Thursday, May 29, 2014

Patrick: Evil Awakens (2013)

With my workweek winding down and a weekend full of events at the Pennsylvania Literary Festival (and softball), I decided to kick back and relax once I finished some homework tonight. While relaxing, I threw on a film I picked up at Family Video, the 2013 entry Patrick: Evil Awakens.

Plot/ When a young nurse begins work at an isolated psychiatric ward, she quickly becomes fascinated with Patrick, a brain dead patient who is the subject of a mad scientist's cruel and unusual experiments. What starts as an innocent fascination quickly takes a sinister turn as Patrick begins to use his psychic powers to manipulate her every move, and send her life into a terrifying spiral out of control.

As many know, I am not a huge fan of remakes. However, this updated version of the 1978 film Patrick is worth watching and does a great job at bridging the films together. While there is solid acting, detailed cinematography, and a tremendous score, it is the dark storyline and underlying realism that drives this one home. Because of this storyline, there is a cold and heavy atmosphere created in the film that definitely allows the movie to breathe and grow. Yes, there is not a tremendous difference from the original, the scares were somewhat predictable and there was not an overly suspenseful feel, but those are really non-factors in this film. In the end, this was an entertaining movie and a film that must be watched. More creepy than terrifying, this one is worth renting at least once.

Look at His Pain! - A Zombie Attack

Look At His Pain! 
It had only been one day since the infected escaped the lab and the unimaginable has happened. This virus has mutated and spread throughout the population faster than anyone could have ever imagined. Even the scientists that ran the initial experiment are on the run, attempting to escape the storm of undead that approach.
  “…God, the plagued army approaches,” John exclaimed. “Oh God, what have I done? Quickly men… Run”
          “John, follow your own advice brother,” George cried out to his colleague, “you cannot win!”
          “No one can!” Richard said, “We must find shelter.”
           John peered at Richard, “Shelter, we do not need shelter, we need a laboratory; a lab where I can find an antidote for this festering rot.”
          “I do not care if you blame yourself for this infestation, it’s about survival now,” Richard fired back. “Haven’t we lost enough already.”
            As the group of scientists ran for their lives, they made a startling discovery. One of them was unfortunately ensnared by this hoard. From a distance the mutation was clear, the rotting flesh, their moans, their wretched smell overwhelming everything and everyone in their path. Paul was in grave danger.
           George glanced down the hill, “John--Richard… Paul cannot hear us. He is trapped down there with those vile things.”
           “Sadly, we cannot wait for him much longer. While tragic, his sacrifice may be our salvation. We must survive!” John said, looking back toward the others, “A cure for my mistake is all that can truly save us.”
            “Give up already John, too much blood has been shed already,” Richard replied, “We must find shelter; survive.”
            “Quick, give me that rock,” George called out, “Paul is trapped by that disease ridden blonde. With a perfect shot, maybe I can buy him some time.”
            “No! George; Paul decided to venture out of our session into this pandemic on his own,” John said, “That arrogant prick deserves what he has coming to him.” 
             “John, let it be,” George said, “No one deserves to be put through that. Help me… Save him!”
             “George, for once I agree with John; at this moment, we are better off without him,” Richard said, “We must escape before those zombies find us.”
             “Oh God, look… Paul… No-o-o! The pain, oh God, no, look at his pain.” George screamed, “The skulls, not the skull, th-th-they are eating him!”
             “What George, no way!” John said, “They must be mutating… We must find a lab!”
             “I do not know about you, but any type of shelter would be perfect right now,” Richard said.
             “Oh God, they are sharing him; engulfing him,” George sobbed. “Those maggot lovers are drinking his blood!” 
           The revolting sea was indeed devouring him; his screams for assistance drowned by the disturbing sound of his meat being torn apart. They tore him limb from limb until his divine grey was unveiled for the mass. They were fighting each other off for a chance at one piece of his delicious meat. His last chance of survival snuffed out by a single bad decision. What was the world coming to?
            George, you are right! We must find shelter… Give me time to go through my journals,” John muttered. “The answer must be there, it has to be.”
              “Come on guys, over there,” Richard said, “the cemetery gates are open, maybe we can find a crypt to barricade ourselves into. Maybe the smell of death will keep them away.”
               “Yes… Yes… The cemetery is a great idea Richard,” John said, “our redemption can begin with the Lord!”
               “George... Come quickly before they see you, Paul’s death will allow our escape,” cried Richard.
               “Look, that tomb, the door, that could be perfect!” John said moving through the gates, “there I can hopefully determine where my formula went wrong.”
               “Enough already John; we are in no position to attempt any type of experiment. Maybe once this hoard passes, we can return to our lab by the river,” Richard scoffed. “Maybe we can return to where this plague began.”
               “George, over here!” shouted John as he entered the vault.
               “I’m here, close the door!” George screamed as he took the final steps into the ossuary.
                Richard looked at their situation, “we should be safe here; maybe we will survive this terror.”
          “Maybe,” John replied, “if we are lucky.”
            Incredibly, it appeared as though the tomb may save them, as the undead mob went by instead of searching the cemetery for dinner. What as it that kept them away, was it the overwhelming scent of decay? The scientists sat staring at their temporary sanctuary, thankful to be alive.  They were thankful that they did not become like Paul.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (2014)

