Movie Review – Nurse 3D (2014)

Nurse 3D
Directed by Douglas Aarniokoski
Courtesy of Lionsgate
Release Date: April 8, 2014

Nurse

Don’t let the seductive cover for this movie fool you: this nurse does NOT want to help you get better! Quite the contrary, in fact. NURSE 3D is a slick horror film that does not disappoint, especially when it comes to tension. And despite its simple title, there’s nothing simple about this movie.

If you are not familiar with NURSE, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Lionsgate:

Paz de la Huerta (HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire”) turns up the body heat in this wickedly entertaining story of a fatal attraction. By day, nurse Abby Russell (de la Huerta) lovingly attends to the patients at All Saints Memorial Hospital; by night, Abby prowls nightclubs, luring unfaithful men into dangerous liaisons. After Danni, a young, sensitive nurse, joins the hospital staff, Abby pursues her friendship. But when the friendship turns to obsession, Danni spurns Abby, unleashing Abby’s fury and a rampage of terror.

I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this one. I had heard mixed things about it, which always piques my interest even more. And my buddy Hayes called it a must-see, so I knew I had to give it a shot. And I’m glad I did…this is one heck of a horror flick!

NURSE looks stunning onscreen, from the way it is shot to the graphic imagery throughout. I am very impressed with the cinematography, especially considering this is a 3D movie; many times, the film style suffers because of the 3D aspect. Not so here. This film looks amazing in almost every aspect. And there’s nothing like seeing phenomenal three-dimensional blood-sprays!

The acting in NURSE is very good. Although Paz de la Huerta has top-billing, and she does a great job, there are several other cast members worth note. One that sticks out specifically to me is Katrina Bowden who portrays Danni. I’ve enjoyed Bowden’s work since TUCKER & DALE VS. EVIL, and I hope to see more of her in future productions.

The special effects in NURSE are excellent, and there’s plenty of carnage to satiate the heartiest of gore-hounds. La Huera’s character Abby doles out murder and mayhem aplenty, and the body count rises along the way. I like the visceral use of blood-sprays, especially captured in 3D. This is the way horror is meant to be experienced!

NURSE is a heck of a good time, and I recommend giving it a look. It’s chocked full of crazy fun, so be ready for a thrill-ride. And be sure to watch it in 3D if you get the chance; you won’t be sorry.

MSB

Book Review – Earth Star by Janet Edwards

Earth Star
by Janet Edwards
Release Date: April 15, 2014
Publisher: Pyr

Earth-Star

Last year, I had the distinct pleasure of reviewing a YA title that I predict will soon be as big as THE HUNGER GAMES. This book, EARTH GIRL, is one of the best books I read in 2013, and I have been eagerly awaiting the sequel (click here to read my review of EARTH GIRL). Well, the fine folks at Pyr have recently released the second book in this series, and I have to say my expectations were not only met, they were exceeded exponentially. EARTH STAR is an excellent follow-up, and I am dubbing it a Must Read for 2014.

If you are not familiar with EARTH STAR, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Pyr Books:

Only She Can Save the World.

Eighteen-year-old Jarra has a lot to prove. After being awarded one of the military’s highest honors for her role in a daring rescue attempt, she finds herself—and her Ape status—in the spotlight. Jarra is one of the unlucky few born with an immune system that cannot survive on other planets. Derided as an “ape”—a “throwback”—by the rest of the universe, she is on a mission to prove that Earth Girls are just as good as anyone else.

Except now the planet she loves is under threat by what could be humanity’s first ever alien contact. Jarra’s bravery—and specialist knowledge—will once again be at the center of the maelstrom, but will the rest of the universe consider Earth worth fighting for?

I simply cannot put into words how much I love this series. It is original and inventive, a far cry from the slush-filled world of YA books that seems overburdened with rehashed ideas. Author Janet Edwards proves there are still unique concepts out there that are begging to be explored.

