Check out this great sci-fi/horror short film: Strange Thing

Courtesy of writer/director Alrik Bursell, this excellent short is a feast for both the eyes and the mind. Here is the film’s plot synopsis courtesy of the Vimeo page:

A newly married couple, Kris and Jake, wake up to find a door has appeared in their living room. As the temptation to open the door lingers the couple discusses how to handle this bizarre phenomenon as they discover more about the person they each married.

According to Alrik:
“This was a completely boot strapped science fiction film that I made 100% independently and the characters are based off of my wife and I who are both big Trek fans. We had great support from film festivals all over the world, playing a total of 18 festivals, including Toronto After Dark and the Morbido International Film Festival.”

I am very impressed with this film, and I hope Alrik continues to showcase his talent as a filmmaker with more of this style and genre. If you are interested in supporting the film, click on one of the links below.

Strange Thing Facebook Page
Bursell Productions
alrik@bursellproductions.com

MSB

Movie Review – The ABCs of Death 2 (2015)

The ABCs of Death 2
Directed by (multiple directors)
Courtesy of Magnet Releasing
Release Date: February 3, 2015

abcs-of-death-2-blu-ray-cover-44

Horror fans, rejoice! THE ABCS OF DEATH 2 arrives next week to satiate your need for gore-filled, terrifying tales of the macabre. And although the first volume of this series was not received too well by horror audiences, this follow-up feature is sure to please, as it boasts more talent and more diversity than its predecessor. Don’t get me wrong; I really enjoyed THE ABCS OF DEATH. But this sequel is even better. And if you haven’t yet given this franchise a chance, now is the time to do so.

If you are not familiar with THE ABCS OF DEATH 2, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Magnet Releasing:

ABCs OF DEATH 2 is the follow-up to the most ambitious anthology film ever conceived. It features segments directed by over two dozen of the world’s leading talents in contemporary genre film. The motion picture is comprised of twenty-six individual chapters, each helmed by a different director assigned a letter of the alphabet. Provocative, shocking, and at times funny, ABCs OF DEATH 2 is another global celebration of next generation genre filmmaking.

Much like the V/H/S franchise, THE ABCS OF DEATH series offers a lot of frights and gore via a slew of short films that have one common theme: death. And while not all of the films are winners, there are many here that are. I like THE ABCS OF DEATH 2 because it has more shorts I enjoyed than the prior film.

One of my favorite segments in THE ABCS OF DEATH 2 is the letter T, which stands for “Torture Porn”. This was directed by two young but already legendary filmmakers, the Soska sisters, Jen and Sylvia. In this tale, a woman is ordered to strip for an audition, but when she does, the photographers discover a hideous creature with tentacles living in her groin. The absurdity of this concept is a lot of fun, but so is the resulting chaos that ensues after the discovery.

Another favorite of mine is the letter V, which stands for “Vacation”. In this clip, a guy and his buddy are on vacation in a tropical location. He Skypes with his girlfriend, but his buddy pulls a dick-move and grabs the phone out of his hands. As a result, she sees the prostitutes they hired the night before and gets angry. Unfortunately, things get even worse when the prostitutes decide to attack the guys. I love how this one ends; it is inventive and truly horrific.

But there are a few bad segments in THE ABCS OF DEATH 2 as well, most of which make no sense to me. For example, the letter P, which stands for “P-P-P-P SCARY!” Aside from the fact that the title has nothing to do with the story, nor does it make sense either, the tale has no substance. Not to mention there’s nothing horrifying about it. In short, this one is a waste of film for me.

Another one I didn’t enjoy was the letter K, which stands for “Knell”. This one looks great onscreen, but it doesn’t make any sense. A big, liquid blob in the sky turns people into killers, and they start attacking a woman in an apartment building. No explanation as to why or anything else. I frowned as this one ended for that very reason.

But with the few negatives aside, THE ABCS OF DEATH franchise is (hopefully) here to stay, as it is an enjoyable and delightfully wicked blend of horror, gore, and the bizarre. I highly recommend THE ABCS OF DEATH 2, and I suggest you give it a look as soon as possible. You don’t have to watch the first one prior to watching this, as the only aspect the two films share is the same subject matter. The film hits store shelves next Tuesday, so make a note.

