Movie Review – Curandero: Dawn of the Demon (2005)

Curandero: Dawn of the Demon
Directed by Eduardo Rodriguez
Courtesy of Lionsgate
Original Release Date: 2005
DVD Release Date: March 12, 2013

curandero

I don’t care what Robert Rodriguez is involved with, I want in on it whatever it is. The man is a genius when it comes to filmmaking and I love almost everything he’s done thus far. He’s a master of using a limited budget to its fullest extent, as well as a maestro of action and mayhem. CURANDERO: DAWN OF THE DEMON is a perfect example of both. Fun and scary as hell, this film will take you on a dark journey that you won’t soon forget

If you are not familiar with CURANDERO: DAWN OF THE DEMON, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Lionsgate:

Robert Rodriguez presents CURANDERO: DAWN OF THE DEMON, an action-packed horror flick that takes a couple on a horrifying journey through the deepest bowels of the Mexican underworld. When beautiful federal agent Magdalena calls upon curandero Carlos for his services to purify a police station, the two of them suddenly find themselves immersed in a Satanic cult’s bloodthirsty battleground.

I’m not sure how or if Eduardo is related to Robert, but he has a bright future in the film industry regardless. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I went into this film; the cover looks awesome, but we all know that you can’t judge a book or a movie by just that. Thankfully, the film delivers on all levels and is vastly entertaining.

CURANDERO: DAWN OF THE DEMON is shot very well and the production value looks high, although I’m pretty sure the budget was not very large. The cinematography is especially impressive; the Director of Photography does an excellent job of capturing the darkness that permeates the film with odd angled shots and lots of shadowed scenes.

The acting is also great. I am especially excited to see Carlos Gallardo back on-screen; he portrayed the original El Mariachi in Robert Rodriguez’s film of the same name, and I’ve enjoyed his work ever since.

The special effects in CURANDERO: DAWN OF THE DEMON are awesome, with plenty of carnage to please even the stoutest of gore-hounds. There is an impressive amount of gore and blood in this film, and the results are evident on-screen. Once again, this is an awesome testament to how well the production team used their budget.

Overall, CURANDERO: DAWN OF THE DEMON is a major win for me. I will definitely be making a note to check out Eduardo Rodriguez’s future works. The film hits store shelves today, so be sure and check it out.

MSB

Book Review – Shades by D. Nathan Hilliard (2012)

Shades
by D. Nathan Hilliard
Release Date: Feb 8, 2012
Publisher: Self-published

Shades

Author D. Nathan Hilliard has a knack for knowing what readers want. I have read two of his previous books (the reviews of which died, unfortunately, when my blog crashed at the end of December), and let me tell you: they do not disappoint. The same can be said for SHADES, a collection of unique and terrifying ghost stories.

If you are not familiar with SHADES, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of author D. Nathan Hilliard:

Here there be ghosts…
Within these pages lurks a cast of phantoms who have returned from the grave with a vengeance. You will find no friendly ghosts here, just eight deathly horrors with their own personal bones to pick with the living. These are the ghosts of our nightmares. Whether driven by madness, vengeance, pain, bloody evil, or primordial rage…they are all specters that are as dangerous as they are frightening. So get comfortable, get that night light ready, and find out who survives and who doesn’t in this anthology of the baleful dead. Stories within include:

Death and White SatinA young bride-to-be unearths the wrong wedding dress and discovers that horror and madness can echo down through the decades.
An Echo of Blood and MirrorsA young man is surprised in the boy’s bathroom by the head cheerleader. But things quickly take a turn for the worse as he discovers she’s on the run from a triple murderer who has been dead for over a century.
Dance of the AncientsThree lawmen search for a missing state trooper on a hill doomed to disappear under the rising waters of a new lake. Fearing the worst, they find something even worse than they feared.
A Memory of MeA night spent in a forgotten graveyard lands three college boys in a situation that none of their classes have prepared them for.
Legacy of FliesA young woman discovers she is the heir of a vast family fortune. But she also finds her inheritance comes with a ghoulish legacy that may very well be the death of her.
Storm ChaseA hurricane approaches and Bernie March’s wife is standing down the hill beside the tractor he needs to bring in ahead of the storm…exactly where he buried her three years earlier.
A Singularity of PurposeA callous young punk discovers that returning from the dead isn’t just the prerogative of humans when he finds himself in one last desperate race with the dog he tormented in life.
A Long, Cold Forever of a NightOn a humid July night, a middle-aged couple find themselves alone in a deserted rural intersection…with the deadly phantom of a high school classmate who died in an ice storm decades earlier.

SHADES is one of those books that you’ll read over and over again, simply because the tales are that enjoyable. The stories are unique and filled with thrills and chills. I would even wager that several sleepless nights are on the horizon for a few of you after reading this one.

As with his previous novels, Hilliard’s writing style continues to impress with its simplistic yet efficient form. There are many writers in the market today that distract me with their way of writing, however Hilliard is not one of them. This allows for a deep immersion into each story and heightens the enjoyment factor exponentially.

