EVIL Told You Not to the First Time! “Don’t Fuck in the Woods 2” reviewed! (Wild Eye Releasing / Blu-ray)

“Don’t Fuck in the Woods 2” on a Special Edition Blu-ray!  Purchase Your Copy Here!

Beginning where the last film left off, alien attack survivor Jane, bruised and bloody, stumbles into the under-renovation Pine Hills Summer Camp where a group of newly hired and horny camp counselors, a nurse chaperone, and a handy-man ex-con spruce up the place.  Jane is met with hostility when sounding off about monsters and death, but when the Pine Hills staff realize that a few of their friends are missing and haven’t checked in, Jane’s story is beginning to resonate and take traction.  Out in the woods, the rape-impregnated sperm of the monster are parasitic and seek out human hosts to infect with raging hormones and adrenaline, transforming hosts into razor-sharp teethed, superhuman mutants hellbent on procreation of a new monster.  The invading parasites turn the isolated camp into a slaughter yard of bloodshed and chaos and it’s up to the remaining survivors to nut up and put violent stop to an alien’s insidious carnage. 

Well, by God, Shawn Burkett did it!  The director made a sequel to his straight-forward, out-of-nowhere, 2016 indie hit “Don’t Fuck in the Woods,” directly following up from where the first film left us off with a lone survivor having just blown up a sex-crazed, blood-lusting alien creature who clawed, tore, and banged his way through a bunch of naked women and some off-color guys doing the dirty in the woods.  The first film made such a splash of interest with the provocative and often controversial title as well as being one of the most pirated movie in the last decade due to said title, The Ohio-born Burket began to formulate the next step of “Don’t Fuck in the Woods 2” with a story co-written with one of the sequel’s principal stars, Cheyenne Gordon, writer of the Tory Jones directed films “The Wicked One” and “They See You.”  The enticingly crass, but greatly adored and sought after title aims to be gorier and even more nudity-laden as the first film with the story situated at an actual family-owned campground, Hannon’s Camp America, in College Corner, Ohio.  Shot in the Summer of 2019, the pre-pandemic film, “Don’t Fuck in the Woods 2,” is a production of Concept Media, Studio 605, Rising Fire Films, Taintbad Productions, and Head on a Stick Productions with Burkett producing and John Lepper (aka Johnny Macabre, executive producer of “Smoke and Mirrors:  The Story of Tom Savini” and “The VelociPastor”) as executive producer.

Though the sequel does not mark the return of the voluptuously captivating adult actress Nadia White, as her character (spoiler alert) was ripped apart by the creature (end spoiler alert), the sequel casts a whole new lot of ladies willing to let Mr. Skin archive and immortalize all their bare body parts forever…or at least until the servers crash, the internet dies, or the world ends.  It’s not like eternity or anything.  The one returning principal to return is the first film’s sole survivor, Jane, and returning to fill her blood-soaked shoes is Brittany Blanton that has officially solidified the Houston, Texas native as a scream queen, franchise final girl, and an overall badass slayer of otherworldly creatures.  Blanton is just one of several actresses to play into the popular campy motif and titular theme of open sexuality and nudity as a formulaic no-no in horror films.  B-to-Z horror movie regulars, starting with “RIP:  Rest in Pieces’” Kenzie Phillips, “Model Hunger’s” Kaylee Williams, “Slaughterhouse Slumber Party’s” Kayla Elizabeth, “5G Zombies’” Julie Anne Prescott, “Blood Moon River’s” Cara McConnell, and Nessa Moore, who I suspect used a body double for her bare all scene, follow suit (birthday suit that is) playing chopping block babes abreast of their outcome.  Burkett doesn’t completely make void his sequel of complex human emotions, supplying bitter love triangles, an oversexualized third wheel, and two more adult-ish characters running from their unpleasant past,  One of those two is ex-con Gil (co-writer Cheyenne Gordon) forced into a corner as the camp’s handyman while attempting to turn his life around for the better but finding the path to redemption difficult when being harassed and threatened by corrupt law enforcement officer.  Already down in the dumps being judged and juried by fellow campers and law enforcement, Gil is sympathetic role that earns his keep when going toe-to-toe with mutation spawn.  Mark Justice (“Atomic Shark”), Jason Crowe (“Dead Moon Rising”), Tom Komisar (“Slaughterhouse:  House of Whores 2.5), Alex Gottmann, and returning from the first film for a brief but memorable scene is Brandy Mason completes the cast. 

