TV Show Review – Deadbeat, season 1

Deadbeat, season 1
Courtesy of Lionsgate
Release Date: August 26, 2014


WOW…two TV Show reviews in one week? That’s right…thanks to a break in my schedule, I binge-watched THE WALKING DEAD SEASON 4 and DEADBEAT this past weekend. I have to tell you: I loved them both. DEADBEAT is a Hulu Original show, and it boasts the talents of the excellent Tyler Labine. I was first introduced to Labine’s work with TUCKER & DALE VS. EVIL, which has turned into one of my favorite horror comedies of all time. DEADBEAT is a supernatural comedy that entertains on every level. And while its premise might sound simplistic, nothing about this show is simple.

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

Kevin Pacalioglu may have no money and no clue, but he can see dead people, so that’s pretty cool. Faced with a constant stream of stubborn spirits, Pac goes to whatever lengths require the least amount of effort to help New York City’s most frivolous ghosts finish their unfinished business.

One of the biggest draws for me is Labine’s ability to come across as an everyman…a guy that anyone can relate to, just like the average person on the street. I would bet his actual persona reflects that trait as well, as I could see him being very down to earth in real life.

DEADBEAT is shot well and looks great onscreen. Part of its charm comes from the fact that the premise is overtly simple on the surface. But the rest of its allure comes from the crazy situations that Pac finds himself in over the course of each episode. In the pilot, for example, Pac is petitioned by the ghost of a soldier to consummate his relationship with his girlfriend; apparently, the ghost is still on earth because it feels this has to be done in order to go into the next life. The only kicker is that the soldier is from World War 2, which makes his girlfriend an elderly woman. See where this is going?

The acting in DEADBEAT is excellent with Labine heading up a stellar cast. Brandon T. Jackson, who genre fans will recognize from the PERCY JACKSON film series, plays Pac’s friend/dealer, Roofie. Similarly, Cat Deeley portrays the fake medium Chamomile. Each plays off of the other with superb fluidity, creating believable, albeit dysfunctional, characters.

I highly recommend giving DEADBEAT a look. It’s funny and intelligent, two definite ‘musts’ when it comes to horror comedy. And the show looks like it will only go up from here. I can’t wait to see what craziness ensues for season 2. Check this one out for sure.


Book Review – One Undead Step by Ian McClellan

One Undead Step
by Ian McClellan
Release Date: March 3, 2014
Publisher: Severed Press

one undead step

I mentioned just a while back that I love horror novels that utilize history as a basis. When an author can successfully combine real events with fictional horror, the result is usually a terrific story that is enthralling and entertaining. Such can be said for ONE UNDEAD STEP, a recent release from author Ian McClellan. Rife with originality and solid prose, McClellan’s horrific tale of a near zombie takeover will keep you riveted. And while it is not perfect, it is still a hell of a read and one I had a hard time putting down.

If you are not familiar with ONE UNDEAD STEP, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of

Many people know that the 1969 moon landing was faked, but are unaware of the actual circumstances. Find out how the U.S. faked the moon landing to avert the zombie apocalypse as the lives of a disgraced B-movie director, a bar owner, some drunks, an Army Ranger unit, a bunch of gangsters, an affluent but very dysfunctional family, and a few cops come together in One Undead Step.

One year after Romero shocked the world with Night of the Living Dead, a small city is rocked by grisly killings, the gory details of which are only known through whispered rumors. The government presence that makes the populace all the more nervous is unable to contain the impending threat that grows out of control on a hot, humid night in Mid-July. As the city’s residents fight for their lives, the Military rushes to make a film about two men landing a small spacecraft on the moon. Will their plan work? Find out as an evil man finds redemption, some soldiers choose between their mission and duty, a young couple finds forbidden love, an older couple reignites their passion, and a bartender gets stiffed for lots of drinks in One Undead Step.

I have to start off by commending McClellan on his unique concept for this book. I have to say, it is a very interesting proposal. I love the idea of the government trying to keep the public from learning about zombies, especially by using something as grand as a moon-landing to do so. Because of the paranoia that was rampant during that time period, I can totally see this as a plausible scenario.

