A Sleepover With More Pillow Fight Than EVIL. “Slumber Party Slasherthon” reviewed! (Wild Eye Releasing / DVD)

“Slumber Party Slasherthon” on DVD at Amazon.com

We all know the familiar stages of a slumber party. The pillow fights, the junk food, and the all-nighter horror movie marathon that elicits amongst the room a simmering suspense that boils to bubble-popping action when even just the lightest rap at the front door can make one jump out of their seat in fear that the monster on the screen is also the monster clawing its way inside. These are all classic campout characteristics of a well-organized slumber party for a group of young high school planning a night of fun. Immerse in a string of video thrillers and with their male friends having joined the party, all fells safe during their night of revelry. That is until a manic with a high-powered, industrial drill shows up uninvited and unhinged. A night of fun quickly spirals into a night of unescapable terror just like in the horror movie marathon as they become the lumped together prey of their very own horror movie.

Slumber parties with uninhibited and skimpy-dressed teenage girls and the bedlam brought to the party by the unstoppable and unglued serial killer are a winning combination that go hand-in-hand just as well as vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup on a classic sundae dessert. For the unofficial king of direct-to-video sequel and the despot of campy, indie horror filmmaker, Dustin Ferguson shares that perspective with his very own unique spin on the slumber party horror subgenre with “Slumber Party Slasherthon” that showcases snippets from Ferguson’s earlier movies, as well as Abel Ferrera’s video nasty “Driller Killer,” spliced into the wraparound story in what could be considered an eclectic compilation of clip anthologies with one common theme – homicidal killers. The 2012 “Slumber Party Slasherthon” is one of a handful of Ferguson’s early feature submissions before he went on a marathon of his own in the DTV market with films including some of his more recognizable titles in “Die Sister, Die!,” “Camp Blood 4 & 5,” “RoboWoman,” “5G Zombies,” and “Ebola Rex.” Under his own production and distribution label of RHR (Retro Home Remix) Home Video, Ferguson self produces the film in Lincoln, Nebraska as a one-man operation who knows showing up to a slumber party with a blood thirsty drill is better than showing up to a slumber party empty handed.

If you’re in the mood for familiar faces or recognizable names in what could be an interesting slasher trope-laden production, well you won’t have that memory jogged I know that actress moment with a cast of unknowns beyond this credit and have securely hitched their body of work to the Dustin Ferguson business model. With a next-to-nothing on the dialogue outside the marathon showreel, the performances of Nina Colgan, Tara Hinkley, Kim Moser, and Jettie Sorensen-Sticka are left to defend their acting credentials with the dual variation of a pillow fight sequence and in which one of the arrangements, intercut with the opening title credits, is shot in negative image. The brief topless nudity of one of the actresses and the frolicking of soft pillow swings are all the girth given to the principal cast, providing no arcs, no substance, and no real chance to do anything but be bit part actors in what seems like a commercial or faux trailer for Ferguson’s other films. In fact, I did read that “Slumber Party Slasherthon” was originally intended to be a fake trailer for a sequel to the “Slumber Party Massacre” line, yet somehow the project became unbuttoned from that franchise and fashioned in a way that’s more Frankenstein’s Monster than feature file, turning “Slumber Party Slasherthon” into a demo reel for Furgeson and RHR Home Video’s DTV catalogue. I couldn’t tell you who Colgan, Hinkley, Moser, or Sorensen-Sticka played in the foursome, but Breana Michell’s is distinct from the others as the girl who arrives late only to get drilled later – offscreen, of course.

A muddied-up potpourri of RHR Home Video produced and distributed enumeration of slasher films, “Slumber Party Slasherthon” isn’t as gorily galvanizing as it sounds. From beginning to end, there’s not a single ounce of a story conveyed to lure in a potentially captivating audience wanting to bestowed upon highly sexualized girls in lingerie being ripped to shreds by a lunatic over a single night sleepover. Instead, Furgeson regurgitates clips of his schlocky direct-to-video titles from years’ past, such as “Terror at Black Tree Forest” and its sequel “Escape to Black Tree Forest,” which look just as cliched and trashy as the intended feature with an over enthusiastic use of primary color filters. Other features not directed by Furgeson but are a part of the RHR Home Video assemblage of titles is “7 Down” directed by Tyler L. Schmid and, perhaps the most buoyantly intelligible and substantial film of the whole grouping, “The Diller Killer” directed by Abel Ferrera, that ironically enough clearly partitions itself from the rest of the films as a completely deranged concept not borrowed from the canon like the rest.

