Check out the trailer for POLAROID

Dimension Films is releasing a horror flick in August called POLAROID, and I’m pretty excited about it so far. It is set to hit theaters August 25, 2017. This looks like it could be really good. Here is the film’s official synopsis:

From the producers of the THE RING and THE GRUDGE and based on the award-winning short by Lars Klevberg, comes the next iconic and bold new vision in horror: POLAROID. High school loner Bird Fitcher has no idea what dark secrets are tied to the mysterious Polaroid vintage camera she stumbles upon, but it doesn’t take long to discover that those who have their picture taken meet a tragic end.

Check out the trailer below, and let me know what YOU think…

MSB

Blu-ray Movie Review – Wolf Guy (1975)

Wolf Guy
Directed by Kazuhiko Yamaguchi
Courtesy of Arrow Video & MVD Distribution
Original Year of Release: 1975
Blu-ray Release Date: May 23, 2017

When it comes to obscure and entertaining titles, Arrow and MVD have a knack for tracking some of the strangest. WOLF GUY is definitely not a commonplace title, and it’s certainly weird…but it’s also a lot of fun. Chances are, you’ve probably never heard of this one (I hadn’t!), but that should not dissuade you from checking it out. The film is an odd mix of action, mystery, and quirky backstory, but it all combines to create a crazy, 85 minute trek into 70’s nostalgia.

If you are not familiar with WOLF GUY, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Arrow Video & MVD Distribution:

Shinichi ‘Sonny’ Chiba is a martial arts ”manimal” in the ultra-70’s, 100% bizarre mixture of horror, action and sci-fi that is Wolf Guy, one of the rarest and most sought-after cult films produced by Japan’s Toei Studio. Based on a manga by Kazumasa Hirai (creator of 8 Man), and never before released outside of Japan, it’s a genre film classic waiting to be discovered and a completely unclassifiable trip into phantasmagoric funk.

Chiba stars as Akira Inugami, the only survivor of a clan of ancient werewolves who relies on his supernatural powers to solve mysterious crimes. After a series of bloody killings perpetrated by an unseen force, Inugami uncovers a conspiracy involving a murdered cabaret singer, corrupt politicians, and a plot by the J-CIA to harvest his blood in order to steal his lycanthropic powers! At the same time, Inugami also discovers the truth behind his family heritage, and that he may not be the last of his kind.

Directed by B-movie genius Kazuhiko Yamaguchi (Sister Streetfighter, Wandering Ginza Butterfly, Karate Bear Fighter), Wolf Guy truly is one-of-a-kind, with Chiba in full effect as the part-man, part-wolf, all-karate action hero and a collection of familiar 1970’s Toei actors in support. Violence, action, nudity, real surgical footage, and a psychedelic musical score all work together to create an unforgettable trip to the heights of Japanese cinematic weirdness.

I’m not really sure how I would classify WOLF GUY. Does it have martial arts action? Check. Does it have a murder mystery? Check. Does it have gore? Check. Does it have STDs? Check. Is this a trippy movie? Definitely check. Ultimately, you’ll have to watch this for yourself and then decide where you would put it.

WOLF GUY is shot fairly well, although some of the camera angles are “odd”. I can’t really describe it…you just have to see it to understand. The camera is placed in some strange locations in order to capture the scene. This isn’t a negative, but you’ll probably notice what I mean pretty quickly.

The acting is typical 70’s, Japanese fare: it’s not horrible, but it certainly won’t win any awards. I always enjoy Sonny Chiba onscreen, regardless of the role he’s playing. I will admit it was a bit weird to see him in this one, but he does a great job nonetheless.

The story in WOLF GUY, as mentioned, is basically a murder mystery…with a supernatural twist. I won’t go into great detail, as I don’t want to spoil anything, but it involves a girl who received an STD and her plan for revenge. Chiba is a descendant of a line of werewolves and uses his powers to solve crime. See what I mean about quirky?

My sole complaint about the film is that there’s not really any werewolf effects. This doesn’t detract from the film per se, but I was personally disappointed because I’m a sucker for special effects.