ONE UNDEAD STEP is written well and flows at a smooth pace. McClellan seems to have a natural talent for storytelling, which is showcased in the way he ‘shows’ instead of ‘tells’. Here is an example: “His face had a hawkish look that was accentuated by his beak of a nose. He looked at Will and smiled. The smile was all politician or salesman (if there’s a difference), but he couldn’t take the predator out of his eyes.” I really like this writing style, as it allows for more immersion into the book.

The characters are flawed and colorful, a group of believable average-joes who we grow to like (and hate, in some cases). McClellan does a great job of bringing them to life, and they are a major part of what makes the book so good.

My sole complaint about the book is the ending; there are a couple of chapters labeled ‘Zombie Stories’ at the end, but they don’t fit with the rest of the book. I am not sure if McClellan put them in as an afterthought, or if they’re supposed to have some relevance to the story. Either way, they don’t fit for me (although they might be good as solo stories in an anthology or something). If you read this book, I would stop at the Epilogue, wait a bit, and then go read the chapters afterward as individual pieces.

But still, ONE UNDEAD STEP is a fun read and I recommend giving it a shot if you like zombies. I am willing to bet you will never read about the moon landing with the same mindset again. This book is available now in a variety of formats.


TV Show Review – The Walking Dead, season 4

The Walking Dead, season 4
Courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: August 26, 2014


Last year, when I reviewed season 3 of this hit series, I stated: “If you are not watching THE WALKING DEAD, you must really hate excellent television. This show, by far, has to be the best drama on television right now.” My feelings have not changed a bit since then, and if anything, they are even more impassioned. It is amazing how a show can get better and better with age, but THE WALKING DEAD seems to pull it off with ease. Season 4 ups the ante in drastic ways, and lemme tell you: with everything that happens, the characters in the show will never be the same again!

If you’re not familiar with THE WALKING DEAD, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Anchor Bay Entertainment:

In this highly anticipated new season, we see Rick and the group of survivors fostering a thriving community in the safe haven of the prison. Sadly, in this brutal world, happiness is short-lived and walkers and outside threats are no match for danger brewing inside the fences. The group’s home and new way of life will be thoroughly tested, and their struggle to survive has never been so perilous. Season 4 also introduces several new characters including Bob Stookey (Lawrence Gilliard Jr., The Wire). The Walking Dead, the most watched drama in basic cable history, returns for another terrifying and exhilarating season on AMC on October 13.

I’ve talked to several people over the past couple of years who are not zombie fans, but they love THE WALKING DEAD regardless. This is a huge testament to the human drama contained within the show and how well it plays out against the zombie backdrop.

As with previous seasons, season 4 of THE WALKING DEAD is shot well, and every episode looks like it could be part of a movie. The acting is top notch, and we are introduced to several new characters, including Dr. Eugene Porter and Sgt. Abraham Ford. The new characters add an interesting, new level to cast, which makes for even more intriguing plot turns.

In addition to the new faces, there are a couple of major characters that fall during season 4 as well. One of these was a MAJOR shocker for me, and I did not see it coming. Obviously, I will not go into details about who dies and how, but I will say one loss that happens towards the end of the season is the saddest, most gut-wrenching exit in the history of the series.

Season 4 of THE WALKING DEAD is probably the most emotionally-filled of all the seasons thus far, with plenty of twists and turns. My favorite episode has to be number 14, “The Grove”. This episode contains the exit of a main character, but the reason for this person’s departure is disturbing and extremely sad. I love the emotional roller-coaster the show set me on, and for that, I consider this the best episode of the season.

THE WALKING DEAD season 4 is another huge win for me, and I highly recommend you snatch this up as soon as it hits store shelves tomorrow. Be sure and check it out on Blu-ray; in addition to the HD picture and sound, you’ll get a slew of special features, including:

* Extended episodes
* Featurettes, including behind-the-scenes footage, production videos, special effects tricks, character portraits, and more
* Deleted scenes
* Cast and crew commentaries

and more. Make this number one on your priority list…you won’t be disappointed.