No contextual messages. No metaphors. No symbolizing themes. “Don’t Fuck in the Woods 2” pumps you full of the same obligatory creature feature construct as the first, those who have sex, get murdered….horribly. The only slight difference this time around is director Shawn Burkett gets himself out of the man-in-a-monster suit element and into a state of possession as the cast of characters become heinous hosts to parasitic alien slugs, essentially turning people on themselves in a battle to the death. The concept brings a new angle to the series to build upon the creature’s never say die multi-nefarious abilities that keeps it returning, in one form or another, from the grave. Blood runs rampant with the special effects team implementation of a blood gun into their bag of tricks that soaks the cast in more than one scene, but I would say between the two films, both are equally matched in blood shedding as the sequel, that doesn’t see the return of the first film’s SFX artist Deryk Wehrly but hires the 2016 film’s producer, Rob Collins to fill that void, doesn’t surpass the antecedent’s practical butchery. Looking through a technical critical lens, the indie feature has noticeable issues with crew mistakes, such as shadows of the boom operator in the frame, and scenes that hit the cutting room floor would have shed light on a few second and third act scenes that ended up not keeping the story smooth in a logical sense; one of the bigger scenes in question is one two large arms break through a wall and grab Gib from behind. The arrangement of character positions didn’t quite work out and the feature’s after credits bonus scene cements that misalignment even more. “Don’t Fuck in the Woods 2” might have filmic gaffe (there might be a cream for that) but what started as a straight-shooting, sex and slaughter, potboiler has become Shawn Burkett’s undeniable magnum opus and he’s only just beginning.

Wild Eye Releasing camp on one of the most campiness horror to date with “Don’t Fuck in the Woods 2” on a special edition Blu-ray release. Presented in high definition, 1080p, the transfer is exhibited with widescreen 2.35:1 aspect ratio. First thing I noticed about the independent film and distributor release is there are virtually no issues with compression. The black areas remain deep and inky, hues naturally come across without any fluctuation, and there are no visible banding or artefact issues. In comparison to the first film, the sequel is quite brighter with more lighting available and Burkett isn’t too heavy on gels or tints unless in slug-vision mode with a tinge of low opacity fuchsia. The release comes with a lossy English 2.0 stereo mix that’s every bit languid as it sounds with current releases. Dialogue is clean and clear of damage and interference but is too underweight for full-bodied effect. Sound design offers arm’s length depth but is ample in range with slimy sluggy-ness slithering about and skirmish associated hubbubs to make the action excitable. Optional English subtitles are available. The special features include a behind-the-scenes featurette that gives a walking tour of the Hannon’s family camp shooting location building-by-building, blooper reel which can be seen during the end credits, two deleted scenes, the original producer trailer, Wild Eye Releasing trailers, and a feature length documentary “What Happens in the Woods: The Story of Don’t Fuck in the Woods” that digs deep not only into the genesis of “Don’t Fuck in the Woods,” but also into the personal strifes of Burkett and how the story’s title was turbulent, controversial, and heated from the beginning but became a wildly great success that spurred greenlights for future sequels, such as the after credit scene that may or may not involve space and/or time travel! The clear Blu-ray snapper with latch has physical special features that include a folded-mini poster insert, reversable cover art with a composited image on the front and a bloodied Brittany Blanton screengrab snippet on the opposite, and cardboard slipcover with a mashup character collage on the front. The brisk 81-minute runtime compacts the blood and boobs in this region free, unrated disc. Shawn Burkett teases fans with a third picture that’ll surely bring the wanton woods into the world of tomorrow but, for now, bask in “Don’t Fuck in the Woods 2” unfettered maverick success.

“Don’t Fuck in the Woods 2” on a Special Edition Blu-ray!  Purchase Your Copy Here!

The EVIL Gutierrez Family Accommodations are to Die For! “Fucking Bastards” reviewed! (Wild Eye Releasing / DVD)

Those “F**king Bastards” on DVD at Amazon.com

On the walk path to Santiago, on an isolated stretch of the trail, hikers Richie and Lucia run into a bit of bad luck when Richie’s foot is severely injured by a speeding car driving recklessly on what’s typically a walking path.  Needing immediate aid, they’re forced down a offshoot path to the isolated Hotel Gutierrez, a local hostel ran by the eccentric manager, Arturo Gutierrez, and his family.  Unsure about the odd hostel manager and even more unsure about the temperamental cook serving questionable, gloopy slop but continue to entertain their hosts’ hospitality to not offend or make upset, Richie and Lucia quickly realize they’ve made a grave mistake in staying when the Gutierrezes are actually a deranged family of cannibals exploiting their guests for the one thing, to be the main course on the Gutierrez menu.  The path trekkers find themselves on the receiving end of a butcher’s block that might not have been an accident after all.