Still, WOLF GUY is a ton of fun, and you’ve got to see it to appreciate it. I definitely recommend it; this is one of those films you should watch in a group…just to make sure you don’t miss anything. It is available now.

SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS:
• High Definition digital transfer
• High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
• Original uncompressed mono audio
• New optional English subtitle translation
• New video interview with actor Sonny Chiba
• New video interview with director Kazuhiko Yamaguchi
• New video interview with producer Tatsu Yoshida
• Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Wes Benscoter
FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Patrick Macias and a history of Japanese monster movie mashups by Jasper Sharp

MSB

TV Show Review – Incorporated, season 1

Incorporated, Season 1
Courtesy of CBS Home Entertainment & Paramount
Release Date: June 20, 2017

I love how Syfy Channel is incorporating more science fiction back into their lineup. I was worried for a while that they might have to rename the channel because the programming wasn’t really matching their name. Thankfully, they seem to be on the road to fixing that.

INCORPORATED, a recent series from producers Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, was canceled after a single season, however it is a bold offering and a testament to an attempt at quality, original programming. Despite its cancelation, INCORPORATED is a heck of a show, and it’s still worth watching.

If you are not familiar with INCORPORATED, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of CBS and Paramount

Set in a near future where corporations have unlimited power, INCORPORATED follows Ben Larson (Sean Teal, “Reign”), a young executive who conceals his true identity to infiltrate a dangerous corporate world to save the woman he loves. But he’ll soon learn that he’s not the only one whose secrets may have deadly consequences. In addition to Teale, the series stars Golden Globe nominee Dennis Haysbert (“24), Emmy Award winner Julia Ormond (“Mad Men”), Allison Miller (“Terra Nova”), and Eddie Ramos (“Teen Wolf”), with Matt Damon and Ben Affleck as Executive Producers.

One of the biggest positives for me is the use of technology to help tell the story. The futuristic sophistication of their tech is a focal point in the storyline, but it’s only a part of it. The human drama involved is what really drives it, which in turn makes the high tech imagery an integral partner.

INCORPORATED is shot well and looks great onscreen. As mentioned, the special effects really pop and look slick alongside the storyline. The acting is also great, with Sean Teale headlining a terrific cast.

But where INCORPORATED really shines is in its ability to draw in the viewer without forcing a major knowledge-infusion upon him or her. Unlike GAME OF THRONES, which makes the viewer learn a whole new world and the rules that govern it, INCORPORATED is content to remain starkly familiar and yet enticingly different. This casual air allows the dramatic elements to unfold in an eye-catching and yet fantastic setting.

INCORPORATED is a win for me, and I recommend it. Look past the fact it was canceled, and give it a watch nonetheless. It’s entertaining and engaging fun. It is available now.

MSB

Guest Post from Author Matthew W. Quinn

Today you’re in for a real treat, my dear readers: you get a break from me.

That’s right…instead of listening to me babble, you’ll be hearing (or technically ‘reading’) ANOTHER Matthew’s words. I’m taking a day-long break from my ranting (or more appropriately ‘ravings’) to let author Matthew Q. Quinn talk about his most recent work, THE THING IN THE WOODS.

Here is the book’s plot synopsis, courtesy of the author:

Seventeen-year-old James Daly’s father bought a house in small-town Edington, Georgia to go with a promotion at his Atlanta law firm, only to lose his job when the housing bubble collapsed. Now James has to work at the Edington Best Buy to help pay the mortgage they’re underwater on. He can’t wait until he turns eighteen and can leave Edington behind forever.

But when a local boy challenges him to an ATV race near a tree farm most people avoid, things get much worse. James’ rival is dismembered alive by a tentacled horror emerging from a nearby pond. The monstrosity has been worshiped by a secretive coven since before the Civil War, and its devotees don’t take kindly to their secrets being threatened.

Now with the aid of Amber Webb, a local girl he doesn’t like liking, and a renegade cult member, James must fight to avoid ending up bound to a picnic table and offered up to a monster. He must do battle with both the local cultists and their predatory master, THE THING IN THE WOODS.

