TV Show Review – CSI: Cyber, Season 2 (The Final Season)

CSI: Cyber, Season 2 (The Final Season)
Courtesy of CBS Entertainment
Release Date: September 6, 2016

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If you’re a tech nerd like me, then you probably love all things cyber-related. I confess I’m not a fan of other CSI shows, but when I heard about CSI: CYBER, I knew I had to give it a look. The future of criminal activity is cybercrime, thus it was only a matter of time before a show like this came along.

CSI: CYBER surprised me on a couple of levels. I wasn’t expecting the show to be as intense as it is, nor did I figure I would enjoy it so much. Having no prior experience with CSI, I really wasn’t sure what to expect. But thankfully, I can state CSI: CYBER is an entertaining and satisfying thriller.

If you are not familiar with CSI: CYBER, here is the show’s plot synopsis courtesy of CBS Entertainment:

WE’RE ALL TARGETS
In a world where everything is digitally connected, we’re all potential victims. Yet technology is on our side, thanks to the FBI’s Cyber Crime Division. As a victim of hacking herself, Special Agent in Charge Avery Ryan (Academy Award® winner* and Emmy® Award winner** Patricia Arquette) uses her knowledge of behavioral psychology to understand the all-too-human personalities behind the virtual menaces. She’s backed by the unstoppable crew in her Cyber Threat Operations Center. As a battle-tested Marine, Special Agent Elijah Mundo (James Van Der Beek) is prepared for real-world action, while analyst Daniel Krumitz (Charley Koontz) can crack any device. Reformed black-hat hackers Brody Nelson (Shad Moss) and Raven Ramirez (Hayley Kiyoko) seize the chance to use their skills for justice. Veteran Crime Scene Investigator D.B. Russell (two-time Emmy® Award winner† Ted Danson) joins the unit, applying his experience in traditional forensics to cutting-edge threats. Together, this ultra-skilled team is ready to take on the evolving tactics of the next generation of crime. Don’t miss the 18 thrilling episodes of CSI: CYBER®, collected in this 5-disc set.

I am disappointed the network decided to cancel this show after only two seasons, however I think I can understand why they did it. For as commonplace as cyber-threats are to the mainstream public, most people do not stop to think about cyber forensics and the methodology involved with tracking down online criminals. As such, this show is probably a bit over the heads of some viewers.

CSI: CYBER is shot well and looks great from a production standpoint. The acting is solid, and the plotlines are fairly easy to follow. I liken this show to NCIS in a way because the stories can be complex, but not overly so. I enjoy the occasional cranial-twister episode, but within reason; both of these shows do a good job of not overusing this concept.

CSI: CYBER is a great show, and I recommend it. There are only two seasons to it, so the finale is kinda disappointing, but it’s still a fun watch nonetheless. Both seasons are available now.

MSB

Movie Review – Just Desserts: The Making of Creepshow (2016)

Just Desserts: The Making of Creepshow
Directed by Michael Felsher
Courtesy of Synapse Films & CAV Distribution
Release Date: July 12, 2016

just-desserts

When it comes to horror film anthologies, I just can’t get enough. I mentioned this just last week, during my review of CREATURE FEATURE. But within these genre gems, there is a wide variety of quality. Some are forgettable, some are decent, and some are really good. Then you have those films that stand above the rest, the elite 1% by which all other films are graded. One of these top-tier titles is CREEPSHOW, a collaboration by two horror icons, author Stephen King and filmmaker George A. Romero. If you have never heard of CREEPSHOW, then you probably live under a rock.

In my opinion, CREEPSHOW is one of the greatest (if not THE greatest) horror anthologies ever made. It has a bit of everything, and there’s not much more a horror fan can ask for. JUST DESSERTS: THE MAKING OF CREEPSHOW is a behind-the-scenes look at how this fan-favorite film came to be. If you like Special Features (as I do), then you’ll love this documentary.

If you are not familiar with JUST DESSERTS: THE MAKING OF CREEPSHOW, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Synapse Films:

In 1982, Author Stephen King, and Director George A. Romero collaborated on a feature-film tribute to the controversial EC comics of the 1950s. Told through five jolting tales of terror, CREEPSHOW has become a celebrated horror classic over the past three decades. With an all-star cast, and featuring groundbreaking special effects by genre legend Tom Savini, CREEPSHOW stands as a horrific and hilarious tribute to the stories that helped influence (and corrupt) a generation of writers and filmmakers. Now the tales behind the creation of this chilling masterpiece can finally be told!

