Blu-ray Movie Review – Eaten Alive (1977)

Eaten Alive
Directed by Tobe Hooper
Courtesy of Arrow Video & MVD Distribution
Original Year of Release: 1977
Blu-ray Release Date: September 22, 2015

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Director Tobe Hooper has long been one of my favorite horror directors. In addition to directing possibly THE greatest horror film of all time (of course, I’m referring to THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE), Hooper has helped launch the careers of some of the genre’s biggest stars, including Robert Englund, Marily Burns, and Steve Railsback. EATEN ALIVE is one of his earlier titles, released a couple of years after CHAINSAW, and it packs just as much of a punch. Granted, this film is more of a surrealistic nightmare rather than an in-your-face terrorfest, but Hooper’s signature brand of demented horror is alive and well within it.

If you are not familiar with EATEN ALIVE, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of MVD Distribution:

MEET THE MANIAC & HIS FRIEND.

Nearly a decade before he donned Freddy Kruger’s famous red and green sweater, horror icon Robert Englund delivered a supremely sleazy performance in Eaten Alive – another essay in taut Southern terror from Tobe Hooper, director of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.

Deep in the Louisiana bayou sits the ramshackle Starlight Hotel, destination of choice for those who like to check in but not check out! Presided over by the bumbling, mumbling Judd (and his pet croc which he keeps in a large pond out front), the patron of this particular establishment may seem like a good-natured ol’ Southern gent – but he has a mean temper on him, and a mighty large scythe to boot…

Oozing atmosphere from its every pore (the entire film was shot on a sound-stage at the famous Raleigh Studios, which lends it a queasy, claustrophobic feel) Eaten Alive matches The Texas Chain Saw Massacre for sheer insanity – and even drafts in Chain Saw star Marilyn Burns as the terrorised woman-in-peril, alongside William Finley and Mel Ferrer.

I learned in one of the featurettes that this movie is actually based on a true story. It is very loosely based on a man known as “The Butcher of Elmendorf” a.k.a. Joe Ball, who killed a couple of women he was seeing back in the 30s. This fascinating aspect made the film even more engrossing for me.

EATEN ALIVE looks very much like CHAINSAW in the way it is shot; the cinematography captures well the dark atmosphere that hangs in the air throughout the film. I would label this as Hooper’s signature style, however his later films do not have this foreboding sense of dread.

The acting is superb, with Neville Brand in the lead role as the demented hotel owner, Judd. Brand gives an amazing performance, and I never once had any problem believing he was crazy. The film also boasts a very talented supporting cast that includes Mel Ferrer, Carolyn Jones, Marily Burns, Robert Englund (yes, “Freddy” himself!), and Stuart Whitman.

The story is dark and bizarre. Although Judd does feed several victims to his croc, the main gist of the plot is Judd terrorizing several sets of people, including a couple with a little girl, both in and outside the hotel. If he’s not choking a woman with a shower curtain liner, he’s trying to chop up the little girl as she crawls around underneath the building. I found myself watching all of this unfold in awe, and I kept wondering what in the world he would do next.

EATEN ALIVE is a huge win for me, and I highly recommend it. The fine folks at Arrow Video and MVD have restored this horror classic in HD, and the result is amazing. The picture is near-perfect HD, while the sound is phenomenal. Do yourself a favor, and grab this on Blu-ray today. It has a load of Special Features that include:

* Brand new 2K transfer from the original camera negative
* High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
* Optional English SDH subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
* Audio commentary with co-writer and producer Mardi Rustam, make-up artist Craig Reardon and stars Roberta Collins, William Finley and Kyle Richards
* New introduction to the film by director Tobe Hooper
* Brand new interview with Hooper
* My Name is Buck: Star Robert Englund discusses his acting career
* The Butcher of Elmendorf: The Legend of Joe Ball – The story of the South Texas bar owner on whom Eaten Alive is loosely based
* 5ive Minutes with Marilyn Burns – The star of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre talks about working on Eaten Alive
* The Gator Creator: archival interview with Hooper
* Original theatrical trailers for the film under its various titles Eaten Alive, Death Trap, Starlight Slaughter and Horror Hotel
* US TV and Radio Spots
* Alternate credits sequence
* Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gary Pullin
* Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film, illustrated with original archive stills and posters

The film is available today, so get your copy now.