** Click here to visit THE THING IN THE WOODS Goodreads page

I have not read the book, however I’m definitely intrigued. When tentacled monstrosities rear their heads (or arms) in rural areas, my interest is always piqued, as they make me think of Lovecraftian things. From what Mr. Quinn tells me, I’m not far off the mark. I asked him if Lovecraft and Cthulhu influenced the book, and if he would mind putting together a post for Shattered Ravings in regard to his inspiration. Here is his response:

———-

CALL OF CTHULHU, The Great Recession, and the Origin of THE THING IN THE WOODS
by Matthew W. Quinn

My novel The Thing in the Woods is available for purchase as an e-book on Amazon and will soon be available in print via CreateSpace on sites like Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The esteemed Mr. Baker, a big fan of H.P. Lovecraft, asked me how Thing came to be. So here goes…

Thing began in that long-lost wonderland known as Borders, in particular the one in the community where I grew up. I’m not totally sure on the chronology, but I think I was home from college and hanging out there one evening reading a Call of Cthulhu role-playing manual. The manual sketched out a scenario where the kind of rural fastness where Lovecraft’s stories often take place ends up becoming suburbanized. The book used the phrase “supernatural Love Canal,” a reference to a neighborhood in New York State built on top of a forgotten toxic-waste dump.

Soon after, I went to work as a reporter for The Griffin Daily News. I arrived just as the Great Recession came and that had a major impact on the story. From one of the city’s development people I learned the term “pipe farm,” a reference to a neighborhood where the foundations for houses and the utilities had been laid, but the money dried up before they could be finished. That makes an appearance in Thing–when the Atlanta transplant teens face off against local teens in an ATV race, they meet up at a pipe farm. A plot of land near my apartment complex was bulldozed in preparation to build condos, but the condos never came and the land returned to nature. I can’t remember fully if that appears in Thing either, but it seems like the sort of little detail that would.

But Thing is not a traditional Lovecraft story set in the Atlanta exurbs as opposed to rural New England. The monstrous creature our hero James Daly faces off against, though some local people worship it as a god, is in an altogether different league than the Great Old Ones. If I were going to equate it to one of Lovecraft’s creatures, it’s probably on the same power level as a shoggoth. It’s extremely dangerous, but it’s vulnerable to mortal weapons in a way that Cthulhu, Yog-Sothoth, etc. are not. I also go out of my way to avoid Lovecraft’s racism and classism. There are rednecky villains, yes, but they’re complicated individuals who happen to make very bad choices, not slavering inbreds.

Of course, that doesn’t mean humanity is out of the woods should James and his friends triumph over the horror lurking in Edington’s tree farm. If this sells well enough that I can find a buyer for the planned sequel The Atlanta Incursion, the world is going to get a lot bigger and a lot scarier. Who knows what else might be coming through the cracks in the walls between the worlds?

So if you’d like to see my take on Lovecraftian horror, check out Thing as well as my novelette “The Beast of the Bosporus” as a standalone story, in my collection Flashing Steel Flashing Fire, or the fantasy collection Uncommon Senses.

———-

THE THING IN THE WOODS is available now in a variety of formats, including e-copy and print. Click the links below to check it out:

THE THING IN THE WOODS – Barnes & Noble
THE THING IN THE WOODS – Amazon

If you read it, stop back by here and leave a comment with your thoughts!

MSB

Roleplaying Game Review – RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha–Quickstart Rules and Adventure

RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha—Quickstart Rules and Adventure
Publisher: Chaosium
Release Date: July 1, 2017

Just in time for Free RPG Day (which is tomorrow, June 17, 2017, at participating retailers!), the folks at Chaosium have given roleplayers the opportunity to visit Glorantha, the mystical land in which RuneQuest adventures take place. Whether you are new to the realm (like me) or a veteran pro, chances are you’ll enjoy perusing this new edition of the classic game’s rules and even partaking in the provided adventure as well.

If you are not familiar with Glorantha and RuneQuest, here is a brief description of the RPG, courtesy of Chaosium:

Welcome to Glorantha! A mythic world of mortals and gods, myths and cults, monsters and heroes. In Glorantha, the Runes permeate everything, and mastery of Runes allows astonishing feats of bravery and magic. Glorantha is an ancient world, and has known many ages, but now it is at the brink of the greatest conflict it has ever known…the Hero Wars.

