Movie Review – American Guinea Pig: Bloodshock (2016)

American Guinea Pig: Bloodshock
Directed by Marcus Koch
Courtesy of Unearthed Films & MVD Distribution
Release Date: November 22, 2016

bloodshock

I love to see special effects crews pushing the boundaries of existing gore effects. It seems such effects get more and more realistic as the years go by. Blood thickens and pools realistically, innards glisten as they’re ripped out, and even heads explode. The carnage gains more realism as we viewers scream for more. I’ve even heard of some effects teams using real animal entrails as human organs for certain shots!

The American Guinea Pig series is well-renowned for its bloodletting and butchery, however this latest entry, BLOODSHOCK, offers an artistic view of the cruelty. Shot primarily in black-and-white, this is not your typical torture flick. And while I don’t find it as impactful as previous AGP films, this one is still interesting to watch and a heck of a movie to boot.

If you are not familiar with AMERICAN GUINEA PIG: BLOODSHOCK, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Unearthed Films & MVD Distribution:

A man finds himself trapped and used for medical experiments in an abandoned mental facility. He doesn’t understand why or how he got there, but the surgical tortures allow him to experience a new level of pain, sadness and reality he has never felt before. As the levels of maniacal mutilation enfolds, he finds himself down the rabbit hole. Grasping onto anything, the tormented finds a way out. Clutching onto what every human being is desperate for…little does he understand, his ending is all of our endings.

As mentioned, the majority of the film is not shot in color. As a result, the torture and bloodshed lose some of their shock value; after all, it’s hard to distinguish between blood and chocolate syrup when a lack of pigment is introduced. This is the primary reason I didn’t enjoy the film as much as its predecessors.

The acting in AMERICAN GUINEA PIG: BLOODSHOCK is very good, with the whole cast doing a great job. The two victims are very convincing, as is the “mad doctor” who is doing the experimenting.

The story is curious, as the flashbacks tend to deepen the mystery until the very end. I admit I didn’t see the “big reveal” coming, and I like its clever nature. I have read reviews that stated the viewer did not like the twist, and felt it was a cheap way to end the movie; I disagree completely…it changed my whole perception of what I had just seen, and therefore changed the way I felt about the victims.

The gore in AMERICAN GUINEA PIG: BLOODSHOCK appears to be excellent, although as mentioned above, the lack of color depletes its effectiveness quite a bit. However, the final scenes, which are colorized, offer a gut-wrenching and disgusting foray into severely messed up territory. The scenes fit the film perfectly, and I squirmed until they were over.

Despite its lack of punch, AMERICAN GUINEA PIG: BLOODSHOCK is still a hell of a film, and I recommend giving it a look…that is, if you can stomach it. Viewer beware: many of you will still probably find the movie too grotesque to endure. But if you’re a gore hound or if you simply appreciate the obscure and don’t mind some carnage, I’ll bet you’ll love this one, too.

AMERICAN GUINEA PIG: BLOODSHOCK is available now in a Limited Collector’s Edition that comes with a CD containing the soundtrack.

MSB

TV Show Review – Braindead, Season 1

Braindead, Season 1
Courtesy of CBS Entertainment
Release Date: December 6, 2016

braindead

I shouldn’t be surprised. This happens all the time, much to my disappointment: seems like original and inventive TV shows are always canned early on during their run. It is an occurrence that is happening more and more often, too. I understand the need for ratings, but I wish quality of content mattered as well.

A recent victim of the cancellation axe is BRAINDEAD, a dark comedy set in Washington D.C. that involves politicians and the alien bugs that are overtaking them. While this concept might sound like nonfiction with the way things are going these days, the show is a welcome and humorous relief. And despite the fact it is not returning for Season 2, it is still definitely worth checking out.

If you are not familiar with BRAINDEAD, Season 1, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of CBS Entertainment:

Set in Washington D.C., Braindead follows a young, struggling documentary filmmaker Laurel Healy (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) as she takes a job working with her brother, Senator Luke Healy (Danny Pino). She soon discovers there’s more to Washington than meets the eye. As tensions grow amongst political parties, so does a conspiracy involving alien bugs replacing the brains of several members of Congress. The investigation unfolds while the infection spreads. Whatever is happening, it’s clear this isn’t politics as usual.

