Book Review – When Animals Attack: The 70 Best Horror Movies with Killer Animals

When Animals Attack: The 70 Best Horror Movies with Killer Animals
Edited by Vanessa Morgan
Courtesy of Moonlight Creek Publishing
Release Date: November 24, 2016

I’ve made it well-known that I love creature-features and monster movies because the fear of the unknown is a big aspect of what makes them so much fun. But what about creatures we are familiar with, like animals and insects? Can they be terrifying and fun?

Heck yeah, they can. Hollywood has long embraced the fear our animal kingdom friends can incite, and that love has been pivotal in creating the horror genre we know today. Editor Vanessa Morgan rounded up a host of contributors to offer us a look into some of the best (and worst) films that feature animals on the rampage. WHEN ANIMALS ATTACK: THE 70 BEST HORROR MOVIES WITH KILLER ANIMALS is an excellent guide to the wild versus humanity. If you’re looking for a unique book for the horror lover in your life, look no more; this is a must-have for any collection.

If you are not familiar with WHEN ANIMALS ATTACK, here is the book’s synopsis courtesy of Moonlight Creek Publishing:

The definitive horror movie guide for fans of killer animals and “revenge of nature” films. When Animals Attack: The 70 Best Horror Movies with Killer Animals provides a fascinating and entertaining insight into the cinematographic world of animals on the rampage. From well-known predators such as sharks and lions to unusual killing machines like turkeys, elephants, frogs, cats, and rabbits, there is no shortage of the species on display in this book. Leading horror writers and filmmakers present their favorite “animals attack” films through in-depth essays. Some of the films are touching, some are repulsive, and some are just plain silly. Not all of these horror movies line up with the critical consensus, yet they have one thing in common: they have made the heart of the writer beat faster with excitement.

I love how this is not just a single author’s perspective on what’s good and what’s not. This comes from a slew of opinions, which makes the material more grounded. As such, there’s no particular bias that stands out, and the result is a well-rounded collection of essays.

Each piece in WHEN ANIMALS ATTACK is written well and fleshes out nicely the titles involved. The movies discussed are both mainstream and obscure, which can give new insight to familiar titles and enlightenment about those newly discovered.

Some of my favorite films discussed in this book include ALLIGATOR, CUJO, and TICKS, but I’ve also made a list of several I have never heard of but must track down, including CHOSEN SURVIVORS and CURSE 2: THE BITE.

WHEN ANIMALS ATTACK is a huge win for me, and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys creature-features involving animals. Whether you are new to the genre or an existing fan, this book offers something for everybody. It is available today, so check it out.

MSB

Blu-ray Movie Review – Creepshow 2 (1987)

Creepshow 2
Directed by Michael Gornick
Courtesy of Arrow Video & MVD Distribution
Original Year of Release: 1987
Blu-ray Release Date: December 13, 2016

CREEPSHOW and CREEPSHOW 2 are a couple of the first horror anthology films I saw growing up, and they both had a huge impact on me. Both films are extremely well done and have great stories…but only the second one has a tale that still haunts me to this day. And despite the fact it is a follow-up to the original, CREEPSHOW 2 is just as good. Arrow and MVD have released a remastered edition of this fan favorite, and it is an outstanding addition to any horror fan’s library.

If you are not familiar with CREEPSHOW 2, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Arrow Video

WHEN THE CURTAIN GOES UP THE TERROR BEGINS
Horror titans George A. Romero and Stephen King deliver yet another fiendish selection of blood-curdling tales in Creepshow 2 now newly remastered in 2K!

In Old Chief Wood’nhead , a group of young hoodlums face retribution from an unlikely source after looting a local hardware store. Meanwhile, The Raft sees a group of horny teens wishing they’d read the warning signs first before taking a dip in a remote lake. Finally, an uptight businesswoman finds herself with some unwanted company following a hit-and-run incident in The Hitch-hiker.

Whilst retaining the EC comic book flavour that made the original such a hit, Creepshow 2, this time directed by long-time Romero collaborator Michael Gornick, is a decidedly darker and grimmer affair than its predecessor and remains one of the greatest horror anthologies of all time.

