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Sunday, August 31, 2014

Starship: Rising (2014)



As I wait for my final group project to be placed into the folder for submission by our group leader, I had time to reflect on some of the Sci-Fi flicks I have watched over the past days. Next up for review from that list is the 2014 space movie Starship: Rising.  


Plot/ Starship One - the most powerful warship in the Federation, capable of destroying entire worlds. When the order is given to destroy the Earth, Flight Lieutenant John Worthy mutineers Starship One and takes on the might of the Federation.


I honestly have no idea where I begin with this one. There are some points that are decent, especially for a lower budget / non-mainstream film. One of those is the look, with solid CGI, and an overall skilled appearance. However, there are some issues that I cannot get past such as the uneven scripting, slow pacing, poor characters, and some extremely incoherent moments. In the end, this is a Sci-Fi film that I truly cannot recommend for anyone unless they are true Sci-Fi fanatics. For the casual viewer, this one may not suffice.


Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Bunnyman Massacre (2014)



As I wait for my final project to upload for my computer science class, I decided to venture into some no-budget indie horror for my nightly review. Next up on the slab is the 2014 slasher The Bunnyman Massacre.


Plot/ The adventures of Joe and Bunnyman know no limit of bloodlust and carnage. Bodies pile up as Bunnyman indiscriminately slaughters anything that crosses his path in a mutually beneficial relationship that gives Joe plenty of beef jerky to sell in his local store.


This movie is proof that if you prepare for the worse, than maybe it will be beyond your expectations. While in no way am I saying this is a great movie, it did exceed what I imagined it would be like when I rented it. This sequel does surpass the original, but still left something on the table, as it did not match its potential. There definitely was a lot of blood, gore, and boobs, something that made it go by quicker than it probably should have. Unfortunately, the storyline is uneven, the characters brainless, and there was absolutely no atmosphere. Honesty, this played more like a gore driven comedy than horror flick. In the end, this flick from Midnight Releasing is an improvement from the first installment of the franchise, but that was actually a rather easy feat. Yes, there are a few moments, but not enough to make it memorable in any way.

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Sacrament (2014)



While it was a fun trip tonight to see Laurel Highlands defeat Elizabeth Forward in the opening game of the 2014 season, it made for a long day. Fortunately, I have a few movies to catch up on here at the blog. Next up, is the 2014 found footage thriller, The Sacrament.


Plot/ A news team trails a man as he travels to an undisclosed location to find his missing sister. Upon entering "Eden Parish" and meeting the community's leader, it becomes apparent to the newcomers that this paradise may not be as it seems.


I have had mixed feelings on movies by Ti West and Eli Roth, some of them I have loved, while others not so much. This is one that I actually found extremely interesting. Yes, it is not perfect, but it definitely has a lot going for it. The acting is solid, there is subtle realism, and the atmosphere is dark and heavy. Sure, there are some head scratching moments, the pacing was slow at times, and because of the basis (the Jonestown Massacre) the ending was known well in advance. In the end, this one was one of the better found footage films that I have seen. Yes, it is not for everyone, but it is a slow burning trip into one of the darkest true stories out there.


Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Possession of Michael King (2014)



I hate when I have to pull a late night at the institute, it sets the rest of my week off. Of course, I could have probably just came home, but I will admit that the overtime will look nice on my next check. Getting back to the blog, the next film to review is the 2014 supernatural entry The Possession of Michael King.


Plot/ Michael King does not believe in God or the Devil. Following the sudden death of his wife, Michael decides to make his next film about the search for the existence of the supernatural, making himself the center of the experiment - allowing demonologists, necromancers, and various practitioners of the occult to try the deepest and darkest spells and rituals they can find on him - in the hopes that when they fail, he'll once and for all have proof that religion, spiritualism, and the paranormal are nothing more than myth.


