Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The ABCs of Death (2012)

As 2014 inches closer, it is nice to sit back and enjoy some relaxation now that my day at work is done. Of course, the SAW marathon I am watching helps. Jigsaw and the SAW franchise is one of my favorites. Right now, I am almost done with SAW IV. However, that is not my review for my evening. In fact, the may some days away as I have watched quite a few movies this week. Next up is the 2012 collection of shorts, The ABCs of Death. 

Plot/ A 26-chapter anthology that showcases death in all its vicious wonder and brutal beauty.

It is hard to write a review for this movie as it offers such a diverse blend of horror. More a collection of shorts instead of an  anthology, The ABC's of Death offers sch a wide variety of death, that it would be hard to explain the different dynamics. This ambitious project worked for me, as the varying styles added some dimensions you never see. With that, each vary in time, pace and depravity. Some are repulsive, some are hilarious and some will make you wonder what you just watched. Of course, this is not for everyone. There is graphic violence, nudity, multiple languages, furries, claymation, and even cartoons. However, each work well in the unfiltered manner put forth. X is for XXL and A is for Apocalypse are memorable, as is L is for Libido, but others miss the mark for me. In the end, this was an extremely entertaining flick and one that I may watch again on short notice. It may be shocking to some, but for others it will be a blast. Check it out. 

Monday, December 30, 2013

The Initiation (1984)

I have loved this alone time, as it has allowed me to watch some different flicks that I cannot usually watch. Fortunately, Netflix has a tremendous selection, which has kept me busy. Growing up in the 1980s, I am a huge fan of the slasher genre. That is where my latest selection came from, the 1984 slasher The Initiation.

Plot/ Kelly Fairchild has become a college student and a member of the Delta Ro Kai sorority. During all her life, she has suffered from a nightmare where a man is burning. She meets an assistant professor who can help interpret the dream. The sorority's initiation ritual is a nighttime breaking-and-entering into her father's department store.

This is actually an often overlooked slasher. Yes, it may seem dated and cliche, back in 1984 when it came out, it actually had better atmosphere than some of the others of the era. This one has a lot to like, the acting is decent, the plot sound, and some of the cinematography work does wonders wthin the script. Sure there are some camera angles that could have been better, some of the effects feel dated and the twist at the end is somewhat predictable if you pay attention. In the end, this is one of the better slashers from the 1980s and one that should be seen by fans of that era. If you have not seen it, check it out!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Chronicle of the Raven (2004)

When I am home alone, I often look for obscure flicks to watch. I love the fact that I really do not have to worry about what may pop onto the screen, something that is becoming more important every day as the daughters grow older. Last night I stumbled upon Chronicle of the Raven, better known as Jennifer's Shadow from 2004. 

Plot/  Jennifer Cassi travels to South America to claim the inheritance of her recently deceased twin sister. While there, she contends with her eccentric grandmother, who has damned the family with an ancient curse. Jennifer immediately starts to suffer from scary visions of a sinister raven every time she goes to sleep.

I am always a sucker for movies that may give a nod to Edgar Allan Poe, this one sounded like it may have some of the elements. While it did, with some elements of H.P. Lovecraft thrown in, it was nothing like what I expected. Yes, it is far from perfect, there were some positives. There was some dark gothic atmosphere, the dream sequences worked and the story is interesting. Unfortunately, the execution, the acting and especially the pacing leave a lot to be desired. On top of that, there is a lot of cliche moments inside that really drag it down. In the end, this one has some moments, but could have been a lot better. If you are in the mood for a supernatural themed low-budget movie, you can give it a shot, but be warned, there is nothing memorable. 

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Virgin Witch (1972)

Thursday night I was able to catch up on some of my Netflix queue that I have neglected with the daughters being awake at all hours. First it was Devil's Pass, then my next selection took me back into the 1970s and the great era of exploitation flicks. My second selection for the evening was Virgin Witch from 1972. 

Plot/ Christine gets her big chance at modelling when she applies at Sybil Waite's agency. Together with Christine's sister Betty they go to a castle for the weekend for a photo shoot. Sybil has lured Christine to the castle for more than modelling: she is recruiting a virgin for induction into a witch's coven. 