Every story in SHADES is excellent, which prohibits me from selecting a favorite. I would have to say that “A Singularity of Purpose” is one of the higher notable ones for me because of the subject matter. I grew up on a rural road and the scenario described within the story is a very familiar one to me. Not to mention the concept of an animal ghost is, to be blunt, simply brilliant.

I also greatly enjoyed “A Memory of Me” as well. The idea behind this story is vastly original and breathes new life into the ghost-story genre. I have to say that this is one of the more chilling ideas in the book as well.

SHADES is a huge win for me and I highly recommend this to anyone who wants insomnia. This anthology is available now, so snatch up your copy today. You will be greatly entertained, although your bed will probably miss you for a few nights…

MSB

Movie Review – The Package (2012)

The Package
Directed by Jesse V. Johnson
Courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment
Release Date: February 19, 2013

THE-PACKAGE-blu-ray-flat

I am very close to calling Dolph Lundgren a screen legend. The man has been acting for a long time and has an impressive list of credits to his name. I’ve enjoyed his work for many years, going way back to when he played Ivan Drago in Rocky 4. So when I heard he was teaming up with Steve Austin to make this movie, I knew it was going to be a must-see for me. THE PACKAGE is a slick and action-packed romp that any fan of the genre will love.

If you are not familiar with THE PACKAGE, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment:

Steve Austin and Dolph Lundgren star in the bone-crunching action flick that delivers the goods: Austin is combat veteran Tommy Wick, a nightclub bouncer and stone-cold enforcer for a Seattle mob boss. Lundgren is ‘The German,’ an international crime lord and hardcore killing machine. But when Wick is asked to courier a mysterious package to The German, he’ll suddenly find himself hunted by relentless teams of hit men, mercenaries, assassins and sadists. Time is running out. The bodies are piling up. And for two very pissed-off men with a history of bad blood, the ultimate retaliation is about to be ripped wide open.

I mentioned a while back in another review that I always enjoy seeing Steve Austin on-screen. He’s not the greatest actor in the world, but I like his dialogue delivery and the way he, well, just straight up kicks ass. And I gotta confess: seeing him beat down Dolph Lundgren is a real treat.

THE PACKAGE is shot well and the production value looks high. The acting is good, even better so when you consider this is an action movie, and I swear Steve Austin gets better with each role he plays. Dolph Lundgren is as solid as ever, delivering his lines with his particular brand of unbridled machismo. And the action is tight, with adrenaline-fueled fight scenes that do no disappoint.

The story is what really gets high marks from me, however. I like the mystery surrounding the ‘package’, and filmmaker Jesse V. Johnson does a great job of building tension around it. Of particular note is the nice twist at the end that you don’t see coming. I’m not giving anything away by mentioning it, so don’t think I just ruined anything for you.

THE PACKAGE is a solid, entertaining film and one that any action fan will enjoy. I recommend this one for a rollicking good time, and suggest you check it out soon. The film is available now.

MSB

Book Review – Fading Light: An Anthology of the Monstrous (2012)

Fading Light: An Anthology of the Monstrous
Edited by Tim Marquitz
Release Date: August 31, 2012
Publisher: Angelic Knight Press

Fading Light

It is official: I have found the best horror anthology of 2012. FADING LIGHT: AN ANTHOLOGY OF THE MONSTROUS is the best collection of stories from last year, and I would daresay it has some of the best monster short stories I’ve ever read. If you knew how much I read, you would understand how monumental that statement truly is. Regardless of how much you read, though, this is one anthology you must own if you are a horror fan.

If you are not familiar with FADING LIGHT: AN ANTHOLOGY OF THE MONSTROUS, here is the description courtesy of Angelic Knight Press:

The light has failed; the era of man is at its end. Born of darkness, the creatures of myth, legend, and nightmare have long called the shadows home. Now, with the cruel touch of the sun fading into memory, they’ve returned to claim their rightful place amidst humanity: as its masters.

FADING LIGHT collects 30 monstrous stories by authors new and experienced, in the genres of horror, science fiction, and fantasy, each bringing their own interpretation of what lurks in the dark.

I tore through this book in about two days; it is simply that good. Every story in here is written well and the authors show uniqueness in both voice and idea. This book is crammed full of talent, both old and new; I would love for Angelic Knight Press to do a follow-up book (ahem).

One of my favorite stories in FADING LIGHT: AN ANTHOLOGY OF THE MONSTROUS is titled “Der Teufel Sie Wissen” (or The Devil You Know) by TSP Sweeney. In this story, a group of kids-turned-soldiers have a run-in with something more than human, and the results are not pleasant. I loved this story for its originality and concept.

“Dark Tide” by Mark Lawrence is another favorite. In this story, a family is caught up in an apocalyptic scenario of unknown origins and proportions. I particularly enjoy Lawrence’s style of writing (I have reviewed two of his books already, both of which are extremely enjoyable), so this story is just icing on the cake for me.