Glorantha is the setting of RuneQuest, one of the oldest and most influential roleplaying games ever published. This Quickstart collects all the essential rules for RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha and presents them in abbreviated form. Use this booklet to start playing immediately, and to discover the improvements to the system. These game rules and a new adventure—The Broken Tower—preview the newest edition of RuneQuest, developed in close consultation with the designers and authors of the original RuneQuest and of Glorantha.

The Broken Tower, set in the heart of the Dragon Pass, is suitable for up to 5 adventurers and one gamemaster, complete with all the rules needed to play.

As an old hand of Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder, I consider myself to be a pretty decent judge of entertainment value when it comes to RPGs. As such, I can definitely say RuneQuest brings some nice newer elements to the table. These include different magical energies, such as spirit magic, which is the most common type of magic found in the land, and Rune magic, which is available only to members of specific cults/gods.

Another nice feature is the ability to put armor on and target specific body parts when attacking. This might have come about in later editions of D&D and Pathfinder, but I never ran across the options back in the day. RuneQuest includes these on the character sheets, which makes battling a much more immersive and intense action.

This Quickstart guide is an excellent introduction to the core rules and basic gameplay of the RPG. The information is presented in an easy-to-follow manner, and it covers every aspect potential gamemasters and players might need to know before playing. I had no problem getting started, and my players quickly learned most everything they needed to get the adventure going. At the conclusion, the general consensus among our group was that this RPG is a lot of fun and worth more time investment.

The included adventure, The Broken Tower, is pretty basic, but fun nonetheless. It utilizes pre-generated characters, which threw me for a loop at first because I thought using them might make the adventure a bit lopsided. Thankfully, they were not super-powerful characters, just random folks that might appear as NPCs (non-player characters) in the game elsewhere.

RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha—Quickstart Rules and Adventure is a huge win for me, and I suggest giving it a look. If you’re new to RPGs, then snag this Quickstart and dive right in; you’re sure to have a great time. If you’re already schooled with other RPGs, still give this one a chance; it might just surprise you.

The RuneQuest: Roleplaying in Glorantha—Quickstart Rules and Adventure will be available for FREE at participating retailers (visit www.freerpgday.com to find stores near you) tomorrow for Free RPG Day. Otherwise, the book will be available from the Chaosium website (link above) on July 1, 2017, in both a physical and PDF format.

MSB

Blu-ray Movie Review – Blackenstein (1973)

Blackenstein
Directed by William A. Levey
Courtesy of Severin Films & CAV Distribution
Original Year of Release: 1973
Blu-ray Release Date: May 30, 2017

There are some films that you expect to be terrible, just based on their titles alone. Several films immediately come to mind for me, and interestingly enough, most of them are exploitation films. Such is the case for today’s movie, BLACKENSTEIN. I knew from the start what I was going in to with this one, and I still had a great time with it. You just can’t help yourself. The film is definitely so bad, it’s good. If you like schlocky, C-grade horror comedy, then you’ve come to the right place. BLACKENSTEIN is the film for you.

If you are not familiar with BLACKENSTEIN, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Severin Films & CAV Distribution:

Two Restored Versions of the Most Notorious Blaxpoitation Shocker of Them All…And The Most Insane Backstory Ever.

You may have heard of this infamous Blaxploitation/Horror hybrid, but the real story is even more bizarre: In 1973, criminal-lawyer-turned-wannabe-monster-movie-mogul Frank R. Saletri wrote and produced this grindhouse hit about a Black soldier mortally wounded in Vietnam transformed into a rampaging monster by an L.A. mad scientist. Almost a decade later, Seletri himself would be murdered gangland-style in a crime that remains debated and unsolved to this day. John Hart (TV’s “The Lone Ranger”), 40s Hollywood starlet Andrea King (THE BEAST WITH FIVE FINGERS) and even former mob moll/stripper Liz Renay (DESPERATE LIVING) star in this jaw-dropper directed by William A. Levey (THE HAPPY HOOKER GOES TO WASHINGTON), now restored with all-new Special Features that spotlight the entire twisted saga!

