EVIL Necking in Bavaria! “The Kiss of the Vampire” reviewed! (Scream Factory / Blu-ray)


English newlyweds, Gerald and Marianne Harcourt, travel by motorcar to their honeymoon destination when, all of the sudden, the car breaks down in a small Bavarian village. The remote village is barren of life except a few irregular villagers remaining reclusive in their residence. Unable to go any further, the Harcourts stay at the local hotel where one other guest resides. Soon, their presence is requested in invitation by Dr. Ravna, a prominent and respected gentlemen of affluence, to have dinner with him and his family, but little do the newlyweds know is that Dr. Ravna is the master of a vampiric cult that has been plaguing the small village, turning the inhabitants into acolyte vampires, and now Dr. Ravna has turned his fixation on the beautiful Marianne. Will Marianne succumb to the vampire’s alluring powers or with the help of Professor Zimmer, a drunkard vampire hunter bitter with revenge, stop Dr Ravna before it’s too late for his new wife.

Stepping once again into the mystifyingly, macabre tale of a Hammer Films’ production, “The Kiss of the Vampire” stimulates as one of the progenies of the early beginnings that is today’s Hammer Horror as we know it and adore with the 1963 gothic tale of seductive vampirism and the callous, if not equally heartful, reprisal of the brokenhearted vampire hunter from director Don Sharp, who would direct a decade later the deadly occult riders of 1973’s “Psychomania” aka “The Death Wheelers.” The picture is produced and penned by “The Curse of the Werewolf’s” Anthony Hinds with the latter being credited under Hinds’ pseudonym, John Elder. Perhaps one of the lesser known Hammer Horror films due to limited broadcasting, “The Kiss of the Vampire” becomes the next installment of a Hammer Horror classic upgraded through a 2K scan from Scream Factory for maximum restoration on a nearly five decade year old film that included a scene straight out of the book of Alfred Hitchcock, but instead of birds, a swarm of crazed bats scour a chateau tower for blood. One of the last films to be shot at the Bray Studios in Berkshire, England, “The Kiss of the Vampire” is a smooch baring fangs that pits good versus evil marred as a defect from the Devil himself.

At the center of the natural versus supernatural tug-a-war is Marianne, a young, blonde English on the heels of being quickly hitched to Gerald Harcourt seemingly on the downlow, is played by Welsh actress Jennifer Daniel, who, at the time, was a newcomer to full-length features as she developed a steady career in television from the 50’s to the 60’s. Daniel is no Tippi Hedren, but she’s close, as the English socialite having embarked toward unfamiliar surroundings, a brooding Bavarian land with a fatal affliction that’s ravaging through the residents. Marianne and Gerald, an elated husband in a role by Edward de Souza, make a fairly adorable couple complete with newfound marital bliss and ignorance of the harsh realities of the outside world; perhaps, that young and in love ignorance is the most profound theme in “The Kiss of the Vampire” that explores the naïve nature of outsiders and blinded youthful endeavors despite the clear and present dangers that loom around them. Playing Dr. Ravna, who is not Dracula mind you, is Noel Willman, who bares a stunning resemblance to plumper Peter Cushing, and Willman’s socialite role is interesting as Dr. Ravna’s a blunt around the edges and, yet, unbelievably charming, a find blend from the Irish born actor who would later collaborate again with Jennifer Daniel in another Hammer Films product, “The Reptile,” in 1966. Opposite to the abundance of Dr. Ravna’s seemingly endless wealth and power is Professor Zimmer, a brooding dipsomaniac hellbent on destroying Dr. Ravna for the death of his daughter, played by “The Curse of the Werewolf’s” Clifford Evans. Though we know immediately from the opening graveyard funeral scene Professor Zimmer’s outskirt profession, his dark top hat, cape, sunken eyes, and brash persona places him in a seemingly villainous category and that displays Clifford Evan’s range as an actor. “The Kiss of the Vampire’s” strong support cast includes Jacquie Wallis, Peter Madden, Isobel Black, Vera Cook, and “The Devil-Ship Pirates’” Barry Warren as an intense spellbinder disciple of Dr. Ravna.

