Monday, March 30, 2009

The Absence

Genre - Horror
Year Published - 2009 (Published by Bloody Books - an imprint of Beautiful Books Limited)
Length - 408 pages
Written by Bill Hussey

Rating: 4 Skulls

Plot Summary:
It was a tragic accident. That is what his family tells Joe Nightingale, but the boy is tormented by visions of his mother's death.

Now, seven months after the fatal car crash, the Nightingale's receive some unexpected news. They have inherited a house from a distant relative - the reclusive Muriel Sutton. Desperate to reforge old bonds, the family decides to spend the summer at Daecher's Mill. Here they hope to escape the shadows of the past.

But dark mysteries await them. Who are the guests that have been brought here over the years? Why did the late Muriel Sutton murder her strange little sister, Alice? And what is the connection between Joe Nightingale and this lonely Fenland millhouse?

Something is moving in the attic. It looks and sounds like a little girl, but its eyes are old and its voice runs like water.

It is a weaver of shadows.

A creature of Absence. . .

Last year [before I had this blog] I read Hussey's debut novel, Through A Glass, Darkly and was thoroughly impressed! If you have not yet done so, I encourage you to check Hussey out!

In The Absence, Hussey grabs you from the very first page and doesn't let go!
Not only has Hussey written another extremely creepy novel, he has crafted a tale about family in general.

In this story, Hussey has created a mother who is literally "absent" [you will learn exactly what that means] while raising her family and a cheating/alcoholic husband/father. The oldest son is struggling with the fault of causing the car accident that claimed his mother's life, and the youngest son is dealing with a friend's suicide - however these things soon become the very least of their worries. . .

When I read Through A Glass, Darkly, I remember comparing bits and pieces of it to Lumley & King - In The Absence, there is more of a Lovecraftian feel to the story.

Hussey's gift is, without a doubt, imagery - when you are reading his works, you feel as if you are right there, where the story is taking place. . . I obtained permission from the publisher to write this small excerpt from the book, so that you can see what I mean:

The kitchen door opened.
The she heard it: a soft mewling. She gripped the rabbit's foot.
'Mrs Sutton? Please, who's there?'
The resonance of the sound increased and, at the end of each intonation, a cry gargled. It had a synaesthetic effect on Elsie. It rattled in her ear and she saw the world around her quilted in a red gauze. Disinfectant, and the smell of sterile medical equipment, burned her nostrils. Her legs parted and she seemed to feel fingers delving deep inside. She looked down, half expecting to see a face, covered with a surgical mask, smiling up at her:
Nearly done Miss Cuttle. Nearly out.
But that is not what she saw.
It crawled across the kitchen tiles: a baby . . . of sorts.
Reaching the centre of the room, it stopped, turned its head one hundred and eighty degrees and blinked up at its mother.
Elsie did not scream.
Spewed into the world half-made, the foetus displayed all the motor functions it might have possessed had it been born the year before. There was even an air of curiosity, as it slapped the ground with a plump palm. With this movement, flecks of amniotic tissue fell from its shoulders and from the caul clinging to its head. Much of the sac membrane, however, remained fixed to the child, like strands of swaddling. Between its legs trailed a stunted umbilical cord. Snot bubbled from the slits that served as the infant's nose and threaded to the floor. Again, the mouth opened and mewling erupted over toothless gums. It called to her, this thing of her making, this creature that she had failed to destroy. It wanted its mother. It wanted to suckle.
'Shhh, shhh,' Elsie implored.
But her child would not be hushed.
'Are you hungry?'
'Ma . . . ma'
A remnant of sanity made itself felt. Elsie shot out of the chair and pressed her back against the sink. She watched as the child screamed and toppled onto its back. With a horrible snap its arms and legs inverted and it skittered, spider-like, toward its mother. Only now did Elsie see that the thing was sexless, like a doll.
'I'm sorry,' she shrieked. 'Please, I'm sorry.'
Little hands grasped her legs. With surprising force they dragged her to the ground. There was no fight in Elsie Cuttle, for this was God's judgment upon her. . .

I will leave the rest to your imagination - pretty freaky though, huh? [and this is only page 80!]
There are even more horrific things to be found within this novel - it is guaranteed to give you goosebumps!

So far, the best book of 2009!


Saturday, March 28, 2009

Monsters vs. Aliens [3-D]

Genre - Computer Animation/Sci-Fi
Year Released - 2009
Running Time - 94 minutes
Rated PG for sci-fi action, some crude humor, and mild language
Directed by Rob Letterman (who also directed Shark Tale) and Conrad Vernon (who also directed Shrek 2)
Written by Rob Letterman, (who also wrote Shark Tale) Conrad Vernon, Maya Forbes & Wallace Wolodarsky, (both of whom also wrote The Rocker) and also Jonathan Aibel & Glenn Berger (both of whom also wrote Kung Fu Panda)

Voices Include:
Reese Witherspoon as Susan/Ginormica
Hugh Laurie as Dr. Cockroach Ph.D.
Seth Rogen as B.O.B.
Will Arnett as The Missing Link
Kiefer Sutherland as General W. R. Monger
Stephen Colbert as President Hathaway
Rainn Wilson as Gallaxhar

Rating: 4 Skulls

Plot Summary:
After Susan Murphy is struck by a meteor and grows to be 50-feet tall, she's captured by the government and shuttled to a secret compound where she meets a team of other monsters - soon to be Earth's only defense when an alien attacks.