After hitting a few different genres over the past few days, I decided to venture back into the paranormal / occult for my viewing pleasure. While there are a ton of movies out there that would fill that craving, I decided to venture back into the Paranormal Activity franchise for their latest installment, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones.

Plot/ Jesse begins experiencing a number of disturbing and unexplainable things after the death of his neighbor. As he investigates, soon Jessie finds he has been marked for possession by a malevolent demonic entity, and it is only a matter of time before he is completely under its control.

I honestly did not expect much from this one as the Paranormal Activity franchise has been trending downward for some time. However, after reading the tag and watching a preview, I decided to give it a shot. What I found was an interesting mixture and a decent attempt at rebooting the franchise. While to storyline differs in some ways from the rest of the series, there are enough points and similarities to connect the dots. I did like the coven aspect being brought forth. Yes, some of the acting is uneven, some of the moments feel cliché, and there is really nothing new, but that was expected. In the end, this one was better than part four, but it was far from great. Sure, it has some entertaining moments, but not enough to make me crave another installment.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Dead Sea (2014)

Last night I got my religious flick in for the weekend and I decided to dive into something in a different spectrum with my Monday evening viewing. While there were a ton of choices out there, I decided on the 2014 creature feature Dead Sea.

Plot/ A Marine Biologist is assigned to investigate the mysterious deaths of marine life in an inland salt water lake that have been attributed to a creature thought to have been the stuff of legend.

I went into this one knowing that it was going to be far from perfect. This low-budget indie flick definitely suffers from many of the flaws that plague this type of movie. What I will say is that there was some potential in there, but it seemed like there were multiple stories going on at one time and because of that diversity, nothing truly developed in a coherent manner. The acting is decent for the budget, the scenery interesting (although there were too many locations), and the decision to keep the creature out of sight worked. However, the lack of creature is also frustrating. Besides the incoherent scripting, the pacing is off, some of the camera work and filtration does not work, the characterization is all over, and there really is nothing new or memorable. In the end, I believe that if cut-down and formulated into a straight creature feature, this one has the potential to be more than it is in this incarnation. If you love creature features, you can give it a shot, just remember, you were warned.

Way of the Wicked (2014)

After watching The Facility, I decided to venture into a completely different direction for my next review. I decided to dive back into the religious realm, and potentially find some type of Antichrist themed movie. What did I find at Family Video? I found the 2014 Christian Slater flick Way of the Wicked.

Plot/ After a series of inexplicable murders sweeps a small, isolated community, Father Henry goes to a local police detective with a theory on why the murders are occurring.

I know I should temper my expectations when a movie catches my eye at the video store. Unfortunately, I did not do that again, and in turn grabbed another watchable flick. Way of the Wicked is that, watchable, as it follows a played out storyline with nothing inspiring. The acting is decent, the scripting uneven and the pace and storyline predictable. Yes, the setting worked well, but that was about it. In the end, this one offered nothing new and failed to develop any type of believable atmosphere throughout. Hell, even the slight twist at the end was somewhat predictable. Stay away; there are much better flicks out there.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Facility (2012)

After taking a few days to wade through my homework for the week, it was time to get back into some horror. While I did let the daughters watch Vampire Academy, I could not even find it worth paying attention to. Instead I focused on something more my speed, 2012s low budget horror, The Facility.

Plot/ Eight volunteers find themselves fighting for their lives when a drug trial goes horribly wrong.