MSB

Book Review – Extinction Age (The Extinction Cycle, volume 3) by Nicholas Sansbury Smith

Extinction Age (The Extinction Cycle, volume 3)
by Nicholas Sansbury Smith
Publisher: Self-published
Release Date: February 22, 2015

extinction age

I love when an author can manage to keep a series fresh and new despite being several books in. Such is the case with Nicholas Sansbury Smith’s “The Extinction Cycle”. I just finished the third book in the series, titled EXTINCTION AGE, and wow…I am just as enthralled with the story as I was in book one. If you’re a fan of hardcore action and gut-wrenching drama, you must get in on “The Extinction Cycle” now!

If you are not familiar with EXTINCTION AGE, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of the author:

On the eve of extinction all seems to be lost, but there is still one final hope…

Operation Liberty has failed. Humans are losing the war. With no other option, General Kennor decides to pull back the troops and give science a second chance. Trapped in the extensive sewer system beneath New York, Master Sergeant Reed Beckham and the survivors of 1st Platoon must battle through the tunnels–where they make a grisly discovery in their attempt to escape.

At Plum Island, Dr. Kate Lovato is working on a new bioweapon to destroy the Variants. But when a derelict Navy Destroyer crashes into the Connecticut shoreline, she is forced to deal with a nightmare she thought had ended. As the doomsday clock ticks down and military bases fall across the country, the human race enters the age of extinction. Will science prevail–or will mankind vanish off the face of the planet?

The feverish pace for action that Smith sets forth in his books is starting to remind me of another of my favorite authors, Matthew Reilly. Like him, Smith delivers intensity like a shotgun blast to the face. Some of the thrills you see coming, while others you don’t. The resulting read is an exhilarating rush of excitement and terror.

With EXTINCTION AGE, Smith ratchets up the tension and the drama. The Variants are evolving, gaining intelligence and cunning. As a result, mankind’s days appear numbered…unless Kate can create a new weapon. But fate does not intend to let her do so without problems…

Smith’s trademark style of easy-flowing prose is once again present, as is his knack for fleshing out believable characters. I love both of these aspects in his writing, as they tend to make the action move at a breakneck speed. The book measures in at 340+ pages, but they fly by, and you’ll be turning the last page before you realize what’s happening.

EXTINCTION AGE is a big win for me, and I love where Smith is taking the series. I highly recommend this series, and I suggest you pick it up now. You won’t be disappointed. EXTINCTION AGE is available now in a variety of formats.

MSB

Movie Review – Final Girl (2015)

Final Girl
Directed by Tyler Shields
Courtesy of Cinedigm
Release Date: October 6, 2015

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I sometimes wonder if actors and actresses have a choice in taking some of the roles they accept. I know contractual obligations can force them to do movies they wouldn’t normally do, and many of these films are absolute bombs. FINAL GIRL runs close to being one of these titles. It lacks in substance and suspense, and although the plot-line is intriguing and could have been fun, the whole film falls flat. Instead, we are given an almost surrealistic, dreamlike experience that is visually pleasant, but lacking in depth.

If you are not familiar with FINAL GIRL, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Cinedigm:

Every night, four boys trick a young, blonde girl into meeting them in the forest for a date with the intention to hunt and kill her. One night, Veronica (Abigail Breslin) is selected and when the hunt begins, the boys soon realize that they messed with the wrong girl.

I REALLY wanted to like this film, so needless to say I am very disappointed. The concept sounds fun, sort of a hybrid between films like HARD TARGET and I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE. As such, I wanted to see Abigail Breslin as a bad-ass, who doles out justice in vicious and gut-wrenching fashion. But alas, that is not the case here. The film feels more artistic than anything.

FINAL GIRL is shot well and looks good onscreen. The lighting is fantastic, particularly in the night forest scenes. The locations chosen for the lighting create an almost ethereal atmosphere in which the film unfolds. This is one of the only positive things I can mention, unfortunately.

The acting talent is there, however the cast is only as good as the script they are performing. Here, the performances feel fake and forced. The star of the film, Abigail Breslin, gave a phenomenal performance a few months ago in MAGGIE; but this film does not showcase her talents whatsoever. Likewise, the rest of the cast is bland in their deliveries.

