Popular Posts

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Split (2017) Review by J.P.

Three girls are kidnapped by a man with a diagnosed 23 distinct personalities, and must try and escape before the apparent emergence of a frightful new 24th.

Director/Writer: M. Night Shyamalan; Stars: James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Haley Lu Richardson

As many of you know, over the last decade or so I professed an overwhelming hatred for M. Night Shyamalan. Its not because I've always disliked him, in the beginning I actually thought he was the horror/thriller genres greatest champion of the 90's. 'The Sixth Sense' was clever and 'Unbreakable' introduced us to a new brooding superhero. He had proven that he was the master of the twist in one fell swoop and every horror fan loves a twist. Until they start to get too over the top and ridiculous that is, such as in the rest of the 'The' movies i.e. 'The Village' and 'The Happening' or even 'Signs'. That's when I really started to dislike him. Of course every few years he'd manage to pull me in again with what looked like a compelling film, take his Executive Producing role on 'The Devil' for example, turned out to be nothing more than the same old 'The' movie. When he brought us 'The Last Air Bender' I was sure he couldn't mess it up, it was a much loved already established story that promised tons of sequels. Well, we know how that went, sometimes as a writer director its better to not reinvent the entire story, just saying. Yep, when it comes to writer directors, auteurs if you will, Shyamalama-ding-dong had reached the level of Nicholas Cage for this film fan. So when it recently seemed like maybe he had been humbled by his failings and reinvented himself as a creative force, I was resistant to forgive for fear he'd dupe me again. 'The Visit' (yep, another 'The' film) was released and I didn't get immediately sucked in. I even managed to avoid it for quiet awhile before Joel convinced me to give it a try. So I finally did thinking any moment now Shyamalan is going to find a way to screw this up for me. Just need that ridiculous twist on upon the twist and... lets just say it was a very subtle and predictable twist that didn't, thankfully, ruin the story completely. I don't feel it was a great movie, but this isn't a review for 'The Visit', I've actually requested Joel handle that since I was afraid I'd go off on some kind of tirade, kind of like I just did... Anyway it wasn't a horrible movie, and when it ended I liked this more humble and subtle Shyamalan, and hoped he was here to stay. Especially when the trailers for SPLIT promised a truly demented film with a premise I found interesting. Plus, James McAvoy is brilliance incognito. So yeah, I got suckered again, and I'm here to report, was happy to be disapointed that it wasn't just another 'The' film, which it easily could have been.

The fact that SPLIT is good film can be attributed to more than just Shyamalan's writing and direction. In fact I give a lot of credit to the ensemble. James McAvoy is amazing as the personalities that rise to the surface and Anya Taylor-Joy is the quintessential, less than perfect, final girl. McAvoy is brilliant, I cannot stress that enough. You can see every personality change as it happens just by his facial features, and he can do it instantly. Even when the one personality is impersonating another. Shyamalan is the king of holding tension, so every scene has strong pregnant moments of silence. Though its not always needed, its a technique that works by holding the watcher in limbo until the next reveal. SPLIT does have a lot of reveals, from the moment of abduction to the appearance of the 24th personality. None of these are twists though. Which is new skill for Shyamalan who previously presented every reveal as a shocking twist. In SPLIT we get discovery time rather than teases that just provide more questions before the ridiculous twist. I wonder how much of this subdued story telling is thanks to producer Jason Blum. No matter what it promises a better Shyamalan. There's plenty of humor embedded in the film as well as awkward moments are turned comical like in the scene when the 9 year old boy personality dances for the protagonist.

Back to the story, SPLIT is reinvention of 'Sybil', as multiple personalities serve as a defense for a tormented Kevin. Betty Buckley's Psychologist has theorized that alternate personalities can have traits the host does not, therefore allowing physical changes to the host. One example that is given is that a host that is blind could have a personality that can see. An interesting concept that continues to grow in the film while we wait for the final personality, the beast, to arrive in Kevin and wonder what physical changes it will bring. This also, usually, where Shyamalan adds a ridiculous factor, where we think it might be aliens but its really the trees, or its really a 17th century commune somehow isolated within a big modern city. Fortunately he sticks to the story and continues to grow this new mythology as we prepare for the arrival of the beast who needs these girls to feed on when he arrives. Again, McAvoy sells it in a blink of an eye.

