DIRECT TO VIDEO (DTV) FILMS: THE GOOD AND THE BAD

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Most of the films below have had limited theatrical release, have gone straight to Video On Demand (VOD) or have gone Direct to Video (DTV). There is a lot of good and bad stuff out there, some of which you may have never heard of before. Many are little gems, while the majority of them have gone this route for a reason. Below are literally thousands of films released this way from 1997 to the present and my opinions of them. You may agree or disagree with my assessments, but I actually had to watch each and every one of them, so these little reviews of the films are based on what I have seen. I hope you enjoy reading my reviews as much as I have had writing them, whether you agree or not. To read what I consider are the good DTV films, Click HERE. To read what I think are films that stink on ice, click HERE. I hope you have a lot of time on your hands, because, for the most part, I break the films down by the year they were made and you will be surprised how many there are out there (and this amounts to about 10% of the actual DTV films that are actually in circulation). I'm always adding new films to these pages, so come back often and look for a film you have just seen to see if I write about it here. So sit back, put your reading glasses on and enjoy!


DTV FILMS: THE GOOD STUFF

One of the perks of moving (which I just recently did) is that cable company Optimum gives you every channel on their lineup for a greatly reduced price for a year (it has since expired, but I still get a great deal). I never subscribed to Showtime or The Movie Channel, so I started watching movies on their stations, as well as on VOD and DVD and Blu-Ray. While most of the horror films they show are run-of-the-mill DTV horror flicks, I must say that I enjoyed a horror comedy called SUCK (2009) a lot more than I thought I would, especially if you judge it by the title. The story is about a non-label band called The Winners, headed by Joey (Rob Stefaniuk, who also wrote/directed and penned many of the songs, some which are quite good and also directed/wrote/starred in PHIL THE ALIEN - 2004, another underrated comedy), whose female member, bass player Jennifer (Jessica Pare), is bitten by a vampire and the band suddenly becomes more popular with crowds across Canada and the United States. As the band members are turned into vampires one-by-one, their popularity increases, which begins to disturb Joey, who finally relents and becomes a bloodsucker. The entire band decides that the vampire that bit Jennifer must be destroyed in order for them to become normal again, because they begin killing members of the audiences, groupies and friends for their blood. While the premise may seem old hat, the film is filled with rock star cameos, including Alice Cooper (as a vampire bartender who takes part in a very funny CROSSROADS [1986] parody), Iggy Pop (who is great in his role as  small recording studio owner Vincent, who says to Joey, "Let me tell you two things I learned from many, many times being around: Always wear a condom and never trust a goddamn vampire."), Moby as "Beef" (Who says to Jennifer, "You wanna meet Baby Beef?", before she bites his dick off), Henry Rollins as ascerbic radio DJ Rockin' Roger (who gets his just desserts live on air when he belittles the members of The Winners) and Dimitri Coats (of the band The Burning Brides, who have a music video on the DVD) as Queenie, the vampire that bit Jennifer. There are also tasty roles for Malcolm McDowell as vampire hunter Eddie Van Helsing (who always carries a flashlight because he's afraid of the dark) and Dave Foley as Jeff, the manager of the band, who will do anything to make sure the band is a success, even covering-up their bloodsucking murders (and taking a beer bottle to his head by Joey's ex-girlfriend, played by  Nicole DeBoer of TV's THE DEAD ZONE [2002 - 2007] fame). The film is also full of visual tributes to famous album covers, the most obvious being Bruce Springsteen's "Born In The USA" album cover, which here takes place at a U.S. border crossing (where Malcolm McDowell and a U.S. border patrol officer [Alex Lifeson, guitarist for the legendary Canadian rock band Rush] deliver a scathing, yet funny, exchange about lax gun policies in the States). See how many you can spot. It may take more than one viewing. I especially liked Alice Cooper's final bit of dialogue about knowing where to find a new drummer for the band (an old wive's tale about drummers dying first in bands, started by the death of Keith Moon of The Who and parodied in director Rob Reiner's THIS IS SPINAL TAP - 1984). Chris Ratz as Hugo, the band's roadie, really shines here, especially since all he wants to be is a vampire and nobody will turn him. All he does is clean up the band's messes (including hacksawing a convenience store clerk with a straw sticking out of his neck) and takes most of the physical punishment. Add to that some hilarious  miniature model work and a flashback by McDowell (actually footage from director Lindsay Anderson's O' LUCKY MAN! - 1973) and I would recommend SUCK to anyone looking for a good time. Another film I liked was DEADHEADS (2011), a zombie road comedy with some great emotional scenes that hit you in the gut like a sledgehammer to the head. Particularly affecting are the deaths of human Cliff (Harry Burkey, in his first film role) and zombie Cheese (a spot-on performance by Marcus Taylor). The direction/screenplay, by feature film freshmen brothers Brett and Drew T. Pierce (who bill themselves as "The Pierce Brothers"), never takes itself too seriously and they are a team to watch in the future. The lead performances by lovelorn zombie Mike (Michael McKiddy; SILENT SCREAM - 2005) and new zombie pal Brent (Ross Kidder; SAM HELL - 2008; who, oddly enough, reminds me of a young Dave Foley) are pure joys to watch. Catch it if you can. It's ten times better than AMC's THE WALKING DEAD and is the best zombie comedy since SHAUN OF THE DEAD (2003). And if you like your horror more arty, yet creepy as hell, may I recommend ABSENTIA (2011)? The premise of the film is a good one: Tricia (Courtney Bell), the pregnant woman of a man missing for seven years finally decides to have him declared dead. Her drug-addicted, yet well-meaning, sister Callie (Katey Parker) comes to help her with the paperwork and help her pack to move. It turns out that Tricia got pregnant from one of the detectives, Ryan Mallory (Dave Levine), who is working on her husband's missing persons case, yet Callie doesn't seem to care. She seems generally happy that her sister can finally move on. One day while jogging, Callie notices an extremely-thin man lying in the tunnel nearby her sister's house. He tells her his name is Walter Lambert (Doug Jones) and it turns out he has been missing for quite a while, too. It seems the tunnel is some type of gateway to the underworld, where giant silverfish-like creatures (which we barely get to see) kidnap people for some unknown reason. Walter's son, Jamie (James Flanagan), has been leaving the dead carcasses of dogs and other animals (there are missing animal and persons flyers littering the telephone poles and trees throughout town) at the entrance to the tunnel so that the creatures don't eat his father (It doesn't work, as the police find Walter's mangled body at the front of the tunnel). Things turn complicated when Daniel (Morgan Peter Brown), the husband of Tricia, suddenly shows up on the street and his memory seems to have been wiped clean. He mentions the creatures to Callie, but she just thinks he's still trying to cope with reality (something she has a problem with, too). That is until the creatures come to the house and re-kidnap Daniel and she tries to help him without success. The police (including Detective Mallory) puts the blame squarely on Callie, since drugs were found in her bedroom. When the creatures kidnap Tricia, Callie decides to go into the tunnel and trade herself for her sister, but what happens next is best for the viewer to discover. Director/writer Mike Flanagan (GHOSTS OF HAMILTON STREET - 2003) makes the viewer feel claustrophobic, even when he is filming outdoors. He financed one third of the film's budget ($25,00.00) by using the website Kickstarter.com and the results are nothing but fantastic, even though it was shot on high-definition digital video. The final shot will leave you with goosebumps all over your body. Isn't that what a horror film is supposed to do? The acting is way-above average by nearly everyone and they seem like real people, not actors on the screen. It always amazes me what people can do with little money and a lot of imagination. Try it, you may like it. I generally don't care for independent arthouse horror films, but this one really hit a nerve. Here's a partial list of films I have recently watched on DTV that are worth your time: A MURDER OF CROWS (1998) is director Rowdy Herrington's (ROAD HOUSE - 1989; STRIKING DISTANCE - 1993) excellent mystery thriller about a disbarred lawyer (Cuba Gooding Jr.) stealing a dead man's manuscript and submitting it to a publisher under his name, where it becomes a best selling book. The problem is, the book details the murder of five judges and when the judges were murdered the same exact way described in the book, Gooding must stay one step ahead of a detective (Tom Berenger), who believes he is the killer because he wrote the book (See the problem here?), and find the real killer. This film keeps you guessing until the final frame and one wonders why director Herrington hasn't directed more films (there are only eight films in his directorial feature film resume, including his superb debut JACK'S BACK - 1987); OXYGEN (1998) takes that old plot device, where a woman is buried alive and will soon run out of oxygen unless the kidnapper gives out the location, and turns it on its head. In this case, the kidnapper is named Harry (Adrien Brody), after Harry Houdini, and the cop who is interrogating him is Detective Madeline Foster (Maura Tierney), who is a closet masochist (she even hides her prediliction from her cop husband [Terry Kinney]), so she gets off on being verbally and mentally abused during the interrogation. The problem is, will her secret help or hurt the case? Will the woman be found in time? You'll have to view the film to find out, but there is so much more to the story that you will be held spellbound throughout the running time. Director/writer Richard Shepard also handled the same chores on the equally intense MERCY (1995) and now directs and produces episodes of TV series; SAFE HOUSE (1998) is a fun and exciting thriller about ex-goverment operative Mace Sowell (an excellent Patrick Stewart) who rarely leaves his house (he either suffers from a slight case of agoraphobia or he just doesn't trust anyone on the outside) and runs practice operations with his only friend Stuart Bittenbinder (Craig Shoemaker). Mace is suffering the early effects of Alzheimer's Disease and what he sees as a conspiracy may be all in his mind, so his psychiatrist (Hector Elizondo) and his daughter (Joy Kilpatrick), who doesn't believe he ever worked for the government, hire caretaker Andi Travers (Kimberly Williams) to cook, clean and take care of him (The interview process with some of the other people being considered for the job is priceless comedy). At first, she thinks Mace is losing his mind (even beating the crap out of Stuart when she doesn't realize that he and Mace are simply running "drills"), but a third act reveal will surprise the hell out of you. To say anymore would be to deprive you of a gem of a film with plenty of humor and action. Look for a nod towards 3 DAYS OF THE CONDOR (1975) involving a deadly mailman played by the same actor (Hank Garrett) in both films; MERCENARY 2: THICK AND THIN (1999) is a decent sequel to director Avi Nesher's MERCENARY (1996), but Nesher only produced this one (there's much more comedy in the sequel than the original), the directorial chores were handled by Philippe Mora (PRECIOUS FIND - 1996). Mercenary Captain Hawk May (Olivier Gruner. the only returning cast member) teams up with fellow mercenaries Ray Domino (Nicholas Turturro) and Sam (Sam Bottoms) to retrieve kidnapped accountant Charlie Love (Robert Townsend) for rich bitch Patricia Van Lier (Claudia Christian, who has never looked more fetching). Townsend and Gruner make a funny pair (some of their back-and-forth dialogue is hilarious) and the action comes fast and furious. Not a bad little time-waster; RESTRAINING ORDER (1999) concerns criminal defense lawyer Robert Woodfield (the always intense Eric Roberts), who believes his clients, whether innocent or guilty, deserve a good lawyer on their side. His latest client is Martin Ritter (Hannes Jaenicke), a murderer who Robert manages to get a not guilty verdict in court. When a friend calls Robert and tells him he has something important to tell him, he witnesses Martin kill him, but since he is still his lawyer, he can't go to the cops. Martin is out to kill him and frames Robert's wife, Leight (Tatjana Patitz), for his friend's murder. Robert and his wife must now avoid the police and Martin and his gang while trying to uncover the secret his friend was going to tell him before he was killed. This is a good action/mystery directed by Lee H. Katzin (WORLD GONE WILD - 1988), who passed away in 2002; HIDE AND SEEK (1999). Filmed under the title CORD, this MISERY (1990)-like film concerns a childless couple (Jennifer Tilly, Vincent Gallo) kidnapping a pregnant woman (Daryl Hannah), after setting up an accident which makes her look dead to her husband (Bruce Greenwood) and the police, and waiting to deliver the child in a snowy farmhouse in the middle of nowhere. If you are wondering why there is very little scenery in this film, it's because Jennifer Tilly chewed on it all. She gives one of the most bat-shit crazy performances of her career (think about that for a minute) and her performance will have you doing many double-takes. Directed by Sidney J. Furie (HOLLOW POINT - 1995), who is still working today, even though he is nearly 80 years-old. He must have had tons of fun with Tilly; LET THE DEVIL WEAR BLACK (1999) is a good little Shakespearian thriller that goes to dark places usually not found in DTV films like this. A 19 year-old college student (Jonathan Penner) believes the murder of his wealthy father (Chris Sarandon) may have been committed by his mother (Jaqueline Bisset) and Uncle (Jamie Sheridan), who announce their wedding a mere few weeks after his father's death. There are a few surprises you don't see coming and this has a great cast for a DTV flick, including Philip Baker Hall, Mary Louise Parker, Jonathan Banks, Maury Chaykin and Norman Reedus (THE WALKING DEAD - 2010-Present). If there is one problem I have with this film, it's that Jonathan Penner was way too old to play a college student (he was 37 at the time). Maybe that's because he co-wrote the screenplay with director Stacy Title, who also happens to be his real-life wife; RAW NERVE (1999) is an above-average crime thriller from the always interesting Israeli-born director Avi Nesher, who has made some good films in his career (see my review of the bat-shit crazy SHE - 1983 and DOPPELGANGER - 1992,  as well as the excellent actioner TIMEBOMB - 1991). Mario Van Peebles is a cop with a dark secret and, along with best friend (and ex-cop) Zach Galligan and girlfriend Nicollette Sheridan, must run away when the secret raises it's ugly head. To say any more would be to deprive you of an unique thriller with one hell of a third act. Catch it; THE CLEAN AND NARROW (1999) is the directorial debut of actor William Katt (SNAKE ISLAND - 2002) and I'm happy to say it's a good little crime thriller with a heavy emotional core. The underrated Jack Noseworthy (whose helmetless scene in outer space in EVENT HORIZON [1997] still makes me cringe) stars as ex-con Buddy, who promises to go the straight and narrow to girlfriend Marie (Laura Leighton) and take care of her retarded brother, Fergouson (a winning performance by Wes Culwell). After trying to get a job, live the clean life and having no success, Buddy agrees to rob a liquor store with two childhood friends. When one of the friends kills the liquor store clerk, everything goes to hell. There are also meaty roles for Wings Hauser and Sandra Locke as the Sheriff and his wife, who recently lost their child. There's not many DTV crime thrillers that make you care about all the characters (both good and bad) and their fates. This is one of them; FORGOTTEN CITY (a.k.a. THE VIVERO LETTER - 1999) is one of those films that you'll either love or hate. If you use your brain, you'll spot plot holes galore (thanks to screenwriters Denne Bart Petitclerc [RED SUN - 1971] and Arthur Sellers [MODERN PROBLEMS - 1981]), but if you like mindless entertainment, this adventure film may do the trick. James Wheeler (Robert Patrick) gets a call from his brother in Central America and asks him to travel there with a Mayan plate that belonged to his grandmother. James arrives with the plate in Central America, only to discover that his brother has been murdered and he also has a target on his back from the same people who killed his brother. His life is saved by Caterina (Chiara Caselli), who tells James that the plate is one of two which, when combined, is a map to a secret ancient city in the jungle that is full of treasure. The owner of the second plate, Andrew Fallon (Fred Ward), agrees to finance the trip through the jungle to find the city. Expect plenty of double crosses, venemous snakes, a tribe of mud-caked jungle warriors and puzzles that have to be solved before the city can be found. Director H. Gordon Boos (RED SURF - 1989; He passed away in 2004) offers plenty of action as long as you put your brain in neutral; EYE SEE YOU (1999) turned out to be star Sylvester Stallone's first DTV film, but I think it gets a much worse reputation than it deserves. Filmed as D-TOX in 1999 and not released on DVD until 2002, this crime mystery finds cop Stallone hitting the bottle badly when a serial killer (who tattooes "Eye See U" under they eyelids of his victims) he is chasing gruesomely murders his pregnant girlfriend whom he was just about to ask to marry him. Stallone ends up in a treatment center in the middle of the cold nowhere, where cops and other law enforcement officers are there to be treated by doctor Kris Kristofferson and his unproven and experimental ways. After making them give up all their weapons (and eventually their belts), we are introduced to the motley group of law enforcement gone wrong, including a guy who shot himself in the face and survived, another who is dealing with the death of his partner, a severely depressed old cop who finds life not worth living anymore and so on.  As the cops are starting to get knocked-off one-by-one, it becomes apparent that the serial killer has followed Stallone to the secluded treatment facility and has taken the identity of one of the troubled cops. It is up to Stallone to try and figure out who it is and get revenge at the same time, which he does in a particularly gory finale. Director Jim Gillespie (I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER - 1997; VENOM - 2005) keeps the film moving at a quick pace and you actually get cold while watching this film because if its Wintery setting. I've seen a lot, lot worse than this and thought it should have gotten at least a token theatrical release. But what do I know? I only co-stars Charles S. Dutton; Robert Patrick; Jeffrey Wright; Tom Berenger; Polly Walker; Christopher Fulford; Frank Pelligrino; Robert Prosky; Stephen Lang; Courtney B. Vance; Dina Meyer and Sean Patrick Flanery. Not your typical DTV cast, is it?; FROM DUSK TILL DAWN 3: THE HANGMAN'S DAUGHTER (2000) is more like a remake of the 1995 original film than the first sequel, but this one takes place during the late 1800's in Mexico. A band of outlaws, a trio of stagecoach passengers (including Michael Parks as Ambrose Bierce [Google the name.]) and a posse looking for the outlaws end up at what will become the Titty Twister bar and must band together to fight the vampires, led by madame Sonia Braga and Satanico Pandemonium. Like the original, it takes some time to get to the vampire angle, but once it does, it is non-stop blood and gore (including beheadings, impalements and a vampire's testicles on an outlaw's boot knife!). Some versions of this film have an extra funny bit after the end credits featuring Michael Parks and director P.J. Pesce (LOST BOYS: THE TRIBE - 2008); THE LAST PATROL (a.k.a. THE LAST WARRIOR - 2000) is a departure from most Dolph Lundgren action films because it's a post-apocalyptic thriller and contains a lot of comedy (and is also rated PG-13). A worldwide earthquake has reformatted the Earth and California is now just an island. Lundgren and a band of misfits must defeat a sadistic dictator who controls a prison-like fort and free all the prisoners (including women and children) in order to get humanity back on track again. Plenty of action and comedy follow. Just unusual enough to merit a viewing or two; THE OPERATIVE (2000) is Brian Bosworth's best film since STONE COLD (1990). Here, the Boz plays a C.I.A. operative who escapes from a Russian gulag after spending over 11 years there. He disguises himself as a Texas oil man when back in the United States to stay clear of the C.I.A. and the Russians, but he gets himself into all types of hand-to-hand combat and gunfights. It's not boring for a second, yet the Boz has all but disappeared from screens, taking secondary roles in films (Adam Sandler's THE LONGEST YARD [2005] remake) or as a TV guest star (a bounty hunter on CSI: MIAMI [2002 - 2012]); XCHANGE (2000) is an inventive futuristic sci-fi tale (even though the Twin Towers can be seen in the New York skyline) where instead of flying to another country or city, you use technology called XChange to swap minds with a person in the other location. When a corporate slacker (Kim Coates) swaps his mind with a violent terrorist (Kyle MacLachlan), he transfers his mind into a clone (the always dour Stephen Baldwin), who only has a two-day life span, to bring the terrorist down and regain the use of his own body. It's inventive and, for once, the promotional material that calls this film a cross between John Woo's FACE/OFF (1997) and THE MATRIX (1999) is true; A BETTER WAY TO DIE (2000) is director/writer/star Scott Wiper's (THE CONDEMNED - 2007) surprisingly watchable action thriller. Wiper stars as Boomer, a Chicago cop who  quits the force when he watches his partner (Carmen Argenziano) die. He travels to Cedar Falls to be with his true love (Natasha Henstridge), who left Chicago because she couldn't take Boomer's job, but is carjacked along the way. He hitches a ride with a guy named Fletcher (Jack Conley) and everything turns to shit when a series of events mistakens Boomer as a mob guy wanted by the big bosses and he must find a way to survive and make it to Cedar Falls. Filled with gunfights, a twist or two and good acting by a bunch of pros, including Andre Braugher, Lou Diamond Phillips and Joe Pantoliano. You could do a whole lot worse than this film (and I have!); CHASING SLEEP (2000) is a good psychological thriller about a sleep deprived English college professor (Jeff Daniels) whose teacher wife (Molly Price) just went missing. Daniels takes pills to try to sleep (everyone in this film takes pills of one kind or another) and we are left to determine if what he is experiencing is real or imaginary. The facts are this: His wife is pregnant (Daniels hasn't had sex with her in months) and she was having an affair with Phys Ed teacher George (Julian McMahon), at least according to the detective (Gil Bellows) who takes his missing persons report and tells him her car was found running near George's house. The bathroom, the pipes in the basement, a female student who loves him (Emily Bergl), a malformed giant baby in the bathtub and an arguing couple in the house next door are major clues of what really took place. You just have to use your deducing skills to determine what really happened to his wife. Daniels never leaves his house in this film and is always barefoot, but when he peeks outside his window to spy at his bickering next-door neighbors, you should really be on your toes to look very closely. I love films that make you use your brain while watching them and if you are like me, you'll love this film, directed/written by freshman Michael Walker who, so far, has only directed two other films; THE SPECIALS (2000) are the 7th best superhero team in the world and this funny film lets us spend a day in their life. Besides being a comedy and sporting a good cast (Rob Lowe, Thomas Hayden Church, Jamie Kennedy, Paget Brewster, Melissa Joan Hart, Michael Weatherly and Jordan Ladd), this film also is a scathing commentary on merchandising rights and how it can interfere with friendships. Written by James Gunn, who would later direct the funny horror film SLITHER (2006) and his own faux superhero film SUPER (2010), which is black comedy with an edge. All these films are worth your while. Director Craig Mazin directed only one more film (so far): the abysmal kitchen sink comedy SUPERHERO MOVIE (2008). He has had better success as a comedy screenwriter of films, such as SCARY MOVIE 3 & 4 (2003 & 2006) and THE HANGOVER PART II & III (2011 & 2013); THE CHAOS FACTER (2000) is a better than average PM Entertainment actioner with a major political statement to make. In the modern day, an American soldier (early DTV vet Antonio Sabato Jr.: HIGH VOLTAGE - 1997; GUILTY AS CHARGED - 2000) is sent to Vietnam to find and destroy land mines, collect the remains of dead soldiers and bring home anything else left there by Americans during the War. He finds a diary on a dead soldier's corpse that implicates a retired military bigwig (Fred Ward) of being instrumental of killing a village full of innocent Vietnamese people during the War (shades of the real-life Mei Lai Massacre). Sabato is now the target of assassins and must get back to the States to bring Ward and his cohorts to justice. Besides some obvious "borrowed" footage from the Steven Seagal film MARKED FOR DEATH (1990), this film moves at a fast clip and keeps your interest throughout; LUCK OF THE DRAW (2000) is a very good crime thriller about down-on-his-luck ex-con Jack Sweeney (James Marshall) who finally gets lucky when he gets his hands on a briefcase containing plates for printing near-perfect $100 bills after he witnesses a shootout between two groups of criminals and the police. Jack and his friend Zippo (Michael Madsen) try to broker the plates to the highest bidder, but run into many obstacles, including double-crosses, car chases and gunfights galore. Filled with a great cast, including Dennis Hopper (God, I miss him!), Eric Roberts, William Forsythe, Frank Gorshin and even Ice-T (who is very good), director/co-writer Luca Bercovici (who also gave us the crappy GHOULIES [1985] and the funny horror comedy THE GRANNY [1994]) gives us a person to care about and root for in Jack, a rarity in films of this genre. Nice job!

Good DTV Genre Films Part 2 (continued): CAMOUFLAGE (2001) is a comedy/action film starring the late Leslie Nielsen, but those expecting a kitchen sink comedy ala THE NAKED GUN (1988) are bound to be disappointed. Nielsen is grizzled private dick Jack Potter, who reluctantly takes novice Marty Mackenzie (Lochlyn Munro) under his wing when he has to investigate a possible murder case in the small town of Beaver Ridge, Oregon. They meet an assortment of odd characters including the Sheriff (William Forsythe), who has a thing for sex toys. The comedy is played straight this time and there is a quite coherent mystery plot. That could be due to the film being directed by James Keach and co-written by Billy Bob Thorton (using the pseudonym "Reginald Perry"). Not bad and very funny in spots (watch the "lounge singer" scene); STILETTO DANCE (2001). Eric Roberts appeared in more than his share of DTV clunkers during the 90's and early-00's (like the terrible DIE HARD rip-off, THE ALTERNATE - 2000), but this is not one of them. Maybe it's because he had a good director (Mario Azzopardi; DEADLINE - 1981), but I always considered Eric the more talented of the Roberts family (Julia Roberts is waaaaay overrated and Eric's daughter, Emma Roberts [SCREAM 4 - 2011], is just getting her acting chops). He has an intensity that shines though even in the crap films he has appeared in, but this film is an involving action thriller about an undercover cop (Roberts) infiltrating the Russian mob in Albany and falling in love with the mob boss' wife, while the mob boss is trying to sell a nuclear device to the Albanians. Good action, above-average acting from everyone involved and tension you can cut with a knife make this a perfect rainy day movie; FIRETRAP (2001) is a fun little action flick with DNA of DIE HARD (1988) and THE TOWERING INFERNO (1974) in its veins. Dean Cain portrays a recently-released-from-prison con who happens to be a master thief. In order to win back his wife, he takes a job robbing a valuable computer chip in a highrise building. He goes into the building dressed as a cop, but before he can steal the chip, a fire breaks out and everyone looks to him for help thinking he is an actual cop. What's a thief with a conscience to do? He helps the trapped people while still trying to steal the chip, but soon discovers the fire was set purposely and the arsonist is one of the people he is trying to save. Lots of action, stunts and not one "borrowed" scene from an A-list film, like most DTV action films at the time. This was also one of PM Entertainment's last film releases; FANGS (2001). Call me an old softie, but I liked this DTV flick about genetically altered murderous (and intelligent) bats escaping and killing people in the town of Scottsville, California. Big town cop (Tracy Nelson, who is miscast), transferred to this sleeply little town, teams up with an animal control officer (Whip Hubley) to invesitgate the killings, which pisses off the town sheriff (Michael Gregory), a scientist (Mark Taylor) and a local real estate agent (Corbin Bernsen), all who are hiding deadly secrets. The way the two heroes "jam" the bats' radar is pretty ingenious and there is also some comedy to be had (Screenwriter Jim Geoghan is mainly known for writing comedy scripts for some of the best known comedy TV series from the 1980's till today). The film doesn't take itself too seriously, which is a good thing, because if it was played straight like the Lou Diamond Phillips-starrer BATS (1999), it would be a lousy film. Director Kelly Sandefur also made the underrated INHABITED (2002); DEAD AWAKE (2001) is one of Stephen Baldwin's best films, because it incorporates his morose acting style into the script. Baldwin is Desmond Caine, who has a case of insomnia so bad, he hasn't had a decent night's sleep in over ten months. He spends his nights walking the streets and spending time at a diner populated by an assortment of odd characters (including Michael Ironside). One night, on one of his midnight walks, he witnesses a murder (which he doesn't know is real or an insomnia-induced dream), which leads to a series of surreal events culminating in the previously-mentioned diner. The film, directed by Marc S. Grenier (RED ROVER - 2003; starring Stephen Baldwin's brother, William), manages to hold your attention throughout, mainly because the characters are so interesting. One of the better Canadian thrillers of the early Millennium; AMERICAN PSYCHO 2 (2001), an in-name only sequel to AMERICAN PSYCHO (2000; although Patrick Bateman is name-checked a couple of times), is a serio-comic thriller about a female serial killer (the talented Mila Kunis, who got her start in films like the 1995 remake of PIRANHA and became famous on the TV series THAT 70'S SHOW [1998 - 2006]), who kills an incoming freshman college student and takes her identity, in hopes of becoming the teacher's assistant to Starkman (a subdued William Shatner), a professor who is an expert on serial killers. As a matter of fact, she will kill anyone who gets in her way. When her psychiatrist (Geraint Wyn Davies) calls his good friend Starkman and tells him that one of his students is a psychopath (without breaking his client-doctor confidentiality), Starkman thinks it is a female student he is having a sexual affair with. This all leads to a series of close calls, but Kunis proves to be too smart for everybody. This is a fun little flick (the gore is minimal, but it is not needed here) and one can see that Mila Kunis was someone to watch in the future; EPOCH (2001) is an effective little sci-fi flick with religious overtones. A giant 300-story spinning rock-like monolith appears floating just above the ground, creating all sorts of natural disasters, including massive earthquakes, tidal waves and torrential rain. A weapons specialist (David Keith) is called-in to lead a group of scientists and soldiers to enter the monolith and find out whether it is alien in origin, the source of all human life or maybe even God itself. Although we never really discover the truth, it opens the door to make the viewer actually think that if there is actually a higher power, does religion have to be part of the equation? Pretty thought-provoking, although the sequel, EPOCH: EVOLUTION (2003), was totally unneeded; THE BREED (2001) is a good little vampire detective tale from director Michael Oblowitz (who went on to direct a few Steven Seagal DTV flicks). Bookeem Woodbine stars as Steve Grant, a police detective who witnesses his partner being brutally murdered by some inhuman creature. He is then partnered with Aaron Gray (Adrian Paul), just as the world is made aware that peaceful vampires have been living amongst us for centuries (It turns out that 20% of humans are incapable of being turned into vampires). Gray just happens to be a vampire and Grant learns that his former partner was murdered by a vampire who believes that humans should be used for food. Grant and Gray butt heads often because Grant hates vampires, but he slowly changes his mind when he begins to fall in love with vampire Lucy (Bai Ling), which leads to a lot of complications. This is a good little horror action thriller with an ending that will pull at your heart (It turns out that Grant is one of the 20%). Not bad for what it is; THE GRISTLE (2001) is a pretty good crime thriller (the first film mostly financed by the Small Business Administration Guaranteed Loan Program) directed by freshman David Portlock (who hasn't directed anything since) that has some incisive things to say about race relations while giving us some great laugh-out-loud dialogue. Since no one is credited as the screenwriter, my best guess is that Portland is the author. The story is about four groups of two guys of varying races who are trying to get rid of stolen goods and the comical, yet dangerous, situations they find themselves in. Michael Dorn is a standout here and will make you forget he played Lt. Commander Worf on STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION (1987 - 1994) as he spits out such dialogue as "Is there a man sitting on the toilet taking a shit in the back of your mouth?" when complaining about a guy's bad breath. There's also a great cast of character actors here, including Barry Corbin, Orson Bean, Richard Riehle and Sven-Ole Thorsen. Those looking for extreme violence and bloodshed are going to be disappointed, but those who like satire to go along with their crime dramas will get a kick out of this film. David Portlock, where are you?; SCENES OF THE CRIME (2001) is an involving thriller, even though most of the action takes place in a van. Mob wannabe Lenny (Jon Abrahams) is making what he thinks is just another delivery when the shit hits the fan and he finds his boss's rival Jimmy Berg (Jeff Bridges) in the back of his van. With Jimmy's colleagues surrounding the van and a nearby deli, Jimmy calls his boss to find out what to do (Turns out Jimmy owes Lenny's boss seven million dollars and he orders Lenny to hold him prisoner no matter what happens). What does happen next is best for you to discover, but the excellent cast, including Morris Chestnut, R. Lee Ermey, Mädchen Amick, Henry Rollins, Bob Gunton, Dominic Purcell and especially Noah Wyle (TNT's FALLING SKIES - 2011-Present), as you have never seen him before, make this a crime drama worth searching out with a surprise finale that fits the film perfectly; SPIDERS 2 (2001) may not be as hectic as director Gary Jones' SPIDERS (2000), but director Sam Firstenberg (AVENGING FORCE - 1986) and star Richard Moll both make this film a bat-shit crazy movie. A couple lose their yacht during a storm and think they are lucky when they are picked up by a commercial carrier captained by Jim Bigelow (Daniel Quinn). What they don't count on are the crazy antics of Dr. Grbac (Moll), who injects people with a paralytic agent so they can be fed  to his giant spiders (after the spiders wrap them in webs) in the hull of the ship (The bodies are also used as incubators for the giant spiders' babies). Sure, some of the spider CGI is dodgy, but there is enough gore and scenery chewing by Moll to satisfy any horror film fan. I liked it; THE ORDER (2001) is one of Jean-Claude Van Damme's first DTV films and it's pretty good. Artifact smuggler Van Damme travels to Israel to rescue his archaeologist father (Charlton Heston in his last live-action film) and retrieve an ancient scroll that could start a holy war. He is framed for murder by crooked Major Ner (Ben Cross) and must avoid the police while fighting his way to rescue his father and find the scroll. Lots of Van Damme's patented martial arts action, with a dab of gore and mysticism. Not bad. Van Damme's DTV films are usually always better than Steven Seagal's or Dolph Lundgren's because Van Damme has become a pretty good actor as well as an action star; SERIES 7: THE CONTENDERS (2001) is a fake reality show flick about random people being picked to kill each other while the cameras roll. The series is now in its seventh season and pregnant champion Dawn (Brooke Smith, best known as the girl being tormented in the well by Buffalo Bill in SILENCE OF THE LAMBS - 1991) must defend herself against a bunch of new people, one of whom is her ex-boyfriend who is dying of AIDS. Way ahead of its time and one of the best handheld camera films. This just may be what things come to if TV reality programs run out of ideas; THE POINT MEN (2001) is a finely-tuned political thriller, thanks to a literate script by Ripley Highsmith (THE MINION - 1998) and deft direction by John Glen, who helmed many James Bond films. The film takes a pro-Israel stance as Israeli agents botch an operation to capture a Palestinian terrorist and are then hunted down and killed. The leader of the agents, Tony Eckhardt (Christopher Lambert), must stop a cell of Palestine assassins before all his agents are murdered. This is much better than it has any right to be, thanks to people who know how to handle this sort of film; WISHCRAFT (2002) is an entertaining mixture of "The Monkey's Paw" and a slasher film. When Brett (Michael Weston) receives a mysterious idol in the mail that grants him three wishes, his first wish is to have his school's most popular cheerleader, Samantha (Alexandra Holden), become his girlfriend. To his surprise, his wish is granted, but someone is killing all the jocks and cheerleaders in school (One jock is buried up to his head on the football field while the killer uses his head as a bowling pin!) and Samantha is next on the killer's list. How will Brett use his remaining two wishes and who sent him the idol in the first place? This is a genuine fun flick with singer/actor Michael "Meat Loaf" Aday (THE SALTON SEA - 2002) as a perplexed detective, A.J. Buckley (CSI: NY [2005 - Present]) as Brett's best friend and Austin Pendleton (DIARY OF THE DEAD - 1976) as a teacher. Even the late Zelda Rubenstein (ANGUISH - 1986) makes an appearance as a medical examiner. Worth your time; LONE HERO (2002) is a fun action flick about quick-draw artist John (Sean Patrick Flanery) in a Wild West show in Montana who "arrests" a biker gang led by Bart (Lou Diamond Phillips) and the biker gang vows revenge when they break out of jail (Especially when Bart learns that John's gun was filled with blanks!). With the help of friend Gus (Robert Forster), John learns to shoot using real bullets, which leads to a real shootout in the Wild West town. Lots of action with some welcome doses of humor; BLOOD CRIME (2002) is an inventive little DTV thriller about a burned-out Seattle cop (Johnathan Schaech) and his wife (Elizabeth Lackey) going on a camping trip to relieve some stress. His wife is raped while he is out collecting firewood and, as he rushes her to the hospital, gets into an accident with a trucker. His wife identifies the trucker as the rapist and Schaech accidentally kills him. Once they are at the hospital, his wife again names the male nurse as the rapist and Schaech then knows his wife's mind is not working correctly, blaming every man she sees as her rapist. The biggest problem, though, is the trucker that Schaech killed is the son of the local sheriff (James Caan). The film is full of twists and turns and is worthwhile viewing for thriller fans; THE WISHER (a.k.a. SPLICED - 2002) is a better than average slasher flick about a girl named Mary (Liane Balaban; the MANIAC remake - 2012) who has many problems. She has a dire need to be scared, so much so, that her father forbids her to go to the movies to watch horror films. She is also suffers from compulsive sonambulism and has nearly lost her life many times sleep-walking on the streets. She sneaks out with some friends to go see the titled horror flick, but it affects her somehow and she gets extremely ill, never seeing the ending of the film. Very soon afterward, her friends begin to get killed by The Wisher and Mary discovers that the film has spliced-in subliminal supernatural symbols and reports it to her trusted guidance counselor/psychiatrist Campbell (the late Ron Silver; TIMECOP - 1994). What happens next is best for the viewer to discover. Directed by Gavin Wilding (CHRISTINA'S HOUSE - 2000); DOG SOLDIERS (2002) is a crackling good werewolf film, the first feature film from director/writer Neil Marshall (THE DESCENT - 2005; DOOMSDAY - 2008; CENTURION - 2010). A platoon of soldiers, on what they think is a routine military exercise in the Scottish woods, runs smack-dab into a family of nasty werewolves and must hold out in a house deep in the middle of nowhere. Lots of gory deaths and some great werewolf effects makes one wish that teens would rather watch flicks like this than trash like the TWILIGHT franchise (which, thankfully, is over); CRAZY AS HELL (2002) is a highly unusual film about an ambitious and over-confident psychiatrist (Michael Beach), who works at a mental institution (named the "Sedah State Hospital" [figure it out]) and tries to treat an unknown male only known as "The Man" (director Eric La Salle), who may be Satan himself. Full of weird set-pieces and cinematography, this film will have you guessing until the surprising conclusion; SNAKE ISLAND (2002). I've been standing on the precipice for a few days on whether to give this a positive or negative review. The former won out, mainly because the snakes used for this film are real and not CGI creations. A group of tourists are taking a boat ride down an African river (filmed in South Africa), when tour guide Jake (director/writer/co-producer Wayne Crawford, who has been a staple in B-films since SOMETIMES AUNT MARTHA DOES DREADFUL THINGS [1971], using his frequent pseudonym "Scott Lawrence") decides to stop at the deserted Snake Island. The problem is that the island was once-thought to be free of snakes, but in reality, it is overrun with them. When the boat breaks down, all the tourists have to spend the night there and begin to get picked-off by all types of snakes, who want the island for themselves. If you have a phobia of snakes, this film will increase it, for as I have said before, Crawford uses real snakes and not fake CGI creations, making the "ick" factor setting very high. Not bad for this type of horror film and the scenery is very colorful (as are the snakes); PAVEMENT (2002) is an odd name for a pretty good serial killer film. When his sister is slaughtered by a serial killer in San Francisco (actually filmed in Cape Town, South Africa), Alaskan tracker Robert Patrick goes to San Francisco and eventually joins detective Lauren Holly in searching for the mass murderer. What they find is unusual and somewhat original, so I won't ruin it for you. Hard to believe that this was directed by Darrell James Roodt, of CITY OF BLOOD (1983) and DRACULA 3000 (2004) fame; KILLING EMMETT YOUNG (a.k.a. EMMETT'S MARK - 2002) should have obtained cult status by now. This thriller about newly appointed homicide detective Emmett Young (Scott Wolf) discovering he has a fatal disease that will make him suffer a slow, painful death, so he hires a stranger to find someone to kill him in three days, has so many layers, it is nearly impossible to describe in a short review. Emmett uses his final three days to investigate the serial killing death of a young woman and the man he hires to find someone to kill him hires a despondent ex-cop to do the deed. What happens next is for the viewer to discover. This is one of those unsung little films that needs more viewers to give it the popularity it so richly deserves;  STEAL (2002) is an exciting action film about a thief (Stephen Dorff, who, as you will see, gets a lot of love in this section) and his gang who use extreme sports to pull off heists. They plan on committing six heists, but when their second heist surprisingly nets them 20 million dollars in untraceable bonds, they decide to call it quits. Unfortunately, crooked cop Bruce Payne has other plans for Dorff and his gang and wants them to commit more thefts. Natasha Henstridge is the FBI agent out to catch them. Full of amazing stunts (check out the rollerblade chase), this film will entertain you for the full running time. Director Gérard Pirès (the excellent French comedy/action film TAXI - 1998) made the even more amazing SKY FIGHTERS (2005); TERMINAL INVASION (2002) is one of Bruce Campbell's better DTV films, thanks to sharp direction by Sean S. Cunningham (FRIDAY THE 13TH - 1980) and an absorbing story by Lewis Abernathy (DEEP STAR SIX - 1989). A group of assorted people, including escaped convict Bruce Campbell, are trapped inside a small airplane terminal during a raging snowstorm. Trouble is, one of these people is an alien capable of taking-on human form. The fun here comes from guessing who the alien may be and Campbell's usual comic deadpan delivery. Believe me, you could do a whole lot worse; ONE WAY OUT (2002) proves once again that Jim Belushi is a good actor given the right material (And we don't count one of the world's greatest mysteries, Belushi's TV Series ACCORDING TO JIM [2001-2009]. It's a great mystery because it lasted so long!). Belushi is a cop with a bad gambling problem. The owners of his markers will tear them up if he teaches a man (Jason Bateman) how to kill his wife (Guylaine St-Onge) without getting caught (in other words, the perfect murder). Thriller fans will love the twists and turns this films takes, as Belushi's female cop partner (Angela Featherstone) knows something is up and tries to get to the bottom of it while trying to save Belushi's life. Belushi can act up a storm given the right circumstances (see my review of MADE MEN - 1999) and this film is no exception; POINT OF ORIGIN (2002) is a thriller based on a true story that was originally shown on HBO. Someone is setting a bunch of homicidal fires in southern California and ace arson investigator John Orr (an excellent Ray Liotta) and his partner Keith Lang (John Leguizamo) are in charge of investigating them. Orr has the uncanny ability to find the point of origin of all these fires, which leads his partner and the Fire Department to suspect that Orr may be the arsonist. As the film progresses, we see that Orr is leading a double life, writing a book about an arsonist based on the fires he started and soon he begins to blur the line between reality and fantasy (there's a MATRIX-style gunfight during the final third of the film that is all in Orr's mind and it is quite good, if a little out of place with the rest of the film). In real life, Orr published his book (titled "Points of Origin: Playing with Fire"), which law enforcement says contains facts that only the arsonist would know. Liotta plays Orr as a real heel, cheating on his wife with a female fire investigator, which makes the film fascinating to watch. The fire scenes are also done with flair (a stuntman was burnt over 40 percent of his body during one fire scene in an unfortunate accident) and the entire film could have played theatrically with no problem; FEDERAL PROTECTION (2002) finally proves that director Anthony Hickox (CONTAMINATED MAN - 2000; CONSEQUENCE - 2003; BLAST - 2004) can make a thriller that is good. Armand Assante (who still mumbles more than I care for) is a professional car thief for the mob in Chicago who turns FBI witness when he is nearly assassinated by a mob boss. He joins the Federal Witness Program under a new name and is moved to Little Rock, Arkansas. His sexy married next door neighbor (Angela Featherstone) takes a romantic interest in her new neighbor because she knows her husband (David Lipper) is having an affair. What she doesn't know is that he is having an affair with her own sister (Dina Meyer). When the husband and the sister put two-and-two together and figure out who Assante really is, they contact the mob in hope of collecting the hit bounty. What follows next are bloody shootouts and double-crosses. This is a fairly graphic thriller in both the blood and boobs departments. Who could ask for more?; CRUEL AND UNUSUAL (2002) is a moody thriller with erotic undertones directed by George Mihalka (MY BLOODY VALENTINE - 1981). A brother and sister move to a small coastal Oregon town and the brother works as an assistant guard at a lighthouse. They meet Art Stoner (Tom Berenger), who is actually a serial killer of women who killed the actual head lighthouse guard (and author on sabbatical) Adam Terrell (Eli Gabay) and took his identity when Adam picked him up hitch-hiking on his way to take the lighthouse gig. As Art and the sister become romantically involved, the brother (who is on probation for crimes committed in Chicago) begins to realize that there is more to Art than meets the eye (Watch the chess scene to see what I mean). It is slow for more action-oriented fans, but worth the ride.

Good DTV Genre Films Part 3 (continued): SUBTERANO (2003) is an interesting Australian horror film about escaped con Conrad (Alex Dimitriades), who is about to be executed, and his girlfriend Gracie (Tasma Walton), who must lead six innocent people through the levels of a parking garage while a "Gamemaster" pits a mechanical machine of some type against them at every level in a game called "Subterano". It's like beating a boss in a video game and moving on to the next level and going up against an even bigger boss. The effects are pretty good and there is some extreme gore. Needless to say, not everyone make it out alive; DRAGON STORM (2003) is an entertaining tale about two warring kings (John Rhys-Davies, John Hansson) during medieval times putting their differences aside and sending out their six best fighters (including Maxwell Caufield and Angel Boris) to kill alien fire-breathing dragons that came to Earth inside meteors. This has better-than-average dragon CGI and a sense of fun about it. It was directed by actor Stephen Furst using his real name "Steven Feuerstein"; THE INVITATION (2003) is a morality play disguised as a horror film. Lance Henriksen invites six of his closest friends to his secluded home and gives them a deadly poison and will only give each of them the antidote if they tell their darkest secrets. It's quite rare for a film of this caliber to be this good, especially some of the secrets that are revealed. Henriksen is really good here and just doesn't phone his role in; MIMIC 3: SENTINEL (2003) is a pretty good second sequel to the still-superior 1997 original MIMIC and much better than the first DTV sequel MIMIC 2 (2001), with more than a dash of REAR WINDOW (1954) thrown into the pot. An asthmatic man confined to his apartment spies on his neighbors with a camera and a high-power lense. When he spots some Judas Breed insects (who look human until they sprout their wings and fly) kill people, the man's sister and friend investigate. Director/writer J.T. Petty (THE BURROWERS - 2008) keeps the pace quick (the film runs a scant 77 minutes) and the finale is truly original and exciting. Not bad for a sequel; WEBS (2003) is one of the better horror films shown on the Sci Fi (SyFy) Network. A group of electrical workers (led by Richard Grieco), trying to fix an electrical spike problem in an abandoned Chicago building, find a hidden room in the building's basement. Inside the room is a teleportation device that can send them to an alternate Earth, where giant bugs (mainly human-sized spiders) have taken over. When the device breaks down, stranding the workers in the alternate dimension, they must find the inventor of the device to send them back before they are killed by the bugs. Some good practical makeup effects and minimal CGI really help you get into the film; MOMENTUM (2003) is a fairly exciting sci-fi/thriller about a trio of telepaths who use their powers to rob banks. Federal agent Addison (Lou Gossett Jr.) bribes a schoolteacher (Grayson McCouch), who is also a secret telepath, to help him catch the criminals, one of them who use to belong to Addison's team. Good special effects and a fast-moving story will keep you entertained throughout the film. Consider it a superhero film on a small budget and you'll have fun with it; DETENTION (2003) is a good DTV action film starring Dolph Lundgren and directed by Sidney J. Furie (HIDE AND SEEK - 1999). Lundgren is an ex-Special Forces soldier-turned-school teacher who is about to quit because he doesn't believe in the education system anymore (Who does?). On his final day, he is assigned to detention duty after school hours, where he must watch over a bunch of trouble-making students. Unfortunately, a band of cut-throat thieves, believing the school is empty, decide to use it as headquarters to hide out before performing their latest armed robbery heist. Lundgren and the students must fight back to try and make it out of the school, where Lundgren learns a trick or two from the students and vice-versa. Plenty of action and some welcome humor makes this a good bet for action fans; BLACK CADILLAC (2003) is a taut thriller loosely based on true events that happened to director John Murlowski (RETURN OF THE FAMILY MAN - 1989; AUTOMATIC - 1994) in 1983. The story concerns three underaged guys from Minnesota that cross over the Wisconsin border to get drunk at a bar (apparently it's easier to used fake IDs there). One of the guys gets into a fight with some local rednecks and the three are forced to flee in their car. They are followed by a mysterious black Cadillac (that wasn't in the bar's parking lot), even after they pick up local sheriff Charlie (Randy Quaid), whose car has broken down. Some may say that this film is way too talky, but the dialogue (screenplay by Will Aldis) offers important clues about the secrets the three friends are hiding and what Charlie was doing out in the middle of nowhere. The mystery is hard to figure out and worth the ride; DRACULA II: ASCENSION (2003) is the first DTV sequel to the theatrical release DRACULA 2000 (1999) and is just unusual enough to merit your attention. In the finale of the first film, Dracula burns on a cross and this sequel picks up with some med students examining his charred body, discovering that it is the body of a vampire and being offered $30,000 by wheelchair-bound Lowell (Craig Sheffer), who hopes to use Dracula's blood to cure his cerebal palsy. Lots of surprises abound, including a vampire's obsession with untying knots and counting seeds (Dracula is a very fast counter) before he can move on. There's also a whip-wielding priest (Jason Scott Lee) and plenty of nasty gore (including a face torn off). The second sequel, DRACULA III: LEGACY (2005) followed, all directed by Patrick Lussier (MY BLOODY VALENTINE - 2009; DRIVE ANGRY - 2011). All three films have a different actor playing Dracula (Gerard Butler in the first, Stephen Billington in the second and Rutger Hauer in the third); ARACHNIA (2003) has some of the worst acting in recent memory (and check out the Joe Pesci lookalike in the finale!), but director Brett Piper (BACTERIUM - 2007) has his heart in the right place, using stop-motion animation and practical effects for the giant spiders rather than CGI and offering male viewers plenty of nudity and gore. I like this one a lot and must have watched it five times so far; CURSE OF THE KOMODO (2003) is a surprisingly good giant reptile film, directed by none other than Jim Wynorski (using his "Jay Andrews" pseudonym). The difference here is that the CGI komodo dragons are rendered realistically and there is a sense of urgency in some of the scenes, especially one tense sequence where a giant komodo is chasing a truck down a dirt road. The late George "Buck" Flower puts in a cameo in one of his final films. Followed by the definitely inferior KOMODO VS. COBRA (2005), also directed by Wynorski; UNDEAD (2003) is a perfectly good Australian zombie film with a difference. A meteorite shower hits the tiny fishing village of Berkeley, turning some of the citizens into flesh-eating zombies. While the residents try to kill all the infected, the town is visited by a circular alien spaceship who try to cure the town of the infection by transporting the uninfected into to atmosphere by a light ray (it is quite the sight). At first the residents of Berkeley think the aliens are part of the problem, but soon they discover that they are their saviors. When the aliens think they have obliterated the disease from the town, they leave in their spaceship, not knowing a plane pilot who is infected is still flying in the sky. He parachutes back into town and begins the infection all over again with the aliens not knowing that it is active once again. The film is funny in parts without being the winking and knowing kind found in some horror films (what one of the aliens says to another at the end of the film is very funny) and some of the special effects and zombie kills are well done. Rene (Felicity Mason) is the film's heroine, but she could not have done any of it without the aliens' help, but at the finale, it is up to her to make sure the disease doesn't spread outside of Berkeley, showing her on the farm she was going to lose in the beginning of the film is now a pen for all the town's zombies and she stands guard over them, hoping that the aliens return once again. Not a bad little film directed/written by twin brothers Michael & Peter Spierig (DAYBREAKERS - 2009; PREDESTINATION - 2014), who bill themselves as "The Spierig Brothers"; STARSHIP TROOPERS 2: HERO OF THE FEDERATION (2004) is better than it has any right to be thanks to director Phil Tippett, who usually does special effects for films (Including the original STARSHIP TROOPERS - 1997). A bunch of soldiers become trapped on a deserted planet's fortified bunker and discover that there's a new type of alien bug in existence that can live inside a human body. This was made for 5% of the budget of the original, yet imagination, good gory effects (by Tippett and his team) and a short running time keeps you interested throughout. Two more sequels followed; MADHOUSE (2004) is probably director William Butler's best film to date (Other Butler films include FURNACE [2007], DEMONIC TOYS 2 [2009] and GINGERDEAD MAN 3: SATURDAY NIGHT CLEAVER [2011]). This could have been another one of those "person trapped in an insane asylum" flicks, but this film has atmosphere, some true scares and a surprise or two up its sleeve. To say any more would be to ruin the viewer's experience; THE HAZING (2004) is the film that made me fall in love with Tiffany Shepis. Try not to get turned-on by her silver jumpsuit. While the plot is a generic "college fraternity and sorority haze a bunch of pledges in a haunted house" scenario, every time Shepis is on screen, I ignore the plot and just soak in her beautifulness (if there is such a word). I know I'm skipping my usual critic's oath, but Tiffany Shepis is worth it here. She's not only great to look at, she has the talent to graduate to A-list films. Why she hasn't is one of the great filmmaking mysteries; MAN-THING (2004) was considered a minor Marvel Comics character by Marvel producer Avi Arad, which is why this film probably went straight to DVD (after a severely-edited showing on the Sci Fi Network). The worst I can say about this film is that director Brett Leonard (THE DEAD PIT - 1989) tried to pass-off Australia as bayou country in the United States and failed miserably. Otherwise, this is an atmospheric horror tale about a new sheriff (Matthew Le Nevez) discovering an ancient secret in his town that goes back to when the Seminole Indians owned the land: There's a tree-like monster in the swamps that kills people based on their worst fears. Good CGI, some great gore (unusual for a Marvel film) and some pretty damned good cinematography make this film a good bet for those who didn't follow the comic book. Those who did have torn this film to pieces; THE PROPHECY: UPRISING (2004) is genre producer Joel Soisson's directorial debut and for the third of four sequels to THE PROPHECY (1995; and one of the best horror films of the 90's), it is a pretty good film despite the fact that Christopher Walken turned down doing any more sequels after the third film. This one is about good angel John Riegert (John Light) jouning forces with Budapest, Romania detective Dani Simionescu (an excellent Sean Pertwee) to protect a church secretary named Allison (Kari Wuhrer) from a demon angel, who travels from body to body when killed, to get his hands on an ancient Bible in Allison's possession. There is a backstory about Allison and Dani's childhood and we are not sure if John is on God's side or on his own. The Bible contains powers which will bring all the Devil's angels to Earth, but Dani comes up with a good way to get the invisible demon angel (who possesses the body of his partner, played by Doug Bradley) not to possess any more bodies. Unfortunately, the last film in the series, THE PROPHECY: FORSAKEN (2004, made back-to-back with this film and also directed by Soisson), is an unneeded continuation of this story and is pretty bad. But at least the fourth film is good and worth a watch.; NEW POLICE STORY (2004) is an exciting action film starring Jackie Chan (the only actor to appear in all seven films of the series, even if this one has little to do with the other six, the last one {at the time of this writing} being POLICE STORY 2013, a.k.a. POLICE STORY: LOCKDOWN - 2013). Jackie portrays Inspector Chan, who watches as all nine of his squad are killed by a bunch of teenagers in masks (this scene is one of the best of Jackie's career), the leader of the criminal group is actually the Police Chief's son! The criminals are playing a computer game where players are awarded points for how many policemen and policewomen they kill, only they decide to make the game real (The Chief's son was physically abused by his father as a young boy, leading to his hatred of all police). After losing his team, Inspector Chan becomes an outcast from the police force, along with becoming a raging alcoholic. It takes a young detective with a coat two sizes bigger than him (You will find out why) to get Inspector Chan back in the game (pun intentional) and, together, they try to take down the gang. This is full of amazing stunts (as with most of Jackie's films, they show all the mistakes during the final credits), all performed by Jackie himself (there is a car scene that will make you rewind the DVD or Blu-Ray to see if what you saw actually happened) and director/producer Bennie Chan (WHO AM I? - 1998; also starring Chan) fills the screen with huge explosions, car chases, gun fights and, especially, fantastic martial arts fights. Jackie may be getting older, but he still has the chops to do things that most people would never do in a million years. This film also has an emotional core that you will not find in most American-made action films, which gives this film an extra layer. See it if you can.;  THEY ARE AMONG US (2004) is an interesting little sci-fi/horror film directed by Jeffrey Obrow (SERVANTS OF TWILIGHT - 1991), starring Alison Eastwood (Clint's daughter) and the final film of George "Buck" Flower (who plays an important role in the film's finale). Finley (Eastwood) discovers that a small town is actually populated almost entirely by aliens (who need plastic surgery to look human) for over 100 years. They have been looting Earth's resources to survive, which will destroy all of Earth's human population. Finley and Daniel (Michael DiLallo), with the help of Old Chuck (Flower), must find a way to destroy the aliens to save the planet. This film has some nice practical gore (the CGI is kept to a minimum) and also stars Bruce Boxleitner, Nana Visitor, Corbin Bernsen and Hunter Tylo. Grab the DVD because the version shown on SyFy is edited for gore; SUSPECT ZERO (2004) never got the credit it deserved in theaters because no one knew what to expect from director E. Elias Merhige, who also gave us the head-scratching THE BEGOTTEN (1990) and the highly offbeat, yet entertaining SHADOW OF THE VAMPIRE (2000; Willem Dafoe, in a performance that defies description, was nominated for an Academy Award, but didn't win). What audiences missed was one of the best, symbolic-driven thrillers of 2004. FBI agents Aaron Eckhart and Carrie-Anne Moss are investigating a case where a serial killer is killing only other serial killers. Eckhart is determined to get the FBI to believe that the killer is one of their own, a product of a top secret experiment in the 60's where people with telepathic powers, called "remote viewers", were brought in and were able to pinpoint locations of terrorists and other bad people using nothing but their minds (Remember, this was during the Cold War). The project was abandoned and so were the people involved (thrown away like garbage) and the only one still alive is Benjamin O'Riley (Ben Kingsley, in an Oscar worthy performance), who is left haunted by what he saw during the 60's and uses his powers to murder serial killers to alieve some of his pain. He also knows the exact way he is going to die, which plays an important part of the plot. Of course, the FBI think Eckhard is nuts and don't believe a word he says, so he goes about proving it on his own. Involving every step of the way, this film should not be missed by people who are thriller fans and excited by symbolism in their films. I loved it. Unfortunately, at the time of this writing, this is Merhige's last theatrical film. Why?; IT WAITS (2004) is a perfectly enjoyable horror film from legendary late producer/co-writer Stephen J. Cannell, about park ranger Danielle (an excellent Cerina Vincent), who is still suffering the guilt of killing her best friend in a drunk driving accident, so she takes a job alone manning an an oversight tower deep in the forest just to stay away from people. Unfortunately, some explorers have unleashed a monster from a cave where it has spent thousands of years in seclusion, thanks to a Native American curse. As the bodies begin piling up, Danielle must man-up (or woman-up), as the monster tries to make her its next meal. Important lessons are learned and Danielle is ready to rejoin society once this ordeal is over. Directed by Steven R. Monroe (SASQUATCH MOUNTAIN - 2006; I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE - 2010); DECOYS (2004). After over 200 original films, The Sci Fi (SyFy) Channel has to come up with a winner every now and then and it's hard to believe that this came from director Matthew Hastings, who gave us the awful BLOODSUCKERS (2005). College virgin Luke (Corey Sevier) is hoping to get lucky with one of the sorority girls. A series of circumstances happens where he is trapped in a closet watching one of the sorority girls making love and then it happens: Tenticles spring out of her breasts and stomach and the male she is with ends up frozen like a popsicle. It's not long before more males start showing up frozen stiffer than an uncooked fish stick and Luke must try to convince the authorities that some of the sorority girls are actually aliens. The cops think he is nuts, so he and female friend Constance (Kim Poirier) look for a way to stop these frozen females. Maybe fire will work? Maybe even a flame thrower? Since nudity plays an important point in the plot, stay away from the Sci Fi Channel version (they optically fog out the offending bits) and rent or buy the DVD. This film is as funny as it is gory, but avoid the sequel, DECOYS 2: ALIEN SEDUCTION (a.k.a. DECOYS: THE SECOND SEDUCTION - 2007), as it is nothing but a rehash of the first film; FREEZE FRAME (2004) is one crackling good thriller, helped immensely by the dramatic performance of comedian Lee Evans (MOUSEHUNT - 1997). In this film, Evans plays Sean Veil, who was accused, but never convicted, of the murders of a mother and her twin daughters ten years earlier. Now he videotapes every second of his life so that a policeman and a forensics expert, both who still believe he is guilty of those murders, cannot accuse him of a new series of murders happening in Belfast. The problem is, someone is fucking around with the timecodes on his tapes and others are missing, making it look like he is guilty. To say anymore would be a huge disservice to the viewer, but the finale is a doozy; OUT FOR BLOOD (DVD Title: VAMPIRES: OUT FOR BLOOD - 2004) is a good vampire tale about a troubled cop (Kevin Dillon) who is bitten by a vampire and slowly turns into one himself. He tries to get his captain (Lance Henriksen) to believe him, with no such luck, so he must find the vampire leader and kill him himself to release the curse. This is better than most films shown on the Sci Fi (SyFy) Network; THE DEFENDER (2004) is important for three reasons: 1) It's Dolph Lundgren's directorial debut. 2) Dolph Lundgren directs himself for the first time. 3) Jerry Springer (yes, that Jerry Springer) is cast as President of the United States and he's not half-bad. This is a Lundgren DTV action film, it's full of gunfights and brutal hand-to-hand combat and it's not boring. What more could you ask for? How about a killer exit song titled "After All" by Somnium that will leave you humming it for days afterward. The song's so good, when I couldn't find a copy of it anywhere on the Internet, I ripped a MP3 of it directly from the DVD. I guess that makes this film important for four reasons; INTO THE SUN (2004) is one of Steven Seagal's better early DTV films, probably due to the fact that it takes place in Japan, a country near and dear to his heart (Google Seagal if you don't know his history). When the Tokyo governor is murdered, Seagal is called in to investigate and learns the Yakuza is responsible (The IMDB claims that this is a remake of THE YAKUZA [1974], a claim I find highly dubious). The final 30 minutes of this film is like a video game, as Seagal and his cohorts must fight a series of increasingly difficult fighters using a variety of weapons. For once, it looks like Seagal did most of his stunts (especially the swordplay, of which he is an expert) and it is bloody as hell (Shit, the whole film just flows with the red stuff). This is one early Seagal DTV flick where you won't be watching the clock waiting for it to end. You'll be watching the screen; ANONYMOUS REX (2004), based on the series of novels by Eric Garcia (mainly his novel "Casual Rex"; he is co-executive producer here), takes a ridiculous premise (one out of every ten thousandth person in the world is actually a dinosaur, who hide their identities by using holographic images to look human) and turns it into an entertaining detective mystery. Daniel Baldwin and Sam Trammell (TRUE BLOOD - 2008-2014) are two dinosaur detectives investigating a plot to eliminate all humans on Earth. The special effects are pretty good and the music, by "tomandandy", adds greatly to the film noir feel of the film. Rent or buy the DVD, because the version shown on SyFy is heavily edited. Directed by Julian Jarrold, who was also responsible for the very good THE RED RIDING TRILOGY: 1974 (2009); ABOMINABLE (2005) is one of the best Bigfoot gore films ever made, another movie with a dash of REAR WINDOW (1954) thrown in for good measure. A wheelchair bound man (Matt McCoy) is brought to a secluded group of cabins in the woods to recuperate from a mountain climbing accident. He spies with binoculars on the girls who rented the cabin next door and sees Bigfoot kill one of them and tries to convince his caregiver what he saw. The caregiver instead tries to drug him, only to have the caregiver get killed by Bigfoot (once you see the way he dies, you will never forget it). The man finally gets the girls to believe him (for a change of pace, cell phones do work in these woods) and uses his mountain climbing gear to escape the cabin and try to help the last remaining girl to escape to the nearest town. The final denouement is good, as are the Bigfoot costume and gore effects. Definitely worth a watch, but don't view in on regular TV (like SyFy or Chiller) because you'll be missing some top-of-the-line gore and nudity. Rent or buy the DVD or watch it on pay cable; MORTUARY (2005). Many genre fans have given up on director Tobe Hooper, sometimes panning his latter-day films without even watching them. Well, I'm here to defend him. Sure, he turned out some bad flicks (CROCODILE - 2000), but this film is an effective, atmospheric, little chiller that mixes a few genres to good effect. Widowed mom Mary Crosby and her kids moves into a house that use to be a farmhouse, but is now a mortuary, complete with a graveyard as a backyard. There's also a black fungus overrunning the house that, when touched or eaten, turns you into something less than human (The "dinner scene" will have you tossing your cookies!). There's also a monster (the deformed son of the farmer who previously owned the house) that lurks in the underground tunnels that litter the graveyard. It all comes together in the end, but I'll leave that for you to discover. Like him or not, at least Hooper is still working at a steady pace, which is more than I can say about most directors that got their start in the 70's; ROOM 6 (2005) is a twisty horror mystery about Amy (Christine Taylor) who was just proposed to her by her boyfriend Nick (Shane Brolly), but she asks him to give her until the end of the day for an answer. Later in the day, her boyfriend gets into an accident with truck driver Lucas (Jerry O'Connell) and he is taken to the hospital. Amy is deathly afraid of hospitals, but goes there anyway to see her boyfriend, but no one can find him. Lucas is also there looking for his sister, but no one can find her, either. The rest of the film is a series of events which may be real or a figment of Amy's imagination (it all has to do with why she is afraid of hospitals) and the finale may seem pat, but it fits the film perfectly. Directed with flair by Michael Hurst, who also gave us the excellent HOUSE OF THE DEAD 2 (2005); THE ZODIAC (2005) is an alternate take on director David Fincher's ZODIAC (2007), both based on the still-insolved Zodiac killings in the San Francisco Bay area in the late-60's. While Fincher's film is a great film about the killings and an alcoholic reporter who tries to solve the murders, the 2005 film tells the story about the toll it takes on the lead detective on the case (Justin Chambers) and his family. Both films contains scenes that are eerily similar and both are worth your time because they are equally different; INSIDE OUT (2005) is an interesting psychological thriller with a hell of a twist ending. A seemingly tranquil neighborhood is suddenly put into chaos by the appearance of a new neighbor, ex-psychiatrist Doctor Peoples (Eriq La Salle; CRAZY AS HELL - 2002; "Doctor" is his real first name; he had it legally changed). He mows his lawn at 2:00am and is very standoffish to his new neighbors, especially the men across the street, Norman and Frank (Steven Weber and Russell Wong). Norman thinks Doctor Peoples his having an affair with his wife Maria (Nia Peeples) and has killed his own wife, but surveillence expert Frank discovers that his wife died years ago after giving birth and Peoples gave up the kid for adoption. Meanwhile, Norman is having troubles with his own son Obert (Tyler Posey), who is afraid of water and who has to go to a psychiatrist, who believes Obert is being sexually abused by the family and threatens to take the kid away unless he becomes an outpatient at his clinic. Doctor Peoples holds a garage sale, where people in the neighborhood buy all sorts of nice things for ridiculously low prices (there's a reason for that) and Maria and Obert becomes friend with him, which makes Norman even more certain Maria is having an affair with him. To say any more would be to destroy one unexpected ending (some aspects of the "reveal" may be too coincidental to some, but so what?), where everyone we have seen in the film are not what they seem. Director/writer David Ogden (his freshman effort and still his only film) has turned in quite a good little thriller on his first try. Also starring Kate Walsh and Richard Steinmetz as one mean-ass detective. Give it a try; DIRTY (2005) ends with highly underrated actor Clifton Collins Jr. (HELLBENDERS - 2012) saying, "You see things a lot more clearly when you're dead.", but director/co-screenwriter Chris Fisher (NIGHTSTALKER - 2002; RAMPAGE: THE HILLSIDE STRANGLER MURDERS - 2004, also starring Collins; S. DARKO - 2009) has so much more to say to us before those immortal words are spoken. Collins Jr. and DTV king Cuba Gooding Jr. (this must be the first time two Jr.'s had top co-billing!) are ex-gangbangers-turned police officers and they are exactly what the title of the movie implies. Collins sees people with demon faces (great makeup effects work by Almost Human Inc.) after he shoots an innocent old Latino man that Gooding was harrassing when he thinks the old man was reaching for a gun (he wasn't) and now he suffers from delusions every time he looks at a Latino face. They work with an equally dirty boss (Keith David) in running a drugs for cash deal with Jamaican drug bosses (one of them portrayed rather nicely by musician Wyclef Jean), but things of course go absolutely haywire thanks to Gooding's constant abuse of people he runs into (what he does to young Latino girl Rita, portrayed by Aimee Garcia, is absolutely horrendous). This is a fine actioner as well as an emotional rollercoaster ride, with plenty of violence and even a scene of Russian Roulette (umpired by character actor supreme Robert LaSardo as a Latino drug head who wants the money the two cops stole from him). Pay no mind to all the bad reviews for this film in IMDb, who call it a poor man's TRAINING DAY (it isn't) and enjoy the dirty ride this film takes you on (and turning left when you think it's going to turn right). Look for appearances from Cole Hauser, Chris Mulkey, Tory Kittles, Brittany Daniel and Khleo Thomas as Splooge, a young skateboarding kid who screws over the two dirty cops. Wait until after the end credits for a little stinger. Worth your time; CURANDERO (a.k.a. CURANDERO: DAWN OF THE DEMON - 2005) is one of those films that got caught in the Disney takeover of Miramax/Weinstein Brothers films (Thankfully, Disney has parted ways with both Miramax and the Weinstein Brothers) and wasn't released on U.S. DVD until 2013. That's a crying shame, because director Eduardo Rodriguez (billed here as "Eduardo Andrés Rodriguez González"), who also gave us STASH HOUSE - 2011; EL GRINGO - 2012; and FRIGHT NIGHT 2: NEW BLOOD - 2013, has delivered a scary and bloody Mexican horror film (it is shown with English subtitles, although the Miramax DVD has an English dubbed version, which I beg you to ignore) about a man  who can see demons and angels where other people only see regular humans. He makes it his priority to save a pretty girl from the clutches of Satan and what happens next is a series of unexpected pleasures I'll let you discover. It was written and executive produced by Robert Rodriguez (no relation to the director; Eduardo hails from Venezuela, while Robert hails from Texas), but contains many more practical gory effects than Robert's usual CGI over-reliance. If this film ever crosses your path, give it a view; MAMMOTH (2005) is a goofy, but enjoyable, horror film with an even goofier premise: An alien spacecraft, which everyone thinks is a meteor, crashes through the roof of the Natural History Museum in Blackwater, Louisiana. The alien inside the spacecraft needs a body to survive, so it picks the half-frozen corpse of a Wooly Mammoth, which then begins to terrorize the town. Filled with B-Movie references and never taking itself seriously, this film is an enjoyable throwback to all those giant monster films of the 1950's. Besides, this is the only film shown on the Sci Fi Network ever nominated for an Emmy for Best Visual Effects!; BLOOD ANGELS (2005) is a funny and bloody vampire tale about a young woman (Siri Baruc) visiting her sister and her females friends and discovering that they are all "half vampires". They are not full-blown vampires, but still suck blood and have more strength than a normal human. All these women would like nothing more to be normal humans again, but as long as their master, Mr. Jones (a hilarious Lorenzo Lamas, who looks like he is having the time of his life), is alive (or undead), they will remain half vampires. Director Ron Oliver (PROM NIGHT III: THE LAST KISS - 1990) hits more with the jokes than misses and the ending (which I will not spoil here) is funny as hell. Watch it when you get the chance; ALL SOULS DAY: DIA DE LOS MUERTOS (2005) is a pretty good DTV horror flick that turns into a zombie film late in the proceedings. A bunch of young adults become stuck in a tiny Mexican town during The Day Of The Dead, where the dead come back to life for just one day. Plenty of scares and gore and not your typical DTV flick, because this film has a back story featuring Danny Trejo (Jeffrey Combs and David Keith also make cameos). Try it. You just may like it; THE DETONATOR is a better than average action thriller starring a pre-tax evasion/jailbird Wesley snipes and directed by action film expert Po-Chih Leong (FOXBAT - 1977; CABIN BY THE LAKE - 2000; Steven Seagal's OUT OF REACH - 2004). Snipes portrays ex-CIA Agent Sonni Griffith, who is on his own and looks to put bad guys in prison (or worse), but there is a traitor among his ranks. While in Bucharest, Romania (where most of these DTV actioners are filmed), he is betrayed while making an illegal weapons buy by a phone call one of the bad guys received. The phone call says that Sonni is a police officer, so it leads to a quite good shootout and he is arrested by the actual police for killing four men. He is saved by CIA agent  (and old friend) Michael Shepard (William Hope), who reminds him that he has a trial in the United States in a couple of days and he must appear, otherwise he will be considered a fugitive. Michael asks Sonni to do him a favor since he is flying to New York: He must escort Nadia Cominski (Silvia Colloca) to New York and hand her over to the CIA there, since she was found with millions of dollars trying to leave the country and her husband is dead (Did she do it?). The rest of the film is a series of well-staged gunfights, car chases and crashes and hand-to-hand combat, as Sonni and Nadia try to make it out of Romania while a crime kingpin and his men try to stop the pair. Action fans really could not ask for more. A little trivia: When Sonni has flashbacks about an operation that went wrong in Columbia (everytime he sees an explosion, the flashbacks occur), they are from Wesley Snipes other 2005 actioner 7 SECONDS, which was not directed by Po-Chih Leong. That film stinks when compared to this one; HOUSE OF THE DEAD 2 (2005) is one of those rare instances where the sequel is superior to the original (Uwe Boll, the director of the original HOUSE OF THE DEAD [2003], was set to direct, but was filming BLOODRAYNE at the time). This really isn't a sequel at all, but a gory and sometimes funny remake of the first zombie film about the undead overtaking a University and the military team sent in to destroy them and save some of the students. Originally shown on the Sci Fi (SyFy) Network, you'll have to rent or buy the DVD or watch it on pay cable to see it in its full uncut gory detail. The only problem I have with this film is that director Michael Hurst (ROOM 6 - 2005; PUMPKINHEAD 4: BLOOD FEUD - 2007) used rap star stunt casting. This time it's Sticky Fingaz; REST STOP: DEAD AHEAD (2006) is a suspenseful (and sometimes gory) flick about a young woman (Jaime Alexander) trapped in an out-of-the-way highway rest stop by someone in a tow truck who kidnapped her boyfriend. Even Joey Lawrence, as a motorcycle cop, does a good job here and suffers one of the film's best deaths. A sequel, REST STOP: DON'T LOOK BACK (2008), was made that tried to flesh-out the villain's back story (of course, his family is uber-religious), but it is basically just torture porn disguised as a horror flick; FIDO (2006), which takes place on some alternate Earth (the setting looks like the late 50's to early 60's, but with technology beyond what we have now) where zombies are fitted with special behavioral collars and used as household servants. Things take a turn for the unusual when a new household zombie the boy of the house calls "Fido" (Billy Connolly, in a bravo performance) and the wife of the family (Carrie-Anne Moss) begin to have feelings for each other (the husband, played by Dylan Baker, is a real asshole and a bigwig of the company that sells the zombies) and Fido becomes a surrogate father to the boy. This is great stuff and not your regular zombie comedy. The set design alone should have won some awards and it has an emotional core not usually found in films of this type; ICE SPIDERS (2006) is a typical Sci-Fi Channel (now SyFy) giant insect flick, except this time there's a good plot, some better-than-average CGI and a co-starring role by legendary TV writer/producer Stephen J. Cannell (his last acting gig; he passed away in 2010). Rent the DVD or watch it on pay cable, because SyFy cuts out quite a bit of gore. (Also check out MANSQUITO - 2005, which is also better than it has any right to be.); BIG BAD WOLF (2006), a gory and quite good werewolf horror film that is bloody and the CGI is kept at a minimum. A young man believes that his stepfather (the excellent Richard Tyson; THE BLACK WATERS OF ECHO'S POND - 2009) is a werewolf (he's right), so he and his girlfriend (who has sex with the stepfather to get a semen sample without her boyfriend's knowledge to have analyzed for abnormalities) set a trap in a cabin in the woods with some friends to rid him once and for all. Gory to the extreme (there's a great shot of a head being ripped-off at the jawline) and also intentionally funny. It's worth your time if you like werewolf flicks; DEAD AND DEADER (2006) is one of the better Sci-Fi Network's (now SyFy) original films. Dean Cain stars as Lt. Bobby Quinn, a tough soldier who is bitten by a mutated scorpion, recovers from the infection and turns into a half-zombie (Is there such a thing?). He returns back to the States only to discover that the infection has spread and many soldiers have turned into full-blown zombies. Together, with comedic partner Judson (Guy Torry) and female sidekick Holly (Susan Ward), Bobby tries to stop the infection from spreading past the military base. Lots of self-refential zombie film jokes and some quite graphic gore follows, making this a fun film to watch (the scene in the bar makes this film more than slightly better than most zombie films). Director Patrick Dinhut also made the better-than-average BLACK FOREST (2011); THE BACKWOODS (2006) is an interesting mixture of STRAW DOGS (1971) and DELIVERANCE (1972). Two married couples (Gary Oldman and Aitana Sánchez-Gijón; Paddy Considine and Virginie Ledoyen) spend a holiday at Oldman's house deep in the Spanish woods. Oldman and Considine go hunting, where they discover a young feral girl being held captive in a hidden house and they take her with hopes of handing her over to the authorities. Soon, the two couples are hunted by a Spanish father and his three sons, who want the girl for reasons I will not reveal here. Good acting (the Spanish actors speak their native tongue which is English-subtitled) and some graphic violence (including an attempted rape which will have you squirming in your seats) help this film move at a quick pace; SLAYER (2006) is a fun and extremely gory vampire tale that's different than most others. When reports of vampire attacks surface in the jungles of South America (and these vampires have no problem with sunlight), the American government sends a military squad headed by Hawk (Casper Van Dien, who is actually good here) to check it out, believing they are dealing with packs of animals rather than vampires. Once in the jungle, Hawk and his squad run into the vampires, and those not bitten or torn in half (nothing is left to the imagination), run for their lives (seems the vampires are impervious to bullets and other conventional weapons). Now the hunters become the hunted, with some of Hawk's squad now vampires looking to make a meal of their former comrades. Good gory fun, directed by Kevin VanHook (DEATH ROW - 2006), with a welcome sense of humor. This is probably VanHook's best film to date; THE LAST HOUSE IN THE WOODS (2006), a rare non-Argento/Mattei Italian horror film of the new Millenniun, is part LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT (1972), part THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974) and part modern-day super gore flick (effects supplied by Italian master Sergio Stivaletti) about a couple who are being chased by a trio of raping scumbags until they come to the titled house. The family that lives there have violent secrets of their own (chainsaws are involved) and the denouement at the end will send shivers down your spine. Not perfect, but not bad either.