“Jordidos Kabrones” aka “Fucking Bastards” is the 2012 precursor film to Manolito Motosierra’s “Spanish Chainsaw Massacre” from 2017, introducing viewers to the morbid-madcap antics of the Gutierrez family. The comedy-horror uses the Camino de Santiago, or the walk to St. James, as the backdrop that ultimately leads to an unprovoked massacre of the pilgrims traversing to the shrine of the first martyred apostle St. James at the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Some believe that walking the trail is a part of a sinner’s expiation toward God. In Motosierra’s case, as seen in “Fucking Bastards,” the seemingly normal hiking trail is a gateway to Hell for all when a local family exploits the pilgrimage as a source of unconventional comestibles that has been a tradition passed down from generation to generation. Over-the-top with nauseating ordure and gore, Motosierra refuses to hold back in the mire situation that leaves Richie and Lucia being the unfortunate guests of the Gutierrez hostel. The feature is produced by Motosierra and Kiko Navarro, who’ve went on to collaborate on “The Corpse Grinders 3” and “Spanish Chainsaw Massacre,” assistant producers Santi Banjo and Fernando Montano Galvañ, and is a Spanish conglomerate production of AGP Productions in association with Olga Underground, Yosoyfande Reanaimator Association, Dark Times Visual, Esquizoide Productions, San Jorge School of Film and Audio, and the Alcoi Film Office.

If you’re like me and ended up watching the follow up film, “Spanish Chainsaw Massacre,” first, then you may recognize a couple of familiar faces in “Fucking Bastards” of the atrocity paving duo of Arturo and Guti Gutierrez, played by José Luís Tolosa and Manuel Rodriguez. Tolosa tall stature, wide, sinister grin, and antsy movements perfects Arturo’s wildly tormenting behavior as the collected, but not also cool and calm, head of the family. Then, there’s Guty, the clearly deranged imbecile delighted to follow Arturo’s direction and take verbal abuse times infinite as long as he gets to tenderize, fillet, and serve up guests for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert. Rodriguez plays a derived goof that’s nothing really to note and write home about in his goon and goof performance that does support Arturo’s more sophisticated role as a deviant duo. While “Spanish Chainsaw Massacre” inundated viewers with extended family member of maniacs, “Fucking Bastards” starts out with slow with select immediate relations, such as their veiled and grunting grandmother played by Motosierra himself. The Gutierrez family’s pilgrim victims come in pairs. The main hapless marks are Richie and Lucia, played by Ricardo Pastor and Miriam Larragay and who both went on to have a new role in Motosierra’s “Spanish Chainsaw Massacre,” are suitable enough saps to be slaughtered by their own dimwittedness by ignoring that little voice inside their heads screaming at them to run for the hills upon meeting Arturo and Guti. Pastor and Larragay, compared to Tolosa and Rodriguez, are satisfying normal pilgrims without life infractions, without ulterior motives, and with nothing other than the backpacks on their back on what should have been a simple hike to pay respects to St. James and God, making their detour-to-death that much more nihilistic and grotesque. Sonia Ayala, Pedro García Oliva, Xima Perpinyá Mira, Marino, Yolanda Berenguer, Raúl Darío Gandoy, Jaime Martínez Moltó, and Jaime Martínez Moltó round out the cast.

By all means, “Fucking Bastards” is no great cinematic masterpiece. With an offensive title, not one person should expect it to be a great Spanish cine, but what should be expected from the Manolito Motosierra picture is a ton of gore and a load more of offensive and garbage slopped material to flaunt to shock the casual cinema consumer or speak the niche lurid language of gore film fiends around the world. Motosierra accomplishes both as “Fucking Bastards” will disgust the weakest of stomachs and will galvanize others to glue themselves to the story to see what happens next. Those viewers excited for the kills will find the gore effects to be inconstant at best from special effects artist Ruben Vallés Guerrero who has worked the movie grade gamut from the micro-indies, such as “Fresh Flesh,” to moderately budgeted films like “Down a Dark Path,” starring Uma Thurman (“Kill Bill”), and “A Monster Calls” with Sigourney Weaver (“Alien”) and Liam Neeson (“Darkman”). The Motosierra picture became a jumping point for Guerrero to show off his effects skills and delivers on some Tom Savini-inspired hand chopping and leg slicing but in the same breath also approves the use of an augmented plastic baby, with non-lifelike stiff arms and legs, in the bashing of a pregnant woman to force deliver. Whether due to limited funds, or the content was too shocking overall, or out of respect for depicting infant children in hugely Catholic culture, the scene sorely cheapens the already shoddy, low-budget production with artificial appearances. Refreshing is not a term I would say defines Manolito Motosierra’s “Fucking Bastards” but there’s a sense of unassuming relief from the lack of pretense because from front cover to end credits, you know exactly what type of vulgarity to expect.

