Out now from Uncork'd Entertainment and filmmakers Tony Jopia, Nika Braun, Yannis Zafeiriou, and Alexander Zwart is the zombie opus - and creatively titled - Dawning of the Dead (2017). Taking place primarily in a newsroom studio, the film covers the zombie apocalypse while interrupting the narrative to show other areas of the world affected by the virus that is reanimating the dead. This allows for a number of different approaches to the attacking ghouls without feeling like an anthology film. This approach works for the most part but also exposes a wide range of effects from excruciatingly terrible to rather impressive. This film also contains some nice homages to Evil Dead and Dead Alive. Check out the review
Director Chris Parrish - along with co-writer Mason Parrish - delivers a lighthearted, fun monster-filled romp as a group of kids encounters all kinds of terrors as they explore an amusement park in search of Al Capone's legendary hidden treasure. The film has a Goonies and Monster Squad vibe in the best way possible. The film features an evil mermaid, bloodthirsty pirates, fire-breathing dragons, and an army of growling toothsome teddy bears. Oh, my! You know you're in for a nostalgic treat when the store the parents own is called Joan & Chachi's. Check out the Gruesome Magazine review below.
Will Smith reunites with David Ayer to create Netflix's first "blockbuster" original, Bright (2017). With a $90M estimated budget, the fantasy horror cop thriller is a bold move for the streaming company. The film also features Joel Edgerton, Noomi Rapace, Edgar Ramirez, and Lucy Fry in key roles. Set in an alternate universe where man co-exists with fantasy creatures such as elves, fairies, and orcs, Daryl Ward (Smith), a human cop, is forced to partner with Nick Jakoby (Edgerton), the first orc policeman in a tale that involves a magic wand and the threat of the return of the "dark lord." Splicing together the fantasy creatures of Lord of the Rings with a gritty buddy cop story ala Bad Boys, Ayer has his heroes alternating between battling corrupt cops, facing down a gang of orc thugs, and fighting to survive the attacks of magical elves.
Coming from the director of Pulse (2001) and Creepy (2016), the drama horror thriller Daguerrotype (2017) attempts to scare up some chills and goosebumps. Originally titled "Le Secret de la Chambre Noire", Kiyoshi Kurosawa's film is heavier on the drama than the horror and may be found as a bit of sluggish chore for many horror fans craving gore and ghoulish delights. Tahar Rahim as Jean joins photographer Stephane (Olivier Gourmet) in capturing images using a complicated technique called daguerreotype. When the photographer's daughter (Constance Rousseau) falls ill and is perceived as dead, the story takes some creepy twists and turns providing the film with some highlights in its atmospheric cinematography. In the end, the film is too laborious to enjoy as a horror film... or a drama.
Modern horror likes to chase current fears and with Bedeviled (2017) that remains the case. In this feature from the writing-directing team of Abel Vang and Burlee Vang, the fear is the app on your mobile device, the little bit of software gleefully downloaded into your private world and space. Yes, it's a horror film so this app, Mr. Bedeviled, is downloaded to kill you, playing on your fears. The direction is strong with beautiful cinematography and terrific locations but the script tries to over-explain things. Bedeviled misses the opportunity to enjoy its own campiness. The film features Saxon Sharbino, Bonnie Morgan, and Alexis G. Zall. Even being a near miss, there may be room for more Mr. Bedeviled.
In this episode of Groovy Gorey Gruesome Gold, Paul Cardullo goes back to the mid-1970s for the Blaxploitation classic J.D.’s Revenge (1976). In the 1940s, gangster J.D. Walker (David McKnight) witnesses the murder of his sister (Alice Jubert) and then is gunned down by her murderer. Flash forward to 1976 . . . Isaac, played by Glynn Turman (Cooley High , Gremlins ), is a law student who drives a cab to make ends meet. After being hypnotized during a nightclub act, Isaac’s personality begins to change as he is slowly taken over by J.D.’s spirit. J.D. is seeking revenge on the men involved in his murder, former-gangster-turned-preacher Reverand Elija Bliss (Louis Gossett Jr.) and his brother Theotis (Fred Pinkard). Directed by Arthur Marks and written by Jaison Starkes, the film is refreshingly good and sports a top-notch cast, in spite of the fact that Turman’s portrayal of the possessed version of Isaac can seem a little over-the-top at times. Even though the viewer thinks they know where the story is going, Starkes’ script has J.D.’s actual revenge take a slightly different form than one would expect, giving the film a bit more depth than the usual exploitation fare. Give a listen below and hear why Paul says that this is one for which views should keep an eye out.