Even the story itself is lacking. There are many reality-suspending concepts we are asked to ingest, and none of them are really conceivable. Similarly, a whole slew of questions arise that are never answered. Who is the man that approaches young Veronica in the beginning? How is he given access to her since her parents are dead? Does he work for the government? And after Veronica agrees to be his protege, what does she spend 12 years doing? I assumed she was being trained as an assassin (based on what the man tells her), but instead we discover she wasn’t doing much of anything. Her ‘training’ consists of an 80s-style work montage, in which she doesn’t really learn much.

I could go on and on, but the bottom line about FINAL GIRL is that it’s poorly done and pretty boring as a whole. Director Tyler Shields is well-known as a good photographer, but I am not impressed with this movie debut. Perhaps his next film will be time better spent. FINAL GIRL is available now in a variety of formats if you decide to check it out.

MSB

Movie Review – Blood Punch (2015)

Blood Punch
Directed by Madellaine Paxson
Courtesy of Midnight Releasing
Release Date: September 1, 2015

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WOW…I just finished BLOOD PUNCH, and I am happy to proclaim this film is now in the running for Best Horror Movie of 2015 in my book! I didn’t quite know what to expect going into this one, so I was delightfully surprised to discover just how good this movie really is. Chocked full of intensity and dark humor, with brilliant writing and an enthralling storyline, this is one film you will want to visit over and over.

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

On the promise of the ultimate drug score, brilliant chemistry student Milton breaks out of court mandated rehab to follow the mysterious and seductive Skylar and her boyfriend, Russell, to an isolated hunting lodge, where they intend to produce enough meth to set them up for life. Caught in the middle of a love-triangle, Milton and Skylar murder Russell, burying his body in the woods. The next morning they are horrified to find him alive and well, with no memory of the day before. Forced into an endless cycle of death, carnage, and mayhem, Milton is desperate for answers and a way out. But the truth is more horrifying than he could have ever imagined, nothing is as it seems, and there is no one to trust–least of all himself.

After pondering it for a bit, I’ve concluded that I cannot say anything negative about this film at all. This is a monumental feat, as I usually have one or two reservations about most of the movies I watch. A lack of constructive commentary certainly signifies a winning title here.

BLOOD PUNCH is shot well and looks good onscreen. When the movie first started, I was worried about the budget and how ‘cheap’ the film might appear. Thankfully, my concerns were unfounded. The production value of the film looks modest, and the crew does a great job with the budget.

The acting in BLOOD PUNCH is very good, with Milo Cawthorne, Olivia Tennet, and Ari Boyland as the leads. Cawthorne is a great geek as Milton, while Boyland shines as the jerk Russell. Tennet stands out, however, as the multi-faceted Skylar. These three share an onscreen chemistry that is almost magical. This could be, in part, due to the fact that the three actors appeared together in POWER RANGERS R.P.M. several years ago. This aspect of their dynamic made me smile; all three have come a long way since those days.

The special effects are also a winner here as well. The carnage appears real, and the gore looks fantastic. One of my favorite effects comes about when one of the characters steps inside the house…and right into a bear trap. The resulting blood splash almost made me stand up and clap.

BLOOD PUNCH is a major win for me, and I highly recommend it to every horror and thriller fan out there. It is very well written, and the story is mesmerizing. The final scenes are the film’s ace-in-the-hole, and I found the ending thoroughly satisfying. This movie has everything, and you just can’t ask for much more. The film is available now, so give it a look.

MSB

Movie Review – Tremors 5: Bloodlines (2015)

Tremors 5: Bloodlines
Directed by Don Michael Paul
Courtesy of Universal Pictures
Release Date: October 6, 2015

tremors

I’ve been a big fan of the TREMORS franchise for many years. I saw the first film over two decades ago in the theater, and I absolutely loved it. As a rabid fan of creature features, it was right up my alley. So when the direct-to-video sequels began to emerge, I was a bit skeptical. After all, nothing can kill a franchise like terrible follow-ups that are destined for bargain-bin hell. But thankfully, the later titles have been entertaining for the most part, thanks to some tweaks to the mythology and some liberties with the special effects.

TREMORS 5: BLOODLINES is probably my favorite sequel thus far. This film reinvigorates the dark wit that helped define the original, and it also adds some interesting depth to the creatures. Granted, it’s not perfect, but it is a lot of fun and very entertaining.