Good DTV Genre Films Part 4 (continued): CROC (2006) is one of SyFy's better outings in their "Maneater" series because of the exotic locations in Thailand, some very good unrated gore (a lot of it you will miss if you watch it on SyFy, go figure) and Michael Madsen as the steel-legged "Croc" Hawkins, who lost one of his legs to this very same 20-foot crocodile years before (In the fimale, we learn that he actually lost his leg driving a forklift in the Navy!). Sure, it's a JAWS rip-off, but it is one of the better ones, thanks to the subplot about two Thai brothers who want to change the location into a major hotel tourist spot, but first they have to get rid of Jack McQuade's (Peter Tuinstra) animal reserve, where he keeps all types of animals (including crocodiles and a baby elephant that plays soccer against an audience member) to attract tourists and kill an ancient croc that is feasting on the people (both of the nasty brothers' demises are particularly meaty). Thanks to Stewart Raffill's direction (He also directed THE ICE PIRATES and THE PHILADELPHIA EXPERIMENT [both 1984] and the McDonalds-funded atrocity MAC AND ME [1988]) the film moves at a quick pace, the Thai and American girls are pretty and the croc attacks are filmed in such a way that they give the viewer maximum effect. One of SyFy's better original films, but you must see it on DVD.; THE LAST WINTER (2006) is busy director (and cameo king) Larry Fessenden's (WENDIGO - 2001) take on what happens when man fucks around with Mother Nature. She fights back like a bitch. A bunch of environmentalists and Ron Perlman are sent to an oil drilling site in the Arctic region of Northern Alaska. When one of the team is found dead and naked in the snow, it's apparent that something is very, very wrong. People begin to hallucinate and Perlman begins to act crazy (no one does crazy like Perlman). leaving the site with another member (James LeGros) to try and find a way home. But Mother Nature has other ideas. There are no pat answers in this film (like most of Fessenden's movies), but it is an entertaining and scary ride. The scenery alone would make you shiver on the hottest day of Summer; FINAL CONTRACT: DEATH ON DELIVERY (2006) is a surprisingly exciting action thriller made by Germans, but filmed in English. David (Drew Fuller) works at his uncle's courier service, when one day a woman jumps in his car and David somehow becomes the target of police and bad guys. There are some great car chases here with some unbelievable stunts, all made with a low-budget. This is one of several films made by the same German production company (Action Concept) released DTV in the States (SHARK ATTACK IN THE MEDITERRANEAN - 2004; DEATH TRAIN - 2004; GOOD GIRL BAD GIRL - 2006) and most of them are very good, especially in the stunt departments; BOTCHED (2007) is a funny and extremely gory horror comedy about a thief (Stephen Dorff) sent to a Russian penthouse to steal a priceless crucifix. He and a bunch of other people become unable to escape the booby trapped 13th floor, where they are chased by a trio of descendants of Ivan the Terrible. Beheadings, amputations, impalements (watch out for those spikes in the floor!) and an elevator that refuses to open (the one time it does, it decapitates a man), adds to the charms of this underrated film. The real standout here is Bronagh Gallagher (GRABBERS - 2011) as Sonya, one of the descendants. She has some of the funniest lines and throws herself into the role. Watch it and decide for yourself. The song that plays over the end credits, "Venice, USA" by the Red Elvises, is a real toe-tapper, too; KILLER PAD (2007) is director Robert Englund's funny horror comedy about three male dim bulbs who move to Hollywood and rent a house (from Bobby Lee, who is dressed in drag) for a ridiculous low price, oblivious (to almost everything) that the basement of the house is the doorway to Hell. They decide to throw a housewarming party, where three of the Devil's female assistants, Andy Milonakis (who I never  find funny), Joey Lawrence (as himself) and dozens of other people show up. Needless to say, all hell breaks loose and a Mexican guy (Héctor Jiménez), who tries to warn the idiotic trio (who make the Three Stooges look like geniuses) multiple times of the danger, always takes the brunt of the punishment because the three guys don't understand Spanish. At least Englund tries something different here. It doesn't all work, but when it does, it's on target; STUCK (2007) is director Stuart Gordon's (KING OF THE ANTS - 2004) brilliant black comedy based on a true story. A nurse at a retirement home (Mena Suvari; DAY OF THE DEAD - 2007) hits a homeless man (Stephen Rea; SISTERS - 2006) with her car and he lingers between life and death while trapped in the car's windshield. Fearful that her job promotion will be in jeopardy, she parks her car in her garage with the homeless man still stuck in the windshield. What happens next is best left for the viewer to enjoy, but this dark comedy always goes left when you think it is going right. I'm sure director Gordon and screenwriter John Strysik (DEATHBED - 2002) took some liberties with the true story (I remember reading the story in the newspapers and couldn't believe it), but this film is guaranteed to make you squirm while you laugh; THEY WAIT (2007) gets my recommendation because it has one of the best "jump out of your seat" scares that I can recall in quite a while (believe me, you'll know it when you see it). The story about a married couple (Jaime King, Terry Chen) and their young son Sam (Regan Oey) traveling from Shanghai to the Pacific Northwest in North America to attend a funeral, only to have Sam fall sick (he starts seeing ghosts) is an involving tale that keeps your attention, But, boy oh boy, that one scare scene makes the whole film worthwhile. Kudos to director Ernie Barbarash (TICKING CLOCK - 2011) for doing something that hasn't been done to me for a while: Scaring the living shit out of me; TEETH (2007) is a lovely little tale about high school virgin Dawn (Jess Weixler), who discovers that she has a full set of sharp teeth in her vagina ("vagina dentata" is the medical term)! When her sexually pent-up boyfriend forces her to have sex in an underwater cave, her pussy teeth castrate him (we see his penis lying on a rock). After her gynecologist has his fingers bitten off during a vagina examination, Dawn uses her new-found talents to get even with her leering half-brother (his brutish dog eats his penis after the sex act, so he has no chance of having it reattached!) and she leaves town for points unknown, knowing that she is empowered over any man, but can never have true love unless a man can love her for who she is (her final leer into the camera tells the whole story). A good horror story told matter-of-factly by director/writer Mitchell Lichtenstein and not for shock effect (although one shot of a guy holding his penis stump while blood squirts out will get your attention). I guarantee all men, though, will be holding their junk when anyone has sex with Dawn (My favorite scene comes when an operating team goes to reattach some high school kids penis [who screwed Dawn on a bet] and some nurse jokes "Hardly seems worth it!" and everybody in the room laughs.); AAAH! ZOMBIES!!! (a.k.a. WASTING AWAY - 2007), a funny take on the zombie genre where some friends eat ice cream at a bowling alley that has accidentally been tainted with an experimental serum and become zombies. The plot sounds generic, but the execution is unique. When the film is in color, the friends look and talk normal and they don't even know they are zombies (at first). When the film turns to black & white, the friends are shown as rotting zombies who move slowly and grunt incoherently. The government tries to cover it up (the serum was made to produce super-soldiers), but the friends decide to revolt (one of them becomes nothing but a head in a bowling bag with eye holes cut out so he can see!). A funny, well-made film (with good special effects) that should one day become a cult classic; DEAD HEIST (2007) is an urban horror film starring a bunch of rap artists that is actually worth your time. Part ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 (1976) and part RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD (1985), this film tells the story about four black friends, all small-time crooks, who pull a heist that goes wrong, so they plan on robbing a bank in a small town, unaware that it will be a full moon that night and a bunch of zombie vampires, the result of a government experiment gone wrong, have targeted that town as their newest feeding place. The foursome get caught in the bank by the police, but as the sun goes down, the creatures come out, killing all the cops and trapping the robbers inside the bank. Worth noting is Big Daddy Kane as Hunter, the person who has been following the creatures as they move south. He was part of the experiment crew (trying to make an artificial blood for use in the battlefield and losing his wife in the process when they created a new type on monster) and now is out to destroy them all. Also registering is D.J. Naylor as the ex-Special Forces/ex-con that big boss Hustle (E-40) sent to help the crew in robbing the bank and Traci Dinwiddie (credited here as "T-Love", even though she is not a musician, but an actual actress) as a female police officer trapped in the bank with the robbers. The thing here is that shooting the creatures in the head has no effect; they must be shot or stabbed in the heart. Yes, there is a lot of unanswered questions and questionable situations, but it is a quick 75 minutes and everyone involved, including first-time feature director/co-screenwriter Bo Webb, do an admirable job with a small amout of money. It is also gory and bloody. Known is some foreign territories as BANK OF THE DEAD. Not bad when compared to most other urban horror films like RECOIL (2001) and GANGS OF THE DEAD (2005); WRAITHS OF ROANOKE (a.k.a. LOST COLONY: THE LEGEND OF ROANOKE - 2007) is an interesting take on one of America's biggest mysteries of all time: How an entire colony of English colonists in 1587 disappeared without a trace in a fort on Roanoke Island in what was to become a part of North Carolina, with the single word "CROATOAN" carved into a tree and no other evidence of human remains. The story here is supernatural in nature, but we as a people believe it had to do with the Native Americans that lived there, although there is no proof of that. This is just one interpretation of what may have happened and director Matt Codd (DRAGON DYNASTY - 2006) delivers a good film that leaves a lot open for debate. Isn't that what good films are supposed to do? Available cheaply on the HORROR 4 PACK VOLUME 2 DVD compilation under the title LOST COLONY (be aware that there are 4 movies on one disc); I KNOW WHO KILLED ME (2007). I know Lindsay Lohan is best known for her legal troubles, but very few people noticed that she starred in what I consider the best American giallo film since director Alfred Sole's ALICE SWEET ALICE (1976). Lohan stars as a missing girl who is found and claims not to be who they think she is. There's also an unknown serial killer who tortures and kills young women with weapons that are blue in color (that color plays a very important purpose in the plot). This is one film that will keep you guessing until the end and the direction (by Chris Sivertson; THE LOST - 2006) and photography (by John R. Leonetti; PIRANHA - 2010) are top-notch; HEADLESS HORSEMAN (2007) is a good, old-fashioned gore film from director Anthony C. Ferrente, who also directed the vastly over-rated BOO (2005) and the awful HANSEL & GRETEL (2013) for Asylum Films. This film, with a little bit of TWO THOUSAND MANIACS (1964) thrown in, concerns seven young adults, who become trapped in the town of Wormwood (actually filmed in Romania) and the horrible legend who lives there. There are some great gore scenes (trimmed for its Sci Fi Channel premiere) and a lot of unknown actors (besides Charles Moll) who do a great job. I enjoyed watching this modern take on Washington Irving's tale immensely and wish Ferrante would make more films like this instead of worthless crap like the SHARKNADO series (2013 - 2016); HALLOWED GROUND (2007) is that rare bird for the Sci Fi Network: An actual horror film. When young woman Liz (Jaimie Alexander; REST STOP: DEAD AHEAD - 2006) gets stranded in a small town full of cornfields, she discovers a demented preacher who uses human sacrifices to keep the crows away from the crops (the crows are the only bad CGI in this film). The townspeople, including the sheriff (Brian McNamara), all seem to be involved in this ritual (which involves a killer scarecrow) and Liz is the next intended victim. Lots of bloody gore (trimmed for Sci Fi) and a fairly involving plot makes freshman director David Benullo's film an interesting watch; THE SIGNAL (2007) is a great slow burn horror film. Someone or something is transmitting a frequency which causes people to hallucinate and see things that aren't really there and, eventually, murder people for totally insane reasons. Instead of focusing on the entire city's population, this film studies an affected group who are about to throw or attend a New Year's Eve party. Tense, perverse and sometimes funny, this film (which had a very brief and limited theatrical run) is a breath of intelligent fresh air in a DTV pile full of crap; LIVING HELL (a.k.a. ORGANIZM - 2007) is a better-than-normal horror film thanks to the underappreciated talents of actor Johnathon Schaech (LAID TO REST - 2009) and the directing/writing talents of Richard Jeffries (whose only other directorial effort was BLOOD TIDE - 1982, although he did write the screenplay to the excellent SCARECROWS - 1988). Schaech is a schoolteacher who has strange scars on the palms of his hands, put there years before by his mother just before she committed suicide. It leads him and a hazmat specialist (Erica Leerhsen) to an abandoned military warehouse where a Cold War experiment has escaped. It feeds on energy and light and grows and moves exponentially the more it gets. It's also not beyond killing people in gruesome ways (thanks to special effects master Robert Kurtzman). The two are given a few hours by the government to stop this menace before the area is nuked beyond recognition. I know it sounds like just about every other Sci Fi Network film, but quality actors, VFX and directors can really make a difference; THE INSATIABLE (2007) is similar to the Jason Mewes-starrer BITTEN (2008), only this earlier effort is much more entertaining. After introverted schmuck Harry Balbo (Sean Patrick Flanery) watches beautiful female vampire Tatiana (Charlotte Ayanna) rip the head off one of her victims and drink his blood, a smitten Harry lures her to a special cage he has built in the basement of his apartment complex and traps her in it. He forgets about the consequenses and now must find ways to get her blood, eventually luring men downstairs (including the very aggravating super) for her to feed on. What happens next is best for the viewer to discover; MEDIUM RAW: NIGHT OF THE WOLF (2008), which I really wanted to hate since it takes place at an institution for extremely violent mental patients, but William B. Davis (as the head psychiatrist) won me over in what has to be one of his biggest roles on screen, not to mention a metal wolf costume that is highly original and a black woman inmate who likes to cook and eat her victims (She's a serial killer version of Martha Stewart!); TRANSSIBERIAN (2008) is not your normal Spanish-financed Filmax production. First off, it contains a cast an A-list actors, including Woody Harrelson, Emily Mortimer and Ben Kingsley. Secondly, it was directed/co-written by Brad Anderson (SESSION 9 - 2001; THE MACHINIST - 2004 and VANISHING ON 7TH STREET - 2010), who is one of the best genre directors working today. The plot is complex, but pretty easy to follow and concerns American couple Roy and Jessie (Harrelson and Mortimer), who have just finished some volunteer work in China and decide to take the Trans-Siberian Express train to Russia before they return home to America as a treat to themselves (Filmed on location, which adds greatly to the atmosphere.). They run into a bunch of crazy characters on a train, including a drug runner named Carlos (Eduardo Noriega), his American girlfriend (Kate Mara) and a Russian policeman named Grinko (Kingsley). After a short stop to photograph a deserted church, Jessie spots Carlos burying a bag full of drugs and money in the snow when Grinko gets too close. What follows next is best for the audience to discover, but you'll never guess the ending; PISTOL WHIPPED (2008) is one of the better Steven Seagal DTV flicks because it tries to be different., Seagal is ex-cop and ex-husband Matt Conlin, kicked off the force for stealing money from the evidence room. He now has extreme money problems and has turned into an alcoholic and pill-popper, all while trying to act like a father to his young teen daughter, who he only sees on weekends. Enter "The Old Man" (Lance Henriksen), who offers Matt a chance to become flush if he will kill all of the city's biggest gangsters. Matt has a bout of conscience (not to mention being betrayed by cop Steve [Mark Elliot Wilson], who murdered his ex-partner and is now married to his ex-wife), which leads to a shootout in a cemetery in the finale that is handled better than most A-list films. Director Roel Reiné (DEATH RACE 2 [2010] & 3 [2012]) handles the film with a sure hand and, for once, manages to pull a good performance out of Seagal, something we haven't seen in a long while; KILL SWITCH (2008) is another Steven Seagal film which doesn't follow the same old formula, thanks to director Jeff King (Seagal's DRIVEN TO KILL - 2009) and screenwriter Seagal. Seagal is decorated Memphis homicide detective Jacob King, who is reknown for bringing down serial killers, due to his brother being killed by one when they were both children. His latest investigation leads him to another one named Lazerus (Michael Filipowich), who the press have dubbed "The Grifter". Lazerus is known for leaving signs of the zodiac on the bodies of prostitutes (and sometimes inside their bodies) as clues. Lazerus proves to be more than a match for Jacob, even leaving evidence at the scene of one crime which implicates Jacob as the killer. A previous serial killer (who plated bombs inside people's bodies) is released from prison due to Jacob's false implication as a killer cop and murders Jacob's girlfriend, who is also a cop. Jacob is able to solve Lazerus' crimes by using cryptography, beating the shit out of Memphis criminals (the use of a stunt double in some of Seagal's fights is highly obvious, though), relying on the sympathetic coroner's findings (portrayed by the late Isaac Hayes) and eventually kills the previously released serial killer and captures Lazerus, who confesses to all the crimes he committed. Then comes a surprise conclusion that no one will see coming. Really, you won't see this coming!; FELON (2008) is one of the best DTV action/thriller films of 2008. Stephen Dorff (who has been getting a lot of love in this section) stars as a loving husband Wade, who kills a burglar on his front lawn and is sentenced to three years in a maximum security prison for involuntary manslaughter (he would have gotten away scott-free if he killed the burglar inside his home). His cell mate is well-known murderer John Smith (Val Kilmer, the king of DTV films), a lifer who reluctantly takes him under his wing when Wade is forced to take part in prison fights set up by sadistic prison guard Lt. Jackson (Harold Perrineau). Wade's personal life takes a big hit when his fiancee (they have a young son together) runs out of money to survive and is thinking about leaving him and Wade thinks prison will change him for the worse. John tries to make sure that doesn't happen and makes the ultimate sacrifice at the end. There's some real acting here, with characters you care about. Kilmer's sequence with Dorff, where he explains his guilt about the murders he committed will tug at you until you tear up. Get this DVD as soon as possible; HELL RIDE (2008) is another film in which I seem to be in the minority opinion. Savaged by critics, director/star Larry Bishop's (MAD DOG TIME - 1996, and son of late Rat Packer Joey Bishop) biker film is a bloody and enjoyable ride with an interesting back story and a great cast of character actors, even though most of the critics said this film had no story. Apparently, they were watching a different film than I was; THE LAZARUS PROJECT (2008) is one of late actor Paul Walker's better films thanks to a twisty screenplay that keeps you guessing. A loving ex-con named Ben (Walker) with an equally loving wife (Piper Perabo) and young daughter (Brooklyn Proulx) are living the good life until Ben loses his job (because of his ex-con background) and takes a robbery gig with his recently-released ex-con brother Ricky (a cameo by Shawn Hatosy). The robbery goes bad and cops and everyone else are killed except Ben (who is innocent of any crime but robbery, but is knocked-out by a mysterious figure). Ben goes to Death Row and is given a lethal injection. The next time we see Ben he has been hired as a groundskeeper at a psychiatric clinic/church in Oregon, which is filled with people supposedly just like him (i.e. murderers, rapists, etc.). He is told by the mysterious Father Ezra (Bob Gunton), that if he leaves this town, he will die. It is like the old TV show THE PRISONER (1967 - 1968), but with a twist. Bob is told by Father Ezra that he was smoking in bed and killed his wife and child, but he got away with just a small burn on his finger and he is trying to help Ben with the problems buried deep in his brain and that the robbery never happened. Is Father Ezra telling the truth or are there more nefarious things going on? I will leave that for you, the viewer, to discover. Director/writer John Patrick Glenn (his freshman directorial effort) keeps you guessing throughout and it's a shame Walker had to die at such a young age, because he was developing into a good actor. Watch it when you get the chance; ROSENCRANTZ AND GUILDENSTERN ARE UNDEAD (2008) is a funny takeoff on Shakespeare's play about slacker Julian (Jake Hoffman) taking a job as director of the titled play after his doctor father issues an ultimatum (he lives in a room next to his father's practice!). Unfortunately, the play is full of real vampire actors and what happens next is best left for the viewer to discover. I will say this: You will never see funnier performances from Ralph Macchio (as a pitchman for a real stupid invention) and Jeremy Sisto (as a cop). Believe it or not, this film, directed and written by Jordan Galland (ALTER EGOS - 2012) actually inspired a theatrical play in 2012!; PIG HUNT (2008), a good old-fashioned gory horror flick that mixes hillbillies, a hippie death cult, marijuana farmers, young adults out of their element and a 3000 pound killer pig into one entertaining flick. This was the last film from director James (Jim) Isaac (THE HORROR SHOW - 1989; JASON X - 2001), as he passed away in May of 2012 of blood cancer at the young age of 51; ZOMBIE STRIPPERS (2008). Sure, the film is stupid and the women silicone-enhanced, but damn if it's not funny as hell. An experimental government zombie escapes from a laboratory and bites a stripper at Robert Englund's (who has never been funnier) illegal strip club. Instead of being disgusted, the male audience becomes even more turned-on by the zombie pole dancers, so much so that most of the other strippers want to be bitten and turned into zombies so they can make more money. Porn star-turned-legit actress Jenna Jameson co-stars in a film that has everything: lots of naked women, plenty of unrated bloody gore, a chaste and virginal religious girl who needs to strip to earn money (and her uber-religious boyfriend that follows her) and, of course, bullets to the head by a team of mercenaries sent to stop the infection from spreading. Lots of fun for adults. Keep the kids away; EVILUTION (2008), which I really wanted to hate since it's basically another zombie flick, but the storyline is so fun, unusual and bloody that it won me over. An alien bacteria infects a military base, turning everyone there into mindless flesheaters. The military destroys the base, but one scientist escapes (with a sample of the bacteria) and he takes a basement room in a barrio apartment complex, where three inept Latino gang members (and a Special Forces member sent to kill him) threaten him until the head gang member gets shot. He seems the perfect subject to try out the new bacteria serum the scientist has invented, but all he does is infect nearly the entire apartment complex after the gang member becomes a black goo-drooling zombie. The acting is above average for this kind of film and actor Nathan Bexton would reprise his role as the mysterious "The Manager" in 2009's BASEMENT JACK (a mindless slasher flick; both films were written and produced by Brian Patrick O'Toole), as a person who collects instruments of mass killing. Not your basic worthless zombie film. This film has some meat on its bones; HOW TO BE A SERIAL KILLER (2008) is a fun fake documentary of how serial killer Mike Wilson (Dameon Clarke) takes store clerk Bart (Matthew Gray Gubler of TV's CRIMINAL MINDS [2005 - Present]) as an apprentice and teaches him the tricks of the trade. Some of the scenes are pretty hilarious and it is somewhat educational in a twisted sort of way; SPLINTER (2008) is a terrifying horror film about a couple who are carjacked by an escaped convict (Sean Whigham, best known as Steve Buscemi's brother on BOARDWALK EMPIRE [2010 - Present]) and his girlfriend and all four of them must find refuge in a gas station in the middle of nowhere, while a prickly alien creature (we are really never given any info on its origins) tries to impale them and take over their bodies. This film shows what can be done with little money and a lot of imagination; THE HAUNTING OF MOLLY HARTLEY (2008) really surprised me. It starts out like some PG-13 Christian religious film, where athiest Molly Hartley (Haley Bennett) and her father (Jake Weber) move to a new town when her mother (Marin Hinkle) stabs Molly in the chest (she thinks her daughter will soon become something best for the viewer to experience) and is confined to a mental institution. As Molly quickly approaches her 18th birthday, she begins to experience nightmares and psychosis that makes her think she is becoming more like her mother. The film then takes a surprisingly dark turn that I didn't see coming. I like films like that; WYVERN (2008) is one of the best giant monster films shown on the Sci Fi (SyFy) Network, thanks to a great sense of humor, better-than-average CGI work and people you actually care about. Ice road trucker Jake (Nick Chinlund; BELOW - 2002) stops in a sleepy Alaskan town inhabitated by an odd bunch of characters, including Hass (Barry Corbin) and Colonel Travis Sherman (Don S. Davis, in one of his last films), only to have the town under seige by a Wyvern, an ancient creature woken up by the melting of the polar ice caps. Filled with funny dialogue (screenplay by Jason Bourque) and set pieces (what happens to Dr. David Yates, played by David Lewis, is a hoot and a half, as well as gory as hell), director Steven R. Monroe (IT WAITS - 2005; I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE - 2010) is to be commended for making a giant monster film in this day and age that is actually worth watching. Make sure to buy or rent the DVD to see it unedited; INFESTATION (2009) may be one of the best of the giant insect films of the new millennium. A slacker office worker (Chris Marquette) wakes up in his office covered in a cocoon and once he breaks free, he discovers that the Earth has been taken over by giant insects of all kinds and they are able to combine themselves with humans. Played mostly for laughs (more hits than misses), this film has some downright inventive CGI creations that are half-human/half-insect hybrids. Buy or rent the DVD, because the SyFy Channels shows a severely edited version; THE REVENANT (2009) is one weird horror flick, but running at nearly two hours (it was re-edited and scenes added for its limited 2011 theatrical release) nearly does it in. An American soldier in a Humvee is killed in Iraq after his squad stops when a child runs in front of their vehicle and something does something to him, turning him into some kind of zombie/vampire/ghoul mixture impervious to bullets. Back in the States, he and his best friend (who is also turned into one of the creatures by his friend after being shot) go on a vigilante spree, killing criminals and scumbags and drinking their blood to stay alive. They then weigh down the dead bodies with rocks and throw their meals off of a bridge wrapped in plastic. They become media darlings (the Press dubs them the "Vigilante Gun-Slingers", but there is much more going on here than I can explain in a short description), but things take a nasty turn when their first victim breaks free of his underwater shackles ("I should have used more rocks!") and sends the head of the soldier's best friend to him in a box. Surprisingly, the head is still alive (the soldier squishes it with a steamroller after his friend begs for death) and the soldier is captured by men in white bio-suits (after the police kill nearly two dozen innocent bystanders and themselves in the crossfire!). He is turned over to the military and the ending is quite satisfying and surprising, so I won't ruin it for you; NECROMENTIA (2009) is one of those films you can't get out of your head once you watch it. This is a tale of trying to beat death, as the three intermingling stories show, only to have death bite them in the ass. The most memorable character is the extremely overweight porcine "Mr. Skinny" (Nathan Ginn), who comes out of a retarded wheelchair-bound Thomas' (Zach Cumer) broken TV set and tries to get him to commit suicide by saying things like, "Suey Suey Suicide, Come boys and girls! Give it a try! I see you with my piggy eyes, I'm Mr. Skinny!! And I'm your guide. Sirens flashing, wrists are for slashing. Wake up in the morning with shotgun mouth. Come now, Thomas don't you doubt us. Use a blade and take us south!" It's hard to believe that this came from director Pearry Teo, who gave us the cyber-clunker THE GENE GENERATION (2007). Some may consider this film torture porn, but it is so much more than that. I loved it!; PLAY DEAD (2009). If you hated Fred Durst as the lead singer of Limp Bizkit (Who didn't?), you might want to take a look at him in this crazy little comedy thriller. He may just change your mind. Durst plays "Ledge" (he is nearly unrecognizable), a hardhat-wearing (with one of those knitted ear-flap caps underneath), not-all-there friend of use-to-be famous action actor Ronnie Reno (Chris Klein), who both get mixed-up with drug dealers and an unsolved murder. Durst steals the show and one wishes he would give up singing and start acting full time. He's that good; SPLICE (2009) is director Vincenzo Natali's (CUBE - 1997) take on what could happen if we unlawfully splice genes of different animals together for the purpose of scientific testing for curing diseases. Adrien Brody (GIALLO - 2009) and Sarah Polley (DAWN OF THE DEAD - 2004) do just that and come up with a creature they call "Dren". The creature ages rapidly and even changes sex, eventually leading to the downfall of everyone involved. Some have said that this is nothing but a SPECIES (1995) clone, but they are way off base. This is a morality tale disguised as a horror film and it works beautifully. Even the CGI is good this time. Even though this did terrible business in theaters, it should become a cult classic now that it is available on DVD and cable; DOGHOUSE (2009), a hilarious British horror/comedy where a bunch of guys try to take their friend's mind off of his divorce by going on a road trip and stopping at a remote village for some rest and relaxation. They will get anything but, because a government experiment has turned all the women in town into bloodthirsty zombies (which is only the first stage of their transformation). Since boys will be boys, the guys decide to have some fun with the slow-moving zombie women until Stage 2 comes into play. Surprisingly, this was directed by Jake West, who gave us such crappy films as RAZOR BLADE SMILE (1998) and EVIL ALIENS (2005). Will wonders never cease?; SWEET KARMA (2009) stars Playboy Playmate Shera Bechard as a mute Russian girl who believes her sister was murdered in Toronto in the illegal sex/slave trade. She travels to Toronto with only one thing in mind: To kill as many people involved in the business as possible. And kill she does, but a surprising reveal at the end makes Karma rethink her actions. This is a great thought-provoking action film and since Bechard never speaks (we are never told why, but she was raped and may suffer the same problems as Thana [Zoë Tamerlis] in Abel Ferrara's MS. 45 - 1981), words don't get in the way of her actions. Freshman director Andrew Thomas Hunt is a talent to watch. It's hard to believe that many people behind and in front of the cameras were also responsible for the awful BOUNTY HUNTERS (2011); RAMPAGE (2009). Just when you think director Uwe Boll is nothing but a hack director, he begins turning out good films like this one,  1968: TUNNEL RATS, FAR CRY (both 2008) and STOIC (2009). That's not to say he still doesn't direct his share of stinkers (BLUBBERELLA - 2010, where Boll himself plays a comic Adolph Hitler and AUSCHWITZ - 2011, which seems like a slap in the face to all Holocaust concentration camp survivors and their families, especially after Boll portrayed Hitler as a comic foil to an extremely obese chick in the previous film), but this film, about a young man (Brendan Fletcher, also the Co-Producer) who grows bored with his life and comes up with a plan to make it exciting is quite shocking and highly watchable. He dons Kevlar protection from head to toe and begins killing anyone he comes across (the body count is high and will leave you slackjawed), shooting people indiscriminately in the street (and the police who try to stop him) and then stops at the local bank and robs it. What happens next is best for the viewer to discover, but if there was such a thing as a "perfect crime", this would be it. Just when I had given up hope on Uwe Boll, he impresses me with a film that could hold its own with many big-budget Hollywood productions, although they wouldn't have the balls to show what Boll does on-screen. Good show, Uwe. Good show. Followed by a sequel, RAMPAGE: CAPITAL PUNISHMENT (2014), also starring Fletcher and directed by Boll; Speaking of director Uwe Boll, he also directed the exploitative, if effective, (ATTACK ON) DARFUR (2009). He's one of the few filmmakers who even bothers to make people aware of atrocities being committed in the world today, even if it does have that Uwe Boll "touch". The mass slaughter and rape of Africans in Darfur is not handled tastefully, but since when should atrocities be handled any other way? I could have done without some of the "shakey-cam" photography (the entire film was lensed with hand-held cameras), but the nihilistic ending (it deals with a group of photojournalists breaking their code and getting involved in stopping the mass killings) and better-than-normal cast (Billy Zane, Kristanna Loken, Matt Frewer, David O'Hara, Edward Furlong [his best film in a long time, along with STOIC], Noah Danby and many African actors (filmed in Cape Town, South Africa) may just open some people's eyes to the genocide happening right now in Darfur. This is not an easy watch, but it shouldn't be; DRIVEN TO KILL (2009). Ever since the above average PISTOL WHIPPED (2008), and probably because he watched the excellent DTV flicks of Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren, Steven Seagal has begun to pick his DTV films judiciously (except for the awful AGAINST THE DARK - 2009, but in Seagal's defense, he spends minimal time on screen and did this film as a favor for a friend [at least according to an angry email I received from someone who read my negative review of the film]) and this one is a goodie. Seagal is ex-New York Russian mobster-turned-novelist Ruslan (the film's shooting title). When his daughter, who is engaged to the son of his former enemy, is kidnapped, Ruslan comes out of retirement to save her. For once, Seagal uses no stunt doubles for his fights and loops his own voice in post-production. This may be a DTV action film, but besides some weird choices in music during the fight scenes, this is a violent, bloody good time. For even more good Seagal, see my review of THE KEEPER (2009) This was also one of Seagal's first DTVs not to be released by Sony Home Video in the United States (20th Century Fox/Echo Bridge Home Entertainment handled the chores); Speaking of good Steven Seagal films, add A DANGEROUS MAN (2009) to the list. The plot may seem old hat: A ex-Special Forces Agent (Seagal) is released from prison after serving six years for a murder he didn't commit (the State of Arizona issues an apology to him), only to find a girl named Tia (Marlaina Mah) and a bag of money containing millions of dollars in the trunk of a car, after witnessing the Chinese Mafia kill a cop. Now drug lords and corrupt cops want  him and Tia dead and their money back, so Seagal turns for help from the Russian Mafia, whose don owes him a favor for saving his son. Lots of bloody mayhem follows, but director Keoni Waxman, who also directed Seagal in THE KEEPER (2009), also does something most directors have failed to do: He actually gets Seagal to act (or what we best can call acting from Seagal) rather than just letting his hands and feet get his point across. That is a miracle all in itself and makes this movie a must-see for Seagal fans (call me a masochist, but I am one). Seagal would take a short break from acting to star in the reality TV series STEVEN SEAGAL: LAWMAN (2009 - 2010) documenting his life as a Louisiana lawman, where he is a fully-commissioned deputy with the Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office. There were allegations that some of the scenes were staged. Image that, staging scenes in a reality series? (Insert sarcasm here); Do you like blood, guts, graphic gore and other perverse things and it's not in a horror film? Then THE TOURNAMENT (2009) is for you. Here's the basic premise in a nutshell: Every seven years (not ten years as the advance poster says), a bunch of super-rich people gather together for the name of the game in the title. They assemble together 20 of the world's greatest assassins in a different country for every game (this time it's a town in the United Kingdom; they do this as to not cause suspicion with law enforcement) and they fight it out for the title of the world's greatest assassin. Ving Rhames won it 7 years ago (he graphically blows a guy's head off with a shotgun in the beginning of the film and then has to shoot a friendly assassin to win the game) and he has joined this Tournament because one of the assassins participating in this year's game killed his pregnant wife 4 months ago. All the assassins are fitted under their skin with a tracking device shaped like a sniper's bullet, only this year the tracker also has an explosive in it that will blow up their bodies (we see two graphic displays of it happening) if they don't complete the game in 24 hours. Kelly Hu, a great assassin and martial artist, must also protect a priest, played by Robert Carlyle, who swallowed one of the trackers when a French assassin managed to pull out his tracker and slip it in the priest's food, thereby making him look like one of the assassins on the other assassins' electronic GPS tracking devices (there's a funny scene where Hu tries to get Carlyle to shit out the tracker). Director Scott Mann (his first feature-length directorial effort alone), fills the film with shot-off appendages, a finger getting cut off and smoked like a cigar, various bodies riddled with bullets (and I mean riddled with bullets!), lots of hand-to-hand combat (look for Scott Adkins as a Russian assassin who gets into a very good martial arts fight with Hu in a church), an excellent bus/truck chase, some amazing Parkour athleticism and gallons of blood flying through the air and splattering against walls, floors and people (the scene in the convenience store is funny and bloody as hell at the same time). Look for Ian Somerhalder (THE VAMPIRE DIARIES [2009-Present]) as an American assassin who is so mean, he kills his own dog. His demise is particularly juicy. If I didn't know any better, my guess would be the idea of THE PURGE (2013) was influenced by this film. But this film is so bloody and filled with gore, I'm surprised it received an R-Rating. Albert Pyun directed a similar film called MEAN GUNS in 1997, but it can't hold a candle to this film. And if you think you know how it's going to end by my synopsis, you will be surprised. See this one as soon as possible!

Good DTV Genre Films Part 5 (continued): CA$H (2009) is the kind of crime drama that makes you smile as well as make you think. The plot is basically simple: Pyke Kubic and his twin brother Reese (both portrayed by the excellent Sean Bean) perform some type of crime where they have to throw a suitcase containing over $700,000 off an overpass because they are being chased by the police and Reese is captured and has to spend a few months in jail for avoiding the police. The suitcase happens to land on the hood of Sam Phelan's (Chris Hemsworth, who is also very good) crappy station wagon and he cannot believe his good luck, since his wife Leslie (Victoria Profeta, too good for words) is at the bank begging her mortgage officer (Michael Mantell) to extend their mortgage, since they owe over $7,000. He refuses to do so because they have been behind before. Chris enters the bank and hands the surprised mortgage officer the mortgage money in cash and then tells his wife what happened. The Phelans then go on a spending spree, buying a new Land Rover and new furniture for the house. What they don't count on is that Pyke is a very smart criminal and he soon finds the Phelans. Pyke is also the most frugal thief you will ever meet, because, even though there is over $500,000 still left in the briefcase, he wants the total amount that was originally in it (Even Reese thinks he is pushing it too hard). Sam returns the Land Rover to where he bought it, but soon finds out that it is now considered a used vehicle (even though it only has 129 miles on it!) and the $70,000 he paid for it means nothing. The car salesman (the same man who sold it to him new) only offers him $53,000 for it, which he is forced to take by Pyke. They cannot return the furniture, so Pyke makes Sam and Leslie become stickup artists (with an empty gun) and gives them five days to get the rest of the money. They become quite proficient at their craft (they get into it a little too much), managing to rob 11 stores, bodegas and liquor stores in one day. On the last of five days and still over $5,000 behind, Sam comes up with the idea of robbing a bank (He has other plans since he is not as stupid as he looks and asks the right questions of Pyke.). The rest you are going to have to see for yourself, because it has a happy ending (all the stickip victims mysteriously get their money back and the victims that were hurt [including the mortgage officer] get a little something extra) until a final twist. Late director/screenwriter/co-producer Stephen Milburn Anderson (DEAD MEN CAN'T DANCE - 1997; who passed away at age 68 on May 1, 2015) has made a film full of funny little twists and turns (the scene between Pyke and the mortgage officer is a hoot and a half, as is frugal Pyke's encounter with the motel manager, who wants a two day refund since he payed for seven days and only spent five days there.) and Sean Bean is unlike any professional crook you will ever meet. He is very intelligent, polite, yet imposing, and even practices yoga! He is also a math genius and has a conscience, such as when Leslie tries to make love to him, but he turns her down because he doesn't want to destroy a marriage. Give this film a try. I guarantee you will like it it you are a crime drama fanatic.;  COST OF A SOUL (2009) is a very depressing, but otherwise engaging, tale about two veterans who come home from Iraq back to the slums of Philadelphia, where it is no better (it is actually worse) than where they just came from. They have no choice but to take up the life of crime and what happens next is about as bad as anything that could happen to people. The ending is especially strong and depressing and should have anti-gun groups showing this film as a warning about what guns can do to a community. For some reason this film reminded me of an ultra-low-budget version of Michael Mann's THIEF (1981), but there are huge differences. My only complaint about the film is that is was shot on the Red One Digital Camera with a lot of scenes with the colors drained, but star Chris Kerson as Tommy Donahue is an actor to watch in the future. The rest of the cast of relatively unknown character actors do a great job of making their characters as realistic as possible. A winner from freshman director/writer/producer Sean Kirkpatrick, who has yet to direct anything else. Doesn't Hollywood know talent when it is staring right in their face?; CYRUS: MIND OF A SERIAL KILLER (2009) is an effective horror flick that is supposed to be based on fact. A nosey TV reporter for crime TV series Last Steps who doesn't keep her promises (Danielle Harris, the worst thing about this film) finds a man named Emmett (an effective Lance Henriksen) who tells her the story about a serial killer named Cyrus (Brian Krauss, who has never been better), dubbed "The Highway Hunter" and "The County Line Cannibal", for the disappearances of over 200 women and serving their flesh for meals at the local diner he owns. Cyrus begins by killing his cheating wife, her lover and his baby and then serves their flesh as hamburger meat at his eatery, which becomes an instant hit with the local populace. He then begins killing women and men thinking they are his cheating wife and their lovers, in ways that are best left for the viewer to discover (there's a tongue-cutting scene that will make you wince). As a matter of fact, this Unrated gorefest holds nothing back, from Cyrus' time as a child, where his whore mother kills his puppy, up until the finale, which you may think you have figured out from the beginning, but you would be wrong. Director/screenwriter Mark Vadik, tells the whole story from Hendriksen's flashbacks with short interviews of convicts, police officers and serial killer experts from the finished Last Steps TV program. There's no humor in this story, which is refreshing and there are appearances by Tiffany Shepis, Rae Dawn Chong and Kyle Van Hook. Make sure you stay through the end credits for a thouroughly truthful look at the minds of famous serial killers while a prison warden tells a Last Steps reporter that the facts the program reports about serial killers are all wrong. He explains that most serial killers have fan clubs and sleep like babies at night. That right there is chilling. A must see; HEARTLESS (2009) is director/writer Philip Ridley's (THE REFLECTING SKIN - 1990) rare forays into filmmaking (he's a novelist at heart) and this dark adult fairy tale is an absolute stunner and the kind of movie that makes you think long after it is over. I won't give away much of the plot except to tell you this: an amateur photographer named Jamie Morgan (a fantastic James Sturgess), who was born with a dark red heart-shaped birthmark around his left eye, takes photos on the darker side of life (there is very little light in his life since everyone points and says something about his birthmark ever since he was a child and he has never had a girlfriend) and mistakenly takes photos of a secretive street gang that have faces that look like mutated lizards. After the gang makes him watch them burn his mother alive for discovering them, Jamie makes a deal with Papa B (Joseph Mawle), who might be the Devil, to make him look normal, but first he has to set himself on fire with a Molotov cocktail (a scene that is very hard to watch). After shedding his burned skin, he looks totally normal and his birthmatk is gone. He meets a young woman named Tia (Clémence Poésy) and they start a relationship, but this is when things start to go very, very wrong. Is what Jamie experiencing true or is it all in his mind? Or is it a little bit of both? The conclusion (where an excellent Timothy Spall portrays Jamie's dead father) seems to tie up the loose ends, but this is the type of film you will have to see more than once to get all the subtleties. Recommended on the highest level for people who like to use their brains while watching a film; DOG POUND (2009) is director/writer Kim Chapiron's (SHEITAN - 2006) unrelenting look about how three unrelated juvenile deliquents bond in a juvenile correctional facility and watch each other backs. Some of the guards are portrayed as understanding and some are portrayed as bad guys, but one guard turns out to be both, due to circumstances beyond his emotional control. This French Canadian film (made in English) pulls no punches when it comes to male rape, bloody violence and gang fights, but the characters are so damn interesting, you actually care about what happens to them. The final shot will break your heart, but you'll have to watch the film to understand what I am talking about. Acted superbly by a cast of mostly unknowns, this film should be on everyone's must-see list if prison films are interesting to you. Consider it the BAD BOYS (1983; the excellent Sean Penn film, not the Will Smith actioner) of the New Millennium. Highly recommended; HUNTER PREY (2009). In the mood for something different? Then this low-budget science fiction film (lensed in Baja, California and Mexico) should foot the bill. A spaceship crashes on a remote desert planet and two aliens try to recapture their prey, which has escaped during the crash landing. The denouement about two-thirds into the film should come as no surprise to viewers paying attention, but the excellent makeup effects and storyline (Erin Gray of the TV series BUCK ROGERS IN THE 25TH CENTURY [1979 - 1981] supplies the voice of the computer named Clea) will keep you surprisingly entertained. It's basically a three character film, but director/co-writer Sandy Collora pulls it off; THE HAUNTING IN CONNECTICUT (2009) is one of those rare birds: A haunted house thriller that actually manages to scare you. Based on a dramatized documentary, A HAUNTING IN CONNECTICUT (2002), shown on the Discovery Channel, this film, based in the mid-80's, is about a mother (Virginia Madsen) moving her cancer-riddled son Matt (Kyle Gallner) and other two kids to a rented house in Connecticut, while the ex-alcoholic father (Martin Donovan) stays in their real house to work double shifts, so Matt can be near the hospital for experimental chemotherapy and drug treatment. The pills Matt is taking make him semi-psychic and he starts seeing things (such as dead rotting people) that makes the family realize that the rented house use to be a funeral parlor (maybe that's why the rent was so cheap!) and something real nasty happened there in the past. To say any more would spoil the viewer's enjoyment, but don't worry about buying the Unrated Version on Blu-Ray (the film was rated PG-13 in theaters and that is the version available on DVD, a ploy to get more people to purchase Blu-Ray players), because all it does is show the black & white scenes in color (So we know that blood is red. Duh!) and add some gory close-ups, especially to a cutting scene best not mentioned here. A sequel, the weird-sounding THE HAUNTING IN CONNECTICUT 2: GHOSTS OF GEORGIA (2013) was also in limited theatrical release and is also based on a Discovery Channel documentary; DARK HOUSE (2009), a rather good haunted house horror flick with modern trappings. A William Castle-like impressario (Jeffrey Combs, in a humorous performance), who is known for his rather unusual non-filmic attractions, hires a handful of local drama students to play characters in his latest attraction: a haunted house controlled by the newest computerized special effects known to man. Unfortunately, he picked a house which is truly haunted (a woman massacred many people there fourteen years before and one of the female drama students witnessed it as a child) and the female ghost infects the computer, turning the harmless (but fucking scary) special effects into the real thing. Lots of gory special effects and a manic performance by Combs makes this one of the better films released under the Fangoria FrightFest banner; HUNT TO KILL (2010) should be just another one of WWE wrestler "Stone Cold" Steve Austin's regular action vehicles (see THE CONDEMNED - 2007, DAMAGE - 2009, THE STRANGER - 2010, RECOIL - 2011, TACTICAL FORCE - 2011 and THE PACKAGE - 2012), but the over-the-top performance of Gil Bellows (who just refuses to die!) elevates this film a notch or two above most of Austin's films. Add a great fight between Austin and Gary Daniels and what you end up with is an exciting, if improbable (Austin is saddled with a daughter who doesn't get along with him, but they end up loving each other by the end of the film), action film. Director Keoni Waxman (THE KEEPER - 2009) is quickly becoming one of the best DTV action directors today, including his teaming of Steven Seagal and Steve Austin as partners in MAXIMUM CONVICTION (2012); RUBBER (2010), just for the strangeness of director/writer Quentin Dupieux's whole film (A killer tire that makes heads explode? C'mon now!) and an unrecognizable Wings Hauser; TOMORROW, WHEN THE WAR BEGAN (2010), a pretty good Australian riff on RED DAWN (1984), even though it is based on a John Marsden novel written as a series of popular "Tomorrow" young adult books (The film is Rated R, though); PSYCHOSIS (2010), an atmospheric horror film about a successful newlywed horror novelist (Charisma Carpenter) who moves from California with her new husband to a manor in England to recover from a nervous breakdown. What she finds is murder and gory mayhem, or is it all in her mind? A very interesting film which should become more popular as the years go by. The comparison to Stanley Kubrick's THE SHINING (1980) is not unwarranted; DEVIL (2010) bombed at the box office because M. Night Shyamalan's name was attached to it (he wrote the story and produced it), but audiences missed one of the best horror films of 2010. Five people are trapped in a high rise building elevator and one of them is the actual Devil (we don't know who). A detective (who lost his wife and son in a hit and run five years earlier), who is investigating an apparent suicide, gets involved in the case when one of the elevator people is murdered and eventually learns that there is no such thing as coincidence. All the trapped people are inexplicably connected and not in a good way. A real nail-biter, even though it is rated PG-13; THE WARRIOR'S WAY (2010) played theatrically for one week and then was dumped on disc a short time later. That's a shame, because even though this story borrows ideas from many genres (especially the LONE WOLF AND CUB series of films, the two first films which were condensed to make the excellent SHOGUN ASSASSIN [1980]), it still manages to entertain and is extremely violent (even though if there's a little bit too much CGI enhancement). During the mid-to-late 1800's, a samurai warrior named Yang (Korean star Jang Dong Gun) defies his boss's orders and refuses to kill a baby, instead taking the baby to America (actually filmed in New Zealand) to a desert town occupied by carnival workers and their run-down carnival (it's quite the sight and very inventive). Yang becomes more than friends with Lynne (Kate Bosworth) and teaches her the way of the knife and the sword (which will come in extremely handy later on). Lynne becomes the baby's surrogate mother, when a band of outlaws, led by the extremely demented leather mask-wearing Colonel (Danny Huston), who wears the mask because of the way he sexually forced himself on Lynne years before and her taking a flame to his face (after leaving his brand on her back), ride into town and cause mayhem, first by using a clown as target practice and then dragging drunk sharpshooter Ronald (an unrecognizable Geoffrey Rush) by horse. Yang manages to get rid of them, but the Colonel vows to return. Yang gets Ronald to sober up and they plan for the Colonel's return, but Yang's ex-boss (Lung Ti) and his samurai warriors also return at the same time, which causes double the trouble. What happens next is best left for the viewers to experience, but it is action-packed, bloody as hell and quite innovative at times. Director/screenwriter Sngmoo Lee (yes, it is spelled right and it is his freshman effort), with some dialogue assist from Scott Reynolds (who gives the Colonel some of the best lines), make a fast-paced actioner with plenty of swordplay, gunfire and appendages getting sliced off. Look for diminutive Tony Cox as Eight Ball. A South Korean/New Zealand co-production. Give this one a chance and you may like it; THE VIOLENT KIND (2010) is another unusual winner from directors Mitchell Altieri and Phil Flores, who bill themselves as "The Butcher Brothers" (THE HAMILTONS - 2006). This is a Lovecraftian tale mixing bikers, a girl (Tiffany Shepis; THE FRANKENSTEIN SYNDROME - 2010) who is carrying something in her body and a quartet of "Rock-A-Billies" (three guys and two girls), who look like 50's greasers and talk about "the void". The finale is left for the viewer to interpret (I believe it relates to an alien invasion, but others believe it means releasing demons from Hell on Earth), which may piss-off some audience members, but I found it refreshing; THE PRESENCE (2010) may be the best ghost story of the New Millennium. Rather than relying on gore and blood, this film relies on atmosphere (it takes 17 minutes for the first words to be spoken!) and a sense of dread so thick, it would take a large knife to cut through it. Mira Sorvino stars as a woman who travels to a family cabin on an isolated island (filmed in and around Mount Hood, Oregon) to work on an illustrated book. She is fighting some personal demons of her own, since her dead father sexually abused her when she was a young girl, so when her boyfriend (Justin Kirk) shows up on the island and proposes marriage with a beautiful ring, she at first says yes, but soon begins acting strangely (the boyfriend seems to think it's committment issues caused by her father, especially after she loses the ring during an "accident"), all but ignoring her boyfriend and telling him to get off the island. You see, there are also two ghosts inhabiting the cabin/island: A silent one (Shane West), who can't leave the cabin, and an evil one all dressed in black (Tony Curran), who whispers ugly, dirty things into Sorvino's ear, causing her to act the way she does. To say anymore would be to ruin one of the best films of 2010, except to say the final denouement will give you goosebumps every time you think about it. Also starring Muse Watson as the boatman and Deobia Oparei as a mysterious figure. A great directorial debut from Tom Provost, who also wrote the thought-provoking screenplay. I can't wait to see what he does next; ALL ABOUT EVIL (2010) is a funny black horror comedy about a librarian (Natasha Lyonne; BLADE: TRINITY - 2004) inheriting her deceased father's run-down, broke movie house and she begins making short films where she really kills people, which is a hit with the audiences. As the crowds in the theater grow bigger, so do her productions and she begins killing-off friends and storing their bodies in the theater's attic. Needless to say, the more bodies she puts up there, the heavier it gets, which leads to a real funny (but disgustingly so) denouement. Directed/written by Joshua Grannell, who also appears as transvestite "Peaches Christ", a popular TV horror hostess and drag queen in the San Francisco area. Catch the DVD/Blu-Ray, as the version shown on Chiller is missing some of the gorier bits;

Good DTV Genre Films Part 6 (continued): ALIEN OPPONENT (2010). I know a lot of people are goint to disagree with me about this film, but I had a blast with it, warts and all. A white trash wife gets caught by her husband cheating on him with not-all-there male employee Braden (Cuyle Carvin) at the junkyard they own and she buries a hammer in her husband's head, killing him. As all this is happening, an alien crashes in the junkyard and the wife and her mother decide to film a TV commercial offering $100,000 to anyone who can kill the alien and bring back the body of the wife's husband (they blame the alien for the husband's death and need his body to collect the insurance money). Pretty soon hundreds of people show up (including Roddy Piper as a priest and he has never been better), not knowing that the alien has a killer robot and slug-like creatures that burrow under your skin. It's all played as a broad comedy and Piper's fight with lovely Adrienne LaValley is a doozy and looks like the finale of the fight was ad-libbed to funny effect. Plenty of bloody deaths and surprises abound, but don't watch the edited version shown on Chiller. Rent or buy the Unrated DVD; DEATH AND CREMATION (2010), and odd and satisfying horror flick helped immeasurably by the acting talents of Brad Dourif (DEADWOOD - 2004-2006) and an original musical score by Keith Waggoner (the music is very different than what is found in most horror flicks and helps immensely with the atmosphere). Dourif plays Stanley, a facially-scarred serial killer (he only kills people he perceives as insufferable, like a lady who steals his parking space!) who also owns the local crematorium ("The casket is just for show." is what he tells everyone who ask if he does burials.) and loves crossword puzzles. Bullied goth-like school kid Jarod (Jeremy Sumpter) takes a job at Stanley's crematorium, where Stanley takes care of the kids who pick on Jarod. It doesn't take long before Jarod understands Stanley's point of view and they form a friendship. Jarod makes one hell of a mistake when he kills his mother's asshole boyfriend (with a bowling ball!), which leads to the bloody finale. The finale shot where Jarod asks Stanley the answer to one of the crossword puzzles in a car as they head out of town will surely put a smile on your face. This is not your normal horror film and will have you entranced the entire running time; KING OF THE AVENUE (2010), a strange mixture of drug drama and the supernatural, where drug dealer Taz (Simon Rex) makes a deal with the Devil (Esai Morales) to become "King Of The Avenue", a term for the top drug dealer in town. What Taz doesn't expect is his dead stepfather (Ving Rhames) to show up as an unfeeling demon and kills everyone who stands in Taz's way, including Taz's friends. Hey, you play with the Devil and you get pricked with his pitchfork; SUPER (2010), director James Gunn's (SLITHER - 2006) nearly unclassifiable film (Is it a Comedy? Drama? Action? Thriller? Tragedy?) about an irregular schlub (Rainn Wilson, a stickler for the "rules" who should be on anxiety medication) who decides to turn himself into a superhero called The Crimson Bolt when he loses his wife (Liv Tyler), who leaves him for a drug dealer (Kevin Bacon). Ellen Page joins Wilson as his horny superhero sidekick "Boltie" to try and get Wilson's wife back. Unfortunately neither superheros have any super powers, so they get shot (Page's death is a shocker because it is filmed so matter-of-factly), beat up and generally abused. Wilson's weapon of choice is a red pipe wrench, but it proves no substitute for a gun. There is a semi-happy ending, but I guarantee you'll never watch a superhero film like this (Not even MYSTERY MEN [1999] or DEFENDOR [2009] comes close). See how many cameos you can spot here. There are many. As The Crimson Bolt likes to say: "Shut up crime!";  HARD RIDE TO HELL (2010), a tale of eternally-living bikers (led by Miguel Ferrer in his typical quirky fashion) and cannibalism. The bikers are looking for a woman that will bear them a child to keep the clan in immortal members, but they didn't expect to be up against knife salesman Bob (Brent Stait) and an RV full of young adults. It's DNA has more than a gene or two of RACE WITH THE DEVIL (1975) in it, but it is good, gruesome entertainment nonetheless; UNTHINKABLE (2010) is an apt name for a terrific thriller. When a converted Muslim (Michael Sheen, who is simply fabulous) announces that he has placed three nuclear bombs at undisclosed locations in big U.S. cities, the government calls on their top (but incarcerated) black ops interrogator (Samuel L. Jackson, in a stand-out performance) to torture the information out of him. And torture he does, cutting him with a scalpel, electrocuting him, waterboarding him and depriving him of sleep. When none of these techniques work (admixt this, FBI agent Carrie-Anne Moss is disgusted by what she sees and makes it known to everyone involved), Jackson does just what the title suggests and throws everyone in the room for a loop. To divulge anymore would be to deprive you on what an actual terrorist "interrogation" may involve. Not for the weak-hearted; SINNERS AND SAINTS (2010). I had to wait five years after watching director William Kaufman's mesmerizing THE PRODIGY (2005) before he would direct again. While not as good as his first film. this sophomore effort is still a good action/thriller about a detective (Johnny Strong; THE GLIMMER MAN - 1996), who is going through a divorce after the death of his son, that gets a new partner to investigate a series of brutal murders that could turn New Orleans into gang war territory. What they discover is much bigger than the gangs, but I'll let you discover what it is in this bloody and action-packed film for yourselves. Surprisingly, director Kaufman would go the Cuba Gooding Jr. DTV route, directing him in THE HIT LIST (2011; which I really liked) and ONE IN THE CHAMBER (2012). I guess we all have to make a living; ENDURE (2010) is a great Florida-lensed mystery once you can get past Judd Nelson's (DARK ASYLUM - 2001) 70's-style porn moustache. A bad guy takes a Polaroid of his captive female, bound, gagged and tied-up against a tree and he leaves her there, where a little while later he is instantly killed after his car hits a deer and it goes through the windshield. Enter detective Nelson (who is also taking care of his terminally ill wife, played plausibly by Joey Lauren Adams [THE BIG EMPTY - 2003]), who takes the Polaroid and a set of handcuff keys found in the criminal's wrecked car and tries to find the bound woman with rookie partner Devon Sawa (IDLE HANDS - 1999) before the woman dies of exposure or worse (like a meal for wolves or gators) in what spans over five thousand acres of forest and swamp. It's a white knuckle ride with plenty of somber personal drama and a surprisingly good performance by Tom Arnold (EXIT WOUNDS - 2001) as Simon, someone who may not seem to be who he says he is. Give it a chance and see if you agree with me; RED WHITE & BLUE (2010), a nearly uncategorizable film about an HIV-infected woman (who was raped by her mother's boyfriend at the age of four) who has unprotected sex with men (she demands they don't wear condoms) she picks up at bars. When a young man (who takes care of his terminally ill mother) becomes infected by the girl, he tries to have a talk with her, but ends up accidentally killing her instead. This upsets the man (who secretly loves her) she works with, who goes on an unbelievably bloody revenge spree at the finale in this Texas-lensed film. Watch at your own risk, but I couldn't take my eyes off the screen; I really should hate BUNRAKU (2010) because it is cheesy, a little too philosophical and runs a little overlong at 124 minutes, but I'll be damned that every time I flip through my pay cable channels and this film is showing, I have to stop and watch it till the end. This star-studded film, which barely caused a ripple in theaters, is really nothing but a mash-up of every genre of action and musical film (but without the music; you'll get it when you watch it) except gunfights, because guns have been banned in either this parallel world or a peek at our future. And the fact that hardly anyone except the bad guys (and gals) are given proper names will remind you of Spaghetti Westerns, too. All I know it that it is full of action, has some great fight scenes and plenty of gory deaths. If you want to know what "Bunraku" means, I suggest you Google it (you will see several examples of it in this film) and you can't beat the cast: Josh Harnett, Gackt Camui (as the two avengers with no names), Woody Harrelson, Demi Moore, Kevin McKidd as a fedora-wearing supreme killer (who may be gay) and Ron Perlman as the baddest ass with an axe you'll meet in a film in a long time. Mike Patton, the lead vocalist of the rock group Faith No More, is the narrator and sneaks some lyrics from his songs into the narration. It doesn't make a lot of sense (it's mostly a revenge and retribution tale), but it is sure as hell fun to watch. The art direction and camera tricks alone make the film worthwhile;  THE FRANKENSTEIN SYNDROME (2010), an intelligent telling of what it means to be human and superhuman (and God-like), starring my favorite, Tiffany Shepis (who has a huge role in this; and why isn't she doing big-budget Hollywood films?); THE KILLING JAR (2010), about a psychopathic killer (Michael Madsen), who walks into a diner and takes eight hostages (Danny Trejo has nothing more than an extended cameo as the diner's cook) and makes the patrons tell their deepest secrets before killing them one-by-one. Unfortunately, one of the hostages is a killer for hire and he has just murdered an entire family (including children) nearby. When the killer's payer (Jake Busey) shows up at the diner with a briefcase full of money and mistakens Madsen as the hired killer, that's when the gory fun starts. The suspense is palpable and some of the confessions are truly surprising. The finale also is quite satisfying, something you don't see much nowadays. A good thriller for fans, even if it is easy to guess who the hired killer is; BROTHERHOOD (2010) is a quirky thriller about a fraternity prank gone bad. A bunch of college fraternity pledges are forced by their superiors to rob a convenience store and ask for $19.10. It is all a set-up, of course, and the store clerks are in on the joke. Unfortunately, one of the pledges enters a convenience store at the wrong location with an unloaded gun and gets shot by black clerk Mike (Arlen Escarpeta), which leads to a series of events that spiral out of control. Adam (Trevor Morgan), the pledge that is the only voice of reason, has his ideas overturned (like taking the injured pledge to the hospital or calling the police) by the fraternity brothers because they don't want their lives destroyed or the fraternity banned from campus. As the situation becomes more dire, including the kidnapping of Mike, the brothers call in a college buddy who is studying to become a doctor to look after their shot friend (and he gets into an auto accident by a drunk sorority girl who shows up at the fraternity with the rest of the girls to get their toilet seats, tampons and panties back!) and Adam and Mike know each other from high school, where Adam has some dirt on Mike that could send him to prison. Things go from bad to worse to miraculous, when all of a sudden it looks like all their problems will disappear when the pieces start falling into place. Unfortunately, another one of their fraternity pranks from earlier in the day ends up biting them all in the ass and it looks like Adam and Mike will be the only ones not arrested. The film is full of twists and turns (the scene where a ski-masked Adam tries to return the money Mike stole during the fake robbery [Hey, you can't trust a clerk!] to another store clerk is priceless, because it is funny and tense at the same time) and packs a lot of wallop in its 80 minutes. A superb feature film debut from freshman director/co-writer Will Canon, who will next direct an as-yet untitled horror film for producer James Wan (who directed SAW - 2004) in 2014. Watch it when you get the chance; JUNKYARD DOG (2010) is one of those twisty horror thrillers that gets under your skin. A cannibalistic serial killer known simply as JYD (Innis Casey), who owns an auto junkyard and drives a tow truck, has kidnapped and eaten nine girls in the past ten months (he bases his kills on the months of the calendar). He has just kidnapped his tenth girl on Halloween Night, Audra (Galadriel Stineman), and chains her up in a hidden room, where he likes to play house (including sex) before making a meal of his victim. Bulldog-like and trouble-plagued FBI agent Samantha Deatherage (Viviva A. Fox, who is good here), is assigned to the missing persons case and works against town Sheriff Holk (Brad Dourif) at every turn. Samantha gets captured by JYD (thanks to his bloodthirsty huge dog) and tries to help Audra escape, while Sheriff Holk turns out to be more of a savior (and quick-thinker) than an injured Samantha thought he would ever be. Full of tense moments  and an ending that will leave you cheering, this film, directed/written by 90's TV series comedy writer Kim Bass (SUCCUBUS: HELL-BENT - 2007), is mostly devoid of humor (except for some sarcastic comments) and full of goosebump-inducing scenes. Better than you think it would be; TUCKER & DALE VS. EVIL (2010) is a funny, gory horror tale about how we base people on their looks. A group of college students camp out in the woods, but run into hillbillies Tucker (Alan Tudyk; of TV's FIREFLY - 2002-2003 and the theatrical version SERENITY - 2005) and Dale (Tyler Labine; RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES - 2011) at a gas station and mistaken them for psycho killers. Truth is Tucker and Dale are really nice guys who have just bought a Summer cabin in the woods, a cabin that makes the home in THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974) look like a Disney hotel room. It is full of booby traps and our friendly duo save one of the college girls, Allison (Katrina Bowden), from drowning, but the rest of the college kids think the duo have kidnapped her for nefarious reasons. The film is full of funny, gory deaths, such as when Tucker accentally hits a bees nest with his chainsaw after cutting a log and it looks like he is chasing the kids with the chainsaw when he is actually swatting at the bees with it, forcing one of the kids to impale himself on a tree branch. Another trips and falls head-first into a wood chipper, another falls on his own machete and runs the blade through his stomach until the blade protrudes out his back and the town sheriff finds one of the cabin's booby traps and has a block of wood with nails in it penetrate his head. The rest of the college kids kidnap Tucker and cut off two of his fingers in exchange for Allison (who is absolutely in no danger), which leads to the two sides into an exchange of words in the cabin with Allison's help. Turns out that one of the college kids, Chad (Jesse Moss), had his father and some of his parents' friends killed in the same neck of the woods twenty years earlier, but his mother escaped, had Chad and she was then was institutionalized. Chad turns out o be the film's villain and looks to get even with the hillbillies and Allison, who he thinks has been brainwashed ("You've gone hillbilly on me, Allison!"). Filled with Hard-R bloodletting and some laugh-out-loud sequences, this film, directed and co-written by Eli Craig (as of this writing, his only full-length film), is a fun, bloody time for people that like their horror with more than a dash of humor. It copies many genres of horror films and cliches (it even has our heroine tied to a log while she is pulled towards a spinning saw blade!), but is still one-of-a-kind; BORN TO RAISE HELL (2010) is another halfway decent Steven Seagal DTV action film. Seagal is an Interpol Agent assigned to rid the Balkans of drug and gun runners. One of his team members is killed when they are investigating a Russian gun trafficker and get caught in the middle of a Gypsy gang and Russian shootout. Seagal vows vengeance for his team member's death and goes around kicking and breaking bones looking for the head Russian involved in the gun running. Seagal is actually good here and his DTV films keep improving as he gets older (he was 56 years old when this film was made). Seagal would next star in the action TV series TRUE JUSTICE (2010 - 2013); PASSION PLAY (2010) is one of the most unusual films I have seen in quite a while. It opens in the middle of the desert, where washed-up jass trumpet player Nate Poole (Mickey Rourke) is about to get shot in the back of the head when he is saved by a bunch of faceless assassins dressed all in white, who gun down his would-be killer. Nate roams the desert until he comes to a traveling carnival and meets Lily Luster (Megan Fox in one of her best acting roles), a beautiful freak who actually has full-sized wings attached to her back like an angel. Lily is sought after by cruel gangster Happy Shannon (Bill Murray, in an unusual role), who wants to display Lily in a glass cage at his nightclub, but Nate tries to protect her and falls in love with her. But Happy always gets his way and has Nate beaten-up by his goons and absconds with Lily. Happy showers Lily with diamonds, but still makes her display her wings in a glass cage every night. Nate goes looking for her and when he finds Lily, she walks right past him into the arms of Happy. It is all just a ruse, of course, because Lily has feelings for Nate, too (At one time we see Happy give Lily a good backhand to the face because her carnival owner, played by Rhys Ifans, pays a visit to bring her back, but is shot dead.). Lily and Nate escape together, but are trapped on the roof of a building. Nate sacrifices himself by jumping off the building, but Lily jumps after him and grabs him and they fly off. What Nate sees on the ground in the middle of the desert in the finale (you have to look real close) tells Nate and the viewers that Lily may be an Angel after all. It's a satisfying conclusion to an off-kilter film, directed and written by Mitch Glazer (his directorial debut), who co-wrote the screenplay to SCROOGED (1988) also starring Bill Murray. If you ever see this playing on cable or want to own a copy on DVD or Blu-Ray, I would recommend that you take a chance and watch it; the remake of MOTHER'S DAY (2010), which actually isn't a remake of the 1980 film at all (although some of the characters' names are the same), but a damn fine home invasion thriller (based on a real-life incident) with some winks and nods to the original (death by Drano; cameos by original director Charles Kaufman and his brother, Troma president Lloyd Kaufman). This may be director Darren Lynn Bousman's (SAW II, III & IV - 2005-2007; REPO: THE GENETIC OPERA - 2008; THE BARRENS - 2012) best film and Rebecca De Mornay as "Mother" Koffin (the last name is probably a tribute to the late Frederick Coffin [HARD TO KILL - 1990], who played Ike in the original film using the pseudonym "Holden McGuire") has never been better. It just may be the best horror "reimagining" of the New Millennium; SECONDS APART (2010) was one of the films in the AFTER DARK ORIGINALS series shown for a limited time theatrically in January 2011 and is probably the most somber. yet involving, horror films in that series. The story is about a set of twins, Jonah and Seth (played by real-life twins Edmund & Gary Entin), who were born 93 seconds apart. When they join hands, they can make anyone see and do anything they want, including kill themselves. Now that they are in Catholic high school. Jonah and Seth begin to kill people by various means and film it with a video camera. The only one who has any inkling what they are up to is Detective Lampkin (Orlando Jones, in an effective performance), who has his own troubles, since he was extremly burned on his body and face trying to save his deceased wife from a house fire and has to go to the hospital for weekly treatments. After making a priest at their school kill himself by cutting an artery in his leg trying to remove an imaginary parasitic worm (yes, you read that right), making one of their female classmates cut her own throat with a shard of glass and having a pedophile killed in a car accident involving a tractor trailer (among other deaths and "accidents", while filming it all), Detective Lampkin visits the twins' parents and makes a discovery that will take you by surprise (This after Lampkin slugs one of the twins for making disparaging remarks and threats about his deceased wife. You'll be happy when he does it, because the kid deserved worse.). Things come to a boil (literally) when one of the twins fucks his brother's girlfriend and Detective Lampkin makes the one brother see what is actually going on in their own home (and it ain't pretty). Director Antonio Negret (TRANSIT - 2011) and screenwriter George Richards (REDEMPTION ROAD - 2010) have turned in a thought-provoking little horror tale that should appease those who like a little thought put into a horror film; I really wanted to dislike THE HUNTERS (2011), a French/Luxembourg/Beligium co-production (filmed in English) that is part crime/part horror story, but I found myself fascinated by the weirdness of it all. A new police officer named Le Saint (Chris Briant, who also directed), a recently returned Iraq War veteran, is assigned to meet an informant by his boss Bernard (Terence Knox, who screams out his lines, but if you stick around long enough, you will see this is not bad acting), so he sets up an appointment to meet him at the long abandoned Fort Goben, deep in the woods. For some reason, this does not sit too well with Bernard, who screams out his displeeasure with chosing this location in front of the whole squad. This only piques Le Saint's interest and he goes there by himself to see what is actually going on  (Bernard tells him it's a place where drug dealers and other lowlifes hang out and to just stay away from there) and what he finds is quite shocking. He finds a man with a collection of freshly decapitated heads and this man fondles them like they are his toys. The man gets away from Le Saint, but word gets back to Bernard that he was there (how could that have happened you may ask?). To make a long story short (the film is a little overlong at 111 minutes), Bernard and a bunch of his police buddies use Fort Goben as a meeting place where they begin their hunt for human prey (a little THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME thrown in) and bring back the heads for trophys to the Fort. Le Saint goes on a one-man crusade to kill all the participating hunters in the woods and achieves his goals, but here are so many weird things that happen, that you will be left scratching your head. Like the scene where one of the killer cops catches a couple in the Fort and runs the barrel of the shotgun from the mans's mouth down to his stomach (after punching the woman in the face) before pulling the trigger (during this whole scene, you don't know whether he is going to let them go or not) and giving the innocent man both barrels in the gut. Another shootout shows sparks shooting out of trees when there is a gunfight (I don't know if this was done on purpose or by accident). It's an interesting movie that's not a complete success, but it is just different enough to merit a viewing. Screenwriter Michael Lehman (his only writing credit) must have been under the influence of some hallucinatory mushrooms when he wrote this screenplay, because it definitely defies description in the normal sense. Watch it and you will know what I mean. And will somebody please tell me what the ending is supposed to convey?; Personally, I think director Victor Salva is a pedophile bastard who will eventually burn in Hell, but the man can make some pretty good films. ROSEWOOD LANE (2011) is a great little psycho-thriller about radio psychiatrist Sonny Blake (Rose McGowan), who moves into her father's house when he is found dead at the bottom of his basement stairs and no one will buy the house for over a year. The police think it was an accident, but slowly it becomes apparent to Sonny that the local paperboy, Derek Barber (Daniel Ross Owens), was responsible (his eyes are totally black due to a genetic condition and his mother gave him and his siblings up for adoption). Soon, the paperboy (who the neighborhood dogs chase every time they see him) begins killing everyone who is close to Sonny, singing nursery rhymes, breaking into her home, moving her knick-knacks around to show her he was there and calling her on her radio show to tell her that he buried her boyfriend, District Attorney Barrett Tanner (Sonny Marinelli), after he overheard that Barrett was once buried alive when he was a child and it was the scariest thing he ever experienced (The entire sequence that happens after he makes that phone call is very, very, tense; almost unbearable). Look for some pretty decent deaths (Ray Wise gets the nastiest) and good turns by Rance Howard as Sonny's scared neighbor, Lin Shaye and Bill Fagerbakke as put-upon parents, Lauren Luna Vélez as Sonny's lesbian engineer/friend and especially Ray Wise as  Detective Briggs, who can't understand why Sonny would move into the same house her father abused her in as a child (She wrote a book explaining it in vivid detail). Also look for appearances by Lesley-Anne Down as a child psychologist, Steve Tom as the radio newscaster (You may not know the name, but you will recognize his face) and Judson Mills (who plays a practical joke with a crossbow bolt that will come back and haunt a certain character). When we are led to believe that everything is finally over, Briggs' partner, Detective Sabatino (Tom Tarantini, who is also great) makes a discovery at the paperboy's funeral that will chill you to the bone (and it makes perfect sense). Victor Salva is lucky I can separate the artist from his art, because this is a taught thriller with definite horror undertones. Worth a look; I'm a little sick and tired of zombie comedies, but the Cuban/Spanish co-production JUAN OF THE DEAD ("Juan De Los Muertos" - 2011) is actually funny, as well as being a gorefest with political undertones. Juan (Alexis Díaz de Villegas) and his motley band of friends and family must fend off a zombie outbreak in Cuba armed only with a boat paddle, machetes and whatever weapons they can find (but no guns). The English subtitles do a good job of expressing the turmoil and comradery this group goes through, especially when Juan is punked by his best friend Lazaro (Jorge Molina), who may or may not have been bitten and tells Juan that he is gay and wants to perform oral sex on him before he dies (Juan falls for it and drops his pants, only for Lazaro to laugh his ass off. And so will you). There are many funny bits, including a guy who only speaks English and saves the group from certain doom, only for Lazaro to accidentally kill him. Director/screenwriter Alejandro Brugués (ABCs OF DEATH 2 - 2014; the "E Is For Equilibrium" segment) manages to keep the film moving at a fast pace, while throwing in some sly anti-Castro political inferences into the mix. The closing animation is also a hoot as are some of the painful-looking deaths on view. If you have no problem with reading English subtitles (and I wish everyone didn't), please watch this film in the original language. I don't know if this is dubbed into English, but a lot of mannerisms and sarcasm will be lost in the translation. Watch this film the way it was intended and have a good time; CHAINED (2011) is a slow-burn of a thriller and since it was written/directed by David Lynch's daughter, Jennifer Lynch (BOXING HELENA - 1993), you know what to expect: a deliberately-paced, but beautifully-filmed, movie that is more style over substance, but what style it has! Vincent D'Onofrio is Bob, a lisping serial killer of young women who drives a taxi. He kills a mother (Julia Ormond) and kidnaps her young son (Evan Bird), who he renames "Rabbit" and has him do all his dirty work for him, like clean the house, make him meals and go through the newspaper and cut out articles about his killings and paste them into scrapbooks ("Everyone has to have a record of their achievements." is Bob's explanation). If he displeases him in any way, Bob puts a beating on Rabbit. Years pass and Rabbit is now full grown (and portrayed by Eamon Farren; X - 2011) and is still kept prisoner (The chains of the title are of the emotional kind). We learn that Bob is the way he is because his abusive father made Bob fuck his own mother (!) and now Bob wants to pass his serial killings ways to Rabbit. Needless to say, it doesn't go too well, but there is an amazing final denouement that I doubt anyone will see coming (I will not give it away here.). It makes complete sense when you think about it after the film is well over and is one of the few modern thrillers to actually take me by surprise. D'Onofrio is amazing here and will instantly make you forget about his role on LAW & ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT (2001 - 2011) and Lynch keeps the mood creepy thanks to some matter-of-fact outbursts of violence and a droning background score that is full of low-pitched synthesizer noises (She learned from her father well and this was her fourth feature-length directorial effort). If you like thrillers with a distinctive edge, by all means search this one out.