A part of the Raw & Extreme label, “Slumber Party Slasherthon” comes to the masses unrated on a Wild Eye Releasing DVD. The region free releasing is presented in a stretched full screen 1.33:1 aspect ratio with a variety of video problem areas. Aside from the poor, commercial grade filmmaking equipment, likely a shot on a handheld digital camcorder with a max resolution output of 720p, compression artefacts run rampant with a blotchy, and often jittery with swelled pixels, image. Despite a flat hue palette for the main story, an assortment of color filters is placed on the 3rd party films showcased as horror movie marathon fodder, whether or not the “Escape to Black Tree Forest” or “Terror at Black Tree Forest” camp powwows and kill highlights are authentically presented or not in its rehashed integration into “Slumber Party Slasherthon,” I could not definitively know. The English Stereo 2.0 mono has little to offer in shepherding any kind of storytelling design nor is there an attempt at a clean sense of clarity around a dialogue track that’s poorly edited, plagued with electronic interference, and has about the sharpness of a butter knife. Levels vary wildly in the ambient and the soundtracks also. The single redeeming quality of “Slumber Party Slasherthon” is John Altyn’s “High Roller” single that leaned on to way too hard – being used in the opening credits, first act, and in the post-credits, and post-credits music video – to excel save a little change and give Ferguson’s film flashier audio tinsel with 80’s rock-n-rock. Bonus features are about the same as expected with A/V quality with a scene selection and Wild Eye trailers, plus RHR Home Video previews of “Scared Sillies 2,” “The Wanted,” “The Devil Times Five” and an awkward two-girl sway-your-hips-in-place dance party featuring Altyn’s – you guessed it – “High Roller” single (not the official music video by the way). “Slumber Party Slasherthon” is a sleeping bag full of disappointments and is the anti-scary story told that’ll lull teenage girls right to dreamland during the slumber party pajama party.

“Slumber Party Slasherthon” on DVD at Amazon.com

EVIL Spirits and Japanese Internment Camps in “The Terror: Infamy” reviewed! (Acorn Media International / Blu-ray)

Chester Nakayama floats through life living with his immigrant parents on Terminal Island in San Pedro, California during World War II. A photographer hobbyist who helps on his father’s fishing boat and studies at a university, Chester doesn’t have steady employment and has recently learned his girlfriend, Luz, is pregnant with his baby. But those are not the height of Chester problems, or his family’s, when the country of Japan declares war on the United States by bombing Pearl Harbor and mysterious deaths surrounding the Nakayama family point to ancient Japanese beliefs of a Yūrei, or a ghost, clinging to a grudge. As the years past, Japanese American citizens are move from one internment camp to the next with no end in sight being projected as potential spies for the country of the rising sun and for Chester, Luz, and his family and friends, the Yūrei’s scheme endangers Chester’s life and legacy.

Following the success of the Ridley Scott (“Alien”) produced AMC horror television series, “The Terror,” the second season aims to build a new path of dread with a storyline plucked from the late 1900’s of two stranded artic explorer British ships trying to navigate a Northwest passage and now placed in a whole new and different, massive turbulent story and setting laid out in the early-to-mid 20th century during World War II America with Japanese Internment camps.  The second season comes with a partially new title, “The Terror:  Infamy” along with a new cast and new crew as well.  The subtitle’s double entendre refers to the then era United States 32nd President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Day of Infamy speech given to the public after the assault on Pearl Harbor and also refers to another American infamous time of the mistreatment of the country’s own citizens, the Japanese Americans, placed into internment camps and constantly scrutinized as potential Japan spies.  “Infamy” showrunners Guymon Casady, David Kajganic, Scott Lambert, Alexandra Michan, Jonathan Sheehan, and David W. Zucker, along with Ridley Scott, return to the AMC, Entertainment 360, EMJAG Productions, and Scott Free Productions series.