Like its predecessor, EARTH STAR is written very well and flows at a perfect pace. Edwards focuses more on story and less on lengthy prose, which in turn gives a more enjoyable and fast-paced reading experience. Her writing style is fresh and clean, with a distinct voice that readers of any age will enjoy.

The continuation of Jarra’s story is great, with several unexpected twists and turns. Personally, I love the character she shows when dealing with adversity, as her actions usually have unexpected (and sometimes rewarding) results. Jarra is a nice role-model for young adults, and I am thrilled that my own daughter is a fan of this series (and Jarra) as well.

If I were forced to find a flaw with EARTH STAR, I don’t think I could. It’s too well written and too fleshed out to see anything wrong. The ending has me salivating for the third book, however…I hope I can wait another year to get it!

EARTH STAR is a monumental win in my book (pardon the pun), and I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone that loves good fiction. If you haven’t read the first book, snatch it up immediately. I found both books to be quick reads; I tore through them at a record pace, finishing each in just a few days time. But regardless of how fast you read them, just make sure you do. Both are available now in a variety of formats.

MSB

Movie Review – POE: Project of Evil (2014)

P. O. E. Project of Evil
Directed by Various Directors
Courtesy of Brain Damage Films
Release Date: May 6, 2014

poe-project-of-evil

After tearing through V/H/S and V/H/S 2, I started looking for anthology films to review on my site. Much like books, anthologies offer many different types of entertainment, all crammed into one volume. Aside from that, I enjoy seeing the variety of perspectives that different directors can bring when presented with a singular concept. POE: PROJECT OF EVIL takes aim at the works of the legendary author Edgar Allen Poe. And while I didn’t find every piece of this anthology entertaining, the overall film is very enjoyable and certainly worth checking out.

If you are not familiar with POE: PROJECT OF EVIL, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Brain Damage Films:

Original filmmakers from around the world group together to bring the tales of Edgar Allen Poe to life. The film focuses on the bloody, violent and disturbing insights and writings of the infamous Boston author. Stories include ‘The Pit and the Pendulum’, Solo’, ‘Loss of Breath’, ‘The Murders in the Rue Morgue’, ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’, ‘The System of Dr. Tar and Prof. Feather’, and ‘The Premature Burial’…like you’ve never seen before!

I like Poe’s works, but I have to confess I like H. P. Lovecraft better. With that being said, no genre fan can argue Poe’s influence on modern day on horror. Like Lovecraft, Poe’s works are eternal and will be around forever.

While I didn’t enjoy every film in this anthology, I have to give major credit to the filmmakers for bringing unique visions of Poe’s works to the screen. Each director takes one of Poe’s stories and gives it a modern-day twist, and for this reason, I really like the film as a whole.

The shorts in POE: PROJECT OF EVIL are all made well, although some look better than others. I enjoyed ‘The Pit and the Pendulum’ the most, as its simplistic style was monumental in conveying the emotion being displayed onscreen. Likewise, ‘Alone’ looked great and was deliciously gory. On the opposite end, I did not enjoy ‘Breathless’ at all, primarily because of the non-spoken interactions that the audience has to read onscreen.

Still, this anthology is definitely one to check out, especially if you are an aspiring filmmaker yourself. The gems in this collection stand out like lighthouses in the fog, while the others simply sort of fade away. This is not to discredit the quality of work put out by each filmmaker; this is just my way of saying I didn’t like their takes on these particular stories.

I give POE: PROJECT OF EVIL a thumbs up and recommend it to fans of horror and/or fans of Poe’s works. The film is available now in a variety of formats.

MSB

Movie Review – Countess Dracula (1971)

Countess Dracula
Directed by Peter Sasdy
Courtesy of Synapse Films
Original Release Date: 1971
DVD / Blu-ray Release Date: May 6, 2014


countess_blu

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a big fan of Hammer Horror, and my fandom grows exponentially with each new title I watch. I have to confess I’ve only seen a handful of Hammer films, however I’ve seen enough to know I love them. And thanks to Synapse Films, fans like me can enjoy these timeless classics with digitally remastered sound and picture. Their latest release, COUNTESS DRACULA, stars the lovely Ingrid Pitt and embodies everything Hammer Horror is renowned for.