If you are not familiar with TREMORS 5: BLOODLINES, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Universal Pictures:

The stakes are raised for survivalist Burt Gummer (Michael Gross) in his most dangerous monster hunt yet. When Gummer’s hired to capture a deadly Assblaster terrorizing South Africa, he and his new sidekick, Travis Welker (Jamie Kennedy), engage in a battle of survival against the fiercely aggressive Assblasters and Graboids. Discovering the monsters have evolved into even more lethal creatures, their killer mission takes on a whole new level of unseen terror–far more than they bargained for.

TREMORS 5: BLOODLINES is shot well and looks like a big-budget film onscreen. The production team played it smart and actually made the film on location in South Africa. This goes a long way in building credibility for the movie; there’s nothing worse than losing immersion in a film due to fake surroundings and lackluster sets.

The acting in TREMORS 5: BLOODLINES is good, with Michael Gross once again reprising his fan-favorite character, Burt Gummer. Nobody else in Hollywood could play Gummer, and Gross once again pulls it off with ease. Joining him this time is Jamie Kennedy. I have to confess I was hesitant about this casting choice, but thankfully, Kennedy does a fine job with the role. My sole complaint about the cast (and it’s not a complaint about the film) is that Reba McEntire does not rejoin to play Gummer’s wife, Heather. She has not appeared in any of the sequels, but I feel she is certainly due to return.

The special effects are decent, however I am again disappointed to see such a big reliance on CG for the worms. The original film boasted some top-notch practical effects, and I would love to see a return to that. The CG in TREMORS 5: BLOODLINES is pretty good for the most part, yet there are a couple of scenes where the animation is blatantly obvious. This isn’t a huge detractor for me, however I do feel it worth mentioning.

Overall, TREMORS 5: BLOODLINES is a win for me, and I really enjoyed it. You can’t go into a sequel and expect it to be as good as the original, so make sure you have the right mindset before you watch this. If you do, chances are you’ll be in for a good time. The film is available now in a variety of formats.

MSB

Book Review – Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Occult Adventures

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Occult Adventures
Publisher: Paizo Publishing
Release Date: August 20, 2015

pathfinder

The fine folks at Paizo recently released a book that made me do a double-take. Not because of the title, but because of the subject matter. Titled OCCULT ADVENTURES, this new tome delves deeper into the darker side of Pathfinder magic, and it offers a more complex glimpse into games that are heavy in the arcane arts. I was surprised to see this, as many RPG games tend to shy away from an ‘occult’ label. Interestingly, Paizo tackles it head on, and the result is an intriguing and entertaining addition to the Pathfinder canon.

If you are not familiar with the PATHFINDER ROLEPLAYING GAME: OCCULT ADVENTURES book, here is the synopsis courtesy of Paizo Publishing:

Delve into the occult secrets of psychic magic, mystic rituals, and esoteric sciences with Occult Adventures! Six new, occult-themed character classes bring the vast treasures of occultism and mysticism to Pathfinder players like never before. Set out on new adventures as a kineticist, medium, mesmerist, psychic, occultist, or spiritualist, or choose from dozens of archetypes for these and most existing Pathfinder RPG classes. Explore forbidden secrets long kept from the world to discover magical forces that unlock vast powers of mind and body. Uncover lost relics and proscribed spells to give your hero new powers in the fight against evil, and pick up new psychic tricks with a library of new feats based on occult traditions.

From other reviews I’ve read, this book seems to have been received well. One particular reviewer mentioned “the material seems to be largely situational and heavily campaign oriented,” and I can see his point. However, I think with a little tweaking here and there, many of the the components in this book could be used in almost any campaign.

PATHFINDER ROLEPLAYING GAME: OCCULT ADVENTURES states up front several of the differences between an occult adventure and any other adventure. One of the primary components to an occult adventure is “a focus on the mind over direct combat and confrontation.” For example, instead of simply investigating the physical ruins of a castle, occult adventurers work to uncover the psychic history of places and objects as well. This unique take on exploration and discovery is an interesting twist on commonplace adventuring practices.

One of my favorite aspects of this book are the new magic items. I absolutely love the variety, and many of these new treasures are inventive and unique. Combine these with the new occult base classes and a slew of spells and feats to amp up your characters, and you’ve got the making of an amazing new campaign.