Good DTV Genre Films Part 7 (continued): THE LEDGE (2011), a very good thriller about an athiest (Charlie Hunnam; SONS OF ANARCHY - 2008-2014) having an affair with his married neighbor (Liv Tyler; THE INCREDIBLE HULK - 2008), whose husband (an excellent Patrick Wilson; THE A-TEAM - 2010) is uber-religious. The husband finds out about the affair and makes the athiest stand on a ledge for one hour to contemplate about what he has done. If he does not jump to his death at 12 O'clock noon, the husband will kill his wife. The cop (Terrence Howard; IRON MAN - 2008) in charge of talking the athiest down has just found out that he has been impotent all his life and wonders why he and his wife have two kids. The ending to the film is both heart-breaking and uplifting. Highly recommended;; THE DIVIDE (2011), one of the better modern-day post-apocalyptic thrillers from director Xavier Gens (FRONTIER(S) - 2007); A LONELY PLACE TO DIE (2011), a tense thriller about a group of mountain climbers who find a little girl buried alive and then must spend the rest of the film trying to dodge the girl's kidnappers. Melissa George (TURISTAS - 2006; 30 DAYS OF NIGHT - 2007) gives a knockout performance and one wonders why films like this don't get proper theatrical showings.; ELEPHANT WHITE (2011), a Thailand thriller, directed by Prachya Pinkaew (THE PROTECTOR - 2006), starring Djimon Hounsou as a hit man hired by the father of a dead girl to kill Thailand's worst sex slave trader. He gets unwanted help from a mysterious girl (Jirantanin Pitakporntrakul), as the hit man kills everyone involved with the slave trader, usually at long distances with weapons supplied by gun dealer Kevin Bacon (who sports the weirdest accent I have ever heard, but he is quite funny when his designer clothes are always getting ruined), but there is also a fair amount of martial arts action, too. The film is fast-moving and has an unseen (at least by me) surprise ending (it makes sense if you watch the film a second time). Written by actor Kevin Bernhardt (HELLRAISER III: HELL ON EARTH (1992); CAMP HELL (2011), a scathing look at religious summer camps that dot the United States (Jesse Eisenberg sued to have his name removed as star of the film since he only appears in it for less than five minutes. He won, but some DVDs were already distributed with his name above the title.); RED STATE (2011), directed by none other than Kevin Smith (who gave us the abysmal buddy cop anti-action film COP OUT - 2010), about a David Koresh-like uber-religious leader (Michael Parks) who has three teenagers kidnapped and crucifies two of them for being gay (they're not) in front of his adoring flock, who will do anything for him. Enter the voice of reason, an ATF agent (John Goodman, who is simply marvelous), who tries to settle the matter with the least amount of casualties possible, but his superiors want an all-out raid of the compound (You should see what happens to Goodman's partner, played by Kevin Pollak in what amounts to a cameo). Innocent people are killed, people are firing at each other indiscriminately with automatic weapons and there are some great surprises in store. What surprises me most is that this was directed by Kevin Smith. We all know his feelings about religion since DOGMA (1999), but this film takes his views in a whole other direction. He blames the goverment just as much as he does the religious fanatics (and rightfully so). By no means a perfect film, but there is plenty of meat to chew on; VAMPS (2011) was one of those films where I said to myself, "Oh great, another chick flick about vampires." before I watched it. After all, it stars Alicia Silverstone, Krysten Ritter and was directed by Amy Heckerling. Boy, was I fucking wrong. This is actually a surprisingly funny, as well as emotional, film about two young vampires living in New York and having to deal with all the changes over the decades (and for Silverstone, centuries) that comes with being eternal. It has many valid points that have bothered me (people being too dependent of their electronic devices, talking in shorthand, the changes "Homeland Security" has made on our lives, etc.) and some truly heart-tugging scenes that will leave you with a tear or two in your eyes (especially Silverstone's look back at the changes in Times Square in the finale). There are great performances from everyone, including Sigourney Weaver as the vampire queen Cisserus who "turned" both of the girls, Richard Lewis as an ACLU lawyer with a dying wife (Marilu Henner) and friend of Silverstone, Wallace Shawn as Dr. Van Helsing, Justin Kirk as vampire ladies' man Vadim and Malcolm McDowell as Vlad Tepish (who, along with the girls, belongs to a support group for vampires who refuse to drink human blood). Don't let the PG-13 Rating fool you here. There are beheadings, animals being sucked of their blood, neck biting and other bloody mayhem, usually used for comic effect. Try it. You just may like it; WAKE WOOD (2011) is one of the first batch of films co-produced by the revived Hammer Films Productions (To an old fogey like me, it is great to see the Hammer logo on some new films!) and while it's not perfect, it is still a crackling good chiller. Two parents, Patrick and Louise (Aiden Gillen, Eva Birthistle), are grieving over the death of their young daughter Alice (Ella Connolly) when she is attacked and killed by a mad dog. They move to the titled town, a centuries-old small English village which has a secret: They are able to bring back the dead, but for only three days. After the three days are up, the body must be reburied. Arthur (an excellent Timothy Spall, who has a face that can break mirrors, but he has talent to spare), the leader of the town, offers to give Patrick and Louise the chance to say goodbye to Alice properly by performing the Pagan ritual and giving them three days with their daughter. The only problem is, after the three days are up, Alice doesn't want to be reburied and starts a murderous rampage. What happens next is best for the viewer to discover, but it is heartbreaking and the finale will leave you (especially those who like to speculate) wondering what will happen next. Hammer Films was also involved with two other good horror films: LET ME IN (2010), a remake of the Swedish vampire film LET THE RIGHT ONE IN (2008), and THE WOMAN IN BLACK (2011), a haunting remake of the 1989 British TV film of the same name, which also has a goosebump-inducing finale; ATTACK THE BLOCK (2011) is a really good alien invasion film unlike any other that you have ever seen. A gang of South London hooligans mug a young lady just when an alien attack on the hooligan's block begins. The lady helps the gang of young thieves defeat the aliens (who are truly frightening creations with their flourescent teeth and black fur), as the visitors from outer space kill everyone in the apartment tenement where the gang lives. Lots of action, plenty of humor (Nick Frost [SHAUN OF THE DEAD - 2003; PAUL - 2011] is the building's pot dealer) and some really intense alien attack scenes differentiate this from most modern horror films. I can't wait to see what freshman feature film director Joe Cornish (a British TV series director) does next. The fact that most of the kids that make up the gang never acted before (and they are great, although some of them are hard to understand [use the English Subtitles option on your DVD or Blu-Ray]) adds plenty of realism to the proceedings; HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN (2011), a film that really has truth in the title. The hobo (a grizzled Rutger Hauer) buys a shotgun and begins blowing away anyone associated with town crimelord The Drake (an over-reaching Brian Downey) while trying to protect town hooker Abby (Molly Dunsworth). The film is full of unrated gore, including, blown-off heads and penises, a decapitation by rope, a manhole cover collar and a motorcycle (it must be seen to be believed), lots of bloody bullet squibs, a busload of children burned alive with a flame thrower (there's an inspired bit later on using the burned-out bus), slicing the hobo's back with ice skates, the obliteration of a body with shotgun blasts and other gory mayhem. Everyone overacts here, but that is part of the film's charm. It's like a Troma film with a bigger budget and better stars and looks more like an 80's action/horror film, something which it purposely strived for (the film is based on a fake trailer shown during the GRINDHOUSE [2007] double feature). Stay away from the R-Rated version because you will miss all the good stuff (including a nasty neck-slicing by hacksaw); BLITZ (2011), a rough-and-tumble cop thriller starring Jason Statham as a police officer out to capture a serial killer (Aiden Gillen) of cops with the help of a homosexual cop (Paddy Considine); TICKING CLOCK (2011). Academy Award-winning actor Cuba Gooding Jr. (who is fast becoming the king of DTV action/horror films with titles like DIRTY [2005], END GAME [2006], THE DEVIL'S TOMB [2008], HERO WANTED [2008], LINEWATCH [2008], WAY OF WAR [2009], LIES AND ILLUSIONS [2009], HARDWIRED [2009], WRONG TURN AT TAHOE [2009], SACRIFICE [2010], THE HIT LIST [2011], ONE IN THE CHAMBER [2012] and others) stars as a wife-cheating reporter in this tale of time travel and is one of Gooding's best films in years. When the time traveler (Neil McDonough; THE HITCHER - 2007) kills Gooding's girlfriend (and nearly everyone else who made his childhood a nightmare) and leaves behind his journal (and a piece of cloth that can't be identified) that contains a hit list of potential victims, Gooding gets the idea of befriending the time traveler as a boy, who is in an orphanage and is different from all the other kids (wait until you catch a gander at the kid's private "zoo"!). When the time traveler returns for his journal and retrieves it (just as the cops were about to come to Gooding's house; now he is a suspect since he knows the names of people before they are being murdered), Gooding must trick him to meet himself as a boy. The film has plenty of plot holes (especially concerning time travel), but is highly watchable and McDonough (and those bright blue eyes) adds a sense of class to the proceedings; Speaking of Cuba Gooding Jr., his performance as the extremely bad guy in THE HIT LIST (2011) is pretty good. The plot concerns strangers Gooding and Cole Hauser (THE CAVE - 2005) getting drunk in a bar and making a list of people they would like to see dead. To Hauser's surprise, the people he put on the list start turning up dead, with Gooding performing the deeds. The police start looking at Hauser as the murderer, finding his bar story hard to swallow, so he has to find a way to stop Gooding. The finale, which takes place at a police station, is about as violent as you can get in a film and still have an R-Rating. Pretty entertaining stuff. Not quite as good as TICKING CLOCK, but a step above most DTV action films; X (2011), an Australian thriller about a 30 year-old hooker who is about to leave the business and move to France with one of her regulars and a 17 year-old neophyte prostitute who both see a dirty cop murder someone. The two girls band together and try to stay one step ahead of the cop, who wants them dead. After a slow start, the film quickly turns into a white knuckle ride and is a worthwhile experience for thriller fans. It's like the Christina Applegate film STREETS (1990) on amphetamines; COWBOYS & ALIENS (2011), a thrilling mixture of Western and Sci-Fi themes, tanked at the box office in its PG-13 form, but Cinemax is showing a nice widescreen version of Jon Favreau's (IRON MAN - 2008) director's cut (but, strangely, sister station HBO is only showing the theatrical version), which adds 16 minutes of cut footage to the film and really improves the pacing (as well as adding extra gore and violence, including exploding bodies). Stay away from the theatrical version and watch this star-studded extended cut and then judge for yourself. It's entertainment on a grand scale; THE SAMARITAN (2011) is an unexpectedly good thriller starring Samuel L. Jackson as Foley, a con man who just got out of prison after spending 25 years there for the murder of his best friend. As soon as he gets out, he is approched by Ethan (Luke Kirby), the son of the murdered best friend, who wants Foley to join him in an 8 million dollar con called "The Samaritan". He also falls in love with Iris (Ruth Negga), who is young enough to be his daughter. Ethan bribes Foley with a secret that is almost too hard for Foley to take to help him with the grift. It's a secret best left for the viewer to discover, but there is so much more to this film. Watch it now!; Speaking of Samuel L. Jackson, he also stars in MEETING EVIL (2011) as a psychopathic killer who hijacks a man (a bloated Luke Wilson), who has just lost his job, is heavily in debt and has just ended an affair with a woman he works with. Jackson is marvelous as someone who is pure evil, leaving death destruction in his wake and making it seem Wilson is the killer. Director/writer Chris Fisher (NIGHTSTALKER - 2002) keeps you guessing with his twisty screenplay (based on Thomas Berger's novel of the same name) and it doesn't end the way you think it will. Leslie Bibb portrays Wilson's wife (her dressing-down of a female detective, portrayed by Tracie Thomas, is a thing of beauty) and the always terrific Muse Watson plays the detective in charge of the case. Worth a rental or purchase; THE RAID: REDEMPTION (2011) is Welsh director/writer/action coordinator Gareth Evan's (FOOTSTEPS - 2006) exciting Indonesian (!) action flick (using local actors speaking their own language) about a squad of policemen who try to regain control over a run-down apartment complex run by drug sellers, pimps and a violent crime lord. What follows next is a non-stop barrage of gunfights, martial arts combat and double-crosses that I guarantee will hold your attention throughout. Available in English-dubbed or subtitled versions (go for the subtitled; there's not that much dialogue anyway), this is the kind of film John Woo use to make. A sequel was released in 2014; TRANSIT (2011) is a satisfying thriller about an armored car heist gone wrong, forcing the head of the deadly theives (James Frain; TRUE BLOOD - 2008-Present) to hide their four million dollar haul on the top of an SUV of a family traveling on a camping trip. The father (Jim Caviezel; PERSON OF INTEREST - 2011-Present) is on parole and trying to get back in his family's good graces, so when the thieves try to get their money back and he reports the crime to the police, all they see is that he is on parole and they bring him in for questioning. The film is full of many unexpected surprises, including some great chases, gun fights and Louisiana swamp scenery. This one is a winner; THE PHILLY KID (2011) would actually be a run-of-the-mill actioner if it wasn't for the fact that there are characters here that you actually care about. Dillon (Wes Chatham), a former NCAA wrestler convicted of manslaughter, is paroled from prison after ten years. He gets a job at a liquor store, but his best friend Jake (Devon Sawa) owes the local loanshark $30,000, so Dillon agrees to fight in three mixed martial arts fights to pay off Jake's debt, but only if he wins the three matches. After the first fight (which he wins), Dillon is taken under the wings of trainer LA Jim (the always good Neal McDonough), who teaches him the fighting part of the bouts. Dillon has two cops that are always harassing him and want him to throw the third fight, but he also has a very understanding parole officer (a rarity in films) who helps Dillon as much as Dillon helps him and Jake's sister Amy (Sarah Butler) as his girlfriend. While there is plenty of ring action going on in this film, there is also a lot of characterization (thanks to screenwriter Adam Mervis), which makes this film a winner. Directed by Jason Connery (THE DEVIL'S TOMB - 2009), the son of legend Sean Connery; RESTITUTION (2011) is one of those low-budget thrillers that comes out of nowhere and then blows you away. Insurance investigator Bryan Spikes (writer/executive producer Mark Bierlein) stumbles upon a series of murders in Detroit, falls in love with barmaid Heather (Mena Suvari) and then ends up with his hands and legs chained, a hood thrown over his head and tossed into a river, where he is eventually framed for all the murders by the actual killers and it make the front pages of all the local newspapers. One year passes and a mysterious man named Alex Forrester shows up in town, with nothing but revenge on his mind. He takes an apartment next to clingy neighbor Tom Lipnity (Tom Arnold, who is great here), a former sharpshooter for the military who definitely has mental problems. As Alex begins killing all those involved with Bryan's murder (he is saved a couple of times by Tom's sharpshooting skills), it becomes clear that Alex is more than he seems. He is actually Bryan Spikes (it is one of the best transformations I have ever seen without the use of prosthetics) and once he is done with his mission, he reveals his true identity to Heather (how he does it is very touching) and they continue their romance. Filled with scenes of ultra-bloody violence (head shots are plentiful), director/co-producer Lance K.R. Kawas (SILENT SCREAM - 2005) is to be commended (along with Bierlein, who is ruthless using his Alex persona) for making such thrilling film on a 2.5 million dollar budget (They both also worked in the same capacity on a film called STREET BOSS in 2009, which I plan on purchasing A.S.A.P.). Rent or buy it when you have the chance; SWEET PRUDENCE & THE EROTIC ADVENTURES OF BIGFOOT (2011) is a softcore porn comedy about Prudence (Angie Bates) who wants to find proof that Bigfoot exists. She, best friend Veruca (Albina Nahar) and ex-boyfriend Mike (Michael Slade) follow the clues to a nude outdoor health spa (which is just an excuse to get the girls naked as much as possible, which is not a bad thing at all since not one of them are silicone-enhanced). They are joined by Dirk (Luke Gallo), who is looking to kill Bigfoot for a hefty reward. The acting stinks and the stabs at comedy work about 50% of the time (the funniest is when Dirk gets raped by the giant-penised Bigfoot while wearing a gorilla suit, or the many times Prudence says she is three credits away from passing some class in college), but this is 100 times better than those "erotic" films made by Fred Olen Ray that litter the pay cable stations, mainly because it is actually filmed outside and all the girls have natural bodies; BAIT (2011). Do you think that shark movies are all played out? Then take a look at this inventive Australian horror film. An earthquake causes a tsunami and a tide of water traps a bunch of people inside a seaside supermarket, which is being held-up by thief Julian McMahon at the time. To make things even worse, a 12-foot great white shark is also in the supermarket, picking-off survivors one-by-one in very graphic fashion (the death of the Oriental manager had me squirming in my seat). Originally filmed in 3-D (What film hasn't in the last five years?), the film suffers from some pretty bad CGI in spots (thanks mostly to the 3-D shown flat), but is still entertainment on a grand scale. Originally set to be co-directed by Russell Mulcahy (RAZORBACK - 1984), who also co-wrote the screenplay, the film gives Kimble Rendall (CUT - 2000) sole directorial credit; CLEANSKIN (2011) is an uncommonly good British thriller about English Secret Service agent Ewan (the always good Sean Bean) put in charge of killing a group of "cleanskins" (a term used for a terrorist or terrorist cell that is not on any watch list) out to blow up parts of England with bombs. Ash (Abhin Galeya), the British-born head of the terrorist cell, has problems with his conscience and religious obligations, which makes his character much more clearly defined than your typical Muslim terrorist. This film is even-handed on both sides (showing both the good and bad), thanks to director/writer Hadi Hajaig (PURITAN - 2005), and there are no pat endings in this film, as there is triumph and tragedy on both sides. Lots of bloody mayhem (including bullets to the head) doesn't hurt, either; RITES OF PASSAGE (2011) would be your normal, everyday, run-of-the-mill "young people in peril" horror film if it weren't for two things: Wes Bentley (yes, that Wes Bentley) as a crazy psychopath who kidnaps girls for sacrifice to an ancient Native American spirit and Christian Slater (yes, that Christian Slater) as an even crazier cigar-chomping grounds keeper/psychedelic plant-grower (and user) who imagines a Mexican-talking hand-puppet is attached to his shotgun, telling him to kill the cast of young actors (most of whom are high on the psychedelic plant). The normally good Stephen Dorff is totally wasted here as Bentley's college professor brother, though. Just off the beaten path enough to merit at least one viewing; THE DARKEST HOUR (2011) is a good sci-fi tale that played theatrically during Christmas of 2011 and failed miserably (it made a measly $3 million its first week in over 2400 theaters, even though it was in 3D and directed by Chris Gorak, who gave us the highly underrated RIGHT AT YOUR DOOR - 2006). Emile Hirsch and best friend Max Minghella, who have developed a Facebook-like app and travel to Moscow, where they hope to get financing for the app. After finding out that they have been betrayed by another partner, they have much worse things to deal with. The Earth is suddenly attacked by an army of invisible aliens, that can only be seen when they are near electrical devices. When one of them touches you, you disintegrate (a great effect). Suddenly Hirsch, his best friend and a couple of American women they meet at a bar must try to survive as strangers in a strange land, with aliens hot on their heels. Moscow is depicted as a town just like any other, only with a language difference that impedes our heroes every now and then. They run into a crazy Russian electrician who has invented a portable weapon that can destroy the aliens and Hirsch takes it with him as the ever-increasing (and then ever-decreasing) group try to make it to a submarine on its way to the United States. There are plenty of nail-biting scenes that could have made better if the film wasn't Rated PG-13 (it was made for the Christmas crowd, after all), but is is still an involving sci-fi tale that shows that every town has their heroes (lots of them) and their villians. I guess audiences weren't in the mood to see aliens invade Earth at Christmas time, but that should not stop you from watching it now. We really don't get a really good look at the aliens, but they blow up real good and get their share of people while they attack. Better than the disappointing receipts say it is; CRAWLSPACE (2011) is a title used in a lot in horror films, but this version, directed and co-written by Josh Stolberg (the screenwriter of PIRANHA 3D - 2010), ups the ante in clever and gory deaths to make a compelling little scare flick. Steven Weber stars as the well-hidden tenant of the house he use to live in when his family died. He hides in the attic when a new family, headed by father Jonathan Silverman, move in and Weber will kill anyone that gets in his way to make Silverman's teenage daughter and young son part of his new family. The plot may be old hat (it's an unofficial remake of the 1986 Klaus Kinski movie of the same name), but Steven Weber is efficiently creepy as a man who will do anything to get a new family. Look for David Koechner in a cameo as an exterminator who gets killed by Weber in an inventive way when he discovers the hiding place in the attic. Not a bad little horror flick if you are in the right state of mind and the final scene leaves the film wide open for a sequel; THE BRASS TEAPOT (2011) has a harmless title, but behind it hides a devilish black comedy about what people will do for money. A down-on-their-luck couple (Juno Temple, Michael Angarano) find an ancient brass teapot at a garage sale and decide to buy it, only to discover that the teapot will dispense money in exchange for pain. The more the suffering, the greater amount it spits out. At first they inflict small pain on themselves, by playing S&M games in bed and hitting their hands with hammers, but they become greedy and start inflicting pain on other people, including some of their neighbors (some who deserve it). A couple of Orthodox Jews, who once owned the teapot (but don't want it anymore), steal all the couple's money, only for the couple to discover that the teapot demands more pain than they are willing to give, as it now only spits out one and five dollar bills. There are shootouts (where money comes flying out of the teapot) unsuccessful suicide attempts and other psychological and physical pain on view, but I'm happy to report this is the type of film with a happy ending and not one of those films where the basically good couple pay for their bad choices. Like I said in the beginning, the title may be harmless, but the film is a cutting black comedy full of violence. Director Ramaa Mosley (her feature film debut and based on her 2007 short of the same name) and screenwriter Tim Macy have turned out a surprisingly wicked fairy tale for adults. Highly recommended. This was one of those small independent films (shot for less than $900,000) that played in two theaters for a week while playing simultaneously on VOD before quickly showing up on Showtime; TAKE SHELTER (2011) is director Jeff Nichols' (MUD - 2012; MIDNIGHT SPECIAL - 2015) terrific slow-burn tale of a man descending into madness. Or is he? Construction worker Curtis (the terrific Michael Shannon; BOARDWALK EMPIRE [2010 - 2014]) begins to have apocalyptic visions (like thousands of birds flying in unison in the sky) which his best friend and co-worker Dewart (Shea Whigham; also on BOARDWALK EMPIRE) doesn't see at all. The visions become so bad that his loving wife, Samantha (Jessica Chastain, who is becoming a force to recon with), suggests he goes to a doctor (They have a daughter who is deaf). He does, but the doctor can find nothing wrong with him, so he recommends seeing a psychiatrist. Curtis believes so much in his visions that he takes a high-risk loan from the bank (even his bank loan officer tries to dissuade him from signing it) to build and underground shelter in his backyard. What happens next is best for the viewer to discover, but let me say this: This film has one of the best closing shots of the new Millennium and you'll forever remember it, just like the ending of ELECTRA GLIDE IN BLUE (1973). It's that good. This Cannes award-winner played a limited one week theatrical release in the U.S. before going DTV; Speaking of Michael Shannon, did anyone else notice that in the film PREMIUM RUSH (2012), where Shannon plays crooked cop Bobby Monday, that when he was on the phone trying to get a ticket worth $50,000 transferred to a florist shop, he said over the phone, "I'm Forrest J. Ackerman, Dean Of Students."? If you don't know who the late Forrest J. Ackerman was, you have no reason to be on this site. The film itself is a nice little actioner about a bike messenger (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) being pursued around New York City by Monday in order to get his hands on said ticket to pay off his gambling debts. There are some great stunts on view and Shannon is great to watch, even if the story is a little thin (his death scene, though, is one for the books); EDEN (2012) is a mostly deadly serious film with exploitation elements about an Asian girl named Eden (Jamie Chung) who is kidnapped by a child prostitution ring in the United States by Vaughn (Matt O'Leary) and his boss Bob Gault (Beau Bridges), who teaches the U.S. Border Patrol how to spot human coyotes and illegal aliens! What Vaughn and Bob don't realize is that Eden is actually 19 years-old and is not underaged and uses her brains to turn the drug-taking Vaughn against Bob (even after Eden bites a guy's dick off on her first day as a prostitute!). She works her way up the ladder in the business, taking over the phone calls from johns requesting children for sex and even handling the books, but what she is really doing is trying to save herself and new friend Abbie (Tracey Fairaway), an underaged girl who has just had a baby that was illegally adopted. How Eden does it is cold and calculated and even if the film ends rather abruptly, it is a satisfying mix of truth and fiction (these rings do exist) where all the bad guys get their comeuppance by a girl with a good head on her shoulders. Director/co-writer Megan Griffiths turns in a good film on a shoestring budget and I recommend it to one and all; NURSE 3D (2012) was not released in the U.S. until early 2014, but that should not deter you from watching one of the most graphic films made in the past 10 years (Available in R-Rated and Unrated editions. Guess which one you should go for?). The beautiful Paz de la Huerta (BOARDWALK EMPIRE) is Abby Russell, a dedicated nurse by day and a killer of cheating men by night (who also happens to be a closeted lesbian). Her methods of killing leave little room for survival, as we first see her cut the femoral artery on the leg of a cheating married man she meets at at bar and watches him bleed to death. This is the least bloody murder in the the film, because, as it progresses, it becomes more and more bloody, culminating in one of the craziest murder sprees in a hospital Intensive Ward ever recorded on film. In between the first murder and the spree killing (she does it just for the hell of it because she is being chased!), we are treated to Abby befriending new nurse Danni (Katrina Bowden) and falling in love with her. In one scene Abby slips Danni a roofie at a bar and takes her home, where she rapes her (we hear Abby describe it in one of her many narrations in the film). Abby thinks if she gets rid of Danni's stepfather, psychiatrist Larry Cook (Martin Donovan), she will have Danni all for herself, so she goes to Larry under the pretense of being a patient (telling him she is addicted to men) and then comes on to him later on and kills him in his car (his death is a doozy). This only make Danni suspicious and when cheating head surgeon Dr. Morris (Judd Nelson) is tied to an operating table by Abby while she cuts off his arm with a bone saw (nothing is left to the imagination), Danni goes to Detective John Rogan (Boris Kodjoe) with her suspicions and everything begins to unwind for Abby. She goes stark raving bonkers and stabs a guy through the neck with a pair of surgical shears from the back to the front and makes sure to open them (most of the murders were filmed to take advantage of the 3-D effects although I watched it flat), stabs another guy in the side of the neck with scissors and then does unimaginal things in the Intensive Ward while she is being chased by the authorities, which leads to the beginnings of a sequel ready to be made (although none is planned at the time of this writing). This is nothing spectacular; just an old-fashioned gorefest with plenty of nudity. We all need to watch a mindless film like this every once in a while. Director/co-screenwriter Douglas Aarniokoski (HIGHLANDER: ENDGAME - 2000; ANIMALS - 2008; and directs episodes of TV's CRIMINAL MINDS) doesn't pretend this is heady stuff. It is just cotton candy for the mind. And bless him for it; HELLBENDERS (2012) is a funny horror/comedy from director/writer J.T. Petty (THE BURROWERS - 2008) about the members of The Augustine Interfaith Order of Hellbound Saints (Clancy Brown, Clifton Collins Jr., Robyn Rikoon, Dan Fogler, Andre Royo and Macon Blair), who must battle some real demons as well as an assortment of inner demons. They are a bunch of foul-mouthed, hard-drinking and pot-smoking members of a fringe section of the Church, who are called upon to exorcise demons from the bodies of everyday people. Things get out of hand when Elizabeth (Rikoon) is possessed by a demon powerful enough to open the Gateway to Hell (which looks like a flaming vagina and there's a funny scene that take place when the possessed Elizabeth sticks her hand in it), but first she has to possess a bunch of people by sending possessed flies down their mouth so they can do battle with the Interfaith Order. Both Clancy Brown (who is suffering the effects from being semi-possessed too many times at exorcisms) and Clifton Collins Jr. (his biggest role in years) are absolute hoots as they battle not just demons, but an executive who kicks them out of the order, supposedly at the bequest of the Church. If you like your humor raunchy and your violence bloody (members of the Order always seem to get a finger or toe bitten off!), then by all means enjoy the hell out of this film. Larry Fessenden has a role as the detective in charge of the cases the exorcism team performs. Also starring Stephen Gevedon, Edoardo Ballerini (as an ineffectual exorcist who has both his eyes bitten out) and Samanta Buck as Collins' frustrated wife who always appears or calls at the most inappropriate times (Collins had a brief affair with Elizabeth and the film ends on a bitterly funny note). "Did any of you find my nose around here?" Recommended; A lot of people rag on Eli Roth because he is an uber horror fan who gets to do the kind of films he wants. Take for instance AFTERSHOCK (2012), a film Roth doesn't direct (Nicolás López handles that chore), but Roth stars, co-wrote the screenplay and co-produced. And it was filmed in Valparaiso, Chile!. Not your normal location for a film of this type. Roth stars as a divorced lawyer dad who is spending some vacation time with his two male friends from Chile (don't worry, they are bi-lingual, although there are some subtitles in the film). They spend the first half of the film hitting on girls, trying to get Roth laid, at clubs, raves (where everyone seems to be tripping out on drugs) and even tour a wine making company (the female tour guide is also a bartender at an exclusive club). They then make a trip to a secluded party at that exclusive club (which is only available by tram car that is operated by a very nasty man) near a cemetery when the worst possible thing happens: an earthquake. Then the blood literally hits the fan, as appendages are torn off, people are graphically crushed under concrete and other victims are crushed under the feet of other people (Not to mention the tram car wire snapping and killing one of the major cast members). To make matters worse, the earthquake releases everyone at a nearby prison and no woman is safe, including the three troubled women they have hooked up with. To tell you any more (OK, just one thing: Roth is killed in one of the worst horrible deaths in recent filmic history) would be to ruin a fast-paced horror/thriller filled with double-crosses, gunfire, axe attacks, frequent aftershocks and even rape. The only problem I have is that the ending was telegraphed halfway through the film. Otherwise, this is a good way to spend 88 minutes because it surprises by not following genre film conventions. Look for singer Selena Gomez in a cameo as a spoiled V.I.P. at one of the nightclubs who blows-off Roth. For those Eli Roth haters, all I can say is that you are probably jealous because he made his dreams come true and you would probably murder someone if it made you like him.

Good DTV Genre Films Part 8 (continued): GONE (2012) is a tidy little thriller about Jill (Amanda Seyfried; RED RIDING HOOD - 2011), who was kidnapped by a serial killer two years earlier in Portland, Oregon, thrown in a hole in the woods and managed to escape (by stabbing her unseen kidnapper in the back with a broken human bone from one of his previous female victims). The police didn't believe her story (they can't find the hole in the woods or any other trace of a kidnapper) and she was involuntarily committed to a mental institution until her ex-alcoholic sister Molly (Emily Wickersham) agreed to take her out of there and live with her. Jill works the graveyard shift at a local greasy spoon with fellow waitress Sharon (Jennifer Carpenter; DEXTER - 2006-2013) and when she comes home early one morning, Molly is missing. Convinced she was taken by the same person who kidnapped her, Jill goes to the police (which includes Michael Paré, Daniel Sunjata and Wes Bentley in a useless role), who still don't believe a word she says. The rest of the film details Jill's efforts to find her sister, using clues she picks up on her search, while the police, when finding out she has a gun, try to stop her. The film is never boring and the finale is satisfying. What more could you ask for?; EL GRINGO (2012), part of the first AFTER DARK ACTION festival (Which also includes TRANSIT, DRAGON EYES, STASH HOUSE and THE PHILLY KID), is an exciting action thriller about a cop (Scott Adkins; STAG NIGHT - 2008) who is set up on the Mexican border (actually filmed in Louisiana and Bulgaria) and makes for the Mexican town of El Fronteras with a bag containing two million dollars. He can't even get a drink of water in this town (a running joke), as he is hunted down by a crooked cop (Christian Slater), makes friends with a beautiful female bar owner (Yvette Yates), fights with a gang controlled by the crooked town sheriff (Erando Gonzalez) that put makeup on their faces so they look like skulls, deals with a young female thief (Sofía Sisniega) who keeps stealing his bag of money and has a dog that follows him around, but seems to be good for nothing. Filled with bloody gunfights, martial arts combat and welcome doses of humor, this film will satisfy your action needs for a night; SAVAGES (2012) is director Oliver Stone's excellent and gory (it starts with a series of absolutely bloody chainsaw decapitations) drug thriller about two friends, marijuana growers Chon (Taylor Kitsch, who I am rapidly becoming a fan of) and and Ben (Aaron Johnson), whose shared girlfriend O (Blake Lively) is kidnapped by Mexico's biggest female drug cartel leader, Elena (Salma Hayek, in an award-winning performance). Elena holds O hostage to get Chon and Ben to give her a share in their highly profitable business (And uses the Internet to show Chon & Ben streaming footage of O being sexually and physically abused by her henchmen. As a matter of fact, the Internet plays an important part in this film, almost a character unto itself.), but when the guys have had enough, they kidnap Elena's daughter, Magda (Sandra Echeverría), and offer a trade. There is so much more going on in this star-studded thriller, including Benicio Del Toro as Elena's traitorous second-in-command, John Travolta (sans hairpiece, which makes him look years older) as a crooked cop and plenty of other cameos, including Shea Whigham, Emile Hirsch and Joel David Moore. This did play theaters, but barely made its production costs back in the U.S. (in an R-Rated version), so rent the 10-minute longer Unrated Version on DVD or Blu-Ray (it doesn't add any violence, but adds more background to some of the characters, so you can understand their motivations better) and be prepared to be blown away. It's Stone's best, most violent film in years; MAXIMUM CONVICTION (2012) is the first film to team-up Steven Seagal and Steve Austin and since it was directed by Keoni Waxman, who brought out the best in Seagal in THE KEEPER (2009) and Austin in HUNT TO KILL (2010), you know you're going to be in for a wild ride. The two Steves are black ops partners who must protect two female witnesses in a prison that is being decommissioned. When head bad guy Michael Paré and his band of mercenaries invade the prison looking for the two girls (there is more to both of the women than meets the eye), the two Steves must fight to keep the girls and themselves alive. Filmed with grand fights and gunfire, as well as some funny banter between Seagal and Austin, this is one of the best DTV action films of both Seagal and Austin's careers. If it was directed by anyone other than Waxman (who also directed Dolph Lundgren in SWEEPERS [1998] using the pseudonym "Darby Black"), it would probably stink on ice, but he is an action director to keep an eye on; BRAKE (2012), a near-perfect thriller with a knock-out performance by Stephen Dorff (yes, I said Stephen Dorff) and a twist ending I guarantee you won't see coming (I've heard a lot of complaints about it, but you have to listen closely to what Tom Berenger says over the radio to understand it); ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER (2012) may have bombed at the box office (it only grossed about half of its production costs in U.S. theaters), but it is a perfectly good popcorn movie for sitting at home on a Saturday night. A clean-shaven teenage Lincoln (Benjamin Walker) is recruited by good vampire Henry Sturges (Dominic Cooper) to fight vampires, who are using the southern states to begin to form the entire United States as their own country (slavery plays an important part in this). Since Sturges is harboring a secret of his own (in part of the new vampire mythology [you can't have a new vampire film without at least one], vampires can't kill other vampires), Lincoln (with his stovepipe hat) becomes a vampire killing machine with his tricked-out silver axe, with the help of ex-slave childhood friend Will Johnson (Anthony Mackie) and store owner Joshua Speed (Jimmi Simpson). The Civil War eventually comes into play (President Lincoln now has his famous beard), with vampire Adam (Rufus Sewell) as the head bad guy, which leads to some inventive special effects involving a train supposedly carrying silver to Gettysburg. This film is bloody as hell (lots of beheadings) and contains plenty of camera tricks, trademarks of director Timur Bekmambetov (WANTED - 2008), who mixes fact with mostly fiction to very good effect (even Mary Todd Lincoln [Mary Elizabeth Winstead] gets her revenge on female vampire Vadoma [Erin Wasson], who killed her son). A lot of speculation has people thinking that Henry Sturges recruits Barack Obama at the end of the film, but it is actually screenwriter Seth Grahame-Smith (based on his own novel) who plays Sturges' newest recruit (A lot of people read way too much into the conclusion). Tim Burton was one of the Producers, along with Jim Lemley and Bekmambetov. It is miles ahead of The Asylum's rip-off ABRAHAM LINCOLN VS. ZOMBIES (2012), even if it is one of their more fun films; UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: DAY OF RECKONING (2012) is a good action film, even if it deceives you into believing that Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren are the stars. While they are both in the film and play important secondary roles (although they never appear together in the same scene together), the film belongs to Scott Adkins (EL GRINGO - 2012) as a newly-minted Universal Soldier (or as one scientist puts it: "My God, he's just a baby. He's only three weeks old!") who tries to find the truth behind the Universal Soldier program (which the government have made him believe he has witnessed the brutal murders of his wife and young daughter at the hands of Van Damme and his cronies), which now lays straightly in the hands of both Lundgren and Van Damme, who are the bad guys in this (or at least they both stole the program away from the government for their own purposes). Filled with great fightings scenes and brutal deaths (my favorites has to do with an aluminum baseball bat in a sporting goods store), director John Hyams, the son of director Peter Hyams (TIMECOP - 1994, also with Van Damme), has made an action film the old-fashioned way. No quick editing or shakey camera tricks (there are a couple of flashing scenes which could trigger seizures in epileptics). Just good old-fashioned blood and guts. Go for the Unrated Version or you'll miss out on some primo bloodletting. Bravo!; COMPLIANCE (2012) is director/writer Craig Zobel's horrifying true-based film about how people can be fooled to do anything over the phone. A man (Pat Healy) pretending to be a cop named "Officer Daniels" calls up Sandra (Ann Dowd), the manager of fast food Chickwich chain, and tells her that one of her female employees, Becky (Dreama Walker), has stolen money out of a woman's pocketbook. He talks Sandra into taking Becky to the back room and gleans information from Becky and Sandra to make it seem that Becky is guilty of more than theft of money. "Officer Daniels" talks Sandra and other people (including Sandra's drunk fiance Van [Bill Camp]) to strip-search Becky, which eventually leads to sodomy and rape. Terrifying because it has actually happened in real-life more than 70 times, the film shows how easily people can be talked into doing the most horrifying of things. I'm still shaking because it could actually happen again, for a lot of people are like lemmings and will do anything they are told without using any basic deductive reasoning whatsoever. The fact that the fake cop is caught and turns out to be a nobody telemarketer just shows how easily people can be fooled and yet, these people who were fooled refuse to take responsibility for their heinous actions (they believe they are victims, too!) simply because the person on the other end of the phone said he was a cop; SUSHI GIRL (2012) is a decent little thriller, even if it does contain a little too much "torture porn" for my tastes. Five thieves, led by Duke (Tony Todd, in one of his biggest roles in quite a while) rob a jewelry store and get into an auto accident one their way back to their hideout. Something bad happens (told in quick flashback bursts) and newcomer to the gang, Fish (Noah Hathaway), gets caught by the police and serves six years in jail, never ratting on his fellow thieves. On his way out of prison, his former partners in crime hold a celebratory dinner for him, complete with a naked "sushi girl" (Cortney Palm) on the table, who is covered in raw fish. Turns out this was all a trap, as the diamonds from the heist were never found and they tie Fish to a chair and slowly torture him every three minutes using an egg timer Duke has brought with him (along with a story why he carries it). Before long, Fish is being tortured by having his knees hammered with spikes, teeth pulled without any anaesthesia (by an obese gay Mark Hamill) and generally having the shit beat out of him by the gang, who want to know where the diamonds are. The flashbacks are the clues, and director/co-writer Kern Saxton waits a little too long to show us what really happened, but the finale is very well done, if not telegraphed from one of the late flashbacks. You could do a lot worse than this film and I have many times. Look for cameos by Sonny Chiba, Jeff Fahey, Michael Biehn and Danny Trejo; THE COLD LIGHT OF DAY (2012) is a fairly enthralling thriller with a knockout and terrifying performance by Sigourney Weaver. While on vacation for a sailing trip in Spain, Will (future MAN OF STEEL [2013] Henry Cavill] watches as his father Martin (Bruce Willis, in what amounts to an extended cameo) is murdered in front of him and the rest of his family kidnapped, leaving him with a briefcase that everyone wants, from turncoat CIA agent Jean Carrack (Weaver, who has never been more evil), the U.S. Government, the local Spanish police and Israel Mossad agents. Will goes through many extremely close calls and meets lovely Lucia (Verónica Echegui), who he later finds out is his half-sister (Martin had an affair with Lucia's mother and she became pregnant). There is some fast and furious action on display, along with some twists you will never see coming and director Mabrouk El Mechri (JCVD - 2008) handles it with a sheen and polish that makes it a winner. Worth your time if you see it available for view on pay cable or disc; GIRLS GONE DEAD (2012) is a pretty funny and extremely gory tale about a group of young women (including a very religious one) who go down to Florida on Spring Break for a week of fun. What they find is anything but. A hooded, red-robed killer, wearing a mask and swinging an ancient warhammer, begins dispatching the girls and anyone else who gets in their way (including that toothless mental midget comedian known as Beetle Juice [who passed away in 2014], who is decapitated). Filled with naked girls, funny lines (watch Linnea Quigley try to do an Australian accent!), shots of extreme gore (stay away from the R-Rated version and go for the Unrated one) and a good performance by wrestler Jerry "The King" Lawler (who should keep on acting because his delivery is priceless). While it is not hard to figure out who is the killer(s), this is still a bloody good time with a cast of extremely pretty girls who are not afraid to doff their tops and more. The kind of exploitative horror film that doesn't get made much any more. Directed by Michael Hoffman Jr. and Aaron T. Wells; JOHN DIES AT THE END (2012) is another weird winner directed/written by PHANTASM's (1979) Don Coscarelli (based on a story by David Wong). The barely explainable story is about two guys who get injected with a black substance called "soy sauce" and begin to have interdimensional experiences that can best be described as a world-reknown philosopher tripping out on LSD. Lots of weird visuals (my favorite being an other-dimentional being's moustache becoming a bat-like creature) and a great sense of black humor abound. If your like to watch something different, this is the film for you. Keep your eyes peeled for a cameo by Coscarelli regular Angus Scrimm as a priest; HELL BABY (2012) is a very funny possessed baby film if you are in the right frame of mind. Fans of RENO 911! will recognize a lot of the actors in this slapstick horror film with some extremely gory (and sexy) moments. Rob Coddry and a very pregnant Leslie Bibb play a married couple who move into a house in New Orleans that has a history of murder behind it. They have a black guy named F'resnel (a funny Keegan-Michael Key) who lives in their crawlspace and is always sneaking up behind them and making them scream. He tells them the history of the house and it is not good. The Vatican sends two priests (Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon, who are simply hilarious and both wrote & directed the film, to boot) to New Orleans because Bibb is about to give birth to twins and one of them is the Devil's son. Weird things begin to happen at the house (including a lamp that keeps shocking Coddry, which will come in handy later) and the couple believe they have killed their 90 year-old neighbor Mrs. Nussbaum (Alex Berg in drag) when Coddry hits her over the head with a metal vase when he discovers her giving him a blowjob at night. They bury her in the backyard, which brings two cops (Paul Scheer and Rob Huebel, who are also very funny) to their door, only to discover Mrs. Nussbaum wasn't dead and wanted to thank them for letting her nap (it's an uncomfortable and gut-busting scene). Bibb's sister (Riki Lindhome, who spends her first scenes completely nude and she's a looker!) and the whole gang are there for the delivery of the Devil's son. I won't say much more, except there's a funny scene of "keep away", where half the cast end up dead and two funny scenes that take place at the Po'Boy Restaurant. This film played both simultaneously in theaters and on VOD in 2013 before debuting on the Cinemax Networks a few months later in 2014. You'll have a lot of fun with this one because it doesn't hold back on the gore, nudity and bad taste jokes. That's all I need; GHOUL (2012), a made-for-Chiller TV movie that's different than most horror films. As a matter of fact, those expecting an outright horror film are bound to be disappointed (It's more like STAND BY ME [1986], except with a briefly-seen monster). Based on the Brian Keene novel of the same name (which I have not read), this film takes place during the mid-1980's and centers on three boys, one who just lost his beloved grandfather (an uncredited cameo by Barry Corbin); one who is sexually abused by his alcoholic mother; and another who is physically abused by his alcoholic father, who works at the local graveyard and supplies both dead and live people to something or someone that lives underground in a series of tunnels under the cemetery. The film is more about monsters of the human kind, although there are scenes of horror that take place underground. Not bad for a TV movie and, for once, it doesn't rely on gore or blood. These feel like real kids and not something manufactured in a screenplay; DEAD SOULS (2012) is another made-for-Chiller TV movie and it is easily the best film of director Colin Theys' (BANSHEE!!! - 2008; ALIEN OPPONENT - 2010; REMAINS - 2011) short career. The screenplay may get confusing at times, but there is no denying that this flick is full of thick gothic atmosphere not usually found in films today, especially ones that were made expressly for cable TV. Definitely the best film shown on Chiller this year and I hope Colin Theys keeps on making films like this, because he should have a healthy career behind the cameras; SCAR TISSUE (2013) is an involving English thriller where, 20 years earlier, we watch a British SWAT team kill a serial killer of young girls by pumping at least 50 bullets in his body. Twenty years later, a man named Luke (Danny Horn) is awoken by a text message on his phone telling him it is time to get up. Along with the text message is a video which the killer says, "Find the girl, find the truth", showing his girlfriend Chrissy dead without eyes (they were plucked out by human fingers), the tip of her tongue cut off and a knife wound under the heart that cut off every artery to the organ, killing her immediately; a young girl that looks scared; and indefinitely suspended police inspector Samantha (Charity Wakefield) eating at a diner. Luke finds his girlfriend Chrissy butchered in their bathtub and he runs away, thinking the police will blame him for the murder. He meets Sam at the diner and introduces himself by showing her the video that was sent to him. She immediately goes into full-blown mental mode because the little girl in the video was her sister Lucy (Bonnie Weddell) who was the serial killer's last victim 22 years ago. When DNA comes back from Chrissy, it is the same as the dead serial killer. Lucy and Sam must work together to solve the mystery (Sam still has some friends on the force, as well as enemies). Director/screenwriter Scott Michell keeps you guessing till the end and shows that Sam has some real problems in her life, such as a dead abusive dad and trying to get back in the police force. Luke and Sam become lovers, which just makes the whole ordeal more difficult (Love does not conquer all), as they investigate by going to a sex party (where a prostitute is handed a severed human hand through a glory hole) and other places that no human in their right mind (which Sam is not) would go, while trying to save little girl Zoe ( Lois Ellington), who is being held by the killer and taunted by video. Luke ends up going to some balloon-filled birthday party at an abandoned hospital, where two other people wake up and don't know how they got there. The key is, "Don't play the hero, play the game". Those that don't end up dead. It turns that Luke, Sam and the other two people are clones of notorious serial killers, the only human clones ever produced (Luke is the clone of the killer that murdered Sam's sister), but are they capable of doing the same dastardly things as their originals? It doesn't matter because a bunch of government officials have been hired to "Clean up the mess". To say anymore will be to deprive you of a fantastic little thriller with a unique storyline; SNOWPIERCER (2013) was one of those films that deserved a wide theatrical release but instead got a limited theatrical/VOD release and most people didn't see it until it hit disc and cable TV, even though it was on a lot of critics "10 Best" lists for the year. The story is complex, yet simple, too. An experiment causes the Earth to go into a new Ice Age and the only people/animals left alive are on a non-conventional train with a perpetual motion engine that travels the Earth. The thing is, the further back you live on this huge train, the lower class you are in, like the old Indian caste system. Those who live in the back of the train are virtual slaves and prepare for a revolution, but there are many obstacles in their way. Korean director Joon-ho Bong (THE HOST - 2006) uses an international cast to very good effect and you will absolutely hate Tilda Swinton after watching this one-of-a-kind thrill ride. They sure don't make many movies like this and that's a shame. I think it would have done well in a wide theatrical release with the right advertising campaign, but since the Weinstein Brothers were involved, consider yourself lucky that the film wasn't cut to threads; If GRAVY (2013) seems like an extended episode of the late, lamented TV series PSYCH (2006 - 2014), it is because it was directed and co-written by that series' star, James Roday (who also puts in a cameo here late in the film, along with unrecognizable series co-star Dulé Hill, as paramedics). The difference here is that the film is extremely gory. The similarities is the comical dialogue, which references many other films and TV shows. Three people (Jimmi Simpson, Lily Cole and the excellent Michael Weston) weld the front and back doors shut of a closed-for-the-night restaurant/bar (it has no windows) on Halloween Night and take all the employees hostage. They announce that they are cannibals and they do this on every Halloween. They plan on eating everyone and use different means to start killing the staff (Gabourey Sidibe has her voice box bitten out and owner Paul Rodriguez has an apple shoved in his mouth and then has a crossbow bolt shot into it and stick out the back of his skull in a funny takeoff of William Tell) and force the establishment's French chef (Lothaire Bluteau) to prepare their flesh into different types of meals, which he does and the meals taste excellent. To say any more will be to ruin one of the most unusual horror comedies I have ever seen and it has an ending that is completely satisfying. The real star here is Sutton Foster as Kerry, one of the hostages, who fakes that she is in love with Weston and look for Sarah Silverman in an extended cameo as the clerk of a Quicky Mart. She is hilarious and I usually don't like her. This is referenced in most internet sites and books as a 2015 production, but the end credits give it a 2013 production date. I hope James Roday makes more films. This one had me hooked from the beginning and I did laugh out loud at a few of the kills, fights and jokes. Recommended.; THE GREEN INFERNO (2013) is director/co-writer Eli Roth's long gestating homage to the Italian cannibal films of the 70' & 80's. It played some festivals and in several foreign countries and then sat on a shelf before getting a token limited theatrical/VOD release in the United States in September 2105 and then quickly being dumped on disc and pay cable (The same thing as the Eli Roth production of CLOWN - 2014, which sat on the shelf in the U.S. [but not the rest of the world] until it got a disc and streaming release in August 2016. It is probably the greatest evil clown movie ever made.). The thing is, this film deserved a much better fate and no matter what the horde of Roth-hating fanboys say (the same geeks who speak their chin-dribbling bile about Quentin Tarantino and Uwe Boll), this is an intense and gore-filled tribute to a genre I grew up with (only with no killing of real animals, thank God). The story is simple: A group of American college activist students travel down the Amazon to save the rain forest so the native's homes aren't destroyed (The film's biggest mistake: How can a handful of students save the rain forest? Even with media attention using camera phones posted on YouTube?), only to discover that the civilization down there doesn't quite abide by our rules. And that is putting it politely. One college freshman girl, Justine (Lorenza Izzo; Roth's KNOCK KNOCK - 2015), is seduced by college senior Alejandro (Ariel Levy), into going down to the Amazon (he is currently protesting janitors not getting paid their dues!); he and his group to save the rain forest and she to stop the Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) of women by ancient (and painful) means (Justine's father Charles, played by Roth regular Richard Burgi, who is a U.N. lawyer hotshot, is not pleased with her decision.). Once down in South America, Alejandro turns out to be quite the prick, telling the group that they will be going up against an armed militia and they will only be armed with camera phones (It would have been nice for him to have said something before they took the trip.). Once they get to their destination by boat down the Amazon, they disguise themselves as the deforestation crew and chain themselves to the machinery and trees, wearing plastic masks, blue hardhats and yellow jumpsuits. Justine has trouble locking her chain lock and she is put on her knees by a militiaman with a gun pointed at her head. She then begins to know who her friends are, as Alejandro blames the U.N. for causing this destruction and another person in her group tells the gun-holding man to kill her. Looks like Justine was set up from the beginning and they knew about her U.N. lawyer father the whole time. I told you Alejandro was a prick. Luckily, the militia doesn't shoot Justine. They instead put all of them on boats and then on a plane to head back home. As you can probably guess, the plane develops engine trouble and crashes into the Amazon Jungle (they lose a couple of people out of the back of the plane when the tail is ripped off [we see one bloody dead female body stuck in a tree] and the pilot gets a tree branch through the windshield into his head). Almost as soon as they step out of the wrecked plane (one idiot walks into a still-spinning propellor on the plane and kills himself), they are shot with drug darts by a cannibal tribe after one girl gets a spear through her neck and another one through the top of her head as she is lying down. They are all taken to the cannibals' village by canoes down the Amazon River and then the gory part begins. We see human heads on pikes as they are led to the village, when the tribes' female elder come out to inspect them. They are all put into a bamboo cage except Jonah (Aaron Burns), who is given something special to drink and is then laid down on a stone altar. What happens to him and the rest of the students should be watched by the viewers and you will be wondering how this film got away with an R-Rating. If you want a good old-fashioned cannibal film (with some modern-day devices), including a scene of the cannibal children laughing while one of the women captives takes a runny shit in the bamboo cage, then look no further. This one delivers in spades and doesn't portray the cannibals as the bad guys (Alejandro is the biggest scumbag of all. He jerks-off on front of his dead girlfriend to relieve his pressure!). They are just doing what comes naturally and it is us who are the intruders (Pay close attention to how they figure out that Justine is a virgin of the female students and are going to attempt to do to her what she came down there to protest against). Make sure that you stay through the final credits for an important stinger. Watching this film took me back 35 years when films like these were common and made me squirm, so what more could you ask for? My highest recommendation. Fuck the fanboys. This is a great film! If you want to know what cannibals do when they get the munchies from eating human meat laced with marijuana, this is the film to see!  BAD ASS 2: BAD ASSES (2013) is a sequel to the 2011 film BAD ASS and I must say, besides one sequence, it is superior than the original. Danny Trejo once again stars as Frank Vega and it takes place three years after the first film. Frank now runs a boxing gym and was made an honorary policeman (Patrick Fabian returns from the first film as Officer Malark) and his next door neighbor is Bernie Pope (Danny Glover), who runs a liquor store (Frank loves his liquor!) and is agoraphobic and hasn't left the store for 25 years (There's a funny/violent sequence where Bernie gets held-up by a bunch of punks and Frank saves his ass [Bernie has a rare disease and has six months to live if he doesn't get a new liver, but he is considered too old by the medical transplant profession.] The dialogue that follows will make you howl with laughter.). When one of Frank's favorite young boxers, Manny Parkes (Jeremy Ray Valdez; he considers Frank a second father), ends up being killed for dealing drugs, Frank promises Manny's beautiful mother, Rosaria (Jacqueline Obradors), and her young daughter, Julia (Melany Ochoa) that he will find the killer (From the moment they meet, you just know that Rosaria and Frank will become lovers, but their first kiss is always interrupted by......well, it's better if you discover that yourself.). When Frank is being attacked by the gang that killed Manny (who are working for an Argentinian bigshot named Leandro Herrera, played with pinache by Andrew Divoff), Bernie breaks out of his agoraphobia and puts them all down with a hockey stick (Yes, I know what you are saying: "Black people don't play hockey!", but you have to listen to Bernie's explanation to believe it!). From that point-on, Frank and Bernie become a geriatric vigilante squad, beating up the minions of Leandro and doing it is such a funny and violent way (Leandro's son gets the worst of it: an ice pick in the eye and a college senior gets a little bit of his penis cut off, by Frank and a rotating fan, looking for information on the bad guys. Frank looks at his work and goes "Mozel Tov!", while Bernie is successfully hitting on a beautiful college girl). To tell you any more about this film would be depriving you of some real fun and bloody action as the two Danny's make a great pair and their witty banter (such as when Bernie calls Frank a "Mexican MacGyver" when he gets them out of a particularly cold situation) is really funny and doesn't seem forced. Also great here are Andrew Divoff, who gets much more screen time than usual and his final words are a howl (If you saw the first film, you will get what "Amber Lamps" really means). There is only one real caveat: 90% of the chase between Frank & Bernie in a Ford Bronco and a helicopter shooting at them at the end of the film is lifted from the Gene Hackman film NARROW MARGIN (1990) to save money. But don't let that stop you from watching a really entertaining film. Director/screenwriter Craig Moss returns from the first film and even made a third one, BAD ASS 3: BAD ASSES ON THE BAYOU (2015; which I plan on buying ASAP). If all Mr. Moss continues to do is make enjoyable BAD ASS films, I will be a happy man. Danny Trejo (who at the time of this review was doing commercials for Sling TV) is 72 years-old and looks like he can still kick anyone's ass. Now that he has a partner, you get double the action, double the fun. Totally recommended.; REDEMPTION (a.k.a. HUMMINGBIRD and CRAZY JOE - 2013) is not your usual Jason Statham movie. Sure, he kicks a lot of ass, but that's not the point here. The point is no matter how far from home you are, things stay the same. And when you come back home, things are just as terrible as where you were, maybe even worse. Statham portrays Joey, a soldier in the Afghanistan War, who returns home to London and his PTSD forces him to lose his wife and small daughter and live as a bum in an alley with Isabel (Victoria Bewick). They are endlessly kicked and punched by punks who get off hurting bums and one night they pick on Joey and Isabel. After being beaten senseless, Joey manages to run away and breaks into a high-end apartment owned by a man who is away for a couple of months in his vacation house (one of the many examples of the have and have-nots in the film). While Joey is cleaning himself up, taking a shower and cutting his long stringy hair (and getting back in fighting shape), a man with a scar above his eye kills Isabel. Joey forms a friendship with a nun named Cristina (an amazing performance by Agata Buzek), who teaches Joey how to be a man again, while he teaches her how to be a woman again. Joey gets even with the punks that beat up him and Isabel (and tells the other bums that they should be safe now). but he needs a way to find out the name of the man with the scar above his eye. He takes a job as a driver for an important Chinese mobster to try and get information. While all this is going on, it is apparent that Joey and Cristina are falling in love, but Joey doesn't feel worthy of love. A lot of gut-grabbing emotional scenes happen (I'll leave them for you to discover) and when Joey discovers the name of the man who killed Isabel, he goes to the party he is at on the roof of a high-rise and simply throws him off, telling him that he will now feel what all the women he abused felt (During the film, we see the man sexually battering a prostitute in a brothel). Joey is now a fugitive bum in a tux and walks the streets, while Cristina quits being a representative of God and goes on to learn to be a woman again (something happened to her when she was 10 years-old). Joey leaves her a note with some photos of himself that she took and we then see police drones from above spotting Joey, just like the drones did to the bad guys in Afghanistan. The more things are different, the more they remain the same. Those looking for a standard Jason Stathan fightfest are going to be bitterly disappointed, because this film is more about living a life like many returning soldiers do (and this must change ASAP!!!) and if it wasn't for soup kitchens, they would have nothing at all to eat. Even though there are a few brutal fight scenes, director/screenwriter Steven Knight (Creator and Writer of TV's PEAKY BLINDERS [2013 - Present]) is more interested in the lifestyle and mindset of a returning soldier and it is not pretty. This is one of Jason Statham's best films and gives him a chance to really act. You should give it a chance, too.

Good DTV Genre Films Part 9 (continued): PAWN SHOP CHRONICLES (2013) is most likely to end up one of the sleeper films of 2013, not to mention actor Paul Walker's last film of his he saw before he passed away (he was also one of the Producers). Director Wayne Kramer (who directed Walker in RUNNING SCARED [2006], one of the best action films of the first ten years of the New Millennium) has fashioned a film from screenwriter Adam Minarovich's script that tells several stories that are interconnected by one thing: a stolen wedding ring. Customer Matt Dillion walks into Vincent D'Onofrio's pawn shop, where he spots the ring, and he knows immediately it was taken off his wife who disappeared seven years earlier (he was about to get married again, but tells his new bride-to-be to take a hike). This leads Dillon on a hunt for who originally stole the ring and eventually he finds the perpetrator (and dishes a little HELLRAISER [1987] justice on him) before making a shocking discovery. To tell any more would be to ruin one of the best films of 2013 and one wonders why films like this get limited theatrical/VOD releases, while over-budgeted crap get wide theatrical releases. The interconnected stories concern an Elvis Presley impersonator (the wonderful Brendan Fraser, who always gets mistaken for a magician!) who sells his soul to the Devil while performing in a Twilight Zone town (where the entire film takes place and there are weird things happening like dueling barber shops) that must be seen to be believed (The town is some sort of Purgatory, which would explain a lot of visual things going on in the film.); a gang of meth-head White Supremacist thieves (led by Walker) out to rob a meth lab; a cult leader (Elijah Wood) and his band of naked ladies and Dillon's search for the original thief who stole the ring. All the stories get wrapped-up in grandiose fashion and you will leave the film with a crooked smile on your face. Norman Reedus, Chi McBride, DJ Qualls, Lucas Haas, Thomas Jane, Sam Hennings, Ashlee Simpson and Kevin Rankin all put in appearances and I suggest you search this film out immediately. Fred Durst (PLAY DEAD - 2009, another worthwhile DTV flick), one of the Executive Producers, was slated to direct before Wayne Kramer took over; I was sitting on the fence with THE COLONY (2013), but it finally won me over with a few good twists and turns. The basic plot is about in the near future, temperature change across Earth has put it in a new Ice Age (take that you Republican non-believers!), but a group of people hold out in a well-protected fortress (an actual NORAD base) and try to survive as a family. Unfortunately, some of them develop a deadly flu that is highly contagious, which makes the leaders (Laurence Fishburne and Bill Paxton) give the infected a choice: either take a bullet to the head or take a walk out into the icy unknown for a future that is uncertain (Paxton would just rather shoot them in the head so they can't return and turns out to be the group's bad guy). Things turn to shit when Fishburne and a group of survivors (including Kevin Zegers) leave the fortress in search of food and other necessities of life and run smack-dab into a bunch of feral cannibals, led by their huge sharp-toothed leader (Dru Viergever), who is chopping up a human into pieces for a feast later. Things happen where two of the major characters are killed (one is really surprising) because the cannibals follow Zeger back to the base. It's then "us against them", as the cannibals attack the fortress and Zegers has to take out the leader (in extremely grisly fashion). While nothing really special, it does have a good sense of atmosphere (you actually feel cold while watching it) and the acting is better than it has any right to be. It is one of those films that played theatrically and on VOD at the same time before quickly turning up on the Starz Network. Not a bad little film if you are in the right frame of mind; THE MONKEY'S PAW (2013) has been filmed so many times in so many variations, that one would think it would be downright impossible to make another good film based on the premise (the paw grants you three wishes; wishes that usually come back to bite you in the ass), but this Chiller TV original film manages to put a lot of thought into this atmospheric New Orleans-set horror flick and the main asset is actor Stephen Lang as factory worker Tony Cobb. Cobb's best friend and fellow worker Jake Tilton (C.J. Thomason) receives the monkey's paw from old-timer Gillespie (Daniel Hugh Kelly) and doesn't believe the story behind the paw, so he wishes for a new car. Blammo, Jake suddenly has a new car and he and Tony go for a ride, only for Jake to swerve the car in order not to hit a crocodile crossing the road and the car hits a tree, throwing Cobb through the front window and killing him. Jake uses his second wish to bring Cobb back to life. Big mistake. Wishes come with a price. Cobb (who begins decomposing and has no soul) ends up chasing Jake around town to obtain the monkey's paw, killing anyone who gets in his way (some of it is pretty graphic for non-pay cable, but I'm sure there will be more gore in the eventual Blu-Ray/DVD release, because it is easy to see some of the more gory stuff was timed to happen just before the commercial breaks). How will the third wish be used? I'm afraid you'll have to watch the film to find out. Look for small roles by Charles S. Dutton and Corbin Bleu. Director Brett Simmons (HUSK - 2011; ANIMAL - 2014) adds just the right amount of tension and a romantic subplot to make the film watchable, even with all the commercial breaks; DARK SKIES (2013) is director/writer Scott Stewart's (LEGION - 2009; PRIEST - 2011; both starring Paul Betthany) foray into alien visitation territory and for the most part it is a fairly gripping little jump scare film that deserved a much better fate at the boxoffice. A financially-strapped family, headed by Daniel (Josh Hamilton) and Lacy (Keri Russell) begin to experience some unexplainable things in their house at night with their two young boys, Jesse (Dakota Goyo) and Sam (Kadan Rockett), such as all the family pictures removed from their frames, unexplained sleepwalking, nosebleeds, rashes behind their ears and unexplained symbols on Sam's body. When a flock of four different species of 800 birds fly themselves into their house and die and the CDC and police are absolutely no help, Lacy goes on the internet and finds out that these are all signs that one of her family is about to be abducted by aliens. A local expert named Edwin Pollard (an excellent J.K. Simmons) explains to the exasperated Daniel and Lacy what is going on (the rashes behind their ears are the after-effects of having trackers installed), so Daniel installs night-imaging cameras in all the rooms in hope of spotting one of these "Grays" at night. What he finds is much more than I can explain here. There are no pat answers, but could there ever be? A spine-tingling final scene will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. Don't let the PG-13 Rating fool you, this is pretty intense and entertaining stuff; OPEN GRAVE (2013) is an involving horror thriller about a man (Sharlto Copley) who wakes up in a pit of dead bodies, manages to crawl out and make it to a house, only to be greeted by a bunch of gun-toting people who can't remember their names (just like him) and a mute girl (Josie Ho) who plays an important role in unraveling the mystery. The real reason this film works are the acting talents of Sharlto Copley (DISTRICT 9 - 2009; THE A-TEAM - 2010) as the man who begins to get his memory back in bits and pieces, as do the other members of the group. And a lot of them don't like the memories that are coming back. The film keeps you on your toes until the final shocking denouement, which you may think you have guessed, but you would be wrong (the final shot is also immense in its scope). Also starring Thomas Kretschmann (Dario Argento's DRACULA 3D - 2012), Joseph Morgan, Erin Richards and Max Wrottesley. Director Gonzalo López-Gallego makes up for his crappy directorial found footage film APOLLO 18 (2011) and delivers a film that should please all horror fans. And if this film teaches you one thing, it should be never to trust a screaming man stuck in a barb wire fence. Worth your time; TRANCE (2013). I'm always fascinated by the films of director Danny Boyle. Some are examples of true filmmaking (TRAINSPOTTING - 1996) and others are overblown films that critics declare masterpieces (SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE - 2008). This one was made after the multi-Oscar® nominated 127 HOURS (2010), but this film went largely ignored, even though I like it much more than most of Boyle's output (and that includes the black comedy SHALLOW GRAVE - 1994 and the horror film 28 DAYS LATER - 2003). A thief named Simon (James McAvoy) is cheated by his gang when they steal a painting he took from an art museum robbery. Franck (Vincent Cassel) hits Simon over the head with his shotgun, steals the bag and he and the other two thieves take off, only to discover that the painting was cut out of the frame and Simon still has the actual painting. The only problem is that the slam of the shotgun butt on his noggin has given Simon amnesia (or has it?) and they take him to hypnotherapist Elizabeth (Rosario Dawson) to hypnotize him into telling them where he hid the painting. I'm not going to divulge anymore, because it would deprive you of one of the most unusual films of 2013. Just let me say there is a scene that will make you sit up and notice and if you don't want to see a man get shot in the dick, this is not the film for you. This twisty thriller deserved more attention than it got and my only hope is that you take the chance to watch it; ENEMIES CLOSER (2013), which was part of the second annual AFTER DARK ACTION festival (and got a one week limited theatrical release in January 2014), is one of Jean Claude Van Damme's best DTV films thanks to his crazy, funny performance and tight direction by Van Damme veteran Peter Hyams (TIMECOP - 1994; SUDDEN DEATH - 1995). In this film, Van Damme is bad guy Xander who, dressed as a Canadian Mountie with his band of mercenaries, first kills a group of American border guards and then invades a small island on the Canada/America border run by a single Ranger named Henry (Tom Everett Scott; AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN PARIS - 1997; who will surprise you here), who is trying to forget his time as a Special Forces leader who got his men killed (He has been on the island for three years). Unfortunately, Henry's life is threatened by ex-con Clay (Orlando Jones; SECONDS APART - 2010; also a Producer), whose brother was killed in Henry's last Special Forces operation. Clay has every intention of killing Henry, but they have to band together when Xander and his gang invade the island looking for a plane that went down in the waters nearby that was carrying a fortune in heroin. Henry and Clay manage to kill all but two of the gang and a plot point three quarters through the film will take you by surprise. Van Damme looks like he is having the time of his life, with his dyed blond semi-permed hair and vegan attitude (He explains to the border guards in the beginning of the film that he refuses to wear leather and that cow farts contribute one quarter of the planet's methane pollution in the atmosphere before he kills them all and then tells Old Man Sanderson [Christopher Robbie], the only other resident on the island, that he had a pet goose as a kid named Edith [which he named after French singer Edith Piaf!] until his grandmaother cooked her for dinner. Xander tells Sanderson that was the day he became a vegan and also killed his grandmother before he stabs Sanderson in the heart) and would rather use a knife than a gun because it is more Earth friendly ("Think about our carbon footprints. Think about the children!"). There's plenty of hand-to-hand combat, gunfights, booby traps, stabbings and bullet hits (even a fight in a tree!) to satisfy most action fans. John Hyams, the son of Peter Hyams, edited this film and directed Van Damme in DRAGON EYES (2011) and UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: DAY OF RECKONING (2012). Van Damme's son, Kris (a.k.a. Kristopher Van Varenberg, which is actually Jean Claude's real last name) portrays Francois, one of the mercenaries. This one is worth watching and Van Damme is a joy, especially his final line; CHASTITY BITES (2013) is a funny and gory high school horror flick about new teacher Liz Batho (Louise Griffiths), who is actually the 17th Century Countess Elizabeth Bathory, who bathed in the blood of over 600 female virgins to keep her eternal youth. Here in high school, Liz does her hardest to keep her pupils chaste and as soon as she gets an inkling that a virgin girl is about to have sex, she kills the guy to stop it. The real surprise here is that all the actors, relative unknowns, have great comic timing and the dialogue (screenplay by Lotti Pharriss Knowles, who also Produced) is crisp, relevant and actually funny. Director John V. Knowles (his first full-length feature) does a great job of keeping the film moving at a brisk pace and never bores the viewer. I usually don't care for horror comedies, but this one works and is worth the effort viewing it. Recommended; RAZE (2013) is a brutal gender twist on the old 90's "forced to fight" films. A bunch of women, including Sabrina (Zoe Bell; DEATH PROOF - 2007) wake up in a strange building and are forced to fight each other by the dastardly Elizabeth (an overweight Sherilyn Fenn), the owner if the illegal fighting biz (transmitted on the Internet to high-paying customers), and her husband and Master of Ceremonies Joseph (Doug Jones), in a small basement ring. They are forced to fight, otherwise their loved ones, including parents and children, will be gunned down in the streets (the losers of each bout also have their family killed). Sabrina is fighting for the life of her daughter, but refuses to show emotion to vicious guard Kurtz (Bruce Thomas). The fights are ferocious and bloody, as limbs are broken, eyes are gouged out and necks are snapped. Sabrina finds herself the champion of all the women (especially the into-it Phoebe, played by Rebecca Marshall, who relishes each fight she is in) until she and the final female fighter Jamie (Rachel Nichols) turn the tables on their captors, in a bloody free-for-all that will have you rooting for Sabrina, as she fights Elizabeth, Joseph, the male guards (Kurtz gets a real beatdown, followed by a well-deserved knife up the chin) and coroners, first by non-traditional weapons (a stick with barbed wire wrapped around it, a mace with two swinging metal balls at the end) and then by gun, until the unexpected nihilistic ending. I could have done without the ending, but the film is a non-stop action fest and director Josh C. Waller (McCANICK - 2013) does a great job keeping the pace quick, so you don't worry about the gaping plot holes by screenwriter Robert Beaucage. I'll watch anything stuntwoman/actress Zoe Bell is in because even though she's not a traditional beauty, she's my idea of the perfect woman. This film has flaws, but you'll be glued to your seat. Isn't that what movies were made for? It had a quick simultaneous one week theatrical/VOD release before being quickly dumped on disc and cable TV, even though this is better than most junk that plays theatrically for weeks. Well done; AFFLICTED (2013) is one of the better "found footage" horror films made in the last ten years (FRANKENSTEIN'S ARMY [2013] and THE BAY [2012] are others]. Clif Prowse and Derek Lee (who both also direct and wrote this film) portray fictionalized versions of themselves. Clif is a documentarian and Derek is his best friend, who has an aneurism on his brain that could rupture at any time. They decide to take a year-long trip around the world and document their travels on a website on the Internet. They first travel to Spain, where they meet up with two friends, who are a band called "Unalaska" (Edo Van Breemen and Zach Gray). They then follow their friends to their next gig in Paris, France, where Derek hooks-up with a woman named Audrey (Baya Rehaz) and they go off to a hotel room to have sex. Clif and his two band friends think it would be funny to "cockblock" Derek, so they burst into the hotel room, only to find Derek unconscious, a gash on his head and what looks like a bite mark on his upper left arm. Derek declines to go to a hospital (he's afraid that because of the aneurism in his brain, they will not let him leave), so Clif and Derek leave their band friends and travel to Italy. That is where things begin to get weird. Derek sleeps for a couple of days as soon as they enter their hotel room and when he awakens, he is starving, so they go to an Italian restaurant, where Derek takes one bite of his food and then proceeds to puke more than you would see in a Monty Python film. He also discovers that he has super strength (Clif documents him snapping a huge boulder in two with one hit), the ability to climb walls and jump superhuman distances and a need to drink human blood. Is Derek now a vampire? I won't tell. He does head back to Paris (sans Clif; but you'll discover why if you watch through the end credits) to search out Audrey, as his appearance and hunger for blood continue to increase. In the end, Derek finds an ingenoius way to deal with his new affliction. Although there is some shakey-cam footage on view, directors Prowse and Lee find some ingenious ways to use it, such as when Derek is chased down Paris streets with the police firing their guns at him (Derek wears a camera mounted on his vest and his documentation of a policeman falling off a roof and landing on the pavement below will leave you wondering how that effect was achieved) or the very bloody scene where the French police raid the hideout Derek is residing in, resulting in the death of all the police personnel involved (including torn-out throats and other gory mayhem). The film manages to hold your attention because you care about what happens to Derek and far too many found footage films don't offer us that. Filmed on location on a budget of $318,000.00. Give it a try. You may just find yourself liking it.; ASSAULT ON WALL STREET (2013) proves once again that director/writer Uwe Boll can make a good, involving thriller if he takes the time and keeps humor out of the equation. The story is about Jim Baxford (Dominic Purcell), a nice guy with a good job who loses everything when his life savings is lost in a Wall Street crash. His wife is very sick, he is about to lose his house and suddenly finds himself owing $60,000, so he goes to a lawyer (played by a sleazy Eric Roberts), who wants $10,000 to take his case and promises to get him his money back. Jim borrows to money from fellow worker and friend Sean (a useless role for Boll regular Edward Furlong) and gives it to the lawyer, who does absolutely nothing to help Jim with his problem. When Jim's wife commits suicide, loses the house and then his job, Jim goes to a gun dealer (a cameo by Boll regular Clint Howard) and goes on a killing spree, first using a sniper rifle to pick-off Wall Street executives from a distance and then using pistols and automatic rifles to kill executives at the office of the firm that lost all his money (headed by John Heard). Boll does a lot with a little here and some of the violence is shocking and, just like Brendan Fletcher in Boll's excellent RAMPAGE (2009), Jim has an exit strategy that lets him get away with it all. Look for an appearance by Boll regular Michael Paré, as well as turns by Keith David, Lochlyn Munro (what he says to Jim as he gets into a cab will have your blood boiling), Erin Karpluk and Jerry Trimble. Boll is impressing me as a director, as long as he stays away from comedy (such as the embarrassing BLUBBERELLA - 2010) and this film will hold your attention from beginning to end. Think of this as the FALLING DOWN (1993) of a new generation; WOLVES (2013) is a pretty effective werewolf tale that was made in Canada. It tells the tale of teenager Cayden Richards (Lucas Hill), who knows that he is different from most teenagers (an incident at a local high school football game proves that) and when he is accused of viciously slaughtering his adoptive parents, he hightails it out of town on his motorcycle and ends up in the town of Lupine Ridge, thanks to a run-in at a bar with Wild Joe (John Pyper-Ferguson). In this new town, Cayden meets his Uncle John (a wonderful Stephen McHattie [DEATH VALLEY - 1981], who tells Cayden that "Lupine" does not mean "wolf", but "wolf-like") and bar owner Angeline (Merritt Patterson), who will eventually become his love interest. He also finds out that his real father, Connor (Jason Momoa), runs the town, is the leader of a pack of werewolves and Cayden has inherited his condition. This leads to a lot of fights and chases (all done particularly well, without resorting to use that quick editing that is so popular today), as Uncle John, Cayden and Angeline must find a way to stop Connor from killing more innocent people. Wild Joe also plays an important part in the explosive finale and the film is left wide-open for what I hope will be an eventual sequel. Thankfully, the CGI is kept to a minimum and the werewolf effects are done practically (by Mark Ahee and his crew) and done very well. There are some gory killings (mainly torn-out throats and views of severed body parts), but there is a real sense of family between Uncle John and Cayden that you don't see in most horror films of this type. Director/writer David Hayter (his first feature film and, hopefully, not his last), imbues even the bad guys with a sense of humanity and the film moves at a brisk pace. My eyes were glued to the screen from the first frame to the last. Some wire work was utilized for some of the stunts and they are used to good effect. All-in-all, a good horror film to watch when your are in the mood for werewolves; LOST RIVER (2013) is called "dark" by some critics, but I call it black. Not black as you can't see anything, but black as in the shadowiest adult fairy tales you are ever likely to see. The fact that it is the first directorial effort by actor Ryan Gosling, makes it all the more amazing. Gosling, who I have liked after seeing him in Nicholas Winding Refn's DRIVE (2011), makes even the most widest of spaces seem confining and fills it with both characters you either hate or love (there is no middle ground). I won't destroy what is going to probably be your weirdest experiences of 2014, except to say, there's a Grand Guignol-like theater, people pedal around on neon-lit bicycles and Saoirse Ronan has to take care of her catatonic grandmother, played by an unrecognizable Barbara Steele, by playing old home movies of her and her dead husband, who died when a town was submerged to make a reservoir and called the new town "Lost River", which is now going under thanks to the mortgage scam that bankers got away with. (The same thing happened in my area with the Wanaque Reservoir in New Jersey. You could actually see the town during one of the droughts). This is a story about how far people will go to keep their memories alive, and none of it is pretty, even though Gosling uses neon colors and daylight to express darkness. This is a must-see, but it is not for everyone's tastes and it has a cast to die for; TAPPED OUT (2013) is a pretty good revenge tale which involves MMA cage fighting. Michael Shaw (Cody Hackman; HIDDEN IN THE WOODS - 2013; real-life 5-times World Karate Champion) was a well-adjusted teen and karate prodigy who gave it all up when he saw his parents carjacked and killed seven years earlier. He became a troubled teenager and is now doing community service at a rundown dojo owned by Reggie (Michael Biehn), cleaning floors and toilets. Watching the children Reggie teaches gets Michael involved in martial arts again (he even teaches the children), but it is a chance meeting with Reggie's niece Jen (Jess Brown), who takes him to an MMA cage fight, that gets him interested in working out to the max. Inside the cage is the man who killed his parents, Dominic Gray (Krzysztof Soszynski; real-life former TKO and ICC Heavyweight MMA Champion) and Michael trains behind Reggie's back to get in shape to get his revenge in the cage when the police refuse to help (Well, at least most of them). Of course, Reggie isn't stupid and knows what Michael is up to. To say anymore will be to deprive you of one of the most unusual action films of the year. Look for Martin Kove in a cameo; I thought I would hate MERCENARIES (2014) since it comes from The Asylum, but this all-female mini-version of THE EXPENDABLES (2010) and its sequels is just good old-fashioned action fun. Besides, one of the stars is Zoe Bell and I'll watch anything she's in. She started out being a stunt woman and does more than her share here (no stand-ins) and she's a unique beauty who happens to appeal to me (I love it when she says, "We go PMS on this place!"). The plot has bad woman Brigitte Nielsen kidnapping the President's daughter in a fake Soviet bloc country, keeps her in a deserted prison in that country and she's a man-hater (It doesn't help that Nielsen still has that short near-white haircut, but she still looks good for her age), so female agent for the CIA Cynthia Rothrock (who still looks fantastic) puts together a 4-person woman mercenary squad, all taken from prison, which includes Bell, Kristanna Loken, Nicole Bilderback, and Vivica A. Fox, who use to be a CIA agent (and (Rothrock's friend) until she turned traitor and promises them pardons if they pull-off the mission. It's basically one shoot-out after another (unfortunately, Rothrock doesn't go on the mission, but she does get to knock-out Fox when she meets her in prison), with explosions and car chases galore. There's also the expected double-cross (I wonder who it could be? But Nielsen makes her Minister of Tourism and she says, "Maybe I'll get to fuck George Clooney!") Unlike most films from The Asylum, there's very little CGI involved (except for Nielsen's death at the end when she falls out of a plane) and it was directed by Christopher Douglas-Olen Ray, the son of Fred Olen Ray. Christopher (who played the small monster in his father's BIOHAZARD - 1984) has gone on to make some bad CGI-filled films for The Asylum (but, hey, people seem to like these cheesy films) before and after this film (REPTISAURUS - 2009; MEGA SHARK VS. CROCOSAURUS - 2010; 2-HEADED SHARK ATTACK - 2012; MEGA SHARK VS. KOLOSSUS - 2015; 3-HEADED SHARK ATTACK - 2015), but this film has a lot of good woman-on-woman/man action and no nudity (which will disappoint some). The best Asylum film I have seen. I hope Chris Ray has a sequel in mind very soon. He has a slasher film due in 2016 called MINUTES TO MIDNIGHT, which should prove to be interesting, thanks to having his father's genes; COLD IN JULY (2014) is my pick as the best thriller of 2014 and for good reason. It has great direction by Jim Mickle (MULBERRY STREET - 2006; STAKE LAND - 2010; WE ARE WHAT WE ARE - 2013), a twisty story based on a Joe R. Lansdale (who makes a cameo here as a priest) novel of the same name (co-written by Mickle and Nick Damici, who has written and appeared in all of Mickle's films, even starring in STAKE LAND) and the expert acting of a trio of stars who have never done better work. It all begins when family man Richard Dane (Michael C. Hall; DEXTER - 2006-2013) shoots and kills a burglar who has invaded his home to protect his wife (Vinessa Shaw) and young son (Brogan Hall; no relation to Michael). The police identify the body of the burglar as that of the son of ex-con Russel (Sam Shepard), who vows to take revenge on Richard and his family. The police protect the Dane family, but the young son was nearly kidnapped. When Richard sees that the body of the man he shot bears no resemblance to Russel's son and then watches as the police beat up Russel and tie him to the train tracks to die, Richard swoops in in the nick of time to save Russel and they both dig up the body of Russel's supposed son, only to discover it is not him. Russel never tried to kidnap Richard's child and they were all set up by the police for reasons better left for you to discover. Russel calls in former Korean war vet friend Jim Bob (Don Johnson, who has never been better) to find out what really happened to his son since Russel hasn't seen or talked to him in nearly 20 years. Jim Bob (who is as smart as they come, no matter the name) discovers Russel's son is in the Witness Protection Program after testifying against a drug organization he was a major part of, but Joe Bob tracks him down. When it is discovered that Russel's son is now involved in making snuff videos, where he tapes himself killing women who are tied-up to a bed, Russel, Joe Bob and Richard decide that Russel's son and his new snuff film organization has to be destroyed, which leads to a very bloody end, not unlike that of my favorite 70's thriller ROLLING THUNDER (1977). It is as bloody as anything ever produced in 2014. The reason the film works so well are the little subtleties that are sprinkled throughout the film, from when Richard shackles Russel up in a family cabin in the woods to feel him out after saving him from being run over by a train (and finally realizing that Russel is not a bad man), Joe Bob and Richard sitting outside while Russel watches a tape of his son killing a woman on a snuff tape for the very first time, to the final closing shot. This is a film you must see if you want to watch one of the best unsung gems of 2014. Yes, it is that good; THE ATTICUS INSTITUTE (2014) is one weird film that tackles the religious phenomena called demonic possession, but in a clinical, laboratory way. During 1976, Dr. Henry West (William Mapother of LOST - 2004-2010) has, what he believes is, an honest-to goodness woman, Judith Winstead (Rya Kihlstedt), possessed by the Devil in his laboratory, where he hopes to scientifically explain demonic possession. The U.S. Government hears about it and takes over Dr. West's lab, basically pushing him aside. They want to control Judith and use her as a weaponized tool, in hopes of finding hidden nuclear weapons around the world (you must remember, this was the 70's, when we were still in a Cold War with Russia). Needless to say, things don't go the way they hope and soon find out you can't control the Devil (even when they bring an Exorcist in to tranfer the Devil from the Judith's body to a soldier's). The Devil controls you. Part found footage (the 70's parts) and part interview footage (with people today who are still alive to talk about it, including actor John Rubenstein), director/writer Chris Sparling (his solo film debut; he also acts in it) finds a way to mix found footage and regular filmmaking in a very interesting way on a subject usually confined to homes and churches, but not laboratories. Give this one a try. It's just unusual enough to hold your attention; CUT BANK (2014) is the kind of star-studded vehicle that would have gotten a major theatrical release in the early Millennium. Except this interesting crime thriller, starring John Malcovich, Billy Bob Thorton. Liam Hemsworth, Bruce Dern, Oliver Platt, Michael Stuhlbarg and Teresa Palmer gets dumped onto pay cable. The plot is complex, but easy to understand, there are scenes of bloody violence and what exactly was in that package Michael Stuhlbarg was willing to kill the half of the cast for? It was the first theatrical film for TV director Matt Shakman, who is best know for directing some of the more outré TV series like FARGO and HOUSE M.D.. My advice: Watch it!; THE SIGNAL (2014) is one of those unclassifiable films that leaves you thinking long after the film is over. Three teenage kids, all with physical or emotional problems of their own, follow the signal of a hacker called NOMAD, the very same hacker that almost got them expelled from school for allegedly putting college exams on the school's server. They trace the signal to an old abandoned house in Nevada and this is when the story takes an unexpected turn. The three kids wake up to find their bodies altered. Nic (Brenton Thwaites), who suffered from MD in his legs, find his human legs replaced by artificial ones and he can run very fast. Haley (Olivia Cooke), the one with the emotional troubles, can simply think of something and it will happen. Jonah (Beau Knapp), the most underwritten of all characters, has his right hand replaced with a super-strong device. None of this new tech works in the sterile building they are being held in and Nic is continually being questioned by the hazmat suit-wearing Damon (Laurence Fishburne) about how he found the signal. When the young adults escape and are outside the building, they are able to use their new powers, like Nic being able to outrun a speeding 18 wheeler, while Haley just appears in the front seat holding a gun on the driver. But why does the road end with a big crevasse between it and the other side? It seems the only way out of this predicament is a bridge to the other side, but Damon and his automatic rifle-carrying crew are closing in. Jonah gives up his life to let his friends have more time to get to the bridge, but none of it turns out the way you think it will. In the end, Damon reveals hinself to be some kind of robot with a human face (a well-done creepy effect) and Nic (who outraces bullets while running across the bridge after Haley has been killed in a truck crash) discovers that he is on some kind of alien dome floating in space. That is where the film ends and you will begin asking yourself many questions. Are the aliens good or bad? Is this an experiment to see how humans will survive living on other planets or is it an alien culture's way of studying humans? Do the colors used in the film have any meaning (figure that one out for yourself)? Anyway, you will come away with more questions than answers, but it is a good, well-directed (by William Eubank [LOVE - 2011], who also co-wrote the screenplay) and well-photographed mystery. Look for Lin Shaye as a malfunctioning robot (Although you don't know it at the time. You'll just think she is crazy.). Don't let the PG-13 rating fool you. This isn't about violence. This is about making a film that needs to be discussed with your friends after it is over. If you are looking for standard fare, pass this one by. If you are looking for thought-provoking filmmaking, by all means enjoy this one; I think I have found a worthy successor for Clint Eastwood in the Western Movie Department: Mads Mikkelsen. Yes, that Mads Mikkelsen of TV's sadly deceased HANNIBAL (2013 - 2015). If you have seen him in THE SALVATION (2014), like I did four days in a row (Yes, it's that good), I could just see him replacing Eastwood as The Man With No Name. This unusual Western, a co-production between Denmark/UK/South Africa/Sweden/Belgium, is a very violent take on what it depletes out of the human soul to get revenge/retribution and Mads Mikkelsen can say more with a simple look than most actors can say with a page of dialogue. I also have never seen Jeffrey Dean Morgan more evil than he is here (pay particular attention when the preacher/sheriff [Douglas Henshall] must pick two people to be killed and what Dean does when the choices aren't up to his standards). Eva Green plays the mute wife of the brute Mikkelsen killed when the brute killed his 8 year-old son and raped/murdered his wife and she also says more with her eyes than any words can convey. I know I don't usually recommend Westerns in this section, but see this one when you can. Directed and co-written with expertise by Kristian Levring (FEAR ME NOT - 2008). It's ultra-violent (especially the finale), plays like a horror film (most Westerns do, but this one comes really close to being a horror film unto itself) and has more human soul and and lack thereof than 100 films. And I will repeat myself: Yes, it is that good; A lot of people will compare ANARCHY PARLOR (2014) to HOSTEL (2005) and they may be right to a degree, but there is a lot more going on here than torture of the human body (although there is also plenty of that). Tattoo artist Robert LaSardo (his first film was Abel Ferrara's CHINA GIRL [1987]; who should be getting plenty of starring roles since he is so good and he is heavily-inked in real-life), known simply as the "Artist" and his quite mad heavily-inked assistant Uta (Sara Fabel; Some people like women with a lot of tats, but I find it unpleasant. Who wants to see them like this when they are 80 years old? I know it is a double standard on my part, but that's just the way I feel.) take two of six American college tourists to the Artist's tattoo parlor in Vilnius, Lithuania (filmed on location). Medical student Amy (Tiffany DeMarco) gets a simple tattoo that says in Lithuanian "Love Forever" and is knocked out by a spiked drink, while Brock (Ben Whalen) is knocked out with a hypo by Uta downstairs. When Amy and Brock come to, we see the Artist cut off Brock's tattoo with a scalpel, cut off his ear and feed it to his dog and then carefully flay the skin off of Brock's back (nothing is left to the imagination) to use as a "canvas". He then cuts Brock's femoral artery in his leg and he bleeds to death. He is using Amy as his personal canvas, adding tattoos to her body, while her friends look for her. They notice Brock's tattoo skin hanging in the Artist's parlor, but one of the guys, Jesse (Jordan James Smith), decides to stay behind, while the others get caught by the Artist and Uta and are killed one-by-one (the Artist considers one of the girls unsuitable for him, so he lets Uta use her for practice and she fails at flaying the skin off her back, so she slits the girl's throat with a scalpel). He keeps giving Amy tattoos and to say any more would to be to ruin the ending. Sure, this is torture porn, but it is full of nudity, actually has a plot and stars Robert LaSardo, who I am a big fan of. There are a lot worse ways of spending 98 minutes, but be prepared for no-holds-barred bloodletting and gore. Directors/screenwriters Kenny Gage (writer/producer of RAZE - 2013) & Devon Downs (his first film) manage to hold our attention and deliver a surprise or two along the way and make sure you read the last line of the closing credits; LET US PREY (2014) is so thick with atmosphere, that you would need a sharp knife to cut through it. This Ireland-made film (it's a co-production between Ireland and Scotland, both countries that have been releasing an awful lot of horror films lately thanks, in large, to new tax credits laws), director Brian O'Malley's first feature-length film, takes place at a terribly understaffed police station on an island, when a total stranger with the name "Six" (Liam Cunningham) walks in and seems to know everything about both the policemen & women and prisoners' lives, from the time they were a child up to this day. PC. Rachel Heggie (Pollyanna McIntosh), who had a traumatic event happen to her when she was a young girl, jails Six for another crime (leaving the scene of an automobile accident) and soon this mysterious man gets into everyone's heads, causing them to commit murder, revealing murders from their past and generally stirring up shit that everyone would like to keep secret. Besides the opening when the credits play and we see the tide go out while the mysterious Six is walking on the rocks on the shoreline, nearly the entire film takes place in the police station, where some surprising secrets are revealed and some extremely gory killings happen. Though it's not really hard to realize who Six is (just say of his name three times), the ending will take you by surprise, as some people we thought we knew well enough to trust, turn everything on its head. This is a movie you have to watch and not skim through while you are doing something else (Something I really never understood. Would you vacuum while reading a book or washing dishes?). A really good movie that deserves your attention; DON'T BLINK (2014; shot under the title LAST STOP) is one of those creepy horror films that relies on atmosphere rather than blood and guts and, for the most part, works. A group of young adults, including Mena Suvari, Brian Austin Green, Joanne Kelly, Fiona Gubelmann, David de Lautour, Leif Gantvoort, Emelie O'Hara, Samantha Jacobs and Zack Ward (also a Producer) make a long drive to a mountain lodge in Colorado (actually filmed in New Mexico) only to find it strangely deserted and there are also no animals or even insects around (One of them fails to notice the words "Help Me", written in blood, on the inside of a cabinet door). Suvari, who is about to tell Green that she is pregnant (he already knows and is going to propose to her during their stay), suspects something is very, very wrong (duh!) and since all their cars are out of gas and they can't find the key to run the gas pumps (and, of course, cell phones don't work there, the only cliche that really bothered me about this film), are forced to spend the night. That is when the strangeness really begins to happen. The group suddenly disappear from sight one by one (in the blink of an eye, thereby the title) and Ward just happens to bring a gun with him. It proves quite useless in this situation, especially when one of the disappeared comes back and Ward shoots him a couple of times in the leg to get answers (he gets none and neither do we, so don't go looking for an explanation about what is going on), so Ward shoots himself in the head so he doesn't have to deal with the unknown (his body disappears anyway). When only Kelly is left alive in the finale and the police arrive (including a Man In Black, played by Robert Picardo, who seems to know what is going on but fails to tell us), it ends with everyone else disappearing and Kelly looking into the rearview mirror of a police car, blinking and the screen goes black. Freshman feature film director/screenwriter Travis Oates does a good job maintaining the suspense with a minimal of violence (the only blood is from the gunshots), yet with atmosphere so thick you can cut it with a knife. This is a spooky little film which will be talked about by more people in the future, as they try to decipher what is really going on (I think the appearance of a Man In Black speaks volumes); JESSABELLE (2014) was one of those PG-13 Rated supernatural films that got lost in a year full of them (It was released shortly after ANNABELLE, which led to a lot of confusion with audiences and a big loss in boxoffice receipts). Fortunately, this is one of the better ones, with an above-average plot, some real scares and a denouement that will send goosebumps all over your body. A girl named Jessabelle (Sarah Snook, who is excellent), who likes to be called "Jessie", returns to her Louisiana house (actually filmed in Wilmington, North Carolina) to recuperate from an automobile accident that put her in a wheelchair. She discovers some VHS tapes under her deceased mother's bed and they turn out to be a video diary from her mother to her that were filmed back in 1988 when she was still pregnant with Jessabelle. Each tape gets darker and darker in tone (Mom says that there are two Jessabelles in the house) and once her father (David Andrews) sees Jessie watching the tapes, he tries to burn them, only to be burned to death himself in a shed. Jessie is reunited with an old high school friend named Preston (Mark Webber) and they become close, even though Preston is married (They don't have sex, but they kiss). The mystery that follows, including a hair-raising encounter in a bathtub and Preston being attacked by a ghost girl (Amber Stevens) in his truck, along with the final VHS tape (where Mom looks like she has aged 40 years in less than a month), uncovers the truth about the two Jessabelles. I won't spoil the mystery or the ending. Just enjoy the ride and expect to jump a few times. Finally, a PG-13 Rated film that works; I know JOHN WICK (2014) was a successful theatrical film, but I just have to say this: Anyone who would shoot that many people in the head for killing their dog is an O.K. person in my book. If you haven't seen the film because it stars Keanu Reeves, you are doing yourselves a big disservice. It's one of the most violent action films produced by a major studio in years and one helluva bullet-ridden ride. Hard to believe that Eva Longoria was one of the Producers, but I have been waiting for her Produced horror film TENEMENT to be released since 2010; WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS (2014) is a bloody brilliant New Zealand "found footage" film about a crew of documentarians following around a clan of vampires (Jemaine Clement is the leader of the cult and also co-director of the film with Taika Waititi, who is also a star here.). We are treated to an exuberant "night in the life" study of vampires, from their choices of bars, battling vampire hunters (a very inventive scene that reminded me of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY - 1968), picking out a "familiar" (There's a pee-your-pants funny scene about one of the vampires talking to a 90 year-old Asian familiar on his computer) and their continuing confrontations with a pack of werewolves. While the film is bloody and violent (the death of the oldest vampire, the one that looks like Reggie Nalder in SALEM'S LOT - 1979, is a definite highlight), it is mostly played for laughs and since this is being filmed by a professional documentary crew (who do get involved in some of the action), there is very little "shakey-cam" on view. Since this came from the same people that gave us the HBO series FLIGHT OF THE CONCORDS (2007 - 2009), a show I found insufferable, this was a great surprise for me.; REAPER (2014) has its problems, but in the end is a pretty engrossing horror/gangster film. A religious killer known as The Reaper (Mike Michaels), who performed a religious massacre and then survived the electric chair and escaped the penintentiary, is tied to a story about a con woman named Natalie (Shayla Beesley) who hitchhikes the highways, goes to a hotel, this time the Last Chance Hotel (with a church on the other side of the road) with a guy and then drugs him and steals his cash (The first victim is Jake Busey, who is killed by a motel clerk [Justin Henry] associated with the Reaper. He deserves to be in the entire film.). The next victim is Brad (James Jurdi) who is supposed to deliver a satchel of cash to boss Ron's (Vinnie Jones) unknown friend, but she ends up ditching him on the side of the road (after poking holes in his tires and using Busey's car as transportation), only to have her stolen car break down. She is picked up by the kindly Jack (Danny Trejo) and they head back in the opposite direction (seems like Natalie is stealing the money for her mother's operation in California) when Jack informs her they are going in the wrong direction for California. They end up at the same Last Chance Hotel as before (this time two rooms), where you will have to discover what happens next. It just may surprise you. Besides some minor gaffes, this is a very good cross-genre film that offers a lot of surprises. Very good direction by Wen-Han Shih (who uses the pseudonym "Philip Shih" here) and actor James Jurdi is one of the screenwriters. I was expecting the worst and got a lot better than I thought (Pay close attention on how electricity is used in this film and the stinger during the closing credits); Don't call EXTICTION (2014) a zombie film because it's not. The film begins with a busload of people in a convoy being attacked by creatures whose bites that kill you turn you into one of them and best friends Jack (Jeffrey Donovan; BURN NOTICE [2007 - 2013]) and Patrick (Matthew Fox; LOST [2004-2010]) do their best to protect Patrick's pregnant wife. But she ends up getting bitten and nine years pass, with Jack and Patrick living in the cold, snowy ironic-sounding town named Harmony. They live next to each other in fortified houses but haven't talked for years for reasons better left to the viewer, Jack ends up taking care of Patrick's daughter Lu (an excellent Quinn McColgan) as if she is his own daughter. As a matter of fact, Lu thinks Jack is her father (He's strict, but fair). For nine years their town has been creature-free, but when Patrick takes a snow-mobile to the town for a food run, he is attacked by a creature and makes a quick retreat with his dog (who Lu spoils without Jack noticing). He overturns the snow mobile when he hits a downed tree and Jack and Lu watch as Patrick is bitten and the dog is killed by a creature (a very emotional scene if you put yourself into Lu's shoes). Patrick learns that their bite no longer has an effect on humans, as the creatures are evolving very quickly (We are never told why these creatures exist, but my best guess is that it was a government experiment gone wrong). Jack and Patrick must once again work together and start to bond as friends again, as the creatures begin to outnumber the humans (The whole town of Harmony is empty except for the three people, until the final 15 minutes). Those looking for a gore-a-thon are bound to be disappointed, because this film is more about human relations and what it means to be a family. Both Donovan and Fox are great here (especially the relationship between Donovan and Quinn McColgan; you would never know that they weren't father and daughter) and the ending will leave you thinking what you would do if you were in Patrick's place. Director/co-screenwriter Miguel Ángel Vivas (KIDNAPPED - 2010), based on co-screenwriter Juan de Dios Garduñonovel "Y pese a todo...", as made a human film about a time of monsters. And a very good film at that. A Spain/USA/Hungary/France co-production; What is it with Australia and thought-provoking genre films? The one this time is director Kelly Dolen (THE GATES OF HELL - 2008) and screenwriter Stephen M. Coates' JOHN DOE: VIGILANTE (2014; Coates' first stab at writing a feature-length film and he hits it out of the park) and those looking for an updating of DEATH WISH (1974) are going to both be pleased and disappointed. This film asks us all where the line is drawn between justice and vigilantism and there is no easy answer. John Doe (an outstanding Jamie Bamber) is a mask-wearing vigilante who has killed 32 people, every one of them very bad people who have done unbelievable stomach-turning things and either were not apprehended or were able to skip because of technicalities in the law. He videotapes the killings and lets people know that he alone is unable to do all the work, which results in a group of masked vigilantes that help John Doe (at first it doesn't work quite as planned). After killing the 32nd person (the one who killed his daughter), John gives himself up and awaits his trial, keeping quiet the whole time. Then one day he decides that he will tell his story to reporter Ken Rutherford (Lachy Hulme) and we are transported back to the beginning where, at first, the police didn't care about John Doe because he was doing their job for them, but they eventually had to form a special task force to catch him because he was becoming much too popular (thanks to the videos of his killings that he posted on a YouTube-like internet site). To tell you any more will be to spoil the film, but there are two very unexpected surprises at the finale (one that you will never see coming) and there are some bloody killings, but they are done with baseball bats, tire irons or guns, so they aren't ultra-gory (either was Charles Bronson's film), but some do make you wince. Does the film give us an answer about where the line is drawn? How could it, when we have no answer? But this film will have you thinking about it long after the film is over and isn't that what a good film is supposed to do? I can't recommend this film enough. Even though it takes place in Australia, it could take place in any country with a fair legal system, including ours. Sometimes there is a big difference between the law and justice; I generally dislike zombie comedies but I SURVIVED A ZOMBIE HOLOCAUST (2014), a New Zealand horror film, hits more of its targets than misses them. Even though the plot has been done dozens of times (a movie crew filming a low-budget zombie film actually are attacked by real zombies), this one is different because it skewers all the cliches usually found in films if this type, such as the leading muscular man actually being a coward, the vain starlet getting by only because of the size of her breasts, the director thinking he is making the best horror film of all time (he isn't) and other stereotypes. Director/writer Guy Pigden (his first film) focuses his film on new film runner Wesley Pennington (Harley Neville), hired to be a gofer for the movie, who begins to fall in love with the film's cook Susan Ford (Jocelyn Christian), while dealing with an impossible director, his dedicated assistant director and many other obstacles, including a village full of real zombies who begin to make their way to the movie set in the woods. Wesley is also a virgin and has written a screenplay about zombies that is better than the movie being shot (the director, who also wrote the screenplay of the movie being filmed, uses pages of Wesley's screenplay to wipe his ass in an outhouse). As the real zombies begin dispatching members of the crew (the director thinks the real zombies are part of the crew), Wesley, Susan, Tane Henare (Ben Baker) and muscular leading man Adam Harrison (Mike Edward), who just screwed a female zombie thinking she was an extra on the shoot (he pays for it in a disgusting way when he goes to take a pee), begin to escape and make it to civilization. It's not the story that is interesting (it is a little overlong at 104 minutes), but the small things that hold your attention, such as actors trying to speak U.S. English to make the film more sellable, the socks men wear during nude scenes to cover their penises, the director chewing out the leading lady by being blunt about why she is popular (she wants someone to drive her to town to use a real bathroom because she refuses to use the outhouse), and Tane telling his famous rugby story and then reliving it in a wonderfully edited sequence during the end of the film. While not perfect to some people (there are comparisons to the early horror films of Peter Jackson and the EVIL DEAD films that seem to piss off some reviewers, but it has more going for it than that), it manages to hold your attention with some extreme gore (body parts being chewed, a zombie cut in half grabbing Wesley, plenty of bloody zombie deaths) mixed in with hearty laughs (Wesley being forced to wear a cock sock while making love to Susan for shooting the film's inserts and getting a boner; Wesley's dream sequence; an electric mixer being used as a tool for a zombie's death). The finale also breaks the fourth wall, which is also unusual. What more could you ask for?