Coming right in as spine number 69 on Wild Eye Releasing’s Wild & Extreme label, “Fucking Bastards” offers its sadistic viewing pleasure onto DVD home video. Presented in an open matte widescreen 1.78:1 aspect ratio, the feature is housed on a lower storage format, likely a DVD 5, that suffers tremendous compression pockmarks, such as smoothed out textures, blotchy-pixelated patches, banding, and contrast issues. Video presentation is watchable and not a terrible eyesore but definitely not the pretty picture around with a good portion of the issues stemming from commercial grade equipment. The Spanish language Stereo 2.0 audio tracks varies in dialogue levels, leaving depth unaccounted for and very little in range value as there’s not much of an ambient arrangement. Though varied, dialogue is clean and clear with English subtitles that have some synch/timing issues. There were a few occurrences where the subtitles on flashed and vanished in an instant. The English subs are also severely consolidated with characters’ throwing out much more than what is being translated…trust me, I know enough Spanish to tell. Bonus features only included the theatrical trailer plus other Wild Eye previews which, in my opinion, are worth checking out. No dialogue, just impressively edited, impressively scored, make-you-want-to-check-it-out handful of trailers that include “Death to the Ten Commandments,” “Gore Grind,” and “The Thrill of a Kill.” Stay tuned for an after credits bonus scene that displays the horrors of the Gutierrez children. The exterior features include a clear DVD snapper with a photoshop filtered act of asphyxiation on the front cover while the inside reveals a reverse cover of a screen grab of one of torturous moments of the story. The Wild Eye release of the film is unrated, has a runtime of just over an hour at 63 minutes, and is region free. Get your gonzo gore on with Manolito Motosierra’s humble beginnings in “Fucking Bastards” that could be considered the Rob Zombie’s Firefly family of Spain.

Those “F**king Bastards” on DVD at Amazon.com

EVIL Cabbie Takes Beautiful Women for the Ride of their Lives. “Maniac Driver” reviewed! (ReelGore Releasing / Blu-ray)

Hail down the “Maniac Driver” on Blu-ray!

Taking a taxi should be a reliably safe to get from point A to point B and once you settle the serviceable transaction with payment, you can forget you ever saw that taxi driver again.  But what if that taxi driver follows you home, obsesses over you, and has psychotic plans to take your life as well as his own?  One Tokyo cabbie has those very inclinations toward the beautiful women.  These women intoxicate his severe guilt over a past personal tragedy involving the merciless murder of his wife.  He scours his passenger pool for the perfect beauty to be his closing opus, a gift to society that dealt him the same hand and will take her life as a maniacal masked killer with a blade before he turns the blade on his own neck. 

From the director of “Gun Woman” and “Karate Kill” comes the latest gore-soaked, nudity-laden, psychotronic grindhouse picture from Tokyo filmmaker Kurando Mitsutake.  Labeled as a Japanese giallo film, the writer-director Mitsutake pulls inspiration from one of most influential and prolific Italian giallo filmmakers ever, the late Lucio Fulci, and stylizes his idolizing film with his own proclivity for flair.  The 2020 released film is a thirst trap of the subgenre upon reading the heavily enticing description and its basic but effective cover art of a leather glove and jacket cladded masked maniac holding tightly onto a half-naked woman, almost in an embracing manner rather than a malice one.  Sex and blood sell and “Maniac Driver” doesn’t disappoint but what about the story?  What drives the killer from one woman to the next and does it all make sense?  “Maniac Driver’s” title suggests not, and I believe Kurando Mitsutake felt the same way when writing the script, produced by “After Life” and “Paster Shepherd” producer Mami Akari under the Akari Pictures banner.

Titling the story around the maniac driver binds the film solely to the cab driver, much in the same way William Lustig’s “Maniac” focuses on Joe Spinell’s spiraling madness and scalping mutilations, and we’re pretty much left with the driver’s innermost thoughts, about his process, about his reasons, and about his plans.  Essentially, the maniac driver drives the narrative with a contemplative fare.  Tomoki Kimura has surpassed the challenge with a pendulum crazed performance sought to not only express his derangement but can also infect the viewers with the character’s warped mind.  Kimura keeps his expression stoic and sour in a role that barely requires him to speak as we mostly hear prosy, abstract, and murderous inner thoughts.  In regard to the women the driver stalks and involves himself sleazily with, Kurando Mitsutake goes the JAV actress route and is familiar with as having the alluring Asami star pretty much naked through the entirety of “Gun Woman.”  With adult actresses, Mitsutake receives uninhibited support for the victimized characters the maniac driver fantasizes over and kills as well as Mitsutake’s satirical whims in exploiting the subgenre’s penchant for gratuitous flesh.  Adult starlets from softcore actress Saryû Usui (“Sex Detective Hatenashi”) to the hardcore Ai Sayama (“Date with a Busty Nymph”), Ayumi Kimito (“Love Kimomen”), and SOD (Soft on Demand) Create’s Iori Kogawa (“One Wife + 10 Husbands) add a little titillation with gratuitous exposure, bondage, and fornication to the max. 