HERE THERE MAY BE SPOILERS: In the end I must admit I'm liking the maturity of Shyamalan as a storyteller. The true twist to SPLIT has absolutely nothing to do with the story itself but rather the ties it has within a Shyamalan universe teased at the end of the film. SPLIT's antagonist was originally conceived as a character for one of Shyamalan's first films but was scrapped in the interest of more linear storytelling. But now that he's been introduced in his own narrative I truly hope to see that franchise grow into a trilogy and strong new superhero universe.

Currently in theaters! SPLIT delves pretty deeply into mental illness and physical abuse so keep your mind open!

'til next we bleed,

Friend Dog Studios Presents '2016: The Movie'

As we're sure you all remember, 2016 was year full of craziness. From unexpected and much beloved Celebrity deaths to an election that will surely usher in the impending ideocracy, many have taken to calling 2016 the worst year ever. So why not make a horror movie out of it? And that's what those funny folks over at Friend Dog Studios have done, well, a mocu-trailer anyway. Check it out here...

The conspiracy is real folks and 2016: The Movie knows it. The only thing that seems to be missing is creepy clowns! Maybe they are part of the twist?

Check out more from Friend Dog Studios and have a much happier 2017!

Monday, January 30, 2017

A Creepy Farewell to Last Years Loses

There have been so many painfully sad celebrity deaths in 2016 it is with heavy heart that we pay respects to those that have entertained with their lives. Obviously we miss them all with and would like to show our love to all of them equally we of the Creepercast usually concentrate on the horror icons. Here's to those that have influenced our creepy ways in amazing ways.

Dan Haggerty: Best known as the haggard recluse Grizzly Adams, we loved him in 80's horror master pieces like Elves and Terror Night.

Carrie Fisher: Sure we all know her as the only princess that matters, Carrie has also graced us with a couple horror comedies like She's Back and The Burbs.

Debbie Reynolds:  In one of the saddest stories you'll ever hear, Ms Reynolds passed away the day after her loved daughter. Reportedly her last words were "I want to be with Carrie". Though she mostly dominated in family comedies we will always love her as Aunt Aggie from Halloweentown.

Alan Rickman: Best known for his roles in Die Hard, Galaxy Quest, and Harry Potter, Alan kind of slipped his way through horror with Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street and Close My Eyes. But he'll always be the voice of God to us.

Anton Yelchin: Star Trek put him on top but its films like Green Room, Odd Thomas, and Burying the Ex that will forever endear him to our hearts.

Alexis Arquette: The mis-identified Arquette sibling best known for her role in The Wedding Singer left us with Bride of Chucky, Children of the Corn V: Fields of Terror, and as the uncredited Vampire DJ in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

David Bowie: Not only one of the most influential writers of pop music, David brought Labyrinth to life and hosted The Hunger (TV Series).

Gene Wilder: One of the darkest funniest comedians alive thanks to Young Frankenstein, Haunted Honeymoon, and the only Willy Wonka we will accept as cannon.

Patty Duke: Best known for western hospitality and family, Patty also taught us to fear The Swarm.

Alice Drummond: The character actress who charmed Horror Freaks as the librarian in the original Ghostbusters.

Angus Scrimm: Our forever favorite Tall Man of the Phantasm series was really Cecil B. DeMille's brother (once known as William C. de Mille).

Don Calfa: Best remembered for his role as "Ernie Kaltenbrunner" in the 1985 comedy horror The Return of the Living Dead.

Larry Drake: As if being a deformed serial killing Santa on Tales from the Crypt wasn't enough, he's also our favorite giggling doctor.