I had heard of films like BLACKULA and whatnot, but I confess BLACKENSTEIN was new to me. When I first got the press release, I was immediately interested, though. The concept was simply too rich to pass up. And sure enough, I got exactly what I was expecting.

BLACKENSTEIN looks pretty good onscreen for the most part. The HD transfer appears to have done the source material a lot of good, although I do have to say there are still many grainy scenes. I’m assuming this is due to a lack of quality in the original negative, although I cannot say for sure. The second version of the film (the “director’s cut”, with additional footage) has a disclaimer that states the source material could not be upgraded, therefore the additions do not have the same quality as the original film. I watched both versions of the film, and the additional footage doesn’t really add much to the story, therefore you’re not missing out if you only watch the original theatrical release (I’m glad they put the disclaimer up there, though!).

The acting in BLACKENSTEIN is downright awful, but it is exactly what a film like this should have. This movie does not (and should not) take itself seriously, therefore the actors shouldn’t either. Actress Ivory Stone (whose sole IMDB credit is this film) is pretty much the main character, but her acting is wooden and lifeless. I would swear I could sometimes see her eyes flick to a cue card as she read her dialogue, much like guests have to do on Saturday Night Live. John Hart, who portrays Dr. Stein, gives a better performance, but even he is restricted by a flat and nonsensical script.

The special effects are lacking, however they seem to be the only part of this film that was taken seriously. A decent effort was put into making them look real (particularly the gore), however they still come across as laughable in some aspects. Still, I do have to commend the production team on trying.

BLACKENSTEIN is a great flick to make fun of, and despite how bad it is, I did enjoy myself while watching it. You obviously cannot take it seriously, therefore make sure you have the proper mindset going into it. If you do, you’re in for a real treat. BLACKENSTEIN is available now.

MSB

Blu-ray Movie Review – Dead or Alive Trilogy

Dead or Alive Trilogy
Dead or Alive
Original Year of Release: 1999
Dead or Alive 2: Birds
Original Year of Release: 2000
Dead or Alive 3: Final
Original Year of Release: 2002
Directed by Takashi Miike
Courtesy of Arrow Video & MVD Distribution
Blu-ray Release Date: April 11, 2017

I’ve sung the praises for director Takashi Miike several times already here on Shattered Ravings, and today’s entry allows me to do so once again. This time, we are looking at three iconic films that truly put him on the map. THE BLACK SOCIETY TRILOGY (which I reviewed earlier this year…click here to read that review) introduced Miike to the mainstream film public; but it was the DEAD OR ALIVE trilogy that allowed him to flex his creative muscles and show his vivid imagination.

Because of their dark (and sometimes wrongly humorous) nature, many folks will probably not enjoy these films. But if you like off-the-wall action and crazy intensity like me, then you’ll love the DEAD OR ALIVE TRILOGY.

If you are not familiar with the DEAD OR ALIVE TRILOGY, here is the set’s description courtesy of Arrow Video & MVD Distribution:

Beginning with an explosive, six-minute montage of sex, drugs and violence, and ending with a phallus-headed battle robot taking flight, Takashi Miike’s unforgettable Dead or Alive Trilogy features many of the director’s most outrageous moments set alongside some of his most dramatically moving scenes. Made between 1999 and 2002, the Dead or Alive films cemented Miike’s reputation overseas as one of the most provocative enfants terrible of Japanese cinema, yet also one of its most talented and innovative filmmakers.

In Dead or Alive, tough gangster Ryuichi (Riki Takeuchi) and his ethnically Chinese gang make a play to take over the drug trade in Tokyo’s Shinjuku district by massacring the competition. But he meets his match in detective Jojima (Show Aikawa), who will do everything to stop them. Dead or Alive 2: Birds casts Aikawa and Takeuchi together again, but as new characters, a pair of rival yakuza assassins who turn out to be childhood friends; after a botched hit, they flee together to the island where they grew up, and decide to devote their deadly skills to a more humanitarian cause. And in Dead or Alive: Final, Takeuchi and Aikawa are catapulted into a future Yokohama ruled by multilingual gangs and cyborg soldiers, where they once again butt heads in the action-packed and cyberpunk-tinged finale to the trilogy.