Movie Review – Aftermath (2014)

Directed by Peter Engert
Courtesy of RLJ Entertainment
Release Date: August 26, 2014


When I was a kid, potential nuclear war with Russia was a constant threat. It seemed to loom over everything: news, pop culture, even our day-to-day lives. As a result, I grew up with a healthy respect for nuclear weapons and what they could do. This is probably why I enjoy post-apocalyptic films and stories so much; there are so many things that could happen in a radioactive world. AFTERMATH, an upcoming PA release from RLJ Entertainment, is a solid entry into the PA category, and it is definitely a must-see if you’re a fan of the genre.

If you are not familiar with AFTERMATH, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of RLJ Entertainment:

The devastating horror of a nuclear apocalypse is now reality and nine desperate strangers find themselves clinging to life in a farmhouse cellar, while radioactive fallout descends on the darkened world above. These would-be survivors face the nightmare of dwindling supplies, poisonous air and the greatest threat of all – the hordes of zombie-like refugees who want in. With each dying day, their choice becomes clearer – stay and let the makeshift shelter become their tomb or face the unknown terrors of the world outside. Starring Edward Furlong, Monica Keena, Andre Royo and C.J. Thomason, AFTERMATH takes a hard look at how far humans will go to survive. And it isn’t pretty.

I was infatuated with this film from the opening credits. While they roll, a series of bleak images slowly plays across the screen. These shots set a nice, dark tone for the film, but they are also very artistic in nature. After they concluded, I restarted the movie so I could watch them again. Talk about setting the mood!

AFTERMATH has some excellent cinematography and the production value appears high. The film looks great onscreen, especially in HD, however the surround-sound didn’t work on my Blu-ray copy for some reason. All I got was sound through my front speakers. Not sure if this is something to do with my system or the disc.

The acting in the film is great as well, with C.J. Thomason heading up a fantastic cast. Thomason is a new actor to me, although I own a couple of films he is in (HUSK and SUTURES, however I have watched neither one). He is definitely an actor to look out for in the future. I also enjoy seeing Edward Furlong onscreen; I’ve been a fan of his work since TERMINATOR 2, way back in 1991. He does a very convincing job in this film with his role.

My sole complaint about AFTERMATH is that Thomason’s character is never fully developed, and we are left wondering why and how he knew everything he did. For example, when they raid a convenience store, he tells his companion what to look for (food with protein, no junk food, etc.). Also, he knew how to hotwire an Army vehicle and how to use car batteries for power in the cellar. This sounds like ‘doomsday prepper’ knowledge, but it is never mentioned in the film.

But that is my only negative about this film. AFTERMATH is a hell of a film, chocked full of intensity and realism. I highly recommend checking this one out. It might just change the way you look at World War 3.


Movie Review – The Quiet Ones (2014)

The Quiet Ones
Directed by John Pogue
Courtesy of Lionsgate
Release Date: August 19, 2014


When I first saw the trailer for THE QUIET ONES, I didn’t get very excited; it reminded me of THE CONJURING for some reason, and therefore my expectations were immediately low. Upon watching this film, however, I discovered I was very wrong. Although it is set in the past, it doesn’t match the other film much at all. And while THE QUIET ONES is not a perfect film, it is scary and fun, and definitely worth watching.

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

Inspired by terrifying real experiments. When a crazed university professor (Jared Harris) and his team of students set out to cure a disturbed patient, the unthinkable happens. Trusting in their leader and his motives, Brian (Sam Claflin) and his fellow students find themselves far from help… and all too close to a sinister force they never suspected.

This is one of those films that must be experienced in surround sound to truly be appreciated. I can’t tell you how many times I jumped because of noises behind me or a whisper that comes in from the side. I LOVE films like this, and I wish every movie could contain this sort of aspect.

THE QUIET ONES is shot well and looks great overall. It is set in 1974, and the production team does a stellar job of recreating the look and feel of that time period. The cinematography is tight, and there a few obscure camera angles that really help bring a feeling of menace to the film.

The acting is great as well. The cast does a great job with their roles, particularly Olivia Cooke who portrays the troubled Jane Harper. Cooke gives a fantastic performance that is both believable and enjoyable. I look forward to future roles from her.

The story in THE QUIET ONES is where things drop a bit. For as riveting as the drama is, the story itself heads in a couple of quirky directions. There are two side-plots that didn’t make much sense to me, however maybe I simply misunderstood them. I am not going to go into detail here, as I don’t want to give anything away.