If you are not familiar with COUNTESS DRACULA, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Synapse Films:

THE VOLUPTUOUS INGRID PITT STARS IN THIS REMASTERED HAMMER HORROR CLASSIC!

The beautiful Ingrid Pitt (The Wicker Man, Where Eagles Dare) stars as Elisabeth Nádasdy, an aging Hungarian Countess who discovers she can reverse her aging by bathing in the blood of young women. While in her youthful state, the Countess falls for the handsome Lt. Imre Toth (Sandor Elès), and impersonates her own daughter to win his affections. Soon, girls in the village go missing… kidnapped and murdered by the Countess and her steward, Julie (Patience Collier) to satiate her horrifying bloodlust. Can Elisabeth live a life of deception with her grotesque lust for blood to stay eternally young, or will her ghoulish secret finally be revealed? Co-starring Nigel Green (Jason and the Argonauts, Zulu).

Considered “one of the more underrated films from the latter days of the Hammer Films dynasty“ (Donald Guarisco, Allmovie.com), Countess Dracula is based on the real-life Hungarian Countess Elizabeth Bathory, a woman accused of torturing and murdering more than 600 girls.

Director Peter Sasdy directed a couple of other Hammer films, including TASTE THE BLOOD OF DRACULA and HANDS OF THE RIPPER, as well as three episodes of the short-lived HAMMER HOUSE OF MYSTERY AND SUSPENSE television series. As such, he was the perfect choice to bring this concept to the big screen.

COUNTESS DRACULA is shot well and has the same foreboding feel that made Hammer films so popular. The acting is first rate with the afore mentioned Ingrid Pitt portraying the titular character. She is accompanied onscreen by Sandor Eles, who portrays Lt. Toth, and Nigel Green as Captain Dobi. Pitt steals the show, however, giving a magnificent performance as both a young woman and an old crone.

There’s not much gore or even blood in the film, which really surprises me given the premise. However, the lack thereof is just fine; the intensity that is built up within the film doesn’t need gore or blood to heighten it. That’s not to say it wouldn’t have been enjoyable to see…but with Hammer, the darkness comes from within the characters, not from splattering the walls with carnage.

I have not seen a previous copy of COUNTESS DRACULA, so I cannot say how much the picture and/or sound have improved…but watching this film on Blu-ray is an excellent experience. The picture is very clear, with no noticeable grainy images or blurred shots. Likewise, the sound is exquisite, especially the ambient sounds that come through the surround-sound. If you have the chance, do yourself a favor and watch this on Blu-ray.

COUNTESS DRACULA is a huge win for me, and I suggest fans of Gothic horror give it a look. Even if you’re not a fan of Hammer films already, this is the perfect movie to get you started. It is available now.

MSB

Book Review – Dead Man’s Hand, edited by John Joseph Adams

Dead Man’s Hand
Edited by John Joseph Adams
Release Date: May 13, 2014
Publisher: Titan Books

dead-mans-hand-book

For some reason, my reading preferences never led me towards Westerns. I read just about everything else genre-related (well, except for romance), but never got into that area. I’m not sure why. I guess horror dominated my tastes. So imagine my surprise and delight when Titan Books released DEAD MAN’S HAND, an anthology of the Weird West. I was intrigued to say the least, but I had no idea the treasures this book held in store for me. Within its pages are a vast array of bizarre and horrific stories that will enthrall even the staunchest of genre fans. And I will bet there’s something in there for non-fans as well.

If you are not familiar with DEAD MAN’S HAND, here is the book’s synopsis courtesy of Titan Books:

HOW THE WEST WAS WEIRD!
From a kill-or-be-killed gunfight with a vampire to an encounter in a steampunk bordello, the weird western is a dark, gritty tale where the protagonist might be playing poker with a sorcerous deck of cards, or facing an alien on the streets of a dusty frontier town.