Critically speaking, “The Kiss of the Vampire” tenders more of an extension of the vampire mythos that directs more of the classic creature to the enigmatic way of the cult through an elegant Don Sharp vision rich in Gothicism and sound in the era it’s portrayed, early 20th century. Focusing more on the Hinds’ story that more or less involves Dr. Ravna’s fascination with Marianne to join his co-ed harem, the way he initiates Marianne might also indicate that the good doctor his binary feelings toward both sexes, making “The Kiss of the Vampire” very much an appealing, but clandestine, homoerotic companion to it’s more straight seduction tale. Another more obvious taboo for a film from the early 1960’s, “The Kiss of the Vampire” has no shame in being bloody. Scenes involving Professor Zimmer impaling his undead daughter violently with a shovel through her coffin and the blood floods upon the coffin opening is morbidly beautiful. Even when Gerard Harcourt smears with blood the sign on the cross on his chest is an absolute eye opener of the use of blood, as a weapon, and a defender of holy sanctums that nearly frightened Universal Pictures to the point of changing the entire essence of Sharp’s original depiction. Yet, one thing is constant between Hammer’s version and Universal’s broadcasted edit, the batty ending is a quick, cut-corner finale that puts a bat screeching halt to everything the story built up to and leaves plot holes that go seriously unexplained no matter how newfangled the method was on how to dispatch a cultish vampire coven. Okay, that’s enough vampire puns for this review.

Pucker up! “The Kiss of the Vampire” is receiving a Blu-ray collector’s edition treatment from Scream Factory! The interpostive went through a 2K scan and presented in a high definition, 1080p, of two widescreen aspect ratios, 1.66:1 and 1.85:1. The picture is phenomenal with lush hues that earlier home video versions, even the Warner Blu-ray boxset, didn’t even skim the level of Scream Factory’s collector’s edition. Colors only fade during the superimposed editing between scenes that really rack the vision cortexes to try and make sense of the transitions. The original negative survived well over the years with little wear and tear that consists of some minor scratches that are barely noticeable. The English language DTE-HD Master Audio mono track is a suitable accompaniment for single channel audio. Dialogue is clear and relatively unobstructed aside from a low distortional hum throughout the entire 88 minute runtime, but it’s faint enough to be a natural tune of the film. One audio mishap happens around the opening scene with the priest’s depth during his graveside sermon. The priest’s dialogue starts out strong and prominent, but when cut to Professor Zimmer, standing far in the distance, the priest vocals are reduced by a few decimals, but the volume remains the same when cut back to the priest, never upping his dialogue when cut back to his graveside sermon. English SDH subtitles are optional. A slew of new bonus material includes a new audio commentary by film historian and author Steve Haberman and Constantine Nasr and Little Shoppe of Horror’s founder, Richard Klemensen, speaks in tribute to the life of the Men Who Made Hammer with composer James Bernard and production designer Bernard Robinson. Other bonus content includes audio commentary with actors Edward de Souza and Jennifer Daniel that’s moderated by Peter Irving, deleted scenes from Universal’s NBC Broadcast that are bloodless filler interjections reshot with a brand new sub-story involving new characters not from the Don Sharp production, and the theatrical trailer. “The Kiss of the Vampire” might be an offbeat Hammer film, but the Scream Factory collector’s edition aims to infiltrate into horror collections nationwide with glorious looking picture and a stockpile of new bonus features to chew on.

Own The Kiss of the Vampire on a Scream Factory Collector’s Edition.

Spies, Lies, Thighs, and EVIL Guys! “The Dallas Connection” reviewed! (Mill Creek Entertainment / Blu-ray)


Chris Cannon and Mark Austin are back to save the world from a devious organization once again as the two bureau agents are assigned to protect the last world-renowned scientist that developed an International World Arms Removal (I/War) satellite project that could detect terrorists’ weaponry no matter how concealed, but when the other three scientists from around the globe are brutally assassinated, the odds are stacked up against them and the bad guys are always one step ahead of them. Given four computer chips to guard at all times, I/War assigns their best agents to the task of securing hope for the project, called The Dallas Connection, for three days until a specifically timed launch to coordinator with a passing asteroid field that’ll power the satellite for years decades to come, but the well-armed and well-organized crime uses all assets and their power of seduction to gain control over the satellite at all cost.

