Sunday, April 30, 2017

Art All Night 20 - 2017

I have had to take a few days away from the computer, as there have been a ton of different things going on this weekend. Between the NFL Draft and writing, I have finally started watching my first movie of the weekend about five minutes ago. That has not been all that bad, as last night I got to go to Art All Night 20 in Lawrenceville and saw dome awesome art and some awesome bands. If you are in the Pittsburgh area and have never been to Art All Night, you are missing out on a great experience. Here are a few of the pictures from last night. 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Skyquake (2015)

After taking a night yesterday to get caught up in the past few episodes of Riverdale, I decided that it was time to get back at it tonight with something a little different before I get back to my National Poetry Month project Salvation. After some debate, I decided on the 2015 Brain Damage Films entry Skyquake.

Plot/ Since 2012 reports of strange sounds coming from the sky have flooded social media, now Adam, a recluse, struggling with his own demons, believes whatever is causing them has followed him home.

When I picked this one up, the synopsis seemed interesting, as I have heard (and read about) many accounts of this phenomenon. While this movie takes on this subject in a different manner that leaves much of it to the viewers interpretation, something that I love as a writer. The visuals are really well done with solid cinematography and direction; the storyline is intriguing, and the performances are decent. Yes, some of the special effects and audio tracks are uneven and the pace does feel a bit slow, but those issues seem to fit in with this strange tale. In the end, for a lower budgeted film, this one is a thought-provoking journey into something that we really do not understand as a civilization. If you are like me, and are fascinated by the unknown (especially the 4:44-time symbolism), give it a shot, you could do much worse.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988)

As April continues to pass us by, I decided to find something to help keep my focus as I am working through my epic poem Salvation. With my lead character travelling back in time to the ancient Canaanite civilization in Levant to face the demonic beasts Baal, Moloch, and their minions, I decided a trip to Hell might be in order. What better choice to help with this than the 1988 classic Hellbound: Hellraiser II.

Plot/ Kirsty is brought to an institution after the death of her family, where the occult-obsessive head resurrects Julia and unleashes the Cenobites once again.

Sequels are always interesting endeavors, and in this case, even great additions to the mythos created within this series. For me, Hellbound is on par with the source material and in many ways; the darkness that it portrays is a tremendous representation of the nightmares that can surround us everyday. Released in 1988, the special effects are amazing and have stood the test of time. The cinematography is amazing, the imagery sets the dark atmosphere and does a great job bringing Clive Barker's vision of hell to life, the performances are solid, and the horror elements resonate as much today as they did when the movie came out. Yes, some of the early pacing is a touch slow, ut that is but a minor flaw in one of the greatest sequels ever made in the horror genre. In the end, this visual trip to Hell may not be for everyone, but it is a must see for horror fans and fans of Barkers’ work. If you have not seen it yet, you should not consider yourself a true horror fan. Find it, and watch it.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

American Beast (2014)

After spending a good bit of my day away from my computer, I decided to kick back and watch, what I had hoped would be an entertaining creature feature. Unfortunately, that was not the case with 2014s American Beast (AKA Solitude)

Plot/ After finding an old storage locker filled with his family's history, James Erikson begins a journey to discover the truth behind a mysterious piece of land in the small town of Solitude.

Sometimes you are surprised by movies and other times you cringe as ask yourself why. That was the case with this one, as I spent more time asking myself why I had not turned it off. As a fan of low budget cinema, I can often look past the traditional flaws and try to find the positives. In this case, everything seemed to be discordant and there was nothing new or original to make it worthwhile. The sound quality was miserable at best, the scripting was flat and predictable, the performances were uneven and cardboard and the entire film seemed to just drag on making the 89 minute run time feel like an eternity. Seriously, there is really nothing with this one that makes it worth watching. I honestly wish I had given up in the first fifteen or so minutes. Stay away.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

The Evil Within (2017)

What a Saturday, I went to lunch with Dad, was surprised when one of the daughters cut the grass without prompting, and I was able to push through another piece for my epic poem Salvation. While that may not sound like much, it was enough to allow my week to slow down and let me get some much needed down time. To finish the evening, I decided on an interesting flick, 2017s The Evil Within.

Plot/ The sadistic tale of a lonely, mentally handicapped boy who befriends his reflection in an antique mirror. This demonic creature orders him to go on a murderous rampage to kill the people he loves most.

When I sat down to watch this one, I had no clue what to expect. What I found was an interesting film that was much better than I initially would have guessed. While this is not a perfect film and it has some uneven moments, it is rather entertaining and memorable, featuring some solid visuals, decent performances, and sound cinematography. Yes, the ending (like parts of the movie) was confusing and there were some minor pacing issues, but those really do not bring the film down especially when the history of this movie is brought to life. This relatively strange and unknown gem, originally titled The Storyteller, was the obsession of oil heir Andrew Getty, who wrote, directed, and methodically crafted this film for roughly 15-years until his tragic death in 2015. In the end, this movie may not be great, and in may not live up to its own history, but it is a memorable entry and one that I am glad I noticed during my last trip to Family Video.