At the tip of the ensemble cast spear, most consisting of Japanese heritage actors and actresses, is Derek Mio as the Yūrei plagued Chester Nakayama.  Perhaps the biggest role for the Mio, the role transcends Chester from a stagnant part-time fisherman on the dead-end Terminal Island settlement of San Pedro, California to a responsible man of action that sees Chester fight for his family, his wife, his children, and even fight for his country despite the maltreatment in order to course his loved ways safely through a plethora of evil.  While the character grows in an arc of accepting responsibility as a son, husband, and father, Mio never expresses the range of a story of his magnitude that takes him across various domestic terrains and on the other side of the conflict-engulfed world as he’s afflicted by a malevolent spirit.  Constantly confident and seemingly unafraid, Chester just simply endures the hardships along “The Terror’s” bombardment of grim reality.  Comparatively, the younger Japanese American generation are culturally more expressive next to the immigrated older generations in Chester’s father (Shingo Usami) and eldest family friend Nobuhiro Yamato (“Star Trek’s George Takei”) who we witness keep mostly in line with their stoic composures.  Takei, born in 1937, and his family were actually forced into living in converted horse stables and official internment camps across the country during the War and that gives the series a morsel of 100 times it’s weight in authenticity with firsthand experience. Along with the deep sympathies and an infinite amount of shame for the wrongfully imprisoned citizens of war, there’s also immense compassion for Chester’s wife, Luz, played by Chrstina Rodlo (“No One Gets Out Alive”). Rodlo runs the gambit of emotions that convey happiness with her time with Chester, to despondent loss, and to fear while on the run from the American government as well as an evil spirit who threatens her child. Just like the first season of “The Terror,” character staying power is often short lived as the horror and, well, the terror catches up to them in one way or another, but we see fine performances from Miki Ishikawa (“I Don’t Want To Drink Your Blood Anymore”), Naoko Mori (“Life”), Alex Shimizu, Lee Shorten, Hira Ambrosino, and Kiki Sukezane as the incessantly stubborn Yūrei and C. Thomas Howell (“The Hitcher”) with another flimsy performance as a hardnose major serving as head of an internment camp.

Subtly contrasting two very different kinds of horror between the yore of the fantastical Kaiden ghost stories coming to fruition with the Yūrei and the very non-fictional blight on American history that was falsely imprisoning American citizens with Japanese roots no matter what age. Both unsettling constructs are unequivocally provided equal weight in dread much like with season one that showcased the dog-eat-dog desperation of man isolated and trapped in extreme terrain with the supernatural forces of nature with a monstrous, polar bear like creature hunting them down one-by-one. Though the same dance, but a different song, season two has a very welcoming different take of blending of yore with lore that separates itself into a new entity, a new engagement, and a new facet of terror very befitting to the anthological series. Eventually, “Infamy” starts to lose steam when the Yūrei side of the story insidiously infringes fully into the fold when Chester and Luz have fled the internment camps and are living in nowheresville New Mexico. The camps fade away from the story and also from our consideration with only bits and pieces to chew on just to check in on principal characters and has a resolution that’s about as cheated as the Japanese Americans survivors given $25 by the American government to start a new life. Yet, “The Terror: Infamy” is poignant and informative, a better picture of what really happened on the American home front better any textbook could ever properly depict, and exposes the mainstream into the Kaiden-verse of Japanese culture.

