Blu-ray Movie Review – Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama (1988)

Sorority Babes in the Silmeball Bowl-O-Rama
Directed by David DeCoteau
Courtesy of Full Moon Features
Original Year of Release: 1988
Blu-ray Release Date: July 1, 2016

sorority

Director David DeCoteau is responsible for several of my favorite movies from the 80s and 90s. But even so, SORORITY BABES IN THE SLIMEBALL BOWL-O-RAMA is a film that managed to elude me for some reason. That is, until now. Full Moon recently released this gem on Blu-ray, and I gotta tell you: I wish I had seen it sooner. This schlocky demon flick is pure fun, and I loved every minute of it.

If you are not familiar with SORORITY BABES IN THE SLIMEBALL BOWL-O-RAMA, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Full Moon Features:

In a bowling alley from hell…there’s only one way to score!

There are no freshmen in the college of love, and they’re about to graduate to madcap mayhem when a sorority prank goes crazy. Out to steal a trophy from a local bowling alley, the kids accidentally unleash the imp — a sadistic little spirit with a diabolical sense of humor. He creates demons and loves sexy women. He’s the original party animal, inviting you to come along and die laughing — just like everybody else. The Sorority Babes won’t live through initiation, but don’t blame that cute little killer. He’s evil by nature and funny as hell. And even if you can take a joke, it kills you.

The title alone should be enough to entice you, but if you need a better reason to see this film, I can give you one: Linnea Quigley. She portrays a bad-ass thief who happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Her performance is great and she definitely earns her title as a Scream Queen in this one.

SORORITY BABES IN THE SLIMEBALL BOWL-O-RAMA is shot fairly well and looks pretty good onscreen. I never saw the VHS or DVD versions, so I don’t have anything to compare it to…but the HD restoration seems pretty tight. There are still several grainy scenes, particularly in the darker shots, but again, I don’t know how bad the source material was.

The acting is decent, with the aforementioned Quigley headlining the show. Nobody else really stands out to me, but I don’t usually watch films like this for the acting talent.

The special effects in SORORITY BABES IN THE SLIMEBALL BOWL-O-RAMA are actually impressive for a film of this age (and budget). I like The Imp and how he moves. It’s pretty obvious he’s a puppet, but it’s still impressive to see onscreen.

SORORITY BABES IN THE SLIMEBALL BOWL-O-RAMA is a major win for me, and fans of 80s horror (and/or Full Moon flicks) will definitely want to snatch this up. In addition to the HD restoration, the Blu-ray boasts a couple of slick Special Features including “Tales from the Bowling Alley”—a never-before-seen Behind the Scenes Featurette. This is available now, so give it a look.

MSB

Blu-ray Movie Review – Return of the Killer Tomatoes (1988)

Return of the Killer Tomatoes
Directed by John De Bello
Courtesy of Arrow Video & MVD Distribution
Original Year of Release: 1988
Blu-ray Release Date: June 28, 2016

KIllerToamtos

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the produce aisle…

I remember watching the original ATTACK OF THE KILLER TOMATOES when I was in my early teens, and I absolutely loved it. Back then, the film was an obscure piece of schlocky filmmaking that was talked about in hushed towns among video store clerks. The rarity of the film alone was enough to pique my interest, but I was a devoted fan after viewing it.

When I heard about RETURN OF THE KILLER TOMATOES, I knew I had to see it. The same folks that did the original were involved with the sequel, so I figured I could expect much of the same craziness as before. And sure enough, I was not disappointed. In fact, I would go so far as to say the sequel topped the original. And now, thanks to Arrow and MVD, we can now enjoy the insanity of killer vegetables in HD.

If you are not familiar with RETURN OF THE KILLER TOMATOES, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Arrow Video & MVD Distribution:

THE VEGETABLES OF DOOM!
The killer tomatoes are back! But this time around, they’re going to have to contend with late 80s George Clooney and his wicked mullet… Is it a fruit? Is it a vegetable? Nope, it’s Return of the Killer Tomatoes!

Ten years on from the Great Tomato War, mankind lives in fear of another uprising by the waxy red menace. Meanwhile, Professor Gangreen, played with gusto by the legendary John Astin from TV’s The Addams Family, sets out to pursue his own evil ends by creating a burgeoning army of tomato militia men (who, somewhat conveniently, look just like regular men).