Each of them unique in theme and tone, the Dead or Alive films showcase Miike at the peak of his strengths, creating three very distinct movies connected only by their two popular main actors, each film a separate yet superb example of crime drama, character study, and action filmmaking.

One of the most wonderful aspects of these films is the difference in their styles. Whereas all three feature the same two actors, the look and feel of each film is distinctly different. The original DEAD OR ALIVE film is dark and gritty for the most part; the second film is lighter and “airier”; while the third looks like typical science fiction fare. I am truly impressed with how Miike is able to achieve different tones in each of the three pieces.

Each film is shot well and looks great onscreen. The HD transfers do all three justice, and the results are clear pictures with quality sound. I don’t recall any grainy scenes or muted sound effects, therefore I highly suggest the Blu-ray format here.

The acting in each film is great, with Riki Takeuchi and Show Aikawa headlining all three cast lists. Takeuchi and Aikawa give great performances, and they show great diversity in their acting abilities as a result. Each film’s supporting cast does a fine job as well.

The special effects in the TRILOGY are over the top, and they look great. There’s quite a bit of bloodshed in the first film, however it tapers off after that. The gore we do get in part one is excellent, however, and very realistic. The cyborgs in part three look good for the most part, yet the battle robot looked a bit too cartoonish for me.

If I were forced to pick a favorite film out of the three, I’d probably have to say the first one. For some reason, it struck a nerve with me, and I enjoyed it the most out of the trilogy.

Still, you cannot deny how much fun the DEAD OR ALIVE TRILOGY offers. The vast differences in each film make this collection a rare gem of avant-garde filmmaking. The result is a set of movies you must see to believe. The DEAD OR ALIVE TRILOGY is a fine example of a master at work. Make a note to check them out soon.

SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS:
• High Definition digital transfers of all three films
• Original uncompressed stereo audio
• Optional English subtitles for all three films
• New interview with actor Riki Takeuchi
• New interview with actor Sho Aikawa
• New interview with producer and screenwriter Toshiki Kimura
• New audio commentary for Dead or Alive by Miike biographer Tom Mes
• Archive interviews with cast and crew

MSB

Indie horror film PEELERS releasing soon in the U.S.

The folks over at Sleep Apnea Productions reached out yesterday to let me know their upcoming release PEELERS is just under a month away from releasing here in the States. Judging from the plot synopsis and the teaser trailer, PEELERS is going to be a lot of fun. Here is the official press release, as well as a link to the trailer:

FOR IMMEDIATE & GRUESOME RELEASE
June 8, 2017 – Independent Horror Feature Film PEELERS to have US DVD/BLURAY RELEASE on July 4, 2017 & CANADIAN VOD on July 11, 2017.

The makers of the Independent Cult Horror feature film SKEW (2011) bring you their bloody action/horror follow-up flick PEELERS.

PEELERS – What starts out as the last hurrah on the closing night of an infamous small town strip club, quickly turns into a night of bloodshed when a crew of coal miners shows up and with them, a deadly contaminant. Former baseball player and current club owner,Blue Jean Douglas has decided to hand over her bar to a new owner and leave town for good. But Blue Jean’s plans are thwarted when she discovers the magnitude of the epidemic that has been unleashed. With victims piling up, Blue Jean must step up to the plate to protect her family, her friends, and her bar before it’s too late and she loses everything she holds dear.

PEELERS destroys the cliché stripper horror sub-genre by giving us a story packed with exciting twists, baseball, strippers of unusual talents, and a strong female lead. PEELERS has quickly become 2016’s horror festival hit, premiering in 67 festivals worldwide while carving up 54 nominations and 31 wins. What’s being described as “Rodriguez meets Tarantino” and “… a pretty damn fun trip” (Dread Central) that “might as well have a tagline of ‘make horror great again’” (Blood Guts UK Horror) has Director / Producer Sevé Schelenz stoked to give genre fans the indie horror cult hit of 2017.