Featuring rare behind-the-scenes footage and photographs, JUST DESSERTS: THE MAKING OF “CREEPSHOW” also contains over a dozen interviews, including George A. Romero, Tom Savini, Adrienne Barbeau, Tom Atkins and many others. These are the terrifying stories behind the film that promised you… The Most Fun You’ll Ever Have…BEING SCARED!

If you’ve ever heard the term ‘visual delight’, this film is a perfect example. There is SO MUCH to this documentary, I guarantee you’ll want to watch it again.

JUST DESSERTS: THE MAKING OF CREEPSHOW is shot well, in typical documentary format. The film is comprised of interviews as well as behind-the-scenes footage that was taken prior and during production. The BTS footage shows many of the unique and fun ways the crew brought the film to life, while the interviews showcase the creators and those involved with the shoot.

I have to confess I’ve never read any of the old comics CREEPSHOW was based upon, but from what I understand, the movie is a solid testament and homage to them. I wish Stephen King could have (or would have) participated in this film, as I would love to hear him discuss the comics’ influence on his writing. I’m not sure why he’s missing from the interviews, but that doesn’t really detract from the film as a whole.

JUST DESSERTS: THE MAKING OF CREEPSHOW is an excellent and fascinating look at one of horror’s most legendary films, and I highly recommend it. Regardless of whether you like Special Features or not, this documentary will find a place in every horror fan’s heart. Interestingly, the Special Edition Blu-ray comes with its own special features that include:

• Audio Commentary with Director & Editor Michael Felsher
• Audio Commentary featuring interviews with Actor John Amplas, Property Master Bruce Alan Miller, and Make-Up Effects Assistant Darryl Ferrucci
• Creepshow Days An interview with Director of Photography, Director Michael Gornick
• Extended Interview Segments with George A. Romero, Tom Savini, and Bernie Wrightson
• Behind The Screams A compilation of on-set video footage from Tom Savini
• Horror’s Hallowed Grounds with Sean Clark
• Scream Greats Volume One: Tom Savini, Master of Horror Effects with Optional Audio Commentary with Tom Savini
• Vintage 1982 Evening Magazine Segment shot on the set of the film, featuring rare cast & crew interviews
• Behind-The-Scenes of CREEPSHOW Photo Gallery

MSB

Win a copy of the upcoming book, “Navigators of Dune” by Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson!

I’ve got a big treat for you today!! I’ve got TWO (2) copies of the upcoming book NAVIGATORS OF DUNE by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson to give away to a couple of lucky readers. All you have to do to enter is fill out the form below. No purchase necessary, and your information will NOT be sold or given away to anyone else. You can’t beat that, right?

NAVIGATORS OF DUNE is the climactic finale of the Great Schools of Dune trilogy, set 10,000 years before Frank Herbert’s classic Dune.

navigators

The story line tells the origins of the Bene Gesserit Sisterhood and its breeding program, the human-computer Mentats, and the Navigators (the Spacing Guild), as well as a crucial battle for the future of the human race, in which reason faces off against fanaticism. These events have far-reaching consequences that will set the stage for Dune, millennia later.

The book will be released next Tuesday, September 13, 2016, therefore I’m ending the giveaway on midnight of that day. This is a quick contest, but I want to get these books into the winners’ hands ASAP. Good luck!!

GIVEAWAY RULES

1. Contest is scheduled to end in five (5) days, on midnight CST, Tuesday, September 13, 2016. Winner will be chosen and posted later in the week.
3. Contest winner will be chosen at random by the Rafflecoptor program 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.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Movie Review – Creature Feature (2016)

Creature Feature
Directed by Chase Smith
Courtesy of Brain Damage Films
Release Date: August 23, 2016

creature-feature

I’m not sure how many times I’ve stated this, but I absolutely love anthologies. Regardless of whether in movie or book form, I am a huge fan of the short tale, and therefore I jump on the chance to check them out when I can. When I first saw the cover for CREATURE FEATURE, I knew I had to give it a look; the artwork is excellent, and I felt like I was in for a good time.

Thankfully, I was not disappointed. CREATURE FEATURE is low-budget fare, but it’s well done and, despite a couple of flaws, very enjoyable. I look forward to seeing what director Chase Smith has in store for us next.

If you are not familiar with CREATURE FEATURE, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of

Creature Feature is five interwoven tales of terror that occur one foggy Halloween night in Georgia. A babysitter learns a new appreciation for fine art and hard lesson about the consequences of being irresponsible…and naughty!; a group of college kids stumble on the mother of all Scarecrows; two teenagers are forced to steal from the wrong cantankerous old hermit who has been known to occasionally howl at the moon; a murdered father comes back for vengeance against his gold-digging wife and traitorous children; and all of this Halloween fun is made possible by a London Gentleman known as…”Jack”.