The 2-disc, 10-episode Blu-ray set comes from UK distributor, Acorn Media International, with each episode with a runtime on an average of 40 to 45 minutes long and a total runtime of 419 minutes. The region 2, PAL encoded release is presented in a standardized for television widescreen format of 16X9 and the Acorn release doesn’t present a flawless picture with noticeable issues with severe cases of banding and compression artefacts around the darker portions of the scene and trust me, “Infamy” is plenty dim and leaden between John Conroy and Barry Donlevy’s cinematography unlike the previous season’s artic white landscape that brightens much of the frame. The Dolby Digital soundtrack produces a better product with satisfactory quality in all categories of score, ambient noise, and dialogue and is accompanied by well-synced and timed English subtitles. Bonus features include a look at the series part 1 (for disc 1) and part 2 (for disc 2) and the biographical and inside the head look at the characters through the eyes of their portrayers. “Infamy” is UK certified 15 as it contains the AMC edginess of bloody graphic content as well as some offensive language. “The Terror” series as a whole has remarkable historical insight commingled with soul-stirring, skin-crawling old wives’ tales. “Infamy” may not supersede its predecessor but is still one hell of an engaging and unique story that salivates us into wanting a third season.

When EVIL Literarature Jumps Right Off the Pages and Starts to Hunt You Down! “Monsters in the Closet” reviewed! (Gravitas Ventures / Digital Screener)



Watch Monsters in the Closet” on Prime Video!

Eccentric horror novelist Raymond Castle mysteriously dies alone in his New York City apartment.  His daughter Jasmin, who never had a loving relationship with her father, returns to her childhood home, self-negative reminiscing about the strenuous verbal arguments between father and daughter with usual themes surrounding her playing with his valuable horror collectibles and her continuous use of the Spanish language despite his desires for an English only language household, but instead of finding the contents of his will or answers to who he really was a person, as a father, Jasmin discovers her father’s latest novel, an anthology collection based off the black magic spells of a 17th century that brings his short stories to life right there in the apartment with her. 

I said it once and I’ll say it again until the day I die:  horror anthologies are not my cup of tea.  Sure, there are excellent oldies, aka classics, out there, like “Creepshow” and “Body Bags,” from the masters of horror and a handful of more modern, done-right, anthologies from filmmakers on their way to such a grandiose title within the “V/H/S” series, but the majority of micro-narratives nowadays are collected from the scrapings of the low-budget trash barrel due in part to the cost-efficiency of short films, shot over a lengthy stretch of time, brought together into a single feature and the types of slim budget stories can sustain a better reception in a shorter format instead of full-length one.  Now, I’m not saying Zack and Spencer Snygg collaborated “Monsters in the Closet” falls into the latter category but as one of the first released films of 2022 to come across our ever-critical desk, the indie horror-comedy anthology needed to punch the living daylights out of use to begin the year and whether the Snyggs’ 4-episode, plus wraparound story, anthology slammed dunk or airballed will be covered below. “Monsters in the Closet” is a kickstarter project and a self-produced venture funded by a pair of sub-Hollywood filmmakers in Spencer Snygg, who has worked behind the scenes in the lighting department on some major films over the recent year, and a veteran indie softcore-horror director Zack whose has involvement with indie production companies like Troma and the New Jersey based E.I. Cinema, as you’ll see with a large, splayed display of E.I and Alternative Cinema posters strategically arranged as background fodder. It’s like a Misty Mundae poster celebration on exhibition.

The outer shell narrative that encompasses and unites each separate story entities begins with a frantic Tom C. Niksson as the diehard believer in his own success horror writer Raymond Castle, covered in blood, manically talking to himself, and in the throes of typing away before a cloaked stalker wielding a knife closes in on him. Niksson, who worked under Zack Snygg’s pseudonym, John Bacchus, in that Easter holiday E.I. Cinema favorite, “Beaster Day: Here Comes Peter Cottonhell,” steps into that looming, ever-present figurehead from the grave, delivering random dad joke dialogue while cozying up the audiences for an audiobook rendition of Castle’s latest bestseller, a black magic spell anthology of horror stories that come to fruition when read aloud. Other than his talking head role, Niksson’s involved in some contentious flashbacks with Jasmin as a child, but we never see Niksson and the adult Jasmin Flores (Jasmin) ever in the same scene together as the flashbacks are Jasmin voiceovers. Nikkson’s theatrical behavior perfectly suits the stagecraft atmospherics in erecting the gameshow-esque of a horror host whereas Flores is often stiff as a dry plank of wood. Limitations drawn from her lack of experience keep the actress’s timing and delivery often subdued in an obtuse and ungraceful character when escaping the ever-changing fiction-to-non-fiction villain of the minute. Jasmin, the character, is already inherently underwhelming in a role that has no purpose or buildup to understand her headspace surrounding the sudden death of her father. What do those flashbacks mean to her or are they just melancholic gibberish? And why isn’t she more interested in his death or even showing a lack of care for it? Throughout “Monsters in the Closet,” a fair amount of pleasantly surprising performances from the anthological works pull the overall project together better than those in the wraparound story. Along with a first person view zombie tale as the first short, Luke Couzens and Carmilla Crawford play newlywed new homeowners going through the frustrations of DIY Hell until they off each other with tools, the silver spoon Jordan Flippo becomes tarnished when a camping accident turns this rich daddy’s girl into an unstoppable killing machine to protect her immaculate image, and side-splitting John Fedele (“The Vampire’s Seduction”) as the humbly polite mad scientist Frankenstein who can’t get over the death of Mrs. Frankenstein (Valerie Bitner) and keeps resurrecting her despite her wishes to stay dead.