Under orders from the president, Susan and her cohorts - Dr. Cockroach, The Missing Link, B.O.B. and Insectosaurus
set out to save the world.

Dreamworks pulled out their big guns making this picture - obviously looking to give Pixar a run for their money - and I must say that 3-D is continuing to get better and better! [I actually flinched, for the 1st time, when a guy was playing with a paddle ball - I totally forgot I was watching it in 3-D and when the ball came my way, I instinctively jerked back] :-)

The film opens with an amazing shot of a planet's rings and the destruction of a planet - we then follow a meteorite's trajectory to Earth, where Susan Murphy is about to get married. However, while preparing to head into the church, she notices said meteor heading her way, and while attempting to run from the meteor, she ends up running right to where it crashes. Crawling out from underneath the meteor, she dusts herself off and quickly heads into the church where her fiance [voiced by Paul Rudd] is waiting. As he prepares to kiss her, he lifts her veil, to discover that she is literally glowing - all of a sudden, Susan begins to grow to enormous proportions [there is a hilarious moment when, as she's growing, her garter belt snaps and knocks someone over]

Susan is quickly captured by the military and whisked off to a secret facility - which is so secret, that those who know of it are not even allowed to whisper its name. Here, Susan meets Dr. Cockroach Ph.D. [an obvious homage to The Fly] B.O.B. [an obvious homage to The Blob] The Missing Link [an obvious homage to both The Creature from the Black Lagoon and King Kong] and Insectosaurus [an obvious homage to Godzilla] and of course, Susan
is obviously an homage to Attack of the 50 Foot Woman.

Here's the trailer:

This is a fun film that the whole family can enjoy!
[I took my 4-year-old daughter and she loved it as well] So, go enjoy the the film! :-)


Friday, March 27, 2009

The Haunting in Connecticut

Genre - Horror
Year Released - 2009
Running Time - 102 minutes
Rated PG-13 for some intense sequences of terror and disturbing images
Directed by Peter Cornwell
Written by Adam Simon (The American Nightmare & Brain Dead) and Tim Metcalfe (Fright Night II, Kalifornia, Bones, and Revenge of the Nerds)
Cast Includes:
Virginia Madsen (Candyman, Highlander II, Dune, and The Number 23)
Martin Donovan (The Visitation, Saved, and the Master of Horror episode Right to Die)
Kyle Gallner (Flash from Smallville, Jack Ketchum's Red, and the upcoming Jennifer's Body)
Amanda Crew (Final Destination 3 and Sex Drive)
Elias Koteas (Casey Jones from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles I & III, The Prophecy, Fallen, and Zodiac)

Rating: 4 Skulls

Plot Summary:
In this supernatural thriller, the Campbell family's move to Connecticut takes a mysteriously dark turn when a series of shocking paranormal events reveals that their inviting new home is a former mortuary with a sordid past.

Based on a True Story. . .

This film takes place in the summer of 1987 when a mother of a teenage son with cancer decides to purchase a home which is closer to the hospital that is treating him. She was able to find a home that was spacious and affordable - the catch was that it used to be a mortuary, a long time ago, with an evil history behind it. Being that the home was what her family needed, at the time, the mother made an executive decision and purchased it - waiting for her husband, younger son, and her two nieces to join them.

Being that it is just her and her teenage son, for the time being, she allows him to have first pick of whichever bedroom he chooses - he is drawn down into the basement, where there is a mysterious locked door. Being a teenage boy, he of course chooses the basement as his room.

When he starts seeing things [such as his mother using blood to mop the floor] and having strange visions [one of which includes an eyelid removal scene] he doesn't want to tell his mother, as he is on a special medical trial for his cancer, and he doesn't want to be taken off of it.

Without giving too much away, the story deals with the dark magic of necromancy - which is creepy stuff, in and of itself!

Don't let the film's rating [PG-13] fool you - it is still very dark and disturbing!

If you are in your mid-thirties, such as I am, then you more than likely remember this old poem:

"One bright day in the middle of the night
Two dead boys stood up to fight
Back to back they faced each other
Drew their swords and shot one another.
A deaf policeman heard the noise
And came to kill the two dead boys...
If you don't believe this lie is true
Ask the blind man, he saw it too"

Remember that one?!?
[the reason I bring it up, is because it is in this film, and it just brought back memories]
It actually fit in very well with the story that was taking place.

Here's the trailer:

Virginia Madsen plays the mother, and she did an outstanding job portraying such a caring mother and the emotions that would tear through her, over her sick son.

Elias Koteas played a cancer-ridden Reverend, that the son met during his treatment - he did an excellent job as well - as did Kyle Gallner [the son] Everyone was very believable in their roles, which brought a creepy reality to the story.