The L.E.T.H.A.L. ladies series continues with the second buddy-cop picture, “The Dallas Connection,” helmed by Christian Drew Sidaris, son of the erotically charged-action producer and filmmaker, Andy Sidaris that follows up on the first Drew Sidaris prospecting fracas, Enemy Gold. “The Dallas Connection” is the tenth installment of the series, known also as the Triple B series (that’s Boobs, Bombs, and Bullets) that has little-to-nothing linking the entire series cache together aside from being exclusively explosive wrapped with a sensual rouleau of Playmate and Penthouse centerfolds, tightly coiled around the tight and firm half-naked bodies of it’s leading stars. The Sidaris team, under the Malibu Bay Films and Skyhawks Films banners, one again economically ignite a successful B movie that promises 90’s attired, flamboyant action on set at a few familiarly recycled locations in Shreveport, Louisiana and Los Angeles, California, redressed for a not-so different genre or distant premise.

As aforementioned, centerfolds are a staple in any Sidaris, father or son, girls and guns feature and “The Dallas Connection” is no exception, starting off with their main squeeze, good friend, and cult movie icon, Julie Strain, as one of the chief co-antagonist under the nom de guerre, “Black Widow.” Strain is tall, sexy, and a wild villain capable of restraining the violent kick of an AK-47 in thigh high boots and a low-cut open jacket that embodies gun nuts most delectable dreams. The once Penthouse Pet of the Year stays quite reserved compared to her tantamount villainous role in “Enemy Gold” by going topless only in a couple of instances in a death grip roll that involves a lap dance before her prey’s demise, a specified attribute to the beautiful and deadly small spider she spins her call sign from. Black Widow is joined the just as deadly Cobra, fellow Penthouse Pet of the Month February 1993, Julie K. Smith, and Scorpion, the equally as Julie Strain tall, Playboy Playmate of the Month December 1991, Wendy Hamilton. Smith and Hamilton offer up polar features that doesn’t make “The Dallas Connection” a one-type of woman show, but both are voluptuous in their own rite, adding sizzling hot tub sex scenes and long-legged strip shows to accentuate “The Dallas Connection” amongst the B movie fray. “Phantasm II’s” Samantha Phillips becomes the whip cream on top, rounding out Sidaris’ centerfold assembly, as another the third Penthouse Pet of the Month, June 1993. There’s also Bruce Penhall and Mark Barriere, but who cares about these shirtless studs who drag race old Plymouths and jet ski when you four gorgeous women to ogle over? Penhall and Barriere mark their return as Chris Cannon and Mark Austin from Enemy Gold in a buddy-cop adventure loaded with a Dirty Harry Magnum .357 and a M1 Grenade launcher assault rifle. Kaboom! Rounding out the cast is Gerald Okamura (“Big Trouble in Little China”), Roland Marcus, Cassidy Phillips, Ron Browning, Tom Abbott, and Rodrigo Obregon as a satellite scientist.

After finishing “The Dallas Connection,” I wanted to say that I’ve seen this movie before and not because of some misplaced form of déjà vu, but, rather, that I, in fact, HAVE seen this movie before in the precursor film of the L.E.T.H.A.L. ladies series, “Enemy Gold.” The story’s been tweaked slightly to a story with the same framework. Hell, like also mentioned, when you throw in some of the same locations as in “Enemy Gold,” Sidaris’s home with the hot tub and the cabin the woods, and redress the same actors, Julie Strain, Bruce Penhall, Mark Barrier, Rodrigo Obregon, Tom Abbott, and Ron Browning all in the essentially the same roles, “The Dallas Connection” just feels like an extension or a mirror image of that former film, making the story a weary one with nothing really new to spectacle except for three pairs of new, large-and-in charge, breasts in Smith, Hamilton, and Phillips. One difference noticed is that the bureau agents this time around are a lot dafter with skulls thick as a brick and unable to use common logic in the most practical situations. There have been many a time when producer Andy Sidaris commented his films to James Bond, but at least Bond had the smarts to always be on guard; Chris Cannon and Mark Austin do indeed think with their other head that do, in benefit, leave the door open for some saucy hot tub sex that’s perhaps the best simulation from Sidaris reel I’ve seen to date.