CREEPSHOW 2 looks fantastic onscreen, and the production value of the film appears high. The diversity of the three stories created the need for three original, specific locales, and each one looks great. The desolate, run down town in “Old Chief Wood’nhead” contrasts nicely to the lush greenery of the lake in “The Raft” and so forth.

The acting in each segment is top notch. Hollywood icon George Kennedy appears, as do other big names like Tom Savini and Stephen King (yes, the author!). They are joined by a slew of great actors and actresses, and the result is a talented cast that brings these tales to life.

The special effects in each segment are phenomenal. There’s not many in “Old Chief Wood’nhead”, but those we get are great; “The Raft” has some excellent gore, and even the “thing” in the lake is impressive; but “The Hitch-hiker” has to be the real winner here…this one has some outrageous carnage that is mesmerizing onscreen. You truly have to see it to appreciate it.

My favorite tale in CREEPSHOW 2 is “The Raft”. I mentioned above that only one of these stories has haunted me for years, and this is it. JAWS terrified me about the ocean, but “The Raft” has given me pause about lakes for many, many years. To this day, I still get a little nervous about swimming in them. This is a testament to the power that horror can have.

CREEPSHOW 2 is an excellent addition to the Arrow/MVD collection, and I highly recommend it. In addition to the HD picture, the Blu-ray comes with some great Special Features (listed below). The film is available now, so make a note.

SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS
• Brand new 2K restoration from original film elements
• High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
• Original stereo audio
• Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
• Audio Commentary with director Michael Gornick, moderated by Perry Martin
• Poncho s Last Ride a brand new interview with actor Daniel Beer
• The Road to Dover a brand new interview with actor Tom Wright
• Screenplay for a Sequel an interview with screenwriter George A. Romero
• Tales from the Creep an interview with actor and make-up artist Tom Savini
• Nightmares in Foam Rubber featurette with special make-up effects artists Howard Berger and Greg Nicotero
• My Friend Rick Berger on working with make-up legend Rick Baker
• Behind-the-Scenes Footage
• Trailers and TV Spots
• Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Mike Saputo
FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Collector s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Michael Blyth

MSB

Movie Review – In Order of Disappearance (2016)

In Order of Disappearance
Directed by Hans Petter Moland
Courtesy of Magnet Releasing
Release Date: December 6, 2016

I love quirky films of any genre, particularly those that dance along the edges of classification. IN ORDER OF DISAPPEARANCE is one of these gems, and it’s a heck of a lot of fun. Full of dark humor and grit, this revenge thriller will leave you satisfied on many levels.

If you are not familiar with IN ORDER OF DISAPPEARANCE, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Magnet Releasing:

When a father (Stellan Skarsgård), uncovers his son’s murderer, he begins to unravel. Once an upstanding citizen, Nils embarks on a blood-thirsty quest for revenge that escalates into a full-blown international gang war. With darkly funny humor reminiscent of Tarantino and The Coen Brothers, Nils finds himself caught up in a world not his own surrounded by drug traffickers, con artists and kingpins, in order to bring his son’s murderers to justice.

I’m a big fan of the Skarsgard family, so I try to catch their work when I can. I say the whole family because most of them are active in film or television in some fashion. Son Alexander Skarsgard is universally known for his role as Eric in TRUE BLOOD, and he recently portrayed Tarzan on the big screen as well. His brother, Gustaf, portrays Floki, a character on VIKINGS. Another sibling, Bill Skarsgard, portrayed the devilish Roman Godfrey on HEMLOCK GROVE and has recently wrapped production on Stephen King’s IT, where he plays the demonic clown Pennywise. Finally, Valter and Sam, yet two more brothers, have also been in smaller productions. The acting bug bites deep in this family, and they are a talented and entertaining group.

IN ORDER OF DISAPPEARANCE is shot well and looks amazing onscreen. The cinematography does a great job of capturing the snowy and desolate landscape of the Norwegian countryside, and yet it looks lavish and beautiful in HD. This locale is the perfect setting for this film, as it helps create the lowbrow atmosphere needed for the story.