MSB

Movie Review – Bombshell Bloodbath (2015)

Bombshell Bloodbath
Directed by Brett Mullen
Courtesy of Monarch Home Entertainment
Release Date: January 27, 2015

bombshell bloodbath

When looking at indie zombie flicks, I’m willing to overlook a lot if the film has a lot of heart. This means I will look past mediocre acting and even a flimsy storyline, but only if the film is a labor of love. These movies are usually easy to spot, mainly because they pay homage to some of the excellent living dead flicks from yesteryear. Such is the case with BOMBSHELL BLOODBATH, a film from Monarch Home Entertainment that is far from perfect, but still a lot of fun nevertheless. This film is a low-budget jaunt into familiar territory, but is definitely worth checking out. And what it lacks in budget, it makes with heart.

If you are not familiar with BOMBSHELL BLOODBATH, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Monarch Home Entertainment:

When exposed to her father’s experimental attempts to reanimate his wife, Cara (Alex Elliott), must find a way to protect her family’s secret while slowly slipping into the world of the living dead. Bombshell Bloodbath is Italian style zombie splatter film influenced by Lucio Fulci and Umberto Lenzi.

I knew I was going to like this film from the start. The opening scenes show some great zombie makeup, which is a huge plus for me in any film. Also, in addition to the zombie effects, we get some nice gore, too. These two components alone are enough for me to recommend the film.

BOMBSHELL BLOODBATH looks decent from a cinematography standpoint, however there’s nothing that necessarily makes it stand out. Likewise, the production value of the film looks fairly high for the most part, a nice touch given the film’s low budget…however, there are a couple of aspects that just broadcast it as a cheaply made film.

First and foremost is the acting. The primary cast is pretty talented, and they do a great job in their roles overall. However, the background and secondary characters are cringeworthy in almost every regard. This becomes painfully evident late in the film when a group of rednecks show up in a truck to target practice on a group of zombies. As much as it pains me to say it, these cheesy stereotypes almost ruined the film for me.

The storyline of BOMBSHELL BLOODBATH is straightforward to start off with, but soon diverges into a few odd subplots. This part of the film threw me for a loop, because I wasn’t sure where the story was going. At the end, things are wrapped up for the most part, which made me go, “Oh, ok…I see why that happened now”, however at the time it was kinda confusing. I don’t really classify this as a negative, however it is certainly noteworthy. My actual complaint about the plot is the explanation of the title; it isn’t discussed until the very end, but it doesn’t make sense to me.

On the flipside, the special effects team in BOMBSHELL BLOODBATH deserves a round of applause. I love the makeup and the gore because it definitely gives a nod to Fulci’s classic, ZOMBIE. The fact that so much effort was put into the effects shows a true desire to make a solid movie. Thus, I cannot fault the production team for a slightly confusing plot or mediocre acting.

Although it has some faults, BOMBSHELL BLOODBATH is still a slick indie zombie film that is worth checking out. I commend director Brett Mullen on what he has accomplished here, and I look forward to seeing more of his work in the future. The film is available today if you want to give it a look.

MSB

Blu-ray Movie Review – The Pit & The Pendulum (1991)

The Pit & The Pendulum
Directed by Stuart Gordon
Courtesy of Full Moon Features
Original Release Date: 1991
Blu-ray Release Date: August 20, 2013

thepitandpendulumbluray

I can’t recall if I’ve stated this in the past or not, but I will make this proclamation now: in my eyes, Stuart Gordon can do no wrong. He is responsible for some of my favorite horror films of all time, including RE-ANIMATOR, FROM BEYOND, and DAGON. As you can see, he’s an aficionado of Lovecraft, another trait that gives him uber points in my book. Thanks to the fine folks at Full Moon, I got to check out one of his older titles on Blu-ray, specifically THE PIT & THE PENDULUM. I’d never seen this film prior to watching it now, but I loved it. It boasts an excellent cast and Gordon’s trademark style of filmmaking.