Herschell Gordon Lewis: Only one film-maker can claim the title "Godfather of Gore." Did you know he once taught English Lit?

Unfortunately there are far to numerous loses to mention here but we will keep them all in our hearts. For a more complete comprehensive list please visit IMDB.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Compound Fracture (2014) Review Revisited

“When it comes to horror filmmaking couples I really have to ask, Rob and Sheri who?”
~ Creepercast01.blogspot.com

"Michael left home when he was a teenager and never looked back. Now, after the death of his sister, Chloe, he's returning home with his fiancee Juliette and his angst ridden nephew Brandon. On arrival, they realize that home isn't exactly what it used to be. With high walls surrounding the house and security cameras in every nook and cranny it's more of a military compound than anything else. Enter Gary, Michael's estranged father who, while happy to be reunited with his son and grandson, seems more distracted by other things. As the strange family reunion commences, an uninvited guest shows up and we learn bits and pieces about the real reason behind Chloe's death and why Brandon is so closed off from Michael. This fractured family will have to come together to fight the ghosts of their pasts and make it out alive!" (IMDB)

You may know him as a professional wrestler, Sabertooth, Ajax (if you've seen Troy I share your pain) or most notably Rob Zombie's Michael Myers. I'm speaking, of course, of the almost 7 foot actor from Bigfootland Canada, Tyler Mane. But did you know that he is also an accomplished producer, writer, and actor in his own independent horror film? Well, of course you did, you're a horror fan after all, but do you know how good it is? Ahhhh, now I've got your attention!

That's right, Michael Myers has stepped out from behind the mask and has created an independent film that you shouldn't be missing. He and his wife Renae Geerlings (also from Halloween 2) have created the production company Mane Entertainment and their first offering, Compound Fracture, is one of those films we would use to gauge all other independent horror films by. Yea, it really is that good, and here's why...

Tyler plays Michael, the estranged son of an eccentric and crazy hermit that lives behind a barrier of talismans and good luck charms designed to protect him from evil. I have to say, the collection of hoodoo his father surrounds himself with was awesome! Anyway, Michael, the unwilling prodigal son, returns home with fiancé and nephew to mourn the loss of his sister. Lots of endearing and disturbing family secrets start to unravel as the root of all evil, always expertly played by Derek Mears, wages war against a family already in turmoil.

Here's a few things about the film that stand out the most... Tyler Mane can act! Sure he sometimes seems a little uncomfortable with it, but he's good at it, and those moments that seem to be lacking could actually be better than I think. Also, loved the low camera angles when we see Tyler over the shoulder of other characters. It stereotypically accentuates his enormous size in comparison to other people. It's also an inside joke, a guy that big normally doesn't get hurt that much by Derek Mears aka the epitome of absolute evil. Speaking of Derek, he's taken the speechless evil incarnate to another level, looks awesome as hell, and helps answer the ageless question of who would win a battle between Michael (the other one) and Jason. Well, sort of anyway. We'll round this out with special mention of Renae and Tyler's on screen relationship being both realistic, and very cute, this is the way I imagine their life really is together. By the way, angsty nephew Alex Saxon is going to be in everything someday. Keep an eye out for that kid. Speaking of being in everything, it was an absolute pleasure to see Mother Firefly number two, Leslie Eastbrook and the always insane Muse Watson.

This is also a film makers film. Renae and Tyler do everything! Besides writing, and starring, they've also contributed to the soundtrack with some really haunting and skull crushing tunes. When it comes to horror filmmaking couples I really have to ask, Rob and Sheri who? All kidding aside, Compound Fracture is a must own for all horror film lovers and action fans. It has everything we love plus a bunch of bonuses. Be sure to check out the soon to be released Penance Lane also. I will!

Keep up with Compound Fracture on Main Entertainment's website, and order your copy now!

Farewell from the beasts and I,


Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Autopsy of Jane Doe (2016) Full Review

A father and son, both coroners, are pulled into a complex mystery while attempting to identify the body of a young woman, who was apparently harboring dark secrets.