Available for the first time on Blu-ray, “The Dallas Connection” will get your rocket launchers off with ton of gunplay and is loaded with beautiful women. The region A, 1080p high definition presentation from a 4K scan restoration has an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 widescreen. The image’s simply gorgeous from the 35mm negative baring a few minor faint scratches that linger only for seconds at a time. There’s quite a bit of noise during the night scenes that almost make the scene look daylit, but skin tones, especially gleaming with water, are remarkably velvety and the textures on clothes and skin looks great for a low budget action. The English language DTS-HD Master Audio dual channel mix medleys appropriately, dialogue is clear and upfront and ambience has proper depth and range. Explosions are powerful coming through the dual channels with a hefty LFE and gunfire can rip just as good as Dutch blasting away at a trophy hunting alien in Predator. Even the sexy lounge soundtrack from Ron Di Iulio is on point despite being a rehash of “Enemy Gold” once again. Hardly any blemishes or distortions coming from the audio track. English SDH subtitles are optional. The bonus features mirror that of “Enemy Gold” as well with Andy Sidaris and Julie Strain doing this awkwardly coy and sugar daddy bit showing off “The Dallas Connection” merchandise and international posters that lead into Andy’s film school where him and his wife, Arlene, go onto commentary on how to shoot scenes and edit them together, using an action and a sexy scene from “Return to Savage Beach” as reference. In the same behind the scenes, there’s an equally bizarre Joe Bob Briggs interview where the legendary MonsterVision and The Last Drive-in Host seems uncomfortable with Andy and star Julie K. Smith about how he persuades to get these beautiful centerfolds to be in his films. Other bonus material includes a commentary on the film itself and theatrical trailer. “The Dallas Connection” is a Texas-size IED with a busty ornate façade, but acts more like a duplication of something we’ve already experienced, making the sophomore feature from Christian Drew Sidaris just a more of the same.

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Neglect. Rape. Christmas Birth. A Perfect Storm for EVIL to be Born! “The Curse of the Werewolf” reviewed! (Scream Factory / Collector’s Edition Blu-ray)


Set amongst the simple, yet sometimes divisively barbaric, culture of Eighteenth Century Spain, a beggar stumbles into the castle of a cruel king whose throwing a lavish wedding reception with his lords. The King’s young bride takes pity on the beggar as his force to be the occasion’s jester to obtain scraps of food and wine, but when the King retires with his new wife, he orders the beggar to be imprisoned. Forgotten to the point of insanity with his only visitor a lovely mute jailkeeper’s maid, the haggard and disheveled beggar goes mad with ravenous intentions and when the maid is punished for disobeying the now elderly, but still cruel, King, she is locked away with the beggar who rapes her. When the maid is released next morning, she kills the King and escapes into the woods to live like an animal until she’s barely found alive by a nobleman named Don Alfredo. Nursed back to health by Don Alfredo’s servant, Teresa, and discovering that the maid is pregnant, Don Alfredo and Teresa tend to the maid until the eventual birth on Christmas Day, an unholy time to give birth to a child according to superstition. The maid dies shortly after giving birth and the child, named Leon, is then raised by Don Alfredo and Teresa as their own, but carries with him a terrible curse stemmed from the maltreatment of his parents and being born on Christmas Day that transforms him into a bloodthirsty werewolf when the moon is full. When a priest advised that only love will restrain the beast from emerging, young Leon must be continuously shown affection, but when a young man, Leon leaves home to live his life, but the beast within him returns to ravage the village’s population.

Let’s travel back in time to the groovy year of 1961 when the renowned Hammer Horror direct, Terence Fisher (“Horror of Dracula”), was accelerating to the height of his career into what would be the United Kingdom’s very own colossally cult production studio, Hammer Horror, that economically constructed violent storied horror concepts splayed with a brilliant crimson blood inside an orgasmic gothic melodrama circulating around most of the classic monsters like Dracula, The Mummy, and Frankenstein, but, in this review of a new collector’s edition of Scream Factory’s Blu-ray release, Fisher wrestled with the hound from Hell, the werewolf, in “The Curse of the Werewolf” that was penned by Anthony Hinds, under the pseudonym of John Elder, as his sophomore credit behind “The Brides of Dracula.” English studio locations were transformed, not under the light of a full moon, to fabricate a mock village of Eighteenth Century Spain with the immaculate details to the sets and costumes, surely recycled from previous Hammer films, to offset the inherent English accents on a broken Spanglish vernacular. Fisher and Hinds upend common werewolf narratives, spinning a wildly tangent rendition of Guy Endore’s already highly taboo tricked out horror novel, “The Werewolf of Paris,” and drape it heavily with Gothicism.