Actually, the story of the actual events which took place is featured in Ray Garton's [my favorite living horror author] book In A Dark Place - I wish I could say that I have this book [it currently runs about $270.00 - for a used paperback copy! :-( It is on my lists of books to eventually obtain though!

Anyway, the present owners of the home currently claim that it is no longer haunted [apparently it was "cleansed" in '88] Still, this film definitely did justice to the story. . .


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Cold Hard Cash

Genre - Crime Drama/Thriller - Short Film
Year Released - 2007
Running Time - 19 minutes
Directed by Mike Pecci
Written by David Lynch
Cast Includes: Suicide Girls ~ Odette, Eliska, Bailey, and Poppy
Also ~ John Hart, Tron Howitzer, and Ralph Pratt

Rating: 5 Skulls

Plot Summary:
Inspired by the action and suspense films of the 1970's, Cold Hard Cash brings the genre back with the help of the wildly beautiful, sexy, tattooed Suicide Girls.

It's a Grindhouse film the way it's supposed to be - full of sex, violence, and attitude!

One is a thief and the other is a killer. But they both have one thing in common; they owe a lot of money to the one man you don't want to owe money to.

I first read about this film over at where Greg wrote an excellent review of the film, and I decided that I just had to check it out for myself, and I am very glad that I did!

The film opens with two hitmen [well, one man and one woman] barging into an apartment, and they just so happen to interrupt a girl/girl bondage session, already in progress.

Turns out these two lovely ladies both owe a lot of money to a man by the name of Duvelle [think Ving Rhames/Marsellus from Pulp Fiction] and Duvelle wants his money. He informs the two women [in a cool twist, they are told separately] of a bookie [played by John Hart] who will be carrying a briefcase filled with $175,000.00 cash.

So, the girls team up and go after the cash together [in one of the coolest scenes of the film]

After obtaining the cash, the girls decide to celebrate. . . in a very intimate way.
After the girls are done "celebrating" they realize that the briefcase is short of money - suddenly, the girls turn against one another, in an attempt to keep the money for themselves [to hand in to Duvelle] This leads to quite a brutal outcome. . .

Here's a trailer for the film [Note: This trailer contains Adult Subject Matter]

This film was a great thrill ride! An action-packed 20 minutes, no doubt!
If you love Pulp Fiction, then you will love Cold Hard Cash!

You can purchase the DVD at the film's website:

About the DVD - it contains the original, full [unedited] cut of the film, as well as the film festival "excerpt" version [this version is only 10 minutes in length and totally bypasses the original version's beginning - it starts off with the two girls stealing the briefcase and doesn't contain the original's ending]

Also included on the DVD are multiple commentaries, one of which is a "Mommentary" where the director watches the film with his mother! [this is a very entertaining commentary, which runs over the film's time - 31 minutes! It starts off with Pecci's mom ribbing him about not having any popcorn or candy, and ends up with her talking about attending a sex toy party! She is very funny - her favorite part of the film was a head shot!]

Another commentary includes Pecci with his assistant director - Pat McMahill [where he discusses Eliska's breasts were like having a 3rd girl in the room!] and the 3rd commentary was actor Tron Howitzer and writer Mr. Lynch.

There is also a funny extra titled "The Ballad of Tron Howitzer" which is basically his audition. . .

Now, as for the Suicide Girls, I had only heard of them before [apparently when they 1st came together, they did photo shoots with shotguns in their mouths, but now they are much more]
I can definitely see their appeal ;-)
[for any Battlestar Galactica fans out there, Odette was like Starbuck on crack! She also has some killer gun tats on the inside of her biceps]

The director, Mike Pecci, is known for being a Suicide Girl photographer - it was brilliant of him to use them in this film, and I hope to one day see him do a full-length feature! He used the perfect camera shots/angles, tension, gags [there was a hilarious scene where Eliska pulls a piece of brain out of her cleavage!] and music [which was generally contradictory as to what was happening on the screen]

I also have to mention Pecci's F/X guy, Rob Fitz - this guy was great with the blood and effects [apparently he has made his own film, titled God of Vampires - I am definitely going to have to track that one down!]

Well, I feel like I'm rambling - this was just such a great little film! :-)

Thank you Mike!!


Frat House Massacre

Genre - Horror
Year Released - 2008
Running Time - 114 minutes
Directed by Alex Pucci (who also directed a film called Camp Slaughter, which I'm now going to have to check out!)
Written by Draven Gonzalez (who also wrote Camp Slaughter)
Cast Includes: Rane Jameson, Chris Prangley, Niki Notarile, Lisa DiCicco, Jon Fleming, Michael Galante, Andrew Giordano, Ryan Ross, Adam Simon, and Merle Peter

Rating: 3 Skulls

Plot Summary:
Sean and his little brother Bobby pictured going to college and joining the Delta Iota Epsilon fraternity as the best times of their lives... parties, freedom, girls, sex...

Yet, fraternity president Mark's twisted hazing rituals include a depraved level of physical and mental torture that lures the boys down a path leading to death.

Supposedly inspired by actual events, this film takes place at Newcombe University, in 1979.