If you are not familiar with THE PIT & THE PENDULUM, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Full Moon Features:

In the quest to save souls, the Spanish Inquisition will stop at nothing and knows no boundaries for its evil. Under the direction of Torquemada (LANCE HENRIKSEN – “Alien,” “Pumpkinhead,” “Millennium”) the Grand Inquisitor of Spain, a young baker’s wife, Maria (RONA DE RICCI) is falsely accused of witchcraft and dragged before the inquisition and the Cardinal (OLIVER REED – “Gladiator,” “Three Musketeers”). Torquemada is enchanted by Maria’s beauty and subjects her and her husband Antonio (JONATHAN FULLER – “Castle Freak”) to heinous tortures hoping to prove that his own desires for her are a result of her magic, and that she has “bewitched him.” With the help of Esmerelda, Maria’s cellmate and confessed witch, Maria must find the power to save her husband Antonio from Torquemada’s ultimate machine of torture: the inevitable, razor sharp PENDULUM poised over the inescapable PIT of hell.

I realize THE PIT & THE PENDULUM has been out on Blu-ray for a while now, but I simply never got around to buying it. I wish I had, though, because this is a definite Must Have for any horror fan’s movie library. It’s got great acting, great gore, and plenty of intensity. You can’t ask for much more out of a horror film.

THE PIT & THE PENDULUM is shot well and looks great onscreen. This is especially impressive when you consider Gordon’s budget was cut way back prior to filming. According to the featurette on the Blu-ray, Gordon relates the story of how he was all set to film in England with Peter O’Toole as the lead; but at the last moment, the company producing the film backed out. Enter Charles Band, who saves the day by producing the film and providing a castle in Italy in which to shoot. I honestly couldn’t see anyone else other than Full Moon backing this film; it’s a definite feather in the company’s cap, and a proud addition to their canon.

As I mentioned above, the acting is excellent with one of my favorite actors, Lance Henriksen heading up the cast. He is joined by Jeffrey Combs and Oliver Reed, who are always a pleasure to see onscreen. Actress Rona De Ricci portrays Maria and does a top notch job; I was surprised to discover she has done nothing else since. Actor Jonathan Fuller plays her husband, Antonio, and is great as well. He would go on to join with Gordon again on CASTLE FREAK.

The gore in THE PIT & THE PENDULUM is fantastic, and there’s quite a bit of it. From burning a witch alive to the torture scenes, you’ll get some choice tidbits of carnage here. And, in true Stuart Gordon fashion, it does not disappoint.

THE PIT & THE PENDULUM on Blu-ray is a huge win for me, and I recommend adding this to your horror library if you haven’t already. If you only have it on DVD, do yourself a favor and snag the Blu-ray; in addition to a widescreen presentation in HD, you get high-quality sound and even a Special Features Blooper Reel. This is available now, so pick it up today.

MSB

Book Review – Kronos Rising by Max Hawthorne

Kronos Rising
by Max Hawthorne
Courtesy of Far From the Tree Press
Release Date: April 2, 2014

kronos rising

Two of my favorite things in the world are horror and the sea. Both hold endless fascination for me, and they also occupy much of my thoughts these days; it seems the older I get, the more I want to focus on both for some reason. So I’m sure it’s no surprise to discover I love horror movies and books that deal with the ocean. DEEPSTAR SIX, LEVIATHAN, and JAWS are some of my favorite horror flicks, while MEG by Steve Alten and DAGON by H. P. Lovecraft are two of my favorite written works. I’m very proud to add KRONOS RISING to that elite list of favorites. Author Max Hawthorne serves up bucketfuls of horror in this terrifying tale, and I can guarantee it will keep people out of the water for a long time to come!

If you are not familiar with KRONOS RISING, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Far From the Tree Press:

A coastal community faces the wrath of a mysterious sea creature in Max Hawthorne’s heart pounding new novel, Kronos Rising.

Devastated by his wife’s tragic drowning, Olympic hopeful Jake Braddock turns his back on fame and fortune and retreats to his childhood home of Paradise Cove, Florida. He accepts the job of town sheriff, hoping to find the solace he so desperately craves.

He finds anything but.

A series of horrifying deaths and disappearances send a flood of panic through the idyllic town. It is only after the ravaged carcass of a full-grown whale surfaces, however, that the real terror begins.

Soon Jake finds himself drawn into an ancient mystery – a mystery that ends with him adrift at sea, battling for survival against the deadliest predator the world has ever seen. It is a creature whose ancestors ruled the prehistoric seas. Now freed after eons of imprisonment, it has risen to reclaim the oceans of the world as its own.

And it’s hungry.