Dancing between found footage, video blogging, and conventional film, The Follower (2017) makes the most out of its concept of a ghost hunting Youtube celebrity, David Baker (Nicolas Shake) encountering a supposed haunting that is far more than he anticipated. The interaction between David and the homeowner Carol (Chloe Dumas) drives much of the first half of the narrative. While the film presents evidence of a haunting, David is convinced that Carol is the problem and leaves. At this point, The Follower begins anew as David discovers something may have followed him home. Nicolas Shake admirably carries most of the film as the lead, David Baker, making a strong impression while Chloe Dumas has fun with the zanier side of Carol. The chemistry between the two is awkward but interesting. An entertaining and solid but gruesomely lightweight effort from director Kévin Mendiboure, The Follower is a perfect film to catch and chill.
While the IMDb suggests that Blood Harvest (2017) is "Onus meets the Texas Chainsaw Massacre," the film is something else entirely. It is a beautiful, silly, little film - lush, green, and vibrant with its Irish countryside locations. However, the film is full of alien vampires who have committed 36 murders that the local police are keeping hidden. Thankfully for horror fans, the killers provide the film with plenty of blood and gore. Blood Harvest is from writer/director George Clarke and features Alan Crawford, Racheal Galloway, and Griffin Madill. Filled with wacky one-liners and tonally bouncing between monster film and torture port, the film is all over the place and tough to follow. Catch the full review below.
In this edition of Groovy Gory Gruesome Gold, Paul Cardullo gets his first taste of 1970s Turkish Action Cinema with the funky classic The Sword and The Claw (aka Kiliç Aslan and Lionman) (1975). The film is an unusual mix of Tarzan and a sword-and-sandal epic. While Tarzan is raised by apes, Süleyman (Turkish megastar Cüneyt Arkin), the hero of The Sword and The Claw, is raised by lions. This helps him to develop his fighting technique, which mostly consists of slashing as his opponent's faces with his hands. This "Turkish Tarzan" is the long-lost son of King Solomon, who was murdered by an evil prince. Now, Süleyman must team with the resistance to overcome the usurper. Words almost cannot do justice the whacked-out action in this film, which features much acrobatic work choreographed to the repeated strains of the Adagio from Aram Khachaturian's classical ballet Spartacus. There is fun action throughout, but the highlight is the true wackadoodle ten-minute finale wherein good guys and bad guys go flying through the air, presumably propelled by unseen trampolines, and much blood is spilled. Is it a good film? Probably not. Is it an entertaining film? Most definitely. Paul has a ball relating to Doc the experience of watching The Sword and The Claw which is being released on January 23, 2018, by American Genre Film Archive (AGFA) in a new 4K restoration on Blu-ray made from the only surviving 35-millimeter print. Listen to his review below and see why you too just may become a fan of 1970s Turkish Action Cinema.
The anthology film Monster Pool: Seven Deadly Sins (2017) explores each of the deadly sins with a series of unique twists and turns. A trio of directors unites to deliver the horror feature, Kyle Martellacci, Randy Smith, and Vincent Valentino. The cast includes Jennifer Allanson, Matt Armstrong, and Troy Arsenian. Gluttony wins the grossest award with its grisly scenes. while Lust wins the favorite trophy. The shorts creatively mix horror and Twilight-Zone inspired stories and tales of terror.
Gruesome's coverage of Blood in the Snow Film Festival continues with a fantasy, sci-fi thriller Darken (2017). Audrey Cummings directs from a script by RJ Lackie with a cast lead by Olunike Adeliyi, Paul Amos, and Rob Archer. In the story, Eve steps through a door into an alternate world where the denizens worship a woman named Mother Darken who hasn't been seen in many years. In her absence, Clarity rules with an iron fist. The film grows in interest as the mystery begins to unfold but the ambitious film's reach exceeds its grasp. The scope of the film feels better suited for an episodic television show than a single movie.