To be honest, I had never heard of this film until I saw it at Family Video, and I had absolutely no idea what to expect. While what I found was not perfect, it definitely came with more positives than negatives. The storyline was interesting (although a touch undeveloped), a solid atmosphere, and enough pace to keep the viewer connected. Sure, there are some cliché moments, especially considering the found footage platform that sits at the base, but that is expected. In the end, this low budget freshman entry is rather entertaining and has just enough to make it a fun movie to watch. Of course, this may not be for everyone, but if you enjoy found footage flicks or non-slasher horror flicks, give it a whirl!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Video Digest #1 - 2012 Fayette County Bigfoot Expedition

 

In my new college class, I have been focused on building videos and podcast. This is what I hope becomes a regular series here at The Ringmaster's Realm, an investigation video. In the strange world that exists around us, there are chances to experience the unknown around every corner. This first one is from a Bigfoot Expedition from Fayette County in 2012. Any and all feedback would be much appreciated.


If you are interested in a copy of Searching the Abyss, drop me a line and we can work out the details.  Enjoy!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Quiet Ones (2014)



After diving into some scientific (at least fringe science) research last night, I decided that it was time to hit Family Video to see what was in stock. While the one movie I was looking for was out again, they did have a couple of flicks that seemed interesting. The first movie up for this Saturday night is the 2014 paranormal flick, The Quiet Ones.


Plot/ A university professor and a team of students conduct an experiment on a young woman, uncovering terrifyingly dark, unexpected forces in the process.


This was an interesting film on many levels and one the acted as a solid scary movie for the kids to enjoy. That being said, it did deliver some creepiness with some solid performances, heavy atmosphere, and an intriguing mix of true stories within the fabric of the fictional foundation. Sure, at PG-13, it did not pack an overwhelming punch, the scripting left some holes in the backstory, and the ending felt rushed (and unsatisfying). In the end, this may not be a perfect movie, but it is an entertaining mix of found footage and and regular cinematography. Yes, it has some flaws, but if you like creepiness, give it a shot.

Friday, August 22, 2014

In Search of... The Loch Ness Monster



The Loch Ness monster, or "Nessie" as it is often referred to, may be the most well known cryptid in the world. From the first sighting of the Loch Ness Monster in 565 AD when missionary Saint Columba encountered the mysterious creature as he crossed the loch, people have been drawn to this strange land.Before we delve into the creature lets explore his dominion. Loch Ness is the largest lake in Great Britain, being 23 miles long, one mile wide, and almost 900 feet deep in places. It is so immense that it is estimated that every person on the planet earth could fit inside. The loch lies in one of the most stunning regions of Scotland, surrounded by lush green hills on all sides.

There have been scattered sightings of the creature throughout recorded history ever since Saint Columba's encounter, yet it was until the early 1900's that sighting reports took off. The Loch set secluded and undisturbed until the first roads were constructed in the 1930's, little did the builders know that these roads would open a pathway to the unknown.

Thousands of people have reported sightings of the Loch Ness Monster over the years, with most having the same rough description of the fiend. The creature is estimated to have a body around 30 feet long, with the height of the head and neck above the water being approximately 6 feet, and grey skin.

These people come from all backgrounds. There are gypsies, clergymen, researcher, tourists, and game wardens (water bailiffs in Europe), so the sightings do have some credibility behind them.

Incredibly, these sightings are not isolated to the inside the dark waters of the Loch, a fact that differentiates "Nessie" from many other lake monsters. Mr. and Mrs. George Spicer may have been the first to people to witness "Nessie" on the shores of the Loch in 1933. They were driving alongside the loch when Mrs. Spicer pointed out something crossing the road. It was a large-bodied creature with a long neck creeping across the road. They initially reported that the creature was roughly 6-feet long; it was not until later that they remembered that the creature was wider then the road, which made it, close to 30 feet long.

As in the case with Saint Columba on the waters of the Loch, the Spicer's were not the last to have an encounter with the creature on land.