The acting is great, with Stellan Skarsgard heading up a talented cast. I do not recognize most of the other actors, although they do a fine job as well. I did spot Kristofer Hivju (who played a Wildling on GAME OF THRONES) almost immediately when he came onscreen, however.

The story of IN ORDER OF DISAPPEARANCE is intriguing and engaging. I like how the wit is combined with some of the darker parts of the plot; it adds a strange sense of wholeness, and I found it worked very well in conveying the intention of each scene. This might sound strange, but you have to see it to understand. It simply works.

IN ORDER OF DISAPPEARANCE is a big win for me, and I highly recommend it. It’s a fairly gory film, but still somewhat tame by many horror standards. Regardless, it’s a lot of fun and vastly entertaining. It is available now in a variety of formats.

MSB

It’s Giveaway time again!! Up for grabs is a Blu-ray copy of GREATER!

This time I’m giving away a Blu-ray copy of GREATER, the amazing biographical account of Arkansas Razorback football player Brandon Burlsworth.

For those of you not familiar with this extraordinary young man, Burlsworth overcame a lot of obstacles, both personal and external, to become one of the greatest underdog stories ever told. Tragically, he died in a car wreck just a few days after being drafted into the NFL. This movie chronicles his life and the legacy he left behind.

Here is the film’s official plot synopsis:

GREATER follows the true story of Brandon Burlsworth who is perhaps the greatest walk-on in the history of college football. Brandon dreamed of playing for the Arkansas Razorbacks but was told he wasn’t good enough to play Division I ball. Undeterred, Brandon took a risk and walked on in 1994. Written off by fellow teammates and coaches, Brandon displayed dogged determination in the face of staggering odds. The awkward kid who once was an embarrassment to his teammates and an annoyance to his coaches ended up becoming the most respected player in the history of the program, changing the lives of all he touched.

To enter this giveaway, I’m changing things up this time and making it simple. All you have to do is send an email to me (msb@matthewscottbaker.com) with the words “Greater Blu-ray Giveaway” in the subject line. That’s it! Nothing more. You can enter once per email address; additional entries will be deleted.

The giveaway starts today, December 20, 2016, and will run until midnight on New Year’s Eve (December 31, 2016).

OFFICIAL RULES

1. Only one entry per email address. Multiple entries will result in removal of all your entries, therefore removing all your chances of winning!

2. Contest is scheduled to end at midnight CST on December 31, 2016.

3. Contest winner will be chosen by random.org and must agree to let me post their first name and last initial 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.

Disclaimer: I will not use your email address for anything other than notifying you if you are a winner. Your email address will not be given or sold to any outside party, and I will delete all email entries for good after the end of this giveaway.

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

MSB

Movie Review – Never Open the Door (2016)

Never Open the Door
Directed by Vito Trabucco
Courtesy of Maltauro Entertainment
Release Date: December 6, 2016

NEVER OPEN THE DOOR is one of those horror films that puts me in a difficult position. On one hand, it is full of heart and great intentions; as an amateur filmmaker myself, I respect the hard work and dedication that was put into making this movie. But on the other hand, the execution of the film leaves a lot to be desired…so much so that the resulting movie is almost downright unwatchable. In the end, as much as it pains me to say, I have to advise steering clear of this one.

If you are not familiar with NEVER OPEN THE DOOR, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Maltauro Entertainment:

Three happy couples enjoy Thanksgiving in a cozy secluded cabin in the woods when they are suddenly interrupted by an unprecedented event that will forever change their lives. A stranger comes at the door, he is severely wounded and when they let him in, he throws up blood into Tess’s mouth, he then collapses on the floor and while specifically pointing at one of the friends, screams his last words before he dies: Never Open the Door. The group of friends, dumbfounded, start to panic. Tess inexplicably disappears. A killer is on the loose.

Despite this film’s negatives, I do have to give director Vito Trabucco credit: this is a fairly ambitious undertaking. If the issues I’m about to mention were addressed and the film remade, this could be a heck of horror flick.