Following on from the 1978 cult classic Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, Return of the Killer Tomatoes came armed with a healthy sense of its own ridiculousness and would expand upon a franchise that now comprises four films, two TV series and a video game. So what are you waiting for? Make Return of the Killer Tomatoes one of your five-a-day now!

I don’t care who you are or what your station is in life…you have to enjoy this film. There’s just no way around it. It’s quirky and weird, and it never takes itself seriously. How could you NOT enjoy it?

RETURN OF THE KILLER TOMATOES is shot decently, although the cinematography is not something you’ll pay attention to in this film. Surprisingly, the HD transfer is sketchy; some of the shots look great, while others are grainy and VHS-quality. This is my sole complaint about the film, and it’s the reason I am giving it four stars instead of five. Thankfully, the sound quality is great.

The acting in the film is exactly what you’d expect from a picture like this. Of interesting note is George Clooney, who plays a major role in the plot. There’s no denying his signature stare or overbearing mullet, but he still does a fine job. He is accompanied by screen legend John Astin, who portrays the insanely funny Professor Gangreen, and a whole slew of otherwise decent actors.

The plot of RETURN OF THE KILLER TOMATOES is very simple, but that doesn’t keep it from being fun. There’s enough slapstick comedy and subtle gags to please even the heartiest comedy fan. The film even spends a few minutes shamelessly plugging certain brand name items, in an attempt to appease corporate sponsors. This is hilarious, especially given the fact Clooney is doing a major part of it.

RETURN OF THE KILLER TOMATOES is a big win for me, and fans of comedy-horror should love it. Whether you are watching it for the first time or revisiting memory lane, this film should have a definitive place in your movie library. It is available now, so give it a look.

MSB

Movie Review – Kill Zone 2 (2016)

Kill Zone 2
Directed by Pou-Soi Cheang
Courtesy of Well Go USA
Release Date: July 19, 2016

kill zone 2

Actor/action star Tony Jaa continues to impress me with each new film he releases. I never get tired of seeing what he can do, and he tackles each role with zest and intensity. Such is the case with KILL ZONE 2, a film released this week from Well Go USA. Jaa once again wows with his propensity for bone-breaking fight scenes…but this time, we get to see a more emotional side of the talented martial artist as well. This makes KILL ZONE 2 a well-rounded and entertaining action flick.

If you are not familiar with KILL ZONE 2, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Well Go USA:

When an undercover cop gets too close to revealing the mastermind of a drug syndicate, his cover is blown. Double-crossed and under a false identity, he’s thrown into a Thai prison, where a guard discovers the inmate – claiming he’s a cop – is a bone marrow match for his dying daughter…and his warden may have an even deadlier operation hidden within the prison walls.

In this giddily frenetic follow-up (though not a sequel) to modern martial arts epic KILL ZONE (aka SPL: SHA PO LANG), action icons Tony Jaa (ONG BAK, THE PROTECTOR) Wu Jing (WOLF WARRIOR) and Zhang Jin (IP MAN 3) team up with Hong Kong megastars Simon Yam and Louis Koo for a breakneck story of dirty cops, prison riots, and black market organ transplants, all brought together by a non-stop series of inventive, bone-crunching setpieces.

This is one of those films you can watch over and over, just to relish in the high intensity action. While the fight choreography never gets too outrageous, it’s still crazy fun to watch regardless. And the best part is that you don’t have to watch the first film to know what’s going on in this one.

KILL ZONE 2 is shot well and looks great onscreen. The production value appears high, and the filmmakers do a great job of putting the film together as a whole.

The acting is very good, with Jaa portraying the main character. He is joined in a co-leading role by Wu Jing, who is an action icon on the rise. Both men do a great job with their parts. They are supported by Simon Yam and Louis Koo to round out a stellar cast.

The story in KILL ZONE 2 is emotionally charged and full of tension. I like how it makes the characters more than just two-dimensional fighting machines. But when combined with the action, the result is pure gold. You can’t ask for much more out of an action picture.

KILL ZONE 2 is great on every level, and I highly recommend it. The film is available now in a variety of formats, so give it a look.

