Movie Review – SEAL Team Six: The Raid on Osama bin Laden (2013)

Seal Team Six: The Raid on Osama bin Laden
Directed by John Stockwell
Courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment
Release Date: January 8, 2013

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Interestingly enough, this film is directed by the infamous Cougar from TOP GUN; Cougar, if you will remember, was the pilot that “lost it” at the beginning of the film and turned in his wings, thus giving Maverick (Tom Cruise) the opportunity to trek to Miramar. But…this isn’t a review about TOP GUN, although this does pertain to another military film. SEAL TEAM SIX is vivid (although condensed) retelling of the events that led up to the actual raid on bin Laden’s compound. And even though you might already know the specifics of the story, seeing it in action is something else.

If you are not familiar with SEAL TEAM SIX, here is the plot courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment:

A break in the manhunt for Osama bin Laden serves as the backdrop for the gripping story about an extraordinary group of U.S. Navy SEALs who undertake the mission of a lifetime. Despite inconclusive evidence that bin Laden is inside the compound, and ignoring the ramifications of an unannounced attack on Pakistani soil, the Pentagon orders the attack. SEAL Team Six bands together in the most daring military operation of our generation, completing their mission of justice in a riveting final showdown.

This story has interested me ever since it was made public by the Justice Department. I first caught this film on the National Geographic Channel back in November of last year (well, 2012 anyway), I really enjoyed it. So you can imagine how excited I was when I found out Anchor Bay was going to distribute it. I jumped at the opportunity to check it out on Blu-ray and it certainly does not disappoint!

SEAL TEAM SIX is shot very well and the acting is pretty good. The film boasts a long list of talent, including Cam Gigandet, Anson Mount, Xzibit, and more. The production value of the film looks fairly high and overall, everything looks good onscreen.

What really makes the film for me, however, is the depiction of the raid itself. The scenes are gritty and raw, with several shots from the first-person POV that puts you right into the action. It’s also interesting to see how much the team trained for the specific insertion itself and the painstaking lengths they went to to ensure no women or children were killed by accident. This is a true testament to the power and might of the SEAL program.

SEAL TEAM SIX is a definite win for me and it’s an epic depiction of what really happened in reality. I would wager that this might even be fit for classrooms, to show history students how it went down. Regardless, it is a heck of a film and one definitely worth seeing. Give it a look when it hits shelves tomorrow.

MSB

Check out this awesome DVD giveaway over at Hayes Hudson’s House of Horror!

My buddy Hayes is giving away a DVD prize pack. It contains not two, not three, but SIX DVDs in total!! How awesome is that?

Click this link to check out the giveaway details:

DVD 6-pack Giveaway

His giveaways are SUPER SIMPLE to enter and they always contain great prizes, so head on over and put your name in!! Somebody’s gotta win, after all!

MSB

Book Review – Psycho Therapy by Alan Spencer (2013)

Psycho Therapy
by Alan Spencer
Release Date: February 5, 2013
Publisher: Samhain Publishing

PsychoTherapy

I can sum up Alan Spencer’s novel PSYCHO THERAPY with one word: brilliant. Absolutely, utterly brilliant, in every sense of the word. I have not read a book this riveting in a long time; it pulled me in and forced me to tear through it in just a couple of days time. Needless to say, I highly recommend it and feel it should be one of your first reads of 2013.

If you are not familiar with PSYCHO THERAPY, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Samhain Publishing:

The horrors are all in your mind!

Craig Horsy’s first visit to a therapist is hardly what he expected. Dr. Krone’s unorthodox treatment begins by hooking Craig up to a device the doctor claims can take him back to relive the memories of his past and mend his damaged psyche.

But instead the machine taps into Craig’s worst subconscious fears. Monsters, madmen and incredible terrors now turn his past into a nightmare. To survive the sadistic game, Craig must somehow uncover the truth about Dr. Krone and escape the machine while battling deadly visions determined to steal his sanity—and his life. Only one thing is certain: If he dies in his mind, he’ll die in reality.

I’m going to have a hard time putting into words just how much I enjoyed this book. It is simply that good. The story is fresh, the writing is strong, the voice is unique, and, well, it’s just downright entertaining. I do not have a single negative thing to say about it.

PSYCHO THERAPY is very well written; the prose has a nice, even flow, and the pacing of the story is perfect. The storyline moves swiftly, allowing for complete immersion into the events as they unfold. Even the characters themselves are multi-dimensional and believable.