Good DTV Genre Films Part 10 (continued): POUND OF FLESH (2015) is another quality Jean-Claude Van Damme DTV action flick that plays on an old wive's tale with a twist. Van Damme is Deacon, who saves woman Ana (Charlotte Peters; her first film) from a beating from the dastardly Drake (Darren Shahlavi; BORN TO RAISE HELL - 2010; who passed away much too young at age 42 in January 2015), only to bed Ana, get drugged and wake up in a bathtub full of ice with a kidney missing. Problem is, one of his kidneys is supposed to go to his ultra-religious brother George's (John Ralston; KAW - 2007) daughter. Deacon had an affair with George's wife years ago (she is now deceased) and since George shoots blanks, it wasn't hard to figure out that the baby girl was Deacon's (but George raises her as his own, while Deacon has never met her). It puts a wide personal and family gap between Deacon and George, but Deacon still wants his "daughter/niece" to get his kidney. Now they must work together to get the kidney back before it is transplanted into anyone else and it's a great bloody ride, full of many fights, gunfights and some fantastic stunts. Director Ernie Barbarash (TICKING CLOCK - 2011), working with a screenplay by Joshua James, infuses some new life into an old concept and it could only end one way, but it still is sad (especially after they see who Deacon's removed kidney is going to). The fights between Van Damme (who lost weight and looks gaunt for this role) and the late Darren Shahlavi are fantastic (the film is dedicated to him) and look for good turns by Aki Aleong, Jason Tobin, Andrew Ng and Mike Leeder. Filmed in China, the Philippines and Canada; AMIGO UNDEAD (2015) is catagorized as a "zombie comedy" but it is actually a demon possession comedy film. Well-off financial advisor Kevin Ostrowski (Randall Park, who gets quite a few remarks about an Asian having that name and gets tired of saying he was adopted) is guilted into going on a birthday vacation with his adopted brother Norm Ostrowski (Steve Agee), because Norm says he was just diagnosed with diabetes and would like his brother to be there with him and with some friends. Turns out Norm and some weird friends are having a party out in the desert and when one of the friends chokes and dies while eating a hotdog, they bury him in the desert, rather than going to the police. Too bad they buried him on sacred ancient Native American soil, because the man comes back as an indestructable Native American demon (some of the scenes when the group try to kill him are very funny, especially the hand grenade scene). There are some standout scenes in this movie, such as when a cop stops the group and tests them by asking one of them to "Suck my dick", David Clennon (the man who said "What the fuck?" to the spider/head creature in THE THING - 1982) as "Old Man Schumer", who is so funny, you will pee your pants and the two Native American people, one who talks to the demon in hilarious subtitled Indian tongue. There's a lot to recommend here, especially the scenes between brothers Kevin and Norm (Norm is a liar of the highest degree, yet you still end up rooting for him) and the way Kevin gets revenge on the man who keeps on calling him looking for a huge payout for a minor car accident because he thinks Kevin is rich. Financed partially by web-funding site Indiegogo (which would explain all the names that appear during the final credits), this was money well spent.; DARK PLACES (2015) makes me wonder what is wrong with Hollywood. This is the perfect example of why people see mindless stuff in theaters and watch thought-provoking films like this on streaming or disc. The amazing Charlize Theron is fantastic as Libby Day who, when she was eight years-old in 1985, testified that her brother Ben (Tye Sheridan) killed her mother and two sisters. Now in the present, Libby is in a conundrum: she was living off the kindness of strangers, who would send her checks for surviving such a horrible crime, but like her financial advisor tells her, people forget and move on to the next murder (this is the absolute truth). She only has $482 in the bank and is two months behind on her rent. Then she meets Lyle Wirth (Nicholas Hoult), who is part of a "Kill Club", an Innocence Project-like organization who believes Ben (now played by Corey Stall, who is also excellent) is innocent of the crime and Libby is a master manipulator, getting money out of Lyle to supply him with information and get out of debt. Then she goes to see Ben in prison for the first time since her family was murdered. Ben has no ill feelings towards Libby, but is angry at other people for framing him for the murders, solely based on him dying his hair black, being falsely accused of pedophilia and hanging with the wrong crowd. Now Libby has doubts about what really happened and begins her own investigation. The plot, which keeps reverting from the 80's to today, involves the satanic cult phenomena that was so widely spread in the mid-80's (and proved to be untrue, but harmed countless people), kids being coached by their parents to accuse people of improperly touching them (Ben and his family are on Welfare and are looked at as second class citizens in town), homelessness, teen pregnancy, the fear of being left with nothing and what really happened on that night when Libby's family was murdered. It will not only break your heart (no clues from me), but will literally have you in tears, especially Libby's last visit with Ben in prison (which holds a lot more meaning in its underlying tones, and pay close attention on what is missing and what is now part of Libby's attire). This is my favorite thriller (based on the novel by Gillian Flynn, who also wrote GONE GIRL [2014]; she has a cameo here as a member of the Kill Club) of 2015 and held me spellbound from start to finish. Also great turns by Andrea Roth, Christina Hendricks, Chloë Grace Moretz, Drea de Matteo, Glenn Morshower, Sterling Jerins as the young Libby Day, Sean Bridgers as scumbag father Runner Day and especially director/screenwriter Gilles Paquet-Brenner (WALLED IN - 2009), who is the driving force behind this whole adaptation and turns in a nearly perfect film. Watch it when you can; AWAKEN (2015) is an unusual film where a group of strangers wake up on an island occupied by mercenaries, who are working for a medical team harvesting human organs. Each one of these strangers has been picked out because they have a particular compatible organ for a rich person willing to pay for it. What they didn't count on that Billie Burke (Natalie Burn), who was looking for her missing sister in Mexico when she was taken, is also a champion judo fighter (and is not on the island for her organs, but because she got too close to the truth). It takes a stun gun by head mercenary Vinny Jones to bring her down. This unusual version of THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME (1932) has some surprises in store, especially some good combat scenes and double crosses. Directed by Mark Adkins (HALLOWEEN NIGHT - 2006; HAUNTING OF THE WINCHESTER HOUSE - 2009). And what a cast. Besides the ones I already mentioned, there's David Keith, Robert Davi, Edward Furlong, Daryl Hannah, Jason London, Michael Paré, Benny Urquidez, Christa Campbell and Michael Copon. Not a bad cast for a low-budget film; COP CAR (2015) is a wonderfully twisted little Independent award-winning thriller with comedy and violence mixed with equal measure. Two pre-teen boys are running away from home, thinking of curse words as they walk through a meadow (filmed in Colorado Springs, Colorado). They come upon a tree-filled part of the meadow and find an empty Sheriff's cop car sitting in the middle of the trees. They also find the keys and decide to go for a joyride, not knowing that they are carrying cargo in the trunk that will ruin their day. We are then transported to about an hour earlier, where we see the Sheriff (a mustached Kevin Bacon, also the Executive Producer) parking the car in the tree-filled meadow and pulling a body out of the trunk, dragging it by dropcloth to a nearby well and throwing the body in, followed by some lime to hide the smell of decomposition. When he goes back to retrieve the second body (which is still alive), he discovers that the car is gone and must be quick on his feet, first stealing a car in a trailer park (where he is almost captured by a motorcycle cop, but he tells the police dispatcher [the voice of Kyra Sedgwick, Bacon's real-life wife] that all cops need to go to a fake crime that is happening across town, so the motorcycle cop leaves). A sub-plot finds one of the kids' stepmother (Camryn Manheim) spotting her stepson driving the cop car on the highway, but she can't get any cops to believe her, so she goes searching for them herself. It all ends with the two kids releasing the guy in the trunk (Shea Whigham) and everythying goes to shit. He locks the kids in the back seat of the car (anyone who has been in the back seat of a caged cop car knows that the doors don't open from the inside) and waits for the Sheriff to arrive while he hides in a nearby oil well, ready to shoot him with an automatic weapon. Also arriving at the scene is the kids' stepmother and the Sheriff puts her life in extreme danger. It turns extremely violent (something you should experience yourself) and ends with one of the boys traveling 100mph down the highway, with the shot Sheriff following them, to get his shot friend to a hospital. Don't look for any type of ending, because you'll have to make one up in your mind. With this kind of film, you won't mind, because it could only end up one of two ways. Especially effective are James Freedson-Jackson and Hays Wellford as the kids, as they have no idea that weapons have locking features, play with crimes scene tape and just give off an air of playfulness, even in times of extreme danger. Director/co-screenwriter Jon Watts (CLOWN - 2014; a great horror/drama [filmed in 2012] that has yet to get a U.S. release because of legal reasons. You can buy copies in Britain if your player is all region. I recommend you do.) does a great job making even the most open spaces seem claustrophobic and turns good performances from all. Definitely a film you should see. You won't forget it once you view it; WE ARE STILL HERE (2015) is screenwriter Ted Geoghegan's first stab at directing a feature film (he also wrote it). He is best known for writing the screenplays of the gore films BARRICADE (2006), DON'T WAKE THE DEAD (2008) and SWEATSHOP (2010), but he holds off on the gore in this film until the final third and has collected quite an impressive cast. It's all about a married couple, Anne & Paul Sacchetti (Barbara Crampton & Andrew Sensenig), who have lost their son Bobby, moving into a notorious haunted house that town bigshot Dave McCabe (Monte Markham, a great actor I haven't seen on screen in a while) knows more about then he is telling. The Sacchetti's are visited by psychic married friends May & Jacob Lewis (Lisa Marie & Larry Fessenden, in one of his biggest roles in a long time and it looks like he got rid of that black tooth), who notice right away that their is something wrong with the house and the Sacchetti's dead son Bobby has come to the house with them. When the gore kicks in, it's quite unflinching (both Fessenden and Markham's deaths are memorable) and the blood flows like water when the townspeople come to the house to kill the couple. The film keeps you guessing why the house is haunted until the end, where newspaper clippings dating back from the 1800's to the present describe what the house is all about as the end credits roll. This is a reversal of most horror films, where they start with the newspaper clippings in the opening credits. To give you all the information you need to know. This film works better not knowing until the end and Fessenden, who has directed some impressive films of his own (WENDIGO [2001] is still my favorite), shines here and usually makes quick cameos in over 80 of other peoples' horror films (he helps out a lot of first-time directors of independent films), but he has a lot of screen time here and registers more than anyone else in the cast. That's not to say anyone else is bad, because they are not, but it was nice seeing one of my heroes in a film that gives him time to have some type of background. Do yourself a favor and watch the Dark Sky Films DVD or Blu-Ray, as the version shown on SyFy cuts out some of the gorier bits. Thumbs-up on this one; KILL KANE (2015) is a nice, taut little revenge film (it is only 75 minutes long) that gives Vinnie Jones one of the biggest roles of his career. When the film opens, Ray Brookes (Jones) wakes up in a hospital with a doctor telling him that they had to put him in an induced coma for three months while he recuperated from gunshot to his chest. We then find out through a series of flashbacks what actually happened to him and why he is refusing to cooperate with Detective Inspector Shelby (Sebastian Street) assigned to the case. It seems that phys-ed teacher Ray and his wife Kim (Nicole Faraday) got lost while driving and Ray gets out of the car to get a map out of the trunk (or as the English call it "the boot"). He hears a noise and witnesses the execution of a man by a mobster and his three goons, one of them named Kane (Sean Cronin, who is also excellent), who is the mobster's right-hand man. Ray gets in his car when he is spotted and drives away, telling Kim what he just saw. Unfortunately, Kane got their license plate number and a couple of days later, he and his two goon members invade Ray's house and tie Ray up, forcing him to watch as Kane and the other two men shoot Ray's wife, teenage daughter and son in the head and then shoot Ray in the chest (the funny thing is that Ray probably wasn't going to report seeing the execution). When Ray gets out of the hospital, he goes on a one-man mission to take down everyone involved in his family's death (while frequently fleshing out how his family died in more detailed flashbacks). The rest of the films shows him doing just that, working his way up the leadership line, killing them in different manners. Shelby knows what Ray is doing, but is unable to come up with evidence against Ray, until he catches Ray and Kane in a Mexican standoff in a warehouse, each pointing a gun at each other's head. Ray kills Kane with a bullet to the head and Shelby lets him go with the warning that he get out of town and never return (shades of DEATH WISH - 1974). But Ray has one more person to deal with and the way he gets retribution is fast and tidy. Freshman feature director/co-writer Adam Stephen Kelly tosses all unneeded exposition aside and just gives us a down-and-dirty little revenge thriller, even going as far as to make sure that Vinnie Jones looks like an old and out of shape person after being in a coma for three months. You have never seen Jones like this before. All in all, a very good and violent film with no other aspirations than to show us the good stuff and toss aside all the usual unneeded crap. This low-budget film was shot in nine days in South Wales, but still holds your attention throughout. Recommended.; THE VISIT (2015) is a return to form for the once-promising M. Night Shyamalan, who I always thought was unfairly lambasted by critics and audiences alike because they always expected surprise endings like his first theatrical smash hit film THE SIXTH SENSE (1999). They did not want to see him making anything but and even when he did (UNBREAKABLE - 2000 [a minor masterpiece in my opinion]; SIGNS - 2002; and THE VILLAGE - 2004), they complained that they saw the surprise endings coming. Shyamalan then made a series of regular films (LADY IN THE WATER - 2006; THE HAPPENING - 2008 [his only R-Rated film at the time of this writing]; THE LAST AIRBENDER - 2010 [not as bad as critics made it out to be]; and his worst film AFTER EARTH - 2013 [When Jaden Smith is the star, there is not much you can do to save a film.]), and Producing and providing the Story for the enjoyably creepy DEVIL (2010; see review in this section), all losing money at the boxoffice, people said his career was over. Sometimes I think critics and people never watched those films and just hated him for hate's sake, like they do to Eli Roth and Quentin Tarantino. Anyway, back to the film in question. It's basically a found footage film (yes, I know, but it works here) about two teens, Becca (Olivia DeJonge) and Tyler (Ed Oxenbould), making a home movie about meeting their grandparents for the first time, while their mother (Kathryn Hahn) takes a one week cruise with her boyfriend. Mother and her parents haven't talked to each other for over 15 years for reasons not made clear until the end of the film, so Mom puts the kids on a train and keeps in contact with them on a laptop using Skype. The kids finally meet Pop Pop (Peter McRobbie) and Nana (Deanna Dunagan, but Lin Shaye would have been perfect here) and right away they notice something strange about their grandparents. Nana likes to cook a lot (And asks Becca to crawl in the oven to clean the back because she is too old to do so. Becca does it twice!) and Pop Pop has a secret in a shed that he doesn't want anyone to see (Nana tells the kids that Pop Pop is incontinent and he puts all his adult diaper "accidents" there!). They also insist that the kids don't leave their bedroom after 9:30 PM and when Tyler (who is a very talented rapper in this film) breaks that rule and sees Nana cleaning the house in the nude, Becca (who never looks at herself in the mirror) insists that their grandparents are going through "Sundowning" (Google it, as it once was considered to be the title of the film). More strange stuff happens, sometimes funny, sometimes scary as hell, until a real surprise happens about 80% of the way through the film, where a reveal makes the kids try to run for their lives. To say any more would ruin the film for you, and besides a few instances of the digital cameras shaking wildly, this is not a headache-inducing found footage film, unlike 90% of the others. M. Night Shyamalan, who not only directed, but also wrote the screenplay, has nothing to be ashamed of here (The final piece of footage that plays over the end credits, which Becca says her brother made her insert into the film, is a hoot and answers some nagging questions [watch Becca in the background].). Even though it is Rated PG-13, there are so many strange things going on (including a bare-assed Nana and Pop Pop sucking on the barrel of a loaded shotgun), that you won't notice the lack of blood or gore (although there is some). The two actors playing the teens are also excellent in their roles and make the story believable (you would never know they were both Australian since this was filmed in Philadelphia, Shyamalan's home state), as do the actors portraying the grandparents. This film was shown in theaters, where it made 65 million dollars in the U.S. on a 5 million dollar budget (financed using Shyamalan's fee for AFTER EARTH, so he would have complete control of the film and not have it taken away from him during post-production, like many of his major studio films were in the recent past), so it can be considered a hit. Add his cult TV series WAYWARD PINES into the mix and Shyamalan is back, baby, and throwing his talent into the critics' faces.;  I had huge hopes for director Michael Dougherty's KRAMPUS (2015; Satan's version of Santa. Ever wonder how "Satan" and "Santa" have the same exact letters?), since his last feature film was the extremely good 2007 anthology film TRICK 'R TREAT (even though it was an anthology, all the stories were related in a peripheral way), and I have to say I wasn't disappointed, even though it was Rated PG-13. Unlike his previous film, this horror comedy holiday film isn't interested in blood and gore (although there is some), but more about primal fear during Christmas time. A young boy named Max (Emjay Anthony) tears up his letter to Santa after one of his young male relatives  reads his letter out loud at the dinner table (One of Max's wishes was that his mother and father love each other again, played perfectly by Toni Collette and Adam Scott). The film doesn't take it's time to release the terror as the electricity goes out in the entire town and Max's grandma Omi (Krista Stadler) describes to Max (in stop-motion animation!) how she released Krampus when she was a girl by doing the same thing Max did: tear up her letter to Santa and quit believing in him (throwing her stuffed doll of Santa into the fireplace). She witnesses Krampus and his assistants (who must be seen to be believed!) take away her parents, but Krampus leaves Omi alone (after giving her a wink!). Soon the entire family, including visiting relatives (which includes an always reliable David Koechner as a gun-loving man the NRA would love, Allison Tolman as his wife, the amazing Conchata Ferrell as the ascerbic and eternally drunk Aunt Dorothy [Who kicks butt in one scene. As a matter of fact, every relative you were beginning to hate, step up to the plate to keep the family together.] and about six children.) are fighting Krampus and his minions, which includes toys come to life, man-eating reindeer, monstrous elves, and something I can't describe in the attic (the funniest part is when Koechner has to fight-off three gingerbread men firing a nailgun at him!), while the children disappear one-by-one. I don't want to give away any more of the plot except to say it is up to Max to convince Krampus to return all his family back. Just when you think the film ends happily, you are thrown a surprise which proves otherwise. Michael Dougherty, who co-wrote the screenplay with Todd Casey & Zach Shields, is a director to really keep an eye on (his next film is a sequel to his Halloween film that will be released theatrically with a larger budget this time), as he knows how to push our buttons effectively. If you want to see a horror comedy capable of still giving you goosebumps, by all means get your hands on KRAMPUS. You will thank me for it. PG-13 doesn't always mean crap. The opening will have you laughing with tears streaming down your face because it is true. Also imaginative are the way the Universal Pictures logo and Legendary Pictures logo are shown in the beginning.; Everyone knows I love horror films that take place in amusement parks or contains clowns. THE FUNHOUSE MASSACRE (2015) contains both. The film opens on Halloween Night, with reporter Ms. Eileen Quinn (Candice De Visser) threatening to expose the prison in the middle of town that is being kept secret from the surrounding residents unless the Warden (Robert Englund, doing his usual 5 minute cameo) takes her on a tour of it. The Warden tells her that even though Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, John Wayne Gacy and other famous serial killers have received all the Press, his prison holds some of the worst serial killers today, even if they are not well known (He whispers to Eileen, "There are people in here that God is even afraid of!"). He shows them to Eileen and they include Animal The Cannibal (E.E. Bell), whose crimes are self-explanatory; The Taxidermist (Clint Howard), who likes to create new human bodies by stitching different sawdust-filled body parts together; Rocco The Brute (Mars Crain), who has killed all his opponents in the wrestling ring and later rips the face off a clown and wears his face!; Dr. Suave (Sebastian Siegel), who likes to remove teeth without the use of Novocaine; and the worst of them all, "Mental Manny" (Jere Burns), who once was the leader of a cult and set a girl on fire. Eileen follows the Warden to his office and garrotes the Warden so bad his head nearly come off and then kills a guard by stabbing him in the balls and then his back, stealing his gun. She then goes to the Control Room and kills the operator. She shoots him in the heart and beats his head in with her special walking stick and sets all the serial killers free. It turns out she is "Dollface", the daughter of Mental Manny, who is now the leader of all the serial killers. Dollface has set up the the local amusement park, The Land Of Illusion, with a special attraction called "The Funhouse" for Halloween, so that every room replicates the escaped serial killers' crimes and they first kill the Funhouse's director Dennis (Courtney Gains), but the one-dimentional cliched sex-crazed paying guests (the film's only failure) think it is all part of the show (The Taxidermist is removing the innards of a real human and the guests take a piece of the innards as a souvenir!) until they begin to disappear one-by-one. It is not long until these mental midgets begin to figure out that all the actors supposedly playing the serial killers are the real thing and there is no way to escape. Who will survive and what will be left of them? Can Sheriff Kate (Scottie Thompson), the only non-serial killer with a brain (her Deputy, played by Ben Begley, is even more stupid than the guests at The Funhouse, but proves to be pretty handy with a gun as the film progresses), solve and put an end to this massacre (she is also hiding a secret of her own)? Director Andy Palmer (BADLANDS OF KAIN - 2016), working with a screenplay by Ben Begley (his first feature screenplay), keeps things moving at a bloody quick pace (there's a juicy sequence where Rocco grabs the head of an audience member and pulls it off that is very well done, a graphic scene done with a carnival hammer [the kind you use to ring a bell], as is the scene were Dollface cuts a girl's head off with a knife; effects by Robert Kurtzman) and fills the film with some welcome faces, but the stereotypical stupid people (most who are killed three quarters of the way through the film) that usually inhabit films like this almost made me put the film in the other category, but like I said in the beginning, I am a sucker for films that take place at amusements parks and carnivals. I'll leave it up to you whether you like it or not. There was enough in this film for me to give it a positive review. Stay until after the end credits for a final stinger.; I am a big fan of director William Kaufman, which is why I was looking forward to DAYLIGHT'S END (2015). Ever since Kaufman gave us the excellent THE PRODIGY (2005; his first directorial effort), I always look forward to his films, like the Cuba Gooding Jr. actioner THE HIT LIST (2011) and the Cuba Gooding Jr./Dolph Lundgren actioner ONE IN THE CHAMBER (2012). Even though the plot of this film has been done over 100 times, in Kaufman's hands he makes it seem brand new. This film takes place in the near future, where a few years ago a plague hits the entire planet and those that were infected were turned into a combination of vampire/zombie mutants (They burn up in the sun but have no fangs and hide in the darkness during the day. They eat human flesh, but can be killed by bullets on any part of their body, not just in the head.) Enter Thomas Rourke (Johnny Strong, the star of Kaufman's SINNERS AND SAINTS - 2010) who has driven in his car from New York to Dallas, Texas (filmed on location) as a one-man mutant killer (When we first see him, he is dragging a freezer out of a gas station with a chain attached to his car, shoots it open and watches a mutant burn to death in the sun), looking for the head mutant called "The Alpha" (Krzysztof Soszynski) who killed his wife (Strong not only directed his own dream sequences, he also wrote the film's music score!). Rourke saves the life of Sam (Chelsea Edmundson), who was looking for survivors with her squad, only for all of them to get killed by a band of human scum nomads. Rourke kills them all (They try to rape Sam) and Sam offers to take him to safety, where he can get all the gas, ammunition and food that he can carry with him. It turns out "safety" is a prison (Where is the safest place to hide from mutants after all?), where Sam's leader, Frank Hill (an excellent Lance Henriksen, who gets more screen time than usual nowadays), doesn't trust Rourke at first, but will soon become very helpful to him in getting their group of survivors to a charter plane about a 90 minute drive away. Trouble is, the leader of the pack of mutants in this town is The Alpha, the one Rourke has been looking for since New York and is much smarter and stronger than all the other mutants (He takes several bullets, but it doesn't phase him.). The Alpha recognizes Rourke and decides that the group is going nowhere, so he has the mutants block the roads both ways with inoperable cars and other heavy junk and jams the door where Frank's group store their vehicles, so they can't leave. The rest of the film is a mixture of exciting chases and acts of retribution and self-sacrifice, the elements that Kaufman is known for in his films. This film is full of human emotion, like where Frank's son, Ethan (Louis Mandylor), takes an instant like to Rourke and volunteers to help Rourke to kill all the mutants, including The Alpha, while they sleep in the basement of a highrise during the day, much to Frank's displeasure. While the film is bloody and full of squishy bullet squibs, it is not overly gory like a zombie film. It you want to see a dystopian film done right on a small budget, you can do no better than this. In an interesting twist that is bound to be the new thing of the future (3D is thankfully dying out), this film was also released as an interactive virtual reality experience. Highly recommended.; BAD ASSES ON THE BAYOU (2015) is the second sequel to BAD ASS (2011) and continues the adventures of Danny Trejo as Frank Vega and Danny Glover as Bernie Pope, that was established in the first sequel BAD ASS 2: BAD ASSES (2013; positive review on this page in the 2013 section). And it is just as enjoyable and funny as the first two. In the second film, Frank's gym and Bernie's liquor store were destroyed by the bad guys and this third film opens with them in the bank trying to get a loan (which the bank refuses), when the bank is held-up by three men in masks. Frank and Bernie take care of them in no time (Frank throws someone's autographed baseball right into one of the thief's crotch) and once again they are in the news and being interviewed on a TV show. When the interviewer asks if the bank gave them the loan for thwarting the robbery, Bernie says, "Hell no, but they gave us this shitty plaque!". Frank and Bernie get a call from their sassy friend Carmen (Lonni Love, who had a small part in the second film in the same role), who tells them that she is getting married and invites them to come down to Louisiana for the wedding, all for free. They are picked up in a fancy limousine and fly to Louisiana, only to find out Carmen's father Earl (John Amos) is a millionaire with quite a huge mansion. At the pre-wedding celebration the night before the ceremony, Frank and Bernie find out Carmen is marrying Geoffrey (Sammi Rotibi), a man in a wheelchair. That night, there is a break-in at Earl's mansion and Carmen is kidnapped. Frank tries to fight them off, but there are just too many of them and he is knocked-out. It is apparent to both Frank and Bernie that the Police Chief Broussard (Davi Jay; it is spelled "Cheif Broussard' in the final credits) and some of his detectives are as crooked as a corkscrew (except for one, who plays an important part in the finale), so Frank and Bernie go back to their vigilante ways to find Carmen, even though Chief Broussard warns them to stay away. Frank and Bernie (Who always complains about kidney stones and how he is willing to fight, but not run after, the bad guys. Seems like his liver problems haven't been resolved since the second film.) start kicking people's asses and taking names and begin to discover where Carmen really is. Earl joins them in saving his daughter, which make it a team of three geriatric vigilantes, which works out better than they could have ever hoped for. Not to ruin the film for everyone who hasn't seen it, they get into a series of gunfights and hand-to-hand combat and are betrayed by the least likely person at the pre-wedding party. The geriatric three save the day, take down Chief Broussard (who was in on the ransom demand) and Earl makes Frank and Bernie an offer they can't refuse, since he is rich and can find a new liver for Bernie. Director/writer Craig Moss, who was also responsible for the first two films, makes Trejo and Glover a fantastic, realistic team. They talk to each other like normal friends who sometimes disagree and the addition of John Amos to the team just makes the film all the better. There is no Part 4 on the docket, but I hope Moss changes his mind soon. And just in case you didn't notice: Just like the first two films, there is a sequence in this film that was "borrowed" from a major motion picture. In this film it is the plane crash from the Mel Gibson film AIR AMERICA (1990), but it is edited so so well into this film, most people will never notice (Frank says "Thank you for flying Mexican Airlines!"). I am so glad that Danny Trejo is getting starring roles now. He has the chops for action, comedy and drama and he is well into his 70's! Watch all three films in a row (they are all easily available) and be completely entertained for five hours. Like in the second film, Bernie gets the last laugh. And laugh I did. I can't recommend this one enough.; MIDNIGHT SPECIAL (2015) is another one of director/writer Jeff Nichols' (TAKE SHELTER - 2011; MUD - 2012) slow-burn movies that captivates you from the very beginning. Actually, a lot has gone on before the film even starts. Father Roy (the always excellent Michael Shannon) and ex-State Trooper Lucas (Joel Edgerton) have kidnapped Roy's son Alton (a haunting Jaeden Lieberher) from a religious cult called The Ranch, led by powerful religious leader Calvin Meyer (Sam Shepard, in an extended cameo). Mr. Meyer wants Alton back, because it is obvious that the boy is not normal. That is putting it mildly. Alton wears a set of special blue goggles (even at night). If he takes them off, beams of bright blue lights shoot out of his eyes (at one time he aims the beams into the sky and hits a nuclear satellite, and pieces of it fall to the ground, destroying a gas station/convenience store). The film is basically a road movie with a twist, as a special goverment agency has appointed a terribly confused mathematician named Sevier (a great Adam Driver) to discover what he can about Alton, and he comes to a conclusion that you, the viewer, will just have to wait to see. Sevier becomes an ally to Alton and Joe because he knows what the boy is. Just like all of Jeff Nicols' films, the pace is purposely slow, but rewards the viewers with surprises you didn't expect. The finale is a thing of beauty and just like TAKE SHELTER, finds Michael Shannon staring into the sky, only this time it is a good thing. Everyone in this film, including Kirsten Dunst as Sarah, an ex-Ranch member, does a fantastic job displaying the proper emotions that you or I would also show in these situations. The film can be classified as science fiction, thriller, drama, road movie and many other genre categories, but for the patient, this film rewards in spades. Search it out. It played for a short while in theaters and VOD and got fantastic reviews from most critics, but, so far, Nichols' films have not gone into wide release. That is just so wrong, I have no more words to say. Nichols is a modern-day master of filmmaking.; I usually don't review Westerns (even though it is one of my favorite genre of film), but I have to say a few words about FORSAKEN (2015). The plot of the film is as old as the Western film itself: A land baron (Brian Cox) sends out his hired killers, led by Gentleman Dave Turner (an excellent Michael Wincott), to murder people for their farmland, while an ex-gunfighter returns home after ten years to visit his Pastor father and pay tribute to his deceased mother by clearing off a piece of land and farming it. Now we all know what is going to happen, but the difference here is that the ex-gunfighter is played by Kiefer Sutherland and the Pastor is played by Keifer's real-life father Donald Sutherland. Their scenes together (and there are many) are mesmerizing and really give the film a kick up a few notches. There dialogue is real and heartfelt (especially the final time they talk) and give this film a heart and soul found in very few modern day Westerns. Yes, there are bloody shootouts (Kiefer's shootout at the finale is about as good as shootouts get, with fingers and kneecaps blown off and lots of bullets to the head and heart) and his final showdown with Gentleman Dave Turner does not turn out the way you expected (Turner is really a decent man at heart and hated all the killing that was going on, but he was hired to do a job). If you want to see a recently made Western done right (and not afraid to use Western cliches to its advantage) I recommend this film whole-heartedly. The chemistry between Kiefer and Donald Sutherland is about as real as it gets and if you don't shed a tear at their final conversation, you really aren't human (And no, you don't know how it ends!). Congratulations to director Jon Cassar (who usually directs episodes of TV Series, especially plenty of episodes of Kiefer Sutherland's 24 [2001 - 2010] and has won Emmy Awards® and DGA Awards® for his TV work), screenwriter Brad Mirman (RESURRECTION - 1999; in 2011, he directed and wrote a 10-part Hulu web series [each episode was 5 to 7 minutes long] starring Kiefer Sutherland and John Hurt and the episodes were edited together and released to DTV as THE CONFESSION.) and especially the Sutherlands for turning out a Western with balls and emotions. I have watched it three times so far and it gets better every time. Look for Demi Moore as Kiefer's ex-girlfriend, who got married and had a child while he was away, but still has feelings for him and Aaron Poole as Frank Tillman, one of the scuzziest trigger-happy killers in a Western film (he even kills one of his own men to cover-up his ineptness!). By all means, catch it if you can!; LAST GIRL STANDING (2015) has an interesting premise I don't believe I have ever seen before. This film (funded mainly by KickStarter) asks the question: If you were the only girl who survived a massacre by a maniac called "The Hunter", how would this girl be doing both physically and mentally five years later? The girl in question is Camryn (Akasha Villalobos) and she is now working at a laundromat/dry cleaner, but she still fears that The Hunter is after her (even though she saw him impaled by one of his booby traps in the beginning of the film) and hasn't gotten a good night's sleep in five years. The films starts out as pretty bloody and gory, as Camryn watches all her friends be killed by The Hunter in various ways (Camryn is even impaled in the shoulder by one of the killer's booby traps when she tries to save a girl who is tied up), but then the film changes to how Camryn is coping as a person, waking up in a constant sweat and even believes she sees The Hunter chasing her as she is alone, closing up shop for the night. The cops are called to the scene and can find nothing, so co-worker Nick (Brian Villalobos, Akasha's real-life husband) offers to let her stay on the couch at his place, which is populated by some of the most self-loathing "artists" in a horror movie. Real, but obscenely pitiful.  It is plain to see Nick wants to be her boyfriend, but Camryn is just too much into The Hunter trying to kill her. The film asks us this very important question: Is Camryn actually psychotic and seeing The Hunter all in her mind (early scenes indicate that) or is this a set up for another massacre? In either case, will Camryn survive this one? This is a very well done psycho-thriller, with part slasher, part giallo, part thriller, part drama and one one hell of a bloody conclusion. Director/Screenwriter Benjamin R. Moody (his first feature film) uses all the usual horror tropes to fashion a film that keeps you guessing, such as when  Camryn and Danielle (Danielle Evon Ploeger), go to the site of the original massacre so Camryn can face her fears and get some "closure". You think you may know what is going to happen, but you would be wrong, especially when they dig up the grave of The Hunter. I'm not saying anything else about the film, except to watch it if you want to see a horror film done right. And you don't see it that often. Intelligent and involving. Be aware that the title has two meanings.; BLOOD FATHER (2015) can be considered Mel Gibson's return to serious acting after being exiled for getting caught driving drunk and putting down Jews about 10 years ago. A lot of Americans refused to watch him in any movie, while the rest of the world was wondering "What's the big deal?" I'm with the rest of the world on this and can only say, "C'mon sugar tits, give the man a break. We all get drunk once in a while and from that drunkeness comes the truth. So he doesn't like Jews. Blame his Nazi-loving father for that." This film, on the other hand, proves why Mel Gibson was such a big draw in the 80's & 90's and winning two Academy Awards® in the process. Here, Gibson plays the thick-bearded Link, a former alcoholic and life-long criminal and ex-con who is trying to go straight. He lives in a scummy trailer park in the middle of the New Mexico desert (filmed on location) and with his sober companion and friend Kirby (a fantastically funny William H. Macy, who tells Link the difference between "fitting" and "proper" that will have you laughing tears), just trying to survive and stay sober. His estranged daughter, Lydia (Erin Moriarty), is in deep shit, though. She is a junkie and hold-up thief who just shot her boyfriend Jonah (Diego Luna) in the neck in what was a total accident (Jonah gives her a nose-full of chemical courage to help him and his gang out, which just makes her more nervous), but Jonah and his gang are on her trail to kill her. She calls her Daddy and he picks her up. They have many absent father/daughter fights (he throws away all her dope, takes away her .45 pistol and tries to dry her out, only to learn she has more dope hidden in her clarinet), until Jonah's dope dealing friends find Link's trailer, shoot it to pieces and then ram it with their pickup truck, overturning it on its side. If not for Kirby and the rest of the trailer park residents defending Link and his daughter, they most certainly would be be dead. The father-daughter team leave before the police arrive and meet a nice young motel clerk (Thomas Mann) who gives them the key to the only room (where Link shaves off his beard) with a backdoor when the police arrive (They are shotgunned to death by Jonah's gang). Link steals a car and they barely get away frim a shotgun-firing gang member. Link then goes to former inmate Preacher (a wonderful Michael Parks; PLANET TERROR - 2007), a White Supremacist Nazi Leader who Link helped in the Joint, but hated what he stood for. He ends up giving Preacher and his wife Cherise (Dale Dickey; THE POSSESSION OF MICHAEL KING - 2013) a beat-down and then steals Preacher's custom cherry Harley Davidson. Link and Lydia head out on the highway, with many obstacles in their way. I'll leave the rest for you to discover, but seeing Gibson on a motorcycle instantly brings back memories of MAD MAX (1979) and THE ROAD WARRIOR (1981) and makes you think that Mel Gibson could have pulled off the latest film MAD MAX: FURY ROAD (2015), but his blacklisting (which has since been lifted) stopped him from doing it. Director Jean-François Richet  (the ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 [2005] remake) keeps the film under 90 minutes and there's hardly any unneeded dialogue or exposition to bore you. There is, however, plenty of graphic violence to keep you occupied with your eyes on the screen and Mel Gibson proves he still has it. I am not going to try to change anyone's mind about their feelings about him, because what he said when he was drunk was hurtful to some people (Right, sugar tits? A female cop that takes offense to that phrase needs to toughen-up and Jews have a right to dislike him, but we should be able to separate the art from the artist. Just look at Roman Polanski and Victor Salva, who both have done much, much worse things.), but I found this film to be a delight and have an ending that fits the film perfectly. Recommended.  (More reviews on Next Page)

DTV FILMS: THE BAD CRAP

Here's a partial list of films that I have watched on DTV that are not worth your time: BACK IN BUSINESS (1997) is the kind of action "buddy" film that nearly destroyed Brian Bosworth's movie career (He redeemed himself somewhat in THE OPERATIVE - 2000). In this film he teams up with Joe Torry and their chemistry couldn't be much worse than Adolph Hitler trying to make friends with a Jew. The story is about ex-cop Bosworth getting caught-up in a plot with ex-partner Torry to catch drug runners and dirty cops for the FBI. The dialogue and action scenes all seem forced and unbelievable. The person I really feel sorry for here is the late Brion James as the lead bad guy. He deserved so much better than this; TIME UNDER FIRE (1997) is so bad, I nearly turned it off halfway through (and I never do that). It's one of those Andrew Stevens/Ashok Amritraj productions which "borrows" film footage from other movies to keep costs down. This one concerns a submarine captain (Jeff Fahey, who looks like he knows this film is a stinker) whose sub passes through a rip in time and they end up in a future Earth where the entire planet is run with a iron fist by...his own grandson (what are the chances?). It's straight downhill from there, as Fahey joins forces with rebels (there are always rebels) to bring down his own grandson (also played by Fahey). Shown on TV under the title BENEATH THE BERMUDA TRIANGLE. I had more fun cutting my toenails; TWISTS OF TERROR (1997). I'm not the biggest fan of anthology films (my favorite will always be the original TALES FROM THE CRYPT - 1972, mainly due to the Peter Cushing episode, because he lost his beloved real-life wife just before production and you can see the loss in his acting and face, which adds poignancy to the tale) and this film is one of the reasons why. There are three tales in this Canadian production, all directed by Douglas Jackson (WHISPERS - 1989), and besides the third tale, which contains Jennifer Rubin and a couple of creepy guys, it's pretty slow going. The film is "hosted" by an agoraphobic crazy guy named Philip (Joseph Ziegler), who bridges the three tales together and makes you want to strangle him with his over-acting; RAZOR BLADE SMILE (1998) is a shining example of excessive style over substance. Eileen Daly (who is easy on the eyes, but can't act a lick) stars as a centuries-old vampire who hires herself out as a hitwoman. She is hired to take out the businessmen who are part of a secret group known as "The Illuminati", whose leader is the man who turned her into a vampire. That's basically the whole story, except director Jake West (who redeemeed himself somewhat with the funny horror comedy DOGHOUSE - 2009) uses quick editing cuts and every camera trick in the book. You'll end up reaching for the Tylenol long before the film ends, if you make it that far; I really wanted to like BLOOD MONEY (1998) because it is the only film directed by Michael Ironside (SCANNERS - 1980), but truth be told, it is nothing but the same old cop thriller you've seen done a dozen times before. Ironside also stars as Detective Jack Connor who, along with his partner Detective Leper (Currie Graham), must protect a stripper named Candy (an aggravating Lori Petty), who witnessed a Mob drug deal gone wrong. Now the Mob wants her dead before she testifies in court. It's the same old, same old, as Candy (who proves her stripper mentality by disrobing in front of a priest, Father Kirby, played by Bill Dow) survives one gunfight after another while slowly falling in love with Detective Leper. There's nothing in Ironside's script (this was the last of two screenplays he wrote so far) that is new (including the religious subtext), so there's really no reason to watch it. It is shown on pay cable under the title DEADLY ARRANGEMENT because there are about a dozen films with the original title; ARMSTRONG (1998) would be a lot more relevant if it was made in the mid-80's rather than 1998, but it should come as no surprise that it was directed/produced/written by former Cannon Pictures co-founder Menahem Golan (who also puts in a cameo here as the Russian president). Rod Armstrong (Frank Zagarino) is a former SEAL who now lives in Russia teaching military training. His former commanding officer Robert (the late Charles Napier) and his SEAL wife Susan (Kimberley Kates) pay Robert a visit and tell him that Russian nuclear missiles are being sold on the black market. When Robert is murdered, Rod and Susan go after the leaders, Ponytail (Joe Lara) and Russian General Zukov (the late Richard Lynch), raiding their highly guarded fortress and putting an end to the nuclear madness. This is really a slow paced actioner with badly choreographed fighting scenes; FREEDOM STRIKE (1998) is another one of producer Andrew Steven's Royal Oaks Entertainment production company's cost-cutting action films that "borrows" action footage from A-list films. This one contains mucho jet footage from TOP GUN (1986) and aircraft carrier footage from STEEL SHARKS (1997). The plot concerns the titled anti-terrorist group (led by Michael Dudikoff) trying to find the terrorists responsible for shooting the Syrian President with an undetonated explosive bullet at a peace conference on an aircraft carrier. The producers added some pre-credits text at the beginning of the film to make it seem this film was made post-9/11 (due to the terrorist plot), yet they forgot to remove the 1998 production credit during the end credits; POSTMORTEM (a.k.a. SERIAL KILLER - 1998) teams craptastic director Albert Pyun with actor Charlie Sheen (who, in a bid for respectability, bills himself as "Charles Sheen"). How do you think it turned out? The Scottish scenery is nice to look at, but this thriller about an alcoholic American cop (Sheen, of course), who goes to Glasgow to discover his roots, only to get involved in a serial killer case, is about as interesting as bark on a tree. It is one of Pyun's better films, but that's not saying much; FALLOUT (1999) would have made more sense during the Reagan Presidency, but to come out the year the 90's ended seems just foolish. Frank Zagarino is a Russian cosmonaut who takes over a NASA space station and threatens to point nuclear missiles at strategic sites on Earth. Daniel Baldwin is the disgraced NASA pilot sent to the space station to stop him. Since this DTV release was rated PG-13, don't expect much bloody violence or nudity. Just boredom; LOVERS LANE (1999). Before actress Anna Faris became a known commodity (the SCARY MOVIE franchise [2000 - 2006]; OBSERVE AND REPORT - 2009), she appeared in this lame slasher flick as a horny cheerleader. A bunch of sex-crazed teens go to the titled place on Valentine's Day, where thirteen years earlier, a psycho with a metal hook killed two lovers who were making out. Guess what? Yeah, that's right, the metal hooks killings start all over again. Nothing new here, with an ending that will leave you scratching your head; AIRTIGHT (1999) was one of those low-budget genre films made by the UPN Network in the late-90's to early-00's to compete with the Sci Fi Network. This one is an Australian sci fi tale about the surface of the Earth being unliveable because the volcanic activity caused by too many nuclear tests has sucked the oxygen out of the air. The people are forced to live underground in airtight tunnels and are policed by the ironically titled "Air Force", who search for more air-filled tunnels. It looks like the entire film was lensed in the same tunnel set and the story leaves a lot to be desired; THE COLLECTORS (1999) is a rare action loser from director Sidney J. Furie (HOLLOW POINT - 1995; although he also gave us the abysmal ROAD RAGE - 2000) concerning two mob debt collectors, A.K. (Casper Van Dien) and Ray (former basketball great Rick Fox), who are at a crossroads of their lives. A.K. would like to get out of the life and go legit, but he likes Ray too much, who wants to stay in the business because he feels an obligation to the mob boss who turned his life around and gave him a purpose. Both men are being pursued by a detective (Catherine Oxenberg), who wants them to turn state's evidence against the mob. Something much different happens, though. Not much else happens in this movie and its only legacy is that it was the film that Van Dien and Oxenberg would fall in love in real life and eventually get married. You can actually see their newfound affection for each other on-screen; FORTRESS 2: RE-ENTRY (1999) is a pale sequel to director Stuart Gordon's bloody and entertaining FORTRESS (1992). Geoff Murphy (FREEJACK - 1992) directs the sequel, which finds original cast member Christopher Lambert returning as John Brennick, who escaped from the high-tech for-profit prison in the original film and has been on the run with his wife and young son for seven years. He is caught by the private police of the Men-Tel Corporation and sent to another high-tech prison, this time on a ship in outer space. He meets a bunch of odd characters and plans an escape, but dastardly warden Peter Teller (Patrick Malahide) has other plans. Even an extended cameo by Pam Grier can't save this slow-moving mess, which lacks the style of Gordon's original. This is just another DTV flick that was totally unneeded; ANCIENT EVIL: SCREAM OF THE MUMMY (1999) is one of director David DeCoteau's (who uses his real name this time) boring horror flicks, but at least he keeps the gay subtext to a minimum. Six archeology students and their professor unleash a mummy after resurrecting it in a ruined temple. From then on, it's slalk 'n' slash time, but with very little blood and lots of talk. This film even spawned an unrelated sequel, ANCIENT EVIL 2: THE GUARDIAN OF THE UNDERWORLD (2005), which was not directed by DeCoteau but is as equally bad; RAGDOLL (1999) is another one of dozens of Full Moon founder Charles Band's obsession with small killing machines, which dates back to GHOULIES (1985). This one is an urban horror flick, directed by Ted Nicolaou (TERRORVISION - 1986), about a member of a rap band who lives with his grandmother. When Grannie is put in a hospital by some street thugs, the rap star uses his grandmother's magic to put a killing spell in a regular ragdoll. The doll goes around killing the thugs, but the rap star forgets how to reverse the spell when all the thugs are killed. This time rhyming about bitches, wearing loose pants to show off your underwear and wearing a baseball cap sideways will not do the trick. It's as terrible as it sounds. Just like most of Band's later films, this one runs a scant 70 minutes, including ten minutes of slow-running end credits. After its regular VHS release, it went to DVD as the bottom half of a double feature, the main film being director Danny Draven's equally bad CRYPTZ (2002). Substituting the letter "S" for a "Z" will not make any film better; Talk about the Devil, Danny Draven also directed the horrible HORRORVISION (2000) for Executive Producer Charles Band and Full Moon on digital video and it looks horrible, like some geeky film student said, "Hey I've got a couple of grand and a brand new digital video camera. Let's make a film about people dying when they log on to a website named 'horrorvision.com'. It will be neat!" Unfortunately, it's 75 minutes of pure filmic torture (FEAR DOT COM [2002] did nearly the same scenario better) and the early digital video shooting is full of artifacts during dark scenes. It's not the transfer. It's the actual digital video itself (Expert cinematographer Mac Ahlberg, who shot this film, didn't quite master the digital video camera at the time). The fact that J.R. Bookwalter is one of the Producers and is given co-story credit should tell you that this was made during the Full Moon/Tempe Video co-production days. No films they collaborated on were watchable (visually speaking), nevermind entertaining; Speaking of Full Moon/Tempe Video co-productions, the trilogy WITCHOUSE (1999; directed by David DeCoteau using the pseudonym "Jack Reed"), WITCHOUSE II: BLOOD COVEN (2000; directed by J.R. Bookwalter) and WITCHOUSE 3: DEMON FIRE (2001; also directed by Bookwalter) are shot-on-video crap (all made in Romania) about witch Lilith (played by Ariauna Albright in the first two films and Brinke Stevens in the third) getting revenge on those who wronged her. The trilogy makes us believe that dozens of people wronged her, so she has quite the case of murderitis. The biggest mystery of all about this three film turdfest is how they got Andrew Prine to appear in the second film. It's the best film of the trilogy, but that's like saying which of three shits smells the best; Speaking of Full Moon, director David DeCoteau (using his "Victoria Sloan" pseudonym) made the extremely bad (not to mention all the gay pretext that's implied throughout the film) PRISON OF THE DEAD (2000). A snotty rich kid invites all of his friends to a witches prison, under the pretext they are going to a funeral. Little do they know, the funeral will be their own. After forgiving the snotball for duping them, they hold that old standby: a seance using an Ouija Board. They bring back two executioners from the dead, who proceed to turn the friends into zombies. It's easy to see it was made on a budget of what craft service would cost on a regular film and the movie just drags on for 72 minutes. At least there are no little creatures doing the killings, it's not as bad as DeCoteau's LEECHES! (2003) and some of the makeup is better than Full Moon's standards, but that in no way is a recommendation; For more Full Moon badness, you can't do much worse than KILLJOY (2000), a horrible film about the titled killer clown (Angel Vargas) on the hunt for three teenagers who summoned him and killing everyone who gets in his way. Believe it or not, this spawned three sequels (2001 - 2012), all starring Trent Haaga as the killer clown. Charles Band sure knows how to drive an idea right to its grave; THE SILENCER (2000) is one of those instantly forgettable Canadian tax shelter action films. FBI agent Jason Wells (Brennan Elliott) has his death faked and takes the new name Jason Black so he can go undercover in a terrorist cell, headed by Quinn Simmons (Michael Dudikoff, in one of his last starring roles of the new Millennium). Quinn quickly figures out that Jason is an FBI agent, so he sets him up as an assassin to a presidental candidate. Now Jason must avoid the authorities, while Quinn makes sure he stays alive long enough to get caught or killed by the law. Nothing but a boring mess with very little action;  CROCODILE (2000) is director Tobe Hooper's foray into the giant reptile genre and I'm sad to say it's pretty bad. Just the usual case of a bunch of annoying young adults fucking with nature (in this case, the eggs of the giant crocodile) and getting their comeuppance. The only good thing about this film are the appearances of Harrison Young as the Sheriff and Terrence Evans as a crocodile hunter. The stupid young bastards end up getting them both killed. Believe it or not, this spawned a 2002 sequel which must hold some type of record for saying the word "fuck"; SANCTIMONY (2000) is director Uwe Boll's first film to use English-speaking actors. Casper Van Dien (who you will see a lot on this list) plays a well-to-do stock broker, who is also a serial killer dubbed "The Monkey Maker" ("See No Evil. Hear No Evil. Speak No Evil"). He has killed and cut out the eyes of six victims, cut off the ears of another six victims and has just cut the tongue out of his fourth victim when something inside him has snapped (I guess his victim goal must have been 6-6-6). He calls the police, where detectives Michael Pare and Jennifer Rubin show up and Van Dien acts as a witness to the crime. Van Dien seems to not care about finishing his goal and just goes full-tilt crazy, playing cat-and-mouse with the detectives and slaughtering people live on-camera at a television station and then at his ex-fiancés non-wedding party. The really bad part of this film is we know nothing of Van Dien's motivations or why he changed his modus operendi. It could have been so much better if we did. Maybe Uwe was just getting his English sea legs since he also wrote the screenplay; PRIMARY SUSPECT (2000) is the usual revenge thriller, this time starring Baldwin brother William. He stars as a detective whose wife was murdered two years earlier when they were an undercover drug sting team (Is that even allowed?). He was accused of taking drugs at the time, so he's been riding a desk for two years, but his superiors assign him to a case where (Guess what?) the people who murdered his wife are involved. It's not in the least bit thrilling and there are plot holes galore (the biggest being if Baldwin was taking drugs, a drug test would prove it and he would have been out of a job); THE ELITE (2000) is a pretty bad actioner about five young kids who survive an airplane explosion by terrorists, become orphans, and are trained for years by a secret government agency to become the best fighting machines. As young adults, they find themselves aboard a hijacked warship headed by the same terrorists who blew up their parents years before. What are the odds? The coincidences keep on coming and so does the deja vu; SONIC IMPACT (2000) is another CON AIR (1997) knock-off that "borrows" footage heavily from AIRPORT 1975 (1974). A planeload of prisoners take over the aircraft and head con Michael Harris threatens to crash it into a populated area unless his demands are met. Agents James Russo and Ice-T board the plane in mid-air and hope to stave off this menace. The borrowed footage is so apparent (the cockpit in the film doesn't match the plane inside or outside in the borrowed footage) that it takes you right out of the action. Jim Wynorski was one of the Producers, this time taking the pseudonym "Noble Henry". Director Rodney McDonald also directed the next film, DEEP CORE (2000), which has me in a cunundrum: This micro-budgeted DTV flick was made three years before the big-budgeted THE CORE (2003) and has nearly the same storyline, but this film is so vanilla and boring, I can forgive the blockbuster film for ripping off the plot; ROAD RAGE (2000) is quite simply one of the worst action films of the New Millennium. Casper Van Dien (him again?) stars as a chauffeur who rescues a girl (Danielle Brett) and then accidentally cuts off a pickup truck with his limo on the highway. It's road rage time! The truck relentlessly chases Van Dien and Brett until it is revealed that the driver of the truck is Brett's abusive boyfriend and his equally violent friends! Talk about coincidence! Filled with mind-numbing dialogue and some poorly-staged chases. Let's not even talk about the lack of cops. It's hard to believe that this was directed by the normally dependable Sidney J. Furie (HOLLOW POINT - 1995); ALIEN FURY (2000) is a trite tale about a secret government defense bigwig (Dale Midkiff) faking photos of an alien base on the Moon and leaking them to the public just so he can get the President to OK the launch of his latest nuclear missile satellite. When a police detective (Dondre T. Whitfield) finds out the truth, Midkiff sends assassin Ava (former WWE wrestler and future porn star Chyna) to kill him. When it turns out there is actually a real alien base on the Moon (What are the chances of that?), the detective must stop Midkiff from pressing the button and starting a war between the Earth and the aliens. It's all as ridiculous as it sounds; PARANOID (2000) is one of those bad films that took five years to release DTV in the U.S., mainly to capitalize on the popularity of Jessica Alba at the time, thanks to the success of FANTASTIC FOUR and SIN CITY (both 2005). Alba is a fashion model who has two stalkers (and two boyfriends who know nothing about each other). In a nutshell, she is invited to a party in a secluded mansion, where she is drugged, handcuffed to a bed and the weird family who own the mansion plan on using her to make a sex video. One of her stalkers helps her escape and becomes the hero, but the finale shows that her second stalker may not be so forgiving. Second-rate all the way and Alba doesn't even get naked. What's the point?; ICEBREAKER (2000) is an average action thriller whose only advantage is Bruce Campbell in a rare bad guy role (and he's bald to boot!). It's that old story about a no-good ski bum (Sean Astin) saving the day against a bunch of terrorists, led by Campbell, and changing the mind of the ski resort's owner (Stacy Keach) that he is good enough for his daughter. If Campbell (and his patented wise-ass humor) wasn't in this PG-13 rated film, it would be instantly forgettable. Filmed at the Killington Ski Resort in Vermont; HOT BOYZ (2000). If there's one thing I can't stand more than films that substitute the letter "S" for the letter "Z" (started by the vastly superior BOYZ N THE HOOD - 1991), it's urban actioners like this that glorify the thug lifestyle of rappers and hip-hop artists. Master P (who also directed and wrote this abomination), Silkk Tha Shocker, C-Murder (who are all brothers in real life) and Snoop Dogg (Excuse me, Snoop Lion) star alongside Gary Busey, Jeff Speakman and C. Thomas Howell. Kool (Silkk) avenges the death of his girlfriend in jail, who was railroaded there when she discovers a dying man who turns out to be a cop. Corrupt cops have her killed in the clink because they think the dying cop told her about their operation, so Kool brings his homies together to bring the bad cops down. This film is nothing but a chance for rap artists to fire weapons and let kids know that it's OK to do so as long as they are on the side of the right. C-Murder is currently serving a life term in prison for the shooting death of a 16 year-old boy; CODE RED: THE RUBICON CONSPIRACY (2000) is another cheap PREDATOR (1987)-wannabe that was originally shown on the UPN Network before going straight to DTV. A PTD-suffering soldier is sent to the jungle with a Lara Croft lookalike and other disposable soldiers (I like to call them "red shirts" in honor of all those unknown people in red uniforms who went on missions with Captain Kirk on STAR TREK. You just knew they were going to die.) to look for his missing brother. Guess what they run into? Yep, aliens, and stupids ones at that. I've had better times waxing my chest than watching this film; CHAIN OF COMMAND (2000) is one of those cheap actioners that turned up on HBO before going to DTV. A Secret Service agent (Patrick Muldoon) is double-crossed by one of his own agents and the President's (the late Roy Scheider) "football" (a metal case that contains the codes and the means to launch nuclear missiles) is stolen. Muldoon must get the case back before World War III is started. This film is notorious for re-using footage from the film DEEP RISING (1998) and it's the most widely remembered scene in the film: Where the jet ski flies out of the cruise ship before it explodes. How's that for being cheap?; CUT (2000) makes me think that director Kimble Rendall (the much superior BAIT - 2011) had seen SCREAM (1997) one too many times (it even gets name-checked here). An Australian slasher movie titled "Hot Blooded" was being filmed during the mid-80's, when everyone, except for actress Vanessa Turnbill (Molly Ringwald) is killed by a maniac and the film remained unfinished. Legend says that anyone who tried to finish the film died horrible deaths. Twelve years later, a group of college film students decide to finish the film against their professor's wishes. They fly diva has-been actress Vanessa to Australia to finish the film, but the killer returns and begins dispatching the crew with specially-made shears that are great for decapitation, as well as stabbings. It seems the only way to kill the scarred-faced murderer is to burn the last print of the film. What happens next is predictable, but somewhat bloody (it looks like some scenes were trimmed to achieve an R-Rating) and mercifully short at 82 minutes. It's left wide-open for a sequel which, thankfully, never happened. The film MIDNIGHT MOVIE (2008) ripped-off a lot of this film's ideas; CONTAMINATED MAN (2000) is director Anthony Hickox's (who directed the equally mundane CONSEQUENCE - 2003, but has also made some good films in his career, including SUNDOWN: THE VAMPIRE IN RETREAT - 1990) ho-hum star-studded thriller about a man (Peter Weller, who is nearly unrecognizable) infected with a top-secret virus whose touch means instant death to whomever he comes in contact with. William Hurt (who accidentally killed his wife and child in the 80's when he came back from Africa with a deadly contamination) and Natascha McElhone play the agents who are in charge of finding Weller before he kills anymore people, but they uncover a government conspiracy (Whats a film like this without one?) in the process. Everyone in front of the camera is fine, but the screenplay, by John Penney (writer of the excellent RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD III - 1993), is deadly dull. That's a death knell for a thriller; METAL MAYHEM (a.k.a. GEN-Y COPS - 2000) is a sequel to the Hong Kong actioner GEN-X COPS (1999), where a giant American robot named RS1, programmed to attack, terrorizes the city of Hong Kong. It is up to the new generation of cops to stop it. Directed without any flair by Benny Chan (he co-directed WHO AM I ? [1998] with Jackie Chan), who also directed the original, this film is best known for an early appearance by Paul Rudd, who looks completely out of place. I've seen him on talk shows making fun of the film and it deserves it; THE HOLE (2001). I've watched this film three times and I still can't find anything to like about it. Some students get stuck in a hidden bomb shelter in the woods and turn on each other, only to reveal at the end it was some sort of murder plot. Boring, boring, boring; SOUL ASSASSIN (2001) could have been a pretty good thriller if the entire film wasn't tinted a sickly blue color. A recently promoted man (Skeet Ulrich) watches his girlfriend get killed by a professional hitman and everyone thinks he did it, so he is chased by police, corporate goons from his own company and a female hitwoman, while he tries to figure out why his girlfriend got whacked. It's really hard to concentrate on a film when all you see is blue. It's like one of the side effects of taking too much Viagra (or so I have heard); RAPTOR (2001), directed by Jim Wynorski (using his "Jay Andrews" pseudonym), has that "special" Roger Corman cost-cutting technique: Edit-in as many scenes from his previous movies to keeps costs way down. If you are a fan of Corman's films, you will spot scenes from HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP (1980), THE NEST (1987) and all three CARNOSAUR films (1993 - 1996). Maybe that's how they could afford Eric Roberts and Corbin Bernsen to appear in this stitched-together film about the titled creature on the loose in a small desert town. Keep your sanity and stay away, unless you plan on making a drinking game out of spotting the previously used footage; ABLAZE (a.k.a. FIREBALL - 2001) is one of those action films directed by Jim Wynorski (once again using his "Jay Andrews" pseudonym) that "borrows" most of its action and fire scenes from A-list films and TV shows (It's another one of those films from producer Andrew Stevens, like FREEDOM STRIKE above). Most of the fire footage is from the film CITY ON FIRE (1979), the car chase scene is from the Bruce Willis film STRIKING DISTANCE (1993) and the firetrucks leaving the station and speeding down the streets are from the old EMERGENCY! TV series (1972 - 1979; you can see the "Station 51" seal on the 70's-era trucks, which was the TV show's station number!). The "story" by Steve Latshaw (director of the equally abominable DARK UNIVERSE - 1993) concerns crooked oil refinery owner Tom Arnold sabotaging the refinery to collect the insurance money. Unfortunately, it causes the whole town to catch fire and the last third of the film chronicles the firemen (including Michael Dudikoff) rescuing patients and employees of a hospital before it burns to the ground. Ho-hum; ARACHNID (2001) starts off like gangbusters when a jet pilot collides with an invisible UFO and they both end up on some uncharted South Pacific island where there are huge webs everywhere. The pilot is attacked from something above and then the film sinks into mediocrity. A group of scientists on a secret mission crash-land on the same island, where they discover a giant spider (a physical, not CGI, effect) and other insects that can burrow under your skin. Since this is a Filmax Production (directed by Jack Sholder, who made the vastly superior THE HIDDEN - 1987) and it was filmed in Spain, it is easy to hear that English was some of the actors' second language and while there is minimal CGI, it sticks out like a sore thumb (especially the ending). Nothing new or exciting here, unless you like dollops of gore and characters doing really stupid things at the most inopportune times; THEY CRAWL (2001) is another one of those movies that "borrows" action footage from A-list films so they can keep the production costs down. In this case it's RED HEAT (1988), LAST ACTION HERO (1993), CHAIN REACTION (1996) and RUSH HOUR (1998). That's called keeping production costs way down! I guess they used all the money on "star" Mickey Rourke, who is in the film for no longer than five minutes. This is a film about genetically altered killer cockroaches and when the roaches all come together in the finale to form one giant cockroach, you'll realize that they didn't have any money left over for good CGI. Don't say I didn't warn you; THE RATS (2001) was a TV movie originally shown on the FOX network at 11:30 PM due to its graphic nature. That's the only good thing about the film, which concerns genetically altered rats (Are there any other kind?), who are bigger and smarter than your normal New York rat (And they are pretty big!) who are loose in a department store after hours, picking off the employees who are doing inventory. It is up to an inspector (Vincent Spano), to get to the bottom of who is doing this before the rats escape the store and begin running amok in New York. In other words, just another day in New York. Nothing to see here folks. Move on; DARK ASYLUM (2001) is another one of those "trapped in a mental institution with a serial killer" flicks shot in Romania (trying to pass it off as America and failing completely). The serial killer this time is the nearly indestructable "The Trasher" (Larry Drake; DR. GIGGLES - 1992, an under-appreciated horror film of the 90's), who chases a psychiatrist (model-turned-actress Paulina Porizkova) and a janitor (Judd Nelson) throughout the insane asylum, leading to an explosive finale in The Trasher's underground sewer hideout. Nothing new (although Drake is a hoot) and plot holes galore; DEVIL'S PREY (2001) mixes THE BROTHERHOOD OF SATAN (1970) and RACE WITH THE DEVIL (1975) with countless teen horror flicks. When a bunch of young adults go to a rave in a barn and get thrown out because one of them is selling drugs, they almost hit a young woman who is being chased by the Shadows, a cult of Devil worshippers. They pick up the woman, but their car is run off the side of the road by the Shadows. Their only chance is to make it to the next town to get some help, but the town offers the kind of help they don't need. They are all Devil worshippers. If I make this film sound good, I'm sorry, because it is definitely not and it has enough plot holes to make moths jealous; GREENMAIL (2001) is a slow-moving tale about a serial bomber (D.B. Sweeney) on the loose, who is killing corporate executives he blames for destroying the planet. Enter FBI agents Tom Skerritt and Kelly Rowan, who ask for the help of ex-eco-terrorist Stephen Baldwin, who knew the bomber from an incident 15 years earlier where people accidentally died from a bomb Baldwin planted. Baldwin is so morose in this film, you expect him to cry every time he is on-screen and, of course, Skerritt is the retiring FBI agent with a hard-on for Baldwin for the bombing 15 years ago (and gets blown sky-high before the film is over). Besides some spectacular explosions (where you can actually see some of the stunt people getting pelted with flaming objects), this film is the same-old, same-old and has that bomb standby "Which wire do I cut before the timer runs out?" finale; SOULKEEPER (2001) is an unfunny horror comedy about two lousy thieves (Rodney Rowland, Kevin Patrick Walls) who are hired to steal the Rock of Lazarus, unaware that the ancient relic has the power to bring all the demons of Hell to Earth. Besides some good practical monster effects and a gag involving singer Debbie Gibson, most of the jokes fall flatter than a five year-old girl's chest; TAIL STING (2001) is an incredibly terrible film about genetically altered giant scorpions getting loose on a plane. The ridiculous scorpion effects are mainly badly-constructed puppets and in some scenes you can see the puppeteer's hands working the scorpions' tails! From director Paul Wynne, who gave us the equally horrible ALIEN 51 (2004). Followed by STINGER (2005), where the giant scorpions (now rendered in dime store CGI) are now on a submarine. It's even worse than the first film, proving that shit has many smells; Speaking of shit, BLOODTHIRST: LEGEND OF THE CHUPACABRAS (2001) proves once again that it is impossible to make a good Chupacabra film. Hell, this film even gives horror flicks a bad name. Filmed in 2001, but not released until 2003 (already a bad sign), this film has very little blood and even fewer deaths. Believe it or not, director/writer Jonathan Mumm made an even worse sequel called BLOODTHIRST 2: REVENGE OF THE CHUPACABRAS (2004)!; THE TRACKER (2001) is a typical DTV action film starring Casper Van Dien, one of the early DTV stars. Casper stars as an ex-cop-turned-bounty hunter, who helps ex-friend (and cop) Russell Wong find his kidnapped sister. There are very bad stabs at humor, some good martial arts fights, plot holes galore (the scene where they are in a taxi being chased is a prime example of this), but very little else until the final ten minutes, when the film goes into a direction you would never suspect. That surprise is not worth sitting through the entire film, though; KILLER BUZZ (a.k.a. FLYING VIRUS - 2001) is your typical killer bee movie. Genetically modified killer African bees, used to murder tribes in the Amazon by vile oil companies for their land, are brought on a plane by Dr. Stephen North (David Naughton) because he believes that their sting has hidden healing powers after he watches reporter Ann Bauer (Gabrielle Anwar) recover quickly from a life-long illness after being stung. As you can probably guess, the bees get loose on the plane and the government will destroy it if they try to land in New York. Even the presence of Rutger Hauer as bad guy oil man Ezekial can't save this unbuzz-worthy film; MINDSTORM (2001) is one of director Richard Pepin's first films he made after breaking up PM Entertainment and splitting with partner Joseph Merhi. Unfortunately, the results are not up to PM standards (not to mention the "borrowed" footage from NARROW MARGIN - 1990). Tracy Wellman (Emmanuelle Vaugier) is an amnesiac private investigator who can't remember a thing about her life until she was nine years-old. She is also psychic. She is hired by Senator Armitage (Michael Ironside) to find his missing daughter, which leads her to a cult run by David Mendez (the always intense Eric Roberts). It seems Mendez has psychic powers that exceed her own and she discovers that she, Mendez and a bunch of other young children were part of a top-secret NSA experiment involving psychic control in the mid-80's, until the Soviets destroyed the base located in the Honduras. You would think with a cast that also includes Antonio Sabato, Jr., William B. Davis, Clarence Williams III, Ed O'Ross and Michael Moriarty, that this film (which made its premiere on the Sci-Fi Network) would be a whole lot better. It's not; DOUBLE BANG (2001) is your standard revenge thriller directed by the usually dependable Heywood Gould (the co-writer of ROLLING THUNDER - 1977 and the director of ONE GOOD COP - 1991). William Baldwin is Billy, a cop whose partner, Vinnie (Adam Baldwin; SERENITY - 2005 and no relation to the Baldwin Brothers), is on the take to local mobster Sally 'Fish' Pescatore (Jon Seda, the best part of the film). When Vinnie is murdered, Billy throws away his cop sensibilities to get revenge, all while protecting a threatened female witness named Karen (Elizabeth Mitchell) which (You guessed it) they fall madly in love with each other. Besides Seda, who looks like he is having the time of his life, the rest of the film falls flat.