But regardless, THE QUIET ONES is a heck of a film and has plenty of scares for all of you fright-fans. And for being PG-13, it is a nice horror flick that younger viewers can enjoy. I recommend this one and suggest you look for it tomorrow when it hits store shelves.


Check out this homage to VARSITY BLOOD!

VARSITY BLOOD is an upcoming slasher film from RLJ/Image Entertainment. According to the website, here is a plot synopsis of the film before you watch the finger puppet homage:

This football season, Hogeye High’s Warriors and cheerleaders are out for blood. Unfortunately, someone is out for theirs, and they’ll be forced to take one for the team. After the big Halloween football match, the students are joined by an uninvited guest dressed as their high school mascot armed with a bow and arrow, a battle-axe, and an insatiable appetite for butchery. Soon, they find themselves fighting for more than the winning score as terror becomes the name of the game. Featuring “enough inventive kills to keep even the most rabid gorehound happy,” Varsity Blood is “a supremely entertaining slasher rollercoaster” (Hysteria Lives!).

This film sounds like a lot of fun. Check out the clip below and then look for VARSITY BLOOD on DVD next week.


Movie Review – Rigor Mortis (2014)

Rigor Mortis
Directed by Juno Mak
Courtesy of Well Go USA
Release Date: July 8, 2014


In today’s horror, many films rely on shock value to get a reaction from the audience. Whether it be from an overabundant amount of gore or a heinously sick act, shocking viewers is becoming a regular and predictable staple in the genre. But where are the horror flicks that infuse surrealism with the terror? There have been many over the years, and they are generally considered cult classics—titles like ERASERHEAD, VIDEODROME, IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS, THE BEYOND, and many more.

I’m happy to announce director Juno Mak has reintroduced the world to surrealistic horror with his recent hit RIGOR MORTIS. This dark fantasy nightmare is a visual masterpiece that will entertain just as much as it terrifies.

If you are not familiar with RIGOR MORTIS, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Well Go USA:

In this eerie and chilling contemporary action/special effects laden homage to the classic Chinese vampire movies of the 1980 s, writer-director-producer, Juno Mak makes his feature directorial debut. Co-produced by J-Horror icon Takashi Shimizu, and reuniting some of the original cast members of the classic Mr. Vampire series, RIGOR MORTIS is set in a creepy and moody Hong Kong public housing tower whose occupants we soon discover run the gamut from the living to the dead, to the undead, along with ghosts, vampires and zombies.

I was unsure about this film to start with…it took me a little while to get into it. But once I did, it blew me away. I haven’t had a film experience this satisfying in quite a while.

RIGOR MORTIS is shot well and looks amazing onscreen. The visual effects are stunningly good, but they also help tell the story. Some films have to use visuals to draw audiences; this one uses them the way they should be used: for plot advancement. The result is a horror-laced trek into the bizarre.

The story itself is a nice dose of originality as well. It is several tales woven into one, a sort of anthology that folds in on itself. This makes for an intriguing plot, and it will keep you riveted as the scenes play out.

And what a collection of scenes they are! RIGOR MORTIS is a feast for the eyes, to say the least. And what it lacks in subtly, it makes it for with blunt, in-your-face terror. This is one of those films that yanks you out of your chair and smacks you around for 90 minutes…then, just when you think its over, it gives you one last blast to annihilate your senses before it drops you back into your seat.

RIGOR MORTIS is a big win for me, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for original concepts in horror. Be prepared, though…you’re in for a heck of a ride. The film is available now in a variety of formats, but try to check it out on Blu-ray; the HD picture and sound are definitely worth it.


Blu-ray Movie Review – Curtains (1983)

Directed by Richard Ciupka (as Jonathan Stryker)
Courtesy of Synapse Films
Original Release Date: 1983
Blu-ray Release Date: July 29, 2014


I first heard about CURTAINS a long time ago, probably around 1988 or so. A friend of mine showed me a picture of the hag mask, and my interest was immediately piqued. Unfortunately at the time, my source for movies was pretty limited, so I wasn’t able to find it for rent anywhere. After a while, the film faded into the dark, cobwebby sections of my mind.