I have to specifically point out that Spencer does a phenomenal job with the horror aspect of the novel; and believe me, there’s plenty of horror here. His descriptions of some of the atrocities that chase the main character in the book will give you nightmares. Likewise, the author has a nice flair for gore. I would LOVE to see a movie adaptation of PSYCHO THERAPY for many reasons, but one in particular would be to see if the director could get the gore right.

PSYCHO THERAPY is a fright-filled rocket ship that will blast you into a new world of terror. I am marking it as Number One on your Must Read List for 2013 so far, so be sure and make a note. And since the book does not release for several weeks, mark it on your calendar so you don’t miss it. Oh, and be sure to drop author Alan Spencer a line after you read it; from what his author bio says, he loves to get e-mail. I’m sure he’d love your feedback as well.

MSB

Movie Review – Lawless (2012)

Lawless
Directed by John Hillcoat
Courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment
Release Date: November 27, 2012

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LAWLESS is by far one of the best non-genre films I’ve seen this year. When I first saw the trailer a few months ago, I knew I’d definitely have to check it out. But I have to tell you that my expectations were not just met, they were blown away. This is one film that you must watch as soon as possible.

If you are not familiar with LAWLESS, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of the Anchor Bay website:

They were brothers who became outlaws, and outlaws who became heroes…

The three Bondurant boys, along with their sultry new hire, command the most lucrative bootlegging operation in Franklin County, Virginia. The locals consider them “indestructible.” But the law—in the form of a corrupt special deputy—wants a cut of their action, at any cost. When youngest brother Jack gets a taste of power with a deadly gangster the whole business blows sky high. Based on the astonishing true story, the Bondurant brotherhood is the stuff of legend.

LAWLESS is shot very well and the acting is spot on; I particularly like Tom Hardy’s character as he portrays the older brother Forrest. Guy Pearce does an outstanding job as the bastard bad guy that everyone loves to hate. And Shia Labeouf even does a great job, although many folks were curious as to whether or not he could pull it off.

There’s also some excellent gore in this film, which surprised me greatly. There is one particularly gruesome scene where Tom Hardy’s character gets his throat slashed. This is very well done and looks amazing onscreen.

I think one of the greatest aspects of this film is that it is based on a true story. The film is based on a book called “The Wettest County in the World”, which was written by the main character’s grandson. This is truly a draw for me, because as in many cases, fact is much stranger (and in this case, entertaining) than fiction.

LAWLESS is an excellent film and is one to definitely check out soon. My wife even found this one interesting, so it might possibly fit into the date-night scenario. But its definitely not one to watch while the kiddos are around. Anyway, give this one a look for sure.

MSB

Movie Review – The Assassins (2012)

The Assassins
Directed by Linshan Zhao
Courtesy of Well Go USA
Release Date: January 8, 2012

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Oriental period pieces, when they are well done, are always an attraction for me. I enjoy seeing the lavish sets, the intricate costumes, and the painstaking attention to detail that is usually put into such productions. THE ASSASSINS is one of those films; it is a visual delight to behold, and the plot is rife with both political intrigue and bold action.

If you are not familiar with THE ASSASSINS, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of the Well Go USA press release:

During the Three Kingdom period, Cao Cao stands as the last pillar of power preventing the collapse of the Han throne. Emperor Xian, who sits on the throne, cares more about music and poems than his own power. But behind the Emperor’s disinterest, rumors that Cao Cao wants the throne for himself have driven Emperor Xian to plot Cao Cao’s assassination, a plan that’s been years in the making. An ancient prophecy states that when the four elementals start to align, a new dynasty will arise, and in 221 A.D., they do. With the weakened government and impending omen, Cao Cao has enemies everywhere, and they all want him dead. Someone has been abducting the children of Cao Cao’s dead enemies and training them to be assassins. In 221, they are grown and sent to infiltrate the Bronze Sparrow Tower. When the four stars align over Bronze Sparrow Tower, the struggle for Cao Cao’s life begins…

I will confess that this film is not what I thought it was going to be. I was expecting big land battles with scores of troops and lots of bloodshed. Interestingly, there was none of that. Instead, individual battles are fought (sometimes literally) in the Emperor’s court. This was a nice surprise for me.

