Sunday, November 11, 2012

Movie Review: Puppet Master X: Axis Rising

Since 1989, Full Moon's Puppet Master series has held a spot in my heart. I can still remember the first time I watched the original after taping in off Cinemax on an old VHS. I remember watching it and thinking, this is awesome! That experience solidified my relationship with Charles Band's Full Moon Studios and forever since that day, I have sought out the studio's films and am thrilled that this little independent studio is still producing movies. Now, 23 years after the original Puppet Master was released, Blade, Pinhead, Leech Woman, Jester, Six-Shooter, and Tunneler return for Puppet Master X: Axis Rising!

You don't mess with America... or Blade!
Puppet Master X picks up where Puppet Master: Axis of Evil left off, with Danny, Beth and the puppets fresh off destroying the Nazi manufacturing plant. Unfortunately, as the film opens, we find that Tunneler has been taken hostage by the no-good Nazi bastards. With the Nazi presence starting to grow in Chinatown and an old scientist working on a regeneration machine for them, it's up to Danny, Beth, the puppets, and the aptly named Sergeant Stone to save Tunneler and America!

As far as the film goes, what can you say about a Full Moon film? After all of these years, you kinda know what you're getting into. The puppets are awesome, including the new ones, Blitzkrieg, Wehrmacht, Bombshell and Kamikaze, the set design is good, the effects are not bad, the acting, well, a little over the top, but it all adds up to a fun time. Actually, I was particularly impressed with the audio and video presentation of the film. Richard Band's music is still the best in the B-movie biz and the video was crisp and clean. The only audio snafu was the fact that every time Beth spoke in the beginning of the movie, it sounded like she was a little too far away from the mic and it made it sound like she was speaking from a cave. But who cares? It's Puppet Master!

His axis, it is rising.
Like the nine before it (with the exception of that dreadful one that starred Corey Feldman), I loved Puppet Master X: Axis Rising. While not perfect, it's everything a B-movie needs to be. It doesn't take itself too seriously and it delivers on almost all counts. I give Puppet Master X: Axis Rising **** out of *****.
Check out the trailer for Puppet Master X: Axis Rising below.

Pick up a copy of Puppet Master X: Axis Rising for your collection!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Movie Review: The Devil's Carnival

From the makers of Repo: The Genetic Opera comes another colorful journey into the world of musical horror. The Devil's Carnival is the latest from the collaborative team of Terrance Zdunich (writer) and Darren Lynn Bousman (director) and it features many of those who starred in their previous effort, such as Bill Moseley, Alexa Vega, Paul Sorvino, and Nivek Ogre. Along for the ride this time are newcomers Emilie Autumn, Dayton Callie, Sean Patrick Flanery, Briana Evigan, Jessica Lowndes, and a host of others.

"What did you say about my chin?"
The film plays like a live-action musical adaption of three of Aesop's Fables. Three poor souls, a kleptomaniac, a gullible teenager, and an obsessed father, each die only to wake up on the doorstep of the Devil's Carnival. Once inside, they are subjected to many of the temptations and tribulations that marred their real lives. Will they be doomed to repeat their past discretion or will they be redeemed? At the controls of their destinies is the devil himself.

With this being a musical, music played a large role in how the stories were conveyed. The film's songs fit comfortably within the design of the sets and the carnival backdrop. Often haphazard and sometimes hard to understand, the rhythms and lyrics of the songs aren't as straightforward as they were in Repo, so listening to them outside of the film probably wouldn't be as enjoyable, but overall, they weren't bad. As far as the film itself goes, Zdunich steals the show as the devil. Sporting some really great makeup, his devil character is brilliant. The other actors don't quite match his enthusiasm, especially blubbering old Sean Patrick Flanery, who kind of started grating on my nerves after a while.
Damn you, Norman Reedus!
Clocking in at a mere 55 minutes, The Devil's Carnival is not your usual movie, but it is enjoyable just the same. On a minimal budget, the creative team did a great job of designing the sets and as crazy as the tunes were, they were impeccably arranged.

From what I hear, this might be the first in a series of these short musicals from Zdunich and Bousman, and I wouldn't mind that at all. Overall, I liked their takes on the fables and the carnival theme, with all of the odd characters, is just great.

I give The Devil's Carnival **** out of *****.