Friday, April 21, 2017

The Institute (2017)

Last night, I took some time away from the blog as I was working on my National Poetry Month project, the epic poem Salvation. While that has proven to be extremely challenging, I am on pace to have it finished by the end of the month. To get back into the swing of things, I decided on the 2016 psychological thriller The Institute.

Plot/ In 19th century Baltimore, a girl was stricken with grief from her parents' untimely death voluntarily checks herself into the Rosewood Institute, and is subjected to bizarre and increasingly violent pseudo-scientific experiments in personality modification, brainwashing and mind control; she must escape the clutches of the Rosewood and exact her revenge.

When I saw this one on the shelf, I decided to give it a shot. While it is not a perfect film, it is an atmospheric and entertaining flick that was different than what I expected. There are some positives, as the performances were decent, the storyline interesting, the cinematography solid, and the atmosphere was better than I would have expected. Yes, it did lack some of the horror elements that I expected, the sound quality of the disk was off, and some of the characters felt flat, but those elements did not indeed hamper the end product that fit will into the Victorian aesthetic. In the end, the real horror of this tale is that it is believable in regards to the way patients were treated and experimented on during that era. Sure, this is not a perfect film (although I personally love it, as it matches my writing style), and it is more of a mental trip into days gone by, but it is a movie that fans of period horror pieces should check out. 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Arbor Demon (2016)

With having my camping trip coming closer into view, I have been in the mood for some interesting films that take place in the outdoors. So, while walking through Gamily Video on my trip to pick-up Split, I stumbled upon thin next flick, and I am glad that I did. Next up for review is the 2016 creature feature, Arbor Demon (AKA Enclosure).

Plot/ An adventurous woman with a secret from her husband insists the couple go camping to reconnect. Something in the woods wipes out a group of hunters nearby, preventing the couple from leaving their tent. Secrets and supernatural stories come to light, and they must determine if the real threat is inside or outside their enclosure.

Creature features based on camping trips are usually ripe with cliché and are rather predictable, and while this entry has a few moments like that, it is a rather impressive venture into that subgenre. Yes, it is not a perfect film (there really aren’t many that are), but it was an entertaining film with some solid elements to enjoy, the performances are better than normal with this lower budget, the pacing works to build a tension-filled atmosphere, and the characterizations are better that what you would normally expect. Sure, much of the action and horror sequences take place off screen and there are some head scratching moments, but none of those make this creature feature seem out of place, In the end, this movie was much better than I expected when I picked it up at Family Video, while it is not the best of its kind, it is am entertaining and interesting low-budget creature feature.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Split (2016)

It is nice to be back home after a trip to North Carolina. While it is nice to visit with family, that it a long drive and I often return exhausted and worn out. Plus, I usually miss my typical horror fix. To get back into the swing of things, I went to Family Video and picked up the 2016 thriller Split.

Plot/ Three girls are kidnapped by a man with a diagnosed 23 distinct personalities, they must try to escape before the apparent emergence of a frightful new 24th.

As many already know, movies by M. Night Shyamalan can range from awesome to terrible, and honestly, you never know what you will get. I was relieved that Split fell closer to the good productions. While not a perfect film and it does have a few clichéd moments, the performances within the storyline (especially James McAvoy) make it easy to overlook those. Besides McAvoy, the performances are solid, the story is engaging, and the direction was solid. This one was definitely an atmospheric thriller that was better than I expected. Unfortunately, it was somewhat predictable and the twist ending was not needed. In the end, there was a lot to like about this movie and it appears that Shyamalan has again put together of entertaining thrillers. Hopefully, he keeps up this trend with his next entry.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Horror Short, Rotary , Trailer Debuts

First off, I want to wish everyone a Happy Easter. As I am traveling this holiday, I am reminded of the importance of friends and family (as well as quiet). Fortunately, while I may not have spent much time on the computer this weekend, I have had a chance to get some writing in on my 2017 National Poetry Month project, Salvation. Because of that, I have not really had an opportunity to get many movies in. I did, however, receive word that the 2017 short film Rotary is primed for the festival circuit. Following is the official press release for the movie. 

Urban Legend-Based Period Film Poised to Hit 2017 Festivals 

WASHINGTON, D.C.- The official trailer for Rotary has debuted. You can view the trailer on youtube here:

We may consider urban legends today as trite and sentimental. These “friend of a friend” macabre stories, polished or pock-marked over the years with updated, modern details or crazy twists have cemented their place in our American canon of folklore. 

Kidney heists, Bloody Mary, alligators in the sewer: all resonate tales because in their lack of specificity they become eerily plausible, and we recognize a familiar predicament—one we’d dread. Rotary is based on classic The Babysitter and the Man Upstairs.