“Maniac Driver” paves its own neo-giallo path that swerves away from the traditional calling cards. Instead of a typical Italian murder-mystery, Mitsutake intentionally divulges the killer cab driver with a delusional hunger and fate. All the other hallmarks of a giallo killer are there in a Fulci tribute form with leathery glove hands, a gleaming blade, a masked face, and a killer who makes a duck-like sound that’s far more menacing than comical. “Maniac Driver” also pulls from other inspirations, such as Lustig’s “Maniac” as well as Martin Scorcese’s “Taxi Driver” with Tomoki Kimura channel his best Robert De Niro impression with the iconic You Talkin’ To Me line. Behind the whole ghastly facade and polychromatic style, entrenched is a theme of survival’s guilt that leads the cab driver to the point of no return. Severely injured and helpless to save his wife from a crazed killer, he’s wrought with putting forth into the world exactly what was taken from him in the same fashion, but how the deeper we spiral with and into his derangement, piecing together his mental episodical puzzle might not be so easily pegged. Mitsutake’s seemingly straight forward narrative is a blindsiding blade to the throat when looking in the opposite direction, expecting a different outcome, and when the principal character is kept to his innermost thoughts, viewers are treated with only the maniac’s disenchantment of life. The curveball is more than welcome despite all evidence being in plain view, but with the bizarre fiendishness, schizo-universe, and the T&A, to see clear through it all is impossible, especially when Mitsutake really goes off the rails with the maniac driver’s fantasies that mesh seamlessly with reality. Scenes with Iora Kogawa and Tomoki Kimura are intolerably hazy as the actors engage coquettishly as an exquisite, kimono dressed female passenger and a public transportation service man peering his eyes through the review mirror and this leads to an explicit one-on-one encounter that includes some bondage as well as a Iaido showdown with swords drawn. Through Mitsutake’s various closeups and depth-shots, sprinkled with tight up shots to emphasize body parts and to create an oppressive world, “Maniac Driver” ebbs and flows that sort of satirical, aggrandized chaos to make light of the oversexualization, as skirts hike up while running and exposed chest flop out underneath tightly bound tops, and the sheer madness of a broken mortal man. “Maniac Driver” is an uber giallo of sleaze and psychosis, a steady ride of burning yearning, and is gory where it counts.

To be honest with you, I thought I’d never see a ReelGore Releasing again. When speaking with Cult Epics founder Nico B., who launched the label with producer Steve Aquilina (“Violent Shit: The Movie”) in 2016, I had asked the popular curator of cult cinema whether he would continue with banner that sought to specialize in the release of extreme, violent horror after the releases of the ItsBlogginEvil generally well received “The Orphan Killer” and “The Curse of Doctor Wolfenstein?” The answer I received was a flat out no from Nico B. because, simply, the label didn’t generate enough profit. Well, lo and behold, ReelGore Releasing has been resurrected and the blood is flowing once again with a pair of new titles with “Manic Driver” being one of them. Though Nico B. has confirmed no involvement with the releases, it’s still great to see the label back in action again. “Maniac Driver” is released on a ReelGore Releasing AVC encoded Blu-ray, a BD25, and presents the Mitsutake film in 1080p, high definition and a 2.35:1widescreen aspect ratio. Despite heavily saturating to a blur scenes with brilliant, primary coloring, familiar to the giallo subgenre, the overall details are quite pleasant and palpable. Mitsutake utilizes different lighting and shadowing techniques to create different atmospherics but never seems to inherently kill the textures as they maintain a sharp, tactile presence. The Japanese DTS-HD 5.1 audio track, with forced English subtitles, is vibrant with an 80’s inspired blend of synth and riff-rock. Japanese dialogue is strong, clear, and innately clean with the digital recording, balanced by an error free and aptly timed English subtitles. “Maniac Driver” has a robust, yet sometimes overelaborated, sound design that outputs nicely through the side channels. The killer’s leather glove sounds can be overkill with every scene being loused with the individual stretches of the fabric while the energy-thumping engine combined affixed shots around the tire and grill is a powerful effect of the cab driver’s routine hunting method. The release also comes with French and Spanish subtitles. Bonus features include a making of featurette with interviews with the cast and crew, an audio commentary with director Kurando Mitsutake, photo slideshow, and the trailer. There are no stinger scenes during or after the credits. The physical appearance sheaths the 25GB disc inside a sleek red Blu-ray snapper case with reversible cover art that has two alternate posters on the inside. The film is not rated, region free, and has a run time of just under 75 minutes. “Maniac Driver” is no passenger in the giallo subgenre; the Kurando Mitsutake might be a bundle of homages and inspirations but takes the wheel of the Japanese sexploitive-giallo gas guzzler with deranged brutality.

Hail down the “Maniac Driver” on Blu-ray!

Not All Zombies are EVIL. Some Zombies Save Lives. “The Loneliest Boy in the World” reviewed (Well Go USA Entertainment/ Blu-ray)

“The Loneliest Boy in the World” on Sale Now at Amazon.com!