Check out the trailer for The Devil's Carnival below!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Movie Review: Wrong Turn 5: Bloodlines

Proving itself to be the franchise that never dies, Wrong Turn 5: Bloodlines hits store shelves on October 23, but does this ragtag trio of hillbillies have anything left to offer horror fans? The original was pretty good, the second and third weren't all that bad, and the fourth in the series wasn't great but it wasn't terrible by long shot either. Like most horror franchises, the quality of the films have steadily declined through the chapters and finally, in part five, the series hits its bottom (until the inevitable part six comes out). This, despite the fact that it stars Pinhead himself, Doug Bradley.

Doobies and driving don't mix, ya dingus!
The movie takes place once again in the backwoods of West Virginia in a small mining town that is in the midst of celebrating its famous "Mountain Man Festival." A group of 37-year old college kids, while driving toward the town to attend the festivities and getting high (of course) at the same time,  almost hit a guy on the road and ultimately run the car into a tree. The man they almost hit is Maynard (Bradley), a grizzled old serial killer who happens to take in the three murderous hillbillies after the events of part four of this franchise. With his three companions waiting in the wings, Maynard is arrested and taken to jail, along with the delinquents.

What the hell is Norman Reedus doing in this movie?
Even though Maynard is a mean old bastard to the hillbillies, even calling them "pinheads" at one point, they love him like an inbred brother and they turn their savage tendencies on the town in order to free one of their own. Of course, the town is deserted because everybody is over at the Mountain Man Festival which is happening at God-knows-where because when they show the town during the day it's filled with people walking around while at night it turns into a ghost town. I mean there is NOBODY in town, except the delinquents, the sheriff, and old drunk, and Maynard (who keeps muttering threats and promises of death to all while behind bars). It all makes for easy pickings for the hillbillies. There's only one shot of the actual festival in the film and it features a cop getting laid. It seemed the director was trying everything he could to get another pair of bouncing boobs in the movie. I guess that deputy must have been getting banged all night long, because he never answered his radio or called in to the station once. And for all the talk about how "busy" the police were going to be because of the festival, the deputies never brought anybody back to the station. I guess the festival crowd was more congenial than they anticipated, or they were getting laid so much, they didn't care.

My reaction after hearing there might be a part six.
So, where does Wrong Turn 5 go wrong? From bad acting to crappy set design to lousy makeup and special effects to a story with more plot holes than pot holes, Wrong Turn 5 has a lot of bad going for it. Plus, whereas the previous chapters at least had some interesting kills, the kills in this one seemed rudimentary at best. Despite Bradley's best efforts, the movie staggers along like a one-legged redneck trying to walk the Appalachian Trail. At the end of the day, the moral of Wrong Turn 5 is today's college kids are dumber than a trio of inbred West Virginia hillbillies.

Wrong Turn 5: Bloodlines gets * out of *****.

Check out the trailer for Wrong Turn 5: Bloodlines below.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Movie Review: Smiley

I did it for the lulz. I did it for the lulz. I did it for the lulz... Damn, it doesn't work when you do it to yourself! Maybe I should have tried Beetlejuice, or Bloody Mary, or maybe Lovett. Oh well, in either case, that's my reaction after watching the new film, Smiley.

Hey Rocky, how's Cher doing?
You see, Smiley is supposed to be this urban legend killing machine who shows up and kills people when in an online chat you type "I did it for the lulz" three times. Looking like a homicidal version of the kid from Mask, Smiley suddenly pops up behind the unsuspecting victim and drives his knife into the poor sap. Cool premise, right?

Unfortunately, despite the decent effort by lead actress Caitlin Gerard, and a relatively cool idea, Smiley fails to work. Why? For one, half the film is cast using people who have found their "fame" on YouTube. Second, in trying to be hip, the film relies on a lot of "Internet lingo" for most of its jokes, which greatly reduces their effect for those who aren't in with that scene. Third, after about a half an hour, you start finding that you really don't give a crap about these characters and after about 45 minutes, you find yourself just wishing Smiley would kill them all off already.

You sure did.
I get what writers Glasgow Phillips and Michael J. Gallagher (who also directed) were trying to do with the film. Sort of trying to make a statement about the nihilistic view of today's Internet-hardened teens and how all of the hate that's shared and spread on the web can somehow mutate into a cyber-serial killer, but at the end of the day, poor execution, a one-note story and unlikable characters ultimately ruined an otherwise original idea. I give Smiley ** out of *****.
Check out the trailer for Smiley below:

New Documentary on Stephen King's Pet Sematary Being Made

I think most horror fans may agree that the film, Pet Sematary, is still one of the most successful adaptations of one of Stephen King's novels ever. Directed by Mary Lambert and released in 1989, this film arguably captures the essence of King's work pretty accurately (the fact that King wrote the screenplay and actually demanded the film to be shot in Maine certainly helped) and to this day remains an effective and enjoyable piece of cinema.