Here are twenty-three original tales—stories of the Old West infused with elements of the fantastic—produced specifically for this volume by many of today’s finest writers. Included are Orson Scott Card’s first “Alvin Maker” story in a decade, and an original adventure by Fred Van Lente, writer of Cowboys & Aliens.

Other contributors include:
Tobias S. Buckell * David Farland * Alan Dean Foster * Jeffrey Ford * Laura Anne Gilman * Rajan Khanna * Mike Resnick * Beth Revis * Fred Van Lente * Walter Jon Williams * Ben H. Winters * Christie Yant * Charles Yu *

I am so proud to own a copy of this book. It is chocked full of mesmerizing tales that will stun and engage readers of every kind. And it boasts some highbrow talent as well, including a few of my favorites: Tobias S. Buckell, Alan Dean Foster, Tad Williams, and Jonathan Maberry.

Every story in DEAD MAN’S HAND is written well and carefully crafted for maximum impact. The wide variety of talent showcases a multitude of unique voices and highlights each author’s distinctive style of storytelling. As a result, it is very easy to jump from one story to the next.

This great diversity of writers is one major aspect of what makes this book so enjoyable. I liked every story in this collection, obviously some more than others. But each one was a pleasure to read, and in doing so, I found a few more authors who I plan on checking out in the future.

One of my favorite stories in DEAD MAN’S HAND is “Strong Medicine” by Tad Williams. In this tale, a man arrives in town in order to help them…but nobody in town knows what he’s supposed to help with? As sundown approaches, strange things start to happen, and only the stranger knows what is going on. I love this tale because it caught me off guard; I never expected the events that were to happen within it, and the surprise is a lot of fun.

DEAD MAN’S HAND is an excellent anthology, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a good, unique story. There’s so much to like in this book, including science-fiction, fantasy, and horror. As such, I would wager there’s something for everybody here. Give it a look for sure.

MSB

Movie Review – Independence Daysaster (2014)

Independence Daysaster
Directed by W. D. Hogan
Courtesy of Anchor Bay Films
Release Date: May 27, 2014

independence-daysaster

Ah, the good ol’ Syfy Channel movies are back! Although many people don’t like them, I gotta tell you: I love many of those schlocky gems. Sure, they’re low-budget…but that’s no reason not to like them. They can be a lot of fun if you go into them with the right mindset. INDEPENDENCE DAYSASTER is one of these tongue-in-cheek masterpieces, and I rank it up there with some of the Syfy Channel’s best (or worst, I guess, depending on how you want to look at it).

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

It’s the 4th of July, and America is celebrating. But when a hostile force attacks from both outer space and within Earth itself, our planet may be on the menu for a holiday barbecue. Can a small-town fireman (Ryan Merriman of “Pretty Little Liars”), a physics-loving teen (Andrea Brooks of “Supernatural”), a rogue scientist (Emily Holmes of METEOR STORM), a pair of nerd hackers and the stranded President Of The United States (Tom Everett Scott of THAT THING YOU DO!) now find a way to stop the invasion, nuke the alien mothership, and set off the biggest fireworks display of all? Keenan Tracy (“Bates Motel”) co-stars in this Syfy Original hit from the producers of 12 DISASTERS and END OF THE WORLD.

It’s interesting how the DVD cover looks vaguely familiar, as if we’ve seen it somewhere before; perhaps a certain Roland Emmerich film with a similar title? And the alien drones on the front…don’t those look like the same alien ships from a board game-to-film adaptation from 2012? If you’re rolling your eyes right now, it’s ok to do so. These ‘similarities’ are intentional and are part of what gives this film its charm.

I looked at INDEPENDENCE DAYSASTER as a comedy going in, not as an actual science-fiction alien-invasion story. Doing so made me enjoy the film. If I had wanted seriousness, of course I would have been very disappointed. But from a comedy perspective, the film is quite funny.

The special effects are what you would expect from a Syfy Channel movie, and the acting is very much the same. I like Tom Everett Scott for the most part, however I cannot see him portraying the President of the United States in ANY movie or show, especially if it’s not a comedy. The rest of the cast is not really noteworthy, but they hold their own for a movie like this.