Early in 2005 two American university students came across the remains of a 200-pound Highland red deer carcass, found in a boat-only accessible area known to local fishermen as a "Kill Zone." While looking at the deer carcass, the students discovered a strange shed animal tooth that was wedged between the deer's exposed ribcage. The tooth is barbed, well rooted, and measured nearly four inches in length.

Unfortunately, the water bailiffs prior to further identification supposedly confiscated the tooth. All that exists now is a small photograph of the tooth.

The photograph of the tooth was the last of many pictures of the strange inhabitant of the Loch. Contrary to popular beliefs the first known photograph of the monster was not taken by Robert K. Wilson, a local man named Hugh Gray as he was walking home from church took it.

Mr. Gray saw a disturbance in the water and took four photographs; three of which did not come out, but the fourth shows an unusual shape in the water, on the left side of which may be a tail or a flipper.

The validity of Mr. Wilson's photograph, which is often referred to as the "Surgeon's Photograph" by researchers, has been called into question due to a deathbed confession by Christian Spurling claiming the picture was a hoax. Although many experts are not convinced, it is a hoax (just like the Patterson footage in Bigfoot studies).

By studying these photographs, researchers claim that the angle was wrong for a one-foot high model out 100 feet in the water, but is more likely four-feet high and 400 feet out like the original account goes. The neck is also in a different position as well in the second photograph, which would not be the case if the fraud were manmade.

The best photographs of the monster may have been taken during the 1975 expedition at Loch Ness, led by Robert H. Rines. Two photographs show what looks like a flipper, perhaps 6 feet in length. Skeptics often dispel these photographs as well because they were not developed until months after the expedition.

Even though many of the photographs that exist resemble the description of the creature reported in eyewitness accounts, it is impossible to base a sound judgment on the existence of the monster on their weight alone. With known hoaxers, out there evidence that is more solid is still needed to make a firm evaluation of the evidence.

There are many theories to what this mysterious creature is. These theories while interesting, all have flaws. The most common theory is that the elusive creature is a prehistoric descendent of the dinosaurs, a plesiosaur. While this may be the most popular theory, many other equally plausible theories exist.


The Plesiosaur

Plesiosaur is actually a broad term for marine reptiles with long necks and flippers. Unfortunately, if it is a plesiosaur inhabiting the Loch, no one knows exactly what type the Loch Ness Monster is. The elasmosaur was the biggest and longest of the plesiosaurs and is the most likely candidate.

This theory has one huge flaw. The plesiosaur was supposed to have died out almost 70 million years ago. Even though scientists and researchers, who claim that, can challenge that, the meteorite theory cannot totally prove the destruction of this species. Being a sea dwelling animal, they would have had unlimited space to survive in and an unending food supply. If the Coelacanth survived extinction, could the same be true for a plesiosaur.

The Zeuglodon

The Zeuglodon, or the Basilosaurus, is another likely candidate for the Loch Ness Monster. It is a long, slender whale, which supposedly died out generations ago. Researchers argue that he monster of Okanogan, referred to as Ogopogo, has these same characteristics that could mean that the Zeuglodon escaped extinction as well.

One major flaw to this theory is that the Zeuglodon may be too large, often growing to over 70 feet in length. The largest reported sighting of the Loch Ness monster does not exceed 50 feet.

Undiscovered Species

Now back to the tooth that the two students on holiday discovered. Loch Ness investigator William McDonald claims that the tooth proves that all of the theories that exist are wrong. The Loch Ness Monster is not a plesiosaur or prehistoric reptile descendent, but a real, predatory species of water animal possessing the ability to hunt on land that remains unclassified.

Conclusion

Like many other researchers, I am not totally convinced of the existence of "Nessie." As technology improves and more research is conducted, information that is more reliable may come to light.

The plesiosaur theory may be the most popular, and its existence would turn the scientific world upside down, but it is not the most likely explanation. I will agree with Mr. McDonald. The Loch Ness Monster if it exists is most likely an undiscovered unclassified animal.