I don't know about you, but that scene where Zelda runs across the room still haunts me! Or when Fred Gwynne's character Jud says, "Sometimes dead is bettah." Or when little Gage says menacingly, "Now I want to play with youuuuuu...." There are so many memorable scenes in this film!

And now, thanks to John Campopiano and Justin White, a full-blown documentary is being made about the film. John and Justin have somehow wrangled almost everybody involved with making the film for on camera interviews. Check out this list!

I don't know about you, but I can't wait to see this. If you want to learn more about the film or follow its progress, I encourage you to check out the documentary's official Facebook page.

In the words of wise old Jud Crandall, "The soil of a man's heart is stonier, Louis. A man grows what he can, and tends it. 'Cause what you buy, is what you own. And what you own...always comes home to you."

Friday, October 19, 2012

Audiobook Review: Ex-Heroes by Peter Clines

The world is changing fast. Some people have developed special abilities that turn them into superheroes almost overnight. But all in all, that's not too bad, right? These new heroes are helping to fight crime and generally, they're making the world a safer place. Unfortunately, there are other changes also taking place.

Continue reading my review of Ex-Heroes over at my book review blog, Words From the Vein, by clicking HERE.

Book Review: The Five by Robert McCammon

I've been a huge fan of Robert McCammon's work for a long, long time, so when his novel The Five was released back in May of 2011, I was quick to order it. I also quickly devoured it, savoring every chapter, every word. It's been a while since I finished it, and I'm finally getting around to reviewing it, so Mr. McCammon, I apologize for the delay.

Let me start by saying The Five is unlike any other story written by Mr. McCammon. This novel is largely grounded in reality, with a slight supernatural angle, if it can even be called that. The events that occur are eye-opening, world-shattering, and oddly-enough at times, touching.

Continue reading my review of The Five over at my book blog, Words From the Vein, by clicking HERE.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Book Review: Niceville by Carsten Stroud

Niceville by Carsten Stroud is an odd little book. Part crime story and part supernatural mystery, Niceville is not your average friendly read - and like Martha Stewart says, that's a good thing.

Continue reading my review of Niceville over at my book blog, Words From the Vein, by clicking HERE.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

DVD Review: Barricade

Barricade is a supernatural horror story from WWE Studios, the movie-making portion of World Wrestling Entertainment, but unlike previous films from the studio, this one does not star one of the company's wrestling superstars. Instead of Hornswaggle, Barricade stars Eric McCormack, Jody Thompson, Conner Dwelly, and Ryan Grantham.

Not too shabby of a cabin.
The story focuses on McCormack as the father of two children, who a year after the unexpected death of his wife, decides to take the children to their mother's family's cabin in the woods for a Christmas vacation. On their way there, they stop at the town's gas station where they are supposed to pick up the keys to the cabin from Battlestar Galactica alum, Donnelly Rhodes. Poor old Donnelly Rhodes also happens to be the town's sheriff and as usual, he has a heck of a cough. Through his hackings, he warns McCormack that they are expecting a bitch of a snow storm.

When the family finally gets to the old cabin, it's not too long before they start coughing too. But, they take it in stride; they take a quick look around the house, fire up the Christmas tree, and settle in for a restless night of sleep (in which McCormack thinks he sees his wife's ghost staring through the windows at him). As the movie progresses, everybody starts getting sicker and sicker while becoming more and more afraid of the house. They keep hearing strange noises inside the house and they keep seeing weird shapes outside of it. At one point McCormack has enough and he decides it's time to leave. Sadly, when he ventures outside, he finds his SUV is completely covered with snow and once he gets the driver's door open, he finds it won't start either.

It's cold as a ma-fa out there!
Finally, to protect his children from who-knows-what, McCormack barricades his family inside the home. Strange happenings continue to occur, the children continue getting sicker, and McCormack continues his spiral as he relives his wife's passing through a series of flashbacks.