The Norwegian director André Øvredal (Troll Hunter) was inspired to do a REAL horror movie after attending a screening of The Conjuring. He immediately called his agent and told them that they should try and find a good horror script for him. A month later they showed him this script and he was immediately interested. The Autopsy of Jane Doe stars Emile Hirsch (Into the Wild, also grew up in Santa Fe) and Brian Cox (Morgan, Red) as father-and-son coroners who experience supernatural phenomena while examining the body of an unidentified woman, played by Olwen Kelly (Darkness on the Edge of Town). It premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 9, 2016, to much acclaim and was released on December 21st worldwide. As Øvredal's first English-language film it even made J.P.'s Top 13 for 2016, and here's why...

The Autopsy of Jane Doe is a REAL horror film in the finest John Carpenter b-movie tradition. It isn't enough that it takes place within the creepiest part of the hospital or that it is largely about 2 men dealing with their relationship as father and son vicariously through the mystery that is Jane Doe. This film is a well choreographed and acted forensics film with supernatural jump scares that work. The identity of the body is slowly determined and its refreshing that she's not a zombie. Of course the clues are obvious for the seasoned horror fan, but definitely not expected. Everything about The Autopsy of Jane Doe is perfectly assembled to maintain tension, curiosity, and surprise.

According to Øvredal, Kelly had the most difficult role in the film, which we would agree that being naked and playing dead on a cold slab is probably the most challenging roll one could take on. Interestingly, Kelly was the first person interviewed for the role and though others were interviewed Øvredal instantly knew she was right for the role. One of the reasons she was selected was her knowledge of yoga, which helped her control her body and breathing. He's also reflected on how wonderfully well Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch worked together to the point where he would just set up the camera and watch them go. Instant chemistry with a well written and prepared story is obvious.

The Autopsy of Jane Doe is currently available at Amazon and your favorite digital service.

Friday, January 27, 2017

The Axe Murders of Villisca (2016) Review

Three outcast teenagers break into the Vallisca axe murder house in search of answers, but discover something far beyond their worst fears.

Director: Tony E. Valenzuela; Writers: Kevin Abrams (story), Owen Egerton; Stars: Robert Adamson, Jarrett Sleeper, Alex Frnka, Sean Whalen

On a June night in 1912, eight people -- a mother, father, their four children, and two guests -- were murdered by an axe-wielding killer in the sleepy town of Villisca, Iowa. A case that remains unsolved to this day. More than a century later, Caleb and Denny, two friends who share an interest in ghost hunting, along with Jess -- the new girl in school who already has a reputation -- sneak into the house where the infamous bloodbath occurred in hopes of recording paranormal activity.

In horror films, amateur ghost hunting always equals a bad experience. Take Grave Encounters and the Blair Witch for example. As amateur ghost hunters ourselves, my wife and I are glad this doesn't hold true in real life. Although, thanks to these films, we are prepared for the day that is does. Not that it will do us any good. Tony E. Valenzuela directs a fantastic example of such a ghost story with found footage elements but without all the annoying tropes of the previously mentioned films. The primary difference between Valenzuela's work and most others is he chose to use the true historical facts related to the Vallisca Axe Murders and fictionalized the characters being haunted and the haunting itself, while working with the claims that the real house truly is haunted, wrapping it all up into a little bow with a tie in from reality that he claims had nothing to do with the movie, although cleverly looks like it does. It is this manipulation of fact and fiction that I applaud more than anything else while watching The Axe Murders of Vallisca.

Meanwhile the film making is classic 80's with much better acting than the usual for indepndent films of this nature. Of course IFC Midnight has been good at not putting their name on films that fail drastically in convincing the suspension of disbelief. It also helps The Axe Murders of Vallisca has a lot of familiar faces... Conchata Ferrell, Brett Rickaby, with special recognition to Jon Gries for his unamused tour guide and Sean Whalen is an excellent ax murderer with crazed bloody frenzy. Our lead cast is great too, Robert Adamson, Jarrett Sleeper, and Alex Frnka are great albeit rarely subdued. Still, is each characters subplot important enough to the overall plot and believable. Caleb's (Adamson) seems to be the least believable back story. But in the end he must seek absolution. Denny's (Sleeper) seems more reasonable, as does Jess's (Frnka) if not over played. In the end the goal is to bring together misfits and put them through the ringer so that they come out better than they went in. If they come out at all. Especially the bullys.