The unexpected tragic death of Oliver’s mother, involving a pool, a television, and a garden gnome, places the now aged-out and deinstitutionalized Oliver into a difficult position. The sheltered, socially awkward young man, living by himself in his mother’s home and still makes like his mother is still with him, is given a last chance ultimatum from his supportive social worker and a pessimistic psychologist to make friends, to lead a normal life, and to sustain impendence or else he’ll have to return to being institutionalized as an adult. Local contemporaries single out Oliver for being weird, unusual, and a loner to the point that his childlike and naive mind turns him desperate enough for a friend to dig up corpses, those who used to be well-liked in the community, but when one morning the exhumed bodies come to life as a nuclear family that eats, breathes, and is sort of living. Though rotting from the outside, the undead family encourage and advise Oliver through his toughest life challenge yet – to be normal.

Described as a modern fairytale with zombies, “The Loneliest Boy in the World” is a satirical comedy horror about the rite of passage into adulthood from the screenwriting team of John Landis’ “Burke & Hare” writer Piers Ashworth, producer of “Director’s Cut” Brad Wyman, and “Maximum Overdrive” star and “Rated X” director Emilio Estevez. Director Martin Owen (“L.A. Slasher”, “Let’s Be Evil”) helms the late 80’s deco piece with a Halloween backdrop, fitting for any undead family to suddenly animate into an eclectic and eccentric fashion that encircles what it means to understand family values in a very trendy niche specific of the late 80’s style. The feature is produced by Piers Ashworth, Ryan Hamilton (“Possessor”), Matt Williams (“Let’s Be Evil”), Pat Wintersgill (“Amulet”) and a conglomeration of executive producers including Emilio Estevez and is a production of the London, UK-based Lip Sync in association with Future Artists Entertainment and presented by Great Point Media and Well Go Entertainment.

Max Harwood gives a peculiar performance as a soft-spoken, sheltered-to-a-fault mother’s boy, Oliver, with a delusional depiction of reality. Though Harwood’s performance pairs well enough with Martin Owen’s rocky shore small town of equally asymmetrical corporeality, the titular Oliver comes off derivative of done before loners and Harwood provides little range to fully arc with the character’s transition from a naive young adult on the fringe of losing everything to the compendious hero of his own story by unearthing not only dead bodies that come to life but learning from their advice, truth, and experience to flesh out his own path of courage and confidence. A part of the LGBTQ community, Harwood is joined by fellow community comrade Tallulah Haddon in a strange turn of casting as Oliver’s love interest, Chloe. Queers play straight in the innate course of acting that, as of late, has often been called out for its hypocrisy of an actor portraying something their actually not. The “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch” Haddon is an outsider to Oliver’s surroundings as isn’t influenced by those who have labeled Oliver weird or strange. Instead, Oliver and Chloe spark interest out of hate for being different, a relatable scenario for someone in the gay community. Oliver’s undead family is undoubtedly the best lot with a wide range of happy homemaker personalities and a decaying best friend that supports Oliver’s wings to fly from the next. Susan Wokoma is the stay-at-home mother with a knack for reading the room while her skin peels off and falls to the floor. Ben Miller is the red-blooded Frank that displays glimpses of being a renaissance man at times and Miller plays the beer drinking, jack-of-all-trades father figure aptly. “Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince’s” Hero Fiennes Tiffin comes on the scene cool and suave in a skin that’s literally drooping off his bones and his eyes have disintegrated from his sockets; Tiffin’s charming, lively, and a source of verbal wit that would be missing from the film. Lastly, Zenobia Williams rounds out the family as Mel, the little sister who is frankly underused and is quiet and subservient to being nice to her living older brother. “The Loneliest Boy in the World’s” cast rounds out with Jacob Sartorious, Hammed Animashaun, Alex Murphy, Sam Coleman, Mitchell Zhangazha, and “The Curse of Buckout Road’s” Evan Ross and “Alone at Night’s” Ashley Benson as the two sole American actors in a contending professionals betting on Oliver’s outcome in friend making.

The casting is interesting as a melting pot of nationalities and cultures intertwined into an alternate reality where the dead can be willed alive. Again, “The Loneliest Boy in the World” is marketed as a modern fairytale and it’s comparable to the likes of if Andrew Currie’s 2006 “Fido,” where in a managed post-apocalyptic world the zombies are kept on as servants for the living in a 1950’s backdrop, was under the Peter Jackson landscape lens of hilltops, seasides, and graveyards. The obvious farce in the late 1980’s pattern aims to set the bar for a number of themes, including growing up into adulthood, to bring back traditional family values in order to push out and correct absent parent trauma, and to embrace the family as nurturing guidance. Oliver’s struggles are frugally displayed but that doesn’t mean the first act misses the mark on plotting the dots of his lonesomeness with being the target of bully teasing, the subject of an insensitive bet of established adults, and being in a position of having no living family or friends to slake his dependence. The one thing to note about Oliver’s sudden lifeline cut is that he doesn’t appear to bothered or frantic about the death of his mother or the prospect of being alone and possibly end up institutionalized. Instead, the unsocialized introvert falls into a semi-chimera state where he’s still tethered to his mother as he watches her favorite television shows and recalls their play-by-play during his graveside visits with mom. The whole concept of death is seemingly foreign to Oliver as he never calls the demise of his mother her death but rather an accident and he finds exhuming recently dead corpses to be his friends normal though he obviously knows it’s illegal and unacceptable normal behavior as he quickly hides or disguises the pre-animated bodies when visitors show up at his doorstep. There’s never an explanation why the dead come to life, but one thing is for sure is that the expired exhumed did a Frosty the Snowman just for the sake of Oliver’s desperation for companionship and, perhaps, that’s the entire reason why. The need for family was granted to the nice, dissociated boy in a lightning bolt of unexplainable supernatural serendipity to right all the bad things that are happening and will happen to him. Zombies are typically resurrected to take life and eat away at the living while Oliver’s zombies are atypical, restoring life and providing hope in an optimistic paradoxical universe.