PATHFINDER ROLEPLAYING GAME: OCCULT ADVENTURES may not appeal to all players of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game system, but I suggest giving it a look. This is another feather in the cap for Paizo, and I cannot wait to see where they take the game next. This book is available now.

MSB

TV Show Review – Dexter: The Complete Series

Dexter: The Complete Series
Courtesy of Showtime Entertainment & CBS Home Entertainment
Release Date: October 13, 2015

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Several years ago, when I first heard the premise for DEXTER, I remember thinking, “Wow…that’s a brilliant concept!” A serial killer who hides in plain sight, while dishing out vigilante justice on other killers…how can a horror fan NOT be interested in something like that? Unfortunately for me, several years would have to pass before I had the opportunity to give the show a look. I wish I had been able to catch it on the forefront, however, because this is an amazing series, and every horror fan needs to put this on their Must Have List.

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

Led by Golden Globe-winning actor Michael C. Hall, follow the delectably disturbed blood-splatter analyst Dexter Morgan with every episode of the hit Showtime original series DEXTER: THE COMPLETE SERIES, now available as a convenient, shelf-friendly megapack. Follow along as Dexter, the series’ titular antihero, feeds his homicidal appetite by serving vigilante justice while simultaneously solving crime. With a stellar cast including Jennifer Carpenter, Desmond Harrington, C.S. Lee, David Zayas, and James Remar, DEXTER ranks as one of the most critically acclaimed and best-written series of all time. This killer collection includes all 8 seasons and 96 episodes on 32 discs, perfect for holiday gift giving.

I often hear TV shows and movies described as “having it all”, however very few actually live up to that hype. I am so happy to say DEXTER truly does have it all, a veritable buffet of entertainment goodness. Each episode is chocked full of wit, intensity, and mystery, and the result is a top notch series that is worthy of the awards it has received.

DEXTER is shot well and appears to have a high production budget. The creative team behind the show spares no expense in making this look like a high-end series, and every detail looks carefully set into place.

The acting is superb, with Michael C. Hall heading up an all-star cast. I confess I was not very familiar with Hall’s work prior to this show, but I don’t think any other actor could have done as well in the role. He is complimented by some major talent that includes Jennifer Carpenter, who plays sister Debra; David Zayas as Sergeant Batista; the incomparable James Remar as Harry Morgan, Dexter’s adopted dad; and Julie Benz, who plays love interest Rita. The entire cast meshes well and is a major credit to the series’ success.

The special effects in DEXTER are very good. While gore is not a primary focus in the series, there’s quite a bit of it, and everything looks fantastic. From blood to dead bodies to severed limbs, viewers get a smorgasbord of carnage that is set against the backdrop of the show’s premise.

The writing is probably the best aspect of the show, however. Intelligent and dark, but chocked full of surprising wit and clever twists, DEXTER has some of the best writing talent in the business. I would have loved to have seen where the show could have gone if it had continued past eight seasons.

DEXTER is a huge win for me, and I highly recommend it. It is smart, inventive, and clever…three characteristics that must be in place for a series like this to succeed. This show knocks each aspect out of the park.

DEXTER: THE COMPLETE SERIES packs every episode into a nice looking, two-volume package, and it comes with a few cool special features that include:

* Audio commentary
* Dexter’s Tool Kit
* Exploring Dexter: An Inside Look
* The Code of Harry
* Inside the Writer’s Room
* Dexter: A Sitdown with Michael C. Hall and John Lithgow
* Dexter: The End Begins

and more. It hits store shelves tomorrow, so make a note to pick up your copy before they disappear. I wager this is one collection that will go fast.

MSB

Movie Review – The Anomaly (2015)

The Anomaly
Directed by Noel Clarke
Courtesy of Universal Pictures and Anchor Bay Entertainment
Release Date: October 6, 2015

the anomaly

Intelligent science fiction never goes out of style, and the genre seems to be experiencing an uptick in entries. Films like CHAPPIE, INTERSTELLAR, and TIME LAPSE immediately spring to mind. These are well-written, smart, and extremely entertaining films. I’m proud to announce THE ANOMALY will now join that list. This film is a mind-bending journey into action and intrigue. It yanked me in from the opening scene and never let go. If you are any kind of fan of slick sci-fi, then this is a film you simply must check out!