As I mentioned, I love the artwork on the DVD cover. It screams “Creepshow” to me, but not in a rip-off way…more of a tribute. Even more so, it is a great precursor to what you’ll see in the movies.

CREATURE FEATURE is shot well and looks good onscreen for the most part. I will confess there are a few camera shots that looked like they were done with a VHS camcorder, but thankfully these are few and far between. The lighting is good for a low-budget picture, and the overall production value seems fair.

The acting is also pretty good. I will not say it’s great because there are a few wooden performances. But for the most part, the cast does a good job with their roles.

The special effects in CREATURE FEATURE are few, but those we get to see are mostly well done. There’s a bit of gore, which looks good, and there’s even some practical creature effects. My sole complaint about the creature makeup is the beast showcased in the final tale. I think it is supposed to be a werewolf or something similar, but the makeup is a joke. Instead of scary, it comes across as very lame, which in turn took me completely out of the tale.

I enjoyed how the stories are all interwoven, though. Each touches another one, even if only remotely, which gives cohesion to an overarching plotline. This aspect is one of the big reasons I enjoyed V/H/S and V/H/S 2 so much, and I can say the same here.

CREATURE FEATURE is not perfect, but it’s still a lot of fun and definitely worthy of checking out. Horror fans will probably find this an obscure treat, and I have high hopes for the future work of Chase Smith. CREATURE FEATURE is available now.

MSB

Movie Review – Lake Nowhere (2016)

Lake Nowhere
Directed by Christopher Phelps & Maxim Van Scoy
Courtesy of BrinkVision & MVD Distribution
Release Date: August 16, 2016

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If you’ve never heard of LAKE NOWHERE, don’t be surprised; I had never heard of it either, prior to receiving it. But I wager this film will quickly make a name for itself. Chocked full of old-school flavor, this little indie gem might be obscure, but it offers a wealth of entertainment. I haven’t had this much fun with a slasher flick in a long time. Horror fans will definitely want to make a note to grab this one for sure!

If you are not familiar with LAKE NOWHERE, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Brink and MVD Distribution:

From the vaults of the golden age of slasher films comes LAKE NOWHERE, a raucous, bloody romp which resurrects the thrill of gory midnight movies for an hour-long plunge into the depths of horror. Inspired by the dusty days of VHS, LAKE NOWHERE is preceded by original trailers & commercials, replicating the experience of watching a long lost bootleg tape. When a group of friends arrive at a desolate lakeside cabin, they are stalked and murdered by a Masked Maniac, whose lust for blood transcends our world. This age-old tale of senseless slaughter quickly spirals into the realm of supernatural horror and classic monster movies, as we learn the true power that lies within LAKE NOWHERE!

Because this film was completely unfamiliar to me, I went into it with no expectations. But I have to tell you: this movie is a riot. The filmmakers captured the nostalgic air of 80s horror so perfectly that it’s hard to tell this is a modern-day movie. I love it, and I cannot wait to see what these guys have in store for us next.

LAKE NOWHERE is shot just like the old slashers of yesteryear. The film is spotty and grainy on purpose in certain spots, but surprisingly this doesn’t detract from the experience at all. If anything, it adds to the atmosphere created by the film itself. This is difficult to explain, as you have to watch the film and experience it for yourself to understand.

The acting is pretty good, particularly when you consider the cast is trying to appear as 80s actors in a low-budget horror flick. I have to commend the entire group of doing a great job. Several of these folks also appear in the commercials that are shown prior to the movie, which makes the whole thing even more fun.

The special effects in LAKE NOWHERE are impressive and look good onscreen. I would have liked more carnage, even though there’s plenty to go around here. I understand budget constraints, though, and the production crew does an outstanding job with the money available.

LAKE NOWHERE is a huge win for me, and I highly recommend it. I cannot find a single flaw with this entertaining throwback, and it therefore earns a high degree of respect from this reviewer. The film is available now in a Limited Edition Blu-ray format, so get your copy today.

MSB

Movie Review – Blood Feast (1963)

Blood Feast
Directed by Herschell Gordon Lewis
Courtesy of Cheezy Flicks
Original Year of Release: 1963
DVD Release Date: February 22, 2012

blood_feast_poster_01

BLOOD FEAST is another one of those films I had heard of for years and years, but just never got around to watching. This is a very weird statement to make for me as a horror fan, particularly because Herschell Gordon Lewis is renowned as the “Godfather of Gore”. To be honest, I’m not sure why I didn’t pick up this one sooner, but I’m glad I finally gave it a look. BLOOD FEAST is crammed full of schlocky dialogue and hokey characters, but it’s got some great carnage, and it’s a worthy addition to any horror library.