Playing the shapeshifter werewolf is Oliver Reed who at the time was relatively unknown, playing a few bit parts such Plaid Shirt (“Wild for Kicks”) or my personal favorite, Man With Bucket on Head (“No Love for Johnnie.”) Yet, Reed exuded animalistic qualities, such as his dark features and somber eyes, that made him ideal for the role by appearances alone. The thespian in him didn’t quite fit what I believe Fisher was trying to flush out for his beast as Reed held back with a stoic reserve rather than a man desperate for salvation or death, but no one could deny that Reed wore the werewolf makeup like no other, a fine tuned testament of makeup artist Roy Ashton’s creativity that intensified an already beastly framed actor. “The Kiss of the Vampire’s” Clifford Evans took the role of being the wealthy socialite and surrogate father, Don Alfredo, who took the responsibility of raising a cursed child as his own with much suppression love as he could muster to stave the beast from returning. The legendary actor who starred in countless crime-dramas step outside his niche and into horror, even if at the time horror was considered a schlocky exercise of distaste content for a cheap thrill. As Don Alfredo, Evans wages his worth solely on the prospect of being a gentled hearted father-figure doing the right thing even if it’s detrimental to himself and the veteran actor triumphs taking an aloof man with little responsibility to his village, let alone his home, and turning him into taking the matter of his adopted son’s affliction into his own hands when he fails to cobble another solution together. “The Curse of the Werewolf” holds many other fine support performances from “Circus of Horror’s” Yvonne Romain as the mute jailkeeper’s maid, Catherine Feller, Richard Wordsworth, Warren Mitchell, Anne Blake, and John Gabriel.

“The Curse of the Werewolf” is driven not by the snarling teeth action or the transformative body horror one expects of Lycanthropy features. Instead, Hammer’s film rides a story high without being arbitrary with nonsensical waning on the centerpiece of the story, the curse, coursing the path that led to Leon’s fate that was no fault of his own. Leon’s throat-ripping moonlight rendezvous was bred from cruelty and circumstance of severe class division that reaps the life from those in the same blue collar social class as Leon, leaving the higher, wealthy class virtually unscathed by the curse’s wrath in a cruel ironic twist of events. With the story leading the charge, special effects and makeup take a backseat without only some immature fangs and shadowy lurking to sate the need for creature presence. When Roy Ashton’s vision of the half-man half-beast does make a full presentation of Oliver Reed in the full hairy beast getup, complete with a furrowed brow, elongated lower canines, and large wolf ears that were connected with bristly, greyish brown hair down the side of his lower jaw, the werewolf is worth the wait for some of the best practical werewolf makeup from the mid-20th century and surely was the inspiration for future werewolf films, such as “Wolf” with Jack Nicholson. The novelty of “The Curse of the Werewolf” still remains ripe despite being nearly half a century young, giving the beast a meaningful, if not also pitiful, existence to empathize being damned on two fronts: a wretched, cursed soul and being the target of a village mob.

Can love soothe a killer heart? Find out in Scream Factory’s collector edition Blu-ray of “The Curse of the Werewolf” with a new 4K scan from the original 35mm negative and presented in a 1080p high-definition widescreen format of a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Rendering with clean textures and superb details, the image has remarkable vibrancy and hue balance in it’s tinctured technicolor. The transfer is virtually blemish-free, suggesting that the original negative aged well, with agreeable natural grain to complement the film stock. Scream Factory has produced the best looking version of this classic Hammer release. The English language DTS-HD single channel Master Audio renders, again, scot-free of aged distortion with the high-definition eminent boost to providing even clearer dialogue and untarnished ambient clattering during more turbulent scenes of laughter or beastly disarray. English subtitles are optional. A collector’s edition wouldn’t be complete with a slew of bonus materials and, boy, does “The Curse of the Werewolf” have brand spanking new material for the special features that include a new Roy Ashton tribute piece by his friend and “Little Shoppe of Horrors'” writer Richard Klemensen and new audio commentary with film historians Steve Haberman and Constantine Nasr. Plus, interviews with actors Catherine Feller, Yvonne Romain, Mike Hill, art director Don Mingaye, art department member Margaret Robinson, and filmmaker Jimmy Sangster in “The Making of The Curse of the Werewolf” featurette, a look at Lycanthropy that discusses whether man’s inner wolf can be a transformative source of mental will, a still gallery, and the theatrical trailer. The package is illustrated with Oliver Reed’s snarling werewolf persona by Mark Maddox, who designed Scream Factory’s “The Thing” release, and comes in a nifty cardboard slip cover. All in all, Scream Factory brought new life into the re-originating and re-orientating “The Curse of the Werewolf” that is, perhaps inarguably, the best Hammer upgrade to date.