INDEPENDENCE DAYSASTER probably won’t win any awards, but I liked it and my kids enjoyed it as well. This is one of those films that is full of corny goodness, so be forewarned if you give it a shot. It hits store shelves next week.

MSB

Book Review – A Brief Guide to Stephen King by Paul Simpson

A Brief Guide to Stephen King
by Paul Simpson
Release Date: April 29, 2014
Publisher: Running Press

A Brief Guide

I have to confess that I don’t read many biographies these days. Sure, I had to read a few mandatory ones for college classes…but that was 20 years ago. These days, I fill my head with horror, science-fiction, and fantasy. But when I saw this comprehensive ‘guide’ to one of my favorite horror authors of all time, Stephen King, I knew I had to give it a look. After all, what better way to gain personal inspiration than reading about someone whose work inspires me? I’m glad I did, too; although I’m a huge fan of King’s work, I really didn’t know much about him. This book gives an in-depth glimpse into the man behind the masterpieces, and you’ll probably never look at him the same way again.

If you are not familiar with A BRIEF GUIDE TO STEPHEN KING, here is the book’s synopsis courtesy of Running Press:

In 1974, a new talent burst onto the horror scene: Maine schoolteacher Stephen King. Over the next forty years, King’s name would become synonymous with horror and dark fantasy through over fifty bestselling books including his magnum opus, the DARK TOWER series. Simpson traces the writer’s development through his difficult childhood and his early writing career to the success of CARRIE, SALEM’S LOT, and THE SHINING in the 1970s and the outpouring of material over the following two decades, some published under the pseudonym of Richard Bachman. It shows how King’s writing style was affected by the accident that nearly killed him in 1999, and the ways in which his battles with addiction to alcohol and medication are reflected in his stories. He also discusses the dozens of films, TV shows, plays, and comic books that have been inspired by King’s works. A recipient of the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, among many other fantasy and mystery awards, King is one of the most significant cultural figures of the recent past, whose work remains as relevant—and popular—today as when he began writing.

I think I’m pretty safe in stating that Stephen King is probably a household name by now. I doubt there are very many people in this country who don’t know who he is or some of the titles he is responsible for. But even so, the vast majority of those who know his name are probably just like me and know little about the man himself. Thankfully, this book will tell you all you need to know.

A BRIEF GUIDE TO STEPHEN KING is written well and flows smoothly as it lays out the life of this celebrated author. But it doesn’t just talk about King’s life growing up…it outlines the events in his life that eventually set the foundations for some of his most pivotal work. As a result, the reader gets to see the true (and sometimes surprising) inspirations for such classic titles as CARRIE, CUJO, THE STAND, and many more.

Unlike other biographies, this one takes each book written by King and gives a detail of the story, as well as key events that were happening in King’s life at the time of its writing. This is interesting because it gives an inner-doorway into the author’s mind and let’s the reader see where his mentality was during the creation of the work. I find this type of insight fascinating, and it brings to light many unknown facts about who King really is on the inside.

A BRIEF GUIDE TO STEPHEN KING is a huge win for me, and I recommend it to anyone looking to gain a deeper understanding of this amazingly talented author. Even if you’re not a fan of his work, you can’t help but be inspired by the obstacles he has overcome to gain the success he has today. Give this book a look for sure.

MSB

Movie Review – Mischief Night (2014)

Mischief Night
Directed by Travis Baker
Courtesy of Lionsgate
Release Date: May 20, 2014

mischie4f-night

I thought I had seen every babysitter-versus-slasher-flick-idea ever imagined…but boy, was I wrong! Just when I think I have a genre solidified, an inventive filmmaker comes along and completely changes the game. Such is the case with MISCHIEF NIGHT. Director Travis Baker (no relation) turns the babysitter-versus-slasher concept upside down with this slick fright-fest, and the result is a terrifying trek into the bizarre!