THE ASSASSINS is shot well and the camerawork captures much of the staggering scenery from the nearby landscape. I have to say that this is one of the most beautifully shot movies I’ve seen this year.

The acting is great as well, with Chow Yun Fat headlining a stellar cast. I’ve been a fan of Fat’s work for a long, long time, ever since I saw him in John Woo’s 1986 hit A BETTER TOMORROW. Seeing him in a period piece like this one is just icing on the cake. Fat delivers a fantastic performance as Cao Cao.

There’s not much fighting in THE ASSASSINS, as I mentioned earlier. This is not necessarily a bad thing but it was a bit of a surprise. Still, the fighting we do get to see is very good and the choreography does not disappoint.

THE ASSASSINS is a top notch film and I highly recommend giving it a look. The film hits store shelves in a couple of weeks, so be sure and make a note.

MSB

Movie Review – Dropping Evil (2012)

Dropping Evil
Directed by Adam Protextor
Courtesy of MVD Entertainment Group
Release Date: October 23, 2012

Dropping Evil

When I first read the synopsis of this film, I thought two things: one, that this sounds very close to Joss Whedon’s CABIN IN THE WOODS…and two, that this could potentially be fun regardless. I’m glad I gave this movie a shot because it is definitely a lot of fun.

If you are not familiar with DROPPING EVIL, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of the MVD website:

After his group of friends slip him some LSD during a camping trip, the ultra-nerdy and God-loving Nancy begins to hunt them down one by one after the the drug reveals their “true” natures to him. But a mysterious corporation is very interested in this teenage blood bath, and has their own plans to control and contain the evil that has been unleashed, luring the doomed teens to a mysterious cabin in the woods where they can be studied and developed into something even more sinister.

If you decide to check this one out, and I suggest that you do, be sure and make sure you have the right mindset. This is NOT a big-budget production. You won’t see mesmerizing special effects or anything truly revolutionary. But you will get a lot of laughs, some interesting concept ideas, and even some decent horror.

DROPPING EVIL is shot pretty well and the acting isn’t half bad, either. The film contains some true horror icons, such as Edwin Neal, who portrayed the hitchhiker in the original TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE; Tiffany Shepis, who has starred in an amazing number of films including TROMEO AND JULIET, the NIGHT OF THE DEMONS remake, and BASEMENT JACK; and Armin Shimerman, who is most notably known as Principal Snyder from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer television show.

For being a low-budget production, DROPPING EVIL makes the most of what it has to work with. And it’s actually funny, in a dark way. I will not go into specific plot points because doing so will give a lot away; but you must truly watch the film to appreciate it.

DROPPING EVIL is unique and entertaining, a perfect weekend movie when you’re wanting something to do on a Friday or Saturday night. This is one of those flicks that is best watched with two or three buddies, so make a night of it. Regardless of how you do it, I would recommend checking this one out for sure.

MSB

Documentary Review – The Definitive Document of the Dead (1978)

The Definitive Document of the Dead
Directed by Roy Frumkes
Courtesy of Synapse Films
Original Release Date: 1978
Release Date: November 13, 2012

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Before my blog crashed and I lost four years worth of archive data, I had made several posts in regard to George A. Romero and how he is officially the Emperor of the Dead. Even though my data is gone, that statement still holds true. Romero is and forever will be the original pioneer of the zombie genre. DOCUMENT OF THE DEAD is an excellent and unique glimpse into his world.

If you are not familiar with DOCUMENT OF THE DEAD, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Synapse Films:

George A. Romero, director of the original NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, is one of the horror genre’s most celebrated filmmakers. Roy Frumkes’ amazing 1978 documentary DOCUMENT OF THE DEAD was an intimate look at Romero’s creative process, with an outstanding collection of interviews, effects demonstrations (courtesy of make-up artist, Tom Savini) and behind-the-scenes footage from the classic horror film, DAWN OF THE DEAD. This newly re-edited and re-mastered 2012 version of the award-winning documentary contains all-new exclusive material including additional interviews with Romero’s family and friends, candid on-set footage from TWO EVIL EYES, LAND OF THE DEAD, DIARY OF THE DEAD, SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD and many more surprises! THE DEFINITIVE DOCUMENT OF THE DEAD is a loving portrait of a horror legend, and a must-see for any hardcore horror fan!