This low budget film popped up on the shelves of the video store the other day and caught my eye. While there are many cliché moments that will turn some off, it is actually quite entertaining. The acting is solid, the storyline realistic, the atmosphere heavy, and the overall effects were really good. Yes, is does have some incoherent moments in the script and some pacing issues on top of the cliché, but for a micro-budget flick this one hits where many others fail. In the end, this relatively underpublicized flick is one of the more entertaining and believable films I have seen in some time. If you have not seen it, give it a shot, you may be surprised by what you find.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Tom Holland's Twisted Tales (2013)

When I returned Mr. Jones the other night, I had a film jump off the shelf and catch my attention. While I should know not to rush into flicks based on packaging, this one felt different. That film was 2013s Tom Holland's Twisted Tales.

Plot/ Tom Holland's Twisted Tales was a web series hosted by our friends over at FearNet. There are nine short films, all written and directed by Tom Holland that cover a myriad of topics as only he could envision.

One of the biggest miseries I have had since moving from New Jersey is living without FearNet. Yes, I could watch it on my computer, but I am usually working on something. When I saw this DVD on the shelf, I had mixed emotions. As with any anthology, especially ones made specifically for the web, I knew there would be quality issues because of their lower budgets. I was right! While there were some interesting pieces, there was a wide range from best to the worst in the series. There were also some acting flaws, pacing flaws and too many clichéd moments for me to love it. Yes, there were some entertaining and good moments in this, but for the average horror fan, it would not be enough to keep them enthralled for the entire 146 minute run time (something that should have been cut down if it were me). In the end, this would likely have been better for me to watch as they were originally intended on the web and one at a time. While it is not terrible, there was truly nothing new and it was a bit of a disappointment.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Mr. Jones (2013)

One of the movies I grabbed the daughters (besides I, Frankenstein) was another PG-13 entry. Personally, I am not a fan of that rating and feel like studios overuse it. However, having kids there are times where I must suffer through movies like 2013s Mr. Jones just so I can keep them involved in the horror genre.

Plot/ A young couple moves to the woods and soon finds their nightmares and reality colliding.

I had very low expectations when I picked this up for the daughters. At this point, I feel that found footage flicks have lost their edge and at PG-13, there was not going to be a ton of horror elements. While this movie is uneven, with some weird camera decisions, some of the storyline that is interesting. The supernatural and occult aspects of the scarecrows / totems and the folklore / magic behind them were an intriguing twist. Of course, it did have some flaws with uneven acting, a disconnect between the first and second acts, some weird acid trip vibes and a strange dream state ending. In the end, I did find it an entertaining flick and enjoyed the incoherent nature in the second part of the movie. This one is definitely not for everyone, but it is also not the worst film found footage film out there.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Sleepy Hollow (1999)

I love classic tales. My favorites are often those stories that transcend generations and visual movie adaptations and the majority of time, come across in a fresh almost modern way. One such movie was on my television this weekend, 1999s Sleepy Hollow.

Plot/ Ichabod Crane is sent to Sleepy Hollow to investigate the decapitations of 3 people with the culprit being the legendary apparition, the Headless Horseman.

It had been a while since I have watched Sleepy Hollow and honestly, it was a lot better than I remembered. This Tim Burton / Johnny Depp collaboration was one of their best. The pacing was on, the horror elements and effects were outstanding, the cast was amazing with both Christopher Walken as the headless horseman and Christina Ricci perfect for their roles, and the gothic atmosphere was captured in an entertaining  manner. Of course, it would not have been possible without the tremendous eye and cinematography of Burton, who created an interesting world within this classic tale. In the end, this is a must see and if you have not seen it, you are missing out. Give it a shot!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Holy Ghost People (2013)

After watching I, Frankenstein last night it was time to dive into something a little more serious. With my writing class challenging me to dive into other genres besides my typical horror realm, I decided to watch a drama. My choice for the evening was the Holy Ghost People from 2013.  

Plot/ On the trail of her missing sister, Charlotte enlists the help of Wayne, an ex-Marine and alcoholic, to infiltrate the Church of One Accord - a community of snake-handlers who risk their lives seeking salvation in the Holy Ghost.

I went into this knowing nothing about it, and that really worked. This is a fascinating story, which is extremely believable on many different levels. The acting is solid, the storyline interesting, and there are aspects that make it entertaining. Yes, there are some problems early on that felt forced, some of the characters are under developed, and there are some narration aspects that really take something away from the overall feel. In the end, this is an entertaining drama that does a great job diving into the darker sides of religion. Because of those religious overtones, this one is not for everyone, but it is definitely an intriguing movie that should be seen.