Director and Writer Lorenzo Adams explains his impetus for creating the film, “ I've always been infatuated with things of the macabre, things that terrify us as human beings and terrors that have a touch of reality. Rotary is based on an urban legend that dates back to the 1950's. This story, in my opinion, is one of the first kind of home invasion horrors that predate films like The Strangers, Straw Dawgs, and Wait Until Dark. It birthed the horrifying reveal that gave many of us nightmares and questions as to if we were really safe within our own homes. The reality is one of the roots of real horror. ” 

Rotary, written and directed by Lorenzo P. Adams was shot over a five-day period in mid-July at Windy Ridge farmhouse in Galax, Virginia. 

Director Lorenzo P. Adams shares why he knew Windy Ridge was exactly what he was envisioning the moment he saw it. “I knew that I wanted a house that had plenty of character and embodied a vintage look that would effectively place viewers in the time period of the story that takes place.” 

Emma Fawkes makes her debut as the film’s star, 17-year-old Julie Moore. Hunter Ott plays Robert, the young babysitter’s charge. Hunter has previously appeared in Chicago Fire and Deadline: Crime with Tamron Hall. 

The film is in the process of being wrapped up and submitted to several festivals throughout 2017. To find out more about Rotary and receive the latest updates on festival screenings, please visit us on Facebook. Twitter, or Instagram @Rotarythemovie.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Lighthouse Keeper (2016)

After taking last night away from the blog to nap before driving to North Carolina for the Easter holiday, I figured I would focus tonight’s entry on the last film I watched during the week. That movie is the 2016 Edgar Allan Poe-inspired The Lighthouse Keeper.

Plot/ Marooned on a remote peninsula and haunted by frightening specters, a young man must confront the grotesque denizens of the night, or follow the Lighthouse Keeper's cryptic warning to, always keep a light burning!

There are times when I want to relax and watch the classic horror tales of the past. Filmmaking was so different in the past eras, with the atmosphere and storylines taking center stage instead of the forced effects and gore. That is exactly what I found with this one. Loosely based on the short story by Edgar Allan Poe, this one harkens back to a different time in cinema. While it is not perfect, the storyline is interesting, there are some atmospheric moments, and the direction/cinematography was solid. Yes, some of the performances were flat and uneven, and the ending felt a touch abrupt and forced, but those flaws are minor and do not bring down the film. In the end, if you are a fan of Poe or enjoy movies that make you think instead of relying on effects and gore for entertainment values, this one is for you. Check it out!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Bye Bye Man (2017)

Last night, I made a trip to Family Video to see what had come out recently. What I found was a wide selection of new horror flicks on the shelves. To start off these new choices, I decided on the 2017 horror/thriller The Bye Bye Man.

Plot/ When three college students move into an old house off campus, they unwittingly unleash a supernatural entity known as The Bye Bye Man, who comes to prey upon them once they discover his name. The friends must try to save each other, all the while keeping The Bye Bye Man's existence a secret to save others from the same deadly fate.

This one definitely has a unique approach to the slasher genre and a ton of potential. While I would class it as more of a thriller than a straight horror flick, there are just enough elements to keep it above water. The storyline was interesting, the casting decent, and the cinematography and filming were solid. Yes, some of the performances are uneven, there are minimal scares, and some of the scriptings felt rushed or disjointed, but those parts are easily overlooked. In the end, this movie will not be for everyone, but it is a decent PG-13 entry that makes for a great scary movie night with the kids.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017 (2017)

Last night, I spent the evening watching my beautiful and talented daughter Genesis perform with the West Virginia University Symphonic Band, and it was an impressive performance. The same thing cannot be said about the next movie up for review, 2017s

Plot/ After meeting online, Jack and Kristy go on a weekend getaway to the woodlands of rural Missouri. While discovering each other, they soon learn of the terrorizing horrors that the forest has in store.

When I picked this one up, I almost immediately expected the worse. Unfortunately, I was right. While the movie started well enough, the overall quality and entertainment aspects continually fell throughout the film. In fact, that opening segment is the only highlight of this movie that I can remember with any clarity. The entire film just felt like an incoherent mess that did not match the title with the script. The performances are uneven, the storyline predictable and cliché with even the murder scenes failing to provide any entertainment values as the felt cardboard and over-edited. Trust me, it is that bad. In the end, there are a ton of movies that exist out there in the slasher genre that will be much more entertaining and memorable, stay away from this one.

Monday, April 10, 2017

The Monster (2016)

As I continue to make my way through the last few movies that I have watched, I am excited that I can almost see a light at the end of the tunnel. Next up for review is the 2016 indie flick, The Monster.  

Plot/ A mother and daughter must confront a terrifying monster when they break down on a deserted road.

I have to admit that this movie is much better that I anticipated when I picked it up at Family Video. While it does have a somewhat straightforward storyline, there are many things that make it better than one would think. The performances are solid, the atmosphere and tension have a nice feel, and the cinematography is outstanding. On top of all those positives, the practical effects make it a fun watch; again proving that practical effects are much better than CGI. Unfortunately, the scripting/dialog are both uneven, and because of the overused basic premise, some aspects are predictable, however, those can be overlooked. In the end, while this movie does have its warts, it is rather entertaining, and a movie that could definitely help you pass a few hours on a dark dreary night. Give it a shot.