Any fan of zombies, Romero, or horror must own a copy of this documentary. In it, we get to see the master himself in his youth, as a darkly bearded youngster. I wouldn’t say he was in his prime back then, because I think he’s STILL in his prime now. His work just continues to get better and better.

DOCUMENT OF THE DEAD takes us behind the scenes of his hit film DAWN OF THE DEAD. This exclusive look gives us an insider’s view of how the film was made as well as those people involved with its production. In addition, this new 2012 edition of the documentary also gives us peeks into some of Romero’s more recent works.

DOCUMENT OF THE DEAD is chocked full of clips, interviews, behind-the-scenes footage, commentaries, and even some personal insights from the master himself. If you are one of those freaky people like me that always peruse Blu-rays and DVDs for the Special Features, then this documentary is for you. It is available now on DVD.

Also, while supplies last, you can order the very limited edition Blu-ray of the film from the Synapse Films website.  The exclusive Blu-ray is not sold in stores and includes the following:

*  Limited to 1500 Units!
*  Contains the new DVD version of The Definitive Document of the Dead, along with a high-definition Blu-ray of the original 1979 16mm version
* A fold-out poster of the new George A. Romero painting used on the cover, created by Wes Benscoter

Regardless of what format you choose, make sure to add this one to your collection soon!

MSB

Book Review – AZ: Anno Zombie by Peter Mark May (2012)

AZ: Anno Zombie
by Peter Mark May
Release Date: December 4, 2012
Publisher: Samhain Publishing

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I just love where Peter Mark May’s mind lives. It is an incredibly horrific and terrifying place…but I love to visit it nonetheless. On the heels of his breakout hit HEDGE END, May brings us a new glimpse into zombie horror with AZ: ANNO ZOMBIE. If you’re a zombie fan at all, this is one book that you must add to your collection!

If you are not familiar with AZ: ANNO ZOMBIE, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Samhain Publishing:

It’s the dawn of a new era…the year of the zombie!

Fire rained from the sky over Tucson that day. A dust cloud settled over the city. And the dead rose from their graves. Tom Hollinger raced to his ex-wife’s place to make sure she and his son where safe. They weren’t.

Tom was barely able to save the boy from his undead mother. Now, surrounded by a city in chaos, Tom, his son and a handful of friends are battling their way out of town, desperate to make it to safety while the army of the living dead grows in number every hour. The world no longer belongs to the living. A new era has dawned…Anno Zombie!

AZ: ANNO ZOMBIE is a bold take on a heavily populated genre. It is a brutal and graphic look into the heart of a zombie apocalypse, but it is also so much more. With this book, May gives us a stark vision of how quickly society could potentially crumble in the midst of such a cataclysmic event.

As with his previous publication, this book is well written and moves along at a nice pace. The prose flows nicely as well, allowing the reader full immersion into this grim and savage world. And the characters are well thought out and believable, a hodge-podge of various personalities and damaged souls. The result is a provocative and vicious book that will keep you glued to its pages.

Obviously, AZ: ANNO ZOMBIE is a tale about the walking dead; but at its core, the story focuses on one man and the lengths he will go to to protect his son and the people he cares about. The character of Tom is anything but a perfect father, but when the shit hits the proverbial fan, he does whatever he has to in order to provide for his son…even kill the living.

This human-drama element is just one of the several aspects that sets AZ: ANNO ZOMBIE apart from other zombie books. Another is May’s unique take on the zombies themselves. It is always refreshing to see an original idea for the origin of a zombie outbreak, and May certainly has one here. I will not give anything away, but I can honestly say that I’ve never run across this one before.

AZ: ANNO ZOMBIE is a definite must read and would make the perfect Christmas gift for any horror reader. Peter Mark May is a tremendous talent and an author to watch out for; if you are not familiar with his work now, I can almost guarantee that it won’t be long before you will be. Give this one (and his previous book HEDGE END, for that matter) a look for sure.

MSB

Movie Review – Forced to Fight (2012)

Forced to Fight
Directed by Jonas Quastel
Courtesy of Image Entertainment
Release Date: December 18, 2012

For the most part, I’m a sucker for a good fight flick. I was one of those kids that grew up watching ninja and kung fu films at a young age and then progressed to Steven Seagal and Jean-Claude Van Damme later on. As a result, I like to see originality in my fight films; watching the same martial arts moves over and over again is about like watching a tennis match…the monotony of it will just about kill you. Which is why FORCED TO FIGHT does not earn a very high mark from me. The film is not terrible but it doesn’t bring anything new to the table.