Friday, May 16, 2014

I, Frankenstein (2014)

Ever since watching Jericho and subsequently reading the graphic novel, I have been hooked. I love the feel of graphic novels, and am always interested in finding movies based on them to see how well they translate. That was exactly what I found to watch tonight, 2014s I, Frankenstein.

Plot/ Frankenstein's creature finds himself caught in an all-out, centuries old war between two immortal clans.

Movies based on graphic novels can be difficult to replicate on the screen, and I, Frankenstein was no exception. This CGI driven action flick was simple and effects driven. In no way did it make you thing when you were watching it. While some of the action sequences were impressive, the acting solid, and even the general idea interesting, there was too much packed into the 90 minutes to make it really hit home. Between the plot holes, uneven dialog, and an somewhat confusing timeline, it was easy to just block everything out and enjoy the action. In the end, it may be somewhat entertaining for a CGI film, but the is nothing new to make it memorable. At PG-13, it was fun to watch with the daughters, but that is about all I would recommend it for-Scary Movie Night with the kids.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Kill Your Darlings (2013)

After viewing a couple of no-budget indie flicks from Brain Damage Films over the past week, Bren picked up an interesting drama based on the early years of some literary icons. Having read many of the classics from the Beat Generation, this would be a solid change of pace. That selection was the independent drama Kill Your Darlings from 2013.

Plot/ A murder in 1944 draws together the great poets of the beat generation: Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and William Burroughs.

It is amazing how many people in the world truly have no idea how important the Beat Generation was to literature, and possibly society. While there are some fascinating movies out there (their books are better), no movie has truly captured the entire feel of the movement. This film is an interesting take on the origins of the movement. As with every movie, there are some good moments featuring decent acting, some solid characterization, an intriguing pallet, and a standout cast. Unfortunately, the scripting was a touch incoherent and the pacing was off, which took something away from the overall feel of the movie. In the end, this is an entertaining movie that does a decent job unveiling the foundations of what would become one of the most important movements in literature. While there are many missed opportunities inside this complex story, it is a decent movie to relax to. Not for everyone, but if you like the Beat Poets, give it a shot.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Blood Rush (2012)

Zombie films are everywhere. In time, it is likely to be one of the genres that will see the popularity die down. Unfortunately, there are many low budget indie flicks that populate the shelves, excessively many to watch, so finding the right one is often a challenge. Fortunately, there is always time to try. Next, up for review (also from Brain Damage Films) Blood Rush from 2012.

Plot/ When a small town is overcome with a blood lust, the local Witch Doctor is thought to be the source. What they don't know is that he has a different agenda.

As everyone who have read my blog realize, I absolutely love incoherent no-budget indie flicks and this one is definitely right up that alley. While it is a strange mixture of well-known zombie films and does have some cliché moments, there is definitely a subtle world of its own that lives inside. While the acting is sound, the storyline decent, and the execution solid, it does have some flaws. The pacing is a touch slow, the effects are uneven, and there are definitely some head scratching moments. In the end, this film is one of the better no-budget indie flicks out there. While it is not perfect, it is a film that takes on some serious aspects within the confines of the zombie genre. Not for everyone, but it can be worth a watch. 

Saturday, May 10, 2014

POE: Project of Evil (2012)

With the NFL Draft finally in the books, I can finally take off my Steelers 101 hat and take a break. While I still have some work to do with a total recap and undrafted rookie profiles, it will be nowhere near the intensity of the past three nights. With some extra time on my hands, I decided to venture into the mind of Poe for my next review. My selection for the evening was Brain Damage Films, POE: Project of Evil (AKA P.O.E. 2) from 2012.

Plot/ In this twisted horror anthology, eight talented Italian directors present their takes on the disturbing tales of Edgar Allan Poe, each in a very personal and modern way. Prepare to experience the terror of POE like never before!

Before I get deep into my review let me start by saying if you are a Poe purest you should stay away from this film. If, like me, you enjoy strange anthologies and love the master of macabre, than you may enjoy this one. Clearly art house cinema, this Italian entry has a lot to like, as it uses the classic Poe tales as a backdrop for surreal journey’s into the macabre. The acting is solid, the cinematography top notch, effects really work. Unfortunately, for many this is not the straightforward horror flick they will expect and much of the incoherent and bizarre interpretations will go over their heads. This one is clearly not for everyone as the combination of violence and nudity sit outside the typical world of Poe. However, in the end, I totally enjoyed it. This was one of the more original films I have seen in some time and one of the more intriguing art house cinema pieces that has made their way onto video store shelves. If you enjoy strangeness and can watch it with an open mind, check it out; it is worth it.