Bad DTV Genre Films Part 2 (continued): SABRETOOTH (2002) is another ridiculous Sci Fi Original Film about a genetically replicated prehistoric Sabretooth Tiger that gets loose and begins eating a group of hikers (one of them being an early appearance of Josh Holloway of LOST [2004 - 2010] fame). David Keith is the big game hunter brought in to kill the badly-rendered CGI creation. It's as ridiculous as it sounds. Followed by the equally ridiculous ATTACK OF THE SABRETOOTH (2005), where a trio of the beasts are the main attractions of a theme park. Now what could go wrong with that?; ABSOLON (2002) takes place in the year 2010, when the world has been stricken with a deadly disease. Only the titled remedy, owned by corporation leader Ron Perlman, can hold the disease at bay, as long as you take it every day. When the inventor of the serum is found murdered, a detective (Christopher Lambert) and the inventor's assistant (Kelly Brook) try to investigate, but find themselves in constant danger by an assassination team headed by Lou Diamond Phillips. Is it possible that Perlman is trying to kill Lambert because his blood will cure the disease and put him out of business? Nothing but a boring chase film and I'm a big Christopher Lambert fan; PROJECT V.I.P.E.R. (2002) is another DTV flick directed by Jim Wynorski (once again using his "Jay Andrews" pseudonym) that "borrows" action footage from A-list films; this time AIR AMERICA (1990) and SPECIES (1995). A scientist (Theresa Russell, in a career low) creates V.I.P.E.R., a green goo that is to be sent to Mars and terraform it so humans can live there. Something goes wrong on the initial spaceflight and V.I.P.E.R. acquires a taste for human blood. So what does the scientist do? She creates a second batch and this time it gets loose on Earth. Special Agent Patrick Muldoon is called-in to rid the menace (who takes on a lizard-like look; another chance to use bad CGI) before the military blows the hell out of the facility. We've seen this same type of film hundreds of times before; POWER PLAY (2002) is normally dependable director Joseph Zito's (ABDUCTION - 1975; THE PROWLER - 1981; FRIDAY THE 13TH: THE FINAL CHAPTER - 1984) stab at an action thriller and it's a bad one. Investigative reporter Dylan Walsh is looking into a series of devastating earthquakes in California (with footage "borrowed" from DANTE'S PEAK - 1997), when he discovers that a desert power plant is running illegal geological experiments that could send California to the bottom of the ocean. You can tell Zito had no control over this film because it contains none of his usual wry touches. This was definitely a work for hire and a black mark on Zito's resume; THE SURGE (2002). If you want to know where the "found footage" film CHRONICLE (2012) got some of its ideas, this is probably the film that was responsible. Four teenage students find a weird rock in the woods and when they touch it, it gives them powers, such as the ability to float and make objects move, but their bodies pay a steep price every time they use their powers. Unfortunately this is a very cheap film and the special effects are anything but, where ten years later, CHRONICLE would blow it away with amazing special effects and a better screenplay (I never thought I would say that about a "found footage" film!); SHARK ATTACK 3: MEGALODON (2002) is memorable for one piece of improvised dialogue that they left in the film (Believe me, you'll know it when you hear it, but you won't hear it on regular or non-pay cable TV), otherwise this is just a subpar second sequel to the series of giant shark films; LONG TIME DEAD (2002) is that shopworn tale of a party of drunken Brits (Except for the presence of Lucas Haas. Did he fly to England using those ears?) at an abandoned warehouse fashioning a homemade Ouija Board and summoning a demon who leaves them a message that says "All die". Since they are drunk and horny, the partiers never end the session, which leaves the demon (actually a Djinn) in our world to carry out the deaths of everyone at the bash. As you can probably guess, the survivors try to find a way to send the demon (plenty of POV shots) back to his domain. Will they succeed? Do you care?; MALEVOLENT (a.k.a. THE PERFECT CRIME - 2002) is a by-the-numbers cop thriller from director John Terlesky (CHAIN OF COMMAND - 2000; CERBERUS - 2005; FIRE SERPENT - 2006) about loose cannon detective Jack Lucas (Lou Diamond Phillips), under investigation by Internal Affairs for a recent shooting, who is being set up by a serial killer. Jack must prove his innocence and catch the serial killer, which won't be easy, because he is not a very likable character. That's the problem with this film (besides "borrowed" action footage from MARKED FOR DEATH - 1990 and THE CORRUPTOR - 1999). There's really no one to root for; DRAGON FIGHTER (2002) is another one of those "people trapped in a locked-down facility while a monster picks them off" flicks. This time it's a real dragon that was created from some DNA found in a cave in England. The CGI dragon is pretty good. Too bad the plot is so generic; CON EXPRESS (2002). Overheard at a pitch meeting: "Hey, let's remake CON AIR (1997) on a dimestore budget, only this time we set it on a train and borrow action footage from RUNAWAY TRAIN (1985), CLIFFHANGER (1993) and STOP! OR MY MOM WILL SHOOT (1992)" How do you think it turned out?; OUTSIDE THE LAW (2002). I've been a big fan of Cynthia Rothrock ever since seeing her in those Hong Kong action films of the 80's (I loved how she could bend her leg behind her back and kick a person in the head who was facing her!), but even she is capable of making a stinker of a film every now and then. She was 45 years-old when she made this film and it's obvious that she uses a stunt double for some of the more strenuous scenes (something she never did back in Hong Kong). Forget the plot of this film (Rothrock is a wanted secret agent trying to right a government wrong) and try to enjoy the brief fighting scenes. Even the finale, where Rothrock fights main bad guy James Lew is way too short. Hell, the movie co-stars Jeff Wincott, who is a decent martial artist, but he doesn't get into one fight!. Stay away from this one; SCORCHER (2002) is one of those films that would fit perfectly on the SyFy Network's "Natural Disaster" week. A nuclear accident causes the tectonic plates of the Earth to shift, causing earthquakes and volcanic eruptions galore. It is decided the only way to stop this disaster is to set off a nuclear bomb underneath Los Angeles, led by team members Mark Dacascos and John Rhys-Davies. Most of the high-tech disaster footage was "borrowed" from such films as DAYLIGHT (1996), DANTE'S PEAK (1997) and TERMINATOR 2: JUDGEMENT DAY (1991). The film also expects us to believe that Rutger Hauer could be the President of the United States! Avoid it like the plague; CODE HUNTER (2002) is like TRON (1982) and THE MATRIX (1999) on a miniscule budget. Jester (Nick Cornish) is pulled inside a computer game called "Shock" and must find a way out of the game since someone has set him up as one of the FBI's Top Ten criminals and the world could end unless he breaks the code to the game. Oh my, what's a good guy to do? If it were me, I'd try and beat the game; MAXIMUM VELOCITY (2002) is another natural disaster film perfect for SyFy. A comet passes close to Earth causing a massive superstorm in the Atlantic Ocean with 600mph winds that will hit the eastern shore of the United States in less than 24 hours, killing nearly everyone and causing mass destruction. Scientist Dale Midkiff (PET SEMATARY - 1989) has developed an instrument that can stop the storm, but he and a bunch of scientists must fly a new experimental plane into the eye of the storm to use it. Meanwhile, General Michael Ironside (SCANNERS - 1980) hopes they succeed, but then he wants all civilians involved in the mission exterminated because the plane and the instrument aren't supposed to exist. Nothing special here, but at least they didn't borrow footage from A-list films to make it. That's about the best thing I can say about it; SHERLOCK: CASE OF EVIL (2002) is another example of rewriting the Sherlock Holmes mythos and it's pretty bad. Where the Robert Downey SHERLOCK HOLMES movies and the TV series ELEMENTARY do the same thing, they do it with flair and entertainment (I've also heard great things about the BBC TV series SHERLOCK, with Benedict Cumberbatch as the title character, but have never seen it). This TV Movie (originally shown on the USA Network) imagines a teenage Holmes (a miscast James D'Arcy) and Dr. Watson (Roger Morlidge) battling enemy Professor Moriarity (Vincent D'Onofrio) from grabbing the heroin trade in London. There's not much more to say about this film, other than the 1800's London scenery is nicely done, but isn't it really the story that counts?; GROOM LAKE (2002). Executive Producer Charles Band gave William Shatner a couple hundred thousand dollars and told him to direct a film, as long as he would also appear in it. This shot-on-digital atrocity (it was not shot in 35mm as the IMDB reports) is about a dying wife traveling with her husband to the titled area, a hotbed of UFO activity, in hopes of finding out from aliens if there is life after death. At least Shatner (who mainly has nothing but an extended cameo here) hired excellent cinematographer Mac Ahlberg to shoot the film, but you can tell right away that it is digital video (this was 2002, afterall) and the story, based on an idea by Shatner, is about as boring a film can be without curing your insomnia. Does the wife find what she is looking for? The masochist in me wants you to watch it for yourself for the answer; THE CIRCUIT (2002). Lord knows I love Olivier Gruner (He's not afraid to poke fun of himself), but the generic plot of this film (Dirk Longstreet [Gruner] is forced to use his fists and feet in an underground fight club because gangsters are holding his brother hostage) has been done to death. Filmed back-to-back with THE CIRCUIT 2: THE FINAL PUNCH (2002), which is basically the same film in a prison location and then a third film in 2006. All star Gruner and were directed by Jalal Merhi, who starred in his share of 90's DTV actioners (TIGER CLAWS - 1991; OPERATION GOLDEN PHOENIX - 1994); ANTIBODY (2002) is nothing but a low-budget rip-off of FANTASTIC VOYAGE (1966). A terrorist is shot with a tiny nuclear trigger in his body, so bomb expert Lance Henriksen and a team of scientists are shrunk-down to microscopic size in a specially-built submarine-like vehicle and injected into his body to disarm the trigger before he dies. Bad special effects and even worse stabs at humor follow; STATE PROPERTY (2002) is one of those abhorrent action films where a bunch of rap stars carry guns and celebrate the thug life by killing everyone they come in contact with. Leading "actor" Beanie Sigel (who stars as "Beans", as in "I don't give a hill of...") is one of the worst rap stars/actors in history, yet, somehow, this film was popular enough among urban audiences to produce a sequel, STATE PROPERTY 2 (2005). Surprises of surprises, Sigel (who had a major disagreement with first film star Jay Z [which is why Jay is not in the second film] and left his record label, basically destroying Sigel's musical career) is now serving a few years in a real federal prison on gun and drug charges. Yeah, the thug life is worth every death and dollar; RIVERWORLD (2002). The Sci-Fi Network took author Philip Jose Farmer's series of "Riverworld" novels and made a film so boring, a snail seemed like Speed Racer. The premise of the novels and this film is that when you die on Earth, you are reincarnated, but instead of your soul being sent to Heaven, your body is sent to the planet Riverworld (which looks a lot like New Zealand, where this movie was filmed), where warring factions of reincarnates fight it out for no other reason than to fight it out. Astronaut Jeff Hale (Brad Johnson) dies and is sent to the planet, where he and a ragtag group of people (including Mark Twain, played by Cameron Daddo, and an alien, who had the misfortune of dying on Earth) fight to go down river in a ship to one of the only safe places on the planet. I guess the point of this film is not to die, because what is on the other side is a hundred times worse than what you have here. The storyline of the film is sound, but it could have been so much more fun if it had more famous real-life dead people from all the centuries in it (Nero does make a cameo here). The Sci-Fi Network, who changed their name to SyFy, tried to make up for their sins in 2010 and make a four hour miniseries (with commercials) of the same story. It's twice as long as the first film and twice as boring; DO OR DIE (2003) has a plot similar to ABSOLON (2002), both Sci Fi (SyFy) Original Films. This time the Earth is decimated by a disease that makes you age one year for every day you live, but can be held at bay by a serum developed by corporation owner Nigel Bennett. Of course, Bennett will do anything, including murder, to keep a secret that involves the disease and the serum. Nothing new or exciting can be found here; THRESHOLD (2003) is a boring tale about an astronaut who gets hit by a tiny meteorite while doing a spacewalk and returns to Earth to find out that the meteorite contained alien "seeds" and when they hatch they look just like...moths! Two scientists (Nicholas Lea and Jamie Luner) are given 48 hours to contain and find a cure for this alien invasion or else their facility will be destroyed by a nuclear bomb. Maybe they should invest in a bug-zapper company or install high-heat light bulbs in the facility. Moths love that shit; EL CHUPACABRA (2003). You know a film is going to be bad when it is released by York Entertainment. You know a film is going to be worse when the synopsis on the back of the VHS and DVD praise the acting talents of rap artist Treach, who is the star of the film. I think that's all you need to know about this stinker concerning the titled monster loose in a city and Treach is Dr. Goodspeed (!), the chief bad guy who wants it captured alive; DEAD END (2003) is about a bickering family driving to a relative's house on Christmas Eve. The father (the always interesting Ray Wise) decides to take a shortcut and that turns out to be a major mistake. What follows next is very predictable, as a mysterious woman dressed in white roams the forest and whomever sees her ends up dead and taken for a ride in the back of a black hearse. Even the "surprise" ending is telegraphed almost from the beginning, although this also has a rare starring role for Lin Shaye (2001 MANIACS - 2005) as the mother. Plenty of atmosphere, but not much else; ALIEN HUNTER (2003) is about an alien artifact being found in Antarctica and a cryptologyst (James Spader) being sent down there to decode it because it is sending out transmissions. As others use a laser tool to open the object, Spader decodes the message: "Do Not Open!" Oops, too late! An alien and a virus are released (humans deflate just like a balloon) and Spader and the crew must travel to the alien planet to ensure that the virus doesn't spread throughout Earth. The End. One question: How in the hell did James Spader get talked into starring in crap like this?; SILENT WARNINGS (2003). It seems like director Christian McIntire watched SIGNS (2002) one too many times. This films finds a bunch of young adults tending to one of their deceased cousin's farms, when crop circles begin to appear and other strange phenomena begins to happen. Is it an alien invasion? Should you even care? Starring a morose Stephen Baldwin and AJ Buckley (CSI: NY - 2004-Present); RED WATER (2003) was originally a TV Movie making its premiere on SuperStation TBS, but is now making the pay cable rounds with extra footage added to give it an R-Rating (it still has the fade-to-black for commercial breaks, though). It's a sub-standard thriller about a shark attacking people in the waters of Black Cove, Louisiana and screwing with Lou Diamond Phillip's nearly-bankrupt charter boat business. More rap star stunt casting (this time it is Coolio) has a sub-plot involving a cashe of stolen loot buried underwated near an oil well. The shark footage is fine (especially the way it is killed), but the rest of the plot could have used a huge rewrite; THE BONE SNATCHER (2003) is good for one thing only: The sandy photography in the Namib Desert in South Africa. Otherwise, this is a hinky tale about a race of ants who can strip a human body clean and then take on their form. It's an old South African legend and it's as silly as it sounds; SNAKEHEAD TERROR (2003) is another Sci Fi Original Film dealing with the snakehead fish problem (Check out FRANKENFISH [2004] for a much more entertaining take on the same subject). When human growth hormones are dumped in a local lake in hopes of increasing the fish population (Who comes up with this stuff?), the snakehead fish, thought to be eradicated with chemical poison years before, grow to tremendous size and begin chowing down on the local population, even venturing out of the lake to chase their prey. There's plenty of gore and some nudity, but you'll have to buy the DVD to see it, since SyFy edits much of it; ENCRYPT (2003) starts out interesting, but quicky dissolves into mediocrity. In the year 2026, the Earth has been decimated by a dissolving ozone layer, causing all types of natural disasters. Promising his community plentiful food and water, Lapierre (Steve Bacic) hires Garth (Grant Show) and his band of mercenaries to infiltrate the Vincent Estate to retrieve priceless works of art stored there before the Earth fell apart. Unfortunately, the estate is guarded by a deadly computer program called Encrypt and a robot named "The Rook", both who will do anything to protect the estate. Garth and his men are guided by oriental holograph Diana (Vivian Wu) as they traverse the estate, where Garth is about to discover that the estate holds a secret that has nothing to do with the artwork. Predictable all the way; BEYOND RE-ANIMATOR (2003) is director Brian Yuzna's disappointing second sequel to Stuart Gordon's cult classic. Sure, there is plenty of gore and some black humor (the U.S. DVD is missing about 30 seconds of gore), but the Spanish production was definitely filmed on a limited budget, lensed on a single prison location with some terrible acting from local actors, where it is apparent English is their second language; DEEP SHOCK (2003) is one of those films where you say, "Why the fuck was this made?" Giant CGI eels (that's right, eels!) attack a nuclear submarine and an underwater research laboratory in the Arctic, which also causes the polar ice caps to melt. The always reliable director Phillip J. Roth took the pseudonym "Paul Joshua Rubin". Doesn't that tell you something?; Speaking of Phillip J. Roth, he also directed the excremental DARK WATERS (2003), this time using his real name. This is another film set on an oil rig, this time in the Gulf of Mexico proving, once again, that it is damn near impossible to make a good horror film set in that location. The villains are two genetically enhanced sharks, created to destroy and crave human blood by government scientists hoping to replace the more subdued dolphins (that, in real life, were trained to plant bombs on enemy ships and submarines), that are causing all the trouble and that old DTV standby, Lorenzo Lamas, comes to the rescue. Someone should rescue his career because his good films have benn few and far apart; CENTIPEDE! (2003) is unusual only for the facts that it was filmed in India and uses practical effects (no CGI here), even with the giant centipedes. Otherwise, it's a normal SyFy-ready giant monster flick that's short on logic and long on cliches; DINOCROC (2003) was one of the first giant creature films to mix two critters together to produce a one-of-a-kind killing machine, but just because this Roger Corman-executive produced flick was one of the first, doesn't necessarily make it good. A top secret experiment (aren't they all?) mixes dinosaur DNA with a crocodile and produces the title creature (the CGI is better than normal, but not JURASSIC PARK [1993] good), who begins killing the residents of a small town. The father of a missing boy (Matt Borlenghi) joins forces with an Australian crocodile hunter (Costas Mandylor) to find a way to stop it. Since it is Rated PG-13, don't expect too much gore. Followed by the Dinocroc - SUPERGATOR (2007) mash-up, DINOCROC VS. SUPERGATOR (2010); THE GATHERING (2003) is one of those films that got caught in limbo here in the States when Miramax and the Weinstein Brothers had financial troubles. It was uncerimoniously dumped on DVD and cable in 2007 with ten minutes excised (A Weinstein trademark; only the Germans seem to have the uncut version). In this case, the wait was warranted. This is a lousy supernatural/horror flick starring the large-foreheaded Christina Ricci as an American visiting the Isle Of Man, who gets hit by a car and is knocked unconscious. When she wakes up, she is at the house of a seemingly nice woman (Kerry Fox) in some small town. She begins to have religious visions and prophecies and uncovers a deadly secret the town is hiding. Besides a tense moment dealing with a bomb, the film is a slow-moving bore and Ricci's gigantic forehead always seems to trump her acting. I keep wondering if she has a gigantic brain or some physical deformity; DEADLY SWARM (2003) is another one of those horror films that preyed on our fears of when deadly Africanized bees would make it to the United States (remember all the fear it caused?). In a small town in Mexico, a scientist has tricked the local natives into letting him perform experiments on a rare type of wasp. When a truckload of those wasps crashes and an investigating police officer is killed, a reporter and an entomologist team up when even more townspeople are stung to death. When the military suddenly shows up, you can be sure it isn't there to protect the people. It isn't hard to guess why and why the wasps would be the perfect killing machines during wartime. Isn't there anything the military hasn't tried to turn into the perfect killing machine? Maybe next time they will turn rocks intelligent and deadly; DEVIL'S POND (2003) is basically nothing but a boring two-character thriller; the kind you see on the Lifetime Channel all the time, except this time we have a little swearing and one instance of gore. Tara Reid (SHARKNADO - 2013; who always has a look on her face like she has a hard turd she is trying to push out of her asshole) marries Kip Pardue (HOSTEL: PART III - 2011) and they spend their two week honeymoon at the cabin in the woods (where, of course, there is no cell phone service) on an island owned by Kip's father. Yes, you guessed it. Kip is a psycho who had been stalking Reid for years and he plans on keeping her at this cabin forever, killing his father previously and even chaining her to a tree after she tried to escape. After several unsuccessful attempts to escape, she finally gets ahold of Kip's shotgun and blows one of his hands off, As Tara walks away into the sunset, we hear the sound of a shotgun blast. Kip has ended his life. The End. Don't waste your time. I have just told you the entire film in a couple of sentences. The biggest "WTF?!?" moment comes when Tara first escapes and throws her cell phone against a tree, breaking it into pieces, because the battery is low! The film runs 92 minutes. It seems like an eternity; PARASITE (2003) is just another example that it is nearly impossible to make a good horror film set on an oil rig. This one concerns an abandoned oil rig in the North Sea and a scientist who goes there with a crew to test a new solution that could revolutionize cleaning up oil spills. What it does instead is create a monster that begins killing the crew. This is nothing but endless shots of people running down corridors before they are killed by the ridiculous-looking monster. Stay away; BUGS (2003) is a ridiculous tale of an FBI agent (Antonio Sabato Jr.), who is looking for a serial killer in the subway system, that runs smack-dab into a bunch of giant CGI bugs that have been lying dormant for 65 million years. Until now. With the help of an entomologist (Angie Everhart) and a S.W.A.T. team, they try to kill all the bugs before they are all torn apart and the bugs make it above ground. The CGI bugs are a little bit better than most of Sci Fi (SyFy) Original Films' CGI-fests, but that is by no means an endorsement; DARKWOLF (2003) is a hoary DTV werewolf flick about the titled creature (Kane Hodder plays him in human form and stuntman Rick McCallum plays him as the werewolf) finding a female counterpart and the policemen who are assigned to protect her from coming in contact with it. Mainly known for its lengthy lesbian rooftop scene, this film has some of the worse CGI werewolf transformation scenes in a DTV film, not to mention some terrible acting from the rest of the cast; OUT FOR A KILL (2003) is probably Steven Seagal's worst movie after TICKER (2000). The film, about archaeologist Seagal being framed for exporting ancient Chinese pots made of drugs and being sent to a Chinese prison, only to be sprung (Turns out he's an ex-CIA "ghost thief". What???) to get the triad actually responsible for the drug trade, is about as bad as they come. There's one brief moment when Seagal has to fight a "monkey boxer" that's pretty good, but it's easy to see that Seagal was sitting in a chair while his stunt double did most of the work. Seagal has been trying lately to turn out better DTV flicks (THE KEEPER - 2009), but it's best if you avoid this one; THE FOREIGNER (2003) is another of Steven Seagal's DTV clunkers. This time he plays Jonathan Cold, a former CIA courier that is hired to deliver a package from France to Germany, even though he wants out of the business (His father just passed away, but it doesn't deter his handlers!). Turns out the package is a black box flight recorder of a plane that crashed mysteriously and everyone wants it, so Seagal (or, rather, his stunt double, while another voice actor dubs his lines in post-production) has to fight a series of bad guys to keep possession of the package. For some reason, there was even a sequel made, BLACK DAWN (2005), which also made this worst-of list; 2003 was a banner year for terrible Steven Seagal films, which also includes BELLY OF THE BEAST (2003). Seagal plays his usual ex-CIA operative, this time named Jake Hopper, who now runs a successful security protection business. When his daughter Jessica and another girl named Sarah (who is the daughter of a U.S. senator) are kidnapped in Thailand by an Islamic terrorist, who demands the release of 20 prisoners in American custody, Jake travels to Thailand to save his daughter, who is the weak link in the kidnapping and will probably be the first to die. The biggest surprise of this dull film is that it was made by Ching Siu-Tung, a Hong Kong-based director who gave us the vastly superior A CHINESE GHOST STORY (1987). Apparently, something got lost in the English translation of the Seagal film, because, besides some pretty good fight scenes, the rest of the film is flat as dishwater; CONSEQUENCE (2003) stars professional mumbler Armand Assante (really, he and Andy Garcia must be related) as a person who owes the mob millions of dollars, so he fakes his own death, has some plastic surgery and takes over his dead brother's life. Unfortunately, his dead brother wasn't as clean as he thought and Assante is pursued by thugs, nosey neighbors and his late brother's girlfriend, who notices the differences (especially in bed). The plot may be good, but director Anthony Hickox's (WAXWORK - 1988) direction is pedestrian and Assante's dialogue is hard to make out. We all know there are consequences for the bad decisions we make, but it would be nice to understand them in this film; EVIL BREED: THE LEGEND OF SAMHAIN (2003) is a mess of a film about the cannibalistic Sawney Bean clan (the movie was taken away from director Christian Viel and much of the film was reshot, with many of the gore scenes removed). "Star" Richard Grieco's role was reduced to a small cameo (his fight with a mutant was totally removed) and the film is nothing more than a stalk 'n' slash film in this version, featuring ex-porn star Jenna Jameson. There is still plenty of gore, but the film makes absolutely no sense at all. Apparently, Viel's original version is available on Internet torrent sites in a rough cut. I don't condone torrent downloads, but in this case I give you permission to do so; THE ELIMINATOR (2003) is director Ken Barbet's (KILLER INSTINCT - 2000) take on that old standby THE MOST DANGEROUS GAME (1932), this time to showcase the athletic capabilities of former UFC Heavyweight Champion Bas Rutten (SINNERS AND SAINTS - 2010). Rutten portrays an ex-Navy SEAL, one of seven triatheletes who are kidnapped by bad guy Michael Rooker and dropped on an unknown island, where they are hunted by guards who each represent a rich person with a taste for human trophies (after paying 25 million dollars a piece). This story has been done a hundred times before and much better in a lot of cases, with Rutten not only battling the bad guys, but also one of his own members (Jamal Duff), who seemingly is going through 'roid rage. There are very few surprises in store and the film just meanders along with a gunfight and explosion or two, but nothing memorable. When Rutten looks like he is about to get into a major brawl, it is always cut short by the last remaining survivor except him (Paul Logan, also an Associate Producer), who always seems to shoot Rutten's opponents. Totally unexceptional.

Bad DTV Genre Films Part 3 (continued): ROTTWEILER (2004) is director Brian Yuzna's second Filmax Entertainment stinker in a row (after BEYOND RE-ANIMATOR - 2003). This film is set in Spain in the year 2018, where people play an illegal game called "Infiltration". Dante (William Miller) gets caught and is sent to prison, but manages to escape. The sadistic warden Kufard (the late Paul Naschy) send his cyborg rottweiler (You read it correctly) to hunt down Dante and his girlfriend Ula (Irene Montalà) and it can't be stopped by conventional means (apparently no one taught it how to "play dead" or "heel"). This canine version of THE TERMINATOR (1984) is as ridiculous as it sounds; SNAKE KING (a.k.a. SNAKEMAN - 2004) tells the unremarkable story about archaeologists uncovering the body in the Amazon of a man determined to be 300 years-old. Of course, a team (led by Stephen Baldwin) try to find the Fountain of Youth, only to discover a tribe of cannibals who worship a giant snake with five heads! One bite from that snake and you turn into a snake, too. Maybe that's where lawyers come from; Speaking of giant snake films, BOA VS. PYTHON (2004), a mash-up between the superior PYTHON (2000; the Jenny McCarthy scene still makes me laugh hysterically), the so-so PYTHON 2 (2002; starring the original's William Zabka in the same role) and the entertaining BOA (2001), is not a very good film. Since snakes don't have arms or legs, just fangs (actually pythons don't have fangs) and long slimy bodies, all we can see is them twirling around and wrapping themselves around each other. If I want that, I'll watch a porn film. In any event, it's still miles better than The Asylum's MEGA PYTHON VS. GATOROID (2011); BLAST (2004) is a failed attempt to turn comedian Eddie Griffin into an action hero in the mold of Eddie Murphy in the 80's. Griffin plays an ex-Navy SEALS member/fireman-turned-tugboat captain (who has an adopted white son, to give his character appeal to a broader audience, apparently) that gets caught on an oil rig where terrorists (led by Vinnie Jones) have taken it over and bring a nuclear missile on board. Griffin begins to pick the terrorists off one-by-one (with the help of reluctant Breckin Meyer) until it is just a showdown between him and Jones (who is holding Griffin's son hostage). In real life, Jones could snap Griffin in two like a twig, but in this film, Griffin gets the upper hand. Totally unbelievable from start to finish; DEATH VALLEY: THE REVENGE OF BLOODY BILL (2004) is a typically bad horror flick from The Asylum where a bunch of foul-mouth teens and a drug dealer get stuck in a ghost town where the titled character, a zombie Confederate soldier, controls a bunch of rotting zombies who pick off the cast one-by-one. Stupid is one word to describe it; LARVA (a.k.a. MORPHMAN - 2004) is another Sci-Fi Channel horror flick that borrows heavily from other films. A veterinary doctor (Vincent Ventresca) is called in to check on a farmer's (William Forsythe) cows, only to discover that they are full of hungry growing parasites. Since the farmer has also slaughtered some of his cows and sold their meat, the parasites grow inside whomever eats the meat and eventually the parasites burst out of their chests (sound familiar?). The same old lousy CGI by visual effects man Scott Coulter and a stupid plot (this was all done on purpose to sell more feed to the farmers by bad guy David Selby) makes this no better or worse than 98% of Sci Fi's flicks. That's not saying much; DEMON HUNTER (2004) is an unbelievably bad horror flick that has dialogue so stilted, you may need a ladder to get over it. Sean Patrick Flanery portrays Jake Greyman, the "half breed" (part demon, part human) titled character, who thinks exorcisms are unnecessary and kills the ones who are possessed. He does this all with the sanction of Cardinal White (William Bassett) and the Church, as the demon Asmodeus (a wasted Billy Drago) tries to impregnate several women who he hopes will spawn him a son. Jake is tormented by a succubus (Tania Deighton, who sports the fakest-looking horns this side of a grade school play) and saddled with Sister Sarah Ryan (Colleen Porch) as a sidekick (she is more than she lets on to be). It all plays like some TV Movie, with added gore, foul language, topless nudity and out-of-place heavy metal music, probably because it was produced none other than the late Stephen J. Cannell, king of TV action series. There are also fights that try to emulate those seen in Hong Kong actioners (lots of wire work and plenty of twirling bodies as they fall to the ground) and really bad dialogue that has to be heard to be believed. Director Scott Ziehl (who made the much better EXIT SPEED in 2008) offers nothing in the way of horror or suspense and the short 78 minute running time suggests that this may have been some pilot for some busted pay cable TV series. Avoid at all costs; PUPPET MASTER VS. DEMONIC TOYS (2004) is as awful as it sounds and it's made even more awful by the starring "power" of Corey Feldman and Vanessa Angel. It is also strange for the fact that Charles Band has no rights to this film, even though it uses all the characters from his previous films, but he was given an honorary "Executive Producer" credit even though he was in no way involved in this film. The plot is junk, as Anton Toulon's great-nephew Robert (Feldman) plans to stop Erica Sharpe (Angel) from injecting the Demonic Toys with the same serum as the puppets (who are now the good guys), giving them out as toys to the world's underprivileged children during Christmas and causing bloody Satanic mayhem; CREATURE UNKNOWN (2004) is a sub-par "monster-on-the-loose" flick starring a bunch of young adults (including LOST's Maggie Grace in an early role) stuck at a house in the woods with a creature (created by a mad scientist in a nearby underground laboratory) killing them one by one. Nothing new and nothing original; OUT OF REACH (2004) is another three word Steven Seagal DTV title that follows the same generic formula (These low-budget Seagal DTV flicks make him millions because they are released all over the world). Seagal is an ex-CIA agent turned survivalist, who gets involved with fighting a white slavery ring when the girl he is sponsoring in a foster program is grabbed. It's the same old, same old (apparently some people like this formula because they keep buying or renting the DVDs), with Seagal kicking butt until he gets to the final fight with the head of the slavery ring. Directed by British-born/Hong Kong resident Po-Chih Leong, who also gave us the superior film CABIN BY THE LAKE (1999), its sequel RETURN TO CABIN BY THE LAKE (2001) and the DTV Wesley Snipes-starrer THE DETONATOR (2005). Now that Snipes is out of prison on tax evasion charges, let's see if he'll return to the DTV route (Sylvester Stallone announced that Snipes will definitely be part of the third theatrical EXPENDABLES film); SKELETON MAN (2004) definitely ranks up there with one of the worse films ever shown on the Sci Fi Channel (The German DVD compares it with an Ed Wood film!). A group of soldiers (led by the ever-present early DTV king Casper Van Dien) are attacked by the skeletal remains of a ghostly Indian named Cotton Mouth Joe, who rides a ghost horse and decapitates his victims with a sword. Halfway through the film, the plot changes and it seems like a different film was tacked-on to finish the movie. It's like the Sci Fi Channel gave a big "FUCK YOU!" to all their viewers who complain about the quality of their movies. It seems they set out to prove (with assistance from frequent Cirio H. Santiago screenwriter Frederick Bailey) that they could make a really, really bad flick on purpose; GARGOYLES: WINGS OF DARKNESS (2004) is standard director Jim Wynorski (once again using his "Jay Andrews" pseudonym) pablum that is clearly influenced by ALIEN (1979). C.I.A. agent Michael Paré is sent to Bucharest to investigate a kidnapping and then gets involved in a series of decapitation murders (the car chase footage was "borrowed" from MAXIMUM RISK - 1996). The ending finds Paré in a labryinth underneath a church graveyard of about-to-hatch gargoyle eggs and a screwed-up priest (Fintan McKeown) who believes the gargoyles were sent from Satan and will do anything to protect them. Too bad that as soon as they hatch, the first thing they do is eat the priest. Gargoyles, can't trust 'em; DARKLIGHT (2004) is a Sci Fi (SyFy) Original Film that has the look and feel of a failed pilot and is a total rewrite of the Bible (which may upset some people). The legendary Lilith (which the Bible lists as the most evil woman to ever walk the Earth) is reincarnated in the body of Elle (Shiri Appleby), recruited by an all-male Biblical society called "The Faith" to do good in this world and she is assigned a handler (Richard Burghi). Her first assignment is to learn how to master her powers (her dark side is continually dueling with her good side) and fight off a creature who will bring nothing but death and destruction to this Earth. Imagine if this flick actually made it passed pilot stage? Zzzzzzzzz; BLOODSUCKERS (2004) is a ridiculous sci-fi/horror flick about vampires not only taking over Earth, they have also overtaken space! A "Vampire Sanitation" team (led by Joe Lando) is dispatched to get rid of the vampires (led by Michael Ironside) in space (There are different races of vampires; some are known as "Leatherfaces" and others are known as "Voorhees". How original!), but the "V-Sans" crew may have bitten off more than they could chew. For some unknown reason, when this film was released to U.S. DVD, it was given the ridiculous title VAMPIRE WARS: BATTLE FOR THE UNIVERSE. Under either title, it's bloody, but it's also a bloody mess; THE HOLLOW (2004) is a standard "teens in peril" flick. When Ian (Kevin Zegers), the last remaining ancestor of Ichabod Crane, returns to the town of Sleepy Hollow, a headless horseman starts decapitating the local teenagers. Is it the real Headless Horseman or is it someone pretending to be him? Needless to say, the teens (including Kaley Cuoco [KILLER MOVIE - 2008; TV's THE BIG BANG THEORY - 2007-Present] and The Backstreet Boys' Nick Carter) come up with a not-so-unique way of getting rid of the killer. Also featuring Stacy Keach, Judge Reinhold, Nicholas Turturro and Eileen Brennan in throw-away roles. Strictly by-the-numbers all the way; POST IMPACT (2004) is an ultra-low-budget mixture of the A-list films DEEP IMPACT (1998) and THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW (2004). A comet hits Earth in 2012, causing another Ice Age. Three years later, a group of survivors, led by Dean Cain (no stranger to DTV films) leads an expedition to a secret government base, where they can activate a satellite that can reverse the Earth to its former glory. Bad CGI and lots of snowy scenery do not a good film make;  CUBE ZERO (2004) is an inferior second sequel (this one is actually a prequel) to the 1997 cult classic that tries to explain the origins of the Cube experiment, but will have you scratching your head instead. More people are trapped in the Cube puzzle and die horrible booby-trapped deaths while technicians on the outside monitor their progress. I've seen it before done much better; SLIPSTREAM (2004) is a below average time travel tale about scientist Stuart (Sean Astin) who invents a the "Slipstream Device", a small item that can send him back ten minutes in time. While he is testing out the device, he finds himself at a bank as it is being robbed by Winston (Vinnie Jones) and his gang. As you can probably guess, Stuart has to use his device over and over until he gets things right and he and everyone else gets out alive. The same premise was used in the much superior SOURCE CODE (2011), except in that film, the time travel device could only send you back eight minutes; ALIEN LOCKDOWN (2004) is one of those films where a scientist (John Savage) uses alien DNA to create a creature (which looks close enough to be the first cousin of a Predator) and a military commando team is called-in to kill the monster. They are then locked-in the facility, as they are picked-off one-by-one, while the scientist pleads not to kill the creature. Now where have we seen that plot before?; RAPTOR ISLAND (2004) is one of those Sci Fi Original Films where you can guess what is going to happen way before the characters do. A Naval commander (Lorenzo Lamas) and his commandos travels to an uncharted island in the South China Seas to capture a notorious terrorist (Steven Bauer), only to run into a bunch of flesh-hungry dinosaurs thought to be extinct for millions of years (China was always behind in things). The CGI is pathetic (Who here actually likes CGI blood?) as is the generic plot. It even ends with the island being destroyed by volcanic activity!; PHANTOM FORCE (2004) is a semi-sequel to the much superior films INTERCEPTOR FORCE (1999) and INTERCEPTOR FORCE 2 (2002), but instead of having Olivier Gruner in the lead (like he had in the first two films), Richard Grieco takes the starring role here. That is never a good thing. The first two films, about a super-secret team that investigates and neutralizes alien forces that try to invade Earth, at least had a fun sense of humor about them, but you will find none of that here. Instead, Grieco and his Interceptor Force must retrieve the "Hades Stone", an ancient relic that can bring the dead back to life. It was found on the ocean floor by a research submarine and Grieco and his team must find a way to get on the sub and destroy the stone. Do you think they succeed?; ADAM & EVIL (2004) is an instantly forgettable ultra-cheap slasher flick about the usual bunch of annoying young adults who party at a remote campground only to get picked-off by an unseen killer. It's nothing you haven't seen before done a hundred times better than this; CHUPACABRA: DARK SEAS (a.k.a. CHUPACABRA TERROR - 2004) may use mostly practical effects (the CGI is kept to a minimum) and may be gory as hell (don't watch the edited version on the SyFy Network if you want to see all the violence and plentiful gore), but the story, about a cryptozoologist (Giancarlo Esposito, an excellent actor who seems to be slumming here) smuggling the creature aboard a cruise ship, only to have it get loose and begin slaughtering the passengers and crew is strictly old hat. John Rhys-Davies as the captain of the ship is a hoot, though. SyFy is still churning out Chupacabra films, the latest (as of this writing) being CHUPACABRA VS. THE ALAMO (2013) about the titled creature coming to the titular monument through a tunnel in Mexico made by a drug cartel; THE CURSE OF EL CHARRO (2005), a horrible slasher film without one likable character, especially Kathryn Taylor as Tara, who will have you wishing that El Charro (voiced by Danny Trejo and portrayed by Andrew Bryniarski) would make her his first victim because of her extreme bitch behavior. Too bad she doesn't bite it until the film is three-quarters over. The only "What The Fuck?!?" moment is when the bitchy girls enter a bar and proceed to watch the weirdest musical act in film history: a man in a wheelchair who sings a quasi-heavy metal song about killing himself. Otherwise, this film is the usual bloody slasher film without one likeable character, even the girl with the mental problems who has visions of El Charro out to get her. She is so depressing, you'll be reaching for the razor blades and start looking at your wrists; ANDRE THE BUTCHER (2005). Porn star and wannabe "legit" actor Ron "The Hedgehog" Jeremy (and his obvious stunt double) star as the title character, a mute butcher of humans who also eats their flesh (This is the kind of film where Andre has an arm cut off and simply reattaches it) and harvests their souls for the Devil. Enter a bunch of cheerleaders whose car gets into an accident (while one of the female cheerleaders is giving the male cheerleader driver head) and you could probably write the rest of the move better than the film's screenwriters did. Includes a scene of an overweight cheerleader falling for the old "donut hanging by a piece of string" trick and a guy in his underwear sporting a huge boner. This is why DTV was invented; as a dumping ground for crap; DESCENT (2005) is not the excellent horror film directed by Neil Marshall, but an extremely cheap knock-off THE CORE (2003) starring Luke Perry. When the Earth's mantel starts to overheat, causing volcanic activity and earthquakes around the world (insert stock footage here), Perry and his team must travel to the Earth's core in a specially made vehicle made to withstand the extreme heat. I'm surprised the producers of THE CORE didn't sue; BAD GIRLS FROM VALLEY HIGH (2005). This extremely bad HEATHERS (1989) wannabe, filmed in 2000, but not released until 2005 (that's a big red flag), concerns a trio of snotty rich college girls who suddenly start to rapidly age prematurely. The denouement for all this is one of the worse in filmic history. Sadly, this was the last film for both Jonathan Brandis (who committed suicide by hanging in 2003) and Janet Leigh (who passed away of vasculitis in 2004); THE MARKSMAN (2005) is one of those paint-by-numbers, filmed-in-Romania, action flicks that could easily star any downtrodden action star. This time it's Wesley Snipes as a "Painter", an expert at killing and rescuing people, who works for Special Ops and also has a huge stick up his ass about a mission gone wrong in the past where he blames himself for getting his team killed (He won't even tell his new team his name, so they call him Painter!). His latest assignment is to lead a new team of soldiers to a Chechen nuclear power plant that has been taken over by Russian baddie General Egor Zaysan (Dan Badaru) and rescue the hostages and avert a nuclear war by killing the General and his band of mercenaries, only to find out that they have been betrayed by one of their own people and the Painter is left by himself to take care of the situation. There is nothing here that you haven't seen a thousand times before and the film moves at a deadly snail's pace. You know a film is in trouble when it steals an entire dialogue sequence from a Fred Olen Ray film (ACTIVE STEALTH - 1999) because the film came in under time (And Ray's film took footage from another film, too, so this makes the first time that I can think of where a film uses footage from a film that used footage from another film. Whew!). Look for cameos from Andrew Stevens (whose production company, Andrew Stevens Entertainment, made this turd) and Tim Abell. Director Marcus Adams (LONG TIME DEAD - 2002) hasn't made another film since this one (at the time of this writing) and it's very easy to see why. This is nothing but a cheapjack version of DIE HARD (1988) in a nuclear power plant; SHADOWBOXER (2005) is award-nominated director Lee Daniel's first film in such a capacity, and while it is not a total dud, there are enough stereotypes to fill a subway car. The always-wonderful Helen Mirren is Rose and Cuba Gooding Jr. is Mikey, a mother-stepson hit team (She killed Mikey's father for murdering Mikey's mother and was also beating Mikey with a belt) who work for nasty crime lord Clayton Mayfield (Stephen Dorff, who shoots and kills two people just because they were talking outside while he was having doggie-style sex with a prostitute in his office [you get to see his full monty, condom and all!] and then shoots his own man in the foot for letting it happen!). Rose is slowly dying of cancer and her and Mikey's relationship is also sexual (Mirren has never looked so sexy, proving you don't have to be young to be a stunner) and during one job that involves a mass hit, Rose refuses to kill pregnant Vicki (Vanessa Ferlito), who just happens to be Mayfield's wife (who Mayfield believed cheated on her, killing her supposed lover by tying him to a pool table and sodomizing him with a pool stick!), whose water breaks when she sees Rose's gun and Rose and Mikey deliver the baby boy instead. They all (including Vicki) move to the suburbs and act like an extended family, where Mikey and the boy begin a father-son relationship after a rather dubious start. As Rose is fading away fast by cancer, Mikey kills her in the best way imaginable (filled with flashbacks on how thier relationship came to be), but you'll have to watch the film to get the full details. Things come to a head when Mayfield discovers that his wife is still alive and vows revenge. If I make this film sound good, that's because there are some very good parts, but most of the film is a disjointed mess (like the relationship between Josesh Gordon-Levitt as Dr. Don and his nurse/mistress Mo'Nique as "Precious" [the title of the next film by Daniels in 2009, also starring Mo'Nique, who won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar® and was then promptly blackballed by Hollywood for being "too difficult" to work with], who is addicted to morphine and steals it from the hospital dispensary) and singer Macy Gray always complaining about getting her money (and getting a bullet instead). There is, of course a final face-off between between Mikey and Mayfield, but it doesn't end the way that you would think and what the young boy says at the end of the film (the final dialogue in the movie) will have the hair on the back of your neck standing on end. This may be the first positive-sounding review that I have written for a film with more bad points than good, but screenwriter Will Rokos (TV's COPPER - 2012-2013) just fills the film with too many stereotypes (although there in an inordinate amount of male nudity in this film [mainly male asses], more than female nudity, which some will find too disturbing, but I found refreshing for the ladies and gay men). It's a good badfilm to watch on a rainy day. This actually obtained a theatrical release, where it was viciously torn apart by critics, but I have seen much, much worse.

Bad DTV Genre Films Part 4 (continued): THE FALLEN ONES (2005) is an absolutely horrendous horror flick about an archaeologist (DTV regular Casper Van Dien) who unleashes a giant mummy (!) and must find a way to stop it. Maybe a rabbi (the late Tom Bosley) can help? My biggest question is this: What is a classy actor like Robert Wagner doing in a piece of shit like this? I know we all have bills to pay, but c'mon now!; ALIEN APOCALYPSE (2005) may have been the Sci Fi (SyFy) Channel's highest-rated Original Film at the time, but that doesn't mean that it's any good. On the contrary, it's a bloody CGI mess. Bruce Campbell and Renee O'Connor star as astronauts who return to Earth, only to discover that it has been taken over by CGI aliens that look like big praying mantises. Can Bruce and Renee save the Earth? This is one of those films that should have gotten a shout-out as one of Campbell's more rote films in his MY NAME IS BRUCE (2006); GLASS TRAP (2005) is director Fred Olen Ray's horror film about people stuck in a skyscraper while radioactive giants ants pick them off. The good points: Practical effects and very little CGI. The bad points: Everything else, including a PG-13 Rating, which must be a first for Ray, and wasting a talented cast, including Stella Stevens (her son, Andrew Stevens, was one of the Executive Producers), Andrew Prine, Martin Kove, Brent Huff, Chick Vennera and C. Thomas Howell; CAVED IN: PREHISTORIC TERROR (2005) is the regular substandard Sci Fi Pictures Original Film. When Christopher Atkins' family is taken hostage by a gang of thieves (led by Colm Meaney), he must take most of the thieves down a two thousand feet hole into a cave system to search for some rare jewels. Unfortunately, the booty is guarded by an assortment of badly-rendered CGI giant bugs, that eventually make it above ground, also threatening Atkins' family. Can Atkins escape the thieves and save his family? Do you really care? Directed by Richard Pepin (as "Rick Pepin") who, along with Joseph Merhi, gave us some great B-grade action films during the 90's through their PM Entertainment production company; SHOCKWAVE (2005). If this Jim Wynorski-directed (using his "Jay Andrews" pseudonym once again) sci-fi actioner seems familiar, it's because he simply rejiggered Steve Latshaw's screenplay from his vastly superior CURSE OF THE KOMODO (2003) and substituted round machines that walk on four long legs and have two retractable clawed arms (terrible CGI effects from Scott Coulter, who must have watched Spielberg's version of WAR OF THE WORLDS [2005] one too many times). The plot is full of holes; the biggest one being after being told that standard weapons cannot hurt the machines, a squadron of marines use automatic weapons and pistols on the machines and get torn apart for their trouble. Originally called A.I. ASSAULT when shown on the Sci Fi (SyFy) Network. Under any title, it smells worse than a rhino's balls; SEVERED (2005) is another bad zombie flick. A bunch of eco-terrorists invade a forest company's woods and find out that some of the trees have been genetically altered to grow faster. Now get this: If you touch these trees' sap, you turn into a zombie! How bad is that? Zombie sap? Our fine young group of terrorists then find refuge at a logger's camp in the middle of the woods and soon find out that it is safer being outside with the zombies. They are forced to play a "game", where they are given a certain amount of bullets and must shoot and kill all the zombies in an arena or get eaten. The only thing that eats is this film. It eats shit; MINOTAUR (2005) proves that Tony Todd and Ruther Hauer will appear in anything. This Iron Age tale concerns a legend that eight youths be sacrificed to the mythic Minotaur every five years so peace remains in the country. The youths are lowered into the Minotaur's vast inescapable labyrinth and are chased around until the beast kills them, usually by goring them with its horns. A single male youth, whose girlfriend is one of the eight, goes into the labyrinth to save her. This is strictly Sci Fi Pictures Original Film stuff: Bad CGI with a kill before every commercial break. Stay away; TAMARA (2005) is your standard "ugly girl gets revenge on her classmates" horror film. Ugly duckling Tamara Riley (Jenna Dewan) hits on one of her teachers, Mr. Natolli (Matthew Marsden), and is rebuffed, so she goes home and performs a witchcraft ritual from an ancient book where the mere touch by her can make anyone do her bidding. When a practical joke by some of her schoolmates goes horribly wrong and Tamara ends up dead, they burying her in the woods. But the next day Tamara shows up for class, looking so beautiful that one of her deadly pranksters says "She gives Halle Berry a run for her money!". Things start to go very, very wrong when she starts touching the students involved in the deadly prank, starting first with the geeky AV guy, who cuts off his ear, his tongue and then plants the knife in his eye, killing himself, live on camera for the whole school to see. Tamara begins playing games with the other deadly pranksters, turning two jocks gay ("OK, who is going to be the pitcher and who is going to be the catcher?"), making another eat herself to death and then going after the wife (Claudette Mink) of the teacher that rebuffed him, who is hoping to have a baby (but Tamara makes her barren). Besides a couple of good deaths and one of the most idiotic scenes of self-sacrifice on screen, this film is just your standard stalk 'n' slash flick which is left wide open for a sequel (which, thankfully, never materialized); THE TOOTH FAIRY (2005) is one of those DTV films which is ordinary in every way (and, no, it is not the disasterous 2010 Dwayne Johnson comedy of the same name) about a witch in the late 1940's who would lure children to her cottage and steal their loose teeth, preventing them from going to Heaven by stealing their souls (apparently children's souls are in their teeth), Cut to the present day and the witch's cottage is now a bed and breakfast, where a young girl and her about-to-be-divorced parents stay for one final try at saving their marriage. Of course the little girl loses a tooth, which brings the witch back to life. At first dad (Lochlyn Munro) and mom (Chandra West) don't believe their daughter (Nicole Muñoz) when she tries to explain that there are a bunch of kids from the 1940's begging for her help to destroy the witch, but soon things get too weird not to believe her. They destroy the witch by burning her alive and the children collect their teeth, which the witch kept in a box and they all go the Heaven and everyone lives happily ever after, although the film (of course) leaves the whole affair wide open for a sequel, which thankfully has never happened. Director Chuck Bowman, who is better known for directing episodes of TV series, and late co-writer/co-producer Stephen J. Cannell have definitely done much better than this, which amounts to nothing more than extremely bad junk food for the mind; ISOLATION (2005) is an Irish horror film about a broke farmer who allows a biogenetics firm to experiment on his cows in order to keep his farm operational. The only thing it produces is a bovine creature that is hungry for human blood. This film takes forever to get out of first gear  and then begins to get gory, but not interesting. The only good thing I have to say about it is that absolutely no CGI was used here, only practical effects; HAMMERHEAD (a.k.a. SHARKMAN - 2005) is one of those films where you sit slackjawed at the stupidity of it all. A scientist (Jeffrey Combs) develops a serum to try and help his terminally sick son. Instead of helping him, it turns him into a half man/half hammerhead shark! William Forsythe and a bunch of other people try to get off the isolated island before they become shark chow. Ridiculous is the word that best describes this film; SILENT SCREAM (2005) is a typical DTV slasher film. A bunch of college students go to their professor's cabin retreat in the middle of winter and begin to get murdered one-by-one by a hooded killer. The cop-out ending shows it was all a mass-induced hypnotic dream and the same thing begins to happen all over again. God, I hate those stupid finales. It proves that the screenwriter(s) didn't know how to properly end the film; CRIMSON FORCE (2005) is another dumb Sci-Fi Pictures Original Film about the first manned spaceship to Mars crash landing on the planet and running smack-dab into two warring factions that live on the planet. The spaceship crew (led by C. Thomas Howell) split their alliances between the two factions, causing trouble that almost leads to an invasion of Earth. Contains the same bad CGI and one death per commercial break that is the Bible of Sci Fi (SyFy) films; BLOOD RELIC (2005) is another incredibly cheap horror flick from director J. Christian Ingvordsen (BOG CREATURES - 2002) that takes place at one location to keep costs down. A relic posesses people one by one at a closed aviation airbase and begins killing the rest of the cast (including Debbie Rochon). Billy Drago is given top billing on the DVD cover, yet he only has a cameo;  And now some reviews for awful films made in 2005 by The Asylum: ALIEN ABDUCTION (2005) is a film from The Asylum that I almost gave a positive review, except the ending is so confusing, the enjoyment you may have had through the rest of the film is erased by default. Director Eric Forsberg (NIGHT OF THE DEAD: LEBEN TOD - 2006; MEGA PIRANHA - 2010) has since told people that the ending was chopped-up (not by him) to purposely make it confusing (he also explained how it was supposed to end). A woman is abducted by aliens and ends up in a secret government facility, where a sympathetic doctor tries to help her escape. But things aren't always the way they seem. If the finale weren't so confusing, this would be one of The Asylum's best films; DEAD MEN WALKING (2005) is a cheap knock-off from The Asylum of director/actor John Saxon's DEATH HOUSE (1987), where prisoners in a penitentiary become zombies due to experimentation and begin chowing down on the uninfected. It does have a bigger cast than usual for an Asylum film, but that's about it; THE BEAST OF BRAY ROAD (2005) is another rarity from The Asylum for the fact that it is not a rip-off of a Hollywood blockbuster. Unfortunately, this werewolf film (supposedly based on a true story) is so badly acted that it detracts from any enjoyment to be had, especially the ending that totally took me by surprise. Too bad, because director Leigh Scott (HILLSIDE CANNIBALS - 2005; THE HITCHHIKER - 2007) almost succeeded in making a good film; LEGION OF THE DEAD (2005) is a bad film starring Bruce Boxleitner and Zach Galligan (insert career jokes here) about finding an ancient Egyptian queen mummy who comes to life and raises her undead minions to kill the cast. Cheap to the extreme; JOLLY ROGER: MASSACRE AT CUTTER'S COVE (2005) was The Asylum's first chance to jump on the Johnny Depp pirate bandwagon (They later made PIRATES OF TREASURE ISLAND [2006], starring Lance Henriksen) and I must say I was a little disappointed with the outcome since it was directed by Gary Jones (SPIDERS - 2000; AXE GIANT: THE WRATH OF PAUL BUNYAN - 2012). A bunch of young adults finds a treasure chest on the beach and open it, unleashing the title character, who proceeds to kill everyone who gets in his way. Strictly by-the-numbers stalk 'n' slash flick; SHAPESHIFTER (2005) is another original film from The Asylum that fails because of bad acting and being filmed on one set. The guards and inmates of a prison (it has to be the smallest prison in history!) are trapped inside while one of them is the titled creature, a shapeshifting monster who gets stronger with every kill. A good creature costume is all this film has for positive points; INTERMEDIO (2005) is yet another original film from The Asylum (2005 was a banner year for them from this cheap company). Too bad it is an indescribable mess thanks to a "huh?" screenplay (the plot concerns an underground cave in Mexico that harbors unfriendly ghosts) and the non-acting talents of Edward Furlong. Steve Railsback also stars, but he really looks pissed that he got caught acting in a steaming pile of shit like this; KING OF THE LOST WORLD (2005) is The Asylum's rip-off of Peter Jackson's KING KONG (2005), only with dime store CGI (really, some of the CGI effects here made me laugh out loud in their awfulness, especially the first appearance of the giant ape). Another career low for Bruce Boxleitner and Steve Railsback (who should have learned his lesson with The Asylum's INTERMEDIO). End of The Asylum 2005 reviews; DISASTER ZONE: VOLCANO IN NEW YORK (2005). Hey, if Los Angeles can have it's own volcano in the big-budgeted VOLCANO (1997), why can't Manhattan have it's own low-budget magma-spurter? This Sci Fi Original Movie about a dastardly scientist (Michael Ironside) who secretly detonates a geothermal device under Manhattan, causing the Sandhogs (underground tunnel diggers), headed by Costas Mandylor, to try and stop the lava caused by the device from reaching ground level, is about as bad as they come. This was one in a long line of disaster films made by the Sci Fi Network and none of them are good at all; Speaking of natural disasters, Nu Image Films released a handful of them under the banner of "Nature Unleashed" between 2003 and 2005 and they were all shown on the Sci Fi Network. All of them contained "borrowed" footage from other films to keep costs down and were all filmed in Bulgaria. They are (in alphabetical order): NATURE UNLEASHED: AVALANCHE (2005), NATURE UNLEASHED: EARTHQUAKE (2004), NATURE UNLEASHED: FIRE (2004), NATURE UNLEASHED: TORNADO (2003) and NATURE UNLEASHED: VOLCANO (2004). It's best to avoid them all; BLACK DAWN (2005) is a sequel to Steven Seagal's DTV THE FOREIGNER (2003) and it is equally bad. Seagal returns as ex-CIA agent Jonathan Cold, who springs an arms dealer from prison and works with him and a group of terrorists to steal plutonuim to build a nuclear bomb to destroy an unknown target in the United States. Is Cold a bad guy or is he working undercover? What do you think? Producer Andrew Stevens (whose production company made the film) puts in a cameo as a security guard and once again Seagal didn't stick around to loop his own voice in post-production (it's so obvious, it is distracting); Speaking of Steven Seagal, TODAY YOU DIE (2005) is just another three word Seagal DTV flick with a plot that has been done a million times. Seagal is an ex-con who tries to go straight, so he takes a job as an armored car driver and picks up 20 million dollars from a Las Vegas casino. He is betrayed by his guard partner, who steals the money and Seagal ends up taking the rap and is put back in prison. He breaks out and looks to get justice. Not only is he paired with a rap star (This time it is Treach, one of the worst rappers-turned-actors), but it "borrows" footage from no less than five films, including Jean-Claude Van Damme's THE ORDER (2001) and Wesley Snipes' UNDISPUTED (2002)! Talk about irony; CERBERUS (2005) is another one of the Sci Fi (SyFy) Channel's Original Films (It's hard to believe they have made over 200 of these!) and it's the same old lousy CGI tacked-on to even a lousier plot. When the breastplate of Attila the Hun is stolen from a museum in Romania, it unleashes the title creature, a giant dog with three heads. A female American artifacts expert knows that the breastplate holds the location to the Sword of Mars, the only weapon that can destroy the creature. Both Greg Evigan and Emmanuelle Vaugier look embarassed at appearing in director John Terlesky's (FIRE SERPENT - 2006) crappy flick; Speaking Of Sci Fi Pictures Original Films, their MANTICORE (2005) was one of the first horror films set during the War in Iraq. Too bad it's just another cheesy CGI fest about the title creature, half-lion, half-dragon, that is set loose in a village when pillagers steal an artifact from a cave. American soldiers and locals must band together to fight it. Just because a film is the first of its kind doesn't necessarily make it good; SOLAR ATTACK (2005) is another one of those Sci Fi (SyFy) Natural Disaster films that contains enough scientific errors to make an astrophysicist's head spin. A huge solar flare escapes from our Sun and heads directly towards Earth. If it destroys our ozone layer (the biggest error in the film), the Earth is literally toast. The President of the United States (Louis Gossett Jr.; which is about the only thing they got right: A black President) hires scientist Mark Dacascos to come up with a way to stop this disaster. Add a sprinkle of bad CGI and a plot directly taken from Generic Stereotypes 101 and what you get is a film not worthy of watching; 2005 was also the year of the locust, with two films, LOCUSTS: THE 8TH PLAGUE (on the Sci Fi Network) and LOCUSTS (debuting on CBS TV), dealing with nearly the same plot: Genetically altered locusts escape from top-secret facilities and start feeding on the residents instead of crops. Both films are equally bad, but the Lucy Lawless character in the CBS film, Maddy Rierdon, returned for a second film, VAMPIRE BATS (2005), also making its premiere on CBS; BENEATH STILL WATERS (2005) is another one of director Brian Yuzna's films for the Spanish Filmax Productions (BEYOND RE-ANIMATOR - 2003; ROTTWEILER - 2004) whose lofty ambitions are undone by a low budget. A small Spanish town is flooded to cover-up a supernatural entity and two boys are trapped and killed in the process. Forty years later, on the anniversary of the flooding, an ancient evil arises from the lake to kill the ancestors of those responsible for the flooding, with the dam holding back the waters destroyed, exposing the town once more. There are some atmospheric shots and a shock or two, but the plot really makes very little sense. Yuzna needs to start working with bigger budgets and using actors where English isn't their second language; INSECTICIDAL (2005) is one of the worst horror films on this list. Besides the terrible acting, the CGI giant insects are an abomination and look like they were produced on someone's home computer without the proper amount of memory. Check out the giant praying mantis. I would laugh hysterically if I didn't believe for one second that director Jeffrey Lando (HOUSE OF BONES - 2010) was trying to be absolutely serious. This is what is left over when you are done scraping the bottom of the barrel. For a much longer review of the film, click HERE; PTERODACTYL (2005). I am a huge fan of director Mark L. Lester (TRUCK STOP WOMEN - 1974; BOBBIE JO AND THE OUTLAW - 1975; CLASS OF 1984 - 1981), but even this film would try the patience of a saint. First off, there's the terrible pterodactyl CGI (by Sci Fi Network regular Scott Coulter, whose visual effects house was responsible for most of that network's original films CGI work) and, second, there's the stunt casting of another rap star in a starring role (in this case it's Coolio). The plot is standard giant monster stuff: A professor and his students discover pyerodactyl eggs on the Turkish/Armenian border and are attacked by the full-grown CGI creations. Coincidentally, a military unit (headed by Coolio) happens to be nearby and battle the flying dinosaurs with their automatic weapons. CGI decapitations and very little practical effects follow. Why bother?; SUBMERGED (2005) is the same Steven Seagal DTV junk that we've come to expect. Seagal is an ex-CIA agent (When isn't he?) who is in prison (When isn't he?) and is sprung by the government (When isn't he?) to combat bad guy Vinnie Jones, who has taken control of a nuclear submarine and is threatening to destroy the United States. The biggest disappointment of this film is that it was directed by Anthony Hickox, who gave us such good films as WAXWORK (1988), SUNDOWN: THE VAMPIRE IN RETREAT (1990) and HELLRAISER III: HELL ON EARTH (1992). I guess we all have to make a living, since he also gave us the awful BLAST (2004), too.