The film opens with a literal massacre having taken place and then jumps back to a year earlier - June, 1978, where we meet Sean and his brother Bobby. Unfortunately, soon after we meet Bobby, he is involved in a drunk driving accident, leaving his older brother Sean to go off to college alone [something they had planned to do together]

While at college, Sean joins the Delta Iota Epsilon fraternity as planned - however, after realizing how sadistic his "brothers" are, he is not sure that he made the right choice in joining this particular fraternity, and decides to leave the fraternity, which of course doesn't bode well with his "brothers".

While all of this was going on, I felt sort-of confused - it felt like I started the movie in the middle, rather than at the beginning, as there was really no lead-up as to what was happening.

However, this feeling soon changed as the first 30 minutes were really just a build-up for what was to come - a story of revenge and a true brother's "bond".

I am happy to say that everything pretty much tied itself together in the end.
[well, sort-of - I was actually going to rate the film 4 skulls, though I wasn't completely satisfied at the end of the film - I would have liked to have had more background story on the surviving character]

As for the "feel" of the film - the filmmakers did an excellent job bringing the grindhouse aspect of films from the late 70's to this one - from the looks, clothes, sets, etc. I also thought the blood/gore was very well done/realistic.

Unfortunately, the trailer was removed from YouTube due to violating their terms, however you can visit the film's website at and view the trailer there.

I would also like to thank the director, Alex Pucci, for sending me a screener of this film!

Keep an eye out for this one, and in the meantime, I am going to check out Camp Slaughter. . .


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Big Stan

Genre - Comedy/Martial Arts
Year Released - 2007 [though the DVD just came out today!]
Running Time - 105 minutes
Directed by Rob Schneider (his directorial debut)
Written by Josh Lieb (who has written several episodes of The Daily Show, The Jon Stewart Show, and NewsRadio)
Cast Includes:
Rob Schneider (the Deuce Bigalow films, The Animal, The Hot Chick, and several Adam Sandler films)
Jennifer Morrison (Stir of Echoes and Urban Legends: Final Cut)
David Carradine (Kwai Chang Caine from the 70's television series Kung Fu and the 90's update Kung Fu: The Legend Continues - he is also Bill from the Kill Bill films)
Scott Wilson (he was the mayor in The Animal)
Kevin Gage (Lightning Bug, Con Air, Paparazzi, and the awful Last House on the Left rip-off Chaos)

Rating: 5 Skulls

Plot Summary:
Rob Schneider plays Big Stan - a diminutive real estate con man who, upon learning that he is headed for prison, hires a martial arts guru to train him for the purpose of self-defense behind bars. Once incarcerated, Stan earns the respect of his fellow inmates and ends up bringing a sense of order and synchronicity to the place - until a warden with a hidden agenda tries to thwart Stan's benevolent efforts.

Big Stan "training" with The Master

I have no idea why this film took 2 years to be released, but I am counting it as an '09 film and with that said, it is the funniest film of the year thus far! [in fact, it may just be my new favorite comedy, period!]

This is a laugh-out-loud hysterical movie! Without a doubt the best film that Rob Schneider's appeared in!

'Big Stan' vs MMA Fighter Bob "The Beast" Sapp

Busted for fraud [he cons old ladies into buying time shares in bad neighborhoods, etc] Stan is sentenced to a minimum of 3 years in prison. However, he has 6 months before he's put in the slammer. . .

While in a bar, Stan notices a biker with prison tattoos - approaching the biker, he mentions that he is getting ready to go to prison, and he wants to know what he can expect. The biker [played by Dan Haggerty] lays it out for Stan - in one of the funniest scenes in the film, the biker tells Stan how he is guaranteed to get raped while in prison - he explains that rape isn't an act of sex, but an act of violence, and prison is all about violence and being judged by how bad other convicts fear you. . .

The funniest line of the film ensues, after the biker asks Stan if he has any 'ink' Stan proudly displays a tattoo that he got when he was 18 - it's a tattoo of his mother's face with "Mommy" written above the portrait. The biker then tells Stan, "you may as well buy a welcome mat, strap it to your a-hole, and say I'm open for business" [I was laughing so hard during this scene, I had tears in my eyes]

Needless to say, Stan is pretty freaked out after this conversation, and he starts trying to do everything he can, to prepare himself for the inevitable. Enter. . . The Master [played by David Carradine] After training with The Master [who is a serious chain smoker] Stan becomes a one-man warrior, ready for whatever prison throws his way. . .

En route to prison, we see Stan's "Mommy" tattoo now has a knife through it and "Killer" is written beneath it :-)

I could go on and on, there is so much more hilarity to tell about, but I will leave it for you to discover for yourself.

Here's the trailer:

If you are a fan of MMA, Bob Sapp, Randy Couture, and Don Frye are all in this film as well.
Also, Dan Inosanto has a super brief scene! Other faces that you will surely recognize - Jackson Rathbone, Henry Gibson, Richard Riehle, M. Emmett Walsh, Richard Kind, and many other familiar faces.

Also, be sure to watch the 30-minute Comedy is Pain "making-of" special feature - right now, I'm off to watch the commentary. . .