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Jug Face (2013)



It is amazing how energizing that trip to the Finding Bigfoot town hall was. Honestly, I would love to get back into the field, and may do just that this weekend. When I do get out there, I hope it is Sasquatch that I find, and not some backwoods cult that wants to sacrifice me to The Pit, like happened in my next flick for review, Jug Face (2013).


Plot/ Jug Face tells the story of a pregnant teen trying to escape a backwoods community when she discovers that she may be sacrificed to a creature in a pit.


This supernatural horror/drama definitely takes an interesting look at life in a secluded backwoods society. This low budget flick does have a lot going for it with solid performances, an intriguing storyline, and just enough blood and gore to keep things moving. Yes, there are some head scratching moments, some uneven pacing, and there are parts of the script that lack development, but that does not hurt the overall feel of the movie. In the end, this dark cult driven flick is exactly what I had hoped that The Village would have been with a dark view of life inside a secluded community. Give it a shot; you could do worse.



Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Bigfoot Town Hall Meeting



Last night I took an evening away from the computer and the house, as Jillian and I went down to the State Theater in Uniontown for the Finding Bigfoot town hall meeting. If you have followed my blog, Fayette County has a rich history of Sasquatch sightings and I have ventured out on more than one occasion to attempt to locate this mysterious cryptid. Unfortunately, while there have been some interesting encounters, there has been no definitive evidence found.


During the town hall, the eyewitness testimony was awesome and provided a familiar outline of areas to check out. In fact, I have been to all of these areas on multiple occasions, and thus have hope that the truth will be found at some point.


Of the areas that were talked about, there are some intriguing parallels to the encounters that I have been involved with, now I just have to find some time to get back out into the field and do some research. Until then, maybe I will break down into some more theoretical study. I am starting to lean toward Bigfoot and UFOs being related. Here are a few shots from last night.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Salem's Lot (1979)



While I have been splitting time between Fringe and Ancient Aliens, I did find my way to Pittsburgh to hand out with my cousin Jennifer (visiting from Seattle) and her brothers, Jonathan and Jason, as they performed with their band, The Dumplings last night in the city. It was so awesome watched Jennifer hit the stage for an Alice Cooper cover to close the show. Today, I decided to venture back to my youth while doing some homework with the 1979 classic Salem’s Lot.


Plot/ Young novelist returning home to Salem's Lot after many years is disturbed by the strange behavior of its people. He begins to believe that the source of the trouble may be the eerie old Marsten House that overlooks the town.


Its funny, I had remembered much of Salem’s Lot, but almost forgot just how good this miniseries was. It is amazing to see exactly how much the quality put on our televisions has dropped over the past few decades. This was a solid entry that featured outstanding performances, solid scripting, dark and heavy atmosphere, and a soundtrack that backed it up perfectly. Sure, as a made for television entry, it lacks gore and nudity, but that does not bring this one down at all. In fact, it makes for a perfect vampire primer for the younger generation as it depicts the genre in the way they should be portrayed (sparkling vampires suck). In the end, Salem’s Lot may be one of the better King adaptations from the 1970s or 1980s, and it is a movie that must be seen. If you have not watched it, find it and check it out!


Friday, August 15, 2014

Art of Darkness (2012)



With the end of another week at hand, it was time to jump back into review mode. While Bren and Jillian finally broke down and watch Stage Fright last night, I decided to visit something different. My choice, the 2012 British import Art of Darkness.


Plot/ A young woman is held captive by an unhinged lunatic intent on transforming her into his latest blood-splattered masterpiece.