What I like and thought interesting about the “Monsters in the Closet” corpora is that they’re written in-house by at least one of the Snygg brothers, sometimes both.  This extends style and control over the entire body of work boundless to the ideas and the panache of other filmmakers and showrunners without having to associate themselves.  The Snyggs’ balanced anthology comes with equal levels of comedy and horror that unearths the humor in humorless scenarios sans the sometimes tired gags that can devalue a project into tedium and, ultimately, into worthlessness and since we’re already being beholden to more than one narrative that jumbles the mind, the mental capacity is too low to withstand different numerous tales in one sitting as well as to try and struggle with the bad unfunny bits.  “Monsters in the Closet” at least has a whimsical darkness about it, a sinister playful attitude, and isn’t afraid to get gory from time to time beginning with the Spency Snygg directed zombie existentialistic “Please Kill Me Again” that takes the viewpoint of a recently turned woman with normal inner thoughts and intentions, but the cravings begin to take over.  The Snygg brothers follow up with darkly satiric “Home Improvement” involving a new couple’s adversary journey to fix up their rundown new home to the point where they can’t take any more of the repairs or of each other and the overflowing sardonic banter starts to spill blood; this bit is fun, more than you know it relatable, and gets real nasty at the end. The weakest short is “The One Percenters” with a nob’s daughter eager to mingle amongst the common folk during a seemingly harmless camping trip that turns deadly after she accidently kills her boyfriend.  Conceptually, the message is sound with the wealthiest subverting the law theme and Jordan Flippo is stunning as a plutocrat’s high expectations daddy’s girl, but the story lacks enough obstacle and tension-filled stuffing for an interesting enough short. “Frankenstein’s Wife” spotlights John Fedele’s equable, light-hearted humor in affectionately reconstructing and resurrecting the wife he accidently kills and with each attempt at bring her back from the dead, her corporeal temple becomes less and less of herself through Frankenstein’s botched cosmetic surgeries. The lovesick cycle is both deranged and full of laughs from Fedele’s riotous desperation take of a classic character.

Gravitas Ventures unchains all the creatures loose in their digital distribution of The Snygg Brothers’ “Monsters in the Closet” anthology now available on-demand and digital platforms this January. None of the audio or visual aspects will be covered since the feature is not a digital release, but when I say The Snygg Brothers self-produced the film, I mean they literally wore nearly every single departmental hat, including director of photography and visual effects that impresses with a wide range of shots from drone, to hand-held, and to tracking done with depth and various levels of focus. There is no one trick pony behind the camera. Some of the digital effects, such as the bullet holes that riddle the basement floor and walls, cheapen the already cheap production and, for the most part, the practical effects reach the passing bar with the obvious lay figure body parts and crude masks/getups. There are no special features or bonus scenes with this release that runs unrated at 88 minutes. Anthology bias be damned, “Monsters in the Closet” is a rarity in a dying breed subgenre with a jocular sense of sinister, social commentary humor braided into a tenebrous fray between man versus man and man versus monster.

Watch “Monsters in the Closet” on Prime Video!

Do EVIL, Get Dead! “A Day of Judgment” reviewed! (Severin Films / Blu-ray)



1930s rural America – the dejected town priest resigns his congregational duties after failing the local townsfolk who have all but returned to the Church and reclaim their faith in the savior lord Jesus Christ and God.  On his exit of the town’s border, the priest crosses paths with a shadowy figure riding an austere wagon and holding a scythe.  A town full of heartless schemers, adulterers, swindlers, and murders have their unforgiving stories told that leave their fellow townsfolk, their friends, and even their families left suffering in their wake.  The shadowy figure tracks each sinning stray down to face retributing judgment.  The righteous and terrible punishments send the unsavable souls to an eternal existence in Hell.

The Grim Reaper cometh. Screen cap courtesy of Severin.

What was once considered to be a Christian-centric educational project had turned into a Christian-centric damnation of horrors in the quasi-anthology “The Day of Judgment,” where the sinners of sin town deviate from the Godfearing path and into a vat of immorality and ungodly aberration.  “The Day of Judgment,” occasionally under the U.S. bootleg title of “Stormbringer,” is the one and only directorial from C.D.H Reynolds (aka Charles Reynolds), an academic educator turned briefly to film working under the legendary, North Carolina based Earl Owensby Studios that produced the 1981 released film.  The script is penned by Owensby Studios’ regular writer, Thom McIntyre, who inked the film between a pair of genre credits, including the incarcerated grindhouse actioner “Seabo,” also known as “Buckstone County Prison” a few years earlier and a snippy flick of a pack killer Rottweilers terrorizing a mountain resort in “Dogs of Hell” a couple of years later.   Owensby, obviously in regard to his own studio work, took part as the fire and brimstone tale’s producer along with associate producer and longtime “Power Ranger” director Worth Keeter curating the final touches as the creative architect of the script’s grimmest portions or more line as the assistant director of adding the bleaker, bloodier fates of the sinners.

William T. Hicks. Screen cap courtesy of Severin.

“A Day of Judgment” has a non-linear anthology-like structure that swings back and forth between different character scenarios of wickedness.  You may meet one character at the very beginning of the story and don’t meet them again, until you’re already through having sent a good chunk, if not all, of the sinners to Hell in a handbasket.  But McIntyre hones in well on setting up nicely each character’s backstory, those who the priest crosses paths with as he exits the town and delivering their ultimate demise (with an assistant from Worth Keeter’s gloomier approach).  The director himself Charles Reynolds plays the crestfallen Reverend Cage in a classic expository preacher riding out of town and crossing paths with soon-to-be-troublesome townies in William T. Hicks (“Death Screams”) as a greedy and heartless bank owner, Careyanne Sutton and Larry Sprinkle (“Trick or Treat”) as man slaughtering, pretense adulterers. Toby Wallace as the hometown disparaging mechanic scheming to steal the family business out from his parents noses to sell, Helene Tryon (“Dogs of Hell”) as the frettingly kook and paranoid old lady poisoning the local children’s pet goat, and Brownlee Davis (“Wolfman” ’79) as the delusional and disgruntled former employee of his best friend looking for a finality in revenge.  “A Day of Judgment” had this weirdly transitional acting style for an 80’s released horror that resembled the Golden Age of cinema through the 1950s and 1960s where everything is loud and pronounced without much reflection, pause, or change in tone.  Though the style sticks out like a sore thumb, perhaps Reynolds made a shallow attempt to recapture the 1930s as which the narrative period is set.  The acting isn’t terrible but is more staged and reactionary to the course of events.  The cast rounds out with Carlton Bortell, Richard Dedmon, Inga Dennis, Denise Myers, Jerry Rushing, Harris Bloodworth and Fred Roland.

C.D.H. Reynolds as Reverend Cage. Screen cap courtesy of Severin.

Earl Owensby produced films were not known to be big box office hits as they coursed the grindhouse, drive-in theater circuits with relatively unknown talent nearly strict to the back pockets of the Owensby Studios and still meeting profitable margins on low budgets.  “The Day of Judgment,” which doesn’t feel like a grindhouse film, carried meager success by way of production design and wardrobes alone.  Give credit where credit is due with an Owensby film that can dole out a variety of era appropriate automotive roadsters and specific period garments for the illusion.  Some sets are dressed scarcer than others with lots of blank spaces and sparse knickknacks to build upon the 1930’s décor but the overall impression is quite effective, transporting one out of the 80’s and into the depression era the narrative frequently suggests.  I also favored the non-linear anthology of individual hell bound circumstances as that structure rendered “A Day of Judgment” as a whole rather than a pie sliced into six-even segments with a common core connection that, at times with other films, individual stories can feel untethered to the main theme.  In today’s times, “A Day of Judgment” is severely antiquated but the more “bleaker” character demises often landed with underripe special effects and a fair amount of cheesiness that’s a Loony-Toons illustrated representation of Hell that looks more like Wile E. Coyote’s Southwest American desert home.  I was anxiously awaiting the beep-beep of Roadrunner, speeding across the screen, and the drop an ACME anvil on top of the sinners’ melons. 

Helene Tryon being dragged to Hell. Screen cap courtesy of Severin.

The overall message in “A Day of Judgment” is clear that sin and crime doesn’t pay, and the wrath of God’s retribution will come down hard in the form of a scythe.  Severin Films presents up a new Blu-ray, scanned in 2K of the original interpositive print now in full 1080p HD resolution of the widescreen 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Preserved pristine and having virtually no wear from age, “A Day of Judgment” is an amazing picture to behold for its first Blu-ray release with heightened resolution that extricates more details than possible than any other release can provide, especially when those other releases are the official VHS and DVD bootlegs. Here the color grading excellently pops with deeper hues of prime colors to provide more life into the death that’s onscreen. One thing to note about the release is the immense phosphorescence glow around whites and other lighter colors that can be eye-catchingly distracting when a piece of white paper becomes the main focus due to a conspicuous radiance. Other than that, the picture is clean, the grain is healthy, and no obvious signs of alterations to enhance the visual spectrum. The English language mono audio track, though emitting crystal clarity without any audio blemishes, is not terribly clear on whether Severin went with Dolby Digital or the DTS-HD. Other listings on the web offer up “A Day of Judgment” with a dual channel DTS-HD Master Audio while the back cover displays the Dolby Digital logo with a detached written description as a mono track, which coincides with Severin’s official site. With the film’s outmoded ingrained technology, Dolby Digital would be, to me, the obvious format that produces higher quality sound using a lower bitrate. Special features include a pair of new Severin exclusive interviews with British author Stephen Thrower of “Nightmare USA” in The Atheist’s Sins and snippet interviews from Worth Keeter and Thom McIntyre in Tales of Judgment. Final spec notes on the Blu-ray are a region free coding and has a runtime of 97 minutes. Stuck in stasis of prim and conservatism, “A Day of Judgment” has become this oddball labeled slasher of the 80s era that aimed to explore new and unusual stories and techniques on every avenue, but still leaves this impression of Bible-thumping Christian values that serve as a stern warning for all ye sinners!

“A Day of Judgment” on Blu-ray and DVD from Severin Films.  Click Here to Purchase at Amazon.com

EVIL is a Slice of Deep Dish Hell in “Creepy Tales of Pizza and Gore” reviewed! (Bayview Entertainment / Screener)


Pizza, that delicious concoction of bread, marinara, cheese, and your topping of choice kneaded and pieced together in a gooey circular of staple culinary awesomeness, has somehow found its way baked into an Italian-sans-meatball horror anthology that promises an equally saucy taste of crusted blood red gore. Five varied, harried tales of horror molded into a gruesome and terrifying VHS-style that will send chills down your spine as you swallow your first piping hot bite of pizza will either have you hungry for more or hurling out your pepperonis. These tales of macabre include the cursed audio tracks of a deadly screaming ghost, the grisly torture and murder in the name of Satan, the tragic and supernatural deaths of two ill-fated lovers, a wooded creature stalking stranded motorists, and a VHS tape that seeks revenge on its former, ungrateful owner.