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

It is the near future, and ex-soldier and PTSD patient Ryan Reeve (Noel Clarke) has a very disturbing type of blackout amnesia: He regains consciousness days or weeks apart for exactly 9 minutes and 47 seconds, only to discover that he is now a lethal operative for a mysterious organization. But as he tries to piece together his past with each reboot, he realizes that the organization now wants him dead. Can Reeve stay two steps ahead of a sinister colleague (Ian Somerhalder) he does not recognize long enough to destroy a global conspiracy he can’t escape? Alexis Knapp, Luke Hemsworth and Brian Cox co-star in this action thriller.

I am stunned to see IMDB reviewers giving this movie such a low score (4.8 out of 10 stars from 4,788 users, as of the time of this review). This makes me wonder if these viewers did not understand the movie or grasp its concept. Granted, it’s not something you pick up immediately…but the film reveals just enough to keep the audience interested until all is revealed about three-fourths of the way in.

THE ANOMALY is shot very well and looks great onscreen. I have to commend the cinematographer for the unique and inventive views the audience is given during the film. This is a testament to the talent involved with this production. For example, during one of Ryan’s fight scenes, the camera slowly moves up a wall and drops down behind it, giving us the view of the fight as seen through a bullet-proof glass window. The sound becomes muffled, but the intensity of the fight never stops. Then, after a moment, the camera moves back into original position, and the original sound returns. This is slick and original, and it makes the scene so much more fun to watch.

The acting in THE ANOMALY is top notch, with director Noel Clarke as the lead character, Ryan. I’ve enjoyed Clarke’s work for several years now, watching him in a variety of genres and titles, from DOCTOR WHO to DOGHOUSE to STORAGE 24, and now this. I never tire of watching him, and I’m excited to discover he has skill behind the camera as well as in front of it.

The storyline is the biggest winner here, though. Rife with intrigue and mystery, this thriller quickly burrows into your brain and captivates you through to the end. Just when I thought I had things figured out, the movie shifted gears and threw a new curveball at me. Finally, when the ‘big reveal’ is given, the brilliance of the writing shines through and everything comes together.

My sole complaint about this film (and it’s a very minor one) is the mediocre fight choreography. I suppose the fight scenes are ok as a whole, but the constant slow-motion interruptions (for example, a guy throws a punch and the camera slows down to super slow-motion to capture it…then speeds back up as his fist makes contact) become old real fast. I’m not sure why these were included, but they make the fighting look fake.

But that point aside, THE ANOMALY is a hell of a science fiction thriller, and I highly recommend it. Boasting a star-studded cast and a clever concept, this is one film you’ll want to experience several times to get its full effect. This is available now in a variety of formats, but make sure you give it a look on Blu-ray; you’ll truly appreciate the HD picture and sound.

MSB

Movie Review – The Inhabitants (2015)

The Inhabitants
Directed by Michael Rasmussen & Shawn Rasmussen (The Rasmussen Brothers)
Courtesy of Gravitas Ventures
Release Date: October 13, 2015

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Despite the fact I don’t talk about them much, I am usually curious about ghost films. I guess I’m always interested to see if a writer or director can make them scary again. Too many times have we, as movie-goers, seen the same things rehashed over and over onscreen. So instead of trying to remake POLTERGEIST or PARANORMAL ACTIVITY (which technically dealt with a demon, and not a ghost), filmmakers need to focus more on atmospheric horror and less on jump-scares.

So when The Rasmussen brothers reached out to me to review their upcoming release, THE INHABITANTS, I happily agreed to give it a look. I own one of their previous films, a collaboration with the legendary John Carpenter titled THE WARD, however I have not watched it (yet). I figured I had to check this one out, since the Rasmussens were worthy enough to work with one of my favorite film directors of all time. THE INHABITANTS is not perfect, but it’s an entertaining film…and once it gets going, you’ll be thankful you gave it a chance.