POSSIBLE SPOILERS: Though the real Vallisca Axe Murders are unsolved, the film sides with a theory that the murders were committed by Reverend Kelly on a mission from god because the wife was an adulteress. Also looks like older sis is too which ties directly to Jess's indiscretion. In fact everyone's sins are eventually put on trial to mixed results. Demonic possession is a must but the kids in costumes seem to be more for dramatic, creepy effect, doing what they do best by appearing sinister but are really just harbingers.

Available now on Amazon!


IFC Midnight Presents:


It’s just another night at the morgue for a father (Brian Cox) and son (Emile Hirsch) team of coroners, until an unidentified, highly unusual corpse comes in. Discovered buried in the basement of the home of a brutally murdered family, the young Jane Doe—eerily well preserved and with no visible signs of trauma—is shrouded in mystery. As they work into the night to piece together the cause of her death, the two men begin to uncover the disturbing secrets of her life. Soon, a series of terrifying events make it clear: this Jane Doe may not be dead. The latest from Trollhunter director Andre Ovredal is a scarily unpredictable, supernatural shocker that never lets up.

A film that made J.P.'s best of 2016 list. Look for a full review coming tomorrow!

Thursday, January 26, 2017


THE AXE MURDERS OF VILLISCA from IFC Midnight is Available now!

On a June night in 1912, eight people—a mother, father, their four children, and two  guests—were murdered by an axe-wielding killer in the sleepy town of  Villisca, Iowa, a case that remains  unsolved to this day. 104 years later, Caleb (Robert Adamson) and Denny  (Jarrett Sleeper), two friends who share an interest in ghost hunting,  along with Jess (Alex Frnka), the new girl in school who’s already got a  reputation, sneak into the house where the  infamous bloodbath occurred in hopes of recording paranormal activity.  What the trio encounters is far more horrifying than anything they could  have imagined. A century after the shocking crime that put Villisca on  the map, a supernatural force is waiting  to write the next chapter in the home’s bloody history.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Submissions Now Open for Second Annual Brooklyn Horror Film Festival (October 12th-15th)

Submissions have been open since Wednesday, December 7th 2016 for the October Festival

The Brooklyn Horror Film Festival is excited to announce that submissions are now open for the second edition of the festival. The first deadline to submit horror features and shorts was January 15th, but fear not, the final deadline to submit for programming consideration is August 15th

In its first year, the festival sold out the majority of its screenings, which took place in venues and theaters across North Brooklyn. Festival Director Justin Timms commented, "The reaction we received after the first-ever Brooklyn Horror Film Festival was extremely humbling and we're very excited to announce that the festival will be growing for our sophomore year. We've added an extra day and will be adding even more screenings throughout Brooklyn, in turn accepting even more films into our boundary-pushing program."

BHFF was proud to present the Best Feature Award to Lorcan Finnegan’s WITHOUT NAME, while Jackson Stewart took home the Audience Award for the retro VHS game-inspired BEYOND THE GATES.

“First-year festivals are never easy to program, but we couldn’t have been happier with this year’s lineup and, most importantly, the audience’s response,” says Matt Barone, the festival’s Senior Programmer. “As exciting as that is, though, BK Horror 2016 also set the bar sky-high. So that presents us with a new challenge: Make the second year even bigger. We’re ready to do just that and give Brooklyn another weekend-long snapshot of both where the genre's at and where it's heading. Horror is closing out 2016 in such an amazing creative space, but there’s always room for it to grow. Hopefully 2017 brings more diversity behind the camera, more original ideas, more genuinely scary films and more of the genre-blurring audacity that defined BK Horror’s program this year. We’re pumped to see what filmmakers from all around the world have to offer.”