Art of Darkness (AKA Art House Massacre) is a low budget entry that definitely suffers from many of the ailments that plague similar movies from the genre. An interesting premise, the execution does not match the potential that is in place. The dialog is all over, the acting uneven, and the characterizations lack depth. Sure, there is a touch of gore and the pacing picks up as it moves along. In the end, this one is just another forgettable film in the horror genre. There are a few moments that are entertaining, but not enough to search it out.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

I'll Follow You Down (2013)



This has been a weird week, with one of my students convinced that time travel is, in fact, taking place in this day and age. While I do not discount the idea or theory, I personally would love to see it for myself. Ironically, walking through Family Video, I stumbled on a movie with a similar theme, the 2013 entry, I’ll Follow You Down.


Plot/ After the disappearance of a young scientist on a business trip, his son, and wife struggle to cope, only to make a bizarre discovery years’ later - one that may bring him home.


Talk about a movie that was a huge surprise. While I did not know what to expect with this sci-fi / drama, I was at least hopeful that it would not be trash, and it was not. While it did lack blockbuster effects, it did not need them. Complete with outstanding cinematography, solid performances, and an intriguing storyline that drew you in, this atmospheric entry was definitely worth watching. Rooted in a believable context, the idea of time travel and wormhole theory is covered in a manner that many could at least understand, while adding enough emotion to draw the casual viewer past the scientific theories presented. In the end, I'll Follow You Down is one of the better Sci-Fi / drama entries I have seen in some time and was an entertaining watch. If you have not seen it, you should definitely check it out!


Monday, August 11, 2014

Devil's Bible (2008)



I have watched my share of crazy movies over the past few weeks, and decided that it was time to take a break from the different fictional worlds that I usually live in. Instead, I decided to venture into some documentaries for the week. First up for review is the 2008 entry, Devil’s Bible.


Plot/ At 165 pounds, and allegedly made from the skins of 160 donkeys, the Codex Gigas is the world's largest and most mysterious medieval manuscript. Filled with satanic images and demonic spells, according to legend, the cursed text sprang from a doomed monk's pact with the Devil. Now, Nat Geo follows a team of scientists as they embark on an unprecedented quest to unravel the secrets behind the book's darkened pages. Using ultra-violet fluorescence imaging, handwriting analysis, and a re-creation of the text, forensic document experts attempt to uncover the cryptic truth behind this ancient Devil's Bible.


Being a fan of the occult and the dark arts, when I saw this one on Netflix, I was sucked in. Of all of the artifacts that exist in the religious world, the Codex Gigas has to be one of the most interesting. While no one will ever know the truth behind the manuscript, this documentary does a great job at providing some clues while projecting some theories on who created it. It looked at religious history, some scientific theories, and the locations that house this amazing relic. Sure, this one is not perfect, as some of it is uneven and falls flat and some of the connections drawn by the filmmakers make little sense, but that is to be expected when dealing with an ancient and mysterious item. In the end, I did find this documentary entertaining and interesting, but it definitely is not for everyone. If you enjoy documentaries about a darker path, Hail Satan and check it out, if not, stay away.


Sunday, August 10, 2014

Compound Fracture (2013)



It has been a long weekend as we spent the majority of our time at the softball field for a local tournament. While I do not mind the game, there are times where enough is enough. I did have some time to catch some flicks; one of the first was the 2013 entry Compound Fracture.


Plot/ As a strange family reunion commences, an uninvited guest shows up and we learn bits and pieces about the real reason behind Chloe's death and why Brandon is so closed off from Michael. This fractured family will have to come together to fight the ghosts of their pasts and make it out alive!


This was a lot different than what I expected when I saw the box and poster, and that was a good thing. While it was not perfect as a film, the storyline was interesting, especially the way the occult overtones were thrown in. The acting was solid, the cast decent and there was enough pace and atmosphere to keep me watching. Sure, some of the characters appear flat, there was minimal gore, and some of it was predictable (especially the ending), but it was to be expected. In the end, as a low budget entry this one has enough entertaining moments to make it watchable. Yes, it is far from perfect, but it is definitely something different for a genre that seem to be stuck in either the found footage or people lost in the woods topics. You could undeniably do worse.