Monday, March 23, 2009


Genre - Horror
Year Published - 2008 (Published by Xlibris Corporation)
Length - 314 pages
Written by Alexander S. Brown

Rating: 4 Skulls

Plot Summary:
In fifteen dark tales, Traumatized exposes the depths of human depravity and the dank realms of macabre.

In a collection where the comforts of church are forbidden, learn of a depraved congregation. Journey the downward spiral that forces a morally corrupt celebrity to revile her ugliness. Experience the lengths to which a madman will go to keep his true love. Explore the world of maniacs, the supernatural, creatures, eternal damnation, and the occult.

Beware. . . the shadows may camouflage a culprit.
Realize. . . that bump in the night isn't just a tree branch tapping at your window.
Now. . . learn what it really means to be. . . Traumatized.

Generally, I reserve short stories for when I am between novels - particularly if I am waiting for a book to arrive in the mail - that way, I know I will not be in the middle of a book, when a new one arrives. :-)

This wasn't the case with this collection of short stories. I had nothing on my plate when I started to read this collection, and it's a good thing as I was so captivated by the tales within, that a new novel would have had to have been set aside anyhow.

The first story, Bloodlines, is the longest at 47 pages. This is the story of four complete strangers who are invited to a mysterious gathering at a Southern Louisiana Manor, that was built in the 1800's, and has a sordid history behind it. It is a tale of greed. . .

Next is April - the story of a 17 year-old girl who has been experiencing mysterious blackouts. Upon awakening, her bedroom would appear to have been ransacked, and at one point she even found a butcher knife under her mattress. What is the story behind her strange blackouts?
[this one is a great story, however I felt that it ended too abruptly - I wanted more!]
* Note: Keeping in contact with the author of this collection, I found out, just the other day, that April may be made into a film - Cool! :-)

In The God Complex, Brown tells the tale of a cult that uses methadone wafers [during their weekly communion] to control its congregation through addiction and sedation. . .

From Midnight to One tells the story of an unhappily married woman, waiting for her husband to come home - while home alone, in the woods, during a storm, with possible intruders in the house. . . [a very cool & creepy story]

In The Acquired Taste, a new parasite is discovered in some sushi - a parasite that affects the brain, turning people homicidal!

It's All True is an excellent story about an author who is investigating a haunted mansion that was once used as an amputation hospital during the Civil War. He enters with only a camera, a recorder, and a flashlight. . .

Live Through This is a scary story because it could really happen - it is a tale of a bedridden man and his obsessed lover!

In Two Miles, the main character of the story wakes up - seemingly in the middle of a desert - not knowing when or how he got there. After a mysterious wall and a billboard "screen" appear, showing scenes from his life, he begins to wonder if he has been drugged. . .

The End of Summer is probably the most memorable story in this collection. In this story, the title character - Summer - inherits her aunt's home, which is filled with all sorts of occult paraphernalia, including books, voodoo dolls, etc. After going through the home, bizarre deaths start to occur. . .

Feast of the Pigs tells the story of a drug pusher who is arrested in an alley, by a female officer. He is then stuck in a holding cell - his rights were not read to him, he did not get a phone call, and he was never fingerprinted. . .
[Screw it, I'm going to blow the whistle on this one - this one is a killer vampire story! Ahhhhh - sorry, I couldn't help myself]

In A Dead Ringer, on New Year's Eve, 1897, an unfaithful wife and her lover murder her husband. . . [this tale was fantastic and has a very "Poe" feel to it]

House by the River tells the tale of a schizophrenic serial killer, as told by a lone survivor. . .

Althea's Last Dance is the story of a modern day Jack the Ripper. Althea is a stripper, who crosses his path. . . [If you were wondering about the cover of the book - shown above - it is a butterfly charm, which is worn by Althea in this story]

Bliss Hill is the shortest story in this collection - only a mere five pages. In 1942, something is killing the chickens and cattle on a rural farm. . .

The last story, Zoe's Swan Song is about an egotistical superstar who is determined to become even more beautiful than she already is. . .
[this one is quite nauseating, and I mean that as a compliment]

In the very beginning of the book, Brown quotes Poe, Lovecraft, Nietzsche, and Francis Bacon - I am not familiar with Bacon, though I am certain that the others would be be proud of their influence upon Brown's bodies of work found in this collection. Brown is very descriptive and atmospheric. He utilizes very cool metaphorical sentence structures, and he has a knack for keeping you on the very edge, throughout his stories [which progressively get better, in my opinion]

If you enjoy short stories, then this collection is definitely recommended!

For further information, you can visit the author's website at


P.S. Thank you Alexander for my signed copy - I appreciate it!

Friday, March 20, 2009

Upcoming Film: The Landlord

A few days ago, I received an e-mail from Massive Ego Productions about their upcoming film The Landlord.

The Landlord is an independent horror-comedy film about a young man who grew up in a demon-haunted apartment building, and must choose between the monsters that raised him and the tenants they devour.