The acting in NEVER OPEN THE DOOR is a serious concern. Granted, this is a lower budget film, therefore we cannot expect Academy Award caliber talent. However, the filmmakers did not do their cast any favors by having them improvise huge sections of the film. I felt the awkwardness of this from the start, when the couples are dining early on in the film. The “conversation” is clunky and doesn’t make much sense. This theme continues throughout, even as the tension flares up. Also, there’s nothing more annoying than hearing the cast repeat “We gotta get out of here!” thirty plus times after the dead guy arrives; I felt like I was listening to a group of parrots who got stuck in a loop.

The story is the biggest negative here. It starts off strong, and then has the potential to be an exciting mind-bender…but then it falls flat on its face. Why? First and foremost, because it makes no sense. We are never given an explanation as to who the strange guys are outside the house. Nor are we ever told what the changeling “thing” is inside or why certain characters start killing the others. Leaving minor aspects unexplained in a movie is usually ok, but you absolutely cannot leave the main antagonizing factors hanging by any means. Doing so only creates frustration for the viewer, and therefore a miserable viewing experience.

These unanswered questions therefore ruin the big twist at the end, which would actually be very cool, were it done correctly. This is a case where more time should have been spent on the script prior to shooting.

I really wanted to like NEVER OPEN THE DOOR, but there’s too many things wrong with it. The basic premise is intriguing, and the cover art on the Blu-ray screams “Watch this movie!”…but this production needs to revisit the proverbial drawing board before it moves forward. The film is available now, however, if you decide to give it a look.

MSB

Movie Review – The Curse of Doctor Wolffenstein (2016)

The Curse of Doctor Wolffenstein
Directed by Marc Rhonstock
Courtesy of Reel Gore Releasing
Release Date: October 25, 2016

I find splatter flicks from any country fun, however those from Germany are particularly interesting. This might stem from the fact the German language sounds so angry when it is spoken, regardless of what is being said. I kid, but seriously, German director Marc Rhonstock knows what gore-hounds want and he knows how to deliver. His latest offering, THE CURSE OF DOCTOR WOLFFENSTEIN, is a blood-drenched trek into carnage heaven. And while the film is not perfect, it’s still a heck of a horror film and very effective when it comes to the squirm factor.

If you are not familiar with THE CURSE OF DOCTOR WOLFFENSTEIN, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Reel Gore Releasing:

80 years ago, the diabolical Dr. Victor Wolffenstein wanted nothing more than to be immortal. His tireless quest led him to create a vaccine that did just that, but also infected his body with a flesh-rotting form of necrosis. As the Doctor’s limbs literally fell apart, he tried to replace them by using the crudely removed arms and legs of the local villagers who, in order to stop Wolffenstein’s reign of terror, captured him and buried him alive for his crimes. In present day, five teenagers plan to attend an out of town rave that goes awry, and end up stranded in the village, when the evil and still decaying Dr.Wolffenstein wakes up, screaming for vengeance! The unlucky teens land squarely within sight of the malevolent medic, and, with the help of his latest creation, the Infiltrator, Dr. Wolffenstein lures them to his secret hideaway with the intention of curing his necrosis and ending his Curse once and for all. Will anyone survive Wolffenstein’s skin melting, limb-hacking Wrath?

I am very impressed with Rhonstock’s persistent use of practical effects. I think I spotted a couple of CG effects amidst the slaughter, but I can’t be sure. This uncertainty is exactly what you want if you are director: effects so good, they are hard to distinguish between fiction and reality. The bloodshed presented in this film is beyond brutal, and it is amazingly realistic. Average horror fans will probably have a hard time getting through certain scenes; this one is definitely geared more toward fanatics of guts and gore.

But despite the crimson fountains and buckets of entrails, THE CURSE OF DOCTOR WOLFFENSTEIN does have a few flaws. First and foremost is the acting. While it is not downright abysmal, there are a couple of actors I could never see again and definitely not have my feelings hurt. A couple of the performances are way too wooden for a horror flick, while yet others are way too annoying. Thankfully, the annoying characters do not survive very long.