Let me start by saying, if you are not a fan of 1970s exploitation flicks or you have a problem with excessive nudity, stay away. This is nowhere close to a horror / mystery / thriller, it is an exploitation flick from the word go. Far from perfect, this one does have some interesting occult aspects and the ceremonial scenes were pretty good. It also has a tremendous amout of nudity, so if you are into that, this one is for you. Sure, the plot was sporadic and thin, the acting is decent, and there was little atmosphere with minimal witchcraft aspects sprikled in. Truly, it was about the nudity. In the end, this is a British exploitation flick filled with nude women. If that sounds interesting, give it a shot. I found it entertaining. 

Friday, December 27, 2013

Devil's Pass (2013)

After taking off a night from the blog, I decided that it was time to get back at it. With Bren and the girls out of town, I had a chance to watch multiple flicks last night, so I did. Yes, I am a horror geek with nothing better to do. The first flick I watched was the 2013 entry Devil's Pass (AKA The Dyatlov Pass Incident)

Plot/ Five young filmmakers retrace the steps of a doomed group of hikers in pursuit of an unsolvable mystery.

I figured this would be a found footage flick, so I knew what to expect. While it was, there were many shots that were much better quality than the typical found footage movie, something that was a surprise. The storyline was interesting, especially the reference to the Philadelphia Experiment, I did not see that coming and there were some decent creatures for this type of flick. Yes, there were some plot holes and some of the characterizations that left a bit to be desired, but that was fine. In all, it was one of the more interesting (albeit cliched) found footage movies I have seen in some time and an entertaining one at that. Sure, it was not a true horror documentary, but it is an interesting take on a fascinating and tragic true story.  Check it out. 

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Jack Frost (1997)

Christmas is here and the evening is winding down. Yes, I do have Insidious 2 sitting here, but the daughters are crashed waiting on Santa to arrive. While I wait, I decided to venture into some wintry horror. I decided on the 1997 horror / comedy Jack Frost. 

Plot/ A serial killer dies, comes back as a snowman, and wreaks havoc.

There is nothing like low-budget horror when the writers / directors embrace some of the finer parts of the genre. That is the case with this horror comedy about a serial killer / reincarnated snowman Jack Frost. Come on, a murdering snowman is perfect for this time of year.  With the low budget the typical flaws exist, the acting is all over the place, the effects are lacking, and the cinematography is uneven. However, the snowman costume works and the storyline is decent, more positives than some flicks with much larger budgets. In the end, this is not by any means a kids Christmas-season flick and should not be mistaken for one. However, it is an entertaining low budget horror / comedy that has a lot to like. Check out if, it is a decent holiday filler.  Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Zombie Night (2013)

As the Christmas holiday draws closer, it is always fun to stay up and enjoy some decent horror flicks with my extra time off from the institute. Of course, this also means that the daughters help steer my selections (Mortal Instruments, Percy Jackson). Luckily for me, I was able to find a zombie flick that was somewhat entertaining (for me and Jillian), the 2013 entry Zombie Night. 

Plot/ Zombies come out at night and two families must survive until morning.

The SyFy Channel flick from The Asylum is the typical low budget creation from the pairing. Yes, it does boast a better cast than usual, this one suffers many of the same flaws that frequent their collaborations. While this one was much better than the last flick from The Asylum that I reviewed, it is far from perfect. Some of the performances are decent, the zombie make-up is decent and the storyline has some interesting parts mixed in. Sure, it does have some cliched moments, there is very little plot, it is disjointed in places, and the ending was strange, but again, this was from The Asylum. In the end, I did watch the unrated version, which may make a difference, but this is far from the worst movie in the genre and actually one of the more entertaining flicks from The Asylum I have watched in some time. Yes, it has some issues, but it is definitely a family-friendly zombie flick that is watchable. 

Monday, December 23, 2013

No Tell Motel (2012)

I cannot believe that this is post number 1,000 here at The Ringmaster's Realm. It seems like only yesterday that I started this blog to help me fight through some writers block, wow, time does fly. I was pretty excited earlier when I received a signed Truth or Dare movie poster in the mail from the guys at Horror Movies Uncut, so much so that I decided to bump my evening horror flick up earlier in the day. Unfortunately, the movie I chose, No Tell Motel, did not garner the same excitement. 