MSB

Book Review – Hell Divers by Nicholas Sansbury Smith

Hell Divers
By Nicholas Sansbury Smith
Publisher: Blackstone Publishing
Release Date: July 19, 2016

hell divers

I’m proud to say I’ve been reading Nicholas Sansbury Smith’s work since before he was picked up by a publisher. His tales are not only inventive, they are fast-paced and just downright fun. Fresh off the heels of the ORBS series and the EXTINCTION CYCLE, Smith offers us a new vision of the post-apocalypse with HELL DIVERS. But this time, the world was not decimated by aliens or a virus…this time, we destroyed it ourselves.

If you are not familiar with HELL DIVERS, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Blackstone Publishing:

More than two centuries after World War III poisoned the planet, the final bastion of humanity lives on massive airships circling the globe in search for a habitable area to call home. Aging and outdated, most of the ships plummeted back to earth long ago. The only thing keeping the two surviving lifeboats in the sky are Hell Divers — men and women who risk their lives by diving to the surface to scavenge for parts the ships desperately need.

When one of the remaining airships is damaged in an electrical storm, a Hell Diver team is deployed to a hostile zone called Hades. But there’s something down there that’s far worse than the mutated creatures discovered on dives in the past — something that threatens the fragile future of humanity.

I have to confess: HELL DIVERS is my favorite series Smith has written thus far. It has just as much tension and action as the priors, however this one has a bleakness the other two did not contain. Perhaps because this book starts off AFTER the apocalypse, whereas the others start before.

HELL DIVERS is written well, and the whole book flows at a nice pace. The prose is crisp, and the dialogue is believable, as are the people that speak it. The overall bleary tone of the story is set very early on, and this dark atmosphere carries throughout the book.

In regard to characters, they are diverse and fleshed out well. Smith writes them in a way that lets the reader get to know them intimately. We get an immersive feel for what they are experiencing, from the at-that-moment action to their longings to know what life was like before the world was destroyed. This allows us to mesh with them, and we therefore care about what happens to them.

The story is original and well thought out. I really like the concept of a select group of individuals who have to skydive to the burned out surface for supplies. I just hope my assumptions about the ending are misplaced…I can’t remember the last time I ever wanted to be wrong. As a result, I am very intrigued to see where books two and three take the story.

HELL DIVERS is another feather in Smith’s cap, and it’s a big win for me as well. If you’re any kind of fan of science fiction or post-apocalyptic fiction, then this is a book you have to check out. Smith once again raises the bar for himself, and I’m eager to see what he does next. HELL DIVERS will hit store shelves next week, so make a note.

MSB

Movie Review – Model Hunger (2016)

Model Hunger
Directed by Debbie Rochon
Courtesy of Wild Eye Releasing
Release Date: July 12, 2016

model hunger

The beautiful and talented Debbie Rochon is one of the hardest working women in the film industry. In addition to the 240+ credits for Acting she has on her IMDB page, she is also a writer, director, and producer. Her directorial movie debut, MODEL HUNGER, is not perfect, but I still found it entertaining and a lot of fun. I foresee great things for Rochon if she continues on this path.

If you are not familiar with MODEL HUNGER, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Wild Eye Releasing:

Former model and actress Ginny (Lynn Lowry) had been cast aside by the modeling industry when she was a young woman due to her body type – and she didn’t take the rejection well. When new neighbors Debbie and Sal move in, they begin to notice strange things happening, as the list of missing young women begins to grow. What has Ginny been doing in her basement all these years, and can she be stopped?

MODEL HUNGER is shot ok for the most part, although I admit it contains a couple of shaky scenes that are too wobbly for me. I can forgive some shakiness, particularly if it is done to make the scene grittier, however it’s almost distracting here. The rest of the cinematography is pretty good and looks good onscreen overall.

The acting is top notch, with Lynn Lowry giving a very convincing performance as a psychotic cannibal neighbor. I can’t recall if I’ve seen Lowry’s work before, however I can tell you I’m a fan for life now, after seeing her in this role. Joining her is another iconic horror figure, the lovely Tiffany Shepis, who genre fans will recall from many recent film offerings. Shepis also does a great job, and I am curious as to what she will tackle next.