Dark and quirky, “The Loneliness Boy in the World” is heartwarming with cold bodies. Well Go USA Entertainment releases the AVC Encoded, 1080p high-definition Blu-ray with a widescreen 1.78:1 aspect ratio. The presentation is quite colorful with a vast palette of foundational primary colors sprinkled with retro-vision, such as tape camcorder view, that splits the difference in extracting the vivid pink-laden house interior as well as the spot colors on the characters with stark contrast against the lush greenery background or the rocky, wave crashing shoreline. Night sequences are often blue tinted but not overly saturating. I didn’t note any issues with compression as blacks are generally deep without splotchiness or banding. Details are mostly fine with intricacies more expressive on the decomposing bodies that give off great muscle, skin, and organ decay. The Blu-ray comes with a single audio option, an English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track. Dialogue never has to outbattle the ambient tracks or The Invisible Men pop score. The ambient range really comes through the auxiliary channels well with the central element focusing on the dialogue. English subtitles are optional. Bonus features include a short behind-the-scenes with more fluff from the cast who seemingly can’t get enough of this project and the theatrical trailer is also included. The physical release comes in a standard Blu-ray snapper with an illustrated mesh artwork of essentially every character in the film, even the dead Dachshund. “The Loneliest Boy in the World” has a runtime of 90 minutes, is regionally hard coded A, and is rated R for language and violent content. Enjoyable yet explainable, “The Loneliest Boy in the World” is more defined by its cadaverous twist of fate than the theme it attempts to convey; nonetheless, the Martin Owen film has heart, soul, and the living dead.

“The Loneliest Boy in the World” on Sale Now at Amazon.com!

To All the EVIL Devil Horns Out There “Death to Metal” reviewed! (Wild Eye Releasing / Blu-ray)

“Death To Metal” available on a Collector’s Edition Bluray!

Already with the traumatic distaste for heavy metal music, the fire and brimstone preacher, Father Milton Kilborne, addresses his congregation with a bigotry homily aimed to categorize not only heavy metal music as a sin, but also homosexuality, internet porn, and other indulging vices. When Father Kilborne is suspended by the church’s head priest, the zealous Kilborne drives himself into a stuporous accident that upends his car into a toxic waste dumping ground. The accident mutates the ardent Father, still blinded by God’s Wrath rather than his Mercy, into a superhuman and disfigured killing machine who stumbles into one of the biggest heavy metal concerts of the year – The Holy Saturday Metal Massacre. Metal bands and metalheads unite for a headbanging, guitar-rifting, super loud four-show rockfest and what was supposed to be the best part of metalhead Zane’s abysmal day has now turned into a bloodbath as he and his friend Mariah are caught in the middle of Father Kilborne’s devout judgement and faith cleansing.

The tritonic Devil’s music needs not to fear God but fear his misguided instrument of destruction! “Death to Metal” is the 2019 Metalsploitation mutant slasher from written-and-directed by Tim Connery (“Black Web”) and cowritten by Kevin Koppes. What began in the Summer of 2016 under the working title of “Good Friday,” an Indiegogo fundraising campaign was launched with a goal of $50k and with a modest turnout of supports, “Good Friday” received more than half its goal, plus additional private contributions that provided enough moola pull off the campy thrasher-slasher filmed in mostly in New Vienna and Dubuque, Iowa with latter scenes of the downtown Dubuque area and in the historic, post-industrial converted, cultural arts and music venue building appropriately called the Smokestack because of its monolithic warehouse smoke funneling circle chimney. Double Dubuque Films in association with DreamCatcher Productions presents the Smoking Section Films’ “Death to Metal,” a holier-than-thou slasher produced by Connery and Samantha Cihak and associate producer Gary Greco with executive producers Noel Kapp, Trent Lind, Joe Scherrman, and Charlie and Lara Lind, most of all of whom were involved previously in Connery’s freshman feature “Black Web.”