Part fairy tale, part horror movie, The Gatehouse (2017) from director Martin Gooch delivers the goods. Scarlett Rayner, Simeon Willis, Linal Haft, Paul Freeman, Hannah Waddingham, Alix Wilton Regan, and Melissa Knatchbull star. Lead Rayner is exceptional, sucking you into her plights of dealing with the loss of her mom and facing the horrors of the forest nearby, including a fantastic practical effect creature. The gore is fun but the CGI is a little rough. Gooch provides a solid script as well. Well worth your time when you come across The Gatehouse.
Cody Calahan directs Let Her Out (2017) featuring Alanna LeVierge, Nina Kiri, and Adam Christie. The story finds Helen (LeVierge) discovering that she has a tumor that appears to be the byproduct of a "phantom twin" that was absorbed in utero. Part body horror, part supernatural, part "possession" story, Let Her Out provides plenty of cringe-worthy story and effects that will delight horror fans and Gruesome listeners. LeVierge is spectacular in the lead and Calahan steers the cast and crew through a promising tale of thrilling terror.
Doc Rotten reins in another found footage film for Gruesome Magazine, this time from our good friends a POV Horror and Found Footage Files. The film is called The Last Witch (2017) from director Carlos Almón Muñoz. Following a trio of friends investigating a local legend about a witch that was killed along with her entire cover but her body was never recovered. Since then, even now hundreds of years later, the rumors persist that she still haunts the local village. Feeling very much in the vein of Blair Witch Project, The Last Witch struggles to strike its own mark but involves its characters into the mythology far more than other similar films.
Indie horror icon Todd Sheets gets behind the camera once again to bring us an old school werewolf flick, Bonehill Road (2017). Proudly touting a CGI free film, Todd pays homage to the classic werewolf films of our youth and brings scream queen Linnea Quigley along to raise the decibel level. And a bloody pack of werewolves to satisfy every werewolf fan. Blood flows, teeth tear and hair sprouts in all its low budget indie spectacle. Join Dave as he harkens back to the good old days of straight-to-VHS horror gruesome greatness.
Straight from the Blood in the Snow Canadian Film Festival held November 23 through November 26, 2017, in Toronto comes the holiday gorrific gem Once Upon a Time at Christmas (2017). Doc shares his reactions with Jeff Mohr praising the structure, the jolly villains, and the super splendid splatter. Simon Phillips and Sayla de Goede (credited as Sayla Vee) makes an entertaining pair of murderous misfits dressed as Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus. The film gives holiday favorites Silent Night Deadly Night and Christmas Evil a run for the money. A favorite from the festival, Once Upon a Time a Christmas from director Paul Tanter arrives just in time for some gruesome holiday cheer.
Playing at the Screamfest Film Festival this past October and the Atlanta Horror Film Festival, Ruin Me (2017) took home the "Best Feature Film" award at the latter event. Doc Rotten takes a seat to take a look at what all the buzz is about and confirms that Atlanta got this one right. Ruin Me from director Prestin DeFrancis and written by Trysta A. Bissett & Preston DeFrancis is an undeniable treat for all horror fans. It features an extreme sleep over campaign called Slasher Sleepout, an unreliable narrator, and a possible escaped convict picking off our cast one-by-one - serious, what is not to love! The film also has a great cast with Marcienne Dwyer in the lead supported by Matt Dellapina, Chris Hill, Eva Hamilton, John Odom, Cameron Gordon, and Sam Ashdown. Doc is excited to give this his seal of approval, check out the review to find out why.
Paul Cardullo sits down with Doc Rotten to review one of the unsung classics found in the George A. Romero collection from Arrow Video, Between Night and Dawn. The film is Season of the Witch (1972) originally called Jack's Wife and released under the title Hungry Wives. Paul shares the strange and unusual history of Romero's "witchcraft" offering. He praises actress Jan White who plays the lead and encourages horror fans - especially Romero fans - to hold out until the third act which pays off this early Romero film. Check out the review for more.