MODEL HUNGER boasts only a few special effects, but they are truly grisly. The gore in this film looks great, and there’s one particularly heinous scene that will scar you for life. I will not give it away, however I will tell you this: Lowry’s character, Ginny, does something to a young Jehovah’s Witness woman that almost made me throw up…and I am a staunch gore-hound!! That’s really saying something.

The story in MODEL HUNGER has a few flaws, and they are probably the biggest detractor for me. The audience is given a few hints as to why Ginny kills and eats young women, however nothing is solidified. I suppose the killing is justified, but we are never told about the cannibalism. Likewise, we never get any backstory about Shepis’ character, nor any reasons why we should invest in her. These aren’t film-killing negatives, but they did force me out of the story for a bit.

Still, I enjoyed MODEL HUNGER, and I recommend giving it a look. If anything, check it out for a reason to lose your lunch when you watch the torture scene I mentioned above. Rochon has a big future ahead of her as a horror director if she can step up her game in the writing department. I am crossing my fingers that she does, because I want to see what she does next. MODEL HUNGER is available now.

MSB

Let’s do another Blu-ray giveaway!

This time it’s for the action-packed juggernaut KILL ZONE 2, starring the amazing Tony Jaa. This Blu-ray is once again courtesy of Well Go USA. And, we will once again draw TWO winners!

kill zone 2

If you are not familiar with KILL ZONE 2, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Well Go USA:

When an undercover cop gets too close to revealing the mastermind of a drug syndicate, his cover is blown. Double-crossed and under a false identity, he’s thrown into a Thai prison, where a guard discovers the inmate – claiming he’s a cop – is a bone marrow match for his dying daughter…and his warden may have an even deadlier operation hidden within the prison walls.

In this giddily frenetic follow-up (though not a sequel) to modern martial arts epic KILL ZONE (aka SPL: SHA PO LANG), action icons Tony Jaa (ONG BAK, THE PROTECTOR) Wu Jing (WOLF WARRIOR) and Zhang Jin (IP MAN 3) team up with Hong Kong megastars Simon Yam and Louis Koo for a breakneck story of dirty cops, prison riots, and black market organ transplants, all brought together by a non-stop series of inventive, bone-crunching setpieces.

Contest ends next Friday, so enter now!! Good luck!!

CONTEST RULES

1. Contest is scheduled to end in ONE WEEK, on midnight CST, Friday, July 22, 2016. Winner will be chosen and posted the following week.

3. Contest winner will be chosen by random.org and must agree to let me post their name (no last names used…only the first initial of the last name) in a separate post stating who won the prize.

4. Due to shipping costs, contest is open to U.S. Residents only. Thank you for your understanding.

If you have any questions, please feel free to e-mail me at msb@matthewscottbaker.com.

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Book Review – Day by Day Armageddon: Ghost Run by J. L. Bourne

Day by Day Armageddon: Ghost Run
by J.L. Bourne
Publisher: Gallery Books
Release Date: July 19, 2016

ghost-run-9781501116698_lg

When it comes to the living dead and life after the zombie apocalypse, author J. L. Bourne’s DAY BY DAY ARMAGEDDON series is one of the best in the genre. I’ve been reading it since the original book was published back at the first part of this century, and they just keep getting better and better. Bourne is an active member of the military, therefore the realism in his stories is stark and vivid.

GHOST RUN is the latest chapter in the DAY BY DAY ARMAGEDDON series, and it packs just as much of a wallop as its predecessors. If you’re not a fan of Bourne’s work already, do yourself a favor and give it a look. It’s a hell of a ride.

If you are not familiar with DAY BY DAY ARMAGEDDON: GHOST RUN, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Gallery Books:

The acclaimed and eagerly anticipated fourth thriller in the zombie apocalypse series from the author of Day by Day Armageddon and Day by Day Armageddon: Beyond Exile, for fans of the smash hit show The Walking Dead.

In a desperate bid to survive as hordes of bloodthirsty undead now dominate the ravaged U.S. population, a Navy commander discovers an incredible secret about the pandemic in this fourth novel in the acclaimed Day by Day Armageddon series.

