any way we can. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Nothing Left to Fear (2013)

When looking around for something to watch last night, I stumbled upon a film produced by rock icon Slash and his production company Slasher Films. For me, this was something that caught my eye, and something I had to watch. After watching Maniac, I decided on the 2013 flick, Nothing Left to Fear,

Plot/ A family's journey toward a better life is interrupted by an unstable man of the cloth.

The flick, the first from Slasher Films, was a bit of a mixed bag. Honestly, there was a lot to like with it, as the acting was solid, the idea was sound, and the execution of the storyline presented was good. Yes, there was a lot of poor CGI, there were many plot holes, and the characterization felt incomplete. More importantly, the pacing felt off and that brought it down. In the end, this first venture into the world of Slasher Films was better than expected. Yes, it was far from perfect, but there are a lot worse out there.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Maniac (2012)

As I was planning out my movies for the weekend, I decided to find something darker and more violent to follow last night’s journey into the supernatural. While those movies can be hit or miss, there are some that come out and leave an imprint. That was the case for the original version of Maniac, which came out early in my youth. The question is, will the 2012 interpretation do the same thing?

Plot/ Just when the streets seemed safe, a serial killer with a fetish for scalps is back and on the hunt. Frank is the withdrawn owner of a mannequin store, but his life changes when young artist Anna appears asking for his help with her new exhibition. As their friendship develops and Frank's obsession escalates, it becomes clear that she has unleashed a long-repressed compulsion to stalk and kill.

I was not sure what I should expect from this remake. The original from 1980 was a solid movie, and too many times, the modern versions fail to come close to capturing what the original film accomplished. In this case, this may have actually created the same type of lasting impression of the original. Dark and incoherent, this one may take you deeper into the mind of a maniac, shooting the majority of the flick from his perspective. The acting, especially Elijah Wood, is amazing, the visuals are spot on, the effects are good and the overall feel of the movie does not disappoint. Yes, there are some slow parts, and some of the storyline is choppy, but all-in-all, these flaws do not detract from the flick. In the end, this is definitely one of the better remakes to come out in some time, and a flick that definitely takes you on a downward spiral into some dark places. Check it out!

A Haunting at Silver Falls (2013)

Halloween season is perfect for a ghost story; the trick is finding one that can actually live up to expectations. At this point, most a first-person hand cam or found footage, and the subgenre is running out of steam. Tonight I set out to watch something paranormal or supernatural in origin, and eventually decided upon A Haunting at Silver Falls from 2013.

Plot/ A small town is haunted by the twin daughters of a wrongfully convicted man. Young Jordan is sent down the path to who the real killer is only to find the killer is very close to her.

Like I said, Halloween season is perfect for a ghost story, and this one had some potential. Unfortunately, it fails to deliver on that promise, instead giving away details with blatant red herrings and cliché. Yes, the acting was not bad and the were some decent moments, but that could not do anything to save the flick. There was no atmosphere, scares or even tension, the storyline was a bit incoherent within the context, there was no characterization and much of it felt forced. In the end, even with the positives, this predictable and clichéd ghost story fails to deliver, stay away!