The movie is also a bit lengthy. It’s almost two hours long, however it would have been just fine if whittled down to 90 or even 100 minutes. This isn’t a major detractor, but I do have to mention it.

Still, there’s no denying the entertainment THE CURSE OF DOCTOR WOLFFENSTEIN offers. In fact, one might even say it offers buckets and buckets of fun (red, liquid fun, that is). I definitely recommend this bloodbath, and I suggest you check it out on Blu-ray; doing so will allow you to enjoy every splatter and gush in HD. The film is available now, so make a note. Just make sure to watch it on an empty stomach…

MSB

Blu-ray Movie Review – Dead End Drive-In (1986)

Dead End Drive-In
Directed by Brian Trenchard-Smith
Courtesy of Arrow Video & MVD Distribution
Original Year of Release: 1986
Blu-ray Release Date: September 20, 2016

Director Brian Trenchard-Smith is a diverse talent whose career has stretched over several decades, and he has given genre films several major gems, including TURKEY SHOOT (a.k.a. ESCAPE 2000) (Severin Films re-released this last year…click here to read my review), BMX BANDITS, THE QUEST (with Henry Thomas), and NIGHT OF THE DEMONS 2. I’ve enjoyed several of his films, so when Arrow and MVD teamed up to release DEAD END DRIVE-IN, I knew I had to give it a look. Somehow, this 80s cult classic eluded me throughout the years. I’m glad I got to watch it, too…DEAD END DRIVE-IN is a lot of fun and encapsulates the heart and soul of the 80s perfectly.

If you are not familiar with DEAD END DRIVE-IN, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Arrow Video & MVD Distribution:

THE PRICE OF ADMISSION IS THE REST OF YOUR LIFE.
One of Quentin Tarantino’s favorite directors, Brian Trenchard-Smith was a key figure in the Ozploitation movement, responsible for The Man from Hong Kong, Stunt Rock, Turkey Shoot, BMX Bandits… and dystopian cult classic Dead-End Drive In!

Set in a near-future where the economy has crumbled and violent gangs play havoc in the streets, the powers-that-be have decided to lure the delinquent youth into drive-in cinemas and keep them there. No longer just a place to watch trashy movies and make out, these outdoor picture shows have become concentration camps for the unruly and unwanted.

With its day-glo colour scheme, new wave soundtrack and extraordinary stunt work, Dead-End Drive-In is in the tradition of Ozploitation milestones Mad Max and The Cars That Ate Paris only very, very eighties.

My buddy Hayes over at Hayes Hudson’s House of Horror described this film as “…a cheesy, light-hearted version of MAD MAX.” He’s exactly right. The look and feel of this post-apocalyptic flick screams Australian wasteland for some reason, and that’s certainly not a bad thing. I think this is one of the reasons I enjoyed the film so much.

DEAD END DRIVE-IN is shot well, although the cinematography offers nothing new; it is simply used to tell the story and nothing more. The HD transfer is crisp, and the sound offers a great surround-sound experience.

The acting is pretty good, although I will not say it is great. But it doesn’t have to be for a film like this. For these kind of titles, the cast just has to not suck enough so as to not detract from the film. Thankfully, the actors here are well above that caliber, but not so good as to warrant awards.

The plot in DEAD END DRIVE-IN is interesting, even though it shares similarities with other PA films from the 80s. I have to tip my hat to Trenchard-Smith, however, for not stealing ideas; he combines several small aspects of other films to form a major and unique story. The concept of jailing undesirables in a drive-in is certainly one I’d never heard of before, and I wager you have not either. Thus, the originality factor alone is enough of a reason to watch this one.

And watch it you should. DEAD END DRIVE-IN is wonderful 80s fare, and fans of Aussie exploitation films should love it. Heck, even horror fans will probably find it worth watching. The Blu-ray Special Edition contents are fun and include:

SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS
• Brand new 2K restoration from original film materials
• High Definition (1080p) Presentation
• Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
• Audio commentary by director Brian Trenchard-Smith
• The Stuntmen, Trenchard Smith s classic television documentary on Grant Page (Mad Max, Road Games) and other Australian stunt performers
• Hospitals Don t Burn Down, Trenchard-Smith s 1978 public information film told in pure Ozploitation fashion
• Theatrical trailer
First pressing only: fully-illustrated collector s booklet containing writing on the films by Cullen Gallagher and Neil Mitchell

The film is available now.