If you are not familiar with MISCHIEF NIGHT, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Lionsgate:

On the night before Halloween, young Kaylie is at work babysitting when she’s warned by a local night watchman not to answer the door, because nothing good can happen on “Mischief Night.” Soon, Kaylie realizes someone is stalking her. But on “Mischief Night,” nothing is as it seems. They say “Danger is on the other side of the door.” But they never said which side of the door you’re on.

Don’t confuse this After Dark Original film with the 2013 movie of the same title. The two are very different and have nothing to do with one another. But be sure to check this one out, as it is a very original take on an existing horror sub-genre.

MISCHIEF NIGHT starts out like any other film in this category, with the proverbial babysitter home alone with her charge while the parents are away. When strange things begin to happen, she reacts as every sitter does: locking the doors and windows while arming herself. But this is where the similarities end; the audience quickly realizes this girl is not like others before her…not by a long shot.

The film is made well and looks good onscreen. The production value seems high, and there’s really not a specific area where anything is lacking. The film overall is solid and moves at a nice pace.

The cast in MISCHIEF NIGHT do a great job with their roles, which is one of the reasons this movie succeeds. I always enjoy seeing Malcolm McDowell onscreen, and this film is no exception. To be honest, he’s not in the film that much, but enough so to give him due credit. And I have to commend Brooke Ann Smith with her portrayal of the main character, Kaylie. I have not seen Smith’s work before, but she plays this multilayered character with ease. I enjoyed her performance and look forward to seeing more of what she can do.

The special effects are pretty good as well, and there’s even a nice bit of gore (albeit a small dose). I would have preferred more carnage from a slasher flick, but what we get to see is nice. I particularly like the teenage prick that gets disemboweled. He definitely gets what he deserves, and the effects do the scene justice.

The story of MISCHIEF NIGHT is what really wins here, though. I love how this film takes the traditional babysitter slasher and completely changes it up. I didn’t see this twist coming, and it makes for an entertaining thrill ride throughout the film.

MISCHIEF NIGHT is a big win for me, and I recommend giving it a look. The film is available now in a variety of formats.

MSB

Movie Review – Piggy (2012)

Piggy
Directed by Kieron Hawkes
Courtesy of Inception Media Group
Original Release Date: 2012
DVD Release Date: May 13, 2014

Piggy

When you read a vague title like PIGGY, there are many things that can spring to mind. For me, I was expecting a slasher-type of film with the killer dressed in a pig’s mask. When I mentioned the movie to my wife, she thought it would be campy. We were both wrong, and that’s not a bad thing, I can assure you. This film is a haunting and gripping portrait of revenge in its purest of forms. And whether or not you agree with Piggy’s motives, he sure gets the job done!

If you are not familiar with PIGGY, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Inception Media Group:

When his brother is brutally murdered by a gang, Joe finds solace in Piggy, one of his dead brother s old and unstable friends. The two begin a grueling and bloody revenge mission for his brother s killing. Hard, gritty and disturbing this violent vigilant crusade will leave you cheering and shocked as they exact their brutal justice one victim at a time. Piggy ushers in a new breed of Horror…the Psychopathic Thriller with the eye-for-an-eye morality of an animal.

I am so happy to have been wrong about this film. It is the complete opposite of what I expected, which made it an even better movie. And I can honestly say this is one film I will probably revisit very soon.

PIGGY is a well made revenge thriller that will keep you on your toes. It looks great onscreen and is written well, although the pacing can be slow in parts. The cast does an excellent job in their roles, and I have to give special recognition to Paul Anderson who portrays the titular character. Anderson does a stellar job in his performance, and I hope to see more of his work in the future.

There is even a nice dose of gore. We get to see some primo special effects when Piggy starts doling out his vengeance. I am impressed with how the movie only shows glimpses of it as well; doing so, instead of shoving it in the audience’s face, makes it more impactful.

PIGGY is almost a perfect movie for me. My sole complaint, as I mentioned above, is that it can be slow in spots. Otherwise, it’s a heck of a thrill-ride. Give this one a look.

MSB