If you are not familiar with THE INHABITANTS, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Gravitas Ventures:

Written and directed by Michael and Shawn Rasmussen, screenwriters of JOHN CARPENTER’S THE WARD, and produced by international bestselling author Glenn Cooper, THE INHABITANTS revolves around a young couple that gets more than they bargained for when they renovate a neglected bed and breakfast in New England. After a series of disturbing events, the husband begins to suspect that something evil is lurking within the walls of this old house, and whatever it is has set its sights on his wife. Now he must fight to uncover the inn’s dark secret before this malicious spirit consumes everything he loves.

I’m grateful the Rasmussen brothers gave me a shot at this film. I am always honored when filmmakers and authors reach out to me, as opposed to me tracking them down. This is one of the biggest reasons I love my job.

THE INHABITANTS is shot well and looks good onscreen, however the cinematography does not bring anything new to the table. The lighting is integrated well, however, and the resulting atmosphere it helps create instills a separate chilling level of tension to the film. This aspect is a huge win for me, and it’s one of the primary reasons I enjoyed the film so much.

The acting is pretty good, with Elise Couture and Michael Reed portraying the lead (and, I suppose, titular) characters. I am not familiar with either, however both show promise. A few more titles under their belts might warrant a lengthy career in Hollywood.

The special effects in THE INHABITANTS are minimal, however what we do see looks good. I feel there is plenty of room for more of them in the film, but I also understand that budget and time constraints play a big part of why they might not be there.

The story is where I feel THE INHABITANTS is lacking a bit. Granted, the Salem Witch Trials makes a fascinating backdrop for any horror film, but the way the subject is integrated here is too minimalistic. The birthing chair and how it plays into the ending is a nice touch, and there are several frightening scenes throughout the film…however I don’t feel like it meshes all together enough at the end to create a solid resolution.

Still, this is a good film. It starts off a bit slow, but once it gains steam, tension fills the air and stays put until the credits roll. I recommend giving this a look. Don’t expect a ton of originality, but this is an enjoyable ride nonetheless.

THE INHABITANTS will be released from Gravitas Ventures on October 13th to multiple VOD platforms including iTunes, Amazon Video, Vudu, Google Play, Xbox LIVE, Sony Playstation, various cable providers, and more. The film is also currently available for pre-order on iTunes.

MSB

TV Show Review – Penny Dreadful, season 2

Penny Dreadful, season 2
Courtesy of Showtime Entertainment & CBS Home Entertainment
Release Date: October 6, 2015

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When I first heard about Showtime’s original series PENNY DREADFUL, I was immediately curious. A show that combines new and beloved literary horror characters, and that is set within the realm of Victorian London…how can you NOT be interested? I knew I had to give it a look, so I bought the first season earlier this year. I was not disappointed; the show blew me away. Unique and brilliant, the concept alone was enough to snare me. But the writing and the characters kept me coming back. When season one ended after only eight episodes, I was foaming at the mouth for more. Thankfully, the fine folks at CBS and Showtime saw fit to grace me with a copy of season two. And I have to say: much like THE WALKING DEAD, PENNY DREADFUL is a show that gets better with age!

If you are not familiar with PENNY DREADFUL, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Showtime Entertainment:

PENNY DREADFUL returns with 10 powerful episodes and finds Vanessa Ives and Ethan Chandler forming a deeper bond as the group, including Sir Malcolm, Dr. Frankenstein, and Sembene, unite to banish the evil forces that threaten to destroy them. Meanwhile, Dorian Gray, the Creature, and Brona Croft are all waging battles of their own.

PENNY DREADFUL is shot well and looks amazing onscreen. The sets are painstakingly detailed, and nothing is spared when it comes to accenting the scenery. I daresay this attention to detail is part of what makes the show so engaging.

The characters are vibrant and alive. Each is fleshed out to a point beyond realism, and this helps suck the viewer in; it creates an almost insatiable need to know more about who each is and why they are there. I particularly like how the show’s creators stay fairly true to the original vision of each literary figure, while creating new mythology to surround him or her. This shows the depth of imagination the show encompasses.

Season two starts off with a bang, and it never lets go. I will not divulge anything specific, as I don’t want to give details away. But I will say things are not what they seem (they rarely are), and the stakes have been upped even further than what we previously thought!

PENNY DREADFUL season two is a major win for me, and I cannot wait to see where the show goes from here. Chocked full of interesting characters and engaging situations, this show is one every horror or thriller fan will want to check out. Season two hits store shelves today, so make a note to grab it.

MSB