Bad DTV Genre Films Part 5 (continued): SOUTHERN GOTHIC (2006), a terrible vampire film starring THE RIG's William Forsythe (who has his head blown-off with a shotgun, just like he did in the Season 3 opener of BOARDWALK EMPIRE - 2012) and good guy Yul Vazquez, whose performance is so morose, he makes a corpse look lively in comparison; THE WOODS (2006). I'm somewhat a fan of director Lucky McKee (MAY - 2002; RED - 2008), but even the best directors can make bad films (it sat on the shelf for three years, which is never a good sign). This one is a fragmented mess about a teen (Agnes Bruckner) sent to an all-girls school in the middle of nowhere during the mid-60's. Strange and supernatural things begin to happen, much of it way too confusing to understand. If you want to see a good film that tells nearly the same story, watch Dario Argento's SUSPERIA (1977). McKee also made THE WOMAN (2011), a well-made film I absolutely abhor due to its misogynistic tone; ANDROID APOCALYPSE (2006) is a ridiculous mixture of THE TERMINATOR (1984) and THE DEFIANT ONES (1958). In a dystopian future, machines have taken control of Earth. Human criminal Jute (Scott Bairstow) and malfunctioning android DeeCee (Joseph "Joey" Lawrence, who doesn't say "Whoa!" once in this film) are handcuffed together on their way to prison when their spaceship crashes. Somehow, these two must try to get along while being chased by the law (led by former WWE wrestler Chris Jerico as the head android cop TeeDee), because for some strange reason, they turn out to be the saviors of the Earth. I'll believe that when I live it!; SUMMER SCHOOL (2006) is an unusual anthology film (it was directed by five people, including Lance Henriksen, who also co-stars) about a teen named Charles (Simon Wallace), who runs a web site much like mine and spends all night watching a horror movie marathon. The next morning, he starts summer school, where he nods off in class and dreams that he is in the movies he watched the night before. Or are they dreams? This would be a good film if it weren't so ordinary in its presentation. Unremarkable is the right word for this film; THE KILLING GENE (2006) is another SAW (2004)-inspired flick about closeted gay cop Eddie Argo (Stellan Skarsgård) and new partner Helen Westcott (Melissa George) investigating a serial killer who leaves a mathematical equation (W Delta Z, the film's alternate title) carved into the victims' bodies. They learn that the killer is forcing people to sacrifice themselves or the one they love the most. I guess we can all see where this is going. The finale finds Eddie and his personal gay partner having to make the same decision, with the serial killer torturing Eddie in some of the worst imaginable ways (Get the Unrated DVD rather than the R-Rated one if you want to see the full torture scenes). Besides a good cast, which also includes Tom Hardy and Selma Blair, this is nothing more than torture porn (a term I really hate, but it has become part of the filmic vernacular) with a gay subtext; EARTHSTORM (2006) is perfect SyFy Natural Disaster Week Original programming. That is to say, it is as terrible as the rest of them. When a giant asteroid hits the moon and causes all types of natural disasters on Earth (especially with the ocean's tides), the government sends the always dour astronaut Stephen Baldwin (who looks like he sucks on a lemon before he does a take) and his team to go to the Moon and repair it, before it splits apart and destroys Earth. If you think repairing the moon is a big job, just try resurrecting Stephen Baldwin's acting career; 5IVE GIRLS (2006) is another one of those horror films that tries to be clever by substituting a number for a letter in the title (started by SE7EN - 1995, but at least that was an excellent film). This one is about five wayward girls who are sent to St. Mark's Catholic School For Girls for "re-education"; the school was recently reopened after being closed 13 years earlier when a female student disappeared and was never found. There's the usual stereotypical characters: a sadistic headmistress (Amy Lalonde); a priest with a troubled history (Ron Perlman, who must have owed someone a BIG favor to appear in this) and your varied collection of bad and good girls. When the five girls discover that when they are together, they have supernatural powers, they try to solve the case of the missing girl. This is one film I wish Satan would put in his vaults, but good-old Scratch is not known for being merciful; SS DOOMTROOPER (2006). It's hard to fathom whether this Sci Fi Original Movie is an intentional comedy or not (My vote is not), but this World War II-themed horror flick about the Nazi's creating a supersoldier (who looks like a blue Hulk with a metal head) that gets loose and can't be controlled is hilarious in its ineptitude. The CGI supersoldier creation is laughable, as is David Flores' (SANDS OF OBLIVION - 2007) direction. One intentional joke is to name one of Captain Malloy's (Corin Nemec) soldiers Private Parker Lewis (James Pomichter), named after Nemec's starring role in the TV series PARKER LEWIS CAN'T LOSE (1990 - 1993), where at one point Private Lewis says, "I just can't win!" Besides that one inside joke, the film is not worth your time; DRIFTWOOD (2006) is director Tim Sullivan's (2001 MANIACS - 2004) uneven take on teenage angst and adult-inflicted torture. A teen named David (Raviv 'Ricky' Ullman) can't get over the death of his older rock star brother and becomes obsessed with death, which leads his parents to send him to Driftwood, an "Attitude Adjustment Camp For Youths", run by the sadistic Captain Kennedy (wrestler/actor Diamond Dallas Page; THE DEVIL'S REJECTS - 2005) and his equally brutal second-in-command, Yates (Talan Torriero; THE KILLING JAR - 2010). After witnessing bloody beatings and deadly emotional torture, David begins to see a ghost of another teen boy who died at the camp, which leads to the comeuppance of the two in charge. This would have been a good film, except the storyline is basically a routine prison flick (this time with teens as the prisoners) with supernatural trappings that we've seen done many time before; THE MARSH (2006) is a confounding Canadian tax shelter supernatural horror film, directed by Jordan Barker (TORMENT - 2013), that offers as much thrills as your Aunt Gertrude's slide show of her visit to the thimble factory. The lovely Gabrielle Anwar (BURN NOTICE - 2007-2013) portrays Claire Holloway, a stressed-out writer of children's books who decides to take a relaxing vacation. It turns out to be anything but. She rents a farm in a small town that is next to the titled marsh and soon she is seeing the ghost of a little girl and an angry ghost of a teenage boy. She enlists the help of paranormal investigator Geoffrey Hunt (a slumming Forest Whitaker) to help her uncover the mystery and what they find is as banal as it is boring. Seems like a few teenagers accidentally killed a teenage girl and the little girl shot and killed the angry teenage boy who wanted to enlist the help of his doctor father to cover-up the crime. The other teens throw the bodies of the dead teenage girl and boy into the marsh (the film's only effective scenes) and the little girl dies of exposure. Claire and Geoffrey find a way to put the universe in perfect balance again, by sending the ghost teenage boy where he belongs and letting the little ghost girl go to Heaven. And everyone lived happily ever after. Except the viewer. And it has one of those quick endings which implies that the terror is not yet quite over. I hate that crap;  DRAGON DYNASTY (2006) is one of those rare Sci Fi (SyFy) Original Films: The CGI of the dragons is actually better than the acting and the plot. Marco Polo (Federico Castelluccio, better known as "Furio" on THE SOPRANOS [1997 - 2007]) reaches China and, to prove he is not an enemy of the country, agrees to kill the fire-breathing dragons (director Matt Codd designed the dragons and most of the CGI effects were done by a Bulgarian effects house) that litter the countryside. There are a few scenes that involve the dragons that are impressive (especially the underwater sequence), but the plot and acting are way below par. The Sci Fi Channel turned out a lot of dragon-themed movies before they moved on to other genres; SHADOW MAN (2006) is just another substandard Steven Seagal DTV flick with the generic Seagal storyline. Seagal is Jack Foster, an ex-CIA operative (Jesus H. Christ, not again!), who is hired as a courier (Jesus H. Christ, not again!) to deliver a package that he doesn't know contains a lethal virus. Once he finds out what he is really carrying, the bad guys kidnap his daughter (Jesus H. Christ, not again!) to make him deliver the package. Can he save his daughter and keep the lethal virus out of the wrong hands? Do you really care?; STEPHEN KING'S DESPERATION (2006) was supposed to be a two-part miniseries, but ABC decided to show it in one night (against AMERICAN IDOL, which pissed-off King to no end, because it was one of his lowest-rated films shown on TV). Since King wrote the teleplay to his 700 page novel, he only has himself (and long-time King director Mick Garris) to blame. Ron Perlman plays a possessed policeman (who ends every sentence with the work "Tak") who stops innocent victims on a deserted piece of highway, plants a bag of marijuana on them and takes them to jail. The group of "prisoners" (including a boy who preaches the word of God, which really irked me) escape their cells and try to make it out of the town of Desperation, Nevada, only to be possessed one-by-one by an evil that lives in the nearby mines. Only the God-loving boy has the answer ("God is love." God is this. God is that.) and if you are not religious (like me), this flick will drive you up a wall. A very tall wall; THE BREED (2006) is an average remake of director Robert Clouse's THE PACK (1977), with a few differences. A group of friends land a sea plane next to an island that is supposed to be deserted, but it was once a government facility used for canine research. Now the island is full of nasty dogs ready to kill anyone they see. The friends must fight their way off the island, but that proves trickier than it seems because these dogs are also very intelligent. I'm giving it bad marks because I have seen it all done before and done much better; FIRE SERPENT (2006) makes absolutely no sense and it came from the mind of Executive Producer William Shatner (who gets a story credit). Why would a fire monster from our Sun come to a planet that is two-thirds water? That's just one of the many plot holes to be found in director John Terlesky's (CERBERUS - 2005) ridiculous film (watch the pistol model change in Sandrine Holt's hand in the finale). The only fun to be had is star Randolph Mantooth's sly reference to being a fireman earlier in his life, a witty remark to his starring role in the 70's TV series EMERGENCY! (1972 - 1979); ATTACK OF THE GRYPHON (2006). Director Andrew Prowse (DRIVING FORCE - 1989; DEMONSTONE - 1989) is not known for his directorial prowess, but I'll watch anything starring Larry Drake (DR. GIGGLES - 1992). Unfortunately, this film would try the patience of a death row inmate. Two warring kingdoms in medieval times have been going at it for over three hundred years, but sorcerer Armand (Drake), under the command of King Phillip of Lockland (Adrian Pintea), has a way to make his kingdom have the upper hand: He awakens a Gryphon, a giant creature with the head, talons and wings of an eagle and the body of a lion (yes, you read that correctly). Princess Amelia of Lockland (Amber Benson) disagrees with this decision, so she joins forces with her enemy, Prince Seth of Delphi (Jonathan LaPaglia), to find the Draconian Pike, the only weapon known to kill the beast. More Scott Coulter-created bad CGI and a ridiculous story make this a bad choice for a rainy day; CAPTIVITY (2006) is the term "torture porn" was created for. It is nothing but pure torture. In the opening few minutes, we see the black-gloved serial killer forcefeed acid down a guy's throat and he dissolves from the inside out and then we see the killer give a tied-up woman an acid shower, making mince meat of her face. The killer then sets his sights on vain and conceited model Jennifer (Elisha Cuthbert; 24 - 2001-2010), whom he kidnaps and ties to a bed, making her watch videos of his previous kills and making her life a living hell by killing her pet miniature dog (every model has one) and keeping her on her toes with threats against her life. She meets fellows kidnapee Gary Dexter (Daniel Gillies) and from that point on, you would have to be deaf, dumb and blind not to see what is going to happen next. Yes, Gary is working along with partner and brother Ben Dexter (a googly-eyed Pruitt Taylor Vince) kidnapping, torturing and finally killing their prey, only this time Gary has fallen for Jennifer and kills brother Ben (well he actually doesn't finish the job; Jennifer does with a sharp knife to his side). After Ben kills two nosy detectives with a shotgun, the dumb-as-a-brick Jennifer finally catches on (she actually kills a Detective who is not quite dead yet!) and discovers Gary is the serial killer. She first forgets to cock the shotgun to kill Ben, but he stupidly shows her how to do it and a struggle ensues and Jennifer pumps three shotgun shells into Ben and thanks him for the firearms lesson. She then steps out of the house like nothing happened and walks home. THE END. Director Roland Joffé (a long fall from when he directed quality films like THE KILLING FIELDS - 1984), working with a script co-written by a slumming Larry Cohen (Director/Writer of IT'S ALIVE -1973; GOD TOLD ME TO - 1976; IT LIVES AGAIN - 1978 and many more quirky films), offers nothing but endless scenes of suffering and degradation with absolutely no entertainment value. If only Elisha Cuthbert was eaten by that cougar in 24 (not the show's most shining moment), we may have someone else with more of a human touch that we can root for. The thing is, Jennifer has absolutely no redeeming values. She is just a spoiled, rich brat who likes to get her way (and watches the search for her on TV with supreme interest because it keeps her in the news). There's not one single positive thing I can say about this film (except it is available in R-Rated and Unrated Versions, in which many changes were made for it to evolve from a straight-up thriller to horror/gore film [you can actually spot the differences in Cuthbert's hairstyles] that went through more title changes than ten films, including one called TERMINATION whose poster was so  upsetting, distributor Lionsgate and After Dark Films pulled the posters and billboards from its Los Angeles location after many consumer complaints), so I'll end it here; MERCENARY FOR JUSTICE (2006) is another Steven Seagal DTV film. Seagal portrays mercenary John Seeger, who is working on a job when he see his partner needlessly killed by the actions of other mercenaries. He moves back to the United States to take care of his best friend's wife and young son, but when they are kidnapped by CIA bad guys, John is blackmailed to go to South Africa to break out the son of a gun dealer from a Cape Town prison. John breaks him out, but then must find a way to rescue his dead best friend's wife and son before they are killed and the mission scrubbed from the books forever. There's nothing here that you haven't seen a hundred times before; Steven Seagal returns in ATTACK FORCE (2006), this time as a member of a strike team whose entire team gets wiped out under mysterious circumstances. Seagal investigates and find that a secret military operation, called CTX Majestic, is behind the murders. Now that he knows the truth, the organization looks to wipe him off the map. Expect lots of fights (mostly by Seagal's stunt double) and very little sense; AFTER... (2006) is a headache-inducing tale about "extreme explorers", a group of thrill seekers who enter buildings and other places illegally and do stupid things, like jump off the roof of high rises with parachutes. Two of the explorers are in a troubled relationship and the girl is about to tell the guy that she is pregnant (in hopes the relationship will improve), but she will only tell him after they jump off a tall building. A series of events put them and their group in a Russian subway tunnel system and everything becomes a total nightmare, where nothing makes sense. As you can probably guess, the man jumped off the building without a parachute, committing suicide, and all this was going through his head as he was falling to his death to the concrete below. I guess Hell is what you make of it; in this case it's a series of inescapable subway cars that show video clips of all the man's mistakes. Believe me, this is no AN OCCURANCE AT OWL CREEK BRIDGE (1962), as it is full of solarized photography, shakey helmet camera footage and handheld digital video shots. There is a nice score by The Crystal Method, though (And, yes, this old man loves electronic music!); AXE (a.k.a. GREED - 2006) is a lousy horror thriller about two female rock climbers who find a bag of stolen money after stealing a biker gang leader's motorcycle in retribution for being sexually harassed in a bar. They are not only chased by the motorcycle gang, a serial killer called "The Axeman" has also escaped prison and the two women and everyone else (including the occupants and owner of a motel where the two girls hole-up after the motorcycle breaks down) have to deal with this nearly indestructable killer (guess which weapon is his favorite?). Director Ron Wolotzky (not surprisingly, his only feature film directorial effort) tries to pack too much plot into a low budget flick and the film suffers greatly because of it;  IN THE SPIDER'S WEB (2006) is another cheap Sci-Fi Channel (now SyFy) horror flick about a bunch of American hikers in the India forest (actually filmed in Thailand) who come to a small village in the middle of nowhere when one of their female members is bitten by a poisonous spider. There they meet an American doctor (Lance Henriksen, who needs a new agent), who is actually a leader of a cult that worships spiders and uses the spiders' victims to sell their organs on the black market. There's a man with a burlap sack over his head which is supposedly Henriksen's brother and the surgeon in charge (we finally see what's under the burlap at the end of the film), a whole bunch of different species of spiders (some of them done in bad CGI) and a cavern full of extra-strong spider webs. The only good thing about the film is that the new goofy chief of police (Sohrab Ardeshir) is actually a good guy who cares about the fate of the foreign tourists who came to visit. If you hate spiders (there are thousands on 'em!), stay away from this film. If you hate bad horror movies, stay away from this film; NIGHTMARE MAN (2006). Even though my girl Tiffany Shepis is one of the stars of this standard stalk 'n' slash film, it doesn't mean that it is good. On the contrary. A woman (Blythe Metz) mistakenly receives an African fertility mask in the mail (she and her husband are looking to conceive and were waiting for an Italian fertility mask) and she (and only she) begins to see the title character. It gets so bad that she needs to take anxiety medication to control her fears and, as her husband is driving her to a mental hospital for treatment, the car breaks down and the husband goes off on his own to get some help. The Nightmare Man appears and chases the woman to a house filled with people who don't believe her story. They should have listened to her, because not only is the Nightmare Man real and begins killing the cast, the woman is also harboring a secret of her own. The surprise ending can be seen a mile away and the film is unremarkable; I heard lots of good word of mouth about the urban drama WEAPONS (2006), but I couldn't believe how boring and banal it actually was. The film opens with an overlong static shot of Nick Cannon taking bites out of a cheeseburger with too much ketchup on it. After what seems a lifetime, an out-of-focus-figure in the background enters the fast food restaurant, cocks a shotgun and blows half of Cannon's head off (definitely the best part of the film). The rest of the film is a series of vignettes about both white and black teenagers that slooooowly become inter-related (For an 82-minute film, it seems twice as long). I was hoping for better, since Paul Dano was one of those teens who never goes anywhere without his video camera (it plays an important part in one shooting, actually the only other shooting on the entire film), but director/screenwriter Adam Bhala Lough (basically a documentary filmmaker) is definitely no Larry Clark when it comes to stories about troubled kids. I was bored beyond tears, which is why Lough was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. If you need to get some sleep, by all means watch this film (the droning music score by Ethan Higbee doesn't help matters). The Sandman will come quickly.; SHATTERED (a.k.a. BUTTERFLY ON A WHEEL - 2006) is one of those films with a great cast and a plot so banal, you can guess the ending as soon as the excitement starts. Gerard Butler and Maria Bello plays a supposedly happily married couple who are then kidnapped in their car by Pierce Brosnan and told to do what he says or their little girl back home will be killed. They have to withdraw all their money while Brosnan burns it and throws it off a bridge and forced to do other things that aren't as bad as they are painful (emotionally, not physically), but it is so obvious that Brosnan is getting help that the "surprise" finale could be seen coming a mile away and when it is exposed, it is in such a ho-hum manner, that you will hardly give a damn. Why good actors like this trio decided to star in director Mike Barker's (BEST LAID PLANS - 1999; this is still his last theatrical film as of this writing, as he now directs episodes of TV series) anemic thriller is beyond me. It is neither thrilling or surprising. Instead of playing theatrically as planned, it went directly to TV in the United States; BEHIND ENEMY LINES II: AXIS OF EVIL (2006) is the first of two DTV sequels (the second one being BEHIND ENEMY LINES: COLOMBIA - 2009) to the 2001 theatrical film starring Owen Wilson and Gene Hackman. The plot is basically the same as the first film, only the country is different. Lt. Robert James (Nicholas Gonzalez; ANACONDAS: THE HUNT FOR THE BLOOD ORCHID - 2004) and three other Navy SEALS are dropped into North Korea to destroy a nuclear missile that they are about to fire. Trouble is, South Korea objects to the mission and Robert and his SEALS are trapped behind enemy lines, with no hope of help from their own country. After two of the SEALS are killed in a firefight, Robert is captured, along with an injured MCPO Neil 'Spaz' Callaghan (Matt Bushell; TWILIGHT - 2008). Robert is tortured by having a spike driven through his left hand, but he survives by thinking about his trainer, MCPO Scott Boytano (Keith David in flashbacks), and how he taught him and the rest of his Navy SEAL team how to survive in the worst of conditions (There is a funny flashback involving Keith David on an airplane that will have you laughing, the only funny part of the film). Unfortunately, the film is just one firefight after another (filmed either in slow-motion or by having the film stop dead in its tracks and then having the shot person flying backwards; there is even a bullet POV shot), with Robert and Spaz joining forces with South Korean freedom fighters to try and get the hell out of North Korea. They finally do, but the whole operation has to be kept a secret, since the nuclear missile misfired and exploded in North Korea. I was expecting a lot more, especially with a supporting cast that included Ben Cross, Bruce McGill, Glenn Morshower, Denis Arndt and Peter Coyote as the President of the United States, but director/screenwriter/co-producer James Dodson (Director of DEADLY RIVALS - 1993 and Executive Producer of CHRONICLE - 2012) has turned in an ordinary war film with nothing of note worth speaking of. That's a shame, since North Korea is in the news so much lately;  DEAD TONE (a.k.a. 7EVENTY 5IVE - 2007), a horror flick with enough holes to make swiss cheese jealous. A group of partiers start playing a phone game (but first they have to punch in the code to block Caller I.D.) where they must keep the person on the other end of the phone on the line for seventy five seconds. One partier forgets to punch in the code before he does the prank and contacts a psychopathic killer. Or does he? All this has to do with something that happened to a group of kids playing the same prank when they were small and they watched their parents being slaughtered by some psycho. At least one of the partiers was one of those kids and it's up to detective Rutger Hauer and his female partner to uncover the truth. This film contains one of the worst endings in recent history and somehow Flavor Flav (who was hosting the awful BET TV anthology film NITE TALES: THE MOVIE [2008] and the even worse WGN Network anthology horror TV show NITE TALES: THE SERIES [2009] at the time [don't worry if you've never heard of it because it only lasted five episodes]) was called in to play host to the movie long after it was filmed. Flav doesn't seem to know a single thing about the movie (he's in it at the beginning for about ten seconds) and I've given you enough info to warn you to stay away; REIGN OF THE GARGOYLES (2007). Most of us by now know of Hitler's belief in black magic (see my review of BLOOD CREEK - 2008), but in this film we are led to believe that the Nazi Party found a way to bring stone gargoyles to life to fight U.S. bomber planes during World War II. Joe Penny stars as the commander of a fleet of bombers attacked by gargoyles and must find a way to stop them. The CGI gargoyles are better than normal for a film like this, but the plot is generic Sci Fi (SyFy) Original Movie fodder; URBAN JUSTICE (2007) is a Steven Seagal DTV flick that almost got a recommendation from me, except for the fact that Seagal is teamed with comedian Eddie Griffin, who wears a doo-rag on his head throughout the film and is about as threatening as a dog with no legs (watch BLAST [2004] to see what I mean). Seagal portrays an ex-Special Forces agent whose cop son is murdered in the worst part of town. Seagal moves to the barrio to get the person responsible and hooks-up with Griffin, who shows him how to get along in the ghetto. There are some good action scenes (and the appearance of Danny Trejo doesn't hurt, either, since they both fought a memorable fight during the finale of director Robert Rodriguez's film MACHETE [2010], Seagal's first theatrical film in years), but whenever Griffin opens his toothy mouth (really, his mouth is so big, you could stick a Toyota in there), he drags the film down. Unfortunately, there are too many instances of this to give this film a good review; STIR OF ECHOES:THE HOMECOMING (2007) is a dreary and slow-moving sequel of sorts to the Kevin Bacon film of 1999, STIR OF ECHOES. In this one, Rob Lowe portrays a Medal of Honor-winning soldier just back from the war in Iraq, who may have brought something supernatural back with him. The problem is, he didn't bring anything back with him. It was actually his son and some friends who killed a Muslim student with a flat tire on the side of the road, all because of a bumper sticker on his car that says "No Blood For Oil"! A stupid premise for a boring film with no real resolution besides Dad saving his son's life by admitting to the murder. Now he must spend the rest of his life in a cell looking at the ghost of the dead Muslim student. Lifeless doesnt begin to describe this film; LAKE MUNGO (2007) is a dreary faux Australian documentary filled with interviews, found footage (oh crap) and supposedly scary photos. In 2005, the accidental death of a teenager named Alice at the titled lake (a real place), leaves her friends and family grieving because at first they cannot find her body. Her picture suddenly turns up in photos taken by people in the area (you know the kind: fuzzy to the point of being maybe or maybe not it is a girl in the background). Even after her decomposing body is found, she still (supposedly) ends up in photos and video footage taken by friends, family and strangers. As a primer for family grief, this film may be better than most. As a horror film, this will leave you cold and unconcerned. This is one of those films (part of the AFTER DARK HORRORFEST 4 series that was shown in limited theaters for a week in January 2010) that purports to show something that may or may not be there. It could be nothing by a grieving family's hope that their daughter is trying to contact them from beyond. You will find no proof either way; HOUSE (2007) is one of the very few R-Rated religious films disguised as a horror film. It comes from the novel written by Frank Peretti & Ted Dekker (both co-producers here), whose previous novels have been turned into the films THE HANGMAN'S CURSE (2003); THE VISITATION (2005) and THR3E (2006), all PG-13 Rated religious films with horror overtones. It was also directed by Robby Henson, whose forté seems to be weird religious films (including two of the above, not counting this film). This mish-mash of a film concerns two couples who are stranded at a creepy Bed & Breakfast when both of their cars are in accidents. All of them have deep, dark secrets which come into the foreground when the house comes under attack by the Tin Man (Do not, and I repeat, DO NOT read the credits of the film on IMDb to discover who the Tin Man is before watching the film) and makes their past transgressions fuck with their minds. It's all highly confusing, but contains a bunch of good actors, including Bill Moseley, Leslie Easterbrook (who appeared together in Rob Zombie's THE DEVIL'S REJECTS - 2005), Michael Madsen and Lew Temple (Lance Henriksen supplies the voice of the Tin Man so it doesn't give away the identity of who it really is too soon). There are a few bloody shots in the film, but it skirts the PG-13/R-Rating ever so slightly (if it weren't for the shotgun death of a child and a few more small  trims, it could be Rated PG-13). It also has one of those endings where those who repent their sins get away and the others who sins can't be forgiven (such as killing your abusive father with a shotgun when you are a child when he tries to kill a deer) are killed and shows us that the Tin Man may actually be the Devil. At least this film doesn't try to cram religion down your throat, but as a regular supernatural film it is still a mess. Now they just make pure religious films trying to tell us God is real and spoon feed the pablum to us with their silver spoons. This film failed terribly at theaters when it was shown in November 2008 (two years after it finished filming), making a measly $329,836 at 363 theaters. This film ended the religious horror movie, even though people have said that the book is fantastic. If it's anything like the film, these people need to see a priest right away. Or a shrink.

Bad DTV Genre Films Part 6 (continued): FURNACE (2007). What else would you expect from William Butler, director of GINGERDEAD MAN 3: SATURDAY NIGHT CLEAVER (2011; although Butler's MADHOUSE [2004] was slightly above-average)? Shakespeare? After an interesting start, this film breaks down rather quickly, about a prison where an old wing is reopened due to overcrowding and prisoners and guards begin to die, thanks to a ghost that haunts the wing's furnace. When despondent detective Michael Pare is called in to investigate the case, he finds that someone was burned alive years before in the furnace, vowing revenge. Didn't nearly the same thing happen in director Renny Harlin's PRISON (1988)? And what's with the stunt casting of rap stars in DTV films lately (in this film it's Ja Rule, who spent some time in a real jail for illegal gun possession and tax evasion)?; BOOGEYMAN 2 (2007) is just another Unrated bloody stalk 'n' slash DTV flick, where the original BOOGEYMAN (2004) was an atmospheric PG-13-rated horror film. Teens with bad phobias are committed to a psychiatric hospital when the Boogeyman begins dispatching them. Or is it the Boogeyman? Only distinguished by the appearance of SAW franchise's Tobin Bell. (Another sequel, directed by Gary Jones, followed in 2008); HAUNTED FOREST (2007). I dare you to make sense of this highly confusing horror flick about a haunted tree, desecrating an Indian burial ground, a young man who must investigate and a vengeful 200 year-old female spirit. Apparently, the tree is hollow, just like the hole-filled screenplay; THE WILD MAN OF NAVIDAD (2007) is one of those films that has purposely been given that "grindhousey" look simply because it takes place in 1975 (Co-Producer and co-star Kim Henkel loaned the filmmakers props from THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE [1974] to use in the film). A man, who has just lost his job, opens his land at the Navidad River in Sublime, Texas for hunters (he needs the money to take care of his wheelchair-bound wife, not knowing that her Mexican male nurse is abusing her), knowing full well that there is some type of Bigfoot creature that lives in the area. Filled with non-actors (which can sometimes work in a film's favor, but not this one) and long stretches of nothing happening makes this film a perfect concoction to put you to sleep. Dale S. Rogers, the individual whose real-life journals the story is based on, reportedly refuses to watch the finished film. That should tell you something; DAYS OF DARKNESS (2007) is just another routine zombie film. A comet carrying an alien lifeform crashes to Earth and turns all the men into mindless zombies and makes the women pregnant with alien fetuses. The survivors settle into a gated compound and are picked-off one by one until it is revealed that alcohol is the alien's kryptonite! One-dimensional characters (including an anti-gay preacher who is secretly gay) and a storyline done a million times; KAW (2007) has a neat title, but all this really is an homage to Hitchcock's THE BIRDS (1963). How do I know it's an homage? Well, besides a story about a bunch of ravens (actually called an "unkindness" of ravens) attacking the citizens of a small town (brought about by a Mennonite curse), just as the town sheriff (Sean Patrick Flanery) is about to retire, the film also features Rod Taylor, who was the star of Hitchcock's film. This isn't such a bad film as the rest on this list, but it is nothing to go out of you way for, either. It is better than THE BIRDS II: LAND'S END (1994), but what isn't?; FLIGHT OF FURY (2007) is not only a lousy Steven Seagal DTV flick, it also plagiarizes and uses extensive footage from the Michael Dudikoff-starrer BLACK THUNDER (1998). So bad, in fact, that it is a scene-for-scene rip-off of the film and they don't even credit the original film's screenwriter, William C. Martell, with a story credit (the film does give him tiny "thanks" during the final credits of this movie, but blink and you'll miss it). The story is about the government hiring Seagal to retrieve a stealth bomber stolen by a traitorous pilot and bring it back. The film is not only boring as hell, it also uses extensive aerial and explosion footage from another film, IRON EAGLE (1986). Don't waste your time with this one. Rent the Dudikoff film instead. It's not that good, but at least it's original; SANDS OF OBLIVION (2007). You have to give screenwriters Jeff Coatney and Kevin VanHook credit for a unique premise: Legend says that in 1923, just after legendary director Cecil B. DeMille finished THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, he ordered the entire set buried in Califorinia's Guadalupe Sand Dunes, where it was filmed. No one knew why. In the present day, two divorcing archaeologists dig up the set and discover why: DeMille was trapping an ancient Egyptian sand demon, which he accidentally awakened while making the film. Now the sand demon is on the loose again and must be trapped once more. Nice premise. Too bad director David Flores and the tacky CGI are unable to sustain the one-of-a-kind screenplay, which mixes fact and fiction. And just what is George Kennedy doing in this mess? He deserves so much better; EYE OF THE BEAST (2007) is a typical Sci Fi (SyFy) flick about a giant sea creature. This time it's a giant squid (which science has proven are real) that begins feasting off the local fishing population of a small coastal town. Enter a scientist (James Van Der Beek in a career low; he has rebounded nicely in the past year or so) and a woman (Alexandra Castillo) whose grandfather was also killed by the same squid years earlier. They plan on destroying the menace, so the fishing industry in the town is able to return to normal. Expect some dodgy CGI squid footage to go along with some CGI-enhanced gore; It's not terrible, but that's not an endorsement; CATACOMBS (2007) is a pretty dire horror thriller that has a unique location: The catacombs of Paris, where over seven million people are interred. Troubled, pill-popping Victoria (Shannyn Sossamon) is invited to Paris by her hard-partying sister Carolyn (singer Pink, here using her real name, Alecia Moore) to have some fun and dance her troubles away at a rave above the catacombs. Quickly, Victoria finds herself in the limestone catacombs all by herself, being chased by a psycho in a goat mask. After 90 minutes of being chased around the dark catacombs (everything is very hard to see), it is revealed that it was all a prank initiated by her sister. The only problem is, Victoria has accidentally killed one of Carolyn's French friends, so a pissed-off and mentally-unbalanced Victoria decides it is best to kill everyone involved in the prank and return to the U.S. as if nothing happened. The last time we see Victoria, she is getting into a French cab and heading towards the airport, her clothes and body covered in everyone's blood. Pretty dire, right? And it took this film's two directors, Tomm Coker & David Elliot, to write the one-note screenplay; THE GENE GENERATION (2007) is a sub-standard cyber-punk tale about an assassin (Bai Ling, who wears tight leather outfits to show off maximum cleavage), who must save her idiotic thief brother (Parry Shen; HATCHET - 2007) from a crime lord (CSI:'s coroner Robert David Hall), who leads a group of "DNA Hackers", who steal other people's DNA and then kills them. Full of bad CGI (courtesy of Scott Coulter, who does the CGI effects for many of the "SyFy Original Films"), pretty good martial arts fights (courtesy of fight coordinator Jeff Imada), gunfights and Bai Ling's huge nipples. Faye Dunaway, of all people, puts in a cameo; GRIZZLY PARK (2007) is a standard DTV horror flick that is only distinguished by the presence of Glenn Morshower (from TV's 24 [2001 - 2009]) in a rare leading role. Morshower plays Ranger Rob, who must supervise eight young adult law breakers, who chose learning to live off the land doing community service rather than going to jail. Unfortunately, a serial killer and a killer grizzly bear are on the loose. The film takes forever to get moving, nearly all the characters are unlikable, the gore doesn't flow until the final 30 minutes (where we witness the bear hit a boob-jobbed princess so hard her torso hits a tree and her silicon implants fall out!) and the only "good" girl turns out to be the villain. It seems Ranger Rob and the bear are working in cahoots and everyone gets their comeuppance, promising a sequel in the final shot. So far, it hasn't materialized. Available cheaply on the HORROR 4 PACK VOLUME 2 DVD compilation  (be aware that there are 4 movies on one disc); SHOWDOWN AT AREA 51 (2007) is one of the worst films ever churned-out by by the Sci Fi Network and believe me, that's saying a lot. Two warring aliens come to Earth to find an orb that can destroy Earth and the good alien's (Coby Bell) planet. Can you guess where the orb is located? Jason London (THE DEVIL'S TOMB - 2008) is the human that gets involved with the good alien to find the orb before the bad alien (a terrible CGI robot creation) finds it first. There are enough plot holes to fly a spaceship through (Like why pick now to find the orb when Area 51 has had it since 1947?) and the film is boring as hell, to boot, not to mention the same crappy CGI by Scott Coulter; TRANSMORPHERS (2007) is The Asylum's awful attempt to cash-in on 2007 blockbuster TRANSFORMERS (It was actually released on DVD before the blockbuster hit theaters.). I dare you to find CGI as bad as you'll see in this film. It's almost as bad as the acting; BLOOD MONKEY (2007). With a title like that, who could take this film seriously? Unfortunately, the film is a standard, "hunt and kill" jungle horror film, as the title characters (actually apes, not monkeys) hunt and bloodily kill six American grad students and their professor (F. Murray Abraham, in a new career low) in the jungles of Africa (actually filmed in Thailand). Nothing new here; just the same old DTV garbage; GHOST VOYAGE (2007). "Hi, my name is Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa and I'm not only the Steward on this haunted ship, I also decide whether you go to Heaven or Hell based on your actions here. You. Yes you, Antonio Sabato Jr. You go to Hell no matter how much good you do since you have starrred in so many DTV films. Sorry about that, but Hell is full of 'em!"; BONE EATER (2007) is another ridiculous Jim Wynorski-directed (this time using the pseudonym "Bob Robertson") horror flick about a greedy land developer breaking ground over a sacred Indian burial site and unleashing a giant skeleton creature known as the "Bone Eater", whose touch dissolves flesh from human bodies, leaving nothing but the skeleton. Bruce Boxleitner is the Native American sheriff that must find the ancient tomahawk (that's right, a tomahawk!) that can kill the creature before it can collect all its bones and become complete. The creature is a ridiculous CGI creation and the film wastes the talents of William Katt, Veronica Hamel, Gil Gerard, Michael Horse and Walter Koenig; OGRE (2007) is a rare loser from director Steven R. Monroe (IT WAITS - 2005; HOUSE OF 9 - 2005; LEFT IN DARKNESS - 2006; WYVERN - 2008 [one of the most entertaining giant flying monster films shown on the SyFy Network]; MONGOLIAN DEATH WORM - 2010 [an extremely guilty pleasure]; I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE - 2010) about a man (John Schneider) in 1859 who makes a pact with the Devil to cure a plague that is killing the population of his small Pennsylvania town (and to also save his daughter, because his wife has already died of the disease). Cut to the present day, when a bunch of young adults stumble upon the same town and everyone there seems not to have aged a year since 1859. Their are two caveats, however: They must never leave the town or they will wither of old age and die and they must sacrifice one person a year to a giant Ogre that lives in the area. Since the population of the town is dwindling because all the women seem to be barren, these young adults seem perfect for the sacrifice. The rest of the film has the surviving outsiders trying to find a way to defeat the Ogre with the help of Schneider's daughter (Chelan Simmons), who never agreed with her father's decision and wants to set things right before she dies. Not a terrible film by any stretch of the imagination, but the Scott Coulter-created CGI Ogre ruins the film when it is shown on screen;  GHOSTS OF GOLDFIELD (2007), a horror film so boring, I fell asleep during the middle of it (and had to watch it again!). The film's only saving grace is an extended cameo by Roddy Piper. I never fall asleep while viewing a film, no matter what time it is, so that shoud tell you something on how bad this film really is; BA'AL: THE STORM GOD (2008) is regular Sci Fi Original Movie fodder. A dying mad scientist (Scott Hylands) hopes to find four hidden amulets around the world in order to cure his disease, without caring that the amulets, when brought together, will bring ancient god Ba'al to life and create storms and other natural disasters that will destroy the Earth. This has better-than-average CGI for a Sci Fi film, but it is another low for Jeremy London, who has appeared in a lot of DTV crap; CONTRACT KILLERS (2008) is another DTV actioner about a CIA assassin named Jane (Frida Farrell) who quits the business to settle down to a normal married life. When her husband is intentionally poisoned and dies, Jane is blamed for his death and she must avoid the police and other CIA assassins hired by Witkoff (Nick Mancuso) to kill her. She heads to Trinidad with a hostage (Rhett Giles), while trying to discover why Witkoff wants her dead. We've all seen this scenario before and freshman feature film director/writer Justin Rhodes adds nothing new to the genre; MUTANTS (2008) is one of the most ridiculous zombie films I have ever viewed. The corrupt owner of the Just Rite Sugar Company, with the help of a Nazi-era scientist's son, develops an additive for their sugar which turns any folks that consume it into mindless zombies. How they wrangled Michael Ironside and Steven Bauer to star in this is the biggest mystery of all; STAG NIGHT (2008) is just another standard subway horror film where the characters do the stupidest things possible (like asking a homeless person if they have a cell phone, when they already have one that doesn't work underground!). Four guys out for a night on the town to celebrate their friend's (Kip Pardue) bachelor's party follow two girls on a subway train and become stuck on a part of the New York subway system that hasn't been used since the 1970's. They run into a bunch of underground cannibalistic denizens and try to find a way out of the subway system. They end up doing stupid things (any New Yorker that uses the subway system on a daily basis would laugh at these jerks) and become chow for the cannibals and their dogs. Deserves them right. Bloody but stupid; THE DEVIL'S TOMB (2008) is DTV regular Cuba Gooding Jr.'s stab at a horror film and it's pretty routine, even with a cast of good character actors (Ron Perlman, Ray Winstone, Bill Moseley, Henry Rollins, Frankie G. and Zack Ward). A band of soldiers are sent underground on a top-secret mission to retrieve a scientist and discover a religious artifact, which may raise the Devil himself. It's not long before some of the soldiers become possessed and others see memories of their past. Nothing new. Not badly made (it was directed by Jason Connery, the son of Sean Connery), but like I said, it's routine; BITTEN (2008), a terrible film about a paramedic (Jason Mewes, who probably uses the narcotics in the ambulance more than his patients) who works the midnight shift and becomes boyfriend to a vampire. He must find a way to keep his new girlfriend happy with a supply of blood, which comes down to murdering people. Believe it or not, this is supposed to be a comedy. It's more a tragedy; FREEZER BURN: THE INVASION OF LAXDALE (2008) is a terribly unfunny alien invasion comedy starring Tom Green as an alcoholic disgraced ex-hockey player who discovers that aliens have entered his town (lead by a bored-looking Crispin Glover, who speaks with a German accent!) with the ability to change the temperature of Earth to be very hot so the rest of their race can live there. Of course, Green discovers that cold items are deadly to the aliens and he uses his hockey skills to defeat the invaders, making him the town hero once again. If you thought FREDDY GOT FINGERED (2001) was bad, take a gander at this piece of shit; RIDDLES OF THE SPHINX (2008) is more Sci Fi Original Movie crapola about an Indiana Jones-wannabe (Lochlyn Munro) and his bratty daughter (Emily Tennant) accidentally unleasing a live Sphinx to wreak havoc. The only way to stop this menace is to solve a series of riddles with their mysterious new Lara Croft-wannabe sidekick (Dina Meyer), that will put the Sphinx where it belongs. I usually like these type of adventure films (it's like watching a live puzzle-solving video game), but this one is about as exciting as your Aunt Martha's vacation videos of her week spent at Graceland (and about as cheap-looking, too); DIRECT CONTACT (2008) can be considered one of Dolph Lundgren's worst DTV flicks because about 85% of the action footage is "borrowed" from no less than nine films in the Nu Image library, including WARHEAD (1996), OCTOPUS (2000) and OUT FOR A KILL (2003), all produced by Danny Lerner, this film's director. The plot is simple: Ex-CIA agent Lundgren accepts an assignment from bad guy Michael Paré in order to get out of a Balkan prison. His assignment is to free a woman (Gina May), who was supposedly kidnapped, but when he tries to rescue her, he finds out she was not kidnapped at all. It was all a ploy to get her in the hands of her Uncle (James Chalke), who wants to kill her so he can inherit all her family's wealth. Now Lundgren must protect her from being killed. As soon as the first action scene came on, I knew it was going to be one of those el-cheapo DTV films; ASYLUM (2008) is, unfortunately, just a regular stalk 'n' slash flick directed by the late David R. Ellis (who passed away the first week of 2013) about a bunch of students (all with some type of psychological problem) who learn that their newly-refurbished dorm building used to be an experimental mental institution in the 1930's, until the patients killed the dastardly doctor (Mark Rolston). The doctor returns to life and kills the students using their worst fears against them. Nothing new here, move along; TRAIN (2008) started out as a remake of TERROR TRAIN (1980), but then morphed into a bad version of HOSTEL (2005), only this time on railway tracks. Wrestler Thora Birch (that's right, wrestler) and her unisex team of fellow college wrestlers take a ride on a train in Eastern Europe to their next match (filmed in Bulgaria), where members are picked-off one-by-one is various gory ways until only Birch is left. She then discovers that the train is the conduit for a black market organ transplant facility and finally uses her wrestling moves to kill the brawny head bad guy by smashing his head against a train rail. It's bad, it's boring and it's nothing but torture porn, a genre I'm really beginning to hate. Director/writer Gideon Raff (THE KILLING FLOOR - 2007) has nothing new to offer the genre. It is just blood for blood's sake with the thinnest of story to keep it together. Stay away; DEATH RACERS (2008) is one of The Asylum's mockumentaries; this time trying to fool renters into believing that they were getting the big-budget DEATH RACE (2008) remake. Actually, this film follows director Paul Bartel's original DEATH RACE 2000 (1975) more than the remake does, but it was filmed with horrible digital photography, has bad acting (including members of The Insane Clown Posse, who I found funny in BIG MONEY RUSTLAS [2010; "I'm The Foot, bitch!" always makes me laugh.], but I usually despise Juggalos), bad attempts at gore and a music soundtrack that consists mainly of ICP songs (which I do not like, except for their remake of "Let's Go All The Way"). In other words, a typical Asylum film; KILLER MOVIE (2008). If you want to know what Kaley Cuoco was doing before she hit the big time on TV's THE BIG BANG THEORY (2007 - Present), look no further than this cheap horror flick where Cuoco plays a prima donna reality star who is giving her director fits. Meanwhile, someone is slashing the rest of the background and technical cast to death. It's supposed to be a parody of reality TV shows, but aren't they already enough of a parody?; BANSHEE!!! (2008) is director Colin Theys (ALIEN OPPONENT - 2010; REMAINS - 2011) first attempt at a feature film and it is pretty bad, although it has a few "What The Fuck?!?" moments. A guy dredges up a car that has been submerged for over 30 years and releases the title creature (who was trapped in the trunk), a female demon whose screams can cause hallucinations (and in one case, make a head explode). The normal assortment of cliched young adults (and a female cop) are trapped in a house in the woods with their ears plugged with cotton, when they learn that the Banshee can't stand rock music, so they put on an impromtu concert in front of the house (try not to laugh at their vain attempt). There are some good, juicy practical gore effects, but the Banshee herself is a poorly-rendered CGI creation, which wrecks the entire film whenever she is on-screen; ROCK MONSTER (2008) is as ridiculous as it sounds. A monster made totally out of boulders (and, believe me, this is no THE NEVERENDING STORY - 1984), begins killing the people in a Bulgarian town and a young man (Chad Collins) must find the sword that will kill it. Talk about The Sword in the Stone! Director Declan O'Brien later went on to direct WRONG TURN 3, 4 & 5 and directed the equally bad films MONSTER ARK and CYCLOPS for SyFy in 2008. At least there's more humor here than most SyFy Original Films, but that doesn't make it any better. And actor Jon Polito deserves so much better than crap like this; THE LODGE (2008) is a boring tale about a couple (Elizabeth Kell and Owen Szabo) who rent the titled abode for some sex and relaxation (he also plans on proposing to her) and run into creepy caretaker Henry (Kevin McClatchy), who may not be the caretaker at all. After some unusual goings-on that would make any normal couple pack up and leave, a surprise is revealed about a young girl (Mandi Kreisher) that also is spotted at the lodge. The "surprise" is telegraphed nearly from the first time we meet the girl, but it took two directors (Brad Helmink and John Rauschelbach) to make this less-than-enthralling thriller, proving once again that two heads are not better than one in the filmmaking world; COLIN (2008) is one of those zombie films that gets recognition because it was filmed in Britain for 45 pounds by director Marc Price and tells the story from the titled zombie's (Alastair Kirton) point of view. Some people, especially at film festivals, think that is enough to merit awards, but I'm a little more difficult to satisfy. To me, it's nothing but a boring tale of a zombie walking around London chewing on people and showing the cheapness of the production. Too much shakey digital camerawork and handheld POV camera shots for my taste, this film does not deserve the reputation it has received, at least in my opinion. Just because it was shot on the cheap doesn't necessarily make it a good film; BAGHEAD (2008) is supposed to be a parody of horror films, but I've never been more bored in my life. How do you parody horror films and not show one iota of violence? Why, you label it a "Mumblecore" film (Google it) and fill it with talk, talk, talk; THIRST (2008) is a sub-standard "lost in the desert without any water" flick directed by Jeffrey Lando (INSECTICIDAL - 2005; HOUSE OF BONES - 2010). Two unlikable couples, one who just found out she is pregnant (Lacey Chabert; LOST IN SPACE - 1998), crash their SUV in the middle of the desert and are chased by wolves as well as quickly running out of their supply of water and food. This film is mostly talk, talk, talk (but this one is not Mumblecore) and bickering, followed by the worst cases of chapped lips I have ever seen. Very little blood (even the section where Chabert relieves the pressure on the brain of the other girl by using a rock and screwdriver on her head is rather bloodless) or action, which is probably why it took two years to make it DTV; WARBIRDS (2008) is typical Sci Fi (SyFy) Network crap. During World War II, a band of Women's Service Airforce Pilots (WASP, the only true aspect of this film) crash their B-29 plane on an uncharted tropical island during a violent storm before they can deliver their top-secret payload. Unfortunately, the island is overrun with Japanese soldiers. Even worse, the island is full of Pteredactyls (here called "Pterodons"). Can the women, under the command of male superior Brian Krause, fix their plane, escape the Japanese soldiers, defeat the flying monsters and deliver their payload? Substitute men pilots for women pilots, Germany for Japan and Gargoyles for Pterodactyls and what you have is the Sci Fi Original Movie REIGN OF THE GARGOYLES (2007); SPIKE (2008) is director/writer Robert Beaucage's uber-pretentious gothic film, that is part fairy tale and part gore flick. Four unnamed people (really, this film couldn't even bother to give their characters names) have a car accident and are hunted down by the titled creature (Edward Gusts), who can best be described as looking like a human porcupine. It turns out that one of the girls (Sarah Livingston Evans) was a childhood friend of the creature and everything said out of his mouth and hers sounds like it was written by Shakespeare on a bad LSD trip. Boring to the extreme and it proves that you can't have good gothic atmosphere without a compelling story; BLOOD NIGHT: THE LEGEND OF MARY HATCHET (2008) will appeal to gore fanatics, but those looking for more than a generic plot should look somewhere else. Twenty years ago, a young and disturbed Mary Hatchet (Patricia Raven) kills her older sister (a scissors in the eye followed by an axe in the head) and father (an axe swing to the mouth) and is committed to a mental institution. Ten years later, Mary (now played by Samantha Facchi) is raped by a slimey orderly and becomes pregnant, losing the child during childbirth (or so we are led to believe). She escapes her room and kills everyone and is shot dead by two policemen when she throws the severed head of her doctor on the hood of their police car. The killings becomes known as "Blood Night" and all the high school kids (including Danielle Harris, giving us another one of her off kilter [a.k.a. bad] performances) celebrate it like it is the night before Halloween (complete with egg throwing and TP'ing people's houses). A slew of teens get together to throw a Blood Night party and are soon slaughtered one-by-one what turns out to be Mary's daughter (Spoiler: It's Danielle Harris, who has a confusing and way too bloody menstrual scene in this film), who begins killing everyone in the cast, including Bill Moseley as Graveyard Gus (who leads the kids to Mary's now-closed mental institution). One guy has his face cut in half with an axe; another has a pick-axe planted in his balls; Moseley gets the pick-axe through the throat; another guy has his hand chopped off and in the "surprise" ending (which a retard could see coming a mile away), our hero (Nate Dushku), has his head decapitated by Mary for killing her daughter. Gore lovers will probably like this, although after the first five minutes, you'll have to wait another 60 minutes to get to the gore scenes, but everyone else should just stay away. Director/producer/writer Frank Sabatella hasn't made another movie since this one, his freshman effort (although he has directed some short films, the choice of the penniless filmmaker); THE CELL 2 (2008) is the long-delayed sequel to director Tarsem Singh's visually stunning, but confusing, THE CELL (2000), only this sequel (which stars none of the original film's actors) simplifies the concept until it becomes nothing but a very ordinary thriller. Maya (Tessie Santiago) is a "psychic investigator" (someone who can see crimes through the killer's eyes) who has been after a serial killer called "The Cusp" (Frank Whaley), who kills and then brings his victims back to life over and over. Maya's reputation had become tarnished a year earlier when she failed to save one of The Cusp's victims, but he is at it again and has kidnapped cop Harris' (Chris Bruno) daughter, so he enlists the help of Maya to help find her before The Cusp finally kills her (he has killed her and brought her back to life several times). Maya gets into The Cusp's mind (who is extremely scared of the dark) and gets closer to exposing him (she has never seen his face since she is only able to see through his eyes), while Harris is falsely accused as being the killer. The finale can be seen coming way before the film ends and this has to have one of the longest end credits sequence in history (over ten minutes, where in between every name there are helicopter shots of landscapes and two ordinary behind the scenes stunt sequences). This Utah-lensed film, directed by Tim Iacofano (who is usually a TV series episode director and it shows here), is just another one of Miramax's quick sequels that was made so they could retain the rights to the title. Nothing here screams out "Watch me!" ; Everyone is saying that director Ti West is the new direction of horror, but based on his CABIN FEVER 2: SPRING FEVER (2009, the sequel to director Eli Roth's CABIN FEVER - 2002), the the newest direction to the restroom. This film is nothing but crap. It feels like an unfinished piece of excrement where a hard turd is still stuck in your asshole. When the best parts of the film are the opening and closing animations, that should tell you that the film should be flushed (as soon as as that hard piece of shit leaves your rectum!). I'm also not a fan of West's debut feature film THE ROOST (2005), except for the Tom Noonan opening and closing bits (I see a theme here.) or his haunted house flick THE INNKEEPERS (2011). I'm kind of ambivalent about his HOUSE OF THE DEVIL (2009). It's got some good points, but there are enough plot holes and convenient coincidences to fill a book about movie plot holes and convenient coincidences. Followed by the infinitely better prequel to the first two films, CABIN FEVER: PATIENT ZERO (2014), directed by Kaare Andrews.

Bad DTV Genre Films Part 7 (continued): ASSAULT OF THE SASQUATCH (2009) is another in a long line of new Bigfoot films and it would at least be entertaining if it weren't for the antics of fat, sweaty Bigfoot-hunting nerd Don (Shawn C. Phillips) and his equally nerdy videographer partner Murph (M. Kelley), who both also appeared as the same characters in this film's screenwriter John Doolan's BANSHEE!!! (2008; Colin Theys, the director of BANSHEE!!!, is also First Assistant Director, Associate Producer, Visual Effects Producer and Cinematographer of this film). There is plenty of practical gore and bloodshed on view, but there are also some deaths (including Murph's) and the face of the Sasquatch that are obvious CGI creations. I could forgive all that if it weren't for the amped-up performance of Shawn C. Phillips (maybe he drinks too much Mountain Dew) who, for reasons unknown, seems to be getting a lot of acting jobs in DTV horror flicks; AFTER.LIFE (2009) is a confusing mess of a film, where Christina Ricci (the girl with the biggest forehead in the world) wakes up in a funeral parlor after a terrible car accident, only to be told by the funeral director (Liam Neeson) that she is dead (He supposedly has the power to talk to the dead). Not believing him, Christina tries to leave the funeral parlor with no luck and her boyfriend (Justin Long) has a feeling something is wrong. You know what is wrong? This whole confusing film; The unneeded NIGHT OF THE DEMONS (2009) remake (Linnea Quigley has a cameo where she reprises her "bend over crotch shot" from the original film, only this time she does it in front of a group of underage trick or treaters!) just proves one thing: Don't remake a fan favorite unless you can add something new to it. In this remake, director/co-screenwriter Adam Gierasch offers very little except the scene where after a partier sees a possessed girl shove a tube of lipstick through her breast and have it fall out of her nether region (a direct steal from the first film), he says in amazement to his other friends, "A lipstick fell out of her pussy!" Even my girl Tiffany Shepis cannot elevate this film above mediocre; CARNY (2009). Where else can you watch a Canadian-made film about the legendary Jersey Devil killing people in a small Nebraska town? Why, in this ridiculously rote SyFy Original Film, that's where. A carnival travels to the said town, where the main attraction, the Jersey Devil, gets loose and begins chowing down on the citizens. The carnival owner (A.C. Peterson) tries to recapture his money-making main attraction, while town sheriff Lou Diamond Phillips tries to kill it. The CGI creature is terrible and so is this film; If you want to know what James Corden did before he took over for Craig Ferguson on THE LATE, LATE SHOW and hit it big with his recurring bit "Carpool Karaoke", check out LESBIAN VAMPIRE KILLERS (2009) if you can stay awake while watching it (much like his current late night gig, but for different reasons). Corden and frequent comedy partner Mathew Horne star as two British slackers who decide to take a trip to Horne's birthplace and manage to make it to the small remote town, where centuries before, Vampire Queen Carmilla (Silvia Colloca) was killed by a knight (played by Horne) for turning his wife into a lesbian vampire. Before Carmilla dies, she cursed the town and said she will return, but before she did, every girl in the village that turns 18 will become lesbian vampires (which is an easy excuse to frequently show female breasts). The offscreen narrator says "And then he cut her fucking head off" (which we see). The duo run into a female rock band whose van has broken down and Horne becomes smitten with Lotte (MyAnna Buring) one of the band members. Meanwhile, Corden meets the town Vicar (Paul McGann), who hands Corden a sword ("The Sword of Dialdo") whose handle is shaped like a penis. The Vicar tells him that it is the only weapon to kill Carmilla and Cordon tries it out on a female vampire, who seems to explode in what looks like gallons of male ejaculate. The rest of the film is filled with bad jokes, more female nudity, exploding ejaculate-filled vampires (there is hardly any blood in this film besides the beginning decapitation and vampire bites) and a showdown at the end with a returned Carmilla, who thinks Horne is the knight who killed her centuries before. He ends up killing her again, by throwing the penis-handled sword and hitting her directly in the heart. Corden, Horne and his new love Lotte decide to become a trio of lesbian vampire killers as they drive off into the sunset. First off, this isn't a badly made film, it just isn't very funny (except for a couple of bits). Director Phil Claydon (ALONE - 2002) gets the atmosphere down correctly, but the screenplay, by Stewart Williams & Paul Hupfield, offers him very little to work with. I read where someone compared this film to a modern-day ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN (1948), but that person must have been high on some illicit drug. Some less advanced countries (including parts of the U.S. below the Bible Belt) have released the film with the word "Lesbian" removed from the title.  Not awful, just not as good as it should be.;  I'm going to keep this one short and sweet: THE DESCENT PART 2 (2009) spits in the face of the wonderfully creepy 2005 original. All it does is replace the creepiness factor with plenty of blood and gore and shits on the oblique ending of the first film. If you loved the first film (like I did) avoid this sequel at all costs. It will ruin your memories of the original. Anything for a cheap buck; THE BLEEDING (2009), a routine vampire flick with visions of THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS (2001) dancing in its tiny little head. Michael Matthias stars as the bald-headed Vin Diesel wannabe who goes after his brother (Vinnie Jones), a dead war hero who has turned into a vampire. Michael Madsen is a gun-toting priest and the finale has Matthias in a big rig trying to outrun Jones and his posse of vampire followers. Totally predictable from start to finish and Matthias is one of the worst of the new "action heroes" I have seen in quite a while; DEFENDOR (2009), which is nothing but a riff on director James Gunn's SUPER (2010), even though it came first. The excellent Woody Harrelson plays a mentally disturbed man who goes off his meds and makes himself a superhero called "Defendor" to help all the innocents in the city. He is adopted by a junkie woman (Kat Dennings), who tries to take care of him, but Defendor (who is anti-drugs), armed only with a baseball bat, a slingshot, a jar of bees, a bunch of marbles and a roll of duct tape (and a video camera strapped to his helmet) goes out and fights crime. He learns his lesson that bullets (he's also anti-gun and refuses to carry one) are stronger than any weapon he can come up with. Too many long stretches of nothing do this film in and the action scenes are lazily filmed; GIALLO (2009) is one of director Dario Argento's worst films of the new Millennium (I did, however, like his MOTHER OF TEARS - 2007; read review HERE). Adrien Brody looks and acts like he couldn't give a shit (plus he plays a dual role, also portraying the serial killer "Yellow" [because of the color of his skin] using the name "Byron Diedra", an anagram of his name, but no amount of makeup can cover up that huge honker of his!). The worst part of the film, though, is Emmanuelle Seigner as the sister of one of Yellow's captives. Her bitching and moaning throughout the film made me want to slap her right through my TV screen. Definitely not one of Argento's best films (it's not a giallo film [we know who the killer is in the first ten minutes]; it's named after the killer, "Giallo" being the Italian word for "Yellow"), but unlike other reviewers, I still hold hope that he still has a few good films in him; ZOMBIE WOMEN OF SATAN (2009), a simply atrocious British horror sex comedy about a traveling group of circus freaks (clown, strong man, midget, etc.) who run into a mad scientist and his horde of women zombies. You know a movie is in trouble when the funniest part of the film is when midget Zeus (Peter Bonner) takes a shit in the woods and he gives an Academy Award-winning performance (in facial expressions alone) in what can best be described crapping out so much shit (complete with fart sounds, which always makes me laugh, bringing out the white trash in me) to make a large dinosaur jealous. Otherwise, the film just stinks; TELL TALE (2009), a modern retelling of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart" that moves as fast as a jar of frozen molasses. A heart transplant recipient (Josh Lucas) keeps getting flashes that the original owner of his new heart was murdered. He becomes obsessed with finding the killer, even though it it obvious to most intelligent viewers 30 minutes into the film; MESSAGES DELETED (2009), a bitter disappointing thriller since it comes from the pen of Larry Cohen (IT'S ALIVE - 1974), a man I admire. The plot is simple: A failed screenwriter-turned-film professor (Matthew Lillard) at a college steals a screenplay and puts his name on it. Suddenly, he starts receiving messages on his telephone and the persons leaving the messages turn up dead a short time later, just like in his stolen screenplay. The police think he's the killer, so he has to prove otherwise. It's way too easy to spot who the killer really is and the story moves slower than a snail with hemorrhoids. A crying shame; THE TOMB (2009), very loosely based on Edgar Allan Poe's short story "Ligeia" is another film in the downfall of actor Wes Bentley (whose career resurged  a bit when he joined the cast of THE HUNGER GAMES - 2012). Here he plays a college professor (at one of those Ukraine schools where everyone looks Slavik, but are given American names) who falls under the charms of student Ligeia (Sofya Skya), who has found a way to capture the life essence of people who are dying. When she runs out of bodies (and her research grant is threatened to be pulled from the school), she starts committing murders and Bentley must find a way to stop her. Boring doesn't begin to describe what this film has to offer. Stay away; 2:13 (2009; a.k.a. TWO: THIRTEEN and 2WO: THIRTEEN) is a disappointing serial killer flick about a recently reinstated FBI profiler (Mark Thompson, who also wrote this mess), who had severe psychological problems for ten years because of the job, trying to find the serial killer who resurfaced from his past and he was not able to catch (and put him in a mental psychosis for nearly ten years). Not even the presence of actors Jere Burns, Kevin Pollak, Mark Pellegrino, Teri Polo, Dwight Yoakam, and Ken Howard can save director Charles Adelman's (no relation) thriller because the timeline is all screwed up, thanks to Thompson's confusing screenplay. Flashbacks show the killer to be an older person to Thompson's younger FBI profiler, but when he is caught, he is a good ten years younger than Thompson. I don't know if Thompson was trying to make some sort of statement (like maybe Thompson was seeing the serial killer through his younger eyes), but the message is lost in a sea of inaccuracies. If you like being confused by a movie, this one is for you; PROWL (2009) was one of AFTER DARK ORIGINAL's several horror films picked for a limited theatrical showing in January 2011 and this U.K./Bulgaria (filmed there) production is nothing but ordinary. A bunch of young adults travel to the big city to look for an apartment for a female friend, when their car breaks down in the middle of nowhere (surprise, surprise). They accept a ride from a big rig driver as long as they all ride in the back in the trailer (always a good idea). They all find themselves trapped in a combination slaughterhouse/auto junkyard (what??) swarming with feral people who love to chew on human flesh and drink their blood. They are all under the control of a woman named Veronica (Saxon Trainor), who is raising a group of cannibal "hunters" because of something that happened in her childhood (it is not quite spelled out completely). After all the male members of the new group have been dispatched, the "hunters" go after the women and every attack is filmed with that aggravating shaken camera syndrome where we can make out nothing of what is going on. The point of this whole film is that one of the females in the new group may be just the kind of cannibal "hunter" Veronica is looking for, and when she escapes with a wounded girlfriend, Veronica tells her hunters not to go after her because, "She'll be back." That may be true when she takes a bite out of the neck of a hobo who tries to rape her wounded friend, but the real answer is left up in the air. Director Patrik Syversen (ROVDYR a.k.a. MANHUNT: BACKWOODS MASSACRE - 2007) and screenwriter Tim Tori have created a horror film with no surprises and that "shaky-cam" technique that has infected dozens of horror and action films today. Skip it and watch something else; FEAR ISLAND (2009) is one of those paint-by-numbers horror flicks about five teens who are hiding a deadly secret and go on Spring Break; they end up trapped in a cabin on an island and begin to get picked-off one by one by an unseen killer. When the film opens, the police find one surviving girl named Jenna (Haylie Duff), who relates the story to them in flashback. It all has to do with a an innocent girl being raped and accidentally killed by these kids a year earlier and the "surprise" ending can be seen a mile away. Director Michael Storey manages to make even the most basic of horror stories a nearly bloodless, dreary mess; THE NEW DAUGHTER (2009) is star Kevin Costner's first DTV film and the way his career is heading, it won't be his last. It is also surprising because it was the first English-language film directed by Luiso Berdejo, who wrote the "found footage" films, the Spanish language REC (2007), and its Americanized remake QUARANTINE (2008). Thankfully, this isn't a found footage film (I hate those with a passion, except for a few that know how to use the medium), but that's where the thanks end. Costner plays a recently divorced father, who moves his young son and troubled teenage daughter Louisa (Ivana Baquero) to a house with plenty of property in South Carolina. What Costner is unaware of is that the property containts a tribe of "mound walkers" an ancient monster-like group of males who need a woman to mate with. Guess who they pick? The monsters are shown fairly early in the film, so most of the suspense is destroyed before the film is half over. The ambiguous ending, where Costner blows up the mound to save his daughter only to turn into one of the mound people (maybe; I did say it was ambiguous) leaves the film open for a sequel that will never get made because this was supposed to be a theatrical film and the company suits took one look at it and dumped it onto DVD and Blu-Ray a couple of years later. They gave the film enough time to sit on the shelf to let some of the stink wear off; PAINTBALL (2009) is a by-the-numbers stalk 'n' slash Spanish-financed flick about a band of strangers sent on an exclusive paintball trip where the opposition uses live ammunition instead of paint. As the paintballers try to keep one step ahead of their unseen predators (plenty of POV shots), they are picked-off one-by-one by live ammo or booby-traps set-up in the woods. Nothing new or original here; BLED (2009) is one of those el-cheapo North Beach, California productions that make about as much sense as using a table with a missing leg to hold a priceless Ming vase. A girl (Sarah Farooqui) inhales the ancient bark of a tree and finds herself in a different dimension where a vampire hopes to use her to cross over into our dimension. The film is deadly slow, the digital photography is overly dark and the acting is grade school level. In other words, your typical North Beach production. Director Christopher Hutson (BUTCHER HOUSE - 2006) will never leave to go on to better things by releasing crap like this. These are the kinds of films that end up in a single DVD 4-film pack for $5.00. Oops, too late; DARK FIELDS (2009) is a sub-par horror film distinguished only by the presence of David Carradine and Richard Lynch (both no longer with us). Every year, a farming community must sacrifice one of their children in order for the rains to come for healthy crops. Now where have we seen this before? Directed by Douglas Schultze (HELLMASTER - 1990); THE SHORTCUT (2009) is standard DTV horror about a shortcut behind an elementary school that has a relationship with something that happened during World War II. The killings don't start until the final third of the movie (which is full of black & white flashbacks) and those expecting tons of gore should be told that it is Rated PG-13 and is part of Adam Sandler's new company "Scary Madison"; THE SEAMSTRESS (2009) is standard DTV horror about a spectre who sews the eyes and mouth of her victims shut after she was killed by a bunch of vigilantes twenty years earlier. A group of young adults come to the secluded island where she lives and, wouldn't you know it, one of the girls in the group is related to one of the vigilantes who killed the Seamstress. Lance Henriksen plays the Sheriff and needs a better agent; TONY: LONDON SERIAL KILLER (2009) is like a version of HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER  (1986) lite, only this time, the serial killer, Tony (Peter Ferdinando, the only standout in the film), has just gotten out of prison and must put up with a corrupt parole officer, a new employer who refuses to pay him and various unlikeable people who cross Tony's life, so he goes back to his serial killer ways. It's apparent that director/writer Gerard Johnson (HYENA - 2014; also starring Ferdinando) was working on a limited budget and the whole film has that sickly green washed-out look (something that just turns me off), but the film is very slow-going, even at 76 minutes long. The only funny part is where Tony tries to get everyone he meets to watch director Peter Manoogian's ENEMY TERRITORY (1987), because it is his favorite film! Otherwise, besides Ferdinando's understated performance, the film is a bore. Even the killings are unimaginative; FIREBALL (2009) is a Thailand-made film about basketball taken to the extreme. If you like lots of bloody Muay Thai fighting with jittery, quick-edited photography, you may like this film. If it's a coherent plot you want, stay away. The story is simple: Tai (Preeti Barameeanat) is released from a juvenile facility thanks to bail money raised by his twin brother Tan (Barameeanat again), only to find that Tan is now in a coma after making money for Tai's bail by playing Fireball, the game of caged basketball where bloody fighting and even death is encouraged by the drug lords who run it. Tai joins the game to get revenge on those responsible for putting his brother in the hospital, gets into plenty of bloody fights and, in the finale, decides to quit fighting and use a gun to get even with all the drug lords. Hey, now there's a message everyone can agree with (at least those in Texas)! Too little characterization (it's hard to distinguish who is who) mixed with bone-crunching violence. Don't get me wrong, I like good martial arts fights, but this has nothing of a story to back it up and the basketball angle is just ridiculous; THE LAST RESORT (2009) is a thankfully short (75 minutes), yet boring, tale about a group of lovely young things that get trapped at a deserted resort in Mexico, where possession by a demented cannibal is passed on from person-to-person when the possessed one dies. This theme has been done so many times, you'll be watching your clock rather than looking at the film, even though many of the girls are in bikinis. Yes, it's that bad. What do you expect from a director named Brandon Nutt (HIJACKED - 2012)?; JONAH HEX (2010). I don't mind revisionist Westerns, as long as they are entertaining. This one, on the other hand, makes the Will Smith vehicle WILD WILD WEST (1999) look like a masterpiece in comparison. Sure, Megan Fox is easy on the eyes, but she couldn't act her way out of a paper bag; ONG BAK 3 (2010). I like Thailand's Tony Jaa and think that his martial arts technique is the best in film today (just watch him in THE PROTECTOR - 2006), but when he decided to direct this third chapter of the film, he forgot mostly about the fighting and focused on himself spiritually rising from the dead. There are a few good fights, but the majority of the film is dead air; TERROR TRAP (2010), a bad VACANCY (2007) rip-off starring Michael Madsen and Jeff Fahey and directed by Dan Garcia (FLESH WOUNDS - 2011) that offers nothing new and telegraphs nearly every scare. It's films like this that DTV was made for: a dumping ground for familiar, but not terrible films. This one has some good actors, but they all are given very little to do except act dastardly, something they could all do in their sleep and it looks like they are; BLOODRAYNE: THE THIRD REICH (2010) is director Uwe Boll's second sequel to the BLOODRAYNE (2005) series and it is pretty bad. Filmed simultaneously with Boll's even worse Nazi-themed BLUBBERELLA (using some of the same footage and most of the same actors, who do alternate takes of the same scenes using a different lead actress), only this time it's not a comedy and Boll doesn't portray Adolph Hitler. Plenty of blood and plot holes abound; BENEATH THE DARK (2010) is a bad thriller that is part VACANCY (2007) and part ANGEL HEART (1987). A couple, Paul & Adrienne (Josh Stewart; Jamie-Lynn Sigler), driving on their way to a wedding by way through the Mojave Desert, stop at a roadside motel for a little rest and relaxation before moving on. The only problem is that they can't move on, because of something that happened during Paul's college days and the appearance of "The Man" (Afemo Omilami), who seems to know everything about Paul's life and the choices he has made. The ending is truly a head-scratcher and doesn't help one bit in explaining everything that came before it; SUPREME CHAMPION (2010) is one of the worst action films of the new Millennium. MMA superstar Stephan 'American Psycho' Bonnar stars as a champion fighter who must fight for bad guy Daniel Bernhardt's (who is dying of a rare disease) circuit, which contains even more MMA fighters, in order to cancel his ex-girlfriend's gambling debts. Bonnar is a good fighter, but as an actor, he speaks his lines in monotone (his stabs at comedy are wince-inducing) and he has a facial expression like he is taking a crap in his pants. Even when the final third of the film turns into a MOST DANGEROUS GAME (1932) scenario, the action is lame (co-director/co-writer Ted Fox and co-writer George Saunders play Bonnar's best friends from the military who are out to save him) and the outcome is obvious; OPEN HOUSE (2010) is a shopworn tale of two psychopaths (Brian Geraghty and Tricia Helfer, who may be an incestuous brother and sister killing team) who enter the open house of a woman (Rachel Blanchard), who is selling her house after getting divorced, and make themselves at home. The female psycho wants the divorced woman to be killed, but the psycho man (who likes to videotape the murders for sexual reasons) keeps the divorced woman in the basement (he likes her) without the knowledge of the psycho woman. They kill a bunch of people (usually with a butcher knife) and move on to the next open house when the psycho woman discovers the divorced woman in the basement and kills her. We are given no motivation as to why these two psychos do what they do and I just hate these nihilistic endings that are cyclic. Freshman director Andrew Paquin gets younger sister Anna Paquin and brother-in-law Stephen Moyer (both star in TRUE BLOOD - 2008-2014) to put in cameos, even though they both get top billing on the DVD cover; PRIMAL (2010). I'm a huge fan of Australian horror films, but this one would try the patience of a saint. After a pretty good opening which spans 12,000 years, the film turns into one of those "group of young adults trapped in the woods with a monster" scenarios (this time it's in the Outback), with the cliched cast of typecasted people (hunk, jokester, sexpot, girl with deep secret, etc.). While there is a fair amount of gory deaths (and people with huge pointy teeth), the final twenty minutes, which takes place in a cave, contains some of the dodgiest CGI I have seen since a SyFy Original Film. It actually ruins the film that preceeded it; GREY SKIES (2010) is a standard alien abduction film set at a house in the woods. A bunch of college buddies (including the prerequisite gay man) hold a reunion at the said house and are abducted one by one and possessed (or replaced) by the aliens. No one seems to notice (the possessed have blackened eyes and pale skin, so it would be pretty hard to miss them!) until it is too late and the downbeat finale has all the possessed people (including a pregnant female) leaving the house and heading back to civilization. God knows what will happen next, but I was bored to tears; SHELTERED (2010) is about a bunch of friends stranded during a bad hurricane/thunderstorm at a bar, when bartender Joey (Gerald Downey) offers his nearby house as shelter. Oh, boy, I think we can all see where this is leading. Once at the house, the group discover Joey is a cleanliness freak and meet his drug-addled brother Billy (Manoel Hudec). It's not long before the friends begin being murdered in various bloody ways. There's no surprise who the killer is, because at the beginning of the film, we watch Joey kill a man and hide the body. So what's the point?; DEVIL'S PLAYGROUND (2010), a typical British "zombie horde on the loose" film (it is gory and stars Craig Fairbrass [one of my favorites], but it's still a bitter disappointment) that offers nothing new to the zombie genre. That's the problem with DTV zombie films. They may be gory, but they follow the same old formula. If only they had the originality of DEADHEADS (2011), which was one of the most original zombie films of the New Millennium, so there are still new ways to present zombies instead of falling back on the same old scenario like this one does; TROLLHUNTER (2010). I really wanted to like this Norwegian "found footage" horror comedy about a trio of college journalists who go out to investigate bear attacks, only to discover that the killings were perpetrated by trolls, but the shakey camerawork and Norwegian traditions (The trolls can smell Christians? What the hell does that mean? Christians stink?) lost me. The special effects are great (especially the giant troll), but as you know, it takes more than great effects to make a good film. Hollywood is in the midst of remaking this film. Surprised?; THE RIG (2010), another in a long line of terrible "monster on the loose on an oil rig" flicks (has anyone ever made a good one?). Once again a monster (part rubber suit/part CGI, which one ignorant rig worker tells a Puerto Rican female crew member that it looks like a "chupacabra"!) is unleashed because of drilling and terrorizes and kills members of an oil rig. What follows is the same old, same old: the creature chasing the members around the corridors of the oil rig and slaughtering them until the hero (who wanted off the rig because his brother works on it) comes up with a solution to destroy it. William Forsythe is listed as the star but his screen time is minimal; OPERATION: ENDGAME (2010). What the hell did I just watch? Two teams of assassins are trapped in an office complex and duke it out violently (it gets quite bloody) while three people (Beth Grant, Michael Hitchcock, Tim Bagley) watch their progress on hidden cameras, all while President Obama is making speeches in the background on computer monitors. A great cast (Ellen Barkin, Jeffrey Tambor, Zack Galifianakas, Emilie de Raven, Rob Corddry, Maggie Q, Adam Scott, Bob Odenkirk, Brandon T. Jackson, Odette Yustman and Ving Rhames) are wasted in a plot that can politely be called confused instead of funny. At least I didn't understand what the filmmakers were shooting for. There are enough double and triple-crosses (none that make any sense) to give you five headaches, so have the Tylenol ready; BEWARE (2010), a totally typical DTV slasher film (with more boobage than normal) whose only distinction is its mainly Latino cast; WRECKAGE (2010), a simple slasher film which anyone can guess who the killer is. I am in love with Cameron Richardson and have been ever since I saw her in RISE: BLOOD HUNTER (2006) and TV's HARPER'S ISLAND (2009), but this film still reeks; MASK MAKER (2010). More Torture Porn about an indestructible killer who wears his victims' faces. Leatherface did it much more convincingly and I doubt you'll ever see a sequel to this one even though it has sizeable roles for Terry Kiser and Michael Berryman. I hate these DTV films where the heroine seemingly gets away (Why did she stop the car to cry anyway? She could have driven the car at least until she was out of town and then cried, especially after everything she just witnessed.) only to be murdered by the killer in the closing seconds; KABOOM (2010), the usual mixture of unrated gay/straight sex with violent scenes from director/writer Gregg Araki (I never understood his underground popularity. Maybe the Gay Community can clue me in?), this time with an "End Of The World" theme (hence the title). I was not impressed, but the ending was a blast; REPEATERS (2010). What would you do if you and two of your friends in drug rehab on a day pass relive the same day over and over again? Would one of you go around shooting people and committing murder because you knew when you wake up, everything you did the day before didn't really happen? And then it ends up biting you in the ass? There, I've told you the entire plot of the film, now avoid it. The best line: "See you this morning!"; CAUGHT IN THE CROSSFIRE (2010) is the directorial debut of Brian A. Miller, who would later deliver us the blah action films HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN (2011) and OFFICER DOWN (2012). I wanted to like this film since it starred CSI: MIAMI's Adam Rodriguez, but co-star/co-producer Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson ruins much of the film when he appears in it (He really needs an acting coach!). The film opens with cop partners Rodriguez and Chris Klein with informant Tino (Jackson) in the back seat on the way to the site of a cop killer sighting and a shootout ensues, where the cop killer and Tino are killed. The only other eye witness to the cop shooting is suspiciously shot dead and then Rodriguez and Klein are put in the box and interrogated separately. They tell in flashback how everything went down and Rodriguez knows that someone in the police department is dirty and ends up losing his job over the accusations, being railroaded into the shooting of the last eyewitness. Klein goes about proving Rodriguez's innocence, but it is obvious someone in the police force and the local gangs don't want him to find out the truth. Meanwhile, we find out that Rodriguez is actually guilty of the charges and, with the help of corrupt Captain Emmett (Richard T. Jones), hopes to escape to Canada with a bag full of drug money. Klein puts two-and-two together and corners Rodriguez in a warehouse, where he shoots Rodriguez dead (after pumping a few bullets into Captain Emmett). But is someone else in the department also dirty? There's not much to recommend here; just a few shootouts and not much else. Filmed in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Not badly made, but that is not an endorsement. Brian A. Miller makes competent films, just not involving ones; Speaking of Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, he not only stars in the film GUN (2010), he also wrote it, too. It's a standard revenge tale, where Jackson plays a take-no-prisoners gun runner who kills Val Kilmer's wife, who is caught in the middle of a shootout between two rival gangs, one headed by Jackson. Police detective James Remar turns Kilmer into a confidential informant to infiltrate Jackson's gang and he does such a good job, that Jackson makes him his right hand man. The question remains: Is Kilmer getting too involved in the gun running operation and enjoying the power (giving Remar false information) or is he planning an execution of his own? Besides a good shootout at the end, the film is full of Jackson's patented bad acting and Kilmer acts like he is high on heroin the entire film. Add to that a tacked-on happy ending and director Jesse Terrero (a 50 Cent music video director who also directed the film SOUL PLANE - 2004) comes up with an action film we have seen a hundred times before. Seriously, if Curtis Jackson wants to continue acting, I would heartedly recommend a good acting coach. He has also appeared with Kilmer in the films STREETS OF BLOOD (2009) and BLOOD OUT (2011); THE WARD (2010) is the worst film of director John Carpenter's career and for many reasons. It's his first film shot on digital video and it shows. Scenes are muddy and, when sequences don't look like they have been drained of all color, they have the flat look of a TV movie. The screenplay, by brothers Michael & Shawn Rasmussen, is full of contrivances and cliches and the biggest mystery of all is why the hell Carpenter would even touch this material. In 1966, a young woman named Kristen (Amber Heard; ALL THE BOYS LOVE MANDY LANE - 2006) is committed to a mental institution run by the seemingly sinister Dr. Stringer (Jared Harris; the best thing about this film) and before you can say "Haven't I seen this film before and done much better?", patients begin disappearing from the institution. Kristen seems to think that an evil supernatural spirit is making these patients disappear and is out to kill her, but it is quite apparent almost from the beginning that Kristen is in this institution for a reason, as she is harboring some dark secret from her past that she managed to wipe from her memory. In the finale, that dark secret is uncovered and things seem wrapped-up in a tidy manner, but the writers do a cheat on the audience in the final closing shot that will infuriate them if they have half a brain in their head. Even the acting talents of Danielle Panabaker (THE CRAZIES - 2009) and Meryl Streep's daughter Mamie Gummer can't save this film from being a total failure. The only positive thing I can say about this film is the use of the song "Run Baby Run (Back Into My Arms)" by The Newbeats in one scene where the female patients dance to it. Otherwise, there is a reason why this film went straight to DTV. Let's hope that John Carpenter decides to do a better film the next time; WRONG SIDE OF TOWN (2010) is director/writer/producer David DeFalco's (CHAOS - 2003) idea of an action film and it is pretty terrible. He hires not one, but two, professional wrestlers, Rob Van Dam and Dave Bautista (neither who can act) and a whole lotta rap stars (including Ja Rule, Omarion Grandberry and Qwes), to make this film more action-packed, but the fact is that DeFalco doesn't know how to handle action and the film is beyond deplorable. Van Dam plays a war hero (who has a limp that comes and goes) who is wanted for the murder of a drug kingpin's son (who tried to rape Van Dam's wife) and he and his wife, daughter and a couple of interracial friends must stay one step ahead of the kingpin, a crooked police detective and some highly muscled goons (one played by DeFalco himself). When Van Dam's daughter is kidnapped, he pulls a bullet out of his shoulder (from a previous fight with a chain-wielding motorcycle rider), injects his ass with something (probably steroids) and goes Terminator on the bad guys' asses with minimal help from Bautista (whose role is really nothing but an extended cameo) while heavy metal and rap music plays on the soundtrack. If you want to see how not to make an action film, this is the one to watch. Filmed in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Bad DTV Genre Films Part 8 (continued): EXORCISMUS (2010) is a standard Filmax Production from producer Julio Fernández and director Manuel Carballo (THE RETURNED - 2013) that is just another exorcism tale but with a small twist. 15 year-old Emma (Sophie Vavasseur) begins having strange hallucinations, like a mound of cockroaches spilling out the toilet and other strange phenomena, so her parents send her to a psychiatrist, who dies of a heart attack during their first session. Emma's parents then call on her Uncle Christopher (Stephen Billington), who happens to be a priest who performed an unsanctioned exorcism which the Church refused recognize as real (one of the Church elders is played by Pinhead himself, Doug Bradley). Christopher begins the exorcism, but things only get worse as Emma tries to drown her younger brother in the bathtub, causes the death of her best friend by grabbing a hold of his steering wheel and crashing the car into a tree and Emma's mother stabbing herself in the stomach with scissors, sending her to the hospital with serious injuries. To make a long story short, Christopher wasn't actually performing an exorcism at all. He was bringing the demon out in the open (he videotapes everything, but this is not a found footage film) to possess Emma to prove to the Church that his last exorcism was real! Besides the unexpected ending and one really good shot of the demon leaving Emma's body (blink and you'll miss it, though), this is a slow-moving affair with not much bloody violence, but with plenty of deep-voiced demon swearing. I wonder where they got that from?; HATCHET II (2010). Say, if you have already seen director Adam Green's Unrated version of HATCHET (2007), there's no reason to see this equally gory sequel, unless you want to see Tony Todd's Reverend Zombie character (who has a much bigger role this time) get cut in half and have his spinal cord yanked hard enough for the skin to leave his body (the film's best scene) or see returning character Jack Cracker (special effects master John Carl Buechler) beheaded with his own intestines and I have never seen Danielle Harris (HALLOWEEN - 2007) give a worst performance in my life (She replaces Tamara Feldman from the first film as the same character). As with the first film, stay away from the R-Rated edit as it removes most of the gory bits. A Part III was filmed in 2013, trying to turn the indestructible Victor Crowley into the new Jason Voorhees, but with those ultra-quick aggravating endings; ROAD KILL (a.k.a. ROAD TRAIN - 2010), a predictable and routine Australian horror thriller about a bunch of young adults who find a Road Train (a big rig hauling two trailers) that possesses anyone who gets behind the wheel. The posessed person then feeds the Road Train a human (one of the trailers has a contraption that chews-up human bodies) and it runs on blood instead of diesel fuel. OK effects (a head getting run over by a tire, death by tire iron, etc.) doesn't excuse the bland story. It was left wide-open for a sequel. I hate that a lot of these DTV horror films have non-endings; DETENTION (2010), a really weak horror flick and one of David Carradine's last films; SUICIDEGIRLS MUST DIE! (2010), a crappy semi-horror flick (with a cop-out finale) featuring all those ugly tattooed and pierced women who, for some reason or another, turn-on some men. They give skanks a bad name; THE TASK (2010) is one of those AFTER DARK ORIGINALS (changing their name from AFTER DARK HORRORFEST) that got a limited U.S. theatrical release in January 2011. This one is a bad horror flick about six cliched people kidnapped off the road, have pig masks put on their heads (the kidnappers wear clown masks) and taken to an abandoned prison where strange things happened in the past. Yes, they are part of a reality series, where the six kidnapees will win huge cash prizes if they face their worst fears (and win even more money if they all complete their tasks), while the female producer and her crew watch the action in a booth in the prison from hidden cameras. Yes, you guessed it, things go terribly wrong and the ghost of the evil warden begins picking off the contestants (and the crew) in various bloody ways, which begins to worry the female producer (duh!), because none of it was in the script (she calls up the owner of the show just to make sure he didn't add anything special to the proceedings that she didn't know about). Long story short, this whole enterprise was nothing but an elaborate joke on the female producer, until the real ghost of the deadly warden makes an appearance and kills most everybody in the cast by emitting a real loud noise (What?!?). Do you want to see how not to end a film? Then watch the ending of this one for a great demonstration. This is the first film from director Alex Orwell and it shows, as the film is dark and hard to make out most of the killings (which are nothing special). Let's hope he learns in the future; After hearing so many good things about the zombie horror film THE DEAD (2010), I must admit I was highly disappointed with the final product. The only really good things in this film's favor are the filming in Africa (Burkina Faso and Ghana) and some top-notch physical gore effects. Otherwise, the story is similar to just about every other serious zombie film out there. The plot is simple, Lieutenant Brian Murphy (Rob Freeman, who caught malaria while filming), a lone survivor of a plane crash, washes ashore in Africa and must battle a horde of zombies that roam the countryside. Along the way, he saves people and loses them due to zombie bites, while trying to find someplace safe without any zombies, only to learn that there is no safe place in the world in the finale. Directed capably by The Ford Brothers (Howard and Jonathan) with a minimal budget, the location scenery and effects (some using actual African amputees) are what catches your eye. Unfortunately, the rest of the film is the same old, same old. The Ford Brothers would return with a sequel, THE DEAD 2 (2013), which takes place in India;  THE RITE (2010) was released to theaters in January 2011, a month considered a dumping ground for bad films, with the studio (in this case, Warner Bros.) hoping to recoup some of its financial losses. Of course, it bombed, and rightfully so. This extremely slow (and supposedly true) film about exorcisms concerns young seminary student Michael (Colin O'Donoghue) beginning to doubt his beliefs (Don't they all?), who is sent to Rome to study exorcisms with Father Lucas (Anthony Hopkins, who has never been worse). The Church hopes to have an exorcist at every diocese (Maybe to flush the Devil from pedophile priests?) and disbelieving Michael (who believes psychiatry is the answer) begins to experience things he can't explain, like talking to his father on the phone, even though he died earlier in the morning. This overlong and patience-trying PG-13 horror film culminates when Father Lucas becomes possessed (You can tell he's possessed because he calls Michael "dude"!) and it is up to Michael to cast the demons out of him. I wish someone would cast the demons out of director/writer Mikael Håfström (1408 - 2007); THE KILLING STRAIN (2010), a totally typical NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968) rip-off, where a bunch of diverse people are trapped in a house (Including a redneck who likes to say "fuck" a lot. And I mean a lot!) while a bunch of flesh-eating zombies (caused by a man-made virus) try to break in. No surprises (except for the old lady who serves "fried cola" for dinner) and a screenplay full of cliches; THE INHERITANCE (2010), an all-black cast horror film about a family of cousins who get together at the family home in the woods for some mystical reasons and to collect an "inheritance". They are told not to bring any friends, but they do anyway, which leads to the family's "elders" (never a good word in a horror film) nearly calling off some kind of voodoo ceremony. Confusing to the extreme and not very bloody until the end. Not a good combination; GOOD NEIGHBOURS (2010) is a tepid thriller about Victor (Jay Baruchel [THE SORCERER'S APPRENTICE - 2010], in the most aggravating performance of his career), moving into an apartment complex in French Canadian Montreal in 1995, where a serial killer is on the loose. He meets the occupants of the complex, including cat-loving Louise (Emily Hampshire; THE CRADLE - 2007) and wheelchair-bound Spencer (Scott Speedman; THE STRANGERS - 2008). When Louise finds one of her cats dead, Victor could swear he saw Spencer walking in that location the same night and believes him to be the serial killer, but anyone with half a brain can spot the killer within the first ten minutes of the film. Baruchel's neediness to be helpful in this film is its major drawback and drags the film down to the dregs. Of course, we Americans renamed the film GOOD NEIGHBORS when released to DVD & Blu-Ray, because we don't need any foreigners telling us how to spell a word; WOMB (2010) is a film that pushes the "ick" factor up to 11. While on a road trip, Rebecca (Eva Green) asks her husband Thomas (Matt Smith) to pull over to the side of the road because she has to pee. While she is walking through a field to tinkle, Thomas is hit by another car and killed. Rebecca decides to be implanted with the clone of her husband and she delivers a baby boy who looks just like Thomas did when he was a baby. We then watch as Thomas grows up and Rebecca definitely has incestuous thoughts about having a sexual relationship with him (we watch as a naked adolescent Thomas takes a bath with her equally naked mother). Shunned by the community, Rebecca and Thomas move to a house on the beach, where Thomas has a girlfriend who gets turned off when she sees Rebecca's lust for her boyfriend. When Thomas is all grown up and looks exactly like Rebecca's husband, he finds out the truth that he is a clone and has sex with Rebecca. If Rebecca gets pregnant, what would that make a baby (There's talk in the film about a woman giving birth to her own mother!)? This is a slow-moving movie and the acting is good, but the subject matter of director/writer Benedek Fliegauf's (JUST THE WIND - 2012) film just turned me off; THE REEF (2010), which is nothing but an imitation of OPEN WATER (2003), with a couple of different variables; DETECTIVE DEE AND THE MYSTERY OF THE PHANTOM FLAME (2010) is director Tsui Hark's beautiful to look at period detective film (the 90-foot tall statue is a thing of beauty), but it is mostly style over substance. When dignitaries of China's first (and only) female empress begin to spontaneously combust (a neat effect using very good CGI and stunt work), Detective Dee (Andy Lau) is pulled out of prison to solve the case before her coronation. He quickly determines that the internal human fires are caused by the poison of the rare fire beetle put in the drinking water and when the sun hits them, they catch fire from the inside-out, but who is doing it? Lots of wire work (over 70 separate wire stunts in one cave scene) and martial arts, but the film runs more than two hours and is very confusing; SACRIFICE (2010) is another action flick starring two all-time leaders in this particular DTV genre: Cuba Gooding Jr. and Christian Slater (they also starred together in LIES & ILLUSIONS - 2009). Gooding plays and undercover cop who turns to alcohol when he witnesses his entire family killed and is shot and left for dead by some unknown assassin. Slater is a priest that is one of Gooding's only friends and receives a statue of the Mother Mary made of pure heroin from a drug dealer trying to change his ways. When the dealer is found dead, Gooding has to take care of the 5 year-old sister he left behind. This brings out the paternal instincts in Gooding and when the girl is kidnapped by drug lord Kim Coates in exchange for the heroin statue, it leads to the inevitable final showdown. Not badly directed by Damian Lee (FOOD OF THE GODS II - 1989), but just too ordinary and full of too many coincidences; A CADAVER CHRISTMAS (2010) is one of those horror comedies films that freshman director Joe Zerull (unsurprisingly, he has yet to make another film) thinks is so hip and funny that you can't help but like it, but the truth is that it is a terribly acted cheap flick with that faux "grindhousey" look (fake emulsion scratches, missing frames, etc) that just annoys the viewer. The plot is so old hat (a janitor and a bunch of drunks fight zombies/cadavers that come to life at a local medical college) that even the employees at an old hat shop would roll their eyes. The only thing worse than the acting are the grade school makeup effects; CIRCLE (2010) starts out promisingly with serial killer Bennett (Silas Weir Mitchell; TV's GRIMM - 2011-Present) murdering a bunch of tied-up fellow mental patients sitting in chairs in a half-circle (strikingly similar to the real-life Richard Speck killings) and then escaping from the hospital, but then quickly degenerates into a standard "psychology profiling student-wannabes stuck in the killer's childhood house" scenario and one of them is Bennett's disciple. I guess we all know what happens next. Even Bennett and his disciple escape, leaving the film as one giant cluster-fuck and a waste of your time; THE KILLING MACHINE (a.k.a. ICARUS - 2010) is one of director/star Dolph Lundgren's weaker DTV efforts. Maybe it's because the producers re-edited the film without Lundgren's input or it was just weak to begin with. Lundgren stars as Edward Genn, code-named Icarus, a Soviet sleeper agent in the United States who turned investment banker when the Soviet Union collapsed. His cover is blown in an unfortunate accident in Hong Kong and now he must try to protect his divorced wife and young daughter against Russian assassins sent out to kill him and his family by bad guy Bo Svenson. There's plenty of gunplay and violence, but most of it is unremarkable. I can forgive Lundgren for one bad film since most of his DTV efforts are pretty entertaining; DRAGON EYES (2011) is one of the most somber action films I have ever seen. A thief named Hong (Cung Le) accidentally shoots and kills a woman while running away from the police and is sent to prison. His cellmate is Tiano (Jean-Claude Van Damme, in what amounts to an extended cameo of flashbacks), a criminal lifer who killed his son in a burglary, who teaches a terminally depressed Hong that his life still has worth and also teaches him martial arts and meditation. When Hong gets out of prison, he follows Tiano's promise to clean-up the town of St. Jude, which is overrun with Latino, Black and Russian drug gangs, all protected by the crooked Mr. V (Peter Weller, who is the best thing about this film. He makes a corkscrew look straight in comparison.), St. Jude's Chief of Police. Hong is soon turning the gangs against each other, while fictitiously "working" for Mr. V. Plenty of martial arts and gunfights follow, but there is nothing new here except a tone so depressing, it would make a suicidal person rethink their life. Director John Hyams is the son of talented director Peter Hyams (Van Damme's SUDDEN DEATH - 1994), but he also made the sublimely excellent UNIVERSAL SOLDIER: DAY OF RECKONING (2012), so he does have his father's talent given the right material.; ASYLUM BLACKOUT (a.k.a. THE INCIDENT - 2011) has the same premise as the far superior MEDIUM RAW: NIGHT OF THE WOLF (2008), but with less interesting characters. A group of cafeteria workers get locked in an asylum for the criminally insane when a thunderstorm knocks out the power. The cooks must defend for themselves when the inmates overrun the asylum, killing the guards and then picking them off one-by-one. Too many plot holes (A maximum security mental institution has no backup power generators?), underlit scenes where the action is too hard to make out and one-dimensional characters make this USA/France/Belgium co-production an uninteresting mess; CAMEL SPIDERS (2011) is another Jim Wynorski-directed (using his "Jay Andrews" pseudonym) shitfest about the titled Middle East spiders (They are real and there have been many reports by American soldiers about being bitten by them.) being accidentally shipped in the body bag of an American soldier and getting loose after an automobile accident in Arizona, where they multiply quickly (I mean, like really quick!) and cause havoc and death of the residents of a small town. The CGI spiders and blood are terrible and the plot has been done to death. To see a much better movie (which I think this film is loosely based), watch KINGDOM OF THE SPIDERS (1977) instead; 4:44 LAST DAY ON EARTH (2011) brings up the question: What the hell happened to director Abel Ferrara? This boring mess of a film, full of stock footage, concerns scientists telling the Earth's population that all life will cease to exist at 4:44 the next day (Which brings up this film's biggest question: What Time Zone were they talking about?) because the ozone layer has disappeared. Willem Dafoe and Shanyn Leigh decide to spend their last day having sex (Dafoe penis alert!) and painting, while the sky turns a sickly green and we are shown endless shots of stock footage from around the world (mostly religious, including an interview with the Dali Lama on a TV set which is edited to make it look like he is answering Dafoe's questions). This was the longest 82 minutes of my life and I can't believe it came from the same man who gave us MS. 45 (1981), KING OF NEW YORK (1990) and BAD LIEUTENANT (1992). Maybe Ferrara has finally flipped his lid; I AM NUMBER FOUR (2011) is another film based on a "Young Adult" series of books and it's a bloody mess. Six aliens have lived on Earth since their planet was destroyed by bad aliens and "Number 3" has just been killed. Number 4 (Alex Pettyfer) and his handler (Timothy Olyphant) move to a new town and enroll Number 4 into a high school under the name "John Smith" (What is this, a hot sheets motel?) to hide from the bad aliens. It doesn't work (Did anyone think it would?). It's hard to believe that this was directed by D.J. Caruso, who made one of my favorite films of all time, THE SALTON SEA (2002). My favorite review of this PG-13 Rated piece of crap was from a newspaper reviewer who said. "It smells like number two." He hit the nail right on the head; BLOOD OUT (2011) is just your typical DTV action film, this time starring Val Kilmer (who is quickly becoming the king of DTV films, even surpassing Stevan Seagal in sheer quantity) and Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson (who really should invest in an  acting coach), who both also starred in the DTV action film STREETS OF BLOOD (2009). It all has to do with a cop (Luke Goss; INTERVIEW WITH A HITMAN - 2012; and quickly becoming a DTV action star, with films like THE DEAD UNDEAD - 2010, DEATH RACE 2 - 2010 and DEATH RACE 3: INFERNO - 2012, under his belt) quitting the police force and joining a drug gang to get revenge on those who killed his brother. It's nothing that you haven't seen a dozen times before; RED RIDING HOOD (2011) is a revisionist telling of the old fairy tale, but besides some great art direction (check out those spiked trees!), this PG-13 Rated horror flick about killings in a small town committed by a werewolf (You have to guess who the werewolf is, which isn't that hard) is basically a bore. There is an alternate cut of the film available, but it doesn't make much of a difference besides adding a little more gore to the proceedings. Amanda Seyfried, Julie Christie and Gary Oldman deserve better; THE HOWLING REBORN (2011) is not nearly as bad as HOWLING: NEW MOON RISING (1995), but what is? This is standard DTV horror made for the TWILIGHT (2008) crowd, but with R-Rated special effects. A high school boy finally lands his school's beautiful (but reclusive) female student, who happens to be his secret crush for years, just as he finds out that he will soon become a werewolf, due to his heritage. There's another werewolf clan that wants him dead. Ho-hum; TIM & ERIC'S BILLION DOLLAR MOVIE (2011). A lot of people are fans of Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim from their Funny Or Die internet skits or their now-defunct Adult Swim series, but I find their brand of humor insulting. Hey, I like bad taste comedies just like the rest of you, but Tim and Eric seems to try to bring humor out of real human deformity and semi-retarded people (check out their "Shrim" skit in this film). The film opens with Eric & Tim blowing Robert Loggia's (who either has a bad skin disease or was made to look so; either way, he has never looked worse) billion dollars on a three minute film featuring a fake Johnny Depp (They've spent most of the money on huge diamonds and stuff for themselves). They high-tail it out of town when Loggia demands his money back and see a commercial (by a funny Will Ferrell) offering anyone a billion dollars to take over and refurbish his run-down shopping mall (where a store is devoted to selling used toilet paper and a wild wolf runs rampant). How big a coincidence is that? The duo travel to the mall and take it over, with Tim stealing a child from his father and making the kid his own (yeah, pedophilia is funny) and a sickly John C. Reilly (who is the best thing about this film) sacrificing himself to the wolf by attaching pizza slices all over his body, while Loggia and his band of executives try to find them. The whole movie is summed-up in the final 15 minutes, where Eric's true love is shot in the head by Loggia (yet no windows break, even though Loggia is on the outside and Eric is inside the mall) as he is proposing marriage and Tim uses his new son as a decoy (he throws him in the air and Loggia and his men shoot the kid until he bloodily explodes). The duo then take a bunch of swords and knives and throw them at Loggia and his gang, decapitating all of them. This movie is about as funny as a kid with no legs falling down a well. Some will dig it, but others like me will find it disgustingly off-target; RECOIL (2011) is your standard Steve Austin DTV action vehicle, which could be interchangeable with any recent DTV action flick. Austin is a cop who witnesses his entire family being gunned down by Danny Trejo and his motorcycle gang during a birthday party. He turns vigilante and begins killing members of Trejo's gang, then traveling to the town of Hope (how ironic!), where Trejo and his gang own the alcoholic Sheriff and the entire town. With the help of inn owner Serinda Swan, Austin begins dismantling the gang and their meth distribution business by killing them one-by-one, while FBI agent Lochlyn Munro tries to stop him. It all comes down to the prerequisite final fight between Austin and Trejo. Uninspired in every department. Austin and Trejo have done much better; TACTICAL FORCE (2011) is still another standard Steve Austin DTV action flick. Austin is the head of a Los Angeles S.W.A.T. squad who are on a training mission in an abandoned airplane hangar using nothing but blanks in their guns. Can't you just see what is coming next? That's right, Austin and his men find themselves in the middle of a turf war between two rival gangs, who decide to join forces to kill Austin and his team. How do you fight them when all you have is blanks? With Austin, that's no trouble. He'll just use his brute force to steal weapons from the gangs. Everything is telegraphed from the beginning. Nothing new or exciting here, except there is more humor than normal (Michael Shanks as a Russian mobster is a hoot). I like Austin, but he really has to pick better vehicles, like HUNT TO KILL (2010); HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN (2011) stars WWE wrestler Dave Bautista as a dirty cop just out of jail who takes a job as a bouncer at the titled establishment, which is run by the mob. When the nightclub is robbed and the boss's son killed, he is blamed and must stay one step ahead of the hitmen sent to kill him. Supposedly based on a true story, Bautista will never have the popularity of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, because he has the charisma of a petrified tree (After writing this short negative review, Bautista co-starred in the biggest film of 2014, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, where he appears along side a talking tree named Groot [voiced by Vin Diesel]!); When director Fred Olen Ray isn't making softcore porn (using the pseudonym "Nicholas Medina") starring Evan Stone and Nicole Sheridan (who looks like she has had one nose job too many), he's churning-out cheap horror films like DINO WOLF (a.k.a. DIRE WOLF - 2011), a totally predictable monster flick starring a roster of B-Movie stars like Gil Gerard and Maxwell Caulfield. It's perfect crap for the SyFy Network, which is never a good thing. In other words, it sucks; HUMANS VERSUS ZOMBIES (2011) is based on the popular college game of the same name. Unfortunately, you really can't make a film about college "humans" killing fake college "zombies", so the filmmakers tacked-on a routine zombie plot where the game turns real. The only difference here is that if you served in the military (which is why most kids avoid it and go to college!) and were exposed to stuff like Agent Orange, you are basically immune from the zombies. Too bad the rest of the film sucks, although the ending is a real downer (and inventive); REMAINS (2011) is a Chiller original film based on Steve Niles' graphic novel and directed by Colin Theys (the fun, but dumb, ALIEN OPPONENT - 2010). Unfortunately, this is a standard (even at times sub-standard) horror film where people wake up in Reno, Nevada and discover that nearly the entire population has been turned into zombies. Featured "star" Lance Reddick (FRINGE - 2008-2013) is in the film for only a few minutes and commercials during the original airing of the film tout the fact that you can see the uncensored version of the film on DVD or Blu-Ray, available immediately! Talk about shooting yourself in your own foot!; DONNER PASS (2011). Less than enthralling DTV horror flick that takes place during modern times at a cabin near the notorious Donner Pass (We are given a brief intro about what really happened to the Donner Party. For more on that story, rent THE DONNER PARTY - 2009, starring Crispin Glover.). The movie is nothing but a stalk 'n' slash film where young adults are slaughtered by unknown person(s) while having sex in a hot tub or doing drugs. You know, typical 80's slasher material, only this was made in 2011 and not made very well; BOUNTY HUNTERS (2011), stars gorgeous former WWE Diva and wrestler Trish Stratus (in her feature film debut) as a part of a bounty hunting team. Let's put it this way: Stratus is a great fighter and gets into some slam-bang scenes in the film. As an actress, though, she's a great fighter; THE BLEEDING HOUSE (2011). Say, have you heard the story about the psychotic traveling surgeon who knocks on doors and slaughters the entire family? You have? Well, this time, the surgeon (who speaks in that aggravating proper Southern drawl) doesn't know that the daughter of the family he picked for his next adventure has a darker secret than even he can handle. There, now you don't have to watch it. Consider it Torture Porn light; FLESH WOUNDS (2011), a lousy mixture of PREDATOR (1987) and ROBOCOP (1987) starring Kevin Sorbo and directed by Dan Garcia (TERROR TRAP - 2010); GHOST MACHINE (2009), a craptacular flick about a female ghost infecting the military's new survival video game (You die in the game and you die in real-life; where have we seen that before?); APOLLO 18 (2011). Ever wonder why we never attempted to land men on the moon since Apollo 17 in 1972? Well, this "found footage" flick (how anyone found the footage in the vastness of space is never explained) has the answer. It seems our government sent another lunar exploration landing in 1973 (the Russians beat us to it but didn't survive) and the moon rocks are actually shape-shifting aliens (who look like fist-sized spiders). The experiment was a complete failure and no one survived (and both the U.S. and Russian governments covered it up). The ending asks us why the majority of moon rocks from previous Apollo landings (many given to foreign officials as gifts) have disappeared. Good question, but the film is nothing but the usual "shakey-cam" footage and blurry images, barely showing the aliens until the final sequence (the best part of the film); BARRIO TALES (2011) is a routine horror anthology with a twist: The trio of stories are how Mexicans get their revenge on White America. Even the wraparound tale is about two white guys who head south of the border to buy some drugs from a scar-faced Mexican who tells them three tales around a campfire. The first tale is about a Mexican witch who gets revenge on rich white privileged young adults who accidentally kill her maid daughter. The second tale is about a taco stand cook who is actually a cannibal, making his tacos from the flesh of his white customers. The third tale is about a family of white coyotes (people who smuggle Mexicans across the border) who get their comeuppance when they decide to torture and kill their customers instead of letting them loose in America. Nearly every white person in this film is portrayed as the scum of the Earth, while the Mexicans are portrayed as people who are only defending themselves or their heritage. This film will not further the progress of immigration reform; I really wanted to like director Douglas Aarniokoski's THE DAY (2011), especially since I enjoyed his NURSE 3D (2012) so much, but the fact is that it makes so little sense and is filmed in that washed-out color technique and an aggravating performance by Shannyn Sossamon (CATACOMBS - 2007), that I wanted to wring her neck and fiddle with the controls of my TV. The film opens up with five people (Shawn Ashmore, Dominic Monaghan, Cory Hardrict, Ashley Bell and Shannyn Sossamon) walking down a desolate road and taking refuge in a deserted farmhouse. It's all a trap, of course, because nearly the entire population of the world have turned into cannibals. They look just like us, talk just like us and move like us (probably to save on a special effects makeup budget) and the only way to tell the difference is by their eating habits and a tattoo on a part of their bodies. When Monaghan (LOST - 2004-2010) is the first to die from a booby trap in the basement and it is revealed that Bell (THE LAST EXORCISM 1 & 2 - 2010 & 2013) is one of the cannibals (but hates her kind), this is where the film becomes extremely irritating when Sossamon wants to kill Bell, but Ashmore (THE FOLLOWING - 2013-Present) stops her after removing the piece of skin on Bell's thigh that has the tattoo on it. Even though Bell saves Sossamon's skin two times when the cannibals storm the farmhouse, she still wants Bell dead and takes all the bullets out of her gun when Bell stays behind to fight the cannibals, while Ashmore and Sossamon leave through a back window and escape. When Ashmore realizes what Sossamon has done, he goes back to fight with Bell and ends up losing his life (Hardict [DRIFTWOOD - 2006] has already lost his life and has become cannibal food, which we never see), as does Sossamon, who gets her throat cut by the head cannibal's little girl (Sossamon shot and killed her twin brother during that night). This leaves Bell the surviving winner and when she walks away, the little girl follows her, but Bell kills her and uses her headband to tie-off the wound on her thigh. THE END. This is another Hard-R Rated film from the WWE, who finally started to make gory films again after making a string of PG-13 snorefests while Linda McMahon was running for Governor of Connecticut (but lost). While there are many gory moments, the washed-out photography (only one flashback was in full color) and mostly night filming takes away from most of the effects. This played in 16 theaters for one week (where it only made $20,000 total), while playing simultaneously on VOD, before being dumped on home video and cable TV. This has "average" written all over it.