Also, as a thank you to the local horror-loving community who helped create a spectacular first edition, the festival is offering a special discount for directors and producers who live in New York City. 

Stay tuned for early bird badge sales beginning this January, and check out the festival's website for more information soon.

For full submissions details, deadlines, and costs please visit the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival on Freeway, or visit our official website. The Brooklyn Horror Film Festival will run from October 12th till the 15th, 2017. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

My Review of Attack of the Leaderhosen Zombies By William S. Mayfield

Ok what do you get when you take a failing ski resort and a toxic waste dump that is on the side of a mountain? Well you get a zombie flick that delivers on many levels just not all levels.

Directed by Dominick Hartl and tells the story of Steve and Josh, a couple of extreme sport snow boarders that are at this ski resort to hopefully sway a contract out of the resort to further they're careers. But after Steve decides to do something, not only extreme but very inappropriate, in front of some of the younger guest they get cut from the selection and so starts our spiral into zombie hell. The guys are also joined by Branka who is Steve's girl friend. They get trapped at the resort because of a snow storm, all while the owners of said resort want to impress a Russian investor, they have somehow used the toxic waist sludge to mix with the snow making machines to make snow that, if I hear right, doesn't  melt as fast.

This movie moved kinda fast in the plot department and has, to be honest, been done a thousand times. Now there is a few good qualities that Attack of the Lederhosen Zombies has and its in the kill department. Some of the practical effects are top notch and are worth watching for. I think this Mr. Hartl's first trip in to the horror genre so I can cut him some slack. But as a film maker and seeing there is literally thousands of other zombie movies to get a reference from I cant give him that much. Over all I say if you like zombie movies with a capital B then this movie is right up your ally, if you lean more in the direction of  The Walking dead and Dawn of the Dead you might want to stay away. I give Attack of the Lederhosen Zombies a 4 out of 10. As always please watch for yourself.

Post-apocalyptic GO NORTH! In cinemas NOW!

In the aftermath of an unknown catastrophe, a community left with zero living adults has descended into a modern-day Lord of the Flies, run by a small cabal of what had been the jocks occupying the athletic and social upper crust of the local high school, headed by Caleb (Patrick Schwarzenegger). 

Faced with the bleak despair of their situation, Josh (Jacob Lofland) and Jessie (Sophie Kennedy Clark) strike out on a dangerous journey into the unknown to find family and hope for the future, with Caleb and his vicious underling Gentry (James Bloor) in hot pursuit.

GO NORTH is the narrative debut of Emmy-nominated documentarian Matt Ogens (MEET THE HITLERS) and was Executive Produced by Morgan Spurlock (SUPER SIZE ME, RATS). Its haunting, evocative score was composed by Death Cab for Cutie's Chris Walla. 

 About Gunpowder & Sky Distribution

Gunpowder & Sky Distribution, formerly FilmBuff, is part of Gunpowder Sky, a new global studio dedicated to creating and distributing video content independent of form, genre or platform. With in-house development, production, financing and distribution capabilities, combined with the subversive spirit of independent creators, Gunpowder & Sky collaborates with both emerging and established talent to generate premium video content ranging from 90 second to 90-minute stories.  For more info, visit www.gunpowdersky.com.

Monday, January 23, 2017

my thoughts on.... 'Circus of the Dead'

As with all of my reviews of films for The Creepercast, I fully recommend that you check each and every one of them out. I am one man and this is my opinion. I've seen plenty of movies that received reviews that were the complete opposite of how I saw the film. These writers, directors, producers and actors all put a lot of time and love into these projects. They deserve to be seen and appreciated for what they are. Everyone has a dream and I fully support the people that take the time to make theirs a reality. With that being said....