Task Force Phoenix may be humanity’s final hope, and the narrator’s agonizing decisions could mean living one more day—or surrendering to the eternal hell that exists between life and death.

Ghost Run is a suspenseful, gripping, and intelligent thriller that will terrify die-hard horror fans and reinforce J.L. Bourne’s reputation as “the new king of hardcore zombie action” (Brad Thor, author of Act of War).

I have to confess I’m a little biased toward Bourne to start with. He is about my age and hails from the same part of Arkansas in which I grew up. And as I am an author myself, I consider us partly ‘birds of a feather’, for lack of a better term. But my bias does not cloud my judgement for this book; GHOST RUN is a monster of a read, regardless.

DAY BY DAY ARMAGEDDON: GHOST RUN is written well and flows at a nice clip. Bourne does a great job of building tension within his stories, particularly because they are written in the first person. This allows for greater immersion in the plot, and therefore gives the reader a deeper connection to the protagonist and his trials.

The storyline continues from the previous chapter, and it is once again filled with drama and horror. I liken Bourne’s penchant for intensity and rich characterization to that of THE WALKING DEAD. And while Bourne neither copies nor imitates that iconic show, the familiar sense of dread hangs in the air for his characters, much like we experience with Rick and his crew.

DAY BY DAY ARMAGEDDON: GHOST RUN is a major win for me, and I highly recommend it. I hope Bourne keeps the series going, even after this book concludes. But regardless of where he takes us, it’s a sure bet that safety will not be guaranteed. GHOST RUN will hit store shelves next week, so make a note.

MSB

Movie Review – The Other Side of the Door (2016)

The Other Side of the Door
Directed by Johannes Roberts
Courtesy of 20th Century Fox
Release Date: June 7, 2016

other-side-of-the-door,-the-blu-ray-cover-41

A couple of years ago, I had the pleasure of reviewing one of director Johannes Roberts’ other films, STORAGE 24 (click here to read the review), a suspenseful creature-feature set in London. The film was very well done and made me jump on a couple of occasions. His most recent offering, THE OTHER SIDE OF THE DOOR, is once again full of tension and terror, but this time he uses ghosts instead of aliens. The result is a top-notch horror film that will keep you riveted to your seat.

If you are not familiar with THE OTHER SIDE OF THE DOOR, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of 20th Century Fox:

In this edge-of-your-seat thriller a family s idyllic life abroad turns to tragic then terrifying. After her young son dies in an accident, a grieving mother (Sarah Wayne Callies) learns of a ritual that will bring him back for a final goodbye. When she travels to an ancient temple to undertake the ritual, she discovers a door that serves as a portal to the afterworld. But when she ignores a warning not to open the door, the balance between life and death is upset. Now, an unspeakable horror is unleashed that threatens the lives of everyone she loves. It’s a thrill-ride from start to finish…for those who can handle it.

I went into THE OTHER SIDE OF THE DOOR after a self-imposed media blackout. I did not want to have any preconceived notions in my head before I viewed it, nor did I really want to know the meat of the story. I’m glad I did this, as I feel like my viewing experienced was greatly enhanced.

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE DOOR is shot very well and looks great onscreen. The cinematography is clever and accents the creepy atmosphere created in the film.

The acting in the film is excellent, with Sarah Wayne Callies portraying the lead. I’ve enjoyed her work since seeing her for the first time in THE WALKING DEAD, and I’m glad to see she is not leaving the horror genre completely. She is joined by a great cast that includes Jeremy Sisto as her husband, and Sofia Rosinsky and Logan Creran as her children, Lucy and Oliver. The whole cast does a solid job, and they mesh well onscreen.

The story in THE OTHER SIDE OF THE DOOR is very good, and I have to commend the writers for its originality. Granted, we’ve seen concepts before where the protagonist doesn’t follow instructions and chaos ensues, but I don’t recall ever seeing a film like this. I found the premise entertaining and the resulting situation absolutely terrifying. I also love the ending. I had to grin as it unfolded, and I felt strangely satisfied as the credits rolled. I won’t give it away, but I have to confess I didn’t see it coming.

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE DOOR is a definite win for me, and I recommend it to anyone looking for a slick ghost story. The film is available in a variety of formats, so give it a look. Just don’t open the door, no matter what…

MSB