Own “The Curse of the Werewolf” today!

Father and Son Bring EVIL Down Upon a Tormented Detective in “Darkness Falls” reviewed! (Vertical Entertainment / Digital Screener)


Los Angeles detective Jeff Anderson has his perfect world turned upside down upon discovering his beloved wife dead of suicide in their apartment bathtub. Losing his bid for Captain and having his life be in utter shambles, Anderson becomes obsessed with lurking around incoming suicide calls on the CB radio, trying to make sense of his wife’s sudden reasoning to end it all. When a similar case produces a survivor from a familiar fate as his wife’s, Anderson learns two men are behind similar forged suicides stretched out over the past ten years against prominent women figures in and around the L.A. area. The detective spins a wild theory that has him following every lead to track down and stop the father and son serial killers without any backup from his local precinct, forcing his hand to choose whether to be a cop and uphold the law or seek lethal retribution for the woman he loved.

From French director Julien Seri comes “Darkness Falls,” a crime thriller released in 2020 that is entirely shot in English, a first for the French filmmaker who helms a script from the executive producer on “Starry Eyes” and “The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot,” the Belgium native, Giles Daoust. Also produced by the Belgium, the film, that was formerly titled “Anderson Falls,” gorges on the detective exemplar of the prodigal crime fighter stripped down to next to nothing before regaining footing against the two experienced serial killers out to reduce the highly professional woman population with one bottle full of sleeping bills and one razorblade at a time. “Darkness Falls” is an exaggerated piece of nurture versus nature on systemic toxic masculinity seething under the guise of one man’s oppressed childhood from the abusive women in his life and then enlightening his son to his ways while the open minded, Renaissance man climbs back up the mountain toward redemption, not only for himself or his wife, but for all women being forced in a dual parental role. “Darkness Falls” is released under the production companies Koji Productions, Lone Suspect, and Giles Daoust’s Title Media.

Despite the international production and filmmakers, the solid cast is compromised of familiar faces from respectable actors, starting with not-the-Elsa-“Frozen’s” Shawn Ashmore. Ashmore, who I considered to a steady part of any project – he’s phenomenal in Fox’s “The Following” with co-star Kevin Bacon, – finds himself in the shoes of a L.A. detective who has fallen by no cause of his own, but as consumed as detective Jeff Anderson is with proving his wife’s murder, Ashmore doesn’t sell Anderson’s convictions and doesn’t properly apply Anderson’s super sleuth talents to wade through the sea of angst and torment. Anderson’s also written poorly as a man who consistently lingers around suicide call-ins and has constantly has numerous visions and memories of his wife that serve little to her importance to him, serving more toward just being story fillers instead of providing a little more value to Anderson’s character. What attracted me more to “Darkness Falls” was Gary Cole as one-half of the father-and-son serial killer team. Cole takes a break from the Mike Judge and Seth McFarland humor to stretch his legs amongst the thriller genre, playing an unnamed dark toned character derived from hate, abuse, and the thrill of seeing women die. Cole’s performance is a step above Ashmore’s lead role, but still flat, flat to the point of almost monotonic pointlessness that doesn’t exalt his need to kill high profile women. “Darkness Falls” rounds out the cast with Danielle Alonso (“The Hills Have Eyes 2”) as a Anderson’s former partner turned police captain, Richard Harmon (“Grave Encounters 2”) as Gary Cole’s accomplice son, and the legendary Lin Shaye (“Insidious”) as Anderson’s mother.