Bad DTV Genre Films Part 9 (continued): JACK THE REAPER (2011) proves one thing: Just because you have a female director/screenwriter (Kimberly Seilhamer) making a slasher flick, doesn't mean that there will be a difference in quality. This is a by-the-numbers horror film, where a bunch of teens are slaughtered by a psycho named "Railroad Jack" (Douglas Tait) at a deserted carnival. And just because it has cameos by Tony Todd (what modern-day horror film doesn't?) and Sally Kirkland (looking haggard and old) and has one of those "surprise endings" (REEKER [2005] did it much better) doesn't mean that it is any different than the countless slasher films that came before. Competently made, but just unremarkable; 247° F (2011) is a substandard thriller about three vacationing American pals (two women and one man) getting stuck in a lodge sauna in the woods while their pal gets high on pills supplied by the lodge caretaker and falls asleep. He is also responsible for getting them stuck in the sauna in the first place (How he does it will have you rolling your eyes in his stupidity). As the sauna grows hotter and hotter (the controls are outside so the humidity doesn't corrode it), our unlucky trio begin to bicker amongst themselves and continually yell for help. As luck would have it, it is also Fireworks Night, so their screams go unheard. This is nothing but a boring 90 minutes of people sweating to death, while their friend enjoys the fireworks and conks out on the couch. Filmed in the country of Georgia by two local directors (Levan Bakhia, Beqa Jguburia) that we will probably never hear from again; THE DINOSAUR PROJECT (2011) is a British PG-13 Rated "found footage" film that, besides a few good CGI shots of dinosaurs, is the same-old shakey camera flick where people, on an expedition of an uncharted island, manage to hold onto cameras while they are in mortal danger. One kid even holds onto a video camera while he watches his father fall off a cliff! Rather than put the camera down and try to help him, the son would rather have his father's death on camera. It's stupid stuff like this that makes me hate 99% of found footage films; The Texas-lensed BENEATH THE DARKNESS (2011) is probably one film Dennis Quaid would like to keep off his list of accomplishments. Quaid portrays a pillar of his community, who also happens to be the town's murderous funeral home director. Quaid has killed his unfaithful wife and when four teens see something in the upper window of Quaid's funeral home, they break in to investigate, only for Quaid to kill one of them. When the teens report their friend's murder to the police, they don't believe them, because the friend's body cannot be found and Quaid is highly thought-of in this town. The teens decide to investigate on their own, which leads to many close calls and many predictable situations. There's nothing surprising here except for Quaid's short journey into madness in the film's closing frames. "Love sucks" indeed!; SILENT HOUSE (2011) proves even Hollywood couldn't wait more than a year to remake this "one continuous take" (supposedly shot over four days, so how could it have been shot in one continuous take?) SOV 2010 original titled THE SILENT HOUSE from Uruguay (I guess the filmmakers of the remake decided to drop the "The" from the original film title in hopes of making the film sound scarier. They failed.). Maybe that's because it's one of those "found footage" films that takes very little money to shoot (and is dark 50% of the time, mainly so edits can be made and yet keep up the "one continuous take" ballyhoo). Even new "It" star Elizabeth Olsen (the sister of the notorious Olsen sisters; filmed before she became "famous" in films like the highly disturbing MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE [2011]) can't save a film this cheap. I'm not a fan of the original, either, or 99% of the films that use this technique. To me, "movies" filmed this way hope to recoup their meager budget back in the first week and then let the film drift off into obscurity on DVD and cable TV. This remake is one of those films. Some of these films get lucky and make a lot of money, which is why Hollywood keeps churning them out; I had high hopes for THE COLLAPSED (2011) since I read so many good things about it, but when I finally viewed it, nothing but deja vu came to mind. It's the old "end of the world" scenario, where some sort of disease is killing most of the planet's population and those that don't die are either immune or turn into cannibals. A family of four decide they are better off traveling in the forest than on city streets to avoid those that are infected. As they are traversing the woods, the father has a "feeling" that "something" is following them and it turns out to be true when the father and son return from a food-finding mission to discover the mother and daughter dead. Pretty soon the son turns up dead, too, and the father looks to get retribution for the person or persons involved in his family's deaths. The problem is that the "surprise" finale is telegraphed as soon as the father discovers his wife and daughter dead and director/screenwriter Justin McConnell (the 2013 documentary SKULL WORLD) does little to make us believe otherwise. There are a few bloody deaths, but the film is mostly talk, talk, talk and none of it is involving at all. This only proves one thing: When a film receives awards at festivals you never heard of and rave reviews from people you never heard of, they are probably shilling for the director or have some other interest in the film, like contributing to a crowd-funding campaign. There is nothing in this Ontario, Canada-lensed flick that is the least bit original. It's OK if you have nothing better to watch, but that is hardly a recommendation; URBAN EXPLORER (a.k.a. THE DEPRAVED - 2011) is your standard bloody semi-torture porn about a group of four older multinational twenty-somethings and their German guide who decide to explore the Berlin underground subway system and run smack-dab into a bricked-up Nazi bunker with strange paintings inside and occupied by a psychotic Nazi-obsessed German (He looks like a big-toothed Lee Marvin; at least half of the movie is in English-subtitled German) who begins using the kids as his bloody playthings, doing all sorts of gory things to them. This film, directed by German Andy Fetscher (his first theatrical film) takes forever to get the film moving (even suggesting that aliens were the ones that convinced the Germans that they were the Master Race!) and once it does, the kids make one stupid move after another (like splitting up in a place you have never been before is a good thing, especially when your German guide has just fell thirty feet and broken his thigh bone due to the stupid antics of the only male urban explorer, who decides to take a flash picture of the guide as he is crossing a dangerous precipice!). They derserve their bloody fates. Not involving and not worth your time, no matter what those reviewers say on IMDb, many of who probably worked on the film or knew someone that did; GRAVE ENCOUNTERS (2011) is one of those awful "found footage" films where the camera shakes like an earthquake whenever something interesting happens. In the film's only non-found footage sequence, the movie opens with a man telling the audience that what we are about to see is unedited and raw footage of Episode 5 of a ghost hunting show called Grave Encounters, where everyone involved in the show are investigating a long-closed psychiatric facility (where 80 patients supposedly died) and mysteriously disappeared. We then go to the video footage, where a group of people (including a lone female) bicker, argue and yell at each other until things start to happen, like doors opening by themselves, the crew being pushed around by unseen forces and so on (including that by-now old standby: no cell service). Only during the final 15 minutes do we barely see a couple of ghosts whose mouths open large enough to put both your fists in (but then suddenly, cameras become pixelated or snowy), the lone woman has something carved onto her back and everyone gets picked off one-by-one, but their video cameras conveniently fall the other way so all we hear are their screams. The movie ends with the lone survivor sitting in the hospital's underground tunnels waiting to die. Written and Directed by "The Vicious Brothers" (EXTRATERRESTRIAL - 2014), who are actually Colin Minihan & Stuart Ortiz, the film is nothing but a shaky-cam tease that tries to see how many times the actors can say "fuck" in a sentence. Avoid it. This was one of those films that was simultaneously shown in limited theaters and VOD, as was its familiar sequel, GRAVE ENCOUNTERS 2 (2012), which sends another investigative team into the same hospital to find out what happened to the first crew, with the same results. That one was only written by The Vicious Brothers and directed by John Poliquin. As with the first film, it induces headaches rather than fear; THE PASSING (2011) is a standard "reading of the will and forcing relatives to stay the weekend in ther dead relative's house" horror flick, where something lives in the mirrors and they have another relative that is the "family secret". The biggest mystery of this film is how it can have a 2011 production date when co-star Paul Gleason (who has a sizable role as an interviewing detective) passed away in 2006? I smell a troubled production!; BENDING THE RULES (2012) is one of those PG-13 rated fims from WWE Studios (usually action, comedy or both featuring one of their roster of wrestling stars, such as LEGENDARY - 2010; KNUCKLEHEAD - 2010; THE CHAPERONE - 2011; INSIDE OUT - 2011; THE REUNION - 2011) that ran in limited theatrical release for one week before being dumped DTV. This one is an action comedy about New Orleans cop Nick Blade (Adam Copeland, who wrestles under the monicker "Edge" and wears Hawaiian shirts throughout this film) and the district attorney, Theo Gold (Jamie Kennedy; SCREAM - 1996), who tries to bring Nick down because he thinks he is dirty. Of course they get coupled with each other to solve a major crime and become friends at the end. There's no denying Copeland has a screen presence, but the film is a by-the-numbers actioner that doesn't deliver on the action, probably because Vince McMahon's wife Linda was running for the Senate in Connecticut (she lost) and he didn't want the opposition to have any ammunition against her by releasing R-rated films (Read my review of WWE's SEE NO EVIL [2006] to see how bloody their films use to be before Linda put her hat in the ring); Speaking of WWE Studios, their BARRICADE (2012) is a tepid PG-13-rated horror thriller that is predictable from the opening minutes. A father (the normally good Eric McCormack; PERCEPTION [2012 - 2015]) brings his two kids to a secluded cabin in the woods during the middle of Winter to heal from the death of their mother a year earlier. Strange supernatural things begin to happen when the kids begin getting ill. Besides bringing his kids to a cabin in the middle of nowhere, in the Winter-time no less, what did he expect would happen? It tries to have a "surprise" ending, but you know from the start that it is the father who needs healing, not the kids. This one is a big yawner; I was expecting a lot from THE BARRENS (2012) since it was directed by Darren Lynn Bousman, who made the excellent MOTHER'S DAY (2010) reimagining, and starred TRUE BLOOD's Stephen Moyer, but this film, about a family searching for the perfect camping site in the New Jersey Pine Barrens, where the mythical monster, The Jersey Devil, supposedly resides is a boring psychological thriller that doesn't come to life until the final ten minutes. Stay tuned after the final credits for a longer-than-usual stinger, but it doesn't make this film any much less a stinker; CHERNOBYL DIARIES (2012) was a theatrical release that bombed, not because it was advertised as a "found footage" film (that's only partially true), but because it is nothing but a giant cheat on the audience. A bunch of American tourists decide to take a not-so-legal tour of Chernobyl and become stranded. They are attacked one-by-one by something, but every time the attacks happen, the "shakey-cam" effect comes into use, even when no video cameras or phones are used. We never get a good look at the attackers (who are supposedly mutants who refused to leave the area and survive by eating tourists), so what's the point of watching this film? The final two-thirds of the film takes place in total darkness, except for the single flashlight one of the tourist carries, so be prepared to squint a lot. It also has one of those endings where everyone is killed; the final one being locked in a cell by the Russian military with a bunch of hungry mutants; Speaking of found footage, SHADOW PEOPLE (2012) could be considered a "semi-found footage" film in the same vein of THE FOURTH KIND (2009), where "real-life archival footage" is mixed-in with the rest of the film (I'm a firm believer of the phenomena, being a victim of it when I was a kid.). Dallas Roberts plays supposedly real-life Kentucky ex-radio talk DJ Charlie Crowe (who passed away in 2010 [apparently]), who receives a phone call from a listener who tries to kill himself with a gun over the airwaves to keep the "Shadow People" away from him (they are capable of stealing your breath and only appear when the lights are out). His shot misses and he ends up in the hospital, but dies in his sleep from a little-known condition called "Sudden Unexplained Nocturnal Death Syndrome" (or SUNDS). The CDC is called in and representative Sophie Lacombe (Alison Eastwood) works with Charlie (who becomes a local celebrity) to find out if Shadow People actually exist. They discover a professor who ran secret experiments on Shadow People in the early 70's and every one of his patients died, but he buried all his filmed footage of the experiments in his coffin (while he was cremated). After digging up the evidence, Charlie and Sophie discover an image of one of the Shadow People, but Sophie talks Charlie from admitting they are real (figuring the "placebo effect" would cause worldwide deaths) and he falsely admits on TV that it was all a prank played by him on the radio. Charlie loses his job at the radio station and ends up being the butt of everyone's joke in Kentucky, those people not knowing he probably saved a lot of their lives. The biggest problem with this film is that it lacks any suspense and the supposedly "real" footage could easily have been faked. The PG-13 rating keeps most violence down to a minimum and we really never get a good look at the Shadow People (which is probably the whole point of them being shadows!). Even though I was a believer when I was a kid and saw many Shadow People near my bed several times (they also played with my sense of depth perception, even though I was only born with one good eye), the phenomenon soon passed and I have never seen them again. A figment of my childish imagination? Possibly. But this film will not convince you one way or the other. Stay until after the final credits for a stern warning. Most people from Kentucky never knew this happened, which tells me the entire film is nothing but a work of fiction. But the Shadow People certainly weren't when I was a kid in New Jersey. The best film to show the Shadow People is still GHOST (1990). I still get shivers everytime I see them on the screen because it was so close to what my childhood memories were like; EXCISION (2012) is a slow-burn horror film written and directed by Richard Bates Jr. (based on his 2008 short film of the same name) about plain jane schoolgirl Pauline (AnnaLynne McCord; DAY OF THE DEAD - 2007; who is made to look as ugly as possible, taking the ugliness factor a little too far for believability) who gets harassed by the clique of pretty girls (she tells one girl, "Your vagina looks like a diseased axe wound."), but all she can think of is cutting open the human body and feeling the insides (first she operates on a dead bird she finds on the sidewalk). She invites a guy from her school back to her house for sex (where she imagines they are making love in a huge puddle of blood with his insides showing) and makes him perform oral sex on her without telling him she is having her period (she is also a virgin; it is still the film's most disgusting scene). Her parents, played by Traci Lords (the best thing about this film; her acting is nothing short of amazing, telling Pauline, who tests her ultra-religious mom's patience by telling her that she will get married to a black man, by saying "African Americans are notorious adulterers.") and Roger Bart (SMILEY - 2012), who basically has no say in family matters due to his over-powering wife, become more concerned with her, and rightfully so, because as the finale shows, Pauline (who has shaved her head) has been operating on her beloved younger sickly sister Grace (Ariel Winter) in the garage (who has Cystic Fibrosis and needs a lung transplant) and has opened her up, replacing her diseased lungs with good ones from the dismembered body of the young girl who lives across the street, telling her mother she couldn't fix Grace by transplanting the new lungs into her, but will do better next time. All Mom can do is hug the bloody Pauline and scream, as the screen fades to black. What the fuck? Filmed with fantasies of bloodletting and dismemberment (including Pauline holding her own severed head), the film really adds up to nothing (although there are plenty of other people who disagree), even with cameos by Matthew Gray Gubler (CRIMINAL MINDS, of which there is a sly reference to if you watch the series) as the biology teacher, John Waters (as a priest/psychiatrist!), Malcolm McDowell (as a frustrated teacher), Marlee Matlin (who is funny as hell as the head of the Cotillion) and Ray Wise (as the flabbergasted principal of Pauline's high school, who looks at a photo of George Bush, Jr. hanging on his wall and sighs after talking to Pauline about one of her latest antics). With a cast like that, you would expect a lot more than this;  STASH HOUSE (2012) is a rare loser starring Dolph Lundgren (hey, his track record is still phenomenal), which is a shame since he gets the chance to play a bad guy this time. Sean Faris and Briana Evigan play a married couple and Faris buys his wife a house in a gated community for her birthday. The big problem is that the home is a stash house, complete with a drug tunnel dug under the house that leads out of the gated community. The walls of the house are lined with bricks of heroin, so Lundgren and his henchmen decide to collect their stash only to discover that the house has been sold and is now occupied. Lundgren doesn't expect the married couple to be much of a problem, but he couldn't be more wrong, as the couple fight tooth and nail to save their lives. The premise of the film is good, but it is shot drained mostly of all color (it looks like it was photographed with a light green filter on the lense and director Eduardo Rodriguez, who made the far superior EL GRINGO (2012), substitutes rains (lots of it) for atmosphere. This isn't the worst DTV flick I have seen (the finale is pretty tense), but I'm getting pretty tired of films draining out all the color, as if they are trying to make a statement. All it is is distracting; Speaking of Dolph Lundgren, he co-stars with Cuba Gooding Jr. in ONE IN THE CHAMBER (2012), directed by William Kaufman, who gave us the excellent films THE PRODIGY (2005) and the Gooding Jr.-starring THE HIT LIST (2011), but Kaufman decides this time to stick to violence and let the story take a back seat. This is not a bad film, but Kaufman has done so much better (including SINNERS AND SAINTS - 2010) that I thought he should be handed a negative review for this one. Gooding Jr, portrays an accomplished hitman (when we first see him, he is blowing away a group of Russian mobsters from an apartment across the street and I have never seen bullet squibs so large!) and Lundgren is a Hawaiian shirt-wearing guy called "The Wolf", a mob "collector" who visits people who better have the money when he pays a call (Even if you do have the money, he not above breaking a few fingers just to make a point). Somehow, they both get mixed-up with each other by rival factions of the Russian mob (filmed in the Czech Republic and Louisiana) which leads to many bloody gunfights and hand and feet combat. This follows the formula that every ten minutes there should be violence of some kind and Kaufman more than happily supplies it. This is about as violent a film can get and still be Rated R. Unfortunately, the violence leaves little room for much of a story and it all ends rather abruptly and unbelievably. If you like violence, you'll probably love this film. If you like a little meat to go with your potatoes, you are bound to be disappointed. Better than most DTV flicks, but it is still not up to William Kaufman's standards; MIMESIS (2012) is director Doug Schulze's (HELLMASTER - 1992; DARK FIELDS - 2009) take on what it would be like to participate in a horror role-playing game that turns deadly. In this case, a group of horror-loving teens and kids are drugged and wake up in a house that is nearly identical to the one in NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968). There are fake zombies outside trying to get in, but the leader of the game (and head zombie) takes it too far and begins murdering the victims and filming the whole event. There is very little to recommend here, besides a Sid Haig extended cameo (he explains that "Mimesis" means recreating actions and events of something that have already happened, before he is shot in the head) and an even shorter cameo by Bill Hinzman as a cop at the finale who name-checks the original film before the end credits roll (and a rap tune begins!). Schulze is working on a sequel in 2017, this one where psychos recreate the classic 1922 silent film NOSFERATU. I hope it is better than this film; COCKNEYS VS. ZOMBIES (2012) is exactly what the title suggests and it's just your average zombie comedy. The film takes place in two locations: a bank that is being robbed by the worst Cockney thieves on record (even the woman thief wears a fake moustache!) and an old age home (the most interesting part). Both become under siege buy hordes of zombies, as the thieves and their hostages join forces and the elderly (one of them happens to be the grandfather of two of the thieves) pull out their cache of automatic weapons to kill the zombies. The funniest scene is a hard-of-hearing old age pensioner trying to outrun zombies in his walker and, while there are plentiful gunshots to the heads, dismemberments and zombie chow-downs, it just fails to connect on either a comedy or horror level. It's not badly made. It's just ordinary; DEATH DO US PART (2012) is your typical slasher whodunnit that contains all the prerequisite ingredients: 1.) The film opens with bride-to-be Kennedy (Julia Benson) walking down a deserted road dressed in her bloody wedding dress and veil. The police find her and she recounts what happened (through her veil, which hides her face) for the past week. (Major Clue Alert!!!) 2.) Wealthy socialite Kennedy, her groom Ryan (Peter Benson, one of the film's Producers and Co-Screenwriters, along with real-life wife Julia Benson) and their bridegrooms and grooomsmen decide to have a combination bachelor/bachelorette party at a house deep in the woods that Best Man Chet (Kyle Cassie) found listed on Craig's List! 3.) They finally get to the house, only to discover that it is looked over by hulking groundskeeper Bo (Dave Collette), who is a strong man of few words and always shows up unexpectedly (making him the film's biggest red herring). 4.) Everyone in the six-person party is hiding secrets and deadly situations which could ruin the wedding, like Derrick (Benjamin Ayres) going to jail for two years for something he and Ryan did, but Derrick never gave up his name to the authorities. Now Derrick needs $20,000 to pay off drug dealers and threatens to tell Kennedy unless Ryan ponies it up by stealing it from Kennedy (Of course Derrick is the first to die). Also, and much more major, is that Ryan is screwing Kennedy's best friend Emily (Emilie Ullerup) in the woods, which is viewed by the final member of the group Hannah (Christine Chatelain, who also witnessed the arguement between Ryan and Derrick and is almost the second to die.). Kennedy and Emily are supposed to be going into business together, but she tells Emily that she and Ryan are moving to New York permanently after the wedding and their business partnership will never happen. 5.) If you haven't guessed already, someone with a burlap bag over their head is killing members of the party, such as cutting fingers off and planting an axe into Derrick's head, running Emily through with a machete, and other nasty deeds. It is not Bo, because Ryan needlessly kills him. Is it someone from the party or a random killer in the woods? Kennedy stabs Ryan several times and kills him because he tells her he never loved her. 6.) Who really cares since this is such an ordinary slasher film? OK, the killer is actually Hannah, whom Kennedy strangles because Hannah has a lesbian crush on her. There is one unseen surprise at the end (but only if you were in that Special Class in school), but nothing worth dredging through the rest of the film for. Director Nicholas Humphries, this being his first feature film after directing over 30 short films, hardly has a sense of pacing and the gore and blood factor are way too low for slasher fanatics, so maybe he should stick to short films. All technical and acting aspects are fine, but it is just too damn ordinary for its own good.; THE WATCH (2012) is one of those films that was so bad that it played for one week in theaters and then completely disappeared until its home video release. Four people (Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill and Richard Ayoade, who should all be ashamed of themselves) form a Neighborhood Watch (the film's shooting title) after a neighbor is murdered and run smack-dab into an alien invasion, who are using the basement of the local CostCo (where Stiller works) to set up an invasion taking over the Earth (with a bowling ball-like device, which our four "heroes" use to blow-up a cow). You would think with a cast like that the film would be a little bit funny, but there's so much talk of "cum" and "sucking my balls", not to mention a convenient surprise near the finale, that the film loses steam nearly before it starts. What else would you expect from director Akiva Schaffer, who worked as a writer and short digital film director on SNL and directed the even unfunnier HOT ROD (2007)? The normally funny Seth Rogen was one of three screenwriters on this abomination; MINE GAMES (2012), also known as THE EVIL WITHIN has one of those shopworn "It was all a dream" endings and if there isn't a cliché they haven't mined (excuse the pun), then I don't know if you have watched enough horror films. A group of people drive to a house deep in the woods (Cliché #1) for some rest and relaxation and end up hitting someone who looks exacly as one of them in the SUV. We then hear such things as "Yes our phones are working. We just don't have service" (Cliché #2), "Maybe we should split up." (Cliché #3) and; Girlfriend to schizophrenic boyfriend: "Did you bring your meds with you?" Boyfriend: "No, I left them back in the car." (Cliché #4). After they decide to walk together (breaking Cliché #3) and find the house, things start to immediately go weird (Cliche #5). Next to the house is a mine with a warning painted on to it (Cliché #6), that says "Break The Cycle". They refuse to understand the warning and enter the mine (Cliché #7) where they see the sign of the "Ouroboros" (fans of the old MILLENNIUM TV Series [1996-1999] should recognise this symbol: a snake eating its own tail, forming a perfect circle). They press on, not realizing the warning and the symbol are related (Cliché #8) and two of the friends see their own dead bodies laying in the cave. Everyone hightails it out of there, only to be told by the asshole of the group (Cliché #9) that he spiked all their drinks with psychedelic mushrooms and they all will be tripping the whole weekend! Needless to say, whenever someone enters the mine, they see exact copies of their friends or themselves and soon the group begins dropping like flies and they all become paranoid whether their friends have been replaced by doubles. It all ends as it begins, with the med-taking boyfriend waking his girlfriend in the SUV and saying "Are you ready?" (Cliché #10). Director/co-writer Richard Gray has seen too many "Cycle Of Life" horror flicks and half the movie takes place in an underlit mine, so trying to make out what is going on is a chore. Since this is mainly psychological horror, don't look for buckets of blood because you will be disappointed. Don't bother with this one unless you are a mine horror enthusiast; INHUMAN RESOURCES (2012), known to the rest of the world as REDD INC., is the first release from the "Fangoria Presents" line of DVDs. Serial killer businessman Thomas Reddmann (Nicholas Hope), dubbed "The Headhunter" by the Press because of his fondness for chopping off heads, escapes from prison and literally chains six people to their desks at some secluded location. He tells everyone captive he is innocent of the crimes he is accused of and that one of the six is actually the killer. What flummoxed me is that he "interviews" each person and if he doesn't like what they say, he first slices their foreheads like a number (you don't want to get more than four slices), rips out one of his captive's eyes, shoves a pencil through another's hand, suffocates one with a plastic bag or kills and maims in some other gory manner. It turns out that he is not The Headhunter, but the point is moot. He has killed some innocent people to prove his innocence. I really don't see the point in the whole film unless you like torture porn. I will say this, the finale shot did give me a laugh, but you have to put up with the rest of the film to get there. It just wasn't worth it for me, but other people may like it; STORAGE 24 (2012) is a British ALIEN (1979) clone where a bunch of everyday citizens get caught in the titled building just after an alien crash lands there. Besides the use of practical effects over CGI (especially the alien, which looks part Predator, part Alien) and some bloody deaths, you've see this story done 100 times before. Consider it a slight step above those 80's Roger Corman ALIEN clones (TRIVIA: This was the lowest-grossing theatrical film of 2013, bringing in a measly $72.00 in one American theater.); SCARY OR DIE (2012). I'm not the biggest fan of anthology horror films, but even those of you that are will find this DTV film (which took three people to direct) almost impossible to sit through, especially the final (of five, not counting the wraparound) segment where a father (Executive Producer Corbin Bleu, best known for his starring roles in the Disney HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL franchise of films) gets bitten by an extremely ugly killer clown (!) and slowly turns into one, big feet and all! Utterly ridiculous from beginning to end and every segment (some as small as ten minutes) is idiotic as hell; OFFICER DOWN (2012) is one of the few Stephen Dorff flicks not to make the good list. That's not to say it's awful, because it's not and it has a great cast (Walton Goggins, James Woods, Stephen Lang, AnnaLynn McCord, Dominic Purcell, David Boreanaz and Elisabeth Röhm), but it's so damn common of a cop thriller, it did nothing for me. Dorff is a police detective that drinks heavily and takes drugs who kills a cop (He doesn't know the guy's a cop until after he is dead and searches the body) and tries to cover it up (He mistakenly believes the cop is sexually abusing his daughter). As you can imagine, it all spirals out of control and ends with an onscreen written explanation that was totally unneeded. Director Brian A. Miller also directed the unremarkable CAUGHT IN THE CROSSFIRE (2010) and HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN (2011; also with Dominic Purcell) which would explain why this film is just routine; WOULD YOU RATHER (2012) starts out with an interesting premise, but quickly deteriorates into standard "torture porn" fare. Brittany Snow plays a girl whose brother needs a life-saving bone marrow transplant. She meets rich guy Jeffrey Combs (who is excellent in his nastiness), who makes a deal with her: Come to his house for dinner and afterward, she and his other dinner guests will play a game, where the winner would get whatever their hearts desire. In Snow's case, it would be the bone-marrow transplant, money to pay for it and her brother's recovery. The dinner party soon turns deadly (Before the games really start, special guest star John Heard, a recovering alcoholoc, is offered $50,000 to drink a bottle of scotch, which he does, but he is shot dead when he decides a little too late that he doesn't want to play the real game), as the members are not allowed to leave and are forced to play a game of "Would You Rather", such as "Would you rather stab the person on the left in the leg with a knife or strike the getlemnan on your right three times in the back with an extremely sharp whipping stick?" It soon turns into the survival of the fittest, as people are forced to cut open their eye with a razor, electrocute themselves or another member at the table, hold their breath underwater for two to four minutes or have a quarter stick of dynamite itaped to their hand while the fuse is lit. As with all these films, Snow wins the competition, only to arrive home to find her brother has committed suicide. Director David Guy Levy offers very little new to the genre, but does seem to pull back the camera during the most bloody shots, something unusual for your standard torture porn films; DETENTION OF THE DEAD (2012) is a comedy mixture of THE BREAKFAST CLUB (1985) and the zombie genre. And it is ordinary to the extreme. A detention class in a high school library traps a braniac, a stoner, a goth chick, two jocks and a cheerleader while a zombie outbreak happens outside. Besides a couple of gory kills (some of them funny, especially a clarinet spouting blood out of the top a female zombie bandmate's head), the story is nothing but a cliched bunch of characters who spill each other's secrets as they are attacked and their numbers dwindle. I'm getting sick of zombie comedies, and this one doesn't help. At least the similarly-themed DANCE OF THE DEAD (2008) was funny. Directed and written by actor Alex Craig Mann (who doesn't have a part here). This one just sucks all the life out of the room; BLOODWORX (a.k.a. BLOODWORK - 2012). Hey, did you hear the story of a couple of college buddies who decide to spend their two week Spring Break at an isolated hospital for $3,000 a week where they are about to become guinea pigs for a trial of a new drug? Only it starts turning all those who take the drug turn into  murderous zombie-like (the fast-moving kind) creatures with a thirst for blood that can quickly regenerate their wounds, such as gunshots? And it has a pretty downer of a denouement? You have? Well, good, then you don't have to watch this totally ordinary horror flick whose funniest scene is where a poll taker asks all the people who took the drug about their bowel movements and to describe how it came out (hard, soft, fast, slow, runny. etc.?). Add another quick cameo from Eric Roberts for some blow money and you have the perfect combination of a horror flick that offers nothing new to the genre; Nicolas Cage has made more than his share of crappy films, and while STOLEN (2012) doesn't steep to those low levels, it is still average at best. Eight years ago, Will Montgomery (Cage), considered one of the world's best thieves, robs a bank in Louisiana of $10 million with the help of a group of criminals. His partner, Vincent (Josh Lucas) gets greedy when he sees a pile of gold in a locked cage and gets shot in the leg by Will when Vincent tries to kill a janitor (Will says, "We don't kill anyone!"). After a car chase in a parking garage, Will is caught (but not before burning the $10 million) and is sentenced to eight years in prison. When his eight years are up, Will is picked up by old FBI nemesis/friend Tim Harlend (Danny Huston), who wants to know where the $10 million is. Will keeps on saying it doesn't exist anymore, but Harlend and his partner Fletcher (Mark Valley) don't believe him. Will never ratted on anyone else who was in on the heist and everyone thinks Vincent is dead. Will tries to reconnect with his daughter Alison (Sami Gayle; a regular on TV's BLUE BLOODS), but she doesn't want anything to do with him and takes a taxi to see her psychiatrist for "abandonment issues". Little does Will know at the time is that the taxi driver is actually Vincent, who now sports an artificial leg and went to great lengths to make sure everyone thought he was dead. He has kidnapped Alison and wants his share of the $10 million from Will within 12 hours or his daughter is dead. He puts Alison in the soundproof trunk of his taxi an begins to run Will around, while Will has many close calls being captured by Harlend for breaking the law once again. Will has a face-to-face meeting with old gang member Hoyt (a cameo by M.C. Gainey) and gets all the information he needs about Vincent before they get into a hand-to-hand altercation/gunfight, then Harlend and Fletcher kill Hoyt as he opens his front door and Will escapes through the back. In the finale, Will depends on old female gang member Riley Jeffers (Malin Akerman) to help him rob the same bank that he robbed eight years earlier, only this time he comes up with a unique way to melt the gold bars from below and let the molten gold spill into water, turning them into small gold boulders. He delivers the gold to Vincent (filmed at the former Six Flags New Orleans, which was abandoned after Hurricane Katrina), but he sets the trunk on fire with gasoline, which forces Will to drive the taxi into the water and try to save his daughter in the trunk before the car sinks to the bottom. He does, Vincent is stabbed (with his own articicial leg!) and Will throws him in the trunk as the car sinks to the bottom. The film ends happily, with Will, Alison and Riley having a cookout when Will discovers a rock of gold hidden in the back of Riley's pickup. What happens next is not very much a surprise, but it ends the film on a proper note. This is strictly a by-the-book action film, directed by Simon West (the remakes of WHEN A STRANGER CALLS - 2006 and THE MECHANIC - 2011), which really offers no surprises and most of the action (which are mainly car and foot chases) does not excite. In other words, this is no DRIVE ANGRY (2011). Originally scheduled to be shown in wide-release in theaters, it became one of those limited theaters/VOD releases before being quickly dropped to DTV. Proceed at your own risk.; AFTER (2012) is one of those cheap shot-on-digital video films with nearly all the color drained out. Freddy (Steven Strait) and Ana (Karolina Wydra) wake up in a hospital after being in a coma for months from a bus accident (we can tell by Freddy's beard growth and the hair on Ana's legs) and there doesn't appear to be anyone else in town (yet they walk like the muscles in their legs haven't atrophied and there isn't any other injury). They drive until they get to a giant weird dark cloud that, they eventually learn, encircles the entire town and is moving inward. It looks like they only have about 3 days left. I know what you are thinking: They are dead or in limbo. Oh, if it were only that easy. It has to do with something Freddy did to Ana when they were children (they never really knew each other), alternate dimensions and being chased by a killer sharp-toothed CGI monster who has the key to save their dimension implanted in its chest. None of it makes any sense and you'll be scratching your head bald trying to figure this whole story out. It looks as if freshman feature film director Ryan Smith took too much peyote when he wrote the mind-numbing screenplay.; ASSASSINS RUN (a.k.a. WHITE SWAN - 2012) is one of those ridiculous DTV action films that you have to see to believe. Russian ballet star Maya Letiniskaya (Sofya Skya) is put through hell when her rich big business, but caring, husband Richard (Christian Slater; TV's MR. ROBOT - 2015-Present), is killed, her young daughter Nina (Marianna Khalifman) kidnapped and she is thrown in prison for seven years on a trumped-up cocaine charge because people are looking for papers that will make them rich. In an unbelievable turn of events, one of the ugly female prisoners (You know the kind: squished face, fat nose and missing teeth) challenges Maya to a fight (she wants to know where the papers are) in the prison yard and before you can say "Bruce Lee", Maya has become a martial arts expert, using her ballet moves as a way to beat the snot out of the ugly woman and make her lose yet another tooth. Maya escapes prison and goes on a search for her daughter (Richard told Maya if anything happened to him, only trust Nina's life to Richard [Angus Macfadyen], a harmonica-playing rich man who has been friends with Richard since they were kids) and the papers everyone wants, which will save her daughter's life. She is sure that Richard gave her a clue to where the papers are, so she searches for it while beating the bejesus out of everyone in her way with her new-found ballet-fu knowledge. She finds the clue in some flowers her husband had delivered to the theater (and gets revenge on another rage-filled ballet dancer who wanted the lead in "Swan Lake" by putting a razor blade in her ballet shoe!) and then heads to Richard's house in the United States to help him find Nina, only to learn that Richard is dead. It is not hard to see who the head bad man really is, as directors Robert Crombie & star Sofya Skya spend too much time on plot development and not enough time on the ballet-fu action (Crombie directed the U.S. sections and Skya directed the Russia sections). As a matter of fact, we never see Maya deal with the head bad guy as the film fades to black before it happens. Filmed about 50% in St. Petersburg, Russia. NOTE: The front of the film's DVD cover has absolutely nothing to do with the film.

Bad DTV Genre Films Part 10 (continued):  THE POWER OF FEW (2012) is one of those films (from director/writer Leone Marucci) that tells six interconnected stories that always end the same: bullets flying, cars crashing and people dying. The protagonist of the film, a young black girl named Few (Tione Johnson) is seen walking down the street while we hear her complain about biting the inside of her cheek between stories, but it plays an important part in the finale, telling us, the viewers, that even the smallest thing or collection of words can make the outcome of any situation turn out differently. I found it a little too preachy for my tastes (the sub-story about the theft of the Shroud of Turin makes it even more religious), but some people may find enjoyment by Christopher Walken's turn as an ex-TV News anchorman who has fallen on hard times (yet still talks as if he is in the studio) and hangs with a dwarf (Jordan Prentiss) who doesn't understand half of what Walken says and appearances by Christian Slater (the hardest working actor in DTV films), Moon Bloodgood, Jesse Bradford, Larry King (as himself) and rapper Juvenile and Anthony Anderson, who take Few's words to heart and change the outcome of what we have seen throughout the entire movie, saving at least ten lives. I would have liked the movie if it pulled back on the religious mumbo jumbo, but I did like the connection of how the action of one can change the outcome of many. Some people may dig this film, but I don't like to be preached to; NO ONE LIVES (2012) is WWE's second bloody horror film since SEE NO EVIL (2006; the first one being the average THE DAY - 2011), but I'm sad to say that it is nothing but an average blood and guts "torture porn" film with very few surprises. A group of backwoods thieves/killers (led by Lee Tergesen) cause a car accident, unaware that the car is driven by a serial killer (Luke Evans), who has a female captive (Adelaide Clemens) in the trunk of his car who may or may not be suffering from Stockholm Syndrome (she has been missing for 15 months). The serial killer begins dispatching the killers (because one of them killed his female serial killer companion) in various bloody ways in the house the killers hole-up in deep in the woods (the film does go for Hard-R gore, including bullet hits in the eye and head, as well as a shotgun blast that takes a head clean off, so it has that in its favor) and the house is booby-trapped, until just one killer and the female captive are left. This is the type of film where the serial killer doles out punishment to those just as bad as he (and some innocents, too, but so do the other people) and in the end only lets his female captive survive (after removing a tracking device in her body without the use of anaesthesia) and walks away scott-free. Lots of gore for those seeking it, but very little else. I expected a lot more from director Ryûhei Kitamura, who gave us the highly unusual THE MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN (2008), which also dealt with a serial killer of a different type. One excellent scene: In a flashback, Luke Evans cuts an artery in his neck and promises Adelaide Clemens the key to the dungeon they are in if she saves him. If not, she will starve to death. She saves Evans by sewing up his artery, but can't find the key. Evans tells her there never was one because the door was never locked! She never thought of checking the door. A piece of great filmmaking in an otherwise torture film.; DEADFALL (2012) is one of those crime thrillers with a great cast that, unfortunately, goes nowhere fast, thanks to director/screenwriter Stefan Ruzowitzky (ANATOMY - 2000). Brother and sister stickup team (Eric Bana and Olivia Wilde) are on the run from a casino heist in the middle of winter (filmed in Quebec, Canada), when they kill a state trooper. They decide to split up (huh?) and the sister is saved from freezing to death by a recently released ex-con (SONS OF ANARCHY's Charlie Hunnam) and he takes her to his disapproving parents' (Kris Kristofferson and Sissy Spacek) house for Thanksgiving. Meanwhile, the brother is tearing a swath of death and destruction throughout the area (he even gets one of his fingers cut off), killing a Native American, a mother and another cop, while being chased by cop Kate Mara and her asshole boss, the sheriff (played by Treat Williams), who also happens to be her father and hates the fact that his daughter will soon become an FBI agent. It all leads to the eventual showdown at the parents' house, where sides will be picked and people will die. This would be a really good film if there weren't a few gaping plot holes that even a three year-old could spot; THE BUTCHER BOYS (a.k.a. BONE BOYS - 2012), filmed in and around Austin, Texas, is just another TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE wannabe, which is no surprise since it was written and co-produced by Kim Henkel, who wrote the original and directed/produced/wrote TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE: THE NEXT GENERATION (1994; even though he says he based his script on the new film on Jonathan Swift's 1729 novel, "A Modest Proposal". Yeah, right.). A girl named Sissy (Ali Faulkner) goes out with her brother and two friends Ken and Barbie (c'mon now!), to celebrate the brother's birthday at a fancy restaurant. On their way home, a series of events happens where they piss-off a group of cannibals called The Bone Boys (even Latin gangs and the cops are scared of them) and after killing the other three, they chase Sissy for what seems like a lifetime before they finally catch her. We then meet the entire clan (in a building called "Swift's") and one of the gang peforms a vaginal examination on her to see if she is able to produce children, while the English-speaking (as in England) head of the family and a chained-up Leatherface clone wait for the results. It is then torture porn from that moment on and when Sissy does escape, it is taken right out of the finale of the original, except she is rescued by two Latino's in a lowrider while the Leatherface creature plants an axe in the trunk. Directors Duane Graves and Justin Weeks (THE WILD MAN OF NAVIDAD - 2007) don't try too hard to build any suspense at all and the film just meanders along, but if you look closely, you will see cameos from the original TCM by Marilyn Burns, Edwin Neal, John Dugan, Bill Johnson and others, but that is no reason to see this poor imitation of a classic film. Keep moving people, nothing to see here; JACK & DIANE (2012) was announced as a "romance horror" film, but you'll have to go through a lot of romance before you get to the horror and I'm not really sure whether it should be called horror at all. This is actually a lesbian love story between tomboy Jack (Riley Keough) and strange newly lesbian Diane (Juno Temple), who was raped by a bunch of frat boys who taped the whole incident and put it on the internet. Everytime Jack & Diane get close to making love, Diane chickens out and then she has nightmares about turning into some rubber-suited monster (by Gabe Bartalos) and eating Jack's internal organs (the first instance happens 1 hour and 19 minutes into the film!). There is some nice animation sequences by the Quay Brothers (the opening titles and some other super-quick sequences throughout the film's 96 minutes, but it really does nothing to enhance the film) and a nice music soundtrack (Kylie Minogue has a song and also a role), but most time it's just a boring love story between two young women. Those expecting much more are bound to be disappointed; APARTMENT 1303 (2012) is a terrible remake of the Japanese ghost story of 2007 with the same name, but with the added bonus of 3D (it never got many 3D showings since it was one of those films that played in a few theaters for a week while it played simultaneously on VOD and then quickly was shown on the Showtime networks). This is your typical bad remake of an uneven Japanese flick about a suicidal ghost that haunts the apartment number in the title, which a new resident (Julianne Michelle) rents to get away from her alcoholic mother (Rebecca De Mornay). When the ghost throws the girl off the balcony, killing her, her sister (Mischa Barton) decides to investigate the apartment's history. When you see a ghost sitting on a toilet, you know that a film is desperate for attention. It's about as boring and predictable as a pimply-faced kid getting a date with a supermodel. Nothing happens and you go home disappointed. Don't waste your time; NO TELL MOTEL (2012) is a thoroughly routine horror film about a bunch of young adults whose car breaks down and they are forced to stay in an abandoned motel (no cell phone service of course) that is haunted by a violent little ghost girl named Angela (Rileigh Chalmers). The little ghost begins killing the unwanted guests one-by-one while Megan (Chalie Howes) tries to figure out why Angela is so mad. The result comes as no surprise and director Brett Donowho (A HAUNTING AT SILVER FALLS - 2013) offers the viewer nothing in the way of suspense to keep us from watching the clock and waiting for the film to finally end. Staying at a Super 8 Motel is more of an adventure; GIRLS AGAINST BOYS (2012) is a predictable revenge thriller about a girl named Lulu (Nicole LaLiberte) who gets raped so she goes to the police to report it. The young policeman treats her like dirt (He says something like, "You look OK to me."), so she gets the idea of making men pay with their lives for their misdeeds towards women. She first starts out with the young cop. She comes on to him and soon they are in a motel room with him blindfolded and handcuffed to the bed. Lulu then takes his gun shoves it up his ass amd pulls the trigger (luckily for us, it is not shown). Lulu then adopts co-worker Shae (Danielle Panabaker). She is crying uncontrollably at a nightclub because she has just been dumped by her married boyfriend, who decides to work it out with his wife for the sake of their young daughter (Shae didn't even know he had a daughter.). These two women then go out on a spree to kill men, but when Shae cannot kill her married boyfriend, Lulu does it for her. To make a long story short, Lulu is actually a lesbian who has the hots for Shae and when she comes on to her, Shae cuts her deep in the stomach with a sword and Lulu bleeds out in the kitchen and dies. The next time we see Shae, she is at a nightclub talking to a girl who has just been abused by her boyfriend. The circle starts all over again. Director/writer Austin Chick offers nothing new to this well-worn genre and you can see the "surprise" coming a mile away. Too bad, because I enjoy Danielle Panabaker (FRIDAY THE 13TH - 2009; THE WARD - 2010) as an actress; TASMANIAN DEVILS (2012) is the usual SyFy horrible CGI fest about base jumpers who parachute into illegal territory in the Tasmania forest and run into a bunch of badly-rendered monsters. The only worthwhile thing about this film is seeing THE WONDER YEARS' Winnie Cooper, Danica McKellar, as a forest ranger who wears a ranger costume shirt which is apparently two sizes too small to accentuate her ample bosom.. All those years spent in college to become a MENSA math scholar and she makes lousy decisions like this?;  UNDER THE BED (2013). I really wanted to like this film since it was directed by Steven C. Miller, who made the excellent SILENT NIGHT (2012) remake, but the fact is that this film is a slow-moving affair that doesn't really come to life until the last ten minutes. It also make very little sense. The story concerns a troubled kid (Jonny Weston), who returns home after two years living in Florida with his Aunt. It seems he started a fire in his house that killed his mother, but the fact is that there is a creature living under his younger brother's (Gattlin Griffith) bed. When he returns home to meet his new stepmother (Musetta Vander) and agitated father (Peter Holden), the creature begins acting up once again with his father refusing to believe it. It takes nearly 80 minutes for the creature to rear its ugly head and, until then, we have to put up with plenty of jump scares and actions by the father that defy description (like removing the light bulb from the younger brother's bedroom ceiling light fixture, forcing him to sleep in the dark). Once the creature does make its appearance (monster suit by Vincent J. Gaustini and his crew) and begins killing the tiny cast in very graphic ways (a stark difference from the rest of the film, which plays more like an Afterschool Special), the film finally comes to life, but it is short-lived. The screenplay, by Eric Stolze, seems more interested in the tight relationship between the two brothers (and really gives us no background on the creature, except to speculate that it lives under the bed by eating the dead skin cells of the younger brother!) and the father's half-assed futile attempts to make this a "normal" family and that is all fine and dandy, but don't go advertising this as a horror film and only show the horror during the final ten minutes. I was greatly disappointed; PAWN (2013) is a confusing crime thriller that relies too much on RASHOMON-like devices, where every character flashes-back to a robbery in a diner where a safe on a timer holds an important hard drive that contains mysterious information. It shows the differences in everyones' story about what happened and even shows what could happen if a character did just one thing different. After a while, it becomes a mess of confusion for the viewer, even if freshman director David A. Armstrong offers us plenty of violence and a stellar cast, including Ray Liotta, Forest Whitaker, Stephen Lang, Max Beesley, Sean Faris, Nikki Reed, rapper-turned-actor Common (HELL ON WHEELS [2011 - Present]; Real name: Lonnie Rashid Lynn) and especially Michael Chiklis (also one of the producers), who almost makes the film worthwhile as he attempts a British accent! Almost; BENEATH (2013) is director Larry Fessenden's attempt to make a film according to cable TV standards (in this case for the Chiller channel) and unfortunately the finished product is just another generic horror movie. When Fessenden does films independently his own way (WENDIGO - 2001; THE LAST WINTER - 2006), they can be sublime slices of psychological horror, but within the TV confines, he is required to have something shocking happen every 15 minutes. This film concerns a group of six tightly-knit older teens (including the pre-requisite gay teen) who decide to take a rowboat to an island on a lake that is known to have something under the water that kills people. After a stern warning by Mr. Parks (Mark Margolis, the only recognizable face in this film) not to go onto the lake and ignoring it, the teens are soon attacked by a giant fish with huge sharp teeth (the fish is based on fact) and lose their oars in the middle of the lake. Soon they become fish food one-by-one, until the rest decide who to sacrifice by throwing them in the water and trying to make an escape to the island. Looks like they weren't as tightly-knit as they thought they were. The only surprise Fessenden offers us (besides the great-looking killer fish) is killing the one teen we think is going to make it in the middle of the film. The rest of the film is your usual teen-in-peril flick. One gets the feeling Fessenden (who is a guru to many young filmmakers and usually makes cameos in their films) took this film because it is his first movie directorial effort since THE LAST WINTER. It's not a badly-made film, but when you see Fessenden's name attached to anything, you expect a whole lot more than what this movie delivered, including the usual downbeat ending; NOTHING LEFT TO FEAR (2013) is the kind of horror film that just infuriates me. It's a confusing tale about a new pastor (James Tupper) and his family arriving in a small Louisiana farm town and it's apparent from the start that they have a target painted on their backs. Some stringy-haired demon called The Watcher ( John 'Mac' Showalter) who oozes black goo and can open his mouth real wide (just like in all those Japanese horror films), wants to kill the kids, because the town is some kind of gateway from Hell to Earth and if the townspeople don't sacrifice at least one of the pastor's family to stop the demon, all Hell will be raised on Earth. So, from the beginning, you know the new family doesn't stand a chance and the story ends with another new family arriving in town a year later and the only surviving member of the pastor's family (Rebekah Brandes) looks at one of the new teenage boys as the new victim for the town's sacrifice. It's not scary or well-made (the photography is way too dark). What's scarier is that Anne Heche and Clancy Brown got involved in acting in this and musician Slash (also one of the Producers) was co-responsible for the music score. It sounds like hundreds of other supernatural films crowding the market. Director Anthony Leonardi III and screenwriter Jonathan W.C. Mills definitely have watched too many Japanese horror films for their own good; BATTLE OF THE DAMNED (2013) has Dolph Lundgren (SHARK LAKE - 2015) hopping on his motorcycle and trying to rescue his daughter in an Asian city that has been hit with a man-made pandemic which has turned most of the population into flesh-hungry creatures (Lundgren keeps calling them zombies, but is corrected by a male counterpart he picks up on his travels that they are infected people, not zombies). About halfway through, Lundgren and the small group he has rescued are helped by robots (If the robots look familiar, this was supposed to be a sequel to 2011's ROBOTROPOLIS, but it was aborted by director/writer Christopher Hatton, who helmed both films) and all it is is shoot the infected in the head, move a small distance and shoot some more. There's not much more to the film except that, so if you like watching infected people ("THEY'RE NOT ZOMBIES!") getting their heads blown off, you may like this. If it's a plot you are looking for, look somewhere else; IN THE BLOOD (2013) is director John Stockwell's (TURISTAS - 2006; CAT RUN - 2011) attempt to make World Extreme Fighting champion Gina Carano an action star after the failure of her first theatrical starring film, director Steven Soderbergh's unjustly ignored HAYWIRE (2011), and her small part in the hugely successful FAST & FURIOUS 6 (2013) but, unfortunately, it all comes off as regular DTV action fodder. Carano (who is not a traditional beauty, but has a nice screen presence), plays newlywed Ava, who along with new husband Derek (Cam Gigandet), spend their honeymoon on a small island just a boat ride from Puerto Rico. They meet a local who takes them to a disco, where Ava gets into a brawl with men and women alike (a good fight scene) and gets noticed by island head Big Biz (an extended cameo by Danny Trejo). Soon the couple are zip-lining around the island, but when Ava refuses to take the world's longest zip-line ride (over a mile long), Derek decides to do it anyway and his harness snaps and he falls about 30 feet. The ambulance takes him away and that is the last time Ava will see Derek, because the ambulance workers refuse to let her ride with him. She reports Derek's disappearance to local crooked Police Chief Ramón Garza (Luis Guzmán), who refuses to help her. Derek's father (a small cameo by Treat Williams) shows up to accuse Ava of murdering Derek for his vast fortune and then disappears for the rest of the film. Ava must use her fighting training (flashbacks show how she was taught to give no mercy to her opponent by her teacher, played by Stephen Lang) to locate her husband and soon she is facing off with the goons of island crimelord Silvio Lugo (Amaury Nolasco), who try to kill her, but her fighting and gun skills are just too much for them. The reason for her husband's kidnapping is the only surprise in the entire film and Trejo's role is also a surprise, but the screenplay, by James Robert Johnston and Bennett Yellin, is full of too many action cliches to make this film stand out from most other action films (except for a head shot bullet hit spraying blood on the camera lens). Hopefully, Gia Carano finds the right action film vehicle to display all her strengths with a good story attached to it, but this is not that film. This is another one of those movies that played a limited one week theatrical/VOD before being quickly dumped on disc and cable TV; HEATSTROKE (2013) is a totally predictable thriller whose only saving graces are the South African scenery, animals and Peter Stormare's performance. Stephen Dorff portrays Paul, a divorcee and expert on hyenas, who has to take his troubled 13 year-old daughter Josie (Maisie Williams) with him to Africa because his ex-wife found out she was hanging with the wrong crowd (drugs are involved) and she needs to get away from them. The problem is that Paul is bringing along girlfriend Tally (Svetlana Metkina) on the trip and Josie can't stand her guts because she wants her father and mother to get back together. Josie is a real pain in the ass on the trip (really, I myself wanted to bean her with a baseball bat!), so Paul makes the long drive to Johannesburg so Josie can hop on a plane back home while Tally minds the camp. Tally's camp is attacked by a pack of hyenas, breaking her satellite phone and deleting her food and water supply, so she has to walk to the nearest watering hole. While walking, she discovers that Paul is dead, shot in the head and Josie is injured in the overturned vehicle. It seems Paul ran into a couple of arms runners who were dehorning a dead rhino they just killed and they shot Paul in the head while he was backing up the vehicle at high speed to get away. Tally and Josie must walk the harsh environment to the nearest population and run into the camp of Mallick (Stormare), who is the leader of the arms smugglers. It then turns into a cat-and-mouse game and the ending is telegraphed from nearly the beginning, where Tally and Josie must depend on each other in order to survive and become friends in the process. There is nothing here but pretty scenery, some nice hyena photography and Stormare's usual batshit performance to make this film even slightly watchable. Directed and co-written by Evelyn Purcell (BORDERLINE - 2002), which proves that women can make totally predictable thrillers just like any man; GINGERCLOWN (2013) is not your ususal clown horror film because it takes place at an abandoned amusement park (in Budapest, Hungary; it isn't abandoned in real life and is still being used) with really weird non-CGI monsters (Tim Curry voices the titled clown, his first since the TV mini-series IT - 1990). The human acting is simply horrid (especially the head bad guy [Michael Cannell-Griffiths] who challenges the dork to enter the park), but at least the unusual monsters that occupy the park are interesting and are voiced by Lance Henriksen (as Braineater), Brad Dourif (as Worm Creature), Michael Winslow (as Stomachcrumble) and a very funny Sean Young as a giant spider named Nelly. Too bad the movie made so little sense. It would have been better without any humans. Directed/produced/written by Balázs Hatvani, who shows bizarre style and could make a winner with the right material. Originally shown in 3D and sprinkled with physical references to other horror films. I almost gave this a positive review, but I simply couldn't overlook Griffiths' awful acting; ALWAYS WATCHING: A MARBLE HORNETS STORY (2013) is a found footage disaster based on a 2009 YouTube series. In this case, a three person news crew are doing a story about what happens after homes are foreclosed, when they come upon a house fully furnished, as if the family just up and disappeared. There are also symbols on the walls with crosses encased in a circle (like The Zodiac Killer use to leave) and come upon a box of digital videotapes which the foreclosure people let them keep. They discover that the family in the house were haunted by a man in a suit and tie with no face (played by Doug Jones; RAZE - 2013) who can't be seen by the naked eye, but can be seen on camera. As you can guess, our three person news crew (and a dog) are being chased by the faceless well-dressed man (who leaves his circular mark on all their bodies, including the dog). But since this is a found footage film, we rarely get a look at the faceless man, as the camera shakes wildly whenever he shows up (followed by the found footage trope of the tape going haywire just before he shows up) and the story is boring as hell and hardly bloody at all even though it is Rated R. If you ever see James Moran's name as director on a film, do yourself a favor and just skip it. Look for the late Angus Scrimm in a very tiny cameo as a mental patient. Poor Angus and Doug. They shouldn't have to do crap like this. Not released until 2015; I really wanted to like COMPOUND FRACTURE (2013) since it is one of the very few films to star Muse Watson (the killer in I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER - 1998 and the recurring character "Mike Franks" on TV's NCIS until he was killed off), but the story is so convoluted and confusing (besides the nice play on words in the title), that I really can't recommend it. Son Michael Wolffsen (Tyler Mane, who was Michael Myers in Rob Zombie's HALLOWEEN [2007] and HALLOWEEN II [2009], as well as being a co-writer and co-producer of this film), who left home as a teenager (after a nasty incident not made clear in the beginning), returns to the family home as an adult with his fiancee Juliette (Renae Geerlings, Mane's real-life wife and co-writer of this film) and annoying nephew Brandon (Alex Saxon), after learning about the death of his sister. Michael finds it strange that the family home was turned into some kind of compound and when he is reunited with his father Gary (Watson, the best thing about this film), until he discovers why. According to Michael's stepmother Annabelle (Leslie Easterbrook, who was Mother Firefly in Rob Zombie's THE DEVIL'S REJECTS - 2005), Gary is suffering from the early onsets of Alzheimers and is slowly losing his memory. Gary thinks the family is cursed and set up a supernatural safe room where they can be protected from a past dead relative named William (Derek Mears, who was Jason Voorhees in the FRIDAY THE 13TH [2009] remake), who can only be seen by those who have the Wolffsen scar on their wrist. Turns out Gary may not be as mad as stepmom makes him out to be, as the nearly indestructable William begins to attack the cast, throwing them around like ragdolls. Why? You got me. The screenplay never makes it clear, except that Gary has cameras throughout the inside and outside of the house that he can view on monitors in his safe room (William can be seen on camera by anyone), which is adorned with supernatural symbols. Brandon also has a secret which is revealed and Juliette can't see William because she is not a Wolffsen (but Gary remedies that). The film is nothing but a series of attacks by the imposing William, while Michael tries to understand how his sister died, heal the rift between him and his father and kill William. There's not much meat on the bone here, so don't go looking for any social commentary on family relations (Gary likes to hit women and was always hitting Michael's mother until she moved out and Michael moved in with her, until her death). I really couldn't tell you what the curse is about because, try as I might, I just couldn't make any sense of it, because director/cinematographer (that's his real trade) Anthony J. Rickert-Epstein and writers Mane & Geerlings offer little to cling to. Look for a fleeting cameo by Daniel Roebuck. Otherwise, all this film has to offer is some supernatural mumbo-jumbo and some bloody violence (which includes broken bones and a hacked-off hand). I really, really wanted to like this just for the cast alone (three iconic movie killers in one film), but it just did nothing for me; I'm a big fan of comedian Bobcat Goldthwait as a director (I consider SHAKES THE CLOWN [1991] and WORLD'S GREATEST DAD [2009] to be masterpieces of the absurd) but I have to draw the line when it comes to his "found footage" movie WILLOW CREEK (2013). It is about a couple (Bryce Johnson and Alexie Gilmore) trying to find out if Bigfoot is real and all it is is video footage of the couple arguing, interviewing people who do and don't believe in the existence of Bigfoot (some of them real people) and holding each other in a tent as they hear noises outside in the night. Not once do we ever see a Bigfoot (all we get is a fleeting glimpse of a floppy-breasted missing woman in grannie panties at the end) and the entire film is boring. There is some snappy dialogue (especially when the girl makes fun of all those "Hail to the V" stinky vagina TV commercials), but the film as a whole is a bitter disappointment. Bobcat gave it a go with "found footage" and crapped out. Everyone has at least one bad film in them, so I will forgive him for this 90 minutes of nothing; THE POSSESSION OF MICHAEL KING (2013) is the same old "found footage" crap. Filmmaker Michael King (Shane Johnson, the best thing about this film), who is a devout Athiest, decides to make a documentary debunking the existence of God and the Devil after his wife dies getting bad information from a psychic. He gets a little more than he bargained for when he reads and performs ancient rituals and actually does become possessed by a demon. Besides a couple of good jump scares, the film is nothing but handheld and stationary internet cameras showcasing Michael King becoming possessed. It ends as all possession films do: incomplete, with no idea how to give a film a proper finale. This is the freshman effort from director/writer David Jung and it took over a year to find a distributor (Anchor Bay), who gave it the same old "limited theatrical release" in August 2014 along with a simultaneous VOD release. It was then dumped quickly on DVD and pay cable. After watching it, you'll know why; NIGHTLIGHT (2013). It still surprises me that it takes two people to direct "found footage" crap like this. Five friends go into the woods to play a nighttime game of Hide & Seek called "Nightlight" and then all sorts of strange things begin to happen and you can't wait until each and every one of these pathetic teenagers die. The fact that five teenagers would play the game in the section of the forest where there have been teen suicides shows stupidity, not just on the teenagers, but also on the screenwriters (who are also the directors, who shall remain nameless, because I don't want to give them any free publicity). I'm sure those who enjoy "found footage" films (really, it's pathetic, since half the shots are of someone's feet), will enjoy drivel like this, but I like my cameras to be held by professional cinematographers and stories that don't depend on jump scares, but real scares. As long as people keep supporting drivel like this, they will continue to be made. And most horror fans lose in the process. Remember: Don't go into the church (Uh-oh, upside-down crosses!)! The cameras will swirl just so you can't see anything because the directors have nothing to show (Or cameras falling and then bodies falling in front of them.). Here's the story in one sentence. Five teens are scared their batteries are going to run out on their flashlights while lights from somewhere else chase them, catch them and drag them away. It tackles the subject of teenage suicide irresposibly and without tact. Like I said, pathetic. Made in 2013, but not released until 2015. That should tell you something right there. Being released theatrically and on disc by Lionsgate should also tell you more. Avoid; THE HYBRID (a.k.a. SCINTILLA - 2013) has an interesting premise, but it seems to take the longest road possible to get there. A mercenary (John Lynch) is let out of prison to lead his old group of mercs to infiltrate a base is what use to be part of the Soviet Union and bring back something alien. After about 45 minutes of footage of the mercs infiltrating the base and making it to the basement lab (they are attacked by a couple of former humans in clear plastic round helmets with orange lights whose eyes are all white). Once there, they find a male and a female alien (who are only five years old but look eighteen) that have eyes that look like the ones on flies (there are many POVs on how they see). The female alien dies because of our atmosphere (it is very hard for them to adapt to it, so they are put in special tents) and the female scientist in charge says that about a hundred years ago, a meteorite crashed into the Soviet Union and there was genetic material inside, They haven't been able to do anything with it until science progressed, but the dead female seems to have been the intelligent one, while the male is of below average intelligence. Seems to be. Turns out that the head merc was stabbed in the back (not literally), because the rest of the mercs were promosed 2 million pounds each to bring him back alive, when his mission was to bring them back dead. He gets the upper hand, though, when the male alien turns out to be quite intelligent and has developed a way to breathe in our atmosphere and created a weapon that blows human heads off or make bodies totally explode (the alien uses it on the female scientist to blow her head off). He escapes into the world and the last time we see him, he is heading for the British Parliament (This is a Great Britain production). While there are plenty of pretty good gore-soaked scenes, they really come too late in the film and what happens to the head merc really makes no sense. Interesting, but it's a matter of too little too late. Too bad; ANDROID COP (2014) is another lousy The Asylum mocumentary, this one an awful copy of FOX's failed 2013 - 2014 TV series ALMOST HUMAN (although, according to the IMDb, it is a remake of ROBOCOP - 1987!). The problem was, The Asylum didn't know that the series would be a flop. The story is about a cop (Michael Jai White) in the future who gets an android (Randy Wayne) as a partner and they don't get along. They are out to rescue the Mayor's (Charles S. Dutton) daughter (Larissa Vereza), but the Mayor and a bunch of rogue cops don't want her to come out of this alive. Even a surprise 3/4 of the way through the film fails to improve it. Full of the usual lousy Asylum CGI, bad shoot-outs, the familiar destroyed industrial park representing our future (the location has been used in many of The Asylum's productions; DEATH RACERS [2008], starring The Insane Clown Posse, being one of them), martial arts; the usually great White is given very little to do when it come to his martial arts prowess. I guess both the series and the film deserve each other. And Kadeem Hardison overacts to the point that the film becomes parody. Maybe he can get acting lessons from Bill Cosby in prison. Director/screenwriter Mark Adkins (HALLOWEEN NIGHT - 2006) has yet to learn how to make an enjoyable film. Most of his films are an endurance test to watch and this one is no different. Skip it; EXISTS (2014) is another "found footage" film from director Eduardo Sánchez, one of the co-directors of the "original" found footage film (a point I find highly contentious) THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT (1999). This piece of crap (complete with shaky cam syndrome, unlikeable characters; cell phones that don't work where they are, 50% of the film shot in pure darkness and sickly green nightvision) is about a bunch of people hoping to catch some footage of Bigfoot simply because one of their Uncles claims he saw a Bigfoot there. All they get is footage of a dark "something" walking across the screen while people say, "Hello Mr. Sasquatch? I just want to be friends." Really? Like they know Bigfoot understands English? Like 99% of all found footage films, nothing ever comes from the expedition except the minimal of evidence which would not hold up in a court of law run by retards and deaths of those involved in the expedition (The closest we get to see a real Bigfoot is the attack scene at an abandoned trailer, which kills everybody except one, as the angry Bigfoot pushes the trailer down an embankment). Then we finally get good video footage of the Bigfoot (for about 20 seconds), who is angry because the idiots killed its baby (by hitting it with their car in the beginning of the film), but lets the last guy live because he has lost all his loved ones, too, but we still have to put up with 80 minutes of found footage tropes to get to it. All everyone does in this film is argue, which gives the viewer a headache (not to mention nausea from watching the always-moving cameras). Here's my biggest question: If you were being chased by a Bigfoot while riding a bike equipped with a camera, why can't you use your helmet cam or cell phone camera to get good footage of the Bigfoot except for quick worthless glimpses? Friends like this nobody needs. What they need is a professional videographer, someone who knows how to act in these situations, but no found footage films usually have them. The ones that do are usually better than shit like this. The biggest problem with this film is that one of the idiots survives (and drops his camera; leaving behind evidence that Bigfoot exists and clearing him of his friends' deaths). Stupid, stupid, ending; THE CALLING (2014) should have been a bang-up thriller about a serial killer (Christopher Heyerdahl) who commits a series of religious murders in a sleepy little Canadian town run by an alcoholic chief of police (Susan Sarandon), who once tried to commit suicide, but it moves at such a snail's pace, it induces yawns rather than thrills. Seems like the serial killer, who goes by the name Simon, is committing a series of 12 religious murders to try and bring his brother back, who committed suicide (see the connection?). The only life this film holds is Topher Grace as  gay cop Ben Wingate, recently hired by the town (because the other police force he worked at relentlessly made fun of his sexual preference) and his refusal to give up looking for Simon, even though he was told by the FBI to back off.  His discovery of how Simon would hold the tongues of his victims (for over an hour) until rigor sets in (and playing the series of photos of the victims' faces in the order of their killings that spells out a religious saying in Latin) in is the only original piece in the film. Even Donald Sutherland, Ellen Burstyn and Gil Bellows cannot save this film, directed by Jason Stone (his freshman feature film debut, although he did Executive Produce the end of the world comedy THIS IS THE END - 2013), based on a novel by Inger Ash Wolfe. This could have been so much better than it turned out, which is probably why it went the limited theater/VOD route before being dumped on disc and cable TV; SUMMER OF BLOOD (2014) was touted by Dread Central as "One Of The Best Horror Films Of 2014". My advice to Dread Central: Get out into the real world and watch more horror movies, instead of cow-towing to crap like this. This is nothing but a cheap Pollygrind-like vanity project for Director/Producer/Writer/Editor Onur Tukel (RICHARD'S WEDDING - 2012), who stars as lazy Turkish slacker hipster Erik Sparrow, who just turned down his girlfriend Jody's (Anna Margaret Hollyman) proposal of marriage and gets bitten by a vampire after having a few disasterous blind dates (with the females complaining about his 5 1/2" dick). Filled with some of the worst dialogue you would hear this side of the NYC D Train, this film is a talky, slow-moving flick (only enlivened by Fred Vogel's infrequent gore effects) as Erik goes out on blind dates, bites women while they are making love (they think it is the best sex they ever had) and hopes to get his girlfriend back from an ex-boyfriend (Typical exchange between ex-boyfriend and Erik: Ex-Boyfriend: "Ask me how big my dick is."  Erik: "How big is it?" Ex-Boyfriend: "Ask Jody's vagina!") If you are looking for any real action here, don't bother, as the camera focuses on Turkel's bearded face nearly 90% of the time, while we have to listen to the hipster garbage that comes out of his mouth. This is a pure endurance test for horror film lovers and I plead with you to just stay away from it and save 90 minutes of your life. It's like a trip to Hell, but blindfolded and without the heat. Played in limited theaters while being shown on VOD at the same time. Waste your money on something you'll enjoy, not this film, where we hear Erik say "I have to wipe" to his now-wife after taking a shit. Really, do we need to hear that? The film is shitty enough. NOTE: Onur Tukel made the film DRAWING BLOOD (1999) using the pseudonym "Sergio Lapel" as director and "Noel Anderson" as screenwriter. It was picked up by Troma Films for DVD release. That should tell you all you need to know; CATCH HELL (2014) is a terrible vanity production by actor Ryan Phillippe, who directs (using the initials "RP"), co-wrote, co-produced and stars as washed-up actor Reagan Pearce ("RP". Get it?) who is straight out of rehab and travels to Louisiana to do a B-Film to get his career jump-started (He meets the film's know-nothing director and chunky producer, who wants them all to go to dinner that night and score some whores). He is then kidnapped by rednecks Mike (Ian Barford) and Junior (Stephen Louis Grush, who gives the film a layer of emotion the film doesn't deserve) and chained-up in a shack in the swamplands of the Louisiana bayou. Mike accuses Reagan of cheating with his wife (which is true, but Reagan was too high to remember) and tortures Reagan by breaking his right hand, punching the snot out of him and using a cattle prod to deliver painful electric shocks (Mike almost cuts off Reagan's balls with bolt cutters until Junior intervenes). It seems that even rednecks are aware of the power of the Internet, because Mike and Junior hijack Reagan's Twitter account and post racist rants, making it look like Reagan is back on drugs again and hiding somewhere to do them (We see TMZ-like reports on TV about Reagan's supposed antics). While Mike goes to work as a security guard, Junior is in charge of keeping an eye on Reagan and saves him from the jaws of a crocodile, treats him with some respect and then almost sodomizes him until Reagan is saved by a phone call by Mike, giving Reagan a chance to kill Junior with the chains on his wrists (and also giving Phillippe a chance to show off his bare ass). When Mike makes it back to the shack, Reagan kills him, too, and the story puts him back on the A-List again, which anyone with half a brain could see coming as soon as Reagan was kidnapped. The only good thing about the film is Stephen Louis Grush's acting and the WTF?!? YouTube video that plays over the end credits (you'll have to take my word for it, unless you are into watching painful films). Otherwise the film is nothing but a drawn-out boring piece of self-indulgent trash that can't make up its mind what kind of film it wants to be. Is it horror? Is it comedy? Is it drama? Is it a romantic love story? Just call it a turd and be done with it. It went straight to VOD in October 2014.