Here is a teaser trailer for the film:

For further information on the film, visit:

Also, the Writer/Director/Co-Producer of the film - Emil Hyde - was kind enough to answer some questions for me, if you would like to read those over at

The film is currently in post production and should be hitting film festivals and horror conventions, this Summer. [I believe that plans are for the DVD to hopefully be released sometime around Halloween]
*I am currently on the waiting list for an advance review copy, so stay tuned for a review! ;-)


Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Orphanage

Foreign Film from Spain - Spanish Title: El Orfanato
Language: Spanish [with English Subtitles]

Genre - Thriller/Mystery
Year Released - 2007
Running Time - 105 minutes
Directed by Juan Antonio Bayona (who is going to be directing the upcoming film Hater, based on David Moody's novel)
Written by Sergio G. Sanchez
Cast Includes:
Belen Rueda as Laura (the mother)
Roger Princep as Simon (the son)
Fernando Cayo as Carlos (the father)

Rating: 5 Skulls

Plot Summary:
With fond memories of the seaside orphanage where she was raised, Laura persuades her husband to help her revamp it as a facility for disabled children. But once they move in, their son Simon begins to exhibit dark and disturbing behaviour.

As Laura tries to understand Simon's increasingly malevolent actions, she becomes drawn into the house's terrifying secrets.

Presented by Guillermo del Toro [Pan's Labyrinth, Blade 2, the Hellboy films, and the upcoming Hobbit films!] this film tells a tale of love and a story of horror [as the tagline for the film so elegantly puts it]

It has been rumored that Bayona may direct the film Eclipse [part 3 of the Twilight Saga] I do not see this happening, as he has currently received the rights to direct Hater - due in 2010 - but if things change, Bayona would be a perfect choice for Eclipse, what with the Antediluvians [I forget their name] in Italy and all [for those who have read the books, then you know what I am referring to]

Anyway, Bayona would be a perfect choice because of the fact of his great directing - The Orphanage is beautifully shot and very atmospheric. Bayona utilizes the scenery, etc all around to create an amazing atmosphere, which would work perfectly for Eclipse.

The Good Shepherd Orphanage

Whoa, I totally lost my train of thought there - that works out though, as I really shouldn't tell you too much about this movie.

Just know that it is not horror [per say] though it is horrific in the fact of a mother & father losing their child. You see, Simon is adopted and plays with imaginary/invisible friends, but they may not be so imaginary after all. After one of his 'friends' tells Simon that he is adopted [something his parents were waiting to tell him, once he was a little older, as he is only 7 years old] Simon gets into an argument with his mother and runs off [the circumstances around all of this are actually pretty creepy]

Anyway, after Simon runs off, he cannot be found, and therein lies the mystery of the film - What happened to Simon?

There is so much more to this film than I am telling - this is one of those films where it's all about the story, and it is awesome!
[for those who know me, then you know that I adore Pan's Labyrinth - I thought that it was one of 2006's best films! The Orphanage is just as good, if not better!]

Here's the trailer:

I highly recommend this film!
*For those of you with Netflix, it is currently available to watch Instantly!

I should also tell you that, once again, we Americans think that we should re-make this film. What a terrible idea! It is perfect as it is! So, see this version before it becomes tarnished by a senseless re-make.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Dance of the Dead

Not to be confused with Tobe Hooper's lame entry into the Masters of Horror series. . .

Genre - Horror/Comedy
Year Released - 2008
Running Time - 95 minutes
Directed by Gregg Bishop (who also directed the USC short film Voodoo, which is included on the DVD)
Written by Joe Ballarini
Cast Includes:
Jared Kusnitz (who is also in Otis) as Jimmy
Greyson Chadwick as Lindsey
Chandler Darloy as Steven
Carissa Capobianco as Gwen
Justin Welborn (who is also in The Signal and the upcoming Final Destination 4: Death Trip 3-D) as Kyle
Randy McDowell as Jules
Michael V Mammoliti as George
Blair Redford [who for some strange reason reminded me of a young Johnny Depp] as Nash
Mark Oliver as the Coach
James Jarrett as the Cemetery Worker

Rating: 5 Skulls

Plot Summary:
Filled with geekdom and gore, this tongue-in-cheek teen creature feature centers on a highschool prom at which the living dead await a crowd of unsuspecting students. Unfortunately for the promgoers, the only ones who can save them from the zombies are the losers who couldn't even get a prom date in the first place.

Can the vastly different cliques band together long enough to defeat the living dead?

This is the first Ghost House Pictures' film that I've seen, and I'm impressed. If the rest are even half as good as this one, then I will be watching them all.

I first read a review of this one over at where Fred [[the Wolf] rated the film 3-out-of-4. Now, Fred and I see eye-to-eye on a lot of films, so I immediately added it to my Netflix Queue where it's been sitting for a little while now. The other day, I came across another review - this one written by Stac over at - Stac really raved about this film [so much so that she wants to marry it!] ;-) So, I immediately bumped it up to the top of my Netflix Queue and here we are. . .

From the very start of this film, you know that you are going to be in for a fun time!
[it is somewhat in the vein of Return of the Living Dead]

In the beginning of the film, we witness a cemetery worker casually dismembering the dead as they attempt to rise from their graves, which are located in a cemetery on the outskirts of a nuclear power plant [alluded to as the possible source of the zombie scourge] Meanwhile, the local highschool is preparing for their prom. . .