While “Darkness Falls” conveys a strong, if unintentional, message that grossly sheds light on the overstepping male view toward the idea of a successful woman, director Julien Seri missteps multiple times through the dramatics of a cop on the edge of the law and on the brink of despair while also not completely rigging out Gary Cole and Richard Harmon with more conniving wit, especially when their kindred reign of terror is well versed throughout the years. What fleshes out from Ashmore’s rolling on the floor and spitting shade performance at pictures of women on his crime wall trying to get into the head of the killers and Cole’s character who relinquishes freedom in sacrifice, even after a daring great escape from a botched crime scene that involved killing two cops in the process, is this weirdly uncharismatic collapse of a story from within the parameters of a well-established cast and premise. “Darkness Falls” barely pulls out a believable crime thriller that can only be described as vanilla, a term that stakes the heart terribly knowing that Shawn Ashmore and Gary Cole deserve so much better just from their lustrous careers and polar acting styles that don’t counterbalance the dynamics at all in this film. The original title, “Anderson Falls,” is fresher salt than the stale, rehashed title change of “Darkness Falls” to, perhaps, gain traction in a fruitless action of selling more tickets, adding even more vanilla flavor.

Releasing on VOD and Digital this month is “Darkness Falls,” an unrated release, courtesy of Vertical Entertainment. Streaming services such as iTunes, Amazon, Apple TV, Google Play, FandangoNow will carry Shawn Ashmore’s 84 minute sordid themed detective thriller as well as all major cable and satellite companies. Since this is a digital screener, the audio and video aspects will not be reviewed, but if running on digital and VOD, the presentation should be excellent provided that your internet’s not sluggish and a good connection is established. I will say that the score by Sacha Chaban is against the grain with a brawny anti-brooding soundtrack more suitable for intense action than stylish poignancy than ends in uninspired ca’canny. That’s also not to say it wasn’t a good score. There were no bonus material included with the digital screener and no bonus scenes during or after the credits. Sitting through “Darkness Falls” was tough to sit through as the anticipation for the morbidity level to increase with due pressure onto detective’s Anderson’s browbeaten shoulders for a hellish ride solving his wife’s untimely death was never sated, sputtering along as a halfcocked story with performances to match.

“Darkness Falls” available for rent on Prime Video!

Subscribe to EVIL’s Vlog! “Followed” reviewed! (Global View Entertainment / Digital Screener)


Unable to entertain that ghosts actually exist and to be one of the best social media influencers he can be on the world wide web, influencer “DropTheMike” vlogs locations’ ghastly back stories that are now presumably haunted by the very souls the locations consumed. When offered a once in a lifetime opportunity, worth a small fortune in the sum of a quarter of a million dollars and set start up his family with his recently pregnant fiancé, “DropTheMike” quickly challenges his followers to scout out the next paranormal investigation on the cusp of Halloween in 2016. With the results in, an overwhelming number of responses held one of the most notoriously haunted hotels in America, The Lennox, as his and his video crew’s next targeted exploration from the tops of the roof to the dank, dark basement. Ecstatic and eager in a pool of mixed emotions amongst his crew, “DropTheMike” pushes forward despite the forewarning counsel from a hotel historian and his friends, booking rooms for a three day stay that turns horribly frightening when the social media influencer’s greed for followers and fortune provokes the damned souls and the spirit of an infamous serial killer who once hacked up his victims in the very same room “DropTheMike” is staying in.

Us bloggers always try to use our social media platform powers to not only gain internet popularity amongst the ever growing, or continuously exploding, tsunami of 24/7 news, reviews, and inspirational muses for instant, impactful transmission to billions of users, but also to express the things we, the bloggers/vloggers, express what we’re passionate about. Sometimes, what we’re blindly passionate about undertaking can haunt and consume our very being, and also destroy our souls and that’s the epitomic baseline for Antoine Le’s 2020 supernatural cyber-horror “Followed” that’ll feed into select drive-in theaters Friday the 19th. “Followed” is Le’s debut full-length feature film penned by the self-help screenwriting guru, Todd Klick. Shot on location in Los Angeles, Le and his crew use a number of different hotels give the illusion of being inside the fictitious Hotel Lennox, including Hayward Manor Hotel for the lobby scenes and Hotel Normandie for the interior rooms, re-working the rest digitally to effectively pull off the faux location without issue. Branded Pictures Entertainment and Le’s own co-founded Viscape Arts, along with co-producers Greg Berlant and Matthew Ryan Brewbaker, server as the production studios that pushes cyber-horror virtually toward to the forefront of found footage and dark web terror.