It's fascinating how some films hit you one way and other, similar films, can hit you in a completely different way. 'Circus of the Dead' was one of those films that has left me puzzled, ever since the final post credits scene ended. I can't legitimately decide how I feel about it. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it's unusual to walk away from a movie without having any concrete impressions of it. This one, in particular, took me on a bizarre roller coaster ride of emotions. At some points, I was wide eyed at the performance of Bill Oberst Jr (the patron saint of The Creepercast) and others, I was disgusted by his characters motivations and actions. He created something, with Papa Corn, that proves he's an under utilized talent in the larger film making community. Not too say that the man doesn't work, because if you look at his IMDB credits, it's a wonder he finds time to sleep. There were times where I feel disgusted at the actions of the main characters of the clowns. They were truly sadistic and completely un redeeming people. However, you can't take away from them, the charisma and iconic sensibilities that they possessed. It was like you couldn't help but love to hate them. Meanwhile, feeling like you needed to take a shower during most of their screen time. All of it punctuated like the claw end of a hammer, by the ring leader himself, Papa Corn. Our main 'hero' in the story, Donald, was merely a means to an end. A pawn in a violent game of destruction and violence. Sadly, despite all of the efforts of the clowns, there were so many cringe worthy performances from everyone else, that it tended to take away from the overall movie going experience. All in all, 'Circus of the Dead' was something that defies a recommendation to others to view. Rather, it garners a warning that only true deviants and horror fanatics should delve into the world of pain and suffering that director, Billy Pon, has created. Perhaps that's the greatest compliment that a film maker could hope for, but it limits your audience to a very small niche society of horror lovers that can stomach the underbelly of evil itself.

At the beginning of 'Circus of the Dead', were confronted with the thoughts of another killer clown, John Wayne Gacy. He's quoted as saying, “You know.... clowns can get away with murder.”. I didn't understand the meaning of this at first, but throughout the course of the films run time, we learn that this is the entire premise that it's based on. Time and time again, we see that this is true, as our cavalcade of circus killers just waltz their way through one murder after another. No one ever even looking twice in their direction or suspecting them of the atrocities that they are committing. Co-written and directed by Billy Pon, he quickly sets the stage for what's to come, as the film opens with the clowns already in progress. Torturing and murdering people, right before going into the center ring, to delight and entertain a tent full of unaware onlookers. During this time, we're introduced to Donald, a family man with 2 daughters and a beautiful wife. It's made apparent that maybe his life isn't perfect, but he loves his family anyway. They decide to go out and spend a night at the circus, where Papa Corn takes a liking to them and selects them as his next victims. He soon, kills Donald's wife, kidnaps his children and forces Donald to do whatever they want in order to see his daughters again. Over the course of the rest of the film, we see murder after murder occur as the clowns continually leave evidence, framing Donald for all of their horrific acts. I don't want to spoil the ending or too much of what occurs during the remaining film, as it detracts from the the finale. I'd rather you experience it, just as I did. Completely unaware of what was coming next. Not unlike Donald, himself. Also, stay throughout the entire credits.

'Circus of the Dead' is full of things you can pick apart and complain about. Poor acting, some sound editing issues and the weird transitions from one scene to the next, that feel like a commercial break is warranted. However, this shouldn't take away from the craftsmanship and firm grasp on storytelling that Billy Pon possesses. If he's capable of something on this scale, with (what I'm guessing) he had for a budget, then he's a man to keep your eye on. Granted, I have a feeling that his films won't be for everyone, but that shouldn't take away from his obvious love of the genre and desire to tell stories. He even tied in an earlier film that he made, 'Doll Boy'. However, I can't say that I enjoyed this film, but I can't say that I didn't, either. It's a unique situation where I hated what I was seeing, a lot of the time, but couldn't take my eyes away from it. Imagine a hybrid of Fred Vogel's 'August Underground' trilogy mashed up with Rob Zombie's '31' and a little Quentin Tarantino thrown in for flavor. It's something that you might not have never seen before, but feels all too familiar. I know that it feels like I'm constantly flip flopping with my feelings on this film, but that's because I am. It's like a train wreck. You want to see what's actually happened, but all the while, feeling that gut sensation that you need to look away. Perhaps, because it's all too real, in it's presentation, but yet it still has a surrealistic quality to it. My belief is that this unique sensation is partially due to the unique characterizations of each clown and the scene stealing powers of Bill Oberst Jr. No matter how much you want to hate them for the things they are doing, you can't take your eyes off of them when they're on the screen. Everything else in between feels like filler, compared to the antics of our protagonists.