These two tales are just a smidgen of what you can expect from FADING LIGHT: AN ANTHOLOGY OF THE MONSTROUS. Fans of good fiction and horror should snatch this one up immediately. The book is available now, so be sure and track it down…especially while the light is still shining…

MSB

Graphic Novel Review – Iron (or The War After) by S.M. Vidaurri (2013)

Iron
(a.k.a. The War After)
by S.M. Vidaurri
Release Date: January 1, 2013
Publisher: Archaia Entertainment

iron-or-the-war-after-cover

When I first read the premise for this graphic novel, I knew that I had to check it out. I love concepts like this one, where animals have replaced humans in the world. Author/illustrator S.M. Vidaurri does a masterful job of making readers believe such a thing could happen and then immerses them in a compelling story. The result is an excellent read that pleases the eye as much as it entertains.

If you are not familiar with IRON, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of the Archaia Entertainment website:

It is the aftermath of a long war, in a world of constant winter. An intelligence spy from the Resistance—the rabbit, Hardin—steals secret information from a military base of the Regime. His actions set off a chain of events that reverberates through the ranks of both sides, touching everyone from Pavel the crow to Giles the goat, from the highest-ranking officials to the smallest orphaned child. When the snow finally settles, who will be the true patriot and who the true traitor?

This book is to be commended for several reasons.

As I mentioned, the artwork is top notch, with well laid out panels and interesting forms. Although there is minimal color, the lack thereof only enhances the story and helps to portray the bleakness of the situation described. This is a skillful use of such a technique and lends much credibility to the plot.

Iron-or-the-War-After-Prevew-PG1

But the story of IRON is riveting as well. From the very first page, the reader is drawn into a strange situation, with a human-like rabbit who wears clothes, traipsing through a snowstorm without a coat. This immediate intrigue is plenty to entrance even the heartiest of mystery readers. As the rest of the story plays out, we are given a front-row seat to a unique and visionary tale.

Iron-2

Probably the best aspect of this book for me is how well Vidaurri captures the essence of human beings within his animal characters. There are all sorts of archetypes that appear as the story progress, and each one brings a new level of depth along with it. This greatly enhances the book and gives the characters a life of their own.

I highly recommend IRON to everyone that enjoys a good read. You don’t have to be a fan of comic books or science-fiction or even urban fantasy…this is simply a story for the ages, and it’s one I think most people would enjoy. Give this one a look for sure.

MSB

Movie Review – Ultramarines: A Warhammer 40,000 Movie (2010)

Ultramarines: A Warhammer 40,000 Movie
Directed by Martyn Pick
Courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment
Original Release Date: 2010
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: March 5, 2013

Ultramarines

Although I am a self-admitted geek, I have to confess that I am completely unfamiliar with the Warhammer 40,000 universe. I have heard of it and seen several snapshots of soldiers and their armor, but that is the extent of my knowledge. So when the fine folks at Anchor Bay announced they were going to distribute this film, I jumped at the chance to check it out. I’m glad I did, too…this is some pretty epic stuff, and if you’re not already familiar with Warhammer, I suggest you get acquainted with it soon.

If you are not familiar with ULTRAMARINES: A WARHAMMER 40,000 MOVIE, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment:

It is the 41st Millennium, and the only force that stands between humanity and alien hordes are the Space Marines. Genetically enhanced, clad in power armour and knowing no fear, they are the angels of death. And the greatest of them are the Ultramarines. But when a select squad of scarred veterans and raw recruits responds to a distant planet’s distress beacon, they’ll discover that a horrific evil has been unleashed. And amidst a living nightmare of chaos, carnage, and daemonic fury, these steel battle-brothers must now survive the ultimate enemy: themselves. The voices of Terence Stamp, John Hurt, and Sean Pertwee star in this intense CGI animated sci-fi/action thriller and the first-ever feature-length movie interpretation of the Warhammer 40,000 universe.

Everything is certainly bigger and bolder in the 41st century, which makes sense in a way. We, as a species, have expanded into the universe and have therefore uncovered some nasty things. As a result, we’ve had to create soldiers big enough, bad enough, and brave enough to combat these nasties. This movie is about the best of the best, the Ultramarines.

ULTRAMARINES: A WARHAMMER 40,000 MOVIE is a CG movie, but it is chocked full of action and intensity. It is shot well and the battle scenes are so immersive, you can almost feel the slugs as they whiz past your head. The folks from Ain’t It Cool News suggest you play this movie loud, and I whole-heartedly agree. The film rocked my surround sound system and I loved every minute of it!

This film also boasts some exceptional voice talent from a few veteran actors. These include two of my favorite actors, Terence Stamp and John Hurt, as well as Sean Pertwee, who has been in many of my favorite sci-fi movies including EVENT HORIZON, SOLDIER, and DOG SOLDIERS.

I cannot find a single negative about ULTRAMARINES: A WARHAMMER 40,000 MOVIE, and I am recommending that sci-fi fans check it out soon. The film hits shelves next Tuesday, so definitely give it a look.

MSB