If you are not familiar with BLOOD FEAST, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Cheezy Flicks:

Nothing so appalling in the annals of horror has ever been seen before. When Mrs. Fremont hires crackpot Egyptian cultist Fuad Ramses to cater a party for her daughter, Suzette, she commits the culinary catastrophe of the century! Fuad immediately prepares a Blood Feast made from the grisly body parts of nubile young women. The world’s first (and most notorious) “gore” film, “Blood Feast” is both shocking and hilarious. It’s also the first of the infamous “blood trilogy” from director Herschell Gordon Lewis and producer Dave Friedman, who followed this perverse classic with the equally twisted “2000 Maniacs” and “Color Me Blood Red.”

BLOOD FEAST is not a very good film, but it’s a lot of fun to watch nonetheless. I’d like to say the acting is good in the film, but I would be lying if I did. The acting is atrocious, with every cast member giving stiff, wooden performances. For some odd reason, this doesn’t really detract from the film. I think it might even add to it in a weird way. Maybe a so-bad-it’s-good aspect.

The storyline is familiar, but keep in mind this film was made during a period when events like these were almost unheard of. Thus, the plot had a lot of shock value back then…it just doesn’t do much for us today. We are so desensitized to everything, it’s hard to give us a jolt. Still, you have to give Lewis credit; his take on the cult fanaticism is very realistic.

The special effects in BLOOD FEAST are very good, especially considering the time period in which they were made. Lewis has a fine eye for gore, and he put more in this film than I was expecting. I was both surprised and impressed.

BLOOD FEAST won’t appeal to everybody, but horror fans will be entertained. The film is hokey, sure, but it is still entertaining, and I recommend it. It is available now.

MSB

Blu-ray Movie Review – What the Peeper Saw (1972)

What the Peeper Saw
Directed by James Kelly & Andrea Bianchi
Courtesy of VCI Entertainment
Original Year of Release: 1972
Blu-ray Release Date: January 5, 2016

peeper

I’m surprised at the number of vintage horror/thriller films I’ve run across lately that I’ve never heard of before. Case in point is this classic gem, WHAT THE PEEPER SAW. While more of a thriller than an actual horror film, this one still certainly merits watching. It is well made and has an amazingly satisfying ending that I never saw coming. Intriguing and intense, WHAT THE PEEPER SAW is an excellent entertainment experience I highly recommend.

If you are not familiar with WHAT THE PEEPER SAW, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of VCI Entertainment:

In this stylish and atmospheric psychological thriller, a wealthy author’s wife’s comfortable life turns into a terrifying nightmare when her young stepson starts exhibiting strange behavior. The fiendish child is out to destroy all the trust and love between his father and stepmother with his surreptitious pranks. Horror unfolds as the boy devilishly plots to drive a wedge deeper and deeper between them. But is the child really a fiend, or is he the victim of his neurotic stepmother s paranoia?

I really had no expectations going into this one. I was hoping it would be good, but I’ve been disappointed in the past with foreign thrillers. Thankfully, this film turned out to be great.

WHAT THE PEEPER SAW is shot well and looks good onscreen. The cinematography is not exotic or artistic, but it doesn’t need to be to tell the story. The picture quality is excellent, with the HD transfer offering vibrant colors and clear imagery. As I never saw the VHS or previous DVD quality, I cannot compare it; however, the Blu-ray is the way to watch this one.

The acting is very good, with Mark Lester offering a powerful performance as Marcus. Lester plays the diabolical youth like a pro, and his chilling persona lingers in the memory long after the movie is over. Likewise, Britt Ekland does an excellent job as Marcus’ stepmother, Elise. The onscreen chemistry between these two is very interesting, and they play off each other well.

The storyline in WHAT THE PEEPER SAW is a big part of what makes this film so engaging. What starts off as a seemingly innocent situation quickly spirals into madness. And the grand finale is unexpected yet fun, so when it arrives, the viewer doesn’t know whether to gasp in surprise or clap for joy.

WHAT THE PEEPER SAW is a big win for me, and I suggest it to anyone looking for a good, solid thriller. The film was a bit controversial for its time due to some of the subject matter, so be forewarned: it won’t be for everyone. Check out IMDB for the scoop on the film’s content. If that doesn’t concern you, then pick up this one for sure.

MSB