PEELERS US DVD/BLU-RAY – July 4, 2017 (from Uncork’d Entertainment)
PEELERS CANADIAN VOD – July 11, 2017 (from levelFILM)

Get ready to own all the never-before-seen spine-tingling EXTRAS on the US DVD & Blu-ray including Deleted Scenes, Gag Reel, Behind the Scenes, Special Effects, Digital Comic, Script To Scene, Director and Actor Commentaries and much more!

Still not bloody enough for you? Here’s more:
Website: www.peelersthefilm.com
Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_iyW9CqEjiM&feature=youtu.be
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/peelersthefilm
Twitter: https://twitter.com/peelersthefilm

Movie Review – Dark Harvest (1992) / Escapes (1986) Double Feature

Dark Harvest / Escapes Double Feature
Dark Harvest
Directed by James I. Nicholson
Escapes
Directed by David Steensland
Courtesy of Intervision Picture Corp. & CAV Distribution
Original Year(s) of Release: 1992 / 1986
DVD Release Date: May 30, 2017

If you’re a fan of B-grade entertainment like me, then the fine folks at Intervision and CAV have a double whammy for us today!

DARK HARVEST and ESCAPES are two titles you’ve probably never heard of before, however you needn’t be familiar with them to enjoy their low-budget goodness. DARK HARVEST is chocked full of corny effects and questionable character decisions, while ESCAPES is an anthology with offerings not quite in the vein of CREEPSHOW or TALES FROM THE CRYPT. But regardless, these two gems are worthy of your attention, and both offer entertainment value to a degree.

If you are not familiar with DARK HARVEST, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of

Dark Harvest: It’s stranded tourists vs. killer scarecrows in this early 90s SOV rarity. They planned on a relaxing horseback ride through the desert… They didn’t plan on engine trouble, long-winded campfire stories, deranged hillbillies with a shotgun, and a dangerous trek over cursed terrain. But the real terror begins when they discover that the creepy scarecrow overlooking their campsite has mysteriously disappeared from his cross.

Escapes: Matthew Wilson didn’t order ESCAPES, but when a mysterious mail carrier delivers a VHS to his door, he pops it in his top-loader, not knowing what real life danger lurks inside the magnetic tape. Concluding his run of portmanteau chillers (TALES OF TERROR, TWICE TOLD TALES, THE MONSTER CLUB, FROM A WHISPER TO A SCREAM), horror legend Vincent Price presents these six bizarre tales of the uncanny.

I’m sure you’ve figured it out by now, but DARK HARVEST is one of those films that is so-bad-it’s-good. It’s very low budget, the acting is cheesy, and the story almost makes no sense at times…but they are all a part of the film’s charm. On the flipside, ESCAPES is a fairly well made collection of horror shorts that offer a variety of chills.

DARK HARVEST appears to have been shot on a VHS camcorder. The film quality is very poor, although it’s not very distracting for some reason. Perhaps because I expected it to be so. ESCAPES, on the other hand, is shot pretty well and looks more professional.

The acting in DARK HARVEST is exactly what you expect it to be, while its companion offers more quality. Likewise, the special effects are of comparable worth. Neither of these attributes should dissuade you from seeing the films, though. Just know what you’re going into in advance.

I guess the biggest problem I have with DARK HARVEST is the story. It’s a mishmash of bad decisions and a somewhat confusing plot. There are a few things inferred that would have been better off just point blank explained. But still, you have to love this movie for what it is: schlocky horror.

This DARK HARVEST / ESCAPES double feature is definitely a win for me, and I recommend adding it to your library soon. You can’t beat Vincent Price’s voice, so that in itself is enough of a reason to own this. But the anthology pieces are nice, too. And you can’t look past the cruddy fun that DARK HARVEST offers, either. This DVD is available now, so make a note!