In front of the camera, the main attraction, the host with the most is “DropTheMike,” played enthusiastically by Matthew Solomon in his sophomore feature film and handling the pressures of a demanding social influencer position with pizazz to generate subscriptions with the utmost vigor. Personally, I’m familiar with too many influencers that cast a pendulum energy to the akin of a zany children’s educator personality known as Blippie. Google Blippie and have you’ll be able to paint a picture of a less morbid version of “DropTheMike” but with the same kind of body and facial expressions. Solomon’s counterpart is Tim Drier as Mike’s director of photography, Chris. Reversed within the confines of his Christian faith, Chris has serious reservations about The Lennox stunt, opposing Mike at every plea for him to shoot what could be the influencer’s biggest achievement and turning point of his mediocre career. If it wasn’t for being sweet on Danni, a fellow DP, Chris would snuff out any venture into the what Mike thinks is the one big publicity stunt. Played by “The Incantation’s” Sam Valentine, Danni’s a bit of an instigator or, perhaps, shares Mike’s agnostic views on the spirt world, but communes with the film crew in order to reach out to her former fling in Chris and see what materializes from the questions that have been plaguing her. The story primarily focuses on the trio and their friendship dynamics, but there are interesting key support roles that provide a well timed and deserving boost to keep “Followed” grippingly tense and violently rough-hewn toward the path of the malevolent specter plane, including performances by Caitlin Grace, Kelsey Griswold, Christopher Ross Martin (“American Horror Story: 1984), and veteran actor of “Deer Hunter” and “Carnisaur 2,” John Savage.

What makes “Followed” different from other cyber-horror genre films, such as “Unfriended,” “iLived,” or “Like.Share.Follow?” Cyber-horror looks a lot different now than 20 years ago when the genre viewed the mechanics of machine was bedeviling autonomy and people were slave to the machine in one way or another. “Death Machine,” “Lawnmower Man,” and “Evil Speak” are the quintessential ghost in the machine with each plot platters different variations of to subordinate mankind. Now, these films might seem low-tech and more tangible instead of the trying to grasp the idea of cyberspace. Aside from the dark web snuff premises, cyber-horror nowadays, such as “Followed,” is bound by the original influencer, the devil, who has strewn his watermark through the many conduits of streaming services, infecting at will the dark powers to beguile and besiege the barrier of rationality, and deconstruct human morality to the most primitive and primary sin. “Followed” doesn’t break the mold of cyber-horror, but exploits the mold to the max to deliver a terrifying hotel with a ghastly black past. Based perhaps on a number of personal grim accounts and then chained together like an all-in-one anthology, “Followed” jazzes up with the second act with myths, visions, and theories between the rather ordinary bookend beginning and end, always stepping up evil’s game to the point where you never know what to expect and that’s what’s enjoyable about the found footage aspect because nothing is certain, especially when each floor has a history of violence.

Book your reservation to hell and subscribe to the nerve-racking black magic of Antoine Le’s “Followed” hitting the drive-in theaters on June 19th, insidiously expanding into more drive-in theaters on June 26, and eventually landing onto VOD later summer 2020 courtesy of the new kid on the film distributor block, Global View Entertainment. Since “Followed” was viewed as a digital screener, the video and audio aspects will not be critiqued, but the official specs include a presentation in a widescreen format, aspect ratio 1.85:1 with an English language 5.1 surround sound audio mix inside a 96 minute runtime. “Followed” is a visual feast that apply a number of different kind of filming techniques from handheld, spy cams, and security footage and brush the hue spectrum from the ominously vibrant reds to the forlorn splay of sterile metal and steel. With tactics that include a pluralistic phantom ecosystem all living together at the Lennox Hotel, the varied soundscapes and ambient bytes spookily outfit the multi-headed apparition commune existing just on the threshold of the reality plane and seeping in when poked, like a sleeping bear with a stick. There were no bonus material included or any additional scenes during or after the credits. “Followed” is a cherub of the cyber-horror junkets before it’s time that indulges itself into the destructive and careless path of a social influencer, ignoring the sinister forces amongst the other things, like personal property, public safety, or personal safety, real influences tend to disregard when climbing the social media latter to the 15 minutes of fame of internet stardom.

Find a Drive-In near you by clicking on “Followed” official website : https://followedhorrormovie.com/

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