If you are not familiar with FORCED TO FIGHT, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of the Image Entertainment website:

Once a legend in the brutal world of illicit underground fighting, Shane Slavin decides to turn his life around, promising his wife and young son he’s fought his last battle. But when his younger brother betrays a ruthless crime boss, Shane is forced back into the arena to pay his brother’s debts and to protect his family. Now Shane must confront a gauntlet of incredibly savage, no-holds-barred fights with no rules, no mercy and just two possible outcomes: win… or die fighting.

Don’t get me wrong: FORCED TO FIGHT is well done and looks good overall. It’s shot well and the acting isn’t too bad, either. I particularly like Peter Weller in his role as the bad guy; he plays one of those jack-asses that thinks they own the world, and he plays it with gusto.

But lack of originality in the plot and the fighting keep me from actually liking this film.

As the title lets on, the plot is the typical I-have-to-fight-because-my-family-member-screwed-up type of scenario. While this isn’t necessarily an aspect that would make me walk away from a film, it certainly doesn’t win me over either. I don’t mind watching redone story concepts (that should be obvious, since I love horror so much), but I do prefer that they have something about them that is new, a single saving grace if you will. Unfortunately that is not the case here.

The lack of original fighting in FORCED TO FIGHT is what ultimately kills this one for me. All we get are recycled moves that use the same methodology: bob, weave, punch, knee-to-the-face, back away, and do it again. Granted there are some attempts at originality (liked adding the Brazilian-style fighter), but any fight-flick-fan will tell you he/she has seen that so many times before. We don’t even get a change of location; even Mortal Kombat had that going for it.

I wanted to like this film, I really did…but it is simply missing that specific spark that most fight films have. I don’t recommend this one unless you’re new to fight films or unless you just really like seeing Gary Daniels on-screen. He’s a pretty good fighter from what I can see…but the film itself lacks flair.

MSB

Movie Review – Reel Evil (2012)

Reel Evil
Directed by Danny Draven
Courtesy of Full Moon Features
Release Date: December 4, 2012

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: I never get tired of the found-footage horror sub-genre. Granted, I’ve seen some stinkers over the years, but for the most part the found-footage category has treated me fairly well. Full Moon’s recent venture into this reinvigorated area is REEL EVIL, a nice little fright-flick that is well done and serves up the scares by the bucketful.

If you are not familiar with REEL EVIL, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of the Full Moon website:

Struggling filmmakers – Kennedy, Cory and James – finally catch the break they were looking for when they are hired to shoot a ‘behind-the-scenes’ documentary for a major studio production. But their dream job quickly turns into a nightmare when they explore the legendary, haunted location and find something far worse than anything Hollywood could create. Terror becomes reality for the filmmakers as they uncover the malevolent secrets of the hospital, and the sinister doctor who once ran it. Trapped inside the hospital with no apparent way out, our crew is tormented by the evil, unspeakable fear.

This film impresses me on several levels. It looks good overall, the acting is top notch, the special effects rock, and even the gore is impressive. In short, it is a very entertaining thrill ride.

Probably the most excellent aspect of REEL EVIL are the scares. I actually jumped a couple of times when creepy things happened in unexpected places. The film does a great job of setting up what you think will be a scare…but then nothing happens; and then, when your guard is down later on, something happens that surprises you and makes you spill your popcorn. THIS is a great example of how a horror movie is supposed to make you feel.

The special effects are nice as well, with lots of creepy and disturbing imagery. Some of the elements involved with the ghosts are probably done by CG, but you would never know that by looking at them onscreen; they are seamlessly integrated into the picture and look amazing.

REEL EVIL is not perfect however; my sole and biggest complaint about the film is the lack of explanation as to why these events are happening. There are several things I have to assume, but even they don’t fully explain what’s going on. Big spoiler here, but I also question what the tentacled ‘things’ were that were pulling the victims into doorways and what-not?

I’m probably looking too deeply into the film and I should just enjoy it for what it is: a first-rate fright-fest that delivers the goods. I give REEL EVIL and thumbs up and recommend checking it out. It’s best to watch at night, in the dark, with the surround-sound cranked up for the full experience. But however you watch it, give it a look for sure.

MSB