Fast forward to earlier this year. Imagine my surprise and delight when I received the press release from the fine folks at Synapse films, announcing the release of CURTAINS on Blu-ray. I can’t tell you how excited I was. Needless to say, there was some cheering involved. And thankfully, the film exceeded my expectations and then some. This is truly a horror classic that every fan of the genre should check out.

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

John Vernon (CHAINED HEAT, National Lampoon’s ANIMAL HOUSE) and Samantha Eggar (THE BROOD, THE EXTERMINATOR)star in this horror classic from the golden age of the slasher genre. A group of women gather for a weekend casting call at the secluded mansion of director Jonathan Stryker (Vernon). He’s searching for the perfect woman to play the role of the crazed character Audra, and these women are just dying for the chance to play her! Stryker’s last star, Samantha Sherwood (Eggar), is so determined to get the part, she committed herself to an asylum to prepare for the role. Unfortunately for all, a crazed killer in a disgusting hag mask is viciously murdering everyone, one by one. Who will survive the final curtain call?

Lovingly re-mastered in 2K resolution from original vault materials virtually untouched for over 30 years, CURTAINS makes its high-definition world premiere from Synapse Films.

An interesting bit of trivia—-the opening credits in the film show the director as Jonathan Stryker…which is actually John Vernon’s character’s name. This is a fun homage to the film itself and a nice way to start the film.

CURTAINS is shot pretty well for the most part, although a couple of the camera angles had me puzzled. The production value looks fairly high (for a film from that time period), and everything looks good onscreen. The picture is nice and vivid, thanks to an exhaustive restoration effort, and the sound is crisp and clear.

The acting in CURTAINS is great as well. Both John Vernon and Samantha Eggar give excellent performances, while the rest of the cast also does a top notch job. I will not divulge the killer’s identity, but this person does a great job with the role.

And speaking of the killer, I liked the twist as to who it turned out to be. Definitely not who I expected, and I was very surprised, as I didn’t see it coming. This twist alone was enough for me to recommend the film.

There’s not many special effects to speak of; most of the killings happen off-screen. But there’s plenty of tension built up prior to each one. And the hag mask is a heck of a persona to display onscreen. Creepy and haunting, this face is one you won’t soon forget!

CURTAINS is a big win for me, and every fan of horror should check it out. It is a great addition to the slasher genre and deserves a place in every film fan’s library. Be sure and get the Blu-ray version as well. In addition to a restored picture and sound, you’ll get some nice special features that include:

* The Ultimate Nightmare: The Making Of Curtains – Retrospective
* New 5.1 Surround Remix
* Audio Commentary With Stars Lesleh Donaldson & Lynne Griffin
* Audio Interviews With Producer Peter R. Simpson And Star Samantha Eggar
* Theatrical Trailer

The film is available now, so check it out!


Movie Review – The Midnight Game (2014)

The Midnight Game
Directed by A. D. Calvo
Courtesy of Anchor Bay
Release Date: August 12, 2014


Ask anybody about urban legends or myths that were circulated when they were in high school, and I’ll bet you get an interesting variety of answers. I can think of at least three that went around when I was in junior high. I even remember going to parties where one or two people always wanted to turn out the lights, shine a flashlight into a mirror, and try to summon the ghost of a girl who died years ago. Stories like these abound, but that’s all they are: just stories. Right?

Wrong. This is the premise behind Anchor Bay’s latest horror release, THE MIDNIGHT GAME. In this film, an urban legend comes to life with horrifying consequences, and the result is a wildly entertaining flick that will have you begging for daylight.

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

Renee Olstead of The Secret Life of the American Teenager stars as a partying teen whose friends decide to perform an ancient pagan ritual found online called The Midnight Game: Candles are lit. A drop of blood is spilled. Your worst fear is confessed and an entity is summoned. But if the rules are not followed exactly, punishment is promised. Tonight, the game is not being taken seriously. A demonic horror has been unleashed. And now, even daylight cannot stop the nightmares that may destroy them all. Shelby Young (American Horror Story), Guy Wilson (Days Of Our Lives), Valentina de Angelis (Gossip Girl) and Spencer Daniels (Mom) co-star in this eerie chiller inspired by true events.