Old Donnelly Rhodes comes up to the cabin to check on the family and after McCormack opens the door, Old Donnelly Rhodes suffers an accident that is revealed later on. Meanwhile, Rhodes' dependable Chevy is still running outside, but instead of taking his sick children out of the house, McCormack closes the door and proceeds to have more hallucinations. After a time spent running around from room to room, McCormack finds the old man's car keys (even though the car was RUNNING when the old man came to the door) and decides that now he can save his children! Unfortunately, McCormack's character is a moron and as he's driving 65 mph on a snow and ice covered road, he looses control and lands in a snow bank. So, it's back to the house they go.

After this happens, all is revealed and we discover what's been going on and what happened to old man cough-a-lot Donnelly Rhodes. As the credits roll, I give a "meh," and suddenly find myself wanting to clear my throat. Barricade has its moments but they are way too few and far in between. It was well-shot, from a cinematic stance, but the characters were what really brought the movie down. Not the actors, mind you, but the characters. Ultimately, Barricade wasn't that scary and it felt like I was already down this snowy road before. I give it ** out of *****.

Check out the trailer for Barricade below:

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Book Review: Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry

My review of Jonathan Maberry's award-winning novel, Rot & Ruin is up over at my book review blog -- Words From the Vein. Check it out by clicking HERE!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Movie Review: Rudyard Kipling's Mark of the Beast

The name Rudyard Kipling has long been connected to a little jungle boy, dancing apes and a big blue bear, but for those who haven't delved into this writings beyond Jungle Book, they might be surprised to discover that old Rudy had a warped mind that he used to write several fantastic horror stories over the course of his life. One of his most popular was Mark of the Beast, and finally, Bloodbath Pictures and Hale Manor bring this tale to life.

Starring Debbie Rochon, Dick Boland, Ellen Muth and a host of Bloodbath regulars, like Phil Hall, Sheri Lynn, Matt Ford and Margaret Rose Champagne, Mark of the Beast is a departure from Bloodbath's previous films as it is played largely straight. The movie follows two people (Rochon and Boland) as they try to deal with saving a friend (Hall) who after defacing a religious shrine becomes cursed by the silver leper who lives in the forest that surrounds their homes. Their fight to survive becomes a life and death struggle for all involved, including the faceless silver leper, and the lengths at which they go to save their friend will not be without its repercussions.

With fantastic creature design and an outstanding, bombastic score, Rudyard Kipling's Mark of the Beast is Bloodbath's most inspired effort to date. Adapted for the screen by Thomas Edward Seymour (who also directed with Jonathan Gorman) and Sheri Lynn, Mark of the Beast effectively combines 70s-style horror with deep-running religious, political and moral themes -- and hey, it has Debbie Rochon in it!

While I'll always love Bloodbath's "Bikini Bloodbath" movies, I am glad to see that the troupe is spreading its wings and embracing tougher, more serious films. Seymour and the rest have a ton of talent to share with us and each film represents significant growth in their film making process, and Mark of the Beast is no different. I give Mark of the Beast ****1/2 out of *****.

Check out the trailer for Rudyard Kipling's Mark of the Beast below:

Friday, February 10, 2012

Movie Review: I Saw The Devil

With the Oscars just a few days away, I have to say that I am very disappointed with this year's top movie considerations. I mean, Moneyball...really? No movie starring Jonah Hill should EVER be in consideration for a top film, let alone him get a nomination. Talk about Hollywood politics! Anyway, since the Academy is a bunch of old blowhard fools with a penchant for stagnant movies, I figured I'd introduce you to THE TRUE BEST FILM of 2011 - I Saw The Devil. This movie is so good, it makes every American-made film from the past year look like crap.

I Saw The Devil gets inside your head, burrows deep into your guts and guess what? It lives there for a long time after you've seen it. You'll find yourself thinking about this movie over and over again. You'll have long conversations with your friends about how far someone would go for revenge, whether revenge makes a difference and who's really the one affected by it all.

I Saw The Devil, directed by Kim Ji-woon, follows a young special agent named Soo-hyun who is out for revenge against the psychopath who kidnapped and murdered his pregnant fiancée. As Soo-hyun's obsession and determination grow in intensity, he finds himself getting closer and closer to the edge of the abyss. What develops is a cat and mouse of extremes that doesn't slow up until the credits roll.

Absolutely everything about I Saw The Devil is perfect. Watch it, feel it, experience it and I think you'll agree that it blows away any American-made film of the last five years. I highly recommend I Saw The Devil and give it ***** out of *****!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Book Review: The Devil Stood Up by Christine Dougherty

Hey guys, check out my review of the new book by Christine Dougherty, The Devil Stood Up, over at my book review site Words From The Vein. CLICK HERE!!