“Death to Metal’s” parallel story follows two unfortunate souls connected by church and who are having the worst day of their lives. For Father Kilborne, his stubborn, one-sided dogmatism lands him in hot water with the residing church priest. Going through the stages of grief having lost the right to perform a holy sacrament and been punished for what he wholeheartedly believes, Kilborne bends the word of God while going on a bender that sends him hurling into a monstrous “Toxic Avenger” fate that isn’t as anti-heroic and doesn’t come with a melee mop but comes with a sharp edged broken wooden cross. Andrew Jessop’s enthusiastic performance glorifies the evilly enthusiastic Father Kilborne’s human form while Trent Johnson takes the lumbering approach of the mutated, Knights of the Templar version of the fanatical Father. As Kilborne becomes a toxic terror, churchgoing Zane has just been dumped by his band Withered Christ and girlfriend. Played by Alex Stein, Zane ventures to self loathe in the comfort on longtime friend Mariah (Grace Melon). Stein’s the unlikely head banger with a quietly spoken and easygoing demeanor but can be a sleeper metalhead with vehemence for the genre, candidly naming off bands and their technical attributes with excitement in their eyes is a telltale sign of fan no matter what they’re wearing, how they look, or how docile they act. “Death to Metal” fills the mosh pit crowd of characters with supporting bit performances from Charlie Lind, Steve Thompson, Sean Weis, Dean Wellman, Neal Kapp, and Dan Flannery.

Being not a tremendous metal fan, I find that metalsploitation is not terribly hard to love. Horror and metal have gone hand-and-hand for decades since the 1980s with films such as “Hard Rock Zombies” and “Trick or Treat” but has soared under the radar for much of that time and only recently has horror and metal has found some commercial success in the indie market with hits “Deathgasm,” “Lords of Chaos,” and I would say “Psycho Goreman” with its Gwar inspired grotesque costuming. “Death to Metal” is another entry that has had a rough go of breaking the surface with a lack of financial supported marketing, yet the Tim Connery film is a campy crusade to highlight and farce religious sectarianism as well touch upon the hypocrisy of band politics. In a modest showing of practical special effects, first timers Trent Johnson and Brad Vondra bang out simple, yet credible death metal death strokes of broken bottle nipples, a bleach chug, and a metal show circumcision abortion. In contrast, Vondra and Johnson show very little of their bloody work against a slather of offscreen kills that coat “Death to Metal’s” more gritty-grungy veneer and its metacognitive reason for being, to be a sweaty mosh pit of knavish metal and horror. Conner and Jackson Cooper Gango reteam from “Black Web” to not only providing a dingy and smokey atmospherics and stylize with stark blue filter gels but they also make up where special effects lack with impressive camera work with subtle zooms to narrow the center focus, crane shots to make visualize the body-high carnage, and a stationary car-cam next to the wheel well to enrich and stretch “Death to Metal’s” humble budget. One of the best parts of “Death to Metal” is the opening prologue of Romans 1:18, speaking to the wrath of God being revealed against all ungodly and unrighteous men, and then quick cuts to title track “Fuck Your God” in big, bold red lettering.

Compiled of horror and metal, with actual metal bands such as Telekinetic Yeti and Mutilated by Zombies, “Death to Metal” arrives on a collector’s edition Blu-ray from Wild Eye Releasing. The AVC Encoded BD50 presents the film in high definition, 1080p resolution with a widescreen 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Not the most tapered image for an indie scaled, indie market distributor with banding issues at every dark-toned turn. Textures on the skin, liquids, and clothing do have a tactile decking that can’t be ignored, especially on the higher contrast focus to create tension-laden semi-opaque shadows. The release comes with two English audio mixes, a Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound and a stereo 2.0. Honestly, I had difficulty distinguishing between the two mixes flipping back-and-forth. Both tracks appear to be identical in a quizzical effort to not make the metal music stand out in a more than dual channel output. Dialogue renders over fine, clear and clean with a nice balance between the club patron and club skirmishing chaotic ambience. The soundtrack’s a phenomenal plethora of metal band sampling with music from Mutilated by Zombies, Exmortus, Boar, Driftless Sisters, Inquiring Blood, Netherworld, Monolithe, and The Rising Plague. Optional English subtitles are also available. Special features include raw Snapchat behind-the-scenes footage, music video for the fictitious metal band Grandma Incinerator’s End of the Elderly, Indigogo fundraising videos back when the film was under the working title “Good Friday” with dark humored skits and pleas for funding, a behind-the-scenes photo gallery, the official “Death to Metal” drinking game rules, and Wild Eye Releasing trailers. The physical features include a clear Blu-ray snapper case with an illustrated father Kilborne gracing the dual sided cover art. The reverse side displays an iconic scene from the film enveloping a mini poster in the Blu’s insert. There’s also a more grotesque rendering of Father Kilborne and one unlucky impaled metalhead screaming in agony illustrated on the cardboard slipcover. “Death to Metal” comes unrated, region free, and has a runtime of 80 minutes. A slaying entry into the niche metalsploitation subgenre, “Death to Metal” goes hardcore with deathcore when church and metal clash!

“Death To Metal” available on a Collector’s Edition Bluray!