MSB

Horror flick MARVELOUS MANDY is available now!

Marvelous Mandy now available on BluRay, DVD, and Vimeo On Demand.

HORRORinsidetheBOX presents Marvelous Mandy, staring Paula Marcenaro Solinger, written by Brentt Slabchuck and directed by Chase Dudley.

Plot Synopsis:
Down-on-his-luck single dad Harvey Fowler gets a much needed boost when he meets children’s author Mandy Simpkins, author of the Marvelous Mandy storybooks that his daughter loves. Their beautifully vivacious relationship seems like it couldn’t get any more perfect, until Harvey gains some disturbing insights into her fractured mental state. When cracks start to show through her dreamlike personality, Harvey learns who she really is- and just how vicious she’ll become to maintain the illusion of her perfect life.

Sounds like it could be interesting, right? I hope it is! I will have a review of MARVELOUS MANDY soon, so keep an eye out! If you want to give it a look now, BluRays and DVDs now available at LCFilmsOnline.com and on Vimeo on demand at https://vimeo.com/ondemand/marvelousmandy

MSB

TV Show Review – American Gothic, Season 1

American Gothic, Season 1
Courtesy of CBS Entertainment
Release Date: December 13, 2016

I mentioned a while back that many great TV shows seem to be getting the ax way too soon, and AMERICAN GOTHIC is yet another of these titles. I know, I know…you’re probably exasperated from hearing me lament about this, but I have to be straightforward when it comes to my opinions.

Despite the menacing title, AMERICAN GOTHIC is not a horror series, but more of a mystery thriller. Even so, it is a tension-filled, engaging drama that will have you squirming in your seat throughout each episode. And although the show is canceled, it is still definitely worth a watch.

If you are not familiar with AMERICAN GOTHIC, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of CBS Entertainment:

AMERICAN GOTHIC centers on a prominent Boston family reeling in the wake of the chilling discovery that someone in their midst is linked to an infamous string of murders. As shocking secrets from the past and present are revealed, their mounting suspicion and paranoia that one of them is a killer threatens to tear the family apart.

I love the family drama aspect of this show. In addition to the main plotline, several smaller subplots help move the season along, and each is intriguing in its own right.

AMERICAN GOTHIC is shot well and looks great onscreen. The production value appears fairly high, and the overall feel of the series is one of a decent caliber.

The acting is very good, with an all-star cast occupying the screen most of the time. I particularly enjoyed seeing Juliet Rylance, Antony Starr, and Justin Chatwin. Starr was magnificent in BANSHEE, and I look forward to seeing everything he’s a part of; Chatwin has been great in several previous performances, so it’s always a pleasure to see him onscreen; and although Rylance has a short filmography, she is still a powerhouse in the talent department.

As mentioned, the story in AMERICAN GOTHIC is enthralling. The viewer is yanked into episode one from the start, and the hold never lets go. I’m very surprised this show did not rate very well with viewers, as I found the mystery very addictive. But I guess there are too many other great shows available to watch, which is what pulled the viewership down on this one.

AMERICAN GOTHIC Season 1 is a heck of a series, and I wish we could have seen where it was going. But even so, I highly recommend giving it a look regardless. Despite the questions that remain, it’s entertaining nonetheless.