What I really loved about this film was the writing - very humorous [for instance, just wait until you see where some of the students lock themselves in, while hiding out] Also, each of the characters were very well written - they each had their own personalities and each were well acted out [one of my favorite lines was from the blonde cheerleader - while getting "suited up" to battle the zombies, she declared that she "didn't know how to shoot a machete"] :-)

My favorite characters were Kyle [who reminded me of one of my best friends in highschool] and the ex-military highschool coach. While I loved these characters, they are all really very good.

As for the zombies - well, Stac [from Creepy Kitch] put it best when she said that they are pretty much literally catapulted out from their graves - landing at a full run. . . fun times! :-)

This is a fantastic, fast-paced, and very fun/funny zombie flick - highly recommended!

Here's the trailer:

Also, be sure to watch the short film Voodoo, included on the DVD - it is 5 minutes of hilarity!


P.S. Has anyone out there seen any of the other Ghost House Pictures' productions?
[this one had trailers for The Substitute - which looks great - as well as Dark Floors and The Last House in the Woods]
Let me know if you have any recommendations - they will be appreciated! :-)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Race to Witch Mountain

Genre - Action-Adventure/Family/Fantasy/Sci-Fi
Year Released - 2009
Running Time - 98 minutes
Rated PG for sequences of action and violence and frightening and dangerous situations
Directed by Andy Fickman (who also directed The Game Plan)
Written by Matt Lopez (who also wrote Bedtime Stories) and Mark Bomback (who also wrote Live Free or Die Hard)
*Based on the book Escape to Witch Mountain written by Alexander Key
Cast Includes:
AnnaSophia Robb (Because of Winn-Dixie, Bridge to Terabithia, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory)
Alexander Ludwig (The Seeker: The Dark is Rising)
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson (The Game Plan, Get Smart, The Scorpion King, and Doom)
Carla Gugino (Spy Kids 1 - 3 and Night at the Museum)
Ciaran Hinds (The Sum of All Fears and Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life)
Tom Everett Scott (An American Werewolf in Paris and That Thing You Do)

Rating: 3 Skulls

Plot Summary:
Two young siblings find themselves on the run from a dark organization seeking to exploit their paranormal abilities, while a helpful cab driver and a UFO specialist try to keep them safe.

Well, today was a father/daughter day with my oldest daughter, and she chose to go see this film. Generally, I like to wait for the family films to hit the budget theatre, as they are considerably cheaper to take the kids. However, as a fan of the original series [for those who may be unaware, this film is yet another "re-imagining" - this time of the 1975 film Escape to Witch Mountain] I was prepared to take the hit to my wallet.

As far as re-imaginings go, this one was not half bad. [I still prefer the original one though]
My daughter, who has seen the original films as well, thoroughly enjoyed this one as well, and what more could I ask for. :-)

When a UFO crashes just outside of Las Vegas, the government is quick to step in, hailing the site as the state's largest chlorine spill[?!?] Around this time, cabbie Jack Bruno [played by Dwayne Johnson] discovers two children in his cab, with $15,000.00 cash - there destination - an old abandoned house on the outskirts of Vegas. Bruno soon discovers that the children are not from our world, and with the help of a space scientist, they work with the children to return them to their spaceship and back to their home planet.

Say what you want to about "The Rock" but I like the guy - especially in children's films. I felt that he did a fine job playing the character of Jack Bruno, and he made me chuckle several times.

As for the films itself - even though I felt that it was overly-laden with special effects, the pace moved along nicely, and I could tell that my daughter was nervous a couple of times, so there must have been some suspense that I was missing out on.

One of the things that I did not like though was the addition of Siphon, an alien assassin sent to destroy the children and their mission. [Siphon was played by the excellent Tom Woodruff Jr who has portrayed some great creatures in film, such as the lead Alien in the Alien films, Gillman in The Monster Squad, and Goro in Mortal Kombat] however, I just felt that this character was completely unnecessary [but that's just me]

One of the things that I did enjoy was the cameo appearances of Kim Richardson & Ike Eisenmann - who played the children in the original films. The scene that they were in [together] was one of the film's finest moments.

Here's the trailer:

Overall, if you can afford to take your children out to the theatres, then this is a sufficient film.

If spending forty-bucks is out of the question, then treat your children to the original films - they will be just as entertained [well, okay, maybe not as much, with all of the new special effects and all, but still] :-)


Friday, March 13, 2009

The Last House on the Left [2009]

Genre - Horror
Year Released - 2009
Running Time - 100 minutes
Rated R for sadistic brutal violence - including a rape, disturbing images, language, nudity, and drug use
Directed by Dennis Iliadis
Written by Carl Ellsworth (who also wrote Disturbia & Red Eye) and Adam Alleca
*Based on the 1972 film written & directed by Wes Craven
Cast Includes:
Sara Paxton (Aquamarine)
Tony Goldwyn (Friday the 13th: Part VI and The Last Samurai)
Monica Potter (Patch Adams, Con Air, Without Limits, and Saw)
Martha MacIsaac (Becca from Superbad)
Spencer Treat Clark (Unbreakable)
Garret Dillahunt (from the television series Deadwood, The 4400, and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles)
Riki Lindhome
Aaron Paul

Rating: 3 Skulls

The Theatrical Poster for the Original 1972 Version

Plot Summary:
While vacationing at their summer home, Emma and John Collingwood show kindness to a group of strangers, unaware that they just assaulted their daughter. Once they learn the truth, they set out on a no-holds-barred plan for revenge that can only end in bloodshed.