At the end of the day, I'm curious to see where Billy Pon takes us next, in his already announced sequel to 'Circus of the Dead' It feels like there are many more stories to tell or nightmares to live through. Either way, this movie has already proven to have a solid base of fans and deservedly so. For me, it's a 3 out of 5 star rating. Something that I don't regret seeing, but I don't know that I ever need to live through it again. It's proof that there are still new ideas out there and iconic characters to be born. In a world of remakes and reboots, it's nice to see something we've never seen before. Not everything in 'Circus of the Dead' is an original thought, but it doesn't have to be. You're getting what you pay for and it pays off every promise that it makes. If you're blood lust lies on the more gritty and realistic side, with a dash of insanity, then maybe you should buy a ticket and take the ride, but be warned, you must be at lease this tall to ride.

If you enjoyed 'Circus of the Dead', check out: the 'August Underground' trilogy, '31' and anything featuring Bill Oberst Jr

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

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

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

BluRay and DVD now available at LCFilmsOnline.com and on Vimeo on demand at https://vimeo.com/ondemand/marvelousmandy

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Ditch Day Massacre (2014) Review Revisited

"An independent film with a class A story and actors that rivals Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer."

“Jenny Bilson, a high school senior, is the perfect student, a wonderful daughter to a veteran police detective and an all American Dream. But the one mistake she is unaware of making is about to haunt her in a very violent way, as her past returns for revenge.” (IMDB)

Ditch Day Massacre is definitely an independent film, but it follows the pattern set by Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer so well that by the end you forget the other two existed. That's mostly because it takes you a step further than its predecessors by letting you get close to the primary antagonist to the point where you'll not only empathize with him, but hope he gets his revenge and maybe even redemption in the end. Of course he's also an insane methodical killer that happens to be played by the always amazing Bill Oberst Jr. If you only know Bill by the creatures he portrays on screen you'd think twice about how close you actually get to him. But that isn't all that's worth talking about in this film.

Ditch Day Massacre is the beloved cautionary tale about the indiscretions of your past coming back to bury an axe in your head. Our perfect girl's mistake was drinking and driving and the reason she initially got away with it was because her father was a cop. Bill Oberst Jr and his family just happened to be in the car she plows into. This is all pretty obvious pretty quickly so I don't feel like I'm giving anything way. If nothing else it adds to the cautionary aspect of the film, I mean seriously, how bad aof luck would you have to have to be leaving a high school party and crash into Bill Oberst Jr? Yep, something like that only guarantees that in a couple years, before you graduate, while ditching school to party with your friends, something really bad is going to happen. But of course, that’s the whole point!

Though not exactly new, Ditch Day Massacre's director Joe Hendrick (Smiley, 2012), and writers Daniel P. Coughlin, Ryan Coughlin (Farmhouse, 2008. Lake Dead, 2007) have created a solid homage to horror masterpieces that is more than Craven worthy. The cast, besides our loved Bill Oberst Jr., consists of Katy Foley as our perfect angel with the deep dark secret, Zach Silverman as our princesses boyfriend who has a deep dark secret of his own, and a special appearance from the incorrigible veteran scream queen Lynn Lowry (The Crazies, 1973/2010. Cat People, 1982. They Came from Within, 1972) as the lonely cat lady next door. Together with the supporting cast, we have a hoard of characters that work well together and a bunch of up and coming actors that surely had lots of fun on the set! The practical effects are perfect, despite a few continuity issues, and the music definitely creates the desired ambiance.