MSB

Movie Review – Killjoy’s Psycho Circus (2016)

Killjoy’s Psycho Circus
Directed by John Lechago
Courtesy of Full Moon Entertainment
Release Date: December 1, 2016

killjoy

When I heard Full Moon was launching a fund-raising program to make another KILLJOY film, I almost jumped out of seat and clapped. I love the crazy demonic clown and his demented entourage of misfits, and I couldn’t wait to see what kind of mayhem he could drum up next. But then I found out John Lechago was behind the camera again, and I almost broke into full-blown applause. Lechago is a heck of a director, and I’ve greatly enjoyed several of his films, including BIO SLIME, and both of his entries in the KILLJOY franchise (KILLJOY 3 and KILLJOY GOES TO HELL). This new installment, KILLJOY’S PSYCHO CIRCUS, appeared to follow right along with the previous titles in the series, so I expected great things. The fine folks at Full Moon were kind enough to provide me with a review copy of the film, so with great enthusiasm, I sat down to give it a look.

Interestingly, KILLJOY’S PSYCHO CIRCUS is not nearly as good as its predecessors. It’s not a bad film per se, however it lacks the spark that KILLJOY 3 and KILLJOY GOES TO HELL had. I have a theory as to why, which I’ll explain below. But even so, this installment is definitely worth watching, and I will be interested to see where the franchise goes from here.

If you are not familiar with KILLJOY’S PSYCHO CIRCUS, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Full Moon Features:

Your favorite Demon Clown KILLJOY (Trent Haaga) is BACK! Along with his gruesome crew BATTY BOOP (Victoria De Mare), PUNCHY The Hobo Clown (Al Burke), Freakshow (Tai Chan Ngo) and new sidekick HANDY (Tim Chizmar) – they are out of HELL to terrorize Earthly mortals… Killjoy, the demon clown and his gruesome crew – Batty Boop, Punchy and Freakshow have finally made it to Earth! Killjoy has settled in and is starring in his own web series called PSYCHO CIRCUS. But two years down the road, Killjoy discovers that life here on Earth is a drag – filled with inconveniences such as eating, breathing, taxes, immigration and mortal sex! More problems arise as Killjoy’s love interest Batty Boop leaves after a bitter lover’s quarrel, not to mention that Killjoy is now semi-mortal! But the challenges of being famous are nothing compared to the challenges of staying alive. After being tried for letting Killjoy escape, BEELZEBUB can only redeem himself by trapping Killjoy’s spirit and bringing it back to Hell. Killjoy must find a way to unite his gang of clowns to defeat Beelzebub and his Six-Psychos! It all comes together in an EPIC space-battle in KILLJOY’S PSYCHO CIRCUS!

It pains me a bit to write this review because I’m such a huge fan of Full Moon and 99% of their films. Even though this is not a negative review, I find myself down because I cannot fully rave about the movie. Instead, I have to give it a lukewarm write-up instead of a red hot, fiery one.

As mentioned, KILLJOY’S PSYCHO CIRCUS looks good from a production standpoint. The camerawork is crisp, the sets are interesting, and the special effects are fairly tight, particularly the make-up. I love Killjoy’s clown make-up. It is unnerving on several levels, and even more so when he is cracking jokes while butchering someone.

The acting is again great as well, with Trent Haaga reprising his role as the titular psychotic jester. Haaga is perfect as Killjoy, and I love his onscreen presence with the character. He is joined once more by the familiar cast of regulars, including the beautiful and talented Victoria De Mare; Al Burke as Punchy the Hobo Clown; Tai Chan Ngo as Freakshow the Mime; and Stephen F. Cardwell as Beelzebub.

But the plot in KILLJOY’S PSYCHO CIRCUS is where a couple of issues enter. First, Killjoy is emasculated in this film, which is out of character to me. I get the fact he’s been on Earth for three years, which has therefore sorta turned him into a wuss…but I feel like Killjoy never really would have let his new environment sap his desire for carnage and mayhem.

Similarly, his online show is called “Psycho Circus”, but there’s really not much psychotic going on. It’s very tame compared to what I would have thought (even if they do electrocute a guy onscreen). Also, the whole deal with spaceships took me out of the story. That made the plot a bit too hokey for me to enjoy completely.

But still, even with these slight misgivings aside, KILLJOY’S PSYCHO CIRCUS is still fun. Granted, it’s not as entertaining as its two most recent forerunners, but it’s definitely worth the look nonetheless. The film is available now in a couple of formats.

MSB