I totally went into this film with an open mind, and for a while, it worked.
Every other day now, I hear news of inevitable remakes, and I am at at the point now where, since there is really nothing that I can do to prevent them, I figure that I may as well try to at least see what the filmmakers are going for [other than just making a quick buck]

The strange thing with this film was that I saw it in a theatre full of women - how weird is that? It was me, and about 12 other women - I was the only guy! Then about 10 minutes into the movie, an older couple came in, though they ended up leaving during the rape scene - they missed the brutal opening, otherwise, I do not think they would have lasted that long!

It has probably been about 15 years since I've seen the original. If you have never seen the original, it is one of those films that is not easy to forget, hence my not bothering to refresh my memory.
Even though this film didn't hold back, I do not see it having the same impact as the original version. This version didn't have the "never forget 'that' moment" [men, you know which scene I'm talking about] In my mind, I tried not to compare this film to the original, but ultimately it couldn't be helped. . .

One of my main concerns about this film was the character of Krug [originally played by David Hess] Hess did such an excellent job in the original that I was worried if Dillahunt would be able to play him as sadistically. I am happy to say that he did. There was just something about the way Dillahunt portrayed Krug - like he really didn't want to be as sick as he was, yet he just couldn't help himself. Dillahunt played Krug with a slow-burn effect. He just simmered, growing hotter and hotter, until he just exploded with rage! Also, Riki Lindhome did an excellent job as Krug's girlfriend Sadie! I also liked the dynamic of Krug's son being involved - that added an interesting element.

Here's the trailer:

Now, let's talk about what I HATED about the film.
I DESPISED the last sixty seconds of this film! [It almost made me want to give the movie a lower rating!] I mean, who thought that was a good idea?!?

If you plan on seeing this film, then I highly suggest that you leave when the sun starts to come up - at this point the film is almost over, and if you leave immediately, you will not be subjected to one of the most idiotic endings in film history!

Other than the very end, this is a decent film - it still does not compare with the original, and if you have never seen the original, then I suggest you do [either before or after this one, it really doesn't matter, as it is the exceptional film]


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Vacancy 2: The First Cut

Last April, authorities shut down the Pinewood Motel. They discovered over 200 videotaped murders. The earliest tape is dated September 2004. This is the story of the first victims.

Experience the gruesome beginnings of Mr. Smith and his hotel of horrors in this prequel to Vacancy. . .

Genre - Horror
Year Released - 2009
Running Time - 86 minutes
Directed by Eric Bross
Written by Mark L. Smith (who also wrote the 1st Vacancy)
Cast Includes:
Scott G. Anderson (reprising his role from the 1st film)
David Moscow (Just Married)
Brian Klugman (Wishmaster and Cloverfield)
Agnes Bruckner (Murder by Numbers, Venom, The Woods, Peaceful Warrior, and Blood & Chocolate)
Trevor Wright
Arjay Smith (he was also in the Masters of Horror episode - The V Word)

Rating: 3 Skulls

Plot Summary:
Suspecting only a night of hard beds and tacky decor, Caleb, his sexy new fiance Jessica, and his sarcastic best friend Tanner check into the Meadow View Inn. They have no idea that it is not just another lonely motel, but a horrific trap where guests are brutally tortured and murdered while the sadistic maniac Mr. Smith and his greedy accomplices film the grisly slayings for profit. Caught in a deadly game of cat and mouse, the three young friends now must fight to survive.

If you enjoyed the 1st Vacancy, then you should enjoy this one as well.

Being a prequel, this one goes back to where and how it all started. We first meet Gordon and Reece - two of the sleazy guys running the Meadow View Inn, where they have cameras installed in the rooms, to spy on their guests having sex. . . That is, until Mr. Smith comes along.

When Mr. Smith checks into the motel with a hooker, Gordon & Reece sit back to watch, only to be shocked by witnessing Mr Smith brutally stab the hooker to death. Not wanting to call the cops, because of their cameras and all, they hold Mr. Smith at gunpoint while deciding what they should do. Realizing what they were doing, Mr. Smith coerces them into filming snuff films, with him as the killer - and if you have seen the 1st film, then you know the rest of the story.

I actually enjoyed the first one, as it portrayed a horrifying situation for any wayward traveling couple. When I heard about the prequel, I was intrigued, but honestly was not expecting a whole lot. I think that this one is just as good as the 1st one [not better/not worse] equally the same.

Being a prequel, I figured that I knew how it was all going to end. When the characters had hope, I did not - knowing that everyone was ultimately doomed. Still, I was pleasantly surprised and entertained throughout. Scott G. Anderson [Mr. Smith] plays a pretty sick guy, laughing as he is brutally stabbing someone to death, which is nerve racking, to say the least.

Here's the trailer: