Movie Review – Burying the Ex (2015)

Burying the Ex
Directed by Joe Dante
Courtesy of RLJ Entertainment
Release Date: August 4, 2015

Burying-the-Ex-2015-movie-poster

When I hear the name ‘Joe Dante’, my mind immediately pulls up the movie poster for GREMLINS. Then, for some reason, I start ticking down the list of other iconic titles from his filmography: PIRANHA, THE HOWLING, INNERSPACE, etc. Dante has been responsible for many films that helped define my youth, and I will go so far as to say he’s a genre icon in several regards. As such, when I heard about BURYING THE EX, I knew I had to see it; Dante has a unique gift for combining horror and humor, and I love how he does it. I’m glad the fine folks at RLJ Entertainment saw fit to grace me with a copy of the film because it is a fun jaunt into horror-comedy territory you won’t soon forget.

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

It seemed like a great idea when all-around nice guy Max (ANTON YELCHIN, Star Trek) and his beautiful girlfriend, Evelyn (ASHLEY GREENE, Twilight Saga) moved in together. But when Evelyn turns out to be a controlling, manipulative nightmare, Max knows it’s time to call it quits. There’s just one problem: he’s terrified of breaking up with her. Fate steps in when Evelyn is the victim of a fatal, freak accident, leaving Max single and ready to mingle. Just as Max is thinking about moving on with what could be his dream girl, Olivia (Alexandra Daddario, True Detective) – Evelyn has returned from the grave and is determined to get her boyfriend back…even if that means transforming him into one of the undead.

Dante seems to transform himself every few years, and the results are always interesting. He did straight-up horror early on, with THE HOWLING and PIRANHA…but then shifted gears into science fiction with INNERSPACE. Later on, he did SMALL SOLDIERS, which was also a lot of fun. I can’t wait to see where he goes next.

BURYING THE EX is shot well and looks great from a production standpoint. The film appears to offer a decent production budget, which is utilized well, and the results are evident onscreen.

The acting is top-notch, with Anton Yelchin portraying the main character, Max. I’ve enjoyed Yelchin in everything he’s done, from STAR TREK to ODD THOMAS. Ashley Greene plays his possessive girlfriend, Evelyn, and she does a great job as well. I had no trouble believing she was a psychotic mess. Alexandra Daddario is Max’s dream girl, Olivia, and she shines in her portrayal. Even the background characters are well done; of particular note is Oliver Cooper, who plays Max’s sex-crazed half-brother, Travis. I loved his performance, and I hope to see him future projects.

The storyline in BURYING THE EX is familiar, however Dante crams it full of dark humor and fun twists. Although I knew going into the film it would be a recognized concept, I had faith Dante could deliver and make it entertaining. And he certainly does not disappoint. The movie is engrossing, comedic, and even romantic…with a nice dose of zombies and gore thrown into the mix.

BURYING THE EX is a big win for me, and I highly recommend giving it a look. This horror-comedy gem is one every fan of either genre should visit because it has a little bit of something for everyone. The film is available now in a variety of formats.

MSB

Book Review – Goblins by David Bernstein

Goblins
by David Bernstein
Courtesy of Samhain Publishing
Release Date: August 4, 2015

goblins

When I first read the title of author David Bernstein’s latest offering, GOBLINS, I wondered if he had taken a foray into Dungeons & Dragons territory. D&D is the first thing that pops into my head when I hear terms like ‘ogres’, ‘goblins’, and such. But when I saw the cover of the book, I knew fantasy was not where it was headed. I had questions, though: Could goblins truly be terrifying? Would they be hokey rather than scary? Did Bernstein make a mistake with this book? Thankfully, the doubts in my questions were unfounded. With GOBLINS, Bernstein creates a new mold in which to cast his horrific creations.

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

They want the children! Someone is taking children from their homes on Roanoke Island and gruesomely slaughtering their families. After a small, hideous-looking creature is discovered at one of the murder scenes, Chief of Police Marcus Hale realizes whatever is responsible for the killings isn’t even human. Hale suspects a bizarre link to the past, to the end of the 16th Century, when the island’s first settlers disappeared, leaving only the word Croatoan carved into a tree. But something far more sinister than he ever imagined is at work. And if it isn’t stopped soon, the entire island’s population will perish. Just like it did so many centuries ago.

I will admit I did not like this book as much as some of Bernstein’s previous works, but it’s a nice feather in his cap regardless.

GOBLINS is written well, in Bernstein’s signature style. The story flows at a nice, even pace, and the exposition is not overly drawn out. This aspect of his writing style is one of the major draws for me; he focuses more on the story and lets the reader paint a mental picture of the details.

The characters are well thought out and believable. Most could be folks right out of our own hometowns. The goblins are vicious and horrific, demonic hellspawn that are nasty antagonists for the story. I particularly like the goblins’ origin story. I’m not sure if it is based on fact or if Bernstein made it up, but the story certainly makes the creatures more credible and thus, more terrifying.

GOBLINS is good, old fashion horror fun. It is gory, gruesome, and chocked full of horrifying scenarios. The historical tie-in to a well-known mystery is also a nice addition. I recommend giving GOBLINS a look, but don’t expect any wand-wielding wizards in this story…the only fantasy involved here is the one where the goblins dream of bathing on your blood…

The book is available now in a variety of formats.

MSB

Movie Review – The Dead Lands (2015)

The Dead Lands
Directed by Toa Fraser
Courtesy of Magnet Releasing
Release Date: August 4, 2015

the dead lands

I’ve been intrigued about the film THE DEAD LANDS for a long time. I saw a trailer for it several months ago, and the raw savagery within it caught my eye immediately. I figured if I could watch it, I’d be in for a real treat. Sure enough, I was right. THE DEAD LANDS is an epic masterpiece of old-world action and intense drama.

If you are not familiar with THE DEAD LANDS, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Magnet Releasing:

Hongi (James Rolleston) – a Maori chieftain’s teenage son – must avenge his father’s murder in order to bring peace and honor to the souls of his loved ones after his tribe is slaughtered through an act of treachery. Vastly outnumbered by a band of villains, led by Wirepa (Te Kohe Tuhaka), Hongi’s only hope is to pass through the feared and forbidden Dead Lands and forge an uneasy alliance with the mysterious “Warrior” (Lawrence Makoare), a ruthless fighter who has ruled the area for years.

Of course, the revenge story is nothing new to cinema. There are thousands of titles in every genre that deal with the subject. However, it is a concept that has been around since the dawn of man, and it always makes for great drama.

THE DEAD LANDS is no exception. The film is crammed full of tension and suspense. It moves at a steady, even pace, and it never lags. The production value of the film is high, and the cinematography captures the lush, New Zealand scenery with exquisite detail. The movie is visually as entertaining as the storyline.

The acting is excellent, however I confess I am not familiar with any of the cast. James Rolleston does a phenomenal job as the lead, Hongi, while Te Kohe Tuhaka and Lawrence Makoare are superb as his supporting cast.

The action and fight scenes are intense and well done. I particularly like the unique weapons the characters use in battle. The edged clubs in the film are based on actual Maori weapons, and they deliver devastating blows to opponents. The results are lavishly reconstructed for the film, and we get to see them in stunning high-definition.

I really enjoyed THE DEAD LAND, and I highly recommend it. The film is part action, part historical drama, but it’s all fun. Be warned, however: it is subtitled, and there are no English dubovers. But if you can look past that, the film offers an entertaining glimpse into another culture.

MSB