Let’s take our time traveling machine back to 2014 where Italian filmmaker, Lorenzo Fassina, releases his second feature directorial film behind the horror-comedy, “Anamnesi Mutante,” transmitting by way of a five tale anthology humorously entitled “Creepy Tales of Pizza and Gore;” the titles of the shorts are “Screaming Ghost,” “Devil of the Night,” “Alone in the House,” “Wood,” and “Killer Tape.” Co-directed with producer Marco Giangiarelli, The Milan born Fassina’s background also includes being a director of a collection of short films and music videos for bands that include Italian metal bands Cripple Bastards and Viscera///, similar music scores the anthology. The eclectic tales that greatly homage horror of the 80’s that include rich in color film titles and poignant atmosphere audio mixes, each have a runtime average of approx. 10 minutes long, and offer a mixed macabre of subgenre goodness from technological horror to inanimate object horror besieged with an interlacing host, a faceless, demon-like presenter with much to say, much like the Crypt Keeper. My apologies in advance as the screener that was provided didn’t have subtitles so the host’s soliloquy goes mostly misunderstood, but by the way of editing and how the syntax is structured, one would assume the ghoulish emcee sets up the pizza eaters with the next short video nasty. “Creepy Tales of Pizza and Gore” is produced by Fassina’s indie company, DirtyTape.

Most of us in the States more than likely won’t find any familiar faces inside the confines of these five tales and, know what? That’s okay! Aside from our hell bound host, there’s not a lick of dialogue spoken, but the capability to connect with the characters and the capacity to understand the story without words is as transparent as crystal clear waters of the Venice canals. An assemble of facial and eye expressions and a well edited together script and structure by Fassina for each short provides a sustainable and a sufficient menacing mixed bag of mouthwatering horror. The largely novice cast has either worked on previous projects with Fassina before or are an unknown delight to us viewers and cast list includes Sara Antonicelli, Beatrice Cartoni, Jonathan Farlotta, Jacopo Grandi, Francesco Marra, Tommaso Meledina, Alessandro Melito, Riccardo Tiberi, and Bunny Roberts with a cherry on top topless scene for good measure.

I’m not a terribly big fan of anthologies. Yes, I enjoy “Creepshow 2,” like every other horror fanatic smuck, and I do revel in the grave zest of the low-budget spectrum, especially with compilations from directors of the “HI-8”, aka “Horror Independent 8,” that featured the bloodbath films of some 80s/90’s SOV prodigies in Ron Bonk, Donald Farmer, Tim Ritter, and Marcus Koch, but most anthologies find their unsuccessful way right toward the trash bin, condensed to third-rate releases with little-to-no marketing and hardly any surplus material in the special feature department. “Creepy Tales of Pizza and Gore” may be a foreign anthology barely making an insignificant speck in the cinema market, but certainly shouldn’t be overlooked as the derived golden age of an immensely beloved straight-to-VHS horror courses through the veins of Fassina’s reverencing anthology. The stories garnish b-reel content, but not necessarily effortless or incompetent in substance and range from serious, to tongue-in-cheek, and out right absurdity, with the latter stories being the weaker links. In all, it’s a fun and entertainment horror show from our Italian friends.

“Creepy Tales of Pizza and Gore is delivered fresh and blood warm onto DVD home video courtesy of the New Jersey based distributor, Bayview Entertainment. As aforementioned, Bayview Entertainment publicity provided a streaming screening link so the audio and video aspects will not be critique for this review, but the DVD specs include a single disc, Anamorphic widescreen presentation, with an unrated rating on an Italian language anthology that, supposedly, has English subtitles – my screener did not have subtitles. Bayview Entertainment’s DVD casing resembles entirely like a VHS-cassette with faux movie rental stickers stuck on the outer plastic. The packaging is a nice and warranted touch to a VHS-homaging anthology. There were no special features included with the screener or released in the press release. Chow down on night with “Creepy Tales of Pizza and Gore;” a validating horror anthology worthy of time and effort and reaffirming the faith in anthologies once again with wild, imaginative macabre ambitions without the stiffening efforts of pushy financiers calling behind-the-wheel shots.

“Creepy Tales of Pizza and Gore” won’t disappoint! Buy here on Amazon.com