Sea monsters have been a part of our culture for as long as history has been recorded. They are therefore, in part, responsible for the deeply rooted fear many people share of the water. As such, these beasts haunt our psyches, whether we are willing to admit it or not. This innate primal fear is drawn out in full with Hawthorne’s book, which makes it a powerful read on several levels.

KRONOS RISING is written very well, in the manner of a veteran writer who knows how to weave a mesmerizing story. The wording appears carefully chosen, and each sentence blends with the next like an intricate design on an ornate tapestry. This allows the story to flow quickly and smoothly, which in turn makes the 500+ pages fly by. I was finished with the book before I even realized it.

The characters are well thought out and believable, damaged individuals with personalities many of us can relate to on various levels. Jake and Amara both carry old wounds, both mental and physical, which makes the reader care about them. On the other side, the villains (aside from the creature) are devious and self-centered, obsessed individuals who focus more on personal gain rather than what’s right versus wrong. So in addition to the man-versus-nature dynamic, the reader also gets a nice dose of good-versus-evil. I like this combination, as it gives several focal points to the story.

KRONOS RISING has plenty of action and some downright terrifying scenes. I can’t even count how many times people wind up staring at the creature’s massive jaws as they are about to crunch down on them. And every time, I inwardly cringed. As much as I love to be on or under the water, I have to confess this possibility (being eaten alive by a sea predator) is always in the back of my mind. As unlikely as it is, the thought of it makes me shudder. Thus, each scene of these scenes in the book elicits a powerful emotion for me.

With heart-stopping intensity and insane action that will leave you begging for air, KRONOS RISING is a major win for me. I recommend this to anyone and everyone looking for a good read. Hawthorne is a major talent, and I cannot wait to see what he does next. In the meantime, pick up a copy of KRONOS RISING today; you won’t be disappointed. It is available now in a variety of formats.

To view the book’s official trailer, click here.

MSB

Movie Review – Hell Fire (2014)

Hell Fire
Directed by Marc Fratto
Courtesy of Midnight Releasing
Release Date: December 30, 2014

hell-fire_large_800

The fine folks at Midnight Releasing have produced some true gems recently, including BLOOD WIDOW, SCAVENGER KILLERS, and SANCTUARY: QUITE A CONUNDRUM. These have been great movies, and I have enjoyed each one. They continue this stretch of excellence with HELL FIRE, an outrageous and ingenious film from director Marc Fratto. I think this is my favorite film the company has released thus far, and I would even go so far as to say it’s one of the best.

If you are not familiar with HELL FIRE, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Midnight Releasing:

They just wanted an easy score…instead, they got the hostage from Hell!

This film centers on a group of prostitutes who turn to a violent home invasion for the sake of making a big cash score. Unbeknownst to them, one of the hostages is the son of the Devil himself, and all Hell is about to break loose…

There are so many things about this film that make it so awesome. And while it’s not an overly complex movie, there are several aspects about it that will make you want to watch more than once. I am already gearing up to give it a second look, just so I can enjoy it once more.

HELL FIRE is shot very well, and it looks great onscreen. I’m not sure what the budget was, but I don’t think it was much. The filmmakers do an excellent job of utilizing the budget they do have, and the result is great looking film that entertains.

The acting is top notch as well. J. Scott Green portrays the Antichrist with a perfect combination of wit and Charles Manson-like cool. The ladies who portray the prostitutes are talented and beautiful, and each brings their character to life with spunk and sparks. I am impressed with the whole cast, as I couldn’t find a single weak link in its entirety. This talented group is a big part of what makes the film so much fun.

The special effects in HELL FIRE make other low budget films look shameful. There’s plenty of bloodshed and gore to staunch even the pickiest of gorehounds, and it is all very well done. The demon effects are great, and even the effects and gore from the fight scenes are impressive.

My sole complaint about the movie is a minor one; the sound quality is kinda bad in certain parts. Just slightly so, but enough for me to notice.

Otherwise, HELL FIRE is a huge win for me. I recommend it to anyone looking for a hellishly violent good time. Chocked full of dark humor, over the top violence, and crazy characters, this movie will take you on the ride of your life. It is available now in a variety of formats.

MSB

Book Review – Sweet Story by Carlton Mellick III

Sweet Story
by Carlton Mellick III
Publisher: Eraserhead Press
Release Date: July 1, 2014

sweetstory2

I had never heard the term ‘bizarro fiction’ until I ran across Carlton Mellick III’s work. If you are as I was, and are not familiar with ‘bizarro’, here is the definition: “Bizarro fiction is a contemporary literary genre, which often uses elements of absurdism, satire, and the grotesque, along with pop-surrealism and genre fiction staples, in order to create subversive, weird, and entertaining works.”

This definition is the perfect way to describe Mellick’s latest release, SWEET STORY. Oh, but don’t confuse this book with a kid’s tale or even a romance novel…this tome is a trek into surrealistic horror at its finest. And let me just say: it is weird, it is horrific, and it is one hell of a book!

If you are not familiar with SWEET STORY, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Eraserhead Press:

The end of the world has never been sweeter.

Sally is an odd little girl. It’s not because she dresses as if she’s from the Edwardian era or spends most of her time playing with creepy talking dolls. It’s because she chases rainbows as if they were butterflies. She believes that if she finds the end of the rainbow then magical things will happen to her–leprechauns will shower her with gold and fairies will grant her every wish. But when she actually does find the end of a rainbow one day, and is given the opportunity to wish for whatever she wants, Sally asks for something that she believes will bring joy to children all over the world. She wishes that it would rain candy forever. She had no idea that her innocent wish would lead to the extinction of all life on earth.

Sweet Story is a children’s book gone horribly wrong. What starts as a cute, charming tale of rainbows and wishes soon becomes a vicious, unrelenting tale of survival in an inhospitable world full of cannibals and rapists. The result is one of the darkest comedies you’ll read all year, told with the wit and style you’ve come to expect from a Mellick novel.

I was not sure what to expect going into this story. The book is short, only 105 pages in length, which made me wonder if a good story could be crammed into so little paper. Thankfully, my concerns were unfounded. Mellick does a phenomenal job of telling this warped little tale with minimal wording.

SWEET STORY is written well, in a simple, no nonsense style. The story flows smoothly along at an even pace, and the detail is just vivid enough to create the scene and let the reader’s mind do the rest. I like Mellick’s writing style because it fits perfectly for a shorter tale such as this.

The characters are quirky but believable, flawed individuals who could be living right next door to any of us. This realism makes the horror of the story even more striking when the bad things start to happen.

And ‘bad things’ is an understatement to describe the events that take place in SWEET STORY.

In spite of the innocence of Sally’s wish, things go horribly wrong and the world ends as a result. This tragedy is only enhanced by what happens to the survivors as they struggle to find a life in this new world. The stark contrast between the sweetness of the wish and the brutality of the struggle to survive in the aftermath is a major part of what makes this book so excellent. I found myself grinning at the beginning of the book, but then cringing at the end. It is simply that good.

SWEET STORY is a major win for me, and I cannot wait to see what Mellick does next. If his previous titles are any indication, there is no telling. He has a brilliant and deranged imagination that is as haunting as it is intelligent. SWEET STORY is not for the faint of heart, but it is a great read, and I recommend it if you can handle it. The book is available now.

MSB

Blu-ray Movie Review – Trancers 2: The Return of Jack Deth (1991)

Trancers 2: The Return of Jack Deth
Directed by Charles Band
Courtesy of Full Moon Features
Original Release Date: 1991
Blu-ray Release Date: December 15, 2014

trancers2bluray

Last year, I had the pleasure of reviewing one of Full Moon’s science fiction classics on Blu-ray, TRANCERS. This was a real treat because I had never seen the movie prior to reviewing it, and I got to enjoy all of its glory in HD. Now, Full Moon has opened the vault once again and released the sequel, TRANCERS 2: THE RETURN OF JACK DETH. And while I honestly didn’t enjoy it as much as its predecessor, it is still a great film and a lot of fun.

If you are not familiar with TRANCERS 2: THE RETURN OF JACK DETH, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Full Moon:

The Deth Saga Continues in High Definition!

Los Angeles, 1991. It’s been six years since Jack Deth wiped out the last of the Trancers – those zombie-like creatures whose mission is murder. Jack has rebuilt his life in the present with his new wife Lena. He’s also got a new job in commodities dealing with his old buddy, Hap Ashby, an ex-baseball hero. Now Jack’s got a strange feeling in his gut – the kind you get when Trancers are around. Jack’s sixth sense proves him right when he discovers a Trancer at Hap’s place, ready to go in for the kill. But Jack hasn’t lost his touch, and in a flash he eliminates the first of many Trancers to come. If that’s not enough, Jack learns that another special agent, Alice Stillwell, has been sent back “down the line” to the present to help fight the new wave of Trancers. Problem is, she’s Jack’s former wife, whom he thought dead, and she’s lost somewhere in Los Angeles. So Jack’s vacation is over. He’s back to his Trancer-hunting ways and must find and destroy the source of the new killer-zombies. They are actually led by Dr. Wardo, the brother of Whistler whom Jack killed five years ago. He must also find the missing Alice and decide whether to go back “up the line” with her, or stay in the present with Lena. Get ready for the ride of your life. TRANCERS II…it’s the sequel that makes history.

I really like the whole TRANCERS concept, especially how the series handles time travel. So many movies fail because they try to address the paradoxical aspects of time travel, only to muck it up by creating more paradoxes. TRACERS doesn’t really bother messing with it, instead focusing on the here-and-now of the film. This works well, too, because the viewer then doesn’t have to exert a lot of mental energy trying to sort things out.

TRANCERS 2: THE RETURN OF JACK DETH is shot fairly well and looks pretty good from a production standpoint, but it doesn’t have the darker, gritty feel like the first one. This might stem from the fact the sequel was made roughly seven years after the first, and Band probably had a more modest budget. More money equals a cleaner looking film. This isn’t a negative, but more of an observation.

The acting is just as solid, with Tim Thomerson reprising his role as the titular hero and Helen Hunt portraying his now-wife. They are joined this time by Megan Ward, who plays Deth’s wife from the future, and Alyson Croft, who portrays the ancestor of McNulty. The primary cast does a great job…however the extras all leave something to be desired. This is to be expected, however, given the low budget of the movie. Screen vets and horror icons Jeffrey Combs and Barbara Crampton also have nice cameos, which helps to round out the cast.

My sole complaint about the film is that some of the dialogue seems forced. I’m not sure why this struck me so much, but it is the only thing that keeps this from being a great film. Don’t get me wrong…it’s still very good. But it could have been better.

Still, TRANCERS 2: THE RETURN OF JACK DETH is a big win for me, and fans of Full Moon will want to snatch this up on Blu-ray ASAP. In addition to HD quality sound and picture, you’ll get brand new special features (that were not available on the DVD), including:

-Audio commentary by Tim Thomerson, Megan Ward, and Charles Band
-Original VideoZone making-of featurette
-Rare blooper reel
-Rare photo gallery
-5.1 surround sound

This is available now, so make a note!

MSB

Movie Review – Gnome Alone (2015)

Gnome Alone
Directed by Timothy Woodward Jr. & John Michael Elfers
Courtesy of Lionsgate
Release Date: January 20, 2015

gnome-alone

I am always on the lookout for unique premises and interesting creatures when I’m scouring for new horror. As such, I’m usually game for just about anything. So when I got the press release for GNOME ALONE, I had no hesitation whatsoever before I requested a review copy. After all, I like Verne Troyer, and I would never pass up the chance to see a gnome running around killing people, regardless of how hokey it may sound. I’m so glad I gave this one a shot, too. The film is exactly what you think it is, and it is a blast.

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

Just when Zoe thinks she’s all alone in this world, an old woman passes on her bewitched Gnome (Verne Troyer), who is bound by magic to protect his master. Zoe quickly realizes that he isn’t your garden-variety gnome, when he begins eliminating her enemies in extravagant displays of revenge. Zoe must find a way to stop this mischievous gnome, before Zoe and her friends become victims of his trickery.

The title of this film alone tells you what you are in for with GNOME ALONE. You simply cannot go into it expecting serious horror. If you do, then you’ll be disappointed. Instead, take the movie for what it is: good, campy, gory fun. If you keep this mindset, you should have a ball.

GNOME ALONE is shot well for the most part, however there are a few scenes that could have been lit better. From a production standpoint, the film looks good and does not appear cheaply made.

The acting is pretty good, although I will admit a couple of characters give their lines as if they’re reading them off of a cue-card. But I didn’t mind this at all; if anything, it helped add to the campy factor. Verne Troyer does an excellent job as the gnome, and delivers pun after pun as he spouts one-liners and kills off the cast. He is the perfect fit for this part.