Plot/ Dirty little secrets are exposed when five friends become stranded at an abandoned motel haunted by a dark secret of its own.

I am not sure where to begin with this cliched low budget entry.  I will admit that I loved the initial scenes and hoped that it would follow suit from it. Yes, it was very cliche, but at times cliche can work. Unfortunately, it goes downhill from there. The acting is OK, the characters suck and have no chemistry (although that too could be the acting), there is no atmosphere, and the storyline and cinematography add so much confusion to the movie that it drags it down (a lot). There is really nothing here that works, as it feels like there are two or three ideas fighting for screen time and none truly rise from the shadows. In the end, this was one of the least memorable flicks that I have picked up at Family Video in some time. Unless you have nothing else available, stay away! 

What Have We Done?

Even after listening to that tape for the umpteenth time, I cannot fathom what he was experiencing. It all seems so unreal, impossible, there is no way anyone could survive in that state, let alone be cognizant to what was happening. These creatures, there is no way that they could feel anything; they were undead, I think.

Maybe I should say thought. In researching the events, I stumbled across some documentation involving the scientists that may be responsible for this outbreak. It seems as though they were conducting some apparently over-funded yet secretive experiments similar to the ones conducted at Montauk so many years ago. Ironically, the results, while similar, had a much deadlier outcome. Unfortunately, the agency that funded these organized torture sessions is not readily available, a fact that drives my research. The truth must be told. From one of the office files of the floating laboratory, I found this transcript. Now, I may never share how this document reached my hands, but the account will show how unprepared the group was to quarantine any type of outbreak.

The impossible has happened
One of the specimens managed to endure the process
Surviving to see the light of day
Mutating beyond our capacity to conceive
Our agenda never allowed for their freedom after vaccination
The world is far from ready to comprehend the truth
Discover our manic exploitation of the meek
The gates of ridicule would open
We would all be ruined

How could we leave sector two unguarded?
Idiots… They are all idiots
The best security money can buy, honestly?
That is what those feeble old men said in their brief
We should have taken more precautions
We are smarter than that
Now, the disease is free
Our only hope is the quarantine
Or eradication of the contamination, whatever comes first

Sir, you won’t believe what we are seeing out here
Oh God… It’s… It’s like … The gates of Hell have opened before my eyes
The virus is spreading throughout the city
Quarantine is out of the question
These vile creatures
They are… They are everywhere
The outbreak is uncontrollable
There are… Stop… Fuck… No…

This cannot be happening
What have we done?
What have we created?
Our plans are evaporating right in front of our eyes
We must escape this vessel before the others awaken
Before we become their experiment in pleasure
Their host
Our facility is not safe
Sound the evacuation alarm
We are ruined

Funny, it seems as though the scientists were more concerned with their reputation or financial wealth than the outcome of terror that was at hand.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Secret Village (2013)

After picking up a flick for the daughters (The Mortal Instruments), I decided that I needed to find some type of low budget horror to make my evening complete once their flick was over. After a quick search of Family Video, I decided to grab something I had not seen in the store before, the 2013 low budget mystery The Secret Village. 

Plot/ Greg, an unsuccessful screenwriter and Rachel,a beautiful journalist research an outbreak of mass hysteria in a small village. They start to uncover a secret about ergot poisoning that has affected this village for years. But the cult activity has been kept a secret by the locals and when Greg disappears, Rachel is left alone to unravel the mystery and save their lives. 

I was drawn into this low budget affair as soon as I saw it at Family Video. While it is far from perfect and does have some problems, it is also a touch better than I expected. The acting and storyline are solid. Yes, the non-linear storyline did have some confusing moments that seemed to cause some pacing flaws, but overall, I liked the non-linear feel. However, there were some issues with the characterization, editing, visual effects and sound. It all felt too modern and alive, as the visuals and soundtrack lacked the dark atmosphere that could have served the movie in many different ways. In the end, it is not a terrible movie, but it is not a memorable one either. If you are searching for an OK low budget flick, give it a shot, there are much worse available. If that is not your thing, stay away!

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones (2013)

Three of my daughters have been heckling me to watch some type of family-friendly Sci-Fi or Horror flick. While there are some out there, finding one that would appeal to three diverse ideologies and keep me even somewhat interested is a challenge. After some debate with the wife, i decided to give The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones a shot. 

Plot/ When her mother disappears, Clary Fray learns that she descends from a line of warriors who protect our world from demons. She joins forces with others like her and heads into a dangerous alternate New York called Downworld.

While I have never read the books and have no idea of the overall storyline of the series (honestly, I could care less), I will say that this movie is one of the better series flicks that the daughters have brought into the house. The acting was decent, the action sequences were outstanding and there was enough flow to keep things moving. Sure, there was little to no character development and the story felt compressed, but it was not terrible.  In the end, this one was not perfect, but it was a decent Sci-Fi / Fantacy flick that my daughters could watch. Sure, it was not my cup of tea , but it was not meant for me. Most importantly, although I would not watch it again, I did feel it was better than the sparkling vampires of Twilight. 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Black Forest (2012)

With another week down, it is time to start my short break from the institute. While five days may not seem like a lot, it is much needed. After spending some time at my mother's Christmas Party, it was time for a movie. My selection for the evening was the 2012 SyFy Channel original Black Forest. 

Plot/  A group of strangers who sign up for a tour of of a 'black forest' where the Grimm fairy tales were supposedly written. The tour includes something of a mystical seance intended to communicate with fairies. The ritual ends up transporting the group to a parallel universe, where the Grimm characters are alive... and angry.

The Saturday night SyFy Channel creature features are always a mixed bag and often have cring-worthy moments. While this one still has some of those, it is actually one of the better SyFy Channel entries. This one has an interesting storyline, some solid performances and a touch of gore. Unfortunately, while it is one of their better entries, it does have some major flaws with a  lack of atmosphere, some cheesy effects and uneven pacing. Overall a good movie to watch. Much better than some other SyFy Channel  movies. In the end, this one may be far from perfect, but it did have some life and is watchable. Not for everyone, but if you are a fan of the SyFy Channel or Grimm Fairy Tales, check it out!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Kick-Ass 2 (2013)

Last night I decided to take a day off from the blog. As these past few weeks have been going by, I have been attempting to find a variety of flicks to review as the end of year creeps closer. One genre I have neglected has been the super hero / fantasy arena. To change that trend, I decided to sit back and watch Kick Ass 2. 

Plot/ The costumed high-school hero Kick-Ass joins with a group of normal citizens who have been inspired to fight crime in costume. Meanwhile, the Red Mist plots an act of revenge that will affect everyone Kick-Ass knows.

Not being a fan of the typical super hero flicks, I will admit that I thoroughly enjoy the Kick Ass franchise. Yes, these are not for everyone, but they are fun. This one is entertaining with solid performances, blood, violence, action, and everything you need for a fun flick. Sure, it is not perfect, as there were some uneven pacing issues and some strange charactizations, but those were somewhat expected. In the end, it may not reach the level of the first movie in the series, but it is an outstanding movie and one of the better sequels to come out in some time. If you like this type of movie, check this one out! It is fun, entertaining and a blast. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

From Hell (2001)

In between my continuing journey into the world of the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew Mysteries, I decided to venture back into one of the mysteries that has always intrigued me, the case of Jack the Ripper. While there is a lot of material out there, one of the more interesting to watch is From Hell. 

Plot/ In Victorian Era London, a troubled clairvoyant police detective investigates the murders by Jack The Ripper.

This is an interesting vision of what transpired during the famous Jack the Ripper killing spree. There is a lot to like with this flick, as it created a dark and atmospheric tale. Most of the performances were solid, with Johnny Depp taking working wonders in the lead. Unfortunately, Heather Graham did not follow suit. The setting and scenery were outstanding, the storyline interesting and there was a realism that was better than expected. Yes, the pacing was uneven and there were some sub-par performances, but that did little to bring it down. In the end, this unique take on Jack the Ripper is better than I expected and an entertaining journey into one of the most historic events ever known. If you have not seen it, check it out!