Part of what makes this show so great is the cast. I love Mary Elizabeth Winstead in any role she plays. And I’ve enjoyed Danny Pino’s work for a long time, watching him for several seasons on Law & Order: SVU. Throw in Tony Shalhoub, and you’ve got an all-star cast that meshes well and helps the series shine.

Each episode of BRAINDEAD is shot well and looks great from a production standpoint. I am assuming the show was actually filmed in D.C. because of all the landmarks, but I cannot confirm that. If these locales are only sets, they appear amazingly accurate in detail.

The plotline of the show is the big winner, though. Rife with underlying themes and subtle societal commentaries, the series is filled with tension, intrigue, and dark comedy. There’s truly something for everybody here. Even if you don’t like politics, this show will still draw you in and keep you enthralled. Just remember to keep in mind it is not coming back for another season…at least not on its previous network.

BRAINDEAD is a major win for me, and I’m seriously considering a petition to Netflix or Hulu to try and pick it up for further episodes. But regardless of whether or not it returns, I highly recommend giving Season 1 a look. It hits store shelves next Tuesday, so make a note.

MSB

Movie Review – Jason Bourne (2016)

Jason Bourne
Directed by Paul Greengrass
Courtesy of Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
Release Date: December 6, 2016

jason-bourne

I fell in love with the character of Jason Bourne back in 2002 when THE BOURNE IDENTITY film first came out. The movie was so good, it prompted me to read Robert Ludlum’s excellent novel from 1980. I am still impressed with how well the screenplay captured the intensity and fun of the novel. Since 2002, three other Bourne films have been made, with the most recent, JASON BOURNE, debuting next week on physical media. I am happy to report the cinema series has managed to retain its entertainment value, even after fifteen years.

If you are not familiar with JASON BOURNE, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Universal Pictures Home Entertainment:

Matt Damon returns to his most iconic role in Jason Bourne. Paul Greengrass, the director of The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum, once again joins Damon for the next chapter of Universal Pictures’ Bourne franchise, which finds the CIA’s most lethal operative drawn out of the shadows. Damon is joined by Alicia Vikander, Vincent Cassel and Tommy Lee Jones, while Julia Stiles reprises her role in the series.

JASON BOURNE picks up a few years after THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM. Jason is making a living (or so it seems) as a pit fighter, a nomadic brawler who battles for money. But when Nicky Parsons contacts him from out of the blue with some illuminating new information about Treadstone, Jason is once again thrust into a world he is trying to forget.

JASON BOURNE is shot well and looks great onscreen. As with the rest of the series, the cinematography does an excellent job of capturing the foreign locales in which the action takes place. Combined with the HD 4K resolution, the film is staggeringly vibrant.

The acting is great, with Matt Damon once again reprising his role as the titular character. I love Damon’s onscreen presence, as he dominates every scene. He is joined by screen vets Tommy Lee Jones and Vincent Cassel, as well as newer faces like Alicia Vikander, who will portray Laura Croft in the 2018 release TOMB RAIDER. The whole cast meshes well and does a fine job.

The storyline in JASON BOURNE extends the existing Bourne canon and takes it in a new direction. I will admit it is a bit obvious as to where it leads and the big “reveal”, but the journey to get there is fun nonetheless. Damon and director Paul Greengrass always entertain when they team up, and this film is certainly no different.

JASON BOURNE is a win for me, and I recommend giving it a look. If you are new to the franchise, step back to THE BOURNE IDENTITY and watch the other three films before approaching this one; and if you’re already in-step, prepare for an intriguing ride once more. Nobody could play Bourne like Matt Damon, and I’m glad to see him back at it once again. I hope the series continues in one way or another…there’s still a lot of territory left that it could explore.

JASON BOURNE hits store shelves next Tuesday, so make a note.

MSB