Talented actor Nicholas Vince, who played The Chatterer Cenobite in Clive Barker's Hellraiser and Hellbound: Hellraiser II and Kinski in Barker's Nightbreed, makes his horror short writing and directorial debut with The Night Whispered. This short will remind viewers of classic supernatural tales, perhaps ones that they read or viewed in their younger years or even today. Check out Joseph's full audio review below, and then rent or buy The Night Whispered at http://www.nicholasvince.com/the-night-whispered!
Doc Rotten dives into another film from the fantastic Cinepocalypse Film Festival held in Chicago from November 2nd through the 9th. Downrange (2017) proves to be a gripping thriller from director Ryuhei Kitamura (Versus, Godzilla: Final Wars, The Midnight Meat Train) featuring Kelly Connaire, Stephanie Pearson, and Rod Hernandez. The plot is extremely minimalistic with a group of friends stranded on an isolated stretch of rural country road with no cell reception. Soon, they discover that a sniper is in the trees nearby taking them out one by one, toying with them as the day creeps into night. The premise is wrought with tension but the current real-life environment makes this a difficult film to watch with a sense of entertainment which is unfortunate for the filmmakers. But, it is also too hard to ignore. The film is either a few years too late or a few years too early to make the most of the story. The movie itself has its own troubles as the conclusion robs much of the film of its tension. However, the acting from leads Kelly Connaire and Stephanie Pearson is the film's strongest asset.
Tackling another Sci-fi/Horror film, Jeff Mohr discovers Skybound (2017) is more an action-thriller with an interesting plot, a good mystery, and solid cinematography but with weak acting and cringe-worthy dialogue. Writer-director Alex Tavakoli guides his cast Scarlett Byrne, Gavin Stenhouse, and Rick Cosnett through his disaster-filled in-flight feature. Jeff shares his thoughts, his score, and his favorite scene with another much-anticipated Gruesome Magazine review.
Vanessa invites Doc Rotten to reveal his thoughts on the latest film in the DC cinematic universe, Justice League (2017). The film is directed by Zack Snyder (with some reshoot help from Joss Whedon) with a script by Chris Terrio and Whedon. The story has Batman (Ben Affleck) and Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) forming a team to defeat Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds, voice), providing Jack Kirby a "New Gods" credit. Sadly, the world is in a tailspin after the death of Superman (Henry Cavill) in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice leaving it vulnerable with only Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Cyborg (Ray Fisher), and The Flash (Ezra Miller) to lend a much-needed hand. The cast is up to the challenge providing the film with many character building sets of dialogue and exchanges. The "new kids" size up alongside Batman and Wonder Woman quite nicely. The film drags a bit when it returns to the foe with Steppenwolf proving that superhero films continue to have issues developing good villains. Still, he is still better than the villains in the past DC films. Full of entertainment and laughs, Justice League succeeds yet it still stops short of delivering much needed "wow!" moments
In the annals of killer car movies, one film stands out - The Car (1977) from director Elliot Silverstein and screenwriters Dennis Shryack, Michael Butler, and Lane Slate. Sure, Killdozer is older (though, technically, that is about a killer bulldozer, not a car) and John Carpenter's version of Stephen King's Christine (1983) may be more well-known, but The Car outshines those other films in at least two ways - it is a lot more fun and it has James Brolin. Catching this gem with Westworld (1973) as part of a James Brolin double-feature from the Retro Films Series at the Carolina Theatre in Durham, North Carolina, Paul Cardullo joins Doc Rotten to discuss this funky and fun automotive killing machine. While maybe it is not the most well-constructed movie, find out why Paul describes The Car as one of the best Jaws (1975) rip-offs to come out in the wake of that film and why you should try and catch it on the big screen if possible
Interview - director Joe Lynch - Mayhem (2017)
Chicago's Music Box Theatre was home to the Cinepocalypse film festival from November 2 through November 9, 2017. One of the 60 films screening at this incredible film festival was Snowflake (Schneeflöckchen, 2017) from directors Adolfo J. Kolmerer and William James, and writers Arend Remmers. The film's ensemble cast is terrific and features an outstanding performance from Xenia Assenza as a young woman out for revenge on the two men who killed her parents in a restaurant massacre. The film features a meta angle about characters who confront the screenwriter, absurdist and surreal situations, dark comedy, and plenty of violence and bloody mayhem. Check out Joseph’s full audio review below.