The special effects in GNOME ALONE are good as well. The gnome makeup looks great, particularly the veiny lines in his face. This detail alone was enough to convince me the gnome was real. Likewise, the gore is solid, too. There’s not very much, but what we get to see looks good.

The story does not contain much substance at all. The film is basically about the gnome killing people and the main character, Zoe, trying to figure out what’s happening. But again, this works because the film doesn’t need any substance. Viewers are going to watch this for the gnome and his unique way of killing his victims, not for some elaborate backstory or tension-filled modern day drama.

GNOME ALONE doesn’t appear to ever fully take itself seriously, which is part of what makes me like it so much. It definitely fits in the so-bad-it’s-good category, which is why I recommend giving it a look. Much like LEPRECHAUN, this film is chocked full of corny goodness. It hits store shelves today if you want to make a note.

MSB

Movie Review – Attack of the Morningside Monster (2014)

Attack of the Morningside Monster
Directed by Chris Ethridge
Courtesy of Apprehensive Films & MVD Entertainment
Release Date: January 20, 2015

attack of the morningside

I have to admit I was a little skeptical about watching ATTACK OF THE MORNINGSIDE MONSTER. The plot sounded intriguing when I first got the press release, but after I saw the DVD artwork, I was sorta put off. It just looks…cheap. Not to mention the title; it sounds like something you would read on a 1950s matinee billboard. But I promised the fine folks at MVD I would take a look at it, so I watched it through. I’m glad I did, too…although it’s not a perfect film, I enjoyed it and was even surprised by the ending. As a result, I am classifying this movie as a decent low-budget horror flick.

If you are not familiar with ATTACK OF THE MORNINGSIDE MONSTER, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Apprehensive Films:

In the working-class town of Morningside, New Jersey, Sheriff Tom Haulk maintains a quiet peace. When desecrated corpses and ritualistic symbols start appearing, Tom and his deputy, Klara Austin, are thrust into an unreal world of darkness. While tracking the killer, Tom comes face to face with his past as he crosses paths with deadly serious local drug runners and watches as his closet friend, Mark, struggles to care for his ailing wife. With time running out and bodies piling up, the officers embark on a desperate race against the clock, pitting the two against friends, enemies and even each other.

I also have to confess a big reason I watched the film was to see Nicholas Brendon. I haven’t seen him since his days on BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER (of which I was and am still a big fan), and I was curious to see if his acting style was different. Thankfully, it is not, however this film offers a more diverse range of his acting abilities.

ATTACK OF THE MORNINGSIDE MONSTER is shot so-so, although you can tell right from the start it’s a low budget film. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but you need to know that up front before you watch it. Don’t expect a Michael Bay-size budget here. The term ‘shoestring’ sums it up pretty well.

The acting as a whole is very good. I am impressed with several performances, including Brendon’s, as well as Robert Pralgo, who portrays the Sheriff, and Tiffany Shepis, who is a horror icon and always a joy to see onscreen. Also mentionable are Mike Stanley, who plays the jerk-headed Clyde, and Amber Chaney, who does a great job as Abby. The minor characters are forgettable for the most part, which is to be expected in a lower-budget film.

The special effects in ATTACK OF THE MORNINGSIDE MONSTER are good as well. We don’t see a whole lot of gore, but what we do get to see is well done, especially given the budget constraints.

The plot itself is pretty simple, but it has a nice twist at the end that I didn’t see coming. This reason alone was enough to make me glad I watched it through. I finished the film with a smile on my face.

But even though the film is fun, it does have some big flaws. First and foremost for me is the title. I honestly would not have given this film a second look if it wasn’t for Nicholas Brendon as a headliner. The title is simply terrible. It evokes a MAJOR C-movie feel that usually puts me off. Secondly, the film looks almost TOO low budget in certain aspects. The overall look, from the location settings to the cinematography style, is almost too much to overlook. Thankfully, I was able to, but I will bet many viewers will turn this off after just a few minutes.

Still, I can’t deny my overall enjoyment of ATTACK OF THE MORNINGSIDE MONSTER. I recommend this to anyone looking for a decent B-movie with bite. It’s not a major Hollywood production, but it does have a lot of heart…and not just the one you see in a jar at the beginning of the film. This hits shelves tomorrow if you want to take a look.

MSB