MSB

Blu-ray Movie Review – Evil Ed (1995)

Evil Ed
Directed by Anders Jacobsson
Courtesy of Arrow Video & MVD Distribution
Original Year of Release: 1995
Blu-ray Release Date: May 30, 2017

I have to say, I’m pleasantly surprised by EVIL ED. I’ve heard people talk about the film for two decades now, and a lot of what was said was negative. But I was always curious about it, and I definitely wanted to give it a look. Thanks to Arrow and MVD, I got the opportunity to do so in HD, and I found the film an absolute joy to experience. As the synopsis mentions below, if you’re a fan of THE EVIL DEAD, RE-ANIMATOR, or DEAD ALIVE, then you’ll certainly want to give EVIL ED a shot!

If you are not familiar with EVIL ED, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Arrow Video & MVD Distribution:

WHEN HIS MIND BLOWS, ANYTHING GOES!
A blood-soaked love letter to the splatter films of the 80s, video rental favourite Evil Ed returns in a brand-new Special EDition featuring an extended cut of the feature and hours of stomach-churning bonus features!

Mild-mannered film technician Edward enjoys his job. That is, until he finds himself transferred from his regular post to the Splatter and Gore department, where he’s forced to edit hours upon hours of grisly video nasty footage. Traumatized by the onscreen violence, Ed starts to lose his grip on reality with ghastly (and bloody) consequences…

Owing a debt to films such as The Evil Dead, Re-animator and the early splatter classics of Peter Jackson, Evil Ed is a veritable smorgasbord of flying limbs, exploding heads, busty babes and creepy creatures!

I like the discreet homages to classic horror movies that are sprinkled throughout this film. For example, the title, EVIL ED, is a slight play on words from THE EVIL DEAD. Also, Ed’s boss is named Sam Campbell, an indistinct reference to Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell from the DEAD trilogy. Not to mention the NUMEROUS movie posters strewn throughout various scenes. These direct and indirect tributes are one of the many joys you’ll experience with EVIL ED.

EVIL ED is shot well and looks great onscreen. The HD transfer is very tight, and the picture quality is excellent. I got to experience every blood splatter and hacked limb in glorious high definition. Likewise, the sound quality is great as well.

The acting in EVIL ED is very good, with Johan Rudebeck portraying the titular character. Surprisingly, Rudebeck only has a couple of credits on his IMDB page, with this role being the first; he is a great actor, and I’m surprised we have not seen more of him. The rest of the cast is great as well, however nobody really stands out like Rudebeck.

The special effects are superb, and there’s plenty of gore to go around. I am very impressed with the life-like quality the carnage has, and gore-hounds should be pleased with the amount of it. Also, the creature effects are pretty slick; the grotesque Gremlin-like beastie is only in a couple of shots, but it looks great (perfect for a horror comedy).

The storyline in EVIL ED is intriguing and laughable at the same time. It is a big part of what makes the film so much fun. Watching Ed’s decent into madness…just from watching LOOSE LIMBS movies (the fictional SAW-like series he is editing) is at time humorous and humbling. Director Anders Jacobsson made the movie to take a shot at censor boards, and he definitely gets his point across. The result is a vastly entertaining jaunt into humor and gore.

EVIL ED is a major win for me, and I highly recommend it. It’s off-the-wall and campy in some aspects, but it’s 100 percent fun. Part social commentary, part horror, and part downright comedy, this is one of those films you’ll watch more than once, so be prepared! It is available now.

3-DISC LIMITED EDITION CONTENTS
• Two versions of the film!
• Original Stereo and 5.1 Audio Options
• Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
• Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Graham Humphreys
• Collector s booklet with new writing on the film by critic James Oliver
DISCS 1 & 2 (BLU-RAY + DVD) THE SPECIAL ED-ITION CUT
• World premiere of the newly-extended version of the feature [95 min]
• Keep Em Heads Rollin making-of documentary
• Reconstructing Edward featurette on the creation of the Special EDition cut
• Deleted scenes
• Bloopers
• Teasers and Trailers
• Still Gallery
DISC 3 (BLU-RAY) THE ORIGINAL CUT [LIMITED EDITION EXCLUSIVE]
• Original Cut [93 mins]
• Lost in Brainland never-before-seen extended 3 hour version of the making-of documentary
• PLUS OTHER SURPRISES!!!

MSB