A few months ago, I reviewed another film from director A. D. Calvo titled HOUSE OF DUST. It was very good, and I enjoyed it…however, Calvo topped it and then some with THE MIDNIGHT GAME. This film is genuinely scary and does not rely on cheap gimmicks or shock value. If you watch this film (and I highly recommend that you do), be ready to jump and bite your fingernails; it is that good!

This film is shot well and looks great onscreen. The opening credits sequence is haunting and very effective for setting the dark tone of the film. Likewise, the musical score is superb and creates a chilling atmosphere for the horror to unfold.

The acting in THE MIDNIGHT GAME is very good as well. The whole cast does a great job in their roles, however I have to point out Renee Olstead specifically; she gives the most believable performance for me, and I look forward to seeing more of her work in the future.

There are not many special effects to speak of in this film, however there are some great makeup effects used. I won’t go into detail because I don’t want to give anything away, but they are certainly original and look great. You definitely need to watch the film to appreciate the talent.

THE MIDNIGHT GAME is a definite win for me, and I highly recommend it to horror fans everywhere. The plot may be a simplistic concept, but this film will scare the hell out of you. It hits store shelves next week, so make a note to give it a look for sure.


Book Review – The Elder Unearthed by Michael W. Garza

The Elder Unearthed: Tales of NasNoroth and the Cult of the Elder
by Michael W. Garza
Release Date: March 17, 2014
Publisher: Self-published

the elder

I am consistently impressed with the number of Lovecraft inspired anthologies that are coming out nowadays. And what’s even better, many of these collections have excellent stories in them. THE ELDER UNEARTHED is one of these anthologies, and although it is short (there are 12 stories, but the book is only 84 pages long), it is certainly not to be underestimated. Author Michael W. Garza showcases a lot of skill with this collection, and offers chilling tales that will fill you with both dread and horror.

If you are not familiar with THE ELDER UNEARTHED, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of the author:

The Elder Unearthed is an H.P. Lovecraft inspired collection of tales and poetry in horror and the macabre. The Cult of the Elder yearns to bring the dark gods through the endless void to wreak havoc on the nonbelievers of this world. You will bear witness to the wicked things that lay claim to those who call on NasNoroth and its Elder kin. Table of Contents: The Elder Unearthed, The Harvester, Teeth of the World, The Burning of Legel Manor, The Calling, Crimson Rising, A Rose by Any Other Name, The Long Forgotten, The Grief That Lingers, Drums in the Void, A Step through Darkness, The Hunger

Lovecraft is still one of my favorite horror authors, and I will continue to pursue stories and book written with his themes. I’m glad to see his work is still considered relevant; this shows just how deep and dark his imagination ran, if the concepts he explored are still considered ‘horrifying’ by today’s standards.

I’ve read many Lovecraft inspired anthologies, but THE ELDER UNEARTHED is one of the more exceptional ones that I’ve run across. Garza does an excellent job of capturing the mood and tone that Lovecraft set within his own tales, and these atmospherics carry over into the writing style. As a result, this collection has some truly terrifying stories that will cause you sleepless nights for years to come.

Each story in THE ELDER UNEARTHED is written well and flows at a nice pace. Garza writes with a unique voice, although the undertones mimic Lovecraft in certain aspects. This is not a negative or criticism by any means; I looked at this more as a compliment or tribute to the founding father of horror, rather than an imitation device.

Likewise, the editing of the collection is clean as well. I only found a single editing flaw, and it is one that is debatable. This by itself shows you how much care and detail the author has put into this work.

My favorite story in THE ELDER UNEARTHED is “The Harvester”. In this bleak tale, a lone man finds himself far from home, in a strange world full of misery and terror. As you would expect, his fate will not be a pleasant one…but the final scene is one that will haunt your memory for a long time.

THE ELDER UNEARTHED is a huge win for me, and fans of Lovecraft will want to snatch this one up immediately. Even if you don’t care much for Lovecraft, you can’t deny the entertainment-value in these horror-drenched stories. Regardless, put this on your reading list for 2014; you won’t be disappointed.