Bad DTV Genre Films Part 11 (continued): THE REMAINING (2014) starts out pretty interesting (it is a mixture of "found footage" and normal filmmaking techniques), as we witness a wedding taking place (hence the found footage from the video cameras recording the wedding) in the room of a large hotel. And then it hits you over the head with it's true meaning. As soon as the bride Skylar's (Alexa Vega) mother said she wished the wedding was held in a church rather than a hotel, people start dropping dead left and right for no apparent reason at all. Yes, it's Rapture time and besides some great special effects (planes falling out of the sky, buildings crumbling under the trembling of the Earth's surface), we start getting preached to how as a race, we are despicable people (Skylar even says, "I'm religious. I go to Church every Sunday. Why didn't God pick me?", like that is what makes someone religious) and the people left alive are portrayed in the "every person for themselves" mode. Skylar goes to a library with her new husband and some friends to find a Bible (wouldn't going to the local church be more convenient, which they eventually do after hitting the library? WTF?!?) to find out what they can expect next. Yes, there are plague of locusts, Gabriel blowing his horn and other Biblical prophecies that come true, but some people refuse to believe this is the Rapture and would rather believe this is an alien invasion! One disbeliever actually goes outside and dares God to take him and before you can say "Religious Right", a huge tentacle (supposedly sent by God) appears out of the sky, impales the guy and sucks him up out of the Earth's atmosphere. This PG-13 Rated film (which got a simultaneous one week theatrical/VOD release before quickly hitting disc and pay cable) hits you so hard over the head with its religious views (director Casey La Scala's last directorial effort was the 2003 skateboarding film GRIND), that you will have to rush yourself to the Emergency Ward of your local hospital with a gaping scalp wound. I'm not against religious films (quite the opposite; as an Atheist, I find a lot of them quite enjoyable), but this movie portrayed the ones that were left behind as petty, self-absorbed people, something I could never agree with. There are touches of H.P. Lovecraft in the film (one of the film's small saving graces) and some above-average special effects, but the abrupt ending and the whole storyline will leave you cold, something I'm sure God (if he exists) would not want you to feel. It's not a badly-made film, but its sledgehammer approach in delivering its message is a real turn-off; AS ABOVE SO BELOW (2014) is another headache-inducing "found footage" film about an archaelogist named Scarlett (Perdita Weeks) who is obsessed in finding "The Philospher's Stone", which can turn any substance into gold and give the person who owns it eternal life (her father committed suicide in pursuit of it years ago and left her a journal describing his trials and trevails). She sneaks into Iran to find the "Rosetta Stone" to translate the grave marker of the man who purportedly created the gold-making stone in Paris, France. She discovers the code key to the translation (after too much shakey-camera work for one person to to endure) and heads back to Paris, where the reverse side of the grave marker points her in the direction of a secret underground tunnel 371 feet below Paris (which is littered with over 200 miles of underground catacombs and skeletons, which were actually used in the production of this film, the first film production to get permission from French officials  to do so). She talks her friend George (Ben Feldman) into going with her, along with three tour guides, Benji (Edwin Hodge), Papillon (François Civil) and Souxie (Marion Lambert) to help in her search. The rest of the film is an underlit, shakey-cam experience, where, when anything bloody or scary happens, we get a micro-second glimpse of it before the camera starts shaking again. And just what are a piano, a car and a ringing telephone doing 371 feet below Paris? Director/co-writer John Erick Dowdle also made the lousy QUARANTINE  (2008) remake (another found footage film), as well as the above-average horror film DEVIL (2010), about a bunch of people trapped in an elevator where one of them could be old Scratch himself, but this film is a test of patience even for fans of found footage films. It is nothing but endless bickering and the occasional jump scare, but by the end of the film you won't care whether Scarlett finds the Philospher's Stone (and yes, she does find it, but has to give it back) because she treats the rest of her crew like disposable human beings, always putting their lives in danger (even leading them to the Gates of Hell!), until it is too late for two of her group. The title does have a meaning that is described in the final sequence of the film (Which way is up when you are in Hell?), but it's a long 90 minutes to get to it. Why bother? It's also one of those films that had a limited theater/VOD release before being dumped on disc and pay cable; DEATH SQUAD (a.k.a. 2047: SIGHTS OF DEATH - 2014) could be quite possibly the worst action film I have ever laid eyes on. Director Alessandro Capone (WITCH STORY - 1989) invited a bunch of soon-to-be-has-been actors, including Danny Glover (I see a lot of DTV films in his future; he looks to have shot all his scenes in one day while sitting in a hotel room), Rutger Hauer (who already has plenty of DTV films under his belt), Daryl Hannah (who is quickly becoming the DTV queen), Michael Madsen (enough said) and Stephen Baldwin (ditto) to come to Italy and make one of the most mind-numbing action films I have ever laid eyes upon. It seems that Capone forgot that it takes action to make an action film. Supposedly, it takes place in the future, but Capone's idea of the future is to have plenty of foggy camerawork to cover-up the fact that there is nothing futuristic on view and everyone just talks, talks, talks, talks about sex and a vaccine for a deadly disease, shoots a little and then talks, talks, talks, talks about sex again and a vaccine for a deadly disease. Madsen looks like he is zonked out of his mind (he must have scored some good blow in Italy), Glover looks as if his career has ended (He's now doing a PSA on TV for a disease no one ever heard of before, PBA [Pseudobulbar affect], where people cry and laugh uncontroably and he leads you to a website where your browser is locked from leaving it. I have PBA, too, being a member of the Professional Bowlers Association. Oh, shut up you politically correct retards, it's just a joke!) and Baldwin always has that look on his face that someone just let loose a stinky fart. Believe me, a stinky fart is 1,000 times more interesting than this piece of shit. Luckily, I saw this on Showtime, so I didn't have to pay for the turd-like DVD. I pity anyone who did or paid money to watch it streaming;  OUIJA (2014) seems like it should be a found footage film, but it's not. It's probably the worst horror film of 2014 and that year was full of lousy horror films. A bunch of friends try to contact a dead girl to see if she actually comitted suicide, only to unleash a blood-thirsty demon (well for a PG-13 film, anyway) of a girl who has her mouth sewn shut and used to live in the house years before. One of the girls does some research and discovers that the ghostly demon actually has a sister that is still alive (played by Lin Shaye, the best thing about this mess). Instead of questioning why this lady is in a mental institution, the stupid girl actually follows her instructions to remove the sutures from her dead sister's mouth. All this does is cause more death and destruction and every teen in this cast deserves their fates (It's one of those movies where someone gets dragged across the floor into the darkness by an unseen force, a trope that is used in way too many cheaply-made horror films to try to elicit a scare. All it does is make me yawn.). This is Stiles White's first stab at directing, so I'll give him a little slack, since he also wrote the screenplays for BOOGEYMAN (2004), the vastly underrated KNOWING (2009) and THE POSSESSION (2012; Well, two out of three ain't bad!). It's still a stupid movie with teens doing stupid things (Like playing with an ouija board to begin with. Haven't they watched any horror films? And if you are going to burn an ouija board, destroy the planchette, too! They are a set, you dolts!). This is not junk food for the mind, it is garbage for the dump. I don't know one single person who liked this film. Somehow, this film made over $102 million across the world on a $5 million production budget, which means we will see a sequel in 2016. (BAD NEWS: The sequel, OUIJA: ORIGIN OF EVIL, opened October 16, 2016) I pity anyone who goes to see it. Actually I don't pity them more than feel sorry for them, especially if they paid money for a ticket for the first film and do the same for the second; I really, really wanted to like THE CABINING (2014), since it turns all those EVIL DEAD-like "lost in a cabin in the woods" flicks on their heads, but it just ended up being too ordinary for my tastes. Others may feel different, though. The cabin in this film is actually "Shangri-La", an artists retreat by the ocean where "artists" of all kind can have peace and quiet to get "inspired". Two screenwriters, Todd (played by the director's brother Mike Kopera, who is quite good) and Bruce (Bo Keister, also funny), hoping to finish a horror script for their boss or get fired are the two main protragonists and they are pretty hilarious team. Unfortunately, their stay there is anything but soothing. Todd hooks up with a female "real writer" of novels and Bruce gets involved with a French-sounding painter, which takes their mind off their work. As the days count down until they are supposed to finish their screenplay, "accidents" begin to happen, like a female guest slipping on a banana peel and impaling her head on a piece of driftwood or another getting beheaded in a car accident. All of these scenarios come from the worst cop, Detective Berwyn (Chuck Saale), on record, who believes nothing is wrong with the retreat and people should just get back to normal (One "accident" may be forgiven, but two "accidents" is more than a coincidence). His stupidity gets himself killed by a beartrap, though. Todd gets the brilliant idea of using the events that are happening at the retreat as the basis for his screenplay and he bangs it out on his notebook computer in one night. In a cheat to the audience, we actually see his screenplay playing out on screen when we think it is something really happening. Of course, after all the bloodshed is done, we are back to Todd at the notebook as the people we just saw die complain about how they were killed in the screenplay. The screenplay actually brings out the real killer and he is knocked out and taken away by the police. In what turns out to be a nice twist at the end, all four of the main people in the film live happy lives and there is no "surprise ending" where evil wins, unless you are talking about some funny bloopers during the final credits. Like I said, I really wanted to like this one, but it really doesn't pick up stream until the final 15 minutes, but the acting is generally above average, so some may have a good time with this. I believe if director Steve Kopera lets someone else write the screenplay for his next film (he also edited this one) and he concentrates on directing, he may have a winner on his hands. Just because this film is in the "Bad" category, doesn't mean that it is awful. Actually it is quite entertaining, but it could have been so much more. Most of the positive reviews written for this on IMDb seem to be written by crew members or friends of the crew and actors, so take what you read there with a grain of salt. Another reviewer gave it one star, which probably means he never saw the film or has a grudge against someone who worked on the film. Like I said, this is neither awful or a classic. It is fun in its way, though. Just not fun enough for me to give it a positive review; THE CULLING (2014) starts out interesting enough when five young adults (four of them stoners [one just out of rehab!] and one of them the "good girl") are driving to the SXSW music festival and stop at a diner to get something to eat, only to find it was just closing (First mistake: Diners are open 24/7, at least where I live). They meet a creepy little girl in the parking lot and feel it is their duty to take her home. Once they get to her house, they find it empty (the girl somehow has the power to make her crayon drawings come true), but the parents soon return (Johnathon Schaech is the father) and say that their daughter was supposed to be with her grandfather. They invite the quintet to stay for dinner and get drunk and stoned enough that they agree to spend the night when the mother "accidentally" cuts her leg with an axe and the little girl doesn't want to go to the hospital with them (Second mistake: What about the music festival?). It's so obvious that these kids are being set-up, you would have to be brain dead not to know it. Then it becomes the same old, same old, as some type of monster (first seen as badly CGI-rendered fast traveling black smoke) begins picking them off one-by-one. The explanation is ridiculous and the final look at the monster that possesses the father's body is so bad, it's laughable. It contains the same old horror clichés, such as the truck not starting for the "good girl" (of course, all the others are killed because they drink and smoke pot) until the posssessed get close to it, the house not having a phone, their cell phones are in a dead zone and ends with a crayon drawing from the little girl (who is hiding in the back of the pickup truck) of the good girl going through the truck's window. It's not particularly a good film, except the acting talents of Chris Coy (TV's BANSHEE [2013 - Present]), who does give the film some "pop" every now and then. Director/writer Rustam Branaman (PROJECT SOLITUDE: BURIED ALIVE - 2009) starts out good at the gate, but come up last in the race. And why does an Unrated film feel the need to silence out all the swear words? Not worth your time; VICE (2014) is derivative of so many science fiction movies and TV shows that I'm surprised director Brian A. Miller (HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN - 2011; OFFICER DOWN - 2012) would even bother to make it (Then again, I have yet to see a Miller film that I like). It takes place in a future society where Bruce Willis runs a company that can make all your dreams come true, whether legal or illegal, by using "artificials", human-like robots with real skin and some real human organs that are cursed to have their memories erased every day and repeat the same scenario every night. Of course, something goes worng, err... wrong (Thanks WESTWORLD -1973) and a female artificial named Kelly (Ambyr Childers) escapes the facility and goes to search for the truth of her origins. Turns out she was made in the exact image of Evan's (Bryan Greenberg) dead wife so he could visit her every night in a virtual bar (it always ends up with Kelly and her girlfriend being killed in the parking lot at the bar Kelly bartends at by someone who pays Willis' company to feel what it is like to kill a person). This film is strictly by-the-numbers, from Thomas Jane's wooden match-chewing old-fashioned cop, Johnathon Schaech as the evil head of the security force out to kill Kelly on Willis' command, to a very disinterested-looking Willis playing the villain (he already did a movie in the similar vein with SURROGATES - 2009). It could have been a much better movie by comparing how virtual murder could lead to real-life murder, but that concept is given a throw-away line and forgotten. This is nothing but a futuristic shoot'em-up and not a particulatly good one. This had one of those limited theatrical/VOD releases before being dumped on disc and pay cable. Don't waste your money. If you must watch it, watch it on one of the pay cable stations (I saw in on CineMax). And you thought the remake of TOTAL RECALL (2012) was bad. It looks like a piece of solid gold when compared to this stinking steaming pile of dog crap; THE PYRAMID (2014) I had some high hopes for because I'm a sucker for archaeological dig films and I think Denis O'Hare is one of the best character actors out there. But once I discovered it was a "found footage" flick, most of my hopes went out the window. The premise is pretty good: An archaeology team led by O'Hare and his daughter (Ashley Hinshaw) find a three-sided pyramid buried beneath the sand in Eqypt (Just for the record: There are no such things a three-sided pyramids). They send a robot equipped with cameras to check its shafts, but something destroys it and they are ordered by the U.S government to leave the country immediately (it seems for some reason the streets of Cairo are full of violent protests), but they go to retrieve the very expensive robot (it belongs to NASA) only to get lost in the myriad of tunnels inside the pyramid. It seems that the pyramid is actually a prison, meant to keep something in, and it isn't the small little CGI sphinx-like creatures roaming the passageways and biting people. The team runs into booby-traps (one woman falls into a pit filled with sharp wooden spikes and she is not only impaled, but being chewed on by the little critters) and then we find out who the real villain is: Anubis; a half-man, half-jackal creature (really bad CGI) who eats the heart of it's victims (when O'Hare became its first victim, I lost all interest in the film). If you like watching 50% darkness and sickly-green nightvision camera shots, you may like this film more than I did (but I still pity you), but even the most stout found footage supporters would say that the ending not only sucks, it reeks of desperation, as the screenwriters (who shall remain nameless), obviously wrote themselves in a corner and couldn't figure out a way to write themselves out of it. There is some gore to be had, but the camera pulls away just as it gets interesting. It amazes me that people will hold on to video cameras while they are being killed, but pull the camera away when they see the first sign of blood (except for one guy who has the fortitude to film Anubis eating O'Hare's heart, but it is still in that awful green nightvision mode which takes most of the detail out of the picture). This was another film produced by Alexandre Aja, which proves he's a better director than producer. This is Grégory Levasseur's first film as a director and I had high hopes for it since he co-wrote (with Aja) the very interesting screenplay for the MANIAC (2012) remake, but I guess he should stick with screenwriting. It's amazing that a major company like 20th Century Fox would pick this up for distribution, but it only ended up getting the token limited theatrical/VOD route before being dumped on disc and pay cable; THE LAST SURVIVORS (2014) is some type of unknown dusty post-apocalypse film where, a few years from now, in Oregon (actually shot in the Mojave Desert in California), it hasn't rained in years (no reason is given for it not raining across the planet). Living on the remains of an orphanage are Kendal (Haley Lu Richardson) and Dean (Booboo Stewart), who is slowly dying from kidney disease. For the first hour of the film, it's all about Kendal looking for a distributor cap for a small plane she plans on using to fly Dean to a safe zone where he can get proper medical attention, all the while trying to avoid the uber-religious Carson clan, headed by Pa Carson (Jon Gries, the only reason to watch this film), who believes whomever owns the water owns the land and kills without conscience to claim those rights. Kendal sees many people shot to death, some being friends from nearby farms, as she tries to protect young boy Alby (Max Charles), who hides in a nearby barn, but he doesn't want her protection. He thinks she's a bad luck charm. After about an hour of Kendal pulling distributor caps off of all types of old abandoned vehicles that are useless on the plane, she is captured by the Carson clan and is nearly killed until Dean shows up and sacrifices his life. Then things get interesting, as Kendal shotguns people in the head, groin, legs and chest and uses a samurai sword to cut people to pieces in retribution for Dean's killing and Alby's kidnapping. It leads to a final showdown and, for once, there's a happy ending, but you'll have to put up with long stretches of nothingness thanks to director/co-screenwriter Tom Hammock (his first film as a director). Lots of bloody blood squibs and some good blade effects do not a good film make. Look for cameos by Barbara Crampton, Michael Massee and a blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameo by Adam Wingard (the director of YOU'RE NEXT - 2011; also co-editor of this film) as a compound soldier. Co-screenwriter Jacob Forman was the producer/co-screenwriter of the disappointing ALL THE BOYS LOVE MANDY LANE (2006), on which Hammock was a Production Designer and an uncredited actor; DA SWEET BLOOD OF JESUS (2014) is director Spike Lee's remake of Bill Gunn's GANJA & HESS (1973) which was funded by Kickstarter and took just 16 days to shoot (Having normal people fund a millionaire's films insults me). Besides continuing to call his films "A Spike Lee Joint" (this one is called "An Official Spike Lee Joint") and opening his films in unusual manners (this one shows the opening credits while a street dancer performs), he gives the late Bill Gunn co-credit for the screenplay (many bits of dialogue are taken verbatim from the original film), but somehow Spike Lee turns a serious film into a semi-comedy, which puts a stain on the original. Dr. Hess Greene (Stephen Tyrone Williams) is stabbed by a mentally disturbed Lafayette Hightower (Elvis Nolasco) with an ancient sacrimonial African dagger Dr. Green just acquired (Hightower commits suicide after brushing his teeth while taking a bath!) and he becomes addicted to drinking blood. He's not a vampire; he can walk in the daylight and do everything else a normal person can do, but he needs blood to stay alive, First he robs a blood bank and then he kills a prostitute and drinks her blood, but then Hightower's wife Ganja (Zaraah Abrahams) pays Hess a visit and he immediately tells her that her husband committed suicide. She doesn't seem to care very much and becomes Hess' lover, while Hess tries to find more people to feed his habit (he turns Ganja into someone like him because he doesn't want to be alone). The acting in this film is very flat and poor, like everyone is in some kind of hypnotic trance and the film is overlong at a little over two hours (another Spike Lee trait). The only interesting thing about this film (besides some extreme bloodletting, but it's nothing you haven't seen before) is to see Rami Malek as "Seneschal Higginbottom", Dr. Green's butler who Ganja seems to take pleasure in torturing emotionally. Malek filmed this right before he made the first season of MR. ROBOT (2015) and he's the best thing about this film (he even gives his death scene an emotional core missing from the rest of the film). But two hours of talk, talk, talk, doesn't make for a good film and it's apparent that this was a vanity project that Lee wanted to make (just like OLDBOY [2013] remake, which I think is very underrated, especially in Lee's 140 minute version. The studio's 105 minute cut is an abomination [Which is why he called it "A Spike Lee Film" rather than "A Spike Lee Joint"].), but he didn't want to spend his own money on it. Some scenes go on for much longer than they should (the church scene being one of them) and some of the music used on the soundtrack seems like gospel songs, contrasting the story. What better way to pull in sucke....investors than to have them fund it for him?: It was filmed so fast because three cameras were rolling at the same time, which gave Lee all the coverage he needed for each sequence of the film. Still, it's a complete borefest when compared to the importance of the original film. Some people may like it, but I found it to be a filmic endurance test. Spike Lee has been turning more cold than hot lately (except for his excellent documentaries, which is what he excels at better than normal filmmaking, except for DO THE RIGHT THING [1989], which I think is the best film ever made on race relations), which is why his past few films went through the limited theatrical/VOD release (including this one). He even seems to make full-frontal female & male nudity and a little bit of lesbianism boring here. This film is populated by people we just don't give a damn about, so what's the point?; BACKCOUNTRY (2014) contains no monsters, killer hillbillies or mutant cannibals. All it has is a couple, Jenn (Missy Peregrym) and Alex (Jeff Roop; also an Executive Producer), taking a camping and canoeing trip into the woods and eventually running into a very hungry black bear. Eventually is the key word here. We have to go through all the couple's squabbles, a visit from a hiker named Brad (Eric Balfour in an extended cameo doing one of the worst Irish accents on screen), who Alex believes is hitting on Jenn, and Alex eventually confessing to Jenn that he brought her to the woods to propose marriage to her (he shows her the ring). After about an hour of that nonsense the bear shows up to terrorize and kill one of them. The only really good thing I can say about this film is that when the bear is chasing Jenn through the woods, you can see that there is actually a real black bear chasing her. No CGI or crap like that. But you'll have to get through a bunch of other crap to get to that scene. The only other actor in the whole film is a cameo by an unrecognizable Nicholas Campbell as the Ranger who rents them the canoe. This is the first feature-length film from director/writer Adam MacDonald, who is better known as an actor (the superior WOLVES - 2013). He has to learn that if he is going to set a film in the woods, we need more than people arguing incessantly. That's all this film basically is (with only a couple of gore scenes and they are nothing to write home about); CAPSULE (2014) is basically a one-man film for 90% of its running time. In 1959, during the height of the Cold War, the British send Guy Taylor (Edmund Kingsley) in a rocket as part of Project Hermes, making him the first man in space. His capsule is hit by an American rocket (one that contained a chimpanzee as the passenger) and his oxygen starts depleteling slowly. During this time, he is getting instructions on coming home from British Ground Control, but communications are interrupted by Russians and the United States authorities wanting to know what his mission is in outer space (is this all a product of oxygen deprivation?). It won't take a rocket scientist to figure out what is going on (especially if you are into anagrams, in which a doozy of one can be found in the beginning of the film) and the ending comes a no surprise at all, especially if you pay attention to the photo of Guy's wife when it burns. But this is mostly talk and is nothing but a low-budget version of GRAVITY (2013) for most of its running time. The only ones who will be surprised by the ending are those who haven't paid full attention to the film. Directed and written by Andrew Martin, his first full-length feature film. Let's hope his next film has a little more meat on the bone.; GARM WARS: THE LAST DRUID (2014) is a supreme case of style over substance. If it's lush landscape photography, beautiful Celtic music (sung by Mongolian singers!) and metaphysical dialogue you want, you may like this future fantasy film (Or does it take place in the past? It's so confusing, you can't tell). It is basically a three-character story (well, four if you count the non-talking Druid, who turns out to be a nasty tentacled child) and this has to be one of Lance Henriksen's biggest roles in a very long time, but this Canadian-financed film, directed and written by non-English speaking and highly respected Mamoru Oshii (the anime GHOST IN THE SHELL - 1995; who needed no less than 5 translators to tell the cast what to say), lost something in the translation (And why are the Japanese so obsessed with tentacles?) and what we end up with is a film that is pretty to look at but makes absolutely no sense. It also feels unfinished, which hurt any chance of this playing in U.S. theaters (It did play in theaters in other countries, though). Maybe Oshii meant to make this a multi-part film, but the low returns financially seem to have thrown that idea out the window. It's also Rated PG-13, which means the violence is kept in that arena. Lance, Kevin Durand (the abusive ghost policeman in THE ECHO - 2008, and has appeared in his share of multi-part superhero and YA movies) and Mélanie St-Pierre are good as people from different warring races who band together to find God knows what, but it ends wide open for a sequel where Henriksen and Durand will not return (Hint: They died). Don't hold your breath waiting for it. Oh, and there's a basset hound in it, too (an Oshii trademark), named Gula (played by Holly the dog), who is treated like some sort of God. All the damn thing wants is to be petted, but these mental midgets (who don't know what a dog is) can't understand that. Some good giant creatures at the finale, which are a mixture of physical and CGI effects, but you will be so confused, your brain will be mush long before you get to that part. I don't advocate drug use, but in this case, it may save your life; THE CURSE OF DOWNERS GROVE (2014) got very little press, even though the screenplay was co-written by Bret Easton Ellis (along with director Derick Martini), whose novel was made into the film AMERICAN PSYCHO (2000). It's very easy to see why this film got very little attention. It is nothing but a mess disguised as a horror film, but actually falls into the thriller category. Legend has it in Downers Grove, Illinois, that a senior will die every year before high school graduation. That is where the legend stops in the film until the quick ending. Most of the remainder of the film deals with high school senior Chrissie (Bella Heathcote), who is nearly raped in a bathroom at a party by high school football quaterback Chuck (Kevin Zegers), but she pokes one of his eyes out and escapes. This ends the promising college and professional football career of Chuck, who is verbally and physically abused by his father Charlie (Tom Arnold, who is the best thing about this film, even though he is in it for about 5 minutes). A steroid-shooting Chuck and his posse decide to make Chrissie and her friends lives miserable, beating some of them up and threatening others, while the police do nothing because Chuck's family has pull in the town. Chrissie becomes romantically involved with grease monkey Bobby (Lucas Till), who also gets beaten up when a one-on-one fight with Chuck turns into a one-on five fight with Chuck's posse. Chrissie's brother David (Martin Spanjers) and her best friend Tracy (Penelope Mitchell) decide to throw a party before graduation (much to Chrissie's displeasure) and Chuck and his posse invade it, which results in Chrissie grabbing a shotgun and killing all of Chuck's friends and then smashing in Chuck's face with the butt of the shotgun. Chrissie is then stabbed and killed by one of her best friends since childhood simply because he has a crush on her and hated seeing her with Bobby, making the curse come true. That is basically the film in a nutshell, with stuff about Chrissie and David's father abandoning them because he was an addict and a head-scratching stinger after the closing credits adding up to very little. This is nothing but a series of fights and ending with people getting killed. I do not understand the point of this film and either will you. And what the hell is an ancient Native American doing in this film? Best left forgotten.; I really wanted to like GIRLHOUSE (2014), which is like a digital age HALLOWEEN (1978), but it just takes too long to get to the killings. Almost an hour, as a matter of fact. The film opens in 1988 Alabama, where two cruel pre-teen girls chase a fat boy and trick him into showing them his penis. They laugh and the head girl blows him a kiss as he runs away. The fat boy gets even with the head girl by sticking a tree branch into the spokes of her moving bicycle and she falls face-first onto a metal grate bridge, where the boy throws her bike over the bridge and then kicks the bloody girl off the bridge, killing her. We are then in the present, where college girl Kylie (Ali Cobrin), who has just lost her father and needs to make money to stay in college, decides to be a part of "GirlHouse", a classy porn site where many girls are asked to do any type of sexual act (but only if they want to) in a house fitted with dozens of cameras, even in the bathrooms. The fat kid, now grown and known online as "Loverboy" (portrayed by the single-monikered Slaine, who is a cross between the late Nicholas Worth and the still living Pruitt Taylor Vince and is a man of few words), is a paying member of GirlHouse and takes an instant liking to Kylie (who ends her sessions with Loverboy by blowing him a kiss), even sending her his photo, which is strictly forbidden (his lair is full of photos with his and Kylie's face pasted together like lovers), but Loverboy is a computer programmer and expert hacker (Pay close attention to the scene where he is working at an office fixing their computer network, looking up a female employee's skirt and getting caught doing it). When he sees his photo pinned to the GirlHouse bulletin board insulting his looks (it was not put there by Kylie, but a recently returned girl hooked on heroin), he hacks the house's address and heads there wearing a rubber girl mask and carrying a toolbox. By that time nearly an hour has passed, as Kylie hooks up with old childhood friend Ben (Adam DiMarco), who knows what she is doing and we get to know the houseful of girls. When the killing starts, it is bloody and gory (and sometimes downright surreal, as one girl has a dildo shoved down her throat and then has her hands taped over her mouth!). One vain girl gets her fingers chopped off with a hatchet and her face cut up with a boxcutter. Loverboy leaves her alive, but she manages to put a plastic bag over her head and suffocates herself because she can't stand the thought of living this way. Other members get their heads sawed off, are hammered to death, are impaled with spikes, are almost roasted in a sauna room (the girl escapes, but is killed when she jumps in the pool to cool off) and have their heads crushed by a door slamming over and over on it. Only Kylie is left alive (now remember, everyone can watch this because it is streaming live) and Ben and his computer major friend Alex (Wesley MacInnes, who has the best lines at the end of the film) try to find the location of the house to save her. Kylie manages to kill him on her own (finally using nightvision on a digital camera to good effect), ending the menace, but is it really the end? First-time directors Trevor Matthews and Jon Knautz, working with a screenplay by Nick Gordon, manage to fill the film with plenty of female nudity and some good gore, but forgot that today's audiences don't want to wait an hour for the blood to flow. The film is professionally acted, photographed and edited and I did enjoy what it was trying to go for, but to wait 60 minutes of a 99 minute film for the good stuff (besides the nudity and the extremely nice millionaire owner of the house and website revealed to be gay!) is asking a lot of audiences today, who don't want exposition and just want the good gory stuff as soon as possible. A nice try that some older slasher film fans (like myself) will enjoy, but next time, get to the gore faster. Good music score by tomandandy enhance the kill scenes. I can always tell when they are a film's musicians because they have a sound like no one else.; UNKNOWN CALLER (2014) is a totally typical thriller in which there are very few surprises. A divorced lobbyist (David Chisum) and his young daughter (Emma Rayne Lyle) are trapped in his house when his newly installed security system (He had it installed because he sucessfully lobbied for a fracking bill to be approved. Right there, I want him dead, too.) is hacked by a deranged man (He sits in front of a dozen computer screens wearing a hoodie. Who the hell is going to see him? Why, it's the audience, although revealing his face will not tip off anyone who he is!) who tells him that no one can leave the house, otherwise a bomb he planted will go off, killing everyone in the house. People are allowed to enter the house, but not leave it. All the deranged man wants to know is the answer to this question: "Who am I?" It's not long before the lobbyist's ex-wife (Louise Griffiths) and lover (Assaf Cohen) are also trapped in the house and they begin to search the house for the person's identity. The answer to that question is pretty rote (the deranged man is an old high school student ignored by the lobbyist!) and the ending is way too pat for anyone to keep their meals down (He and his ex-wife get back together and she is pregnant. The lover is now their best friend who now has a fiancee of his own. Oh, and he reversed his decision about the Fracking Bill!). If you like seeing a cat getting shot for trying to leave the house, then this is the film for you. Directors/Screenwriters/Executive Producers "The Olson Brothers" (actually Amariah and Obin Olson) offer nothing new to the thriller genre besides using the Digital Age as a plot device and you'll be shaking your head in disbelief when the reason for all this fuss is revealed. Fracking is bad, but it looks like solar energy when compared to this film. Avoid.; IT FOLLOWS (2014) is one of those rare birds that premiered in limited theaters and VOD and proved so popular that the amount of theatrical screens was substantially increased the next week. Don't ask me why. Besides a couple of effective scenes, this is basically a boring tale about teenage girl named Jay (Maika Monroe), who is raped in the back seat of a car by someone she thought was a friend. He tells her he has passed on a curse to her and she will be followed by a shape-shifting demon only she can see, unless she has sex with someone else and passes the curse on to them. The only backside to that is that if the person she passes the curse on to dies before he has sex with someone else, the demon will revert back to going after her. Why? Damned if I know. The film fails to explain it and first-time director/screenwriter David Robert Mitchell doesn't even try to give us an inkling of why this is suddenly happening except Jay's rapist telling Jay he met a woman in a bar who passed it on to him. There are two good scenes, one at the beach and another one at an indoor pool, where Jay and her friends try to fight the demon (who takes human form, sometimes as a naked lady and sometimes as a naked man) that only Jay can see and they lose both of the times. Jay has sex with one of her male friends Greg (Daniel Zovatto) to get rid of the demon, but it then takes form as Greg's mother, who kills him by having sex with him! Jay then has sex with another one of her childhood friends and the film ends with them walking hand-in-hand down a sidewalk. Talk about a non-ending! Some critics have said that this is the best horror films in ten years, but all I can say is that these critics must not watch a lot of horror films. While the subject matter is unusual (but not so unusual that the basic plot is a reverse theme from CHERRY FALLS - 2000), the film is full of plot holes big enough to pass a cruise ship full of nudists through. The only good things about the film are the sparse makeup effects of Robert Kurtzman and his crew and the music soundtrack by Disasterpiece (actually a pseudonym for Rich Vreeland). Don't believe the hype. This film barely passes muster.; COOTIES (2014) could have been a great film if it weren't for the weak screenplay by actor/co-screenwriter Leigh Whannell (who wrote this with co-star Ian Brennan, who plays the Vice Principal). Some people may love it because of some funny one-liners and visual clues from other films and TV shows, but the story is old hat. Even though this show is about children, you will not want your kids watching it. The story concerns some contaminated chicken patties that make it to grade school lunch and soon the 1st Grade children are turning into blood-thirsty, fast-moving zombies who only go after the adult teachers, which includes Elijah Wood, Allison Pill, Rainn Wilson (the film's saving grace), Jack McBrayer, the aforementioned Leigh Wannel and a mushroon-high Jorge Garcia watching all the action from his van. While there are a couple of situations that made me laugh (Wilson calls Wood a Hobbit and know-it-all Whannell [but more than a bit dyslexic] performing an autopsy on a child that had his head smashed-in with a fire estinguisher, forgetting to wear gloves) and some minor story alterations (Wood gets bitten, but Whannell determines that adults who are infected just gets flu-like symptoms with some minor "anal leakage" [again, doing the examination without gloves]), most of the film is just the children running after the adults and every once in a while picking one off and tearing them apart, chewing on their decapitated limbs, until Wilson has had enough and decides to turn the tables, with the teachers killing as many kids as possible (a teacher's dream), while trying to use Wilson's four-wheeler truck to escape. There is plenty of bloody gore (What Wood does to one of the children with Wilson's truck is one of the film's highlights), some played for comedy, but this film is lacking in many respects and two directors, first-timers Jonathan Milott & Cary Murnion, fail to deliver a film with any atmosphere (or tell us where the contamination came from besides showing us a filthy chicken farm, as an employee snaps the diseased chicken's neck and puts it through the grinder) and an ending that is rushed and not satisfying. As a matter of fact, it begs for a sequel, one that I will not be in a hurry to watch. Besides some great actors and some very bloody gore, this film fails to register as a good comedy/horror film. Some may watch it for the actors alone, but only Rainn Wilson registers. Made in 2014, but not released until September of 2015 in a limited theatrical/VOD release. Did I fail to tell you about the Oriental janitor who knows martial arts? Oh, my, talk about stereotypes. There is a small, useless stinger after the film's end credits that makes no sense.; ANGELS OF DARKNESS (2014) started out as a crowd-funded project called THE CURSE OF STYRIA, another film based on author Sheridan Le Fanu's novel "Carmilla" and it is pretty slow, like pouring a glass of honey in sub-zero weather. This time, noted restorer Dr. Hill (Stephen Rea; FEARDOTCOM - 2002) is sent to restore an ancient castle in Hungary (filmed on location) and has to bring his troubled daughter Lara (Eleanor Tomlinson) with him because she was just kicked out of another school. Lara is a notorious "cutter" who uses a razor blade or anything sharp to cut herself (the scars on her arms give her away). One day Lara witnesses a car slamming into a tree that would kill most people, but out walks Carmilla (Julia Pietrucha), hardly the worse for wear. Lara and Carmilla become secret friends because Lara's father doesn't trust anyone around his daughter. Lara and her father make a discovery in the castle that proves an old vampire addage not very known today. We only think vampires have existed for a little over 200 years and follow Bram Stoker's view on them. But it was quite different when Carmilla was a vampire. Dr. Hill and Lara finds a bunch of perfectly preserved female corpses and legend has it the castle they are restoring was used as a place for people with consumption, or tuberculosis as we call it now. When people were ill with this, it was thought they were being drained by a "vampire" though that term was never used until much later in history. Dr. Hill digs up the bodies, examines them, then cuts off the heads and burns the bodies. It was thought that if the body looked fresh, it was enough proof they were a vampire, just like it was shown here when fresh blood came out of one the girls' mouth. More stuff happens, but the film basically makes no sense, especially the finale. Once again, it takes two freshmen feature directors, Mauricio Chernovetzky and Mark Devendorf, to make a film so boring, it will introduce yawns after the first 10 minutes. Maybe one day we will get the Carmilla story made right on film, but this film definitely isn't it. It even put the fly that was buzzing around me to sleep. I couldn't kill it because I felt the same way. I would have to kill it the next day. When a film is so slow and boring that you feel sorry for a fly, you know you are watching something you wish you weren't.

Bad DTV Genre Films Part 12 (continued): UNFRIENDED (a.k.a. CYBERNATURAL - 2015) is probably one of the cheapest films to ever be shown in over 2700 theaters (it cost slightly under a million dollars). All it is is an unmovable camera pointed at a laptop screen (and the whole film is meant to be viewed as one single take and Russian director Leo Gabriadze does a good job of making us believe that), while a girl and her five friends talk on a video chat using Skype, Facebook, Google and IM each other and there's also someone mysterious (who knows how to use a computer better than any programmer I have ever seen) also in on the chat with them that they can't get rid of. It is the anniversary of a girl's suicide (we see her shoot herself in the head in a parking lot after being cyber-bullied in a LiveLeak video, which does lend this film a shred of credence) and it seems like her spirit may be that unknown person (all the people in on the chat knew the girl, some quite better than others), because this supernatural person has knowledge that tears the friends apart before making them all commit suicide one-by-one (or at least make them look like suicides). I almost gave this film a positive review because it held my attention until I realized it showed me nothing. Everytime someone killed themselves (the fat guy in the chat stuffs his hand in the running blades of a blender, but you can barely make it out), their video feed would freeze and become more blocky. I'm sure this played much better in a theater with a young audience (especially that old wives tale of not ever answering a dead person's question, now updated to never answering a dead persons email or IM and the only way to remove the curse is to confess your sins, which leads to all types of shouting and nasty secrets revealed), but the fact that it is Rated R takes most of the people this film was made for out of the equation (especially in States that dictate you must be 18 years or over to see an R-Rated film without a guardian). It did manage to get some positive reviews (and I understand why, because even I stopped what I was doing to watch the whole damn thing on HBO when it premiered, because you have to read a whole damn bunch of typing during the film), but the movie amounts to absolutely nothing and answers no questions at all (at least not the most important ones). Most aggravating is the non-ending which shows a pair of hands shut the laptop screen that we were looking at for the preceding 82 minutes. It's a unique and valiant try, but there has to be some meat on the bone to make it satisfying. All this film has are bones that have been chewed to the marrow. It made nearly 31 million dollars in the four weeks it was in theaters. That's quite a good profit margin, but more than half of it was made in the first week of release. And a word of advice to Universal Studios: Never state that a film came from the makers of OUIJA, the worst film of 2014, in my opinion (or, as they would say in this film, IMO). I did like the way the Universal Studios Globe logo opened in this film, though. At first I thought there was something wrong with my DVR; LUMBERJACK MAN (2015) is part of the revived After Dark's 8 FILMS TO DIE FOR, which was last seen in 2010. In other words, it is just a bunch of DTV films (click on the link for 8 FILMS TO DIE FOR to see posters for all the 8 films) that got a combined, quick limited theatrical/VOD release on October 16, 2015 before being quickly dumped on disc and pay cable. This is nothing but a retread of FRIDAY THE 13TH (1980), only this time a bus-full of teenagers (filmed in Austin, Texas) are headed to the middle of the woods for Church Camp and are slowly being killed one-by-one by the titled character, a huge masked killer whose favorite tools are a double-bladed axe and a long metal spear (He aso wheels two huge pancakes with him on a cart!). Oh, and it's a comedy (most of the jokes fall flat, although there are a few funny ones, especially one with an Asian student, two rubber balls and a butcher's knife), where the church teens swear worse than a truck driver, strip naked at the drop of a hat and do more drugs than your local juvenile delinquents. On the trail is Dr. Peter Shirtcliff (Michael Madsen, the only name actor in the film, who gives a strange performance), who stops at a local supply post and fills his pockets with shotgun shells. Are the shells meant for the teenagers or the monumental Lumberjack? We soon find out when Dr. Shirtcliff goes to the local Ranger station and tells them that the woods should be closed because of evil lurking there every 30 years since 1892 (don't do the math; it doesn't match up unless the film takes place in 2012) and this is the time for it to happen again (He survived an attack when he was a child). The Rangers kick him out of the station with Shirtcliff telling them they are both going to die. One Ranger takes pity on the doctor (there's a meatloaf recipe on one of the newspaper articles the doctor gives to the Rangers and he wants to keep the newspaper article so he can make the meatloaf!) and gives him the directions to the Church Camp. While there are some good bloody kills (most of them practical), especially in the beginning when after the bus driver drops off the teenagers at the camp, he picks up a couple of hookers and they all do a bag of cocaine together while the bus is stopped. While the bus driver is performing oral sex on the hookers, the Lumberjack enters the back emergency exit and chops both of the topless hookers' heads off with his axe (both of their heads go flying out the windows) and he impales the bus driver's head  to the roof of the bus with his steel spear. We also see him tear the heads off of two people with his bare hands and bend a female student into a position not capable for a human body for use as a table to eat his giant pancakes, but he picks her up and throws the still-alive girl against a tree when he is unable to her body as a table. While director/editor Josh Bear (usually a video game director) offers plenty of nudity and hard R-Rated violence (one girl gets caught in the old rope in a bent tree booby-trap trick and the Lumberjack sticks a spigot in her forehead while she is hanging upside down and then turns it on, as we watch the blood flow out of her body; the obviously gay camp counselor is cut in two with a tree saw, as he watches his lower body run away; and one of the Rangers [the meatloaf-loving one] is forced to eat his own heart after the Lumberjack pulls it out and shoves it in his mouth), the mere fact that the film is 105 minutes long makes it an ordeal to get through, especially when he throws in a food fight, some animation as Dr. Shirtcliff explains the curse to the rest of the Church Camp (they throw him out of the camp and a few minutes later the Lumberjack attacks everyone in the cafeteria while they are eating pancakes) and a bunch of sequences that should have been cut from the film. Only for those that have to see every slasher film (One good point: A Black man survives!). Oh, and the Lumberjack's kryptonite is syrup! Fucking maple syrup; Another film that was part of the 2015 After Dark 8 FILMS TO DIE FOR was UNNATURAL (2015) and considering the talent in front of the camera, this one is even more disappointing than the film above this one. It seems that some company named Clubirch Industries (headed by Ray Wise in a cameo) are experimenting on animals genetically so they will survive and not go extinct in today's world. We then see a photographer and his two bikini models (there's hardly any nudity, so don't get your hopes up) go on a photo shoot deep in the Alaskan wilderness (actually filmed in Fairbanks, Alaska) and are soon being attacked and torn apart by one of Clubirch's genetically-enhanced polar bears. The main problems with this film are that the attacks scenes has the camera shaking wildly and most attacks take place at night and are vastly underlit to see the gore or even the polar bear (actually a man in a costume). That's a shame because James Remar plays the head of the lodge the photographer and the models are staying at; Sherilyn Fenn is a Clubirch scientist who knows more than she is telling and Graham Greene plays the guy who has the only means of communication with the civilized world. There are some interesting scenes, such as when the mutant polar bear travels underneath the ice (cracking it as he heads closer) and makes a meal out of one of the bikini models and the Eskimo guide there to protect them by pulling them both through a fishing hole drilled through the ice for the photo shoot, but since 85% of the kills take place during the night, it's quite a disappointment. Especially the ending, when mortally wounded Remar has the spinning ice drill attached to a snowmobile and drills the polar bear to death just before it kills Fenn (everyone else is dead). Too bad we really can't see anything. The poster for the film is very bright but that is just false advertising. We only get one quick good look at the polar bear's head, otherwise it is just a black object on security cameras or when it attacks. Director Hank Braxtan (CHEMICAL PEEL - 2014) offers nothing in the way of entertainment and Mike Mendez (THE GRAVEDANCERS - 2006; one of the first of After Dark's original 8 films) worked in various capacities on this film. And when are horror films going to stop this shakey-camera technique? It isn't even a found footage film. Just pass it by. That's two out of eight that rate poorly (so far). Maybe After Dark should have stopped in 2010; THE GALLOWS (2015) is just another shitty "found footage" film about a killer spirit haunting a high school at night. The film opens in 1993 (we can tell by the date stamped on the bottom left of the video camera's screen) as a mother and father tape their son, Charlie Grimille, who has the lead in the play "The Gallows". He was actually the understudy, but the lead actor got sick, and Charlie, who was supposed to play the hangman is now the lead. Unfortunately, something goes wrong during the hanging scene and Charlie is hanged for real (he went from being the hangman to being a hanged man) and dies in a freak accident, all while his father is taping it. Cut to 2013, and the high school decides to put on "The Gallows" again as a 20th Anniversary tribute to Charlie (this is one school that should not be accredited). Ryan (Ryan Shoos) is the totally unlikable jackass who videotapes everything, especially his football jock friend Reese (Reese Mishler), who has the lead in the play and can't act his way out of a paper bag. Ryan talks Reese into going into the school the night before the opening of the play and destroying the sets, so the play will be called off and Reese will not have to act in it. Ryan discovers that there's a door in the school right next to the stage that leads outside that refuses to lock when closed, so he, Reese and cheerleader Cassidy (Cassidy Gifford; Cathy Lee and the late Frank Gifford's daughter) enter the high school that night and begin to destroy the set, when lead actress Pfeifer (Pfeifer Brown; and, yes, everyone uses their real first names), who Reese has a crush on, appears and strange things begin to happen. First, the door that never locks is now locked, as is every other door in the school. Then a TV starts to play a copy of Charlie's father's videotape of his son's deadly hanging from 1993, until the foursome discover there is no VHS tape in the VCR. Then a spirit appears (most probably Charlie's) and begins to kill the invaders one-by-one using a noose as a weapon. Cassidy is the first to go when a noose appears around her neck (where a strange rash appeared from an earlier encounter)  and she is dragged across the floor screaming into the darkness. The rest of the film follows 99% of found footage conventions, including that sickly green night vision, the camera shaking wildly whenever something remotely interesting appears on the screen, lights flickering when a death is about to occur and people refusing to put down the camera when they should be running for their lives. The fact that it took two directors/screenwriters (Travis Cluff and Chris Lofing) to come up with 81 minutes of tripe (the Blu-Ray contains the original 2012 version of the film, which was then re-shot almost completely at Warner Bros./Blumhouse Productions insistence, even though the film was self-financed) and has no discernable conclusion (When two policemen arrive, the killer, who wears a stitched-together leather mask, stares into the camera's lens [after killing the cops] before the screen goes black. What statement does that make? That there will be a sequel? God, I hope not!) only proves that the majority of found footage films are worthless. So is this one. If you were to tell me back in 1999 that found footage films would still be around in 2015, I would have called you a liar. But audiences keep watching this dreck (I have to, you don't), making people think that anyone can become a director. Guess what? They can't. Skill is involved and you need more than a vanilla screenplay; I was never a fan of the INSIDIOUS Trilogy (2010, 2013 & 2015) and the same goes for INSIDIOUS CHAPTER 3 (2015), which is actually a prequel to the first two films, the only thing good about all three films is Lin Shaye as medium Elise Rainier and the only reason I am reviewing this movie at all is because of her. In this film, she gets a lot (and I mean a lot) of screen time and she kicks spirit butt. I always liked Lin Shaye as an actress, even in some of the awful films she has been in (look up her filmography on IMDb), because she alway displays a sense of class to anything she does. The main story, about a teenage girl who lost her mother and brings Elise out of retirement because she has become possessed by a spirit from the other side, is as old as films themselves, but whenever Lin Shaye is on screen, you just can't take her eyes off of her, because she has a sense of humor and is the authority at the same time. This segment of the trilogy was directed by Leigh Wannell (the first two were directed by James Wan and Wannell wrote all three films), who also appears in all three films as half the duo of a paranormal investigative team (Angus Sampson is the other member, who has also been in all three films) and the only thing this film does, besides display Lin Shaye's talent, is show us how all three became a team. Unfortunately, you have to watch the whole movie to get to that part and a shock ending which ties this to the first film. These PG-13 & R Rated supernatural horror films are all beginning to blend together in my mind (many of them made by Blumhouse Productions, who also made these three films, as well as the PARANORMAL ACTIVITY franchise; the SINISTER franchise; the truly terrible OUIJA [2014]; JESSABELLE [2014]; UNFRIENDED [2015] and THE GALLOWS [2015], as well as too many more to count). Whatever happened to good, old-fashioned gory horror in theaters? Even teens don't want to see these type of films anymore. They make all their money on their first week of release because most of them were made for less than 5 million dollars and then are dropped to VOD and disc, before quickly turning up on pay cable. Please, someone make these films stop and give Lin Shaye more to do. She deserves better than this; I wanted to like INTO THE GRIZZLY MAZE (2015), when I realized that it was just an imitation of director William Girdler's GRIZZLY (1976), but with some slight differences. This film is also bloodier and has a great cast, but they are basically wasted in roles that amount to nothing. Ex-con Rowan (James Marsden), who was just released from prison for murder (it's not what it seems to be, as we learn later on), returns to his Alaskan home town to pay respects to his dead father by going to the "Grizzly Maze", the location where he died and is one of the most dense places in the forest where people get lost on a regular basis. His brother Beckett (Thomas Jane, who is the Christopher George character in the original film), a local cop, is not to keen on seeing his brother again (he still thinks of him as a cold-blooded murderer, even though he isn't), but Beckett's boss, Sully (Scott Glenn), talks him into taking Rowan back to his house (Rowan has just beaten a pimp to a bloody pulp for hitting a prostitute that he refused to have sex with) to cool off. There is also a killer giant Grizzly bear in the area that begins snacking on people in the Grizzly Maze (we see a dismembered hand still holding a chainsaw that is stuck in a tree and various other body parts and chewed bodies, the only reason to watch the film; there is also a heavily cut PG-13 version floating around that you should avoid if you want to watch this). The bear is not electronically tagged and Beckettt has no idea where it came from. Enter hunter Douglass (Billy Bob Thornton) and his horse (basically playing the Richard Jaeckel role in Girdler's film; Thornton, not the horse), who offers to put the killer grizzly down, but Beckett wants to catch it (God knows what for). The next morning, Rowan heads towards the Grizzly Maze to pay his respects, when he saves a deaf woman named Kaley (Michaela McManus) from the killer grizzly when she gets caught in a non-lethal bear trap. Beckett and friend Michelle (Piper Perabo) head to the Grizzly Maze to find Beckett's wife and soon all four end up together after some close calls from the bear (the entire film uses a real bear, no animatronics), with Douglass and his horse also out there to kill the bear. Sully, who is dirtier than a Mexican drug lord, also shows up, because he looks the other way when poachers illegally kill bears for their gall bladders (Google it). It all comes down to chase after chase (I do have to say that it is nice to see a real bear chasing a person, played by Bart the Bear), where no one knows how to shoot a gun (except Douglass), because they keep on missing him and it concludes with Sully having his face chewed off and a seriously injured Douglass (one of his ears is hanging from his head), pumping three high powered bullets into the bear before he runs out of ammo and is killed (everyone seems to run out of ammo at the most inopportune times). Just when you think the bear has been burned to death, he jumps out of the fire and attacks the motorized police raft, knocking everyone overboard. It takes Rowan to kill the bear, using only a knife! Director David Hackl (SAW V - 2008) keeps things moving at a fast pace, but there is nothing new here that you haven't seen before, even though the cast is exceptional. Screenwriters Guy Moshe (who also wrote/directed the wonderfully strange BUNRAKU - 2010) and first-time feature writer J.R. Reher (based on his story) offers nothing but cliche after cliche until it becomes a game of "spot where you have seen this scene before". There have been many killer bear movies and this is just another regular one, although it is bloody. Whether you want to watch it or not is up to you. Look for actor Michael Beach in a cameo in the beginning of the film; BLOODSUCKING BASTARDS (2015) is a poor imitation horror comedy that tries to mix elements of the classic OFFICE SPACE (1999) with a horror film and it fails terribly (Those positive reviews on IMDb were probably written by people who worked on the film). A failing company in which a bunch of slacker workers show up any time they want to play video games on their computers (their last ditch effort to keep the company alive is a male enhancement pill which turns your dick green as a side effect!) are taken by surprise when one of their own has not been appointed the new manager, but a stranger has (he is a stranger to some, a scumbag to others). One of the workers is also in trouble with his co-worker Human Resources girlfriend when she says she loves him at dinner and all he says is "No!" (Could you actually say anything worse?). Meanwhile, low-level workers in the building are being killed, but it turns out the new manager is actually a vampire and wants to turn the entire work force (including the janitor) into blood-thirsty vampires who will make a winning work force and the company something to contend with. The last four humans not bitten begin to kill the vampires (when vampires are staked in the heart or have their heads cut off, they explode into geysers of blood, but we never see a body explode, just blood being thrown on the actors). The only fun to be had here is two friends, one a vampire and the other human, trying to decide how to resolve this problem. They eventually manage to let each other go their own way, which sets the final scene into action, opening the film for a sequel. While the acting is good, 80% of the jokes fall flat and the horror elements fail terribly (all we get is a paper cutter blade planted into a couple of vampire heads and a very quick decapitation). If director/actor Brian James O'Connell (he has a small part here as the mail boy), who has directed two non-horror films before this, wants to get into horror, stop the inane comedy and make a horror film where there is more than just throwing blood on the actors. Sorry, I can't recommend this film, even though it is distributed on disc by one of my favorite DVD companies, Scream Factory; Imagine if you will that a group of actors have to improvise an entire horror film and only one actor at a time is told what should be going on. Sounds intriguing, doesn't it? Well, MURDER IN THE DARK (2013/2015), another film that was part of the 2015 After Dark 8 FILMS TO DIE FOR, is a complete bore from start to finish and it's not the actors' fault because they are fine (as is the scenery). The problem stems from the actors not knowing what to do in certain circumstances and the cameraman trying to keep them in frame. The story involves seven people from various countries, races and religions, picking up an English-speaking hitch-hiker on the road (always a good idea) to help them find an old isolated medieval town complete with a castle in Turkey. Once they get to the castle (which is a beautiful character unto itself), they play a game of "Murder In The Dark" (the rules are still very fuzzy to me) and before you can say "Turkish Taffy", people from the group begin dying and not in very interesting ways. Turns out there is more than one murderer in the group, but the main murderer is a black market human organ seller and he is attacked and killed by one of his victims in the end. During the closing credits, director/co-screenwriter Dagen Merrill (BENEATH - 2007) and his crew try to explain their experiment in filmmaking while dealing with the corrupt Turkish police and threatening populace (one who carries a pickaxe), who demand more money to let them keep on filming. It's the most interesting part of the film, but it's too bad that you have to get through 85 excrutiating minutes to get to it. The murders are boring and not gory at all (as a matter of fact, you hardly see anything except a knife being thrust into one guy's neck) and the cameraman and editor seem to be tripping out on hashish (watch it if you dare to see what I mean). This film was made in 2013, but not released until late in 2015, so that should tell you all you need to know about the movie. So far that is three out of the eight After Dark films released in 2015 that stinks on ice; THE WICKED WITHIN (2012/2015) is the fourth film I have watched in the past two weeks that came from the 2015 After Dark 8 FILMS TO DIE FOR collection. It's nothing but an EXORCIST (1973) retread with a good final twist, but is it worth waiting for? A family gather together at Hannah's (Michele Hicks) house on the first anniversary of her 3 year-old daughter Emma's death and it's not any family I want to be part of. The entire film is shown in flashback, as the survivors talk to police psychiatrist Dr. Woods (Eric Roberts, in a larger role than usual) about what happened on that fateful weekend. Bethany (Sienna Guillory), who is bothered by her and Hannah's mother Jean (Karen Austin) when she and her husband are going to give her a grandchild, is possessed by a spirit, who first screws her doggie style in her bedroom and then begins the usual things, like objects moving on their own, throwing up, turning her head around 360° (a very quick and good effect, but if you blink, you will miss it), talking in a deep voice and name-dropping the original film (which is the biggest sin of all). All if this happens after a medium performs a seance, one of the most widely used tropes in possession films.  During this whole possession crisis, personal demons come to the forefront, like finding out Hannah threw Emma down the stairs and killed her, Bethany's husband killing someone in a car a year ago, Hannah's husband being an adulterer, Hannah exposing her breasts to a priest (Heath Freeman) and kissing him, who was called in to perform an exorcism (not a good move for the priest), and Jean being found dead hanging from a tree when she leaves the house on the first night and promises to return the next morning with a psychiatrist. It's nothing we haven't seen done 100 times before, but there is a surprise at the end which almost redeems the film. Be on the lookout for Sonja Kinski (she has an important part in the film), who is the granddaughter of Klaus Kinski and daughter of Nastassja Kinski (you'll be able to notice the resemblance almost immediately). Director Jay Alaimo (his first horror film, but he has directed other films) keeps the blood and gore down to a minimum, which makes this movie even harder to watch. Originally made in 2012, but it didn't make its U.S. debut until late in 2015. That right there is all you need to know. This is the fourth film in the collection I didn't care for. None of them are badly made, but I can say the only thing they do for me is make me say "Meh". Four more to go. I am hoping they are better; INTRUDERS (2015) starts off really good, but quickly degenerates into mediocre territory. A woman named Anna (Beth Riesgraf), who suffers from agoraphobia (the film was initially to be titled SHUT IN, when Naiomi Watts was slated to star in it), hasn't stepped out of house for years. She takes care of her bedridden brother, who tells Anna she should forgive their father for raping her consistently when she was younger. She has never forgiven him for that, but it is plain to see that there is more to Anna than meets the eye. When her brother dies, she inherits his money and offers some of it to her only friend, Dan (Rory Culkin), who delivers food to the house daily, but he refuses to take it. The next day, the house is invaded by three men looking for Anna's money, but Anna turns the tables on them when it is revealed that the basement of the house is tricked-out with booby traps (the disappearing stairs is a cool effect) and cameras so Anna can keep eye on them. Why was this done? Well, Anna and her brother use to trap rapists down there to "fix them", which usually meant that they would shoot themselves in the head with a revolver with a single bullet or hang themselves with a noose. Her brother killed their father as a way to fix him for raping Anna, but Anna seems to enjoy it a lot more now that she does it by herself without her brother around. Things take a bad turn when Dan shows up at the house to tell Anna how her brother's funeral went (she was too afraid to step out of the house to go) and steps smack-dab into the middle of the home invasion. Dan knows one of the intruders, so Anna thinks he is in on it (he isn't, at least not purposely) and breaks two of Dan's fingers and pushes him down into the cellar, where he dislocates his knee (one of the guys pops it back into place in the film's most intense moment). A game of cat and mouse ensues and three people die. It won't be fair to tell you which ones they are, but the ending is so unbelievable, I was banging my head on the coffee table. Freshman feature director Adam Schindler, working with a screenplay by T.J. Cimfel & David White, shows talent and tension in some of the scenes (but very little blood or gore), but the whole plot about the house being tricked out by Anna and her brother to punish rapists is just too unbelievable to get over. A valiant try, but no cigar. Notice how the poster art of the film bears a remarkable similarity to THE CABIN IN THE WOODS (2009/2011). It's a miracle no lawsuits were involved.; If THE SAND (pay cable title: BLOOD SAND - 2015) reminds you of anything, it should be BLOOD BEACH (1981), because they both deal with the same subject matter: Something is inhabiting the beach next to the ocean and touching the sand means a long, painful death before being sucked underneath (in the beginning, after finding a huge egg at a beach party and it hatches the next morning, one guy tries to save a topless girl (the only nudity in the film) and falls face-first into the sand, where his right eye and half his face are eaten away before he is sucked under the sand. (If you are looking for a rapist to have his dick yanked-off like in the first film, you will be disappointed.). The rest of the film consists of six party-goers waking up the next morning in a car, a lifeguard's station and a metal garbage drum (Of course, that would have to be the fat black guy!), trying to find a way off the sand before they are sucked under, too. The creature seems to consist of little hair-like tentacles which are poisonous to the touch and if you are bitten by just one, your body will dissolve from the inside out in due time (the tentacles get bigger as the film progresses). If I make this film sound interesting at all, I apologize because it is just a bunch of annoying people, all with backstories releated to each other (ex-boyfriend and girlfriend; fat black guy [Cleo Berry] who fell asleep at the party, so they draw a giant penis on his face with magic marker; jealous new girlfriend; etc.) and it is boring as hell. I like the similarly-themed "The Raft" episode from CREEPSHOW 2 (1987) a whole lot more and there is absolutely no humor to be found here like the hotdog-throwing scene at Burt Young in BLOOD BEACH (even with the missing scenes, this new film should be considered a remake of that film because there are too many other similarities to count, especially the fully-revealed badly rendered monster [shown way too fast to make out it's shape underwater] being shown in the end heading for a more populated beach). This is just another sub-par DTV horror film that floods the market in which the only recognizable star, Jamie Kennedy (who is given star status), puts in an extended cameo as a Beach Patrol officer who accuses them all of being on drugs ("Who's got the Molly?") before his arm is eaten off and he is sucked under the sand. Screen time = 5 minutes. Since most of the gore is of the CGI variety, that is also a big negative. Director Isaac Gabaeff (his only directorial horror film) shot this film in 12 days and it looks it. Save your time for a film that is worth it. This isn't it.; In the town of Dillford (Home of the Riblet), humans, vampires and zombies live in peace, even going to high school together. So begins the so-so FREAKS OF NATURE (2015), a horror comedy with a lot more misses than hits (The biggest hit comes near the beginning of the film when teenage Dag Parker [Nicholas Braun; RED STATE - 2011] is caught with a bag pot on his bed and his stoner parents, played by Bob Odenkirk and Joan Cusack [who are both hilarious], tell their son that they completely understand his love of pot, even though it actually belongs to cock-tease Lorelei [Vanessa Hudgens], who hides her pot at Dag's house because her parents are uber-religious [Dag is known throughout school as Lorelei's "locker"]. Dag's parents also tell him that all the Parker men are late bloomers, but when it happens, Dag will find himself sporting a huge penis!). Then, one day, a gigantic alien spacecraft hovers over Dillford and all hell breaks loose. Humans, vampires and zombies begin to turn on each other and human Dag, vampire Petra (Mackenzie Davis; THE MARTIAN - 2015) and zombie Ned (Josh Fadem; AMIGO UNDEAD - 2015) join forces and try to figure out how to defeat the aliens, who finally come down to Earth and use their tentacled bodies to make the human bodies they touch explode (During a fight, Ned bites the finger off a vampire and spits it in his mouth, causing the vampire to choke on his own finger. It is one of the few truly funny scenes in this film.). When a nude Dag becomes invisible to the aliens, it becomes apparent that the aliens can see only inorganic material like clothing, so Petra and Ned strip naked (we see absolutely nothing except their bare asses) to go to Dag's house to check on his parents, only to have Ned get eaten by the aliens trying to protect Dag (Truth be told, they aren't eaten, but "rematerialized" at a big box store like CostCo, creating a force field to separate the humans, the vampires and the zombies. Since Dag killed the alien that grabbed Ned, he rematerializes at the parking lot of the local Little Caesars!). It seems all the aliens want is the chemical additive that is part to the town's famous Riblets to make it taste like actual meat. Give the aliens that ingredient and they will leave Earth. But humans are not that giving and a fight breaks out after a giant alien with a German accent tells them through Billy Joel's lyrics of "We Didn't Start The Fire" what awful people we are and Dag's late-blooming appears (it's the film's only surprise and not what you think). The rest of the film is mostly supposedly funny gags and banter (along with some bloody effects, some physical, some CGI), but director Robbie Pickering (his first horror feature), working with a screenplay by Oren Uziel, fail to make the film memorable. Too many questions are left unanswered, like how one town one the United States can have humans, vampires and zombies living together in peace (TRUE BLOOD this ain't!) and why zombies go to school at all, since they are incapable of learning. With stars like Ed Westwick, Denis Leary, Patton Oswalt and Keegan-Michael Key also involved, you would think that this would be an enjoyable horror comedy, but it turns out just to be slightly bearable. Too bad, I was hoping I would love this. As it stands, I barely like it. The town now known as Dillford, The Home of the